Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel - eBook
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Vendor: B&H Books
Publication Date: 2015
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ChrisSingaporeAge: 25-34Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A gentle critique on the present and constructive suggestions on the futureDecember 23, 2015ChrisSingaporeAge: 25-34Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Is America a Christian nation? In the recent years this notion seemed to have been challenged deeply. Yet Russell D. Moore will argue that this notion is completely wrong. America has never been called to be a christian nation and we better not have this notion at the back of our mind.
Within this book, Moore wants christians to wake up to the reality that although the privilege of being in a christian nation has now disappeared, that is actually for the better for christians. Moore highlights the various differences that will happen to christians now. One such difference is that Christians will have to embrace a prophetic role. We have to be like the prophets of old who boldly proclaim Gods Word to a people who will not be happy with us and who will not listen to what we have to say. By the looks of how things have been going, it looks like this is very likely to happen in the near future.
Having raised his observation at the American culture and thinking, Moore then brings in different topics that he wants readers to think about. Moore very carefully helps the readers to think through these topics biblically, rather than thinking through them politically or culturally. These chapters seems to be a good wake up call for all christians on either side of the issue. Moore is careful not to push readers to the position he takes, rather he helps readers think through their own position critically and examine to see if it is really biblical or just seemed biblically.
I really appreciate how Moore ended his book calling christians not to have a defeatist mindset, rather we have to look ahead to how God will lead His own people. Our trust remains on God, the same God who has used a cult following, promiscuous man (Augustine) to further His kingdom in ways no one would have expected. I liked how Moore reminds us that the next person God might use for His kingdom may jolly well be the one who is fighting for the LGBT marriage rights or the right to abortion, just like how Saul, the persecutor of the church was miraculously changed to the apostle Paul. Moore leaves the readers with great expectation that God can and maybe will do great things in the near future. In the meantime, let us learn to live lives faithful to what the Bible calls us to and loving proclaim what God has spoken to us to the world.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
bobbyT5 Stars Out Of 5Excellent BookDecember 8, 2015bobbyTQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Very relavent for the times. Refocuses our thinking of the state of Christianity on where it should be, those lost, without God and without hope in the world. This book has been very helpful to me.
Elaine2 Stars Out Of 5Very DisappointingDecember 6, 2015ElaineQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0I was very excited to have the opportunity to review Onward: Engaging the Culture without Loosing the Gospel by Russell Moore. The descriptions I had read were very positive and the subject matter was very intriguing, especially given recent current events. I hate to admit that I was sorely disappointed upon reading it because the content of the book did not match the descriptions that I had previously read.
The first third of the book is very technically written. So much so that the reader will need to re-read sentences multiple times to understand the author's point. Further complicating the reading is the over use of obscure words which the lay reader will not understand without the use of a dictionary. Unfortunately, not all of the obscure words that the author utilizes are listed in Merriam Webster's online dictionary (see page 20). If the reader can hang on through the first third of the book, the author will change his writing style to a less technical format, however, the use of obscure words will continue.
The changing of the writing style indicates that the author isn't clear on his target audience. This is further emphasized by the wordiness of his writing, where most points he is trying to address are lost. It appears as though the author uses large words and flowery language to intimidate the reader and sound authoritative on the subject matter. However, it is clear to see that his ideas are not solidly backed with Scripture indicating that his words are purely opinion and, unfortunately, the author fails to explain his opinion clearly. The subject matter of the book could be conducive to allowing the reader opportunities to reflect and self-analyze, however, the author quickly extinguishes those opportunities by giving his personal opinion and moving onto another subject.
As difficult as following the thought paths of the author are, two main themes are clear: sex and abortion. According to the author, without clear explanation, these two topics are the crux of what is wrong with our American Christianity. The author rants on other political topics (such as civil rights and the right wing/ left wing agendas) throughout the book, however, these two topics are ranted in depth in nearly every chapter.
I also found it interesting that the author waits until the last third of the book before he begins to contemplate the root cause of evil. His brief thoughts on spiritual issues do not align with the rest of the book. It is almost as if he had the epiphany that there is a very real enemy to God and His followers. This topic, albeit the most useful, well-written, and encouraging portion of the book is short lived as the following chapter picks up again with the political ranting.
By the end of the book, it is clear that the author lost sight of the audience and the purpose of his writing. Onward: Engaging the Culture with out Loosing the Gospel does not do a sufficient job of encouraging followers of Jesus to engage the world around them.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Excellent book on Christianity and cultureAugust 15, 2015bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5American culture is shifting to an era in which religion is not necessarily seen as a social good. Some Christians leaders will tell us the sky is falling. Moore says the increasing marginalization of Christianity offers an opportunity to reclaim the gospel vision. Christianity is being liberated from American culture. The otherness of the gospel must be proclaimed as Christians have an opportunity to reclaim their witness as strangers and exiles.
A Christianity that is without friction in the culture is a Christianity that dies. Our calling, Moore says, is engaged alienation, preserving the distinctiveness of our gospel while fulfilling our call to be neighbors, friends, and citizens.
I really appreciated Moore's review of Christian values and how they were popular in American culture, even if the actual gospel was not. Now, however, those values are being rejected. Other insights he relates includes evangelism. It used to center on heaven and finding meaning in life. Those issues are not effective any more. I really liked his writing about the covenant relationship of God and Israel and clarifying that God has no covenant relationship with the U.S. He also points out the disparity between what the church preaches and how the congregants really live. And those are just a few of the issues Moore covers.
