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Counted Righteous in Christ – by John Piper

counted-righteous-in-christ

I recently finished reading Counted Righteous in Christ by John Piper.  It is a concise, 135 page book which defends the doctrine of imputation.  Generally speaking, imputation means ascribing a quality (such as guilt or righteousness) to someone based on the actions of someone else (Apple Dictionary).  Theologically, Piper describes it as “the act in which God counts sinners to be righteousness through their faith in Christ on the basis of Christ’s perfect “blood and righteousness,” specifically the righteousness that Christ accomplished by his perfect obedience in life and death” (Piper, 41). There are two parts to this imputation:  1) Christ’s suffering and death is substituted for the curse and condemnation we deserve, and 2) Christ’s suffering and perfectly, obedient life is substituted for the imperfectly obedient lives that we live (Piper, 41).  In other words Jesus gets all the glory because He did all of the work of salvation.

Piper writes this book as a response to recent trends in theology that deny the Biblical foundation of imputation.  Most notably Piper’s rebuttal is directed towards Robert Gundry.  The book is divided into four chapters, but largest portion of the book is contained in chapter three where Piper defends imputation using careful exegesis of the relevant texts in the Bible.

I found this book compelling, easy to read, encouraging, and enlightening.  It is compelling because “imputation” is one of those theological words that is thrown around  often but rarely precisely defined.  I found this book easy to read because of its length, but truthfully many will find it challenging because of the precise nature in which Piper exegetes the Bible and appeals to the Greek and Hebrew languages.  It is encouraging because it is true and reminds me that salvation has nothing to do with my effort and everything to do with Jesus’ effort and accomplishments (Eph 2:8-9).  And finally it is enlightening because I had no idea prior to reading Counted Righteous in Christ that the doctrine of imputation was under attack.  Now I not only realize that it is under attack, but I am better prepared to recognize theological errors that I may come across while reading other books.

Counted Righteous in Christ is a wonderful explanation and defense of the traditional Protestant doctrine of imputation.  The first several pages of the book include praise from many trustworthy authors such as:  John MacArthur, John Frame, R. C. Sproul, John Stott, Bruce Ware, and Page Patterson.  Read this book if you want to understand imputation.  Read this book if you want to understand salvation.

The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema

the-bible-and-the-futureAnthony Hoekema’s trilogy of theology books:  Created in God’s Image, Saved by Grace, and The Bible and the Future rank as some of the most important books I’ve ever read.  Over the past three years I’ve slowly read all of them. In many respects they are not easy reads, I mean, it took me three years!  However, Hoekema’s depth of knowledge and even-mindedness is so enthralling that they are not “hard reads” either. They are life-changing books.  And The Bible and the Future is no exception.

Hoekema’s The Bible and the Future is broken into two main sections:  Inaugurated Eschatology and Future Eschatology. In the former section Hoekema explains (most notably) the concepts of the Kingdom of God and the “here and not yet.”  Regardless of one’s eschatological leanings, grasping these concepts is necessary for a proper understanding of the entire Bible.  In the beginning of section two, Hoekema discusses more specific end-time subjects such as: death, immortality, the expectation of the second coming, the signs of the times.  As Hoekema moves towards the latter third of the book, he then introduces the all-important discussion of differing millennial viewpoints.  Hoekema is an amillennialist.  He throughly explains this position and defends it against other positions (most notably against dispensational premillennialism).  And it is this amillennial explanation and defense that comprises the last several chapters of the book.

Having read The Bible and the Future, I’m convinced that a balanced amillennialist viewpoint does more justice to the Biblical record than any other view.  However, I also understand the underpinnings of the other millennial viewpoints more thoroughly than I used to.  Disagree with Hoekema?  Fine!  But you should still read this book because it will make you a better (read more Biblical) premillennialist or postmillennialist.   Finally, if you’ve ever doubted the reliability of many of the popular end-time books in your local Christian bookstore, then you should definitely check out the balanced exegesis of Anthony Hoekema.

Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey

total-truthMy brother Andy recently read this book and wrote a review.  I’m posting it here.  The implications of this book are huge: I can’t wait to read it for myself.

Summary
In Total Truth Nancy Pearcey argues that western (American) Christians have been indoctrinated by secular culture, and by poor theological frameworks within the church, that have caused them to acquiesce into a bifurcated system of living and seeing the world, one in which there is a secular/sacred divide that keeps faith locked into the private sphere of life and out of the public sector (17).  Pearcey states, “Many believers have absorbed the fact/value, public/private dichotomy, restricting their faith to the religious sphere while adopting whatever views are current in their professional or social circles” (33).

