POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Book Reviews - Soul of Am Univ, Orthodoxy, Prophetic Untimeliness

Another semester starts today and we are preparing to engage again with the students. Tonight we have our servant leadership team meeting - should be fun to see everyone and see how the break went. The break has been good for our family, although not actually "restful" with the new little one. I did find some good time for reading which was a great encouragement The Soul of the American University by George Marsden An excellent history of the American University - from "Protestant Establishment, to Established Unbelief" - Traces the thought and beliefs of the founders and shapers of American Higher Education and how the ground work which was laid, inevitably led to a determined secularism. The protestant schools founded to train Christian leaders and ministers had such a desire to be "Non-sectarian" that it eventually led them to be "open" to any ideas as to exclude a distinctly Christian viewpoint in the academy - although not their intention, the trajectory of equated "learning" and the "Highest ideals of civilization" with Christianity, made it easy to remove Christianity and somehow hold onto it's essence. Today, Marsden recommends a distinct, faithful, and scholarly Christian viewpoint in an academy which values an equal voice to all. All should mean all, even the viewpoint of Christian academics. Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton - A classic work by the late 19th, early 20th century British Journalist defending orthodox Christian beliefs. Includes a critique of "popular" thought of his day - harsh materialism and nascent existentialism. Very engaging and highly quotable stuff. A true soul refresher Prophetic Untimeliness, Challenging the Idol of Relevance by OS Guiness - How does the church remain relevant yet faithful in each generation? Guiness suggests believers should be a "prophetically untimely" people. That we should maintain a distinct and faithful voice, grounded in the timeless Word of God, to which we can speak to our culture while not becoming absorbed by it. The book has a great critique of contemporary American evangelicals adapting to the culture so much that they loose their identity and take marching orders from the culture. A timely book for people who desire to be untimely: His closing recommendations for believers to escape the captivity of culture (and yes, we do believe this is possible) 1 - Be aware of the Unfashionable - Realize that the unpopular views of the gospel are just those we need to keep in focus. While certain elements are neglected or unsavorary to our culture, we need to hold fast to the views of the gospel which might not be fashionable today. Here is where we can speak to the culture. "Nothing Sharpens us better for resistance thinking and guards us from slipping into lazy, cowardly thinking than wrestling with truths that are unpopular" Guiness calls this the "Challenge of the difficult" - The true prophet in the OT many times spoke against the current power structures, the false prophet would simply give a nod... 2 - Be refrehed by the fresh breaze of widom of History - Read old books, learn from redemptive and church history, gain perspective from tradition. 3 - Attention to the Eternal - "To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal" - Simone Weil God breaks into our silence in revelation - The Christian advantage is that God has spoken to us in his Word and through the incarnate Word. Excellent treatment of a view today that says "even our views of the Word are conditioned by culture" so we cannot escape - there simply is not outside perspective...Guiness handles this objection very well on page 109. "To be sure, the danger is real. But this fear confused the church's view of the Word with the Word of God itself. God is always bigger than our misunderstandings of him. However distorted and inadequate our views may be, it only takes the real Word to speak to wake up the church and the world. The difference wll be clear. Either there really is a Word of God, in which case it is separate from us and our misunderstandings of it, or there isn't and we are shut up once more to the uncertainties of silence." --------------- Well, we begin to ramp up for our AIA Winter Retreat Feb 6-8. Schools from all over VA and NC will be rolling together in about 3 weeks. Much work to be done in preparation - may the Lord bless our conference and our speaker, Derwin Gray, of One Heart at A Time Ministries. I'm out...