Monday, September 18, 2006

Two Good Reads...

...on the supremacy of Christ and the practice of doing church in a postmodern world.

John Burke's book (pastor of Gateway Church here in Austin, TX) is written from a pastoral perspective. John is trying to address questions related to how we reach the emerging generations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He makes a compelling presentation based on his experience as the lead pastor of a church planted to reach 20 and 30 somethings. His book is full of amazing stories of life-change that occurred because his church had open arms and hearts toward searching and broken people. John writes about creating a culture of compassion and healing, a culture that welcomes people with all their baggage and relates to those people because we all have baggage. I appreciate his pastoral call to church leaders to realize that church will be messy when we actively reach unchurched people. He has had many of the hard conversations with those who were initially hostile to Christ, so he is not speaking from a purely academic perspective. Gateway church is living out the culture he presents in this book. His chapters on answering tough questions about other religions and homosexuality are some of his best in my opinions. His book is an excellent reminder that reaching a post-Christian culture will take humility in our hearts and grace from our lips.

On the flip side, David Wells book Above All Earthly Powers is a theological look at the supremacy of Jesus Christ in a postmodern culture. Wells' book is an excellent look at the vacant spirituality of American postmodern culture and a strong biblical call to uphold a high Christological in response. Wells' chapters analyzing the parallels between the gnosticism of first-century culture and the spirituality of postmodern western culture are fascinating. He does excellent work showing the emptiness of postmodern pursuits (much like the emptiness of modern pursuits) and how the authority of the person and work of Jesus speak into this culture. Wells' book is a response to many who desire to compromise a biblical Christology for the sake of engaging a postmodern spirituality. His books does a good job showing the weaknesses of these attempts and pokes holes in many postmodern attempts to weaken an orthodox view of Christ's eternal supremacy. Just as every pastor needs to read Burke's book to know what a gracious pastoral response to postmodern people should look like, every pastor also needs to read Wells' book to understand what a thoroughly biblical response to postmodern philosophy should look like. Both are challenging reads in much different ways.

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