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Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said
Crossway Books & Bibles / 2006 / Paperback
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In reading your Bible, you can't help but be struck by some of the shocking things Jesus said and how to apply them in life. "Unless you hate your father and mother, you cannot be my disciple." "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven." With honesty and humility and without being academic, Kuligin examines ten of Christ's difficult sayings and offers practical advice for following Christ. Blended into each chapter are personal anecdotes, a healthy quantity of biblical support, and reflections from historical figures such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, and John Bunyan.
If you are looking for a book that will challenge you in your faith, one that will draw you back to some of the more important issues of the Christian faith, Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said, written by Victor Kuligin, is for the most part a good read. There should be more books like this calling the church back to the basics of Christianity.
The book is divided up into eleven chapters. Each one is dedicated to the art of some aspect of the Christian life. For instance, chapter one is about The Art of Spiritual Commitment. Chapter five is titled The Art of Spiritual Martyrdom. And chapter nine is about The Art of Spiritual Discernment. Other chapters deal with self-crucifixion (4), love (6), and forgiveness (7).
Overall the book is an affirmation of biblical truth. For example, Kuligin writes on page 118: "Our world is in love with 'Jesus-lite,' not the real Jesus." And if "our message to the world is simply, 'God love you,' we will have little problem with the world. But if our message is the message of Christ, that we are sinners dead in our trespasses, mortally depraved and unable to save ourselves, I guarantee you the world will hate us. If we add to that the message of faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Lord, one who not only saves but also expects to be our master, our pluralistic planet will look for ways to silence us."
He has good insight when he later writes "Christians produce enemies when they hypocritically live in unrepentant sin, all the while condemning others for similar transgressions. For example, the sin of homosexuality is a common whipping boy of modern evangelicals while the sin of wanton divorce is hardly spoken about" (p. 140). He takes this issue up again on pages 237-38.
There is much good to be gleaned from Kuligin's efforts. That being said, there are some areas readers should be cautioned about. For instance, on page 154 he uses Mahatma Gandhi as an example of demonstrating Christian love, though Kuligin admits that Gandhi was not a Christian. One wonders about the wisdom of using an unbeliever and saying that that person demonstrated Christian love. Only a Christian can demonstrate Christian love, because that person must first be empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to have that love. Gandhi said to the wife of one of his earliest disciples, Millie Polak, that he considered "embracing the Christian faith," but he never did. He believed that every man has an impulse for good, and a spark of divinity within him. The apostle Paul says just the opposite when he writes in Ephesians 2:1 that all unbelievers are dead in their sin, and in Romans 3:11, that no one seeks for God in their state of spiritual death. Kuligin also used Nelson Mandela, the South African black leader, as an example of showing Christian love. He has not embraced the gospel. These examples are troubling to say the least. Why would a Christian writer try to use non-Christians as examples to make a biblical point?
It was also unsettling when Kuligin referred to TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) writing, "Much on TBN is good, but some of it is less than adequate and can be misleading" (p. 250). One wonders what teachers on the TBN programming schedule he believes are adequate: T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Marilyn Hickey, or Kenneth Copeland? Most of the programming on this network is shear heresy. It was a little confusing to see his qualified endorsement of TBN here after he forcefully came against the mind-set of this type of Americanized thinking in Chapter 4.
I was also troubled by his quote from the 19th-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard on page 278. Kierkegaard was an existentialist who found a home with 20th-century existentialists and neoorthodox theologians, such as Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, and Reinhold Niebuhr. These men and others like them sat half-way between theological liberals, who outright denied such doctrines as the deity of Christ and the inspiration of Scripture, and conservatives who believed in them. Almost always, to my knowledge, neoorthodoxy weakened many of the doctrines of the Bible by, in part, holding to Biblical Criticism.
Taken as a whole, this is a helpful book and Kuligin has good comments throughout. The warning I would give is that I cannot endorse everything in it. On the one hand, Kuligin is to be applauded for his directness and bold treatments of certain subjects, but on the other hand this would be a much better work if more discernment was exercised over what illustrations he used, and which historical figures were appealed to in order to support his points. Ray Hammond, Christian Book Previews.com
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