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4 Stars Out Of 5
May there be more evangelical like Carl Trueman
May 26, 2014
I have to say this is a hard book to review, not because it is not well written nor was it was a bad book, but the topics discussed was so well spread it's hard to find a phrase to describe it other than the one that Trueman has provided: "Taking Aim at Everyone". This is really what the book is meant to do, take aim at everyone. Trueman writes in a wholesome manner, being able to be sensitive to the culture that we're in and also critical of what is happening, don't get me wrong, Trueman is not some cynical critic, but one that really does brings out pointers that we really ought to think about. What's included in this book:
What's wrong with (Mark) Driscoll?
Why aren't evangelical more humorous (and why they should be)
Why we can't take criticism (and what's wrong with it)
And many more_.
You have to read to find out, it will be well worth your time and money. Read not to be more informative, but rather read to be able to think more carefully about what is happening about Christendom and how our brothers in the past can help guide us on to the future. Rating: 4.5/5
Although having some familiarity with Carl Trueman and appreciating his take on the church and culture, I had never read one of his books. Shame on me. Fools Rush In was delightful and if you read his blog it's exactly what you might expect a Trueman book to read like. The subtitle to the subtitle sums up the books best Taking Aim at Everyone. He critiques many of the church's foibles with a wit and clarity that is rare today. And lest you think he plays favorite, Trueman frequently takes aim at the Reformed crowd as well as broader evangelicals, Catholics, and pop culture. From the forward of the book Rodney Trotter warns that these essays "a book without a theme, without a constituency, and thus without a market" (Kindle Location 41 of 2549). There's some truth in there's no discernible flow from one chapter to the next and it would be almost impossible to provide a concise summary based on the structure of the book (see table of contents here). But there are some broader themes which frequently take stage. I will focus the remainder of the review on those.
The knot that kept the rope from slipping was the examination of culture. What was most ironic to me is that it is in vogue in evangelicalism to fancy yourself a student of the culture and to use words like contextualization, etc. Many of the issues addressed by Trueman are a result of poor interpretation of the culture. On the flip side, Trueman as a self-professed middle-aged, balding white male whose culture relevance extends to his fancy for The Who's is able to see trends in modern American culture and rightly apply the truth of Scripture to these fads.
First, I have said here multiple times that what the church lacks most of all is pastors, leaders, and people who are familiar with church history and theology. It's a familiarity with the past that makes picking out the modern knock offs so easy. And this is what Trueman excels at. Last, Trueman handles the Scriptures honestly. For example, if some random guy came up to me and told me, "Your wife wanted me to tell you that for your anniversary she doesn't want to go see the latest Nicholas Sparks novel turned movie, she wants to spend the night on the couch watching the Celtics match up against the Miami Heat." I would just laugh. It wouldn't be credible in the least. So it is with Scripture, when you have soaked yourself in God's Word and are intimately familiar with him someone telling you, "God just wants to do better and try harder to have your best life now" should just make you laugh.
Eating Irish Babies
Trueman also demonstrates his skill with turning a phrase and poking the sleeping giant in the exact right spot. My copy of Fools Rush In is littered with highlights, scribbles, and notes. He had provided me with verbal cud that I can re-digest for months to come. I can't help providing this brief example. I read it. Stopped. Read it again. Then had a good chuckle for a few minutes.
Indeed, I suspect one would have to go back to Jonathan Swift to find a broadly orthodox Protestant churchman who was able to write sustained, elegant prose that still proves capable of provoking laughter. And he wanted to eat Irish babies, didn't he? Now, I love Irish babies, but I could never eat a whole one. (Kindle Location 1975 of 2549)
If for no other reason, it would do good for most evangelical pastors to read Trueman to develop thick skin. Chances are you will not pass these pages with out having your scab picked off. Trueman argues, and I agree for whatever that's worth, that developing thicker skin is a positive virtue. Even more so, realizing the difference between a personal attack and an argument against a system of belief will save you a lot of "pain" and "hurt feelings."
A free copy of this book was provided by P&R Publishing.
This is an interesting book. I liked the concept of the book, using humor to talk about some pretty deep spiritual subjects. Although most of the book is written well, I found some of it to be a bit much. I think some of the joking was taken a little too far. I don't think the author meant for it to come across that way. I think that sometimes we can say something one way but when it is written down it can come across differently then what we wanted. However, the book itself is not condescending in nature and the use of personal examples is what makes the book worth reading.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.