Saturday, December 17, 2005

When Grace Comes Home

I just picked up this book at the book store. At first I was a bit skeptical. I get this way a lot. The cover is too modern, too appealing, too perfect. It couldn't possible be about THE "doctrines of grace," could it? I've picked up too many books which take reformed theology or calvinism or biblical theology and water it down, in the name of being appealing to my generation.

I'm half way through and When Grace Comes Home is climbing to my top favorite books. Terry Johnson, the man behind the book, starts off by saying,

"I personally stand as one who has been profoundly touched by the practical implications of Calvinism, and deeply longs for others to drink from it's satisfying wells. Yet in the popular mind, insofar as anything at all is understood about them, Calvinism's doctrines are regarded as irrelevant theological abstractions without any practical relevance at all."

This is true. I've seen it in my friends who think that I pursue the study of God because I'm "odd" or a "deep thinker." I want them to taste the richness of our God and of His ruling. I want them to see that the study of God is relevant, practical, and delighting. Learning about our God is a gift which should be relished. We should hoard it and be jealous of it. Not because of simply knowing about God, but knowing God.

Johnson goes on, "For our purposes I will focus in on three cardinal doctrines, which shall serve as the focus for the first leg of our journey."

These three doctrines are: the sovereignty of God, human depravity, and sovereign grace.

"These doctrines are not just the theoretical musings of ivory-tower theologians. They are not just abstractions unconnected to life. They are central. They are vital. They are crucial to the living of life. How so? Few seem to realize that these theological truths have shaped whole peoples and civilizations..."

"'My people perish for their lack of knowledge,' God warns through Hosea. This surely has been our problem. We have not had the patience to wrestle with the great truths. We have deliberatively avoided certain doctrines. The result? The same result that occurs whenever one deliberatively refuses any part of God's revelation of Himself. We suffer. We lose. Our souls don't receive the nourishment that that doctrine supplies."

"Paul taught 'the whole counsel of God' because we need it all (Acts 20:27). If we didn't need a part of it, God would not have revealed it to us. Since He did, we can't go around saying, 'It's too hard,' or 'It's too theological.' Apply your minds. 'Come let us reason together,' the Lord says (Isa. 1:18)."

"This is what we intend to do in the pages ahead. I believe that the result will be a much expanded knowledge of God for most. With that will come a clearer understanding of life as well."

My take: read it, read God's Word, and enjoy being refreshed in the wonder of God!


Jason said...

You said, “Learning about our God is a gift which should be relished.” I cetainly agree with that. I have also been described as a "odd" or a "deep thinker.
Too many times I feel other christians have criticzed me when I speak too “deeply” about God. People have asked me why I even bother spending so much money on a theological education when I can just open the Bible and learn the same things. I even had one friend look at my decent, but growing library and said “I don’t waste my money on books, I just have one Bible and thats all I need.” Tha really annoys me sometimes and makes me cyncial, unforunetly.

I have seen that book many times, but never really picked it up. I think there is something with us theological thinkers who get skeptikal of any books that looks “too modern.” Its even that way with my profs…Why do you think that is Julianne? Maybe we desire the old rustic theology looking books. I know I do!

Thanks for the recommendation! I will deffinetly pick up the book sometime and maybe buy it, once I have sufficent funds (now that I know it is not some “new” postmodern attempt to re-do theology).

Julianne, your blog is encouragin to read! It is so good to see other young deep thinkers, like myself, who don’t want theology watered downded and looks at it as a means tog row in knowledge of God, and that is indeed exciting.

Though he certainly departed somewhat from the Reformed Tradition, but loved Calvin none the less, Karl Barth stated the following. “Of all the sciences which stir the head and the heart, theology is the fairest. It is the closest to human reality and gives us the clearest sense of the truth which all science quests…The task which is laid upon theology and which it should and can fuflfill is its service to the Church.

May God bless you today and this Christmas season Julianne!

Daniel Mann said...

I know where you got this book, bottom row, in the mall, I blew the dust off it a number of times; thinking about buying it. I thought it might be a good read. I thought it look to modern as well,it seem to look like an emergent book, but that publisher only puts out reformed stuff.

It caught my eye, I believe calvinism is very practical, I am currently writing on this very subject. Calling the Church to refomation in real practical ways. There is always the danger to only know information and not have it applied to our lives. All information without application leads to frustration. True calvinism is pratical, thats why I treasure the Puritans luminous labor to provoke theological practicality.
Thanks for this post
God bless you

H K Flynn said...

Glad you liked this book. I bet you like John Piper too. He's sort of similar, very Calvinistic and also with a punchy relevancy.

I'm a FoA (friend of Antonio) so I probably would percieve the book differently, but there are some Calvinistic-endorsed ideas that I find very satisfying and practical.

I read a dissertation about the eternality of God that helped me see that William Lane Craig's thesis may not quite be right. It has helped me worship God to know He was and remains eternal.

(I don't know if you like long comments but Craig's idea (I think)is that God was eternal (without time) but because Jesus stepped into time, and becasue he is still human, he has committed God to everlasting temporality. (Instead of timeless eternality.) So that everlasting becomes a more accurate description than eternal. It makes the incarnation important in a new way.

(So for the sake of this philosophical discussion, 'eternality' and 'everlasting' are used as technical expressions.)

Anyway it has helped me to worship knowing that in fact God is more likely eternal, even if Jesus (and God the Spirit) act in time as well.

God bless,

hk flynn