The problem with this is that it is a breakdown in theology and it highlights the insufficiency of many western Christians’ worldview.  A right understanding of Christianity is, “that there is a biblical perspective on everything – not just on spiritual matters” (44).  Thus, it is every Christian’s duty to think through and live out all of life from a Christian perspective.  “Being a Christian means embarking on a lifelong process of growth in grace, both in our personal lives (sanctification) and in our vocation (cultural renewal)” (49).  Christians cannot afford to accept the terms as they stand – leaving faith at home or in church on Sundays.  Rather, the Christian’s entire life should be driven by a biblical worldview.  This is the only real way to break free from the dichotomies that pervade our thinking and living.  As Pearcey states, “The best way to drive out a bad worldview is by offering a good one (58); one that unifies both secular and sacred, public and private, within a single framework (65-66).

And it is the church’s duty to work to this end.  The church is a training ground for cultivating people equipped to speak the gospel to the world (67).  And by “gospel” Pearcey does not simply mean to share that all have sinned, that Christ died for sins, and that the proper response is repentance and faith.  While it is inferred that she does believe this to be true and that it is the central message of the gospel, Pearcey argues that evangelism encompasses more than disseminating these basic truths.  She states, “The task of evangelism starts with helping the nonbeliever face squarely the inconsistencies between his professed beliefs and his actual experience” (314).  She goes on a few pages later, “In evangelism, our goal is to highlight the cognitive dissonance – to identify the points at which the nonbeliever’s worldview is contradicted by reality. Then we can show that only Christianity if fully consistent with the things we all know by experience” (319).

Moving on in her book Pearcey traces trajectories that led America into its dichotomized way of thinking.  By looking from within the church and from the outside, she exposes several contributing factors to the secular/sacred split.  First from within, Pearcey explains an overarching three-part theme that should guide the Christian worldview: Creation, Fall and Redemption.  She summarizes, “All of creation was originally good; it cannot be divided into a good part (spiritual) and a bad part (material).  Likewise, all of creation was affected by the Fall, and when time ends, all creation will be redeemed. Evil does not reside in some part of God’s good creation, but in our abuse of creation for sinful purposes” (86).  This system is, “cosmic in scope, describing the great events that shape the nature of all created reality.  We don’t need to accept an inner fragmentation between our faith and the rest of life.  Instead we can be integrally related to God on all levels of our being” (95). Using this three-part grid as a tool of analysis, Pearcey then argues, “Throughout the history of the church, various groups have tended to seize upon one of these three elements, overemphasizing it to the detriment of the other two – producing a lopsided, unbalanced theology” (87).

One such failure was Aquinas’s overemphasis of Creation, leading him to a theology of “nature/grace dualism” (92).  The outworking of this error was that the gospel was restricted to the “upper-story realm,” isolated from science, philosophy, law and politics (93).  This gave leverage for the argument that later came to fruition during the Enlightenment; namely, that science and reason are religiously neutral.  From this developed the notion that secularism and naturalism are objective, rational systems, binding on everyone, all the while biblical views are dismissed as biased, private opinions (94).

Once there was an accepted dichotomy between “nature” and “grace,” it was not hard to convince anyone that “science constitutes facts while morality is about values” (107).  And with Darwins’s theory of natural selection came the ability to have a complete naturalistic worldview (106).  The effect of Darwin’s theory has been pervasive.  Pearcey states, “Virtually every part of society has been affected by the Darwinian worldview” (155).

What is insightful by Pearcey, though, is that the overwhelming acceptance of this dichotomy and of naturalism as the “lower-level” neutral sphere of truth is all based upon a philosophical foundation.  The under girding of naturalism is the belief that matter is eternal and that the “system” is closed – neither of which can be proven on naturalist, scientific terms.  Nonetheless, “once people have made that philosophical commitment, they can be persuaded by relatively minor evidence” (168).  Furthermore, at this point, the “game” is biased, because once the two-tiered view of reality is accepted, the naturalists define the rules for access into the “lower realm.”  Science (empiricism) is put forward as the only viable means for validating truth claims.  Or conversely, we must now accept naturalism as a “central tenet” of science (169).

