The Biblio-Files

bib·li·o·phile (bĭb'lē-ə-fīl') n.

1. A lover of books.
2. A collector of books.


Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists

Chance? Coincidence? Providence. I just happened to pull up this blog tonight, ready to compose a review of the most recent book that I have read, and behold, Eron reviewed a book that deals with somewhat the same topic. While my review may not satisfy your tastes as much as Plev's, I hope I can do the blog justice. 

Since I first saw this book in the "Coming Soon" section of Monergismbooks, I pretty much knew that I wanted to read it. Mainly out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the author had to say about young people "discovering" reformed theology. Since coming to the doctrines of grace, even though I know there are many Christians who believe the same way, it seems as if there are just a small number of people who hold to the same view of scripture.

Collin Hansen, the author of the book, does a great job in traveling across the nation, visiting with young people and seasoned people alike at conferences, in their offices, at Starbucks, etc. Essentially, his purpose is to try and find out why there is such a resurgence among young people yearning for doctrine in the place of easy-believism. 

The Places We Will Go
Hansen hits all of the major hotbeds for reformed theology, both in the present age and in times past. He visits with young people attending a Passion conference in Atlanta. He makes the journey to Louivsille, twice, to attend T4G and NA. He is invited to Piper's personal home for supper. He travels back to Yale to see where Edwards taught and where reformed theology is still preached. He hits up Driscoll in Seattle and Sovereign Grace in Maryland. There aren't many more places that he could go in order to flesh out the reason that youngsters are yearning for some meat. 

The Peope You Will Meet
As the author travels to each destination, he is constantly in conversation (I feel all emergent writing that! =D) with those who have come to the doctrines of grace, and even some who do not agree with them. At each place the author reveals some reason why young people are wanting scriptural teaching. Some he talks to come from a church background, but yet were never taught Scripture. Others come from a drug/criminal background and truly understand what it means to be saved by a sovereign God. And he visits those who were taught liberal doctrine in seminary, but the Lord lead them into a biblical view of Himself.

Why The Resurgence?
Overall, it seems to me that young people are tired of being spoon-fed Christianity. They are tired of having the Gospel presented as a set of rules. The theatrics of "religion" are not as relevant as some leaders would like to believe. A desire to know the transcendent God is bringing people, young and old alike, to a high and right view of God and a low view of man which is really at the root of reformed doctrine.

Who You Won't Meet...Directly
There were only a couple of complaints about this book that I could find. One being Hansen is not able to talk to more conservative leaders of the resurgence. There is no direct interview with MacArthur or Sproul or Dever. I would have liked to see him delve deeper into those who are influenced by their teaching, which leads to my next "complaint": Where are the interviews with those who are drawn to traditional worship?

I know this is knit-picking, but I firmly believe that there are those young people who are drawn to traditional, conservative worship, I being one of them. I love old hymns. I love the deepness and richness of the doctrine found within them. I love their view of God and man. I prefer traditional, and I think that there are a number of people who feel the same way. I felt like the book is missing something because of this. The author leaves you with the impression that a transcendent God can only be found in praise music, which is not the case.

My Thoughts
Would I recommend this book to others? Yes. I think it provides important insight into why young people are drawn to "old doctrine" and true study of scripture. Would I like to see more in terms of what I mentioned above? Of course. We all have our preferences. I am just "old fashioned."


Why We're Not Emergent: (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

First of all, you can check the official website here. And, you can read a good review by Phil Johnson at Pyromaniac, here. Phil Johnson has highlighted much of what I wanted to highlight about this book--the same quotes and everything! Nevertheless, I will briefly give my two cents on this helpful work.

What Is This Book For?
Basically, DeYoung and Kluck are young, Reformed, and convinced that you don't have to jump on the emergent bandwagon to save Christianity. I agree. There is so much in this book that it would be difficult to summarize it briefly. I will just say that they cover all the bases. From the vague notion of spiritual "journeying" to the disdain for dogmatic propositions, I think this work puts its finger square on the defining issues that characterize the EC. If you've ever tried to have an opinion about what the EC does, you've realized that it's hard and frustrating. Interacting with those who are full-blown emergent can get opinionated and emotional very quickly. One usually winds up chasing provocative wording rather than actually grasping the substance of what the EC is about. Yet, for a movement that is known for its ambiguity and anti-dogmatism, Kluck and DeYoung do an exceptional job hitting the nail on the head.

Check out quotes from Pyromaniac (link above). But, I will say that these guys bring it. They are quotable often, and word their thoughts in a piercing kind of way. You'll definitely want to memorize some of their statements and keep them handy as you think through issues with the EC. They are right on and very helpful.

My Recommendation
I would recommend this book to all who are interested in a good, biblical, Reformed argument against some of the more dangerous corners of the EC. These guys are gifted writers and posses the ability to articulate their position with clarity and biblical conviction. They are quotable on almost every page. It is clear that they have done their research. They have read most all of the major books by most all of the major authors of the EC, and have spent time in emergent churches. I have found that when it comes to reading McClaren, Bell, and others, you have to really spend time reading them charitably and listening to what they are trying to say. Otherwise, you will read them, but you won't read them. You'll wind up wasting your time chasing after their provocative wording yet all the while thinking you have something to say about the EC. I think this work is trustworthy and offers critiques that one can feel safe making their own. The approach is humble, but firm and intellectual. Go out and getcha one.

