The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What is the truth of the cross? It may sound to many like a very simple question. Yet we live in a time where the truth and reason for Christ’s death has become hijacked by many who have made something entirely different of it. People like Brian McLaren appear to be reinventing the purpose of Christ’s death while others like Rob Bell have determined that Christ’s sacrifice was a sort of psychological relief to get people to realize that they did not need to sacrifice animals to please God (see Drops Like Stars, Love Wins, and his tour video The Gods Aren’t Angry).
It is in this time that books like RC Sproul’s The Truth of the Cross become more and more essential to the preservation of the truth of our faith. In his easy conversational style, Sproul begins at the beginning (a very good place to start) and describes our desperate need for a Savior. He walks us through the covenant that God made with Abraham to bless all the nations through him. Sproul then analyzes our vast debt of sin and the impossibility of our repayment.
Further reflections on his book Everything Must Change
[First I am inclined to remind you, reader, that I write these reflections as a former “disciple” of McLaren and having now read all of his books save two. What I share in this post is a consistent issue in all of his writings, some more obviously than others. I also write with much empathy and compassion for his position and his passion that has drawn him away from what can be most accurately described as orthodoxy. Thus it is not out of malice, but with a heavy heart that I write.]
About six years ago I first read the book More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren. At the time I was very discouraged with the church, finding that the theology taught encouraged apathy about the problems in our community and for sharing the love of Christ with our neighbors. It seemed that something was desperately wrong and McLaren’s book came as not just a whiff of fresh air, but more like a wormhole had opened into a whole new world where the inspiring message of Jesus bore the power that it should having come from the Son of God.
Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope by Brian D. McLaren
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Global crisis has rarely been more obvious to the current generation as it is today. Ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Libia, and Afghanistan (even in light of the death of Osama Bin Laden) tell us of the evil that still lives in our world. As a people who long for justice, Christians rightly long for a day when all this will end. Paul compares the ache for peace and justice with the agony of a mother in childbirth. It is something we all share.
In his book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope, Brian McLaren talks about his own journey in search of something to address the pain and suffering he witnessed firsthand. Convinced that the message of Jesus must have something to say about it, he interviewed people from many different nationalities and poured over the Scriptures, particularly the gospel accounts. Thus, what McLaren does in the book is offer what he describes as a “reframing” of the message of Christ in order to address the world’s ills.
Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications by D.A. Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brian McLaren calls himself “post-Protestant” and others have talked about our society as “post-Christian.” I identify as “post-postmodern” and “post-emerging.” There was a time of several years that, while terribly discouraged with the state of the evangelical church as I understood it, I was definitely in the emergent camp. My book shelves are still replete with the ruins of that time: books by McLaren, Marcus Borg, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, Shane Claiborne. They testify to a time when I was searching.
No one wakes up one day and says, “I have decided to be a heretic.” Some may ask, along with Glinda in Wicked: “Are people born [heretics] or do they have [heresy] thrust upon them?” As I have said in my previous post, the core of what drives people to heresy is the journey to find some sort of balance to the universe where all is well for all, then no one will be left out of the riches of what God has prepared. However what drives the heresy care is ones own self, not the unchanging truth of God.
What happened for me is that I saw within myself this blackness that I did not know how to handle. Having been a Christian for so long I found myself fighting that black tar sin with growing despair. The answer that my church gave me was to work harder, to take the weekly challenge from the sermon, strive toward perfection, and eventually become sinless, and thus embody Christ on earth. What resulted is a growing infection that obscured my sin from my own eyes, because this was the only way that I could reconcile what I heard from the pulpit and what I knew to be true about myself.