This book is a real wake up call to Christians. It is a call to no longer settle for an almost gospel. Moore does not skirt issues. He attacks them head on with the clarity of the gospel message, asking Christians to live who they are in Christ. Reading this book might disrupt a few pet ideas, but I think they need disrupting. We are not slouching toward Gomorrah; Moore writes, we are marching to Zion.
I urge pastors, church boards, and small groups to read this book and discuss the issues in it. These topics need to be studied so training can be done for decisions necessary in the future. A small group study guide is available.
Food for thought: The shaking of American culture is no sign that God has given up on American Christianity. In fact, it may be a sign that God is rescuing American Christianity from itself.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for an independent and honest review.
Sufficient in JesusAge: 18-24Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Engaging the culture because of the Gospel.July 29, 2015Sufficient in JesusAge: 18-24Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5
I got a letter in the mail today, from a "Christian organization." They were offering me a CD of a new talk that their founder had delivered. The subject was emblazoned on the envelope- "Addressing Today's Moral Slide."
I tossed it directly in the trash, annoyed by yet another America-is-riding-towards-hell-in-a-hybrid-car screed. Truth be told, I was annoyed because I've owned that mindset for myself.
As an American Christian, I see two main scripts when it comes to addressing my world. One: "Depravity surrounds us! We've lost the youth. The people in power are trying to get rid of God! We've got to take our country back!"
And the other: "Just don't look Out There. Just carry on as a nice Christian, and don't let culture wars and politics distract you from shining your tiny light."
While one book cannot be a cure-all for an unhealthy worldview, Russell Moore's "Onward" can be a strong first dose of medicinal tonic.
And trust me, this is bracing stuff.
The subtitle gives you a decent hint- "Engaging the culture without losing the Gospel"- but I think it could have been phrased even better than that. I'd say something like "Engaging the culture because of the Gospel."
See, Dr. Moore's book isn't a "Hang onto Jesus while you navigate the alligator-infested waters of modern America" book. It's a "Your Lord is alive forevermore, and your life is hidden in Him. You'e also a citizen in a particular country, American, so the Gospel must work through you in your place and time. As walk in Christ's way, how can you understand your world in order to speak His word into it?"
The more I read, the more I found myself feeling like I'd been turned right-side up after a period of being hung up-side down.
There's a lot of voices out there crying "Christian persecution in America!" and some of them are very well-informed individuals making important points. There *are* changes in the way our nation, collectively, relates to religion.
Remember the Bible Belt- made up of Southern communities where it was assumed that every citizen was a Christian, where Church attendance was a foregone conclusion, and where personal Biblical literacy remained a strong possibility, that place some see as the last bastion of American Christianity? It's probably on it's way to collapsing.
Dr. Moore makes this observation within his first few pages.
That was his introduction to the faith- a Southern Baptist community where the local culture revolved around the church and the citizens respected Christian teaching. He loves the church he came from. But he loves the Christ who founded the Church even more.
So instead of finding somebody to blame, or talking more about how we've taken-God-out-of-schools and provided such poor Hollywood role models, or seeing this as a reversal of God's plans, Dr. Moore believes there are good reasons why we could welcome the changes.
Think about this, for a minute.
What if the Gospel was (again) considered strange when it hit the average American's ears?
What if its strangeness required a response?
Might this actually lead to more born-again, converted Christians?
What if we Christians have been misusing America (and misidentifying ourselves) for quite a while?
By this I mean, what if we've been using the basically good American people that surround us and the morality-based laws that govern us to reassure ourselves that we're doing all right, as a Church and as a country?
What if we've been counting on "traditional American family values" to give us safe streets and stable families?
(And now, we're getting the uncomfortable feeling that American values ain't what they used to be.)
What if we've tried with law and rule to get results that only the Gospel can give? (And now, it seems that same power of law could be used to pinch our Christian style.)
What if we've drawn false comfort from the way people still rally around the "God and Country" narrative? (And all along, it was never meant to be about God and country. Our message was "Christ is risen!")
Yes. America is a great country, with a fine and honorable history. I am grateful to live here, and we should be both proud and humbled by the stories that our national history contains.
My Christianity is neither "under attack" here, nor do I despair of my country's future. Instead, I want to live well in the life of Christ, with my feet planted on American soil.
So, what are we to do with all of these thoughts?
Step one: Read this book.
Just kidding. No, I'm actually not. "Onward" would be a fine place to begin, to point you back to the Gospel, to help you gaze at that Life-giving mystery, and then to think well about the world the Gospel came to.
Dr. Moore has so much to say, and I can't do it justice by listing his topics, but I have to give you a general idea.
What is the Kingdom? What is our Mission? What is the Church within the culture? What are the roles and limits of the State and what is the reach and limits of the Church?
What about human dignity, family stability, and religious liberty?
What is convictional kindness, and what does it mean for our witness?
This isn't a book of dogmatic pronouncements- "Engage this much and not that much, protest this thing and vote for this man."
Rather, over and over, Dr. Moore uses his words to show us the Gospel, grounding his observations about the visible world (America, politics, evangelism, liberty, marriage, justice) in the truth we have about the invisible Reality.
I'll have to read this book again, slowly, more than once to really grasp the arguments here. For this time, let my best review be this: I want to read this book again. There was challenge and conviction and Gospel clarification all over the pages.
I thank B&H Publishing for providing me with a copy of "Onward." I wasn't obligated to provide a book review, but I wanted to. And here it is.
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