Love and respect is an incredible experience for us both. We are leading a group of a dozen couples who love this study.
That's a toss-up. I'm an audible learner, so this fits my style of learning perfectly. However, the apologetics approach to Grace and Mercy is deep, rich, and sometimes complicated. Reading in print might have been better for some of the more demanding chapters.
Alcorn uses style and tone to make his theology come more alive than many. This isn't boring, but it also isn't mindless, passive storytelling either.
I've listened to most of his work. This is in the middle. His novels are awesome. I've listened to Lord Foulgrins Letters at least four times.
I sometimes abandon my dreams, comfort, or goals, but I will never abandon my faith.
Wow. Where to begin without being hyper-critical, judgmental, or insincere? I'm not sure I can do that without appearing to be those things. I wish I could just share my heart without criticizing this book to get a message across.
As Pastor Platt opened, I'll also open. I'm a layperson who has been a Christ Follower since I was 12. In the past 45 years, my family has served on two international mission fields, two local churches, and many small study and prayer groups. I've never been to seminary and am a professor at a community college. Cars are paid for (and one is a decade old), no credit cards have balances, and we live within our means in a 3 BR ranch home in the suburbs. In International Standards, we're mega-rich.
Pastor Pratt starts his book with his credentials as the youngest pastor of a mega-church and a seminary-trained minister.
Pastor Platt's premise that in order to live Biblically, we must give away what we own, live as minimalists, leave America to spread the message of Christ around the world, and abandon our "mega-churchs, performances, and programs" is a sweeping and completely unfounded damnation of millions of Christians in the United States.
His Biblical example of the Rich Young Ruler is a primary foundation for the "command" that we give away our stuff. This was an instruction to a NON-BELIEVER because he worshipped his STUFF more than he was willing to worship GOD. This was not a command to everyone, and certainly never a