David Robertson reviews Steve Chalke’s latest book The Lost Message of Paul. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t like it. You will probably hear about this book soon and it is important to understand where this book badly misses the mark.
‘Can you think of the name of a fellow pastor you would secretly enjoy seeing fail in ministry? A person who, in your darkest, most deliciously evil moments, you would enjoy seeing exposed in tomorrow’s paper for having an affair, extorting money or reading their church had split apart? If you’re going to be honest, you can. We all can.’
All too often our prayers are unimaginative and fail to ask God to do what would really be of value to those we are praying for. Let’s pray bigger, bolder, better prayers.
‘What we are witnessing is a classical example of “crime construction” – the inflation of statistics to give the impression that a particular kind of crime is out of control. It used to be people on the right who did this, with their carefully constructed moral and crime panics about football hooligans or black muggers. Now it is increasingly done by people who are ostensibly on the left, who see hate crime everywhere, who think homophobia is rampant, who think speech is bigotry and sometimes even criminal, and who think Brexit has unleashed unprecedented levels of anti-social violence. In all these instances, crime has been overblown in order to construct an elitist, moralistic message about the vulnerability of certain identity groups and the wickedness of the uneducated, un-PC, dangerous throng.’
‘As a believer-baptist… I’m slow to let the discussion get away from particular biblical texts too quickly. I find infant-baptists often eager to talk theological systems and constructs, which we must. But in the end, we must take care to continually return to the specific texts from which those systems and constructs arise. We dare not overlook or minimize the plain, stubborn, obvious reading of particular biblical texts, even if we indeed must proceed, in due course, to the theological and covenantal dynamics relevant to baptism.’
Twelve reasons for why we are often reluctant to share the gospel with others. Not all apply to me, but I can definitely see some that have a familiar attractiveness whenever I am less than keen to go out. I wonder how many apply to you?
‘Far from espousing reckless abandon, Keynes was arguing that without proactive economic intervention the long-term effects of doing nothing could be ruinous. He was not advocating short-term comfort at the expense of future generations; Keynes was arguing for pro-active intervention to avoid the devastating effects of laissez-faire economic policy. Waiting for things to right themselves on their own may mean we leave it too late to act. If rot has set in, there is a point of no return. After all, in the long run we are all dead. There is a clear application for those of us tasked with leading local churches.’