Further Thoughts
Now, I and my wife joyfully attend an Acts29 (emerging, though not emergent) church here in Louisville. (I am a HUGE Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler fan.) Though our church is on the more conservative, Reformed end of the emerging church spectrum, there are many similarities that our church shares with those of the less conservative end (i.e., an emphasis on community, cultural engagement, etc.). We have learned a ton and have been sanctified tremendously. We feel that our church has done a work in us that is unique and honoring to Christ. The EC is primarily a reactionary movement against some of the dead-traditionalism that indeed exists in evangelicalism. There are those who stand guilty of over-correcting, while others stand guilty of not taking such reactions seriously. The EC should be called out for where they endanger the Christian faith, but I am of the opinion that they should be heard out and sometimes heeded. The key is balance and discernment. This book can help you think through all that.

Thoughts? Comments?


Aaaaaaaand We're Back: Wanting to Be Her: Body Image Secrets Victoria Won't Tell You

I wasn't even looking for this book when I found it. I was supposed to be doing research for a paper for a theology class when this book caught my eye. Turns out, this accidental read had a more profound effect on me than the book I got for my paper.
I have thing for beauty--the topic that is. Knowing where we get our standards of beauty, how beauty (or a lack thereof) affects day to day living (and it does!), and gaining insight on how to uphold healthy and biblical notions of beauty have become a topic of interest to me. I now notice articles, talk shows, news segments, and books that speak on the subject of beauty. Basically, our culture is obsessed with having perfect looks. As a result, countless females loath their bodies and starve themselves while self-centered, lust-filled boys encourage them by having supermodel standards, holding off on relationships (or getting into tons of them) until they score that perfect-10 babe. And let's just be honest, the Christian scene isn't all so different from the culture in this respect. So...

What is This Book For?
Michelle Graham is writing to help girls have a biblical view of their bodies in light of Scripture's standard of beauty. She writes from experience and is very apt to make the challenges she does. From the back cover:
In this book Michelle Graham reveals how we have fallen into the trap of viewing our bodies through the lens of culture rather than through the eyes of God.
And that, I would say, is done well. She has a good grasp of our culture, and she argues from a sound theological framework that isn't afraid to call out sin and idolatry. She exposes the heart's lean toward finding satisfaction and affirmation in things other than God. In the end, females are challenged to evaluate their beauty in light of their intimacy with Christ, knowing that external appearance is only part of the package. Her use of Scripture is good, though there are some interpretations that I wouldn't have forced (For example, that Eve's "desire for her husband" [Gen. 3:16] meant that she would "hunger for acceptance from men" [p. 94]. Eh, not so much.). Otherwise, she is right on most of the time.

Key Chapters and Quotes:
Chapter 1: The Lie We Buy: Beauty and Culture
"How have you been affected by the lie that your body must fit a certain standard in order to be accepted? Check all the following statements that apply to you:
-I am critical of my body
-When I look in the mirror, I first notice the parts of my body that I think are inadequate
-When I see images of "beautiful women" in the media, I compare myself to them.
-As I get dressed and ready in the morning, I consider what others will think of my appearance.
-I weigh myself frequently and am emotionally affected by the results.
-The thought of being seen without makeup or hair done is scary to me.
-When others compliment my appearance, I have a hard time believing it's true.
-When I eat in front of people, I wonder what they are thinking about me.
-I tend to wear clothes that are baggy to hide my figure or tight clothes to show off my body in hopes of receiving attention.
-If money were no object, I would have plastic surgery in a heartbeat.
-I have often thought that becoming more beautiful would be the solution to some of life's challenges--my desires for romantic relationships, career success, popularity among friends or self esteem. (p.24)
"When we understand the gift of our God-made body, we will respond. . . with contentment and without embarrassment. We will take care of our body well by eating healthy foods and giving it the exercise of an active lifestyle. We;ll keep ourselves clean and enjoy pampering our body, without crossing the line onto body obsessions or comparing ourselves to other women." (p. 37)

Chapter 3: When Beauty Becomes a Beast: Beauty and Consequences
"There was an unspoken equation that I learned as a single woman: my chance of getting married correlates directly with my physical attractiveness." (p. 50)

Chapter 4: Who's the Fairest of Them All?: Beauty and Ethnicity
**This was probably the best chapter in the book. Basically, we are ethnocentric when it comes to beauty. Just read the whole chapter. But, here's a quote:
"The more European one's features, the more beautiful one is considered to be." (p. 62).
Chapter 6: Can I Still Keep My Favorite Lipstick? Beauty and Balance
"I would suggest that a desire for plastic surgery is rooted in body obsession." (p. 106).
"The less modest our clothing, the more we invite others to fill in the blanks and complete the picture of our naked body." (p. 112).

My Recommendation:
I highly recommend this book. It is an easy read and it keeps you engaged--I read almost half the book in one sitting! This would be a fantastic study for women to do. I would also recommend it to guys who are interested in how our culture of non-beauty influences our views of women and choosing a mate. It was beneficial to "listen in" on a girl-to-girl conversation. I gained some good insight into the minds of females as they battle with their bodies. After I read this I wanted to start being more careful to encourage my wife and help her combat the false views of beauty that she is bombarded with day to day. Overall, I would rate this book at 4/5 stars. Whether guy or girl, you should consider Amazoning this one.

Thoughts? Comments?