Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No! No Way!

That was my reaction this last Sunday morning as I walked toward the corner of the church foyer where we have on display some books for sale. From a distance I noticed a book with a blue cover that seemed to look familiar. As I got closer I began to recognize the cover as one I have seen in the Christian book store before, one written by Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz”. While walking toward the book shelf I began saying to myself – actually I was beginning to say it out loud – “No way! It can’t be”. Yep. There it was plain as day!

Now I have not had a chance to read this book, and doubt that I will – at least not cover to cover – for awhile. I already have a couple of other books I am struggling to finish reading, especially since I am in school and have limited time available. These are good books; books that I know are doctrinally sound and spiritually beneficial. But with time being limited, I have been struggling to complete them. When pressed for time and need to choose between time reading my Bible or reading a good book, I choose to read the Bible. It must take precedence. And I really do not like wasting time reading books that I suspect are filled with theological rubbish and have questionable benefit. But I fear I am going to need to take some time perusing through “Blue Like Jazz”, even if I do not read it cover to cover, just to get a closer look.

Fortunately, there are others who have read some of these books and have taken time to write reviews and give their perspective. One of the first places that I look to see if he has done a review on a particular book is Tim Challies. His reviews are a valuable resource and are generally from a solid biblical perspective.

In his review, Tim Challies admits that he already had doubts about the book due to an interview he read in a magazine, where Miller used such crude language that many words needed to be blanked out. That does not set too well with me either. Challies points out many of the problems with the book, but despite the shortcomings, he says he “enjoyed this book” more than he thought. To me, the negative aspects would have been enough of a turnoff. I guess I will find out once I peruse through the material myself.

Tim admits that Miller gets quite irritating as he bashes traditional Christianity. Politically, he generally lashes out at Republicans, degrading President Bush and very subtly praises Bill Clinton. Donald Miller apparently also expresses his enjoyment of Catholic Mass. His reported use of inappropriate words and comments is also disturbing.

In short, the book appears very disturbing in that the gospel message is generally muddled. According to Tim, Miller presents the false notion that the reason God saves us, is because we want to be rescued and that there is something in us that causes God to love us. But this is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Man is dead in his sins and God must first do a work in us in order to draw us to Himself.

After writing the review, Tim Challies admits that he became far less enthused about the book after he reflected on the contents. In the end, Tim is hesitant to recommend it to anyone. After reading his comments, I would strongly agree. Even if there may be some good points made in the book, it would take too much wading through the muddled theology to extract anything useful.

I am going to need to take some time to look over this book, but I think that I am going to come to basically the same conclusion. Perhaps I will be even more opposed to the material. If I am not mistaken, Brian McLaren endorses the book – on the back cover!

This is just another example of postmodern theological foolishness. Like much of the other postmodern material available, it just seems that these authors have an axe to grind with traditional churches and in particular, fundamentalist churches. I too have been extremely frustrated having attended an IFBx (Independent Fundamental Baptist Extreme) church. But to act like a rebellious adolescent and turn from the truth is not the answer. Scott Hill put it best when he described the emerging church movement as a bunch of Christian “hippies”.

Something tells me that I have many more battles coming up with the leadership in my church as they apparently continue to sip the postmodern “kool-aid”. Perhaps we should begin donning the nostalgic apparel of the 60s.

Now I wonder where I put my tie-died t-shirts…and those Birkenstocks.


Call Me Ishmael said...

All the true hippies of the '60s are either retiring from Wall Street or selling trinkets in Saucelito. In the '80s we came up with "Yuppies" to describe "Young Urban Professionals." Maybe we could call these people "Young Emerging Church Kids"--the "Yeckies?" It's just a thought.

Mike Perrigoue said...

As I was reading your post I kept thinking to myself, "why is his church selling this book". I'm glad to see that you will be "battling your church leadership".

Why, oh why, are churches peddling this stuff?

Lyle said...

For someone with a closed mind, Blue Like Jazz, would be inappropriate. You admit you have never read it, yet you trash it. Blue Like Jazz might be just the book someone searching might need to read to know that everyone is not like you and does not have everything figured out.

In my humble opinion one should not critique what one has not read.
And it probably should not be sold in the church foyer, as weaker Christians might be offended.
(forgive my run on sentence)

shanamm said...

If you read the book and then take additional time to read some of the author's thoughts on his website, you will probably come to realize that he is not trying to oppose reformed theology (biblical theology), but just does not think of it. While everything he says is probably not sound theologically (which, by the way, he readily admits), neither is everything I say. This book was extremely stretching for me b/c the LORD prevented me from getting hung up on "theological" matters.