Monday, October 24, 2011

This book has me interested...

Phillip Carey, professor of philosophy and director of the philosophy program at Eastern University, has written a book that has peaked my interest. This is not a recommendation yet because I have just started reading it. But so far I like what I am reading.

The book is entitled Good News for Anxious Christians: 10 Practical Things You Don't Have to Do. I must admit, I love the subtitle.

In the preface (the only part I have read so far) Dr. Carey writes:

[It] is Christ who redeems us, makes us new, and transforms us. Our practical efforts to transform ourselves - our good works - are just not relevant to this task. Our good works are for our neighbors and provide various outward disciplines that are needed to give order to our lives. The inward transformation of our hearts, however, happens not through anything we try to do but through faith in the gospel, because that's how we receive Christ. He is the One who really changes us.

"The new evangelical theology," which I criticize at length in this book, is my name for a set of supposedly practical ideas about transforming your life that get in the way of believing the gospel. They are the result of a long history of trying to be "practical" in evangelical theology, which has now thoroughly adapted itself to consumer society...

[The new evangelical theology] is essentially a set of interconnected techniques or ritual practices for making God real in your life, establishing a relationship with God, and so on - as if all that kind of thing really depended on you. The techniques all have the characteristic that they turn you away from external things like the word of God, Christ in the flesh, and the life of the church, in order to seek God in your heart, your life, and your experience. Underneath a lot of talk about being personal with God, it's a spirituality that actually leaves you alone with yourself...

[The] best way to change our lives is to hear Christ preached, learn who he is, and put our whole trust in him. The alternative not only leads us away from Christian faith over time, but in the present it has the drawback that it's really boring. Here I think is where pastors have been most seriously misled by the new evangelical theology. Of course, they want to be "practical," to change people and transform their lives, but they preach all about our lives, our experiences, and our hearts - as if the only reason we came to church was to hear about ourselves. The secret about this, which would be really liberating for pastors to learn, is that hearing about ourselves rather Christ all the time is dreary and disheartening.
The table of contents also gets me interested:
1. Why you don't have to hear God's voice in your heart
Or, How God really speaks today

2. Why you don't have to believe your intuitions are the Holy Spirit
Or, How the Spirit shapes our hearts

3. Why you don't have to 'Let God take control"
Or, How obedience is for responsible adults

4. Why you don't have to 'find God's will for your life'
Or, How faith seeks wisdom

5. Why you don't have to be sure you have the right motivations
Or, How love seeks the good

6. Why you don't have to worry about splitting head from heart
Or, How thinking welcomes feeling

7. Why you don't have to keep getting transformed all the time
Or, How virtues make a lasting change in us

8. Why you don't always have to experience joy
Or, How God vindicates the afflicted

9. Why "applying it to your life" is boring
Or, How the gospel is beautiful

10. Why basing faith on experience leads to a post-Christian future
Or, How Christian faith needs Christian teaching

If you know me at all, or ever listen to me preach then you will not be surprised that I was refreshed and delighted just by reading those chapter headings. This evening I will read chapter one and let you know what I think.

1 comment:

Bryan Edgett said...

I have only urveyed the book but I teach with Phil. I very much enjoy his reasoning, especially in an age in which feeling has supplanted thinking as the preferred mode of knowing anything.