Saturday, March 9, 2013

book review--Broken, by Jonathan Fisk

a welcomed change from the usual kinds of such books
The usual kinds of books put out by young, hip, cool, relevant, whatever types of up-and-coming church leaders seem to fit in a couple of broad and overlapping categories. One is the seeker-purpose-get your best life now types who have found some big new secret way to pray and live that will guarantee you more and more and bigger and bigger. The other is the charismatic pray all day and all night and sing the songs on our new P&W recording 50 times each and God will (finally) be persuaded to do something. All are theologically asinine and scripturally vacuous.

In the marshmallow fluff world of that kind of stuff, "Broken" is like a ray of light, perhaps because it is not only contrary to them, but calls them out for what they really are.

For example, perhaps no teaching has caused more confusion and been the source of more bad decisions and loony teachings than the idea that we should try to hear "God's whispers" somewhere inside of us. In the chapter on Mysticism, Fisk calls that kind of thing out for what it really is, the worship of our feelings.

Every two-bit apostle and prophet tries to get people to attend their churches and conferences and gatherings by holding out the carrot that if the people attending will do X then now or soon God will finally see fit to send the revival they've been waiting 100 or so years for Him to send--if they will worship with more abandon to the latest choruses, or pray 25 or more hours a day, or whatever. In the chapters on Moralism and Spirituality, Fisk calls that kind of thing out for what it really is, the worship of the works of our hands and the worship of our own made-up spiritual rules.

And there are the ones who think that God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible is about as relevant as Oldsmobile, that what we need today is not your father's God, but a new generation of god, one that looks surprisingly like the person telling us that God is like a now-defunct automobile brand. This new generation of god will, of course, come complete with a new set of rules and directions, though if those don't seem to be working, well, the one real rule is that there are no real rules, so we can make this god however we want, so this god will say and do, approve and celebrate, whatever we want it to. In his chapter on God's Absence, Fisk calls out this kind of thing out for what it really is, the worship of Lawlessness.

But while diagnosing the problems is certain worth a lot, Fisk does more than that. He points us to Christ, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, the things He did for us to rescue us from sin and death and judgment. Fisk does not point us to our own efforts to make ourselves good enough, either to earn salvation or to earn any blessing or favor from God, but shows us what God has done for us, so that while we cannot make ourselves righteous through vain attempts to keep the law, God has made righteous those who belief in Jesus.

In a church land which seems to be addicted to having more and having to do more and trading and bartering with God to get more, this "STOP!" message of Fisk's is a welcomed relief. We can stop doing all these things in an attempt to bribe and cajole God into finally doing something, but we can do all of them, from the simply tasks of everyday life to preaching to Gospel to thousands, out of a love of the One who has already done everything.

I recommend this book about as highly as I can.

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