About six weeks ago, I did a post on George Barna’s latest book Revolution. An excellent review by Dr. Albert Mohler is now available. There is a follow up post on the review by Dr. Mohler at the Together for the Gospel Blog as well.
Although I believe the thesis of Barna’s book is wrong and even dangerous, I also think that there is a potentially positive flipside. Those readers who love the church may be disturbed by Barna’s assertions and driven to rethink their doctrine of the church in light of what the Bible actually teaches. This hope is based on the clarity that the church gained in defining crucial doctrine throughout history as it confronted challenges to orthodoxy. Call it the church’s debt to heresy.
In response to Barna’s thesis, I hope many are driven to the Bible first, but I also hope they are driven to such books as Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Mark Dever), The Deliberate Church (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander) and The Church by Edmund Clowney (stick with Dever and co. regarding Baptism, however).
Given my study and experience of the local church, I am more convinced than ever that the hope for authentic evangelism lies with healthy local churches – healthy in the sense of the biblical marks of a true church.
Much as a wise sawyer knows to stop and sharpen his saw, we need to be sharpened in our fellowship with other believers as we gather and grow more mature around the Gospel (Ephesians 4:1-16). More than this, participation in the local church is an essential component of Christian discipleship. If we don’t love the Bride of Christ – the people for whom Christ died – do we really know Christ? Christians need the spiritual food, accountability and discipline of the local church as we seek to glorify God and be salt and light to a dark and decaying world.