The church is set to undergo massive transformations in the coming years and decades. Many great authors have recently been describing desired and/or emerging models; David Alan Black is among them with his newest book, The Jesus Paradigm (Energion Publications, July 2009). The basic premise of the book is that the church has lost sight of our purpose and has become weighed down with meetings, bureaucracy, and structure and has neglected our primary call to make disciples of all nations.
All in all, this is an excellent book. Well written, accessible, challenging, reasonable for the most part. There is no higher compliment that I can give a book than to say it was challenging to me, made me want to read the Scriptures more diligently and that I marked pages and quotes liberally. This book did all three. …
However, no book is perfect and the big issue I had with The Jesus Paradigm had to do with the running political commentary. …
Editorial note: I would love to see some constructive engagement with this issue in comments. A challenging book should cause us to challenge back as we seek truth. — HN
From Dave Black Online:
Christianity is insanely impossible! That’s what we saw today in Greek class as we translated Mark 9:14-29. That’s why Jesus asks us to believe. “Anything is possible for the one who believes.” Anything? Really?
Jesus, I’m believing you right now for the impossible. I believe you will provide water for the Burji clinic. What else can we do? We’ve already installed the plumbing — by faith. We’ve tried every means possible of digging the well — by faith. I am as helpless as that boy’s father. “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!”
Speaking of books, all of my valuable time this past week was taken up by reading the various New Testament theologies that are out there in preparation for my fall class on the subject. I’ve decided to require Frank Thielman’s Theology of the New Testament. Thielman is very readable and interesting, and he takes a canonical (rather than a systematic) approach. The focus on the cross is wonderful, and at 800 pages the book is a veritable mine of information. Thankfully the author refuses to be dull or boring.
If you’ve never read this book (or any book on New Testament theology for that matter), I strongly urge you to do so. The New Testament is so wonderful, so full of surprises, so deep and wide and profound that you can never wrap your mind around it — and that’s just for starters! Good stuff, I tell you. It’ll be a small class (yeah!), so I’ll get to treat it more like a graduate seminar than a typical class — which means high class participation.
From Dave Black Online:
Jeffery Tucker delivers a powerful punch in this essay over at LRC: Should the Church Wave the Flag? His conclusion:
It is a special temptation when Sunday falls so close to July 4. Surely people should be permitted to express their seasonal enthusiasms? I don’t think so. Nationalism is not part of the deepest Christian tradition. Conventional songs of secular-style patriotism cannot contribute to the liturgy but rather depart, even radically, from its spirit and intent.
Think about it, church.