Moving on, Pearcey progresses to show how the dichotomy made its way into the development of our country’s politics and religion.  Originally, in the colonial period, the dominant political philosophy was classical Christian republicanism.  But with the development of thought – that cannot be divorced from the Enlightenment and Darwinism – came the new liberalism, which replaced the sentiment of self-sacrifice and the social structures of family and church with individualism.  The focus was now on self-assertion and self-interest (280).  Even evangelicalism1 with all of its positive affects in many ways worked to further the gap.  The focus on individual conversion led to a doctrine of one-time emotional decisionalism, which ultimately contributed to the belief that Christianity is a “noncognitive, upper-story phenomenon” (272).  Pearcey concludes, “Evangelicalism has largely given in to the two-story division that renders religion a matter of individual experience, with little or no cognitive content” (293).

Pearcey eventually reveals that the bifurcation of public/private has made it into the culture in which we are currently living.  And therefore Christians have a great responsibility to fight against this way of thinking because it opposes truth.  “What Christianity offers is a unified, integrated truth that stands in complete contrast to the two-level concept of truth in the secular world” (119).   So what we must do is “evangelize”2 culture by exposing the flaws of other worldviews and then reveal that the Christian worldview offers a better alternative.  And the alternative we offer is not simply for the private sector; we must, “find ways to make it clear that we are making claims about reality, not merely our subjective experience” (119).

Critical Evaluation
The premise set forth in this book has exposed an entire schema of thinking that I have used to interpret reality.  While I have thought for some time that what Christians need is an entire worldview from which to operate, I have failed to see the pervasive nature of the public/private dichotomy in the western world and my acceptance of it many times.  As a result, there are some questions I now have in relation to this new enlightenment.  For one, how am I to understand the concept of “separation of church and state?”  Originally, this clause was set forth to guard from the establishment of a church-state and to protect the right of individuals from forced religion.  But as it is used now, it seems to “guard” the government from any religious influence (except naturalism), and this seems to be an extension of the public/private dichotomy.  It would be fitting to trace how it is that we should specifically think through this concept of “separation.”

Another trajectory worth tracing is what the implications are for the education of Christian children.  If evangelism is as broad as Pearcey defines it3, and if,  “every subject area should be taught from a solidly biblical perspective so that students grasp the interconnections among the disciplines, discovering for themselves that all truth is God’s truth (129), then is public school even an option for Christian parents?  And furthermore, where do we start as Christian parents in building a biblical worldview with our children?

Lastly, Pearcey calls for us to engage culture by exposing to individuals the inconsistencies in their worldview.  But at what point do we share what Paul calls of first importance: that Christ died, that he was buried and that he rose again?4  And what’s the order in our attempt to put forward both the central gospel message, and an entire worldview that comes with it?

Review by Andy Adkison

The Kingdom of Christ by Russell D. Moore

the-kingdom-of-christI began reading The Kingdom of Christ (TKoC) about two years ago, and was throughly enjoying the book at the time, but for some reason (that I can no longer remember), I failed to finish it in its entirety. Currently however, I am in one of those modes where I’m enthralled by reading, learning, and synthesizing, so I just finished rereading the entire book.

The Kingdom of Christ is a deeply theological book that is not an easy read, but is well worth the endeavor. One of the reasons that this is a hard read is the length of the chapters. The entire book is only five chapters long, actually four chapters, because the fifth chapter is only a brief conclusion. The four main chapters are lengthy and technical, which makes reading individual chapters a little-at-a-time a bad idea, because it’s hard to reenter the author’s flow of thought if your reading has paused for a significant amount of time. The book also assumes that its readers have a basic understanding of things like covenant theology, dispensational theology, the Kingdom of God, the social gospel, and the evangelical movement. These issues: the length of chapters, technicality of the language, and assumed pre-knowledge of the reader are the only real negatives of the book. And honestly, these aren’t negatives as much as they are just factors that narrow the book’s audience. And let’s be honest, not every book is for every person.

In TKoC Moore does an unparalleled job of tracing the theological concept of the “Kingdom of God” as it has evolved in both the dispensational and covenant theological camps. In each chapter, Moore unpacks how “Kingdom of God” theological construct has had profound implications on: eschatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology. In all of these theological areas, covenantal and dispensational theologians have developed wider agreement due to a deeper understanding of Bible’s teaching about the Kingdom of God. Moore’s intent is to question the social and political ramifications of evangelical action within the public sphere based on this wider theological agreement. The book asserts that modern evangelicalism’s discussion of social and political action began with the publication of Carl F. Henry’s, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. In chapter one, Moore delves into Henry’s writings, and then traces the theological history of the Kingdom of God to the current time. According to Moore’s conclusion, though larger evangelicalism now agrees more wholeheartedly on “Kingdom of God” theology, it now faces larger theological disagreements on perhaps even more primary issues such as epistemology, inerrancy, and the sovereignty of God. This is evidenced by the increasing influence of movements such as evangelical feminism and open theism.

