Archive for October, 2009

The Tangible Kingdom, by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , on October 15, 2009 by seguewm

188972_cover.inddInsipid. Having no flavor. That, despite the call to be the ‘salt’ of the earth, is what the church is, and has long been, for most folks. With stinging accuracy, sprinkled with consistently self-deprecating humor, Halter and Smay present not only the dismal ‘state of the 21st century church’, but also offer insightful and practical solutions designed to reconcile the body with it’s true head, Jesus Christ.

Here is a book every church leadership team, and every believer, ought not only to read and re-read – as I have – but to utilize as a discussion starter for planning the way back home. The world must ‘see’ and ‘touch’ the tangible evidence of the kingdom of heaven in the lives of God’s children. The church must make visible what God has already done.

Unfortunately, we neglect to question the status quo and persist in repeating the ways of church that may have worked in years gone by, but have morphed into a fatal autoimmune disease that is killing us in the present. What the world knows today as the ‘church’ is a parody of the kingdom. It is time to stop, look, and intentionally re-imagine in the Spirit how God chooses to reveal himself through his people.

The authors are not mere philosophers, speaking into something they have themselves never tried. They present a scripturally sound, personally tested, and marvelously hopeful way forward. Beware, though, their observations are guaranteed to push your buttons. On the other hand, their solutions are elegantly simple – to the point where you will immediately say, ‘oh, was it always that simple? Why didn’t we see that before?’

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It’s Really All About God, by Samir Selmanovic

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by seguewm

SelmanovicAt first glace one would think that this book is just another in a long line of publications making the case for Christian pluralism. It isn’t.

Rather, Samir asks, ‘does God have to be absent out there in order to be present in here?” What if God is at work in ‘others’ as well as within my life? Do we need to vilify others in order to be really certain about what we believe? Would the conclusion that God works in the lives of others who believe differently than I do, necessitate that what I believe is erroneous? Does God ‘favor’ me more than others simply because I was lucky enough to be born into and then personally received my particular – and often peculiar – religious faith?

This book is not a call to reconcile all religions, nor even to look for a middle way. It is an invitation to notice and to value the presence of God in the lives of every being on the planet despite tremendous differences in our belief systems. It presents an opportunity to engage the kingdom of God without denying the religion of Christianity – or any other religion.

God is always at work. He has always been at work – even in that which is ordinary, different, and seemingly inimical to self. The kingdom of God is here and yet it is not the same as Christianity. Christianity cannot ‘manage’ God nor contain him. God is ungraspably beyond any creed or ritual. It is humbling to acknowledge that “our speaking of God is never actually speaking of God, but only of our understanding of God”.

The author’s key thesis, in my thinking, might well be captured in the following quotation: ‘when we disagree against one another, destruction or even death results; when we disagree for one another, life happens”. Samir does not encourage us to yield up our current creedal notions, rather he suggests that when we embrace one another in the universal language of love – despite differences – we both confess and proclaim the presence of God in our world. It really is all about God.

Truly, a through provoking book and one that I will need to re-read often.