Books

You Are What You Love - A Review (Part 1)

Image of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
by James K. A. Smith
Brazos Press 2016
Kindle Edition 213

Three themes dominate James Smith’s You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. (1) Our loves are like unconscious dispositions we have towards the things and events around us and they reveal our identity. (2) The habituation of godly virtues forms our inner self-our soul. So while gaining knowledge of God and His Word is vital to discipleship, the gaining of virtues—the forming of the soul—is the core of discipleship. (3) The primary way of gaining virtues (of forming the soul) is liturgy in the church.

Chapter 1 explores love and worship. Which is more indicative of our identity? What we love, or what we think? Smith argues that what we love defines our identity. We as humans love something. “You can’t not love.”1 Our loves dictate our choices. Smith compares our loves to our compass, a default orientation of the soul.

Virtues are the habituated, internalized inclinations of the soul “to be compassionate, forgiving, and so forth.”2 “As Aristotle put it, when you’ve acquired a moral habit, it becomes second nature.”3 “Those habits that become ‘second’ nature operate in the same way: they become so woven into who you are that they are as natural for you as breathing and blinking. You don’t have to think about or choose to do these things: they come naturally.”4 “In fact, if I have to deliberate about being compassionate, it’s a sure sign I lack the virtue!”5

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How the Church Relates to God’s Kingdom Program

Below is a short excerpt concerning how the church relates to the kingdom of God from my book, He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God. Published by Lampion Press (LampionPress.com). This comes from a chapter called “How the Kingdom Relates to the Bible’s Main Characters,” pages 540-42.

The church is an important stage in the kingdom program. The kingdom itself is a broader category than the church and relates to God’s plan to exercise His sovereignty over every aspect of creation—material and immaterial; humans and angels; animals, trees, inanimate objects, etc. The kingdom encompasses other major themes of Scripture including covenants, law, salvation, people of God, etc. The church is a category within the people of God concept. The church is the New Covenant community of believing Jews and Gentiles as it exists in this age between the two comings of Jesus. The church has a worldwide mandate to spread the message of King Jesus in this age while Israel is experiencing a partial and temporary hardening because of unbelief.

The church is not the kingdom, but it relates to the kingdom program in several important ways. First, the church consists of those who have consciously trusted in Jesus the Messiah. The church experiences messianic salvation since its members are joined to the Messiah. By means of the Holy Spirit Jesus baptizes believers into His body, the church. Christ’s church, therefore, comes under the authority of Jesus.

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Review - The Church of the Fundamentalists

Larry Oats prefaces his new book, The Church of the Fundamentalists, by noting “While much has been written on the histories of the fundamentalist and evangelical movement, the theological basis of that division has frequently been overlooked. The purpose of this book is to examine how the ecclesiologies of mid-twentieth century fundamentalists and evangelicals affected their views of ecclesiastical separation and how those views led individuals to establish, abandon, or modify their views of ecclesiastical separation.” In other words, the controversies swirling around the fundamentalist issue center on the question, “What is the church supposed to be?”

The book contains four chapters with an introduction and conclusion in its 176 pages. The first chapter surveys “Varieties of Ecclesiologies,” really a survey of the “primary historical views of the nature of the church.” (25) This background is necessary in order to understand the theology driving the fundamentalist-vs.-evangelical answers to this central question.

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Review - Ecce Venit: Behold He Cometh

Image of Ecce Venit  Behold He Cometh
by Adoniram Judson Gordon
BiblioLife 2009
Hardcover 326

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Ecce Venit: Behold He Cometh by A. J. Gordon. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1889. 311 pp., hardback.

A. J. Gordon (1836-1895), college- and seminary-trained New Hampshire native and for a quarter century pastor of Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston, was unusual among his peers in that he, in large part under the influence of Plymouth Brethren writers (“Darbyites”) embraced pre-millennialism and dispensationalism (post-millennialism and a-millennialism were both widely and commonly held).

He participated in the famous Niagara conferences which were mostly focused on promoting the pre-millennial coming of Christ. Gordon strongly affirms the literal, personal and physical pre-millennial coming of Christ followed by a literal 1,000 year earthly reign of the King of Kings, and points out the errors of interpretation of other views, especially post-millennialism, with its Pollyannaish hyper-optimism about the progressive conversion of the whole world to Christ, with a concurrent improvement of all earthly conditions, including man’s fallen nature.

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