I walked away from TKoC with a much deeper understanding of covenantal theology, dispensational theology, the writings of Carl F. Henry, the Bible’s teaching about the Kingdom of God, and the mission of the church in society. This book is profoundly relevant to the questions now being addressed by the modern church. In many ways, the emerging church movement is repeating the mistakes of the social gospel liberation theology of the 1960’s. And most likely, this is in part a reaction to the unhealthy politicization of Christianity by the Religious Right. Church leaders need to continually assess how to be the “city on the hill” that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount. TKoC is an important read in that assessment. Having read TKoC, I yearn for a practical book dealing with how churches can be salt and light in the public sphere, that takes into account Moore’s research, but is geared to a larger audience. I would love to hear any suggestions about books of this nature.

Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

vintage-jesusI’m honestly not even sure how to review this book. How do you a review a book this great? I have no complaints or disagreements; I have only praise. This is an amazingly good book. It’s entertaining to read because Driscoll is adept at mixing pop culture references throughout the text so that the words come alive with relevance. It’s deep because the theology presented in the book is thoroughly Biblical, beyond surface-level, and presented in a lively, understandable manner. And…the book will strengthen your faith and conviction in Jesus and His glorious salvation. Even elderly saints will benefit from the depth of solid theology that this book offers. This is one of the most encouraging and inspiring books I’ve read in a while. Everyone should read it.

A Quick Review of He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World by Albert Mohler

he-is-not-silentWhy Mohler?
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: firstly, he is extremely (and I mean extremely) well read, and well read people tend to 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.

Two Criticisms
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 never-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, “reading the text and explaining it – reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and patiently teaching directly from the text of Scripture” (Mohler, 52). Accordingly, 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

Verdict
Read it if you preach!

Great Resource: Creating Community by Andy Stanley & Bill Willits

creating-communityI recently read through Creating Community by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits, and I must say that it is the most helpful and insightful book on small group ministry that I have ever read. The book describes the small group ministry of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, asks ministers to answer probing questions about their ministries, and all in all is a great “how to” book for small group ministries. Since I’m a Discipleship Minister, and the primary person in charge of small groups at 24church, I need to read books like this often.

Andy Stanley is one of the best strategists and most insightful thinkers in the church arena today. Highlights to NPCC’s strategy include:

1) A closed-group system rather than an open-group system. (The individual small groups covenant together for 1.5 – 2 years and new members do not join.) This helps prevent an ADD mentality within the group and allows close relationships and deeper spiritual growth to occur. At the same time (just in case you were wondering) the group still seeks to reach outsiders / non-Christians, but not through inviting them to their small group.

2) A good strategy for forming new small groups. NPCC has a group forming strategy known as GroupLink. GroupLink is an event that happens quarterly at NPCC and allows people interested in small groups to meet other interested people and join a group. However, members don’t sign the group covenant until they have tried out the group for 6 weeks. This is NPCC’s “try before you buy” policy; it helps to eliminate bad group situations and alleviate stress in people thinking about joining a new group.

3) A childcare policy. NPCC will reimburse anyone who needs help paying for childcare while their group meets. This is a great idea because even though childcare is expensive, it is still millions of dollars cheaper than building Sunday School space in a building that will remain empty and unused for most of the week. (Small groups just make more sense to me than Sunday School in a new church situation.)

4) A multiplication plan. Each group covenants together to help start a new group by the time their group ends in 18-24 months. Since teaching and leadership tasks are shared by everyone in each group, leaders who could eventually start a new group naturally emerge as they help lead their current group.

These aren’t all the details, but they are some of the highlights of the NPCC strategy. I’m pretty encouraged after reading Creating Community, and I’m in the midst of reformulating and rethinking 24church’s small group strategy.

