Summary: Andy Stanley, one of the most effective church leaders today, writes another practical work: this one on emotions gone bad. Diving into the core of the matter, Andy digs deep enough to start the hard work on overcoming our fluctuating feelings.
Strengths: Andy Stanley is like the cool uncle who dispenses the best advice over a cup of hot coffee on a rainy day. His voice feels like inviting an old friend in your home: safe, reassuring, almost “by-golly” at times, with just the right balance of zip and patience. It’s why Pastor Andy is one of the bestselling preachers and writers for every age range, walk of life, among different communities and races, for the erudite scholar or the everyday layman. He has a cozy, broad appeal.
Enemies of the Heart is no different, as Pastor Andy covers the four most aggressive emotions that threaten to hurt us: Guilt, Anger, Greed, and Jealousy. Turning each of these into “debts” — such as Guilt becoming “I Owe You” — Pastor Andy gets to work on the diagnoses and the cure. While some would accuse him of being soft on doctrine, Stanley actually does a great job incorporating the Gospel into each of these emotions, showing how Jesus came to rescue us daily from the power of sin.
Summary: Mark Driscoll, the pastor of megachurch Mars Hill of Seattle, and his wife Grace write an honest, detailed, gripping, and at times explicit work on the troubles of marriage. While overly practical and less spiritual than expected, Pastor Mark and his wife have written tough words for the prideful and healing words for the hurting. Most of all they have written truth that no other pastor would dare to venture, which is both the book’s best strength and most glaring weakness.
Strengths: Mark Driscoll spells controversy because of his unequivocal expression, uncompromising views, and his colorful use of language. He makes fart noises in his sermons, got busted over preaching on oral sex (essentially telling Christian women to use it as a lure for their unbelieving husbands), was publicly lambasted by John MacArthur (one of the five Big Johns, including Piper, Calvin, the Baptist, and the Apostle — so you know it’s serious), and is called a chauvinist by both lesbian atheists and evangelicals. We get it: he’s the vulgar, brash, older brother that puts you in a greasy headlock and gives you purple nurples.
But there’s no doubt the man preaches the Gospel, proclaims sound doctrine, and has a brilliant mind for practical theology. Regardless of tactics, he has once again written a clear-headed, straightforward work on marriage that is so unlike any Christian fare it’s bound to grab your attention, fart noises and all. One thing is most obvious in his writing: Pastor Mark is a pastor and loves people. He does the dirty task of writing what no one else will say, and while it may feel gratuitous, it’s true that no one else will say it. So he takes on the thankless duty of speaking to reality about as real as you can get.
Summary: We know marriage is in trouble. Pastors and Christian authors are stepping forward to save the day. Tim Keller, author of the renown The Reason For God, Counterfeit Gods, and Generous Justice, writes an ambitious and straightforward work on biblical marriage. With a gospel-driven, Christ-centered approach, Dr. Keller’s crisp, clear voice is easily accessible and insightful. Along with Dr. Keller’s wife Kathy, they have written a practical, powerful work on the great gift of marriage.
Strengths: This could have been a cakewalk for Dr. Keller. He could have roundly quoted C.S. Lewis and some well known poems, conjure sound commentary on Ephesians 5, and say some profound things about the duties of a husband and wife. It really would have been that easy for him. Many readers are familiar enough with Dr. Keller to instantly recognize his writing voice and his penchant for classic quoting. It could also have been a call to Christian idealism, a list of you ought to and you should do tacked onto the gospel.
While Dr. Keller does some of these things, I felt his gritty real life experience bleed through the pages. Dr. Keller’s passion is alive in this work; not since Counterfeit Gods have I seen him this personally invested into his subject. This isn’t only from his own thirty-six year marriage but from having been in the trenches with hurting singles, broken marriages, and dying families. He has seen how secular culture and the Hollywood mentality has overwhelmed the thinking of our gullible world. The first chapter alone is a visceral tour of the corruption of marriage and families, with hard statistics and full-on truths. He never waters it down. “I’m tired of listening to sentimental talks on marriage,” he begins. So are we.
Summary: “I have no doubt that many might well be offended by the challenges I have made to other beliefs in this book. I must expect that and will make every effort to defend my approach. Some might even consider the tone of this book too strong or harsh. That is not my intent. But it is hard not to get passionate when you read the bizarre twists of truth offered by proponents of the New Spirituality. I have been fairly blunt because I want readers to be brutally honest with themselves.” (230)
Dr. Ravi Zacharias indeed writes a searing, incisive work on the New Age movement that has invaded every facet of Western American thinking. Taking to task two well known proponents, Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra, there are no minced words as Dr. Ravi utterly upturns many of the preposterous assertions given by nebulous, exploitative, “Oneness” religion endorsed by the two celebrities. We also find that such strange religion has been endorsed by us, an unwitting generation fooled by foolish claims.
Strengths: I was almost taken aback by the force of Dr. Ravi’s barbs against the New Spirituality. Had I not known that Dr. Ravi is one of the world’s most compassionate evangelists today, I may have mistaken some of his writing as aggression. But I sense his urgency: he is fighting for the truth, as many of us today live in a blind fog of capitulation to relativism. Dr. Ravi’s no-nonsense clarity by itself will knock most readers out of their reverie, quickly exposing how many strange lies we have believed.
2/12/14 - Currently on hiatus from my ask-box! Anon is off.
Former atheist/agnostic, now a pastor and professional rambler. A recovered porn addict, skeptical Christian, intense introvert, loves Jesus. Have a B.A. in Psychology and M.Div from SEBTS. Both degrees negate each other, i.e. I'm still a dummy. Have a 5th degree black belt and I can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting. I gave away half my salary in 2012 to fight human trafficking. Have a mixed German shepherd named Rosco, have two toenails growing out of one toe, and I'm addicted to coffee, ginger ale, and tomato juice.
Christ Is King.