While I’ll admit that the title of this post is shocking, (and intentionally so), it is none-the-less true. Brian McLaren has been on this heretical trajectory for quite some time, but really shows his true colors in his new book A New Kind of Christianity. This panel discussion about the book by Al Mohler, Bruce Ware, Jim Hamilton, Stephen Wellum, and Gregory Wills is extremely insightful. My hope is that Christians will be wary of McLaren and those who espouse his teachings.
I picked up a used copy of Atheism Remix for $5 at McKay’s Used Books, CD’s, Movies, and More in Nashville. If you’ve never been to McKay’s, you’re missing out. There is an incredible amount of good media at McKay’s, and inventory changes often. Anyway, I’d been eyeing Atheism Remix for a while now in Lifeway, so when I saw I cheap used copy, I jumped on it.
This is a brief (108 pages), but effective book about the “New Atheism” movement. New Atheism is different from older forms of atheism in its boldness, its specific animosity towards Christians and the God of the Bible (rather than just the conception of God in general), and in its cultural reach. According to Mohler, New Atheism is “not just a reassertion of atheism, it is a movement that represents a far greater public challenge to Christianity than that posed by the atheistic movements of previous times” (12). New Atheism is advocated most prominently by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. In just four chapters, Mohler spells out a description of New Atheism, its adherents, and how it is being challenged both effectively and ineffectively.
This book is culturally relevant and should be read widely. The books of Dawkins and others are too popular for Christians to be completely unaware of the bombs being lobbed at Christianity by the adherents of New Atheism. You should read this book. If the effects of New Atheism don’t seem to be effecting you, they will effect your kids and the people you’re surrounded by. I think believers everywhere should read Atheism Remix, especially because its brevity makes it so approachable.
If I have any qualms about this book, it is that Mohler offers little in the way of “What now?” I don’t want to misrepresent Mohler as a deconstructionist, but I did personally long for a little more construction at the end of the book. I suspect that he would argue that this was not his purpose in writing, which is perfectly acceptable, it just left me wanting a little more. None-the-less, I learned a ton in the brief pages of this book and will encourage many to read it for themselves.
For quite some time, I’ve made it my intention to read a book or two by Al Mohler, but HiNS (He is Not Silent) ended up being my first foray into Mohler-land. I’ve wanted to read Mohler for a few reasons: Mohler is extremely (and I mean extremely) well read, and well read people have a better perspective on what’s really going on in the world; secondly, I respect the role Mohler has played in turning Southern Baptist Theological Seminary back towards orthodoxy; and thirdly, Mohler comes pretty highly recommend from some people I trust. I can honestly say that HiNS has encouraged me to dig deeper into Mohler’s library of works in the future.
Having just given the book high praise, I will admit that HiNS initially angered me just a bit. The part that disturbed me was the tone of the chapter on preaching as worship. I whole-heartedly agree with the chapter’s thesis, “that preaching should be the center of worship in our churches,” but I just felt like the examination Mohler gave of the current worship scene in Christianity was a little over-negative. The worship (musically and preaching-wise) that I’ve experience from events like the Passion Conferences makes me a little sensitive to negative critique of “this generation’s worship.” I know that Mohler’s intent wasn’t to criticize all modern worship because he states that in book, but none the less, the tone of the chapter made me wince a little.
The only other criticism I have of the book is that I personally feel a little more freedom to switch up preaching style than Mohler does. Mohler defines preaching as follows, preaching is “reading the text and explaining it – reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and patiently teaching directly from the text of Scripture” (Mohler, 52). According to Mohler, if preachers don’t simply “read, explain, repeat,” then it isn’t preaching. However, I think it is perfectly appropriate to begin a sermon with a story or attention-getting technique as long as the content of the sermon is focused primarily on a text. I also believe it is ok to sometimes preach topical sermons as long as they are preached in a hermeneutically faithful way (although I don’t think topical preaching should be the norm).
Having issued these two criticism though (the tone of the worship chapter and the slight rigidity of sermon form) the book as a whole is awesome, amazing, encouraging, definitely worth reading!!!
Quotes I like
I could write a whole lot about the parts of HiNS that I love, but for brevity’s sake I’m going to give you 8 quotes that I loved from the book.
“The sacred desk has become an advice center, and the pew has become the therapist’s couch. Psychological and practical concerns have displaced theological exegesis, and the preacher directs his sermon to the congregation’s perceived needs rather than to their need for a Savior” (Mohler, 20).
“Yet theology is by definition not an ivory-tower discipline. it is not merely a form of academic discourse. When rightly conducted, theology is the conversation of the people of God seeking to understand the Lord whom we worship, and to know how He wills to be worshiped” (Mohler, 24).
“The sermon has not earned its place in Christian worship by proving its utility in comparison with other means of communication or aspects of worship. Rather, we preach because we have been commanded to preach” (Mohler, 39).
“I believe that the central problem in our crisis of preaching today is that…we no longer believe that hearing and responding to the Word of God is a matter of crucial importance. That is the only plausible reason I can offer for why expositional preaching is in decline, or even absent, in so many pulpits. Before the decline in expository preaching, there was the abandonment of the conviction that the Word of God comes as a matter of life and death” (Mohler, 54).
“In preaching the biblical text, the preacher explains how the Bible directs our thinking and living. This brings the task of expository preaching into direct confrontation with the postmodern worldview…we do not want to be told how to think or how to live…Every text demands a fundamental realignment of our basic worldview and way of life” (Mohler, 68).
Speaking of the importance of the meta-narrative of the Bible:
“Even more, the moralistic fables that many evangelicals hear from their pastors week in and week out will not evoke the kind of burning-in-the-heart awe that these two disciples experienced on the road to Emmaus. If we want our people to feel that kind of excitement about the gospel, then they need to hear and know the same sweeping story that Jesus unfolded to these two disciples” (Mohler, 95).
“The idea of the pastorate as a non-theological office is inconceivable in light of the New Testament” (Mohler, 106).
“We will be hard-pressed to define any activity as being more inherently theological than the preaching of God’s Word, for preaching is an exercise in the theological exposition of Scripture” (Mohler, 111).
Fav Two Chapters
Chapter 5: A Steward of Mysteries, The Preacher’s Authority and Purpose
Chapter 6: “Did Not Our Hearts Burn Within Us?”, Preaching the Bible’s Big Story
Read it if you preach!
Time magazine has proclaimed the “new Calvinism,” as preached by people like Mark Dricoll, John Piper, and Al Mohler, #3 on a list of “10 Things Changing the World Right Now.” If you’re like me, and asking “What is new Calvinism?” Apparently it’s old Calvinism with a slightly different application as it applies to culture and the church at large.