Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

This was probably the ideal book to read immediately after Pete Rollins' How (Not) to Speak of God, so the review should also naturally come immediately after! As with previous books, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World is a write-up of the 2006 Desiring God Conference, with contributions from a variety of speakers and writers. What's even better is that it is available free as a pdf!

David Wells kicks off by examining the postmodern worldview, and how it came to be so prevalent. He discusses the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in order to show how they exposed certain elements of American culture - it being 'morally and spiritually adrift'; the West's 'growing ethnic and religious complexity'; and the scarcity of a spiritual gravitas in the church to address 'such issues of seriousness.'

He goes on to consider the rise of therapeutic spiritualities, no longer 'a matter of theorizing from a safe distance but rather a matter of daily encounter in neighbourhoods' - which ironically seem strangely familiar to evangelical spirituality that is 'therpeutic and non-doctrinal.' The tragedy is that the church begins to look like the world, rather than being distinctive and different, recognising the problem of sin and the only cure - the Agape love of God reaching down to rescue, rather than our Eros love reaching up towards God, but never reaching him.

Voddie Baucham considers Truth in a postmodern world, in world which 'calls evil "good" and good "evil" - where sin is celebrated and righteousness is mocked - that the Christ of Truth shines most brilliantly.' In his own forthright style, Voddie declares:

'Postmodernism is not supreme in this world. Christ is the one who is, and always will be, supreme. So if there is a conflict between Christ and postmodernity, Jesus wins all day, everyday, and twice on Sunday!'

John Piper speaks about joy. 'The point is simply to affirm the precious truth of doctrinally based joy over against the postmodern debunking of propositional revelation and biblical doctrine and expositional preaching - as though there were some other way to attain Christ-exalting joy.' What a counter to Rollins!

Don Carson presents some reflections on love and the supremacy of Christ by examining John 17 and how they reveal the love of God. As you would expect, it's stirring and powerful stuff, as he shows the various intertwining aspects of love in the cross - the Father's love for the Son, the Son's love for the Father, their love for the church and the world and so on.

Tim Keller speaks on the Gospel in a postmodern world, asking how we should do evangelism in a new context. Picking up on a paper by Martin Lloyd Jones, he suggests that America and the UK is perhaps the most challenging mission field yet, because society used to be Christian - a new mission field where people have been inoculated against the gospel. These changed circumstances lead Keller to believe that everything has to change (!) but he helpfully sets out six ways of change, based on Jonah's mission to Nineveh. There are lots of challenges here, as we seek to move from comfortable church life to realising we are on the mission field.

Mark Driscoll closes the book by thinking about the church, and speaking of how he used to be linked with the emergent guys before breaking fellowship with them.

The book also contains some interviews with the speakers, with some helpful bits as the issues are drawn out and expanded on. All in all, it's a great book, and very useful for anyone wanting to consider the main issues of posstmodernity, and the Christian response of witness and evangelism. Plus, it's free as a pdf for your Kindle!

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