A Quick Review of Sex God by Rob Bell

sex-godI recently finished the audiobook version of Sex God by Rob Bell, and to be honest I tried to read it with especially discerning ears (not eyes in this case) while still trying to give Bell a fair listen. I’m weary of Rob Bell for a few reasons that I’ll list:

1) He has had a known open-theist, Greg Boyd, preach at his church.
2) He has acknowledged Brian McLaren as an influence.
3) Mark Driscoll has cited several disturbing facts about Bell’s theology.

None the less, I feel it’s important to stay somewhat abreast of current issues and popular teachers such as Bell because, like it or not, they are influencing many people.

I want to say that there are many parts of Sex God that are really well stated, and honestly the book contains some important Biblical teachings that many Christians could benefit from hearing. However, I cannot recommend this book because I believe it is flawed in some rather dangerous ways. Here are a few concerns I have:

1) In chapter 1, Bell defines heaven and hell rather peculiarly. He says heaven is “not a fixed, unchanging, geographical location somewhere other than this world. Heaven is the realm where things are as God intends them to be…(heaven) can be anywhere, anytime, with anybody (minute 16).”  And hell he defines as “a realm where things are not as God wants them to be, where things aren’t according to God’s will, where people aren’t treated as fully human (minute 17).”  While I have questions about both these definitions (and questions about relating these specific definitions of heaven and hell to the meaning of Jesus words in Matt 5:27-30), I’m most concerned that “hell” in Bell’s definition nowhere mentions God’s punishment of evildoers. While I’ll grant that “hell” in the English language has a wide semantic range, and that Bell’s definition fits perfectly within that semantic range, it is downright misleading to simply define “hell” in a Biblical since as anything less than a place of God’s punishment that is justly deserved. In fact we all deserve punishment in hell, but thankfully God has redeemed all who will call on His name. I find Bell’s definition of heaven and hell convenient for his subject matter, but an obvious oversimplification. In fact, in my observation, Bell often oversimplifies theological teachings when he preaches.

2) In chapter 5, Bell says that because God chose to love humans, people who can break His heart by their actions and disobedience, that God took a risk. According to Bell, God risks by loving. This sounds poetic and great, and yes we can grieve God with our actions, but it is a misunderstanding of the Bible to see God as a risk-taker. God knows beginning from end. He knows the elect from the foundation of the world (Eph 1), He has already planned the defeat and punishment of Satan, and throughout the Bible prophecies always come true because God is pulling the strings. People do make real choices, but these choices in no way infringe upon the sovereignty and rule of the King of the Universe. Bell sounds more and more like an open-theist (heresy) the more I hear him speak. And while I’ll grant that issues of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are confusing, it is a lie to attest that God doesn’t know all things. A God who knows all things cannot by definition take a risk. (John Elderidge proposes this same sort of “God the risk-taker” idea in Wild at Heart, and he is mistaken as well).

3). In chapter 6, Bell proposes the idea that the husband and wife are to be mutually submissive towards one another. While there is some truth to this statement, it is not a good representation of the Bible’s teaching about husbands and wives. Mutual submission does appear in statements like 1 Cor 7:4, and the Bible does teach that both husband and wife equally give and work in the marriage relationship; however, the wife is to submit to the husband in a way that the husband does not submit to the wife. It is not as if the Bible is chauvinistic toward women, but clearly the husband has a leadership role within the marriage that is his alone (Eph 5:22-24 – Christ is not mutually submissive to us is He?). I fear that Bell has slightly misunderstood the Biblical teaching about the roles of men and women, and this is dangerous to Christian marriages. I’m also pretty sure that he misunderstands the Greek usage of verbs when he discusses this topic.

I’m sure there are other issues that could be discussed in regards to Sex God, and like I said above, “there are some good points in the book,” but I have deep concerns about Bell’s underlying theology. I believe that some of his fundamental thoughts about God are flawed. Most notably, I am concerned about his open-theistic tendencies. The last thing Christians need is a weak and heretical view of the sovereignty of God.

Addendum (added later on):

I want to be really careful not to intentionally offend anyone with this review. I believe Rob Bell is doing a lot of good and has an unbelievable heart for people. At the end of the day though, I just have to call theology the way I see it. In fact Bell invites this sort of discussion in the beginning of Velvet Elvis. I’m simply trying to call attention to some problems I have with the theology he seems to be portraying. I hope this is received in a winsome way. I don’t hate the man, and I don’t want to have closed-ears, believing that I know it all. I’m appreciative for a lot of what Bell has done, but I still worry about what I perceive to be some dangerous trends within his theology.