Sunday, January 22, 2006

An Instructive Book Review

Tim Challies latest book review is about an old book, John MacArthur’s Ashamed of the Gospel. I’ve read that book, but the funny thing is, I didn’t recognize the book in the review. This is not negative reflection of Tim’s review - quite the contrary. I’m sure it’s a great review. No, the reason I didn’t recognize the book is that I read it many years ago (it was first published in 1993) and don’t remember much about it. I probably made appropriate noises and nodded knowingly in a several places even though I really didn’t know what Dr. MacArthur was writing about. I didn’t have the context ‘back in the day’ to really follow the argument.

I recently finished reading Iain Murray’s The Forgotten Spurgeon, so the connection between MacArthur’s book and the Downgrade Controversy in Spurgeon’s latter years is fresh in my mind. I’ve read a lot of history and theology in the past thirteen years, so I’m going to have to find a copy of Ashamed of the Gospel and give it another try.

You might be thinking, “Who cares?” Fair enough. I am writing this post because it dawned on me this afternoon that as a young pastor thirteen years ago, I didn’t have a wealth of background in history in theology. I didn’t know the cultural threats to the faith, nor did I appreciate the threats to evangelicalism in the West. I still have a long, long way to go in terms of my reading and understanding, but I’m a lot farther along now than when I started out after Bible College.

Reading Tim’s review, I thought, “What do people in my church hear when I’m talking about things that grip me in theology, history and cultural issues?” Do they smile and nod and walk away thinking, “What was he on about?” Perhaps I need to ask a few people in my church if I’m talking over their heads. They might be like I was back in ‘93.  If so, the problem is not with them, it’s with me. Food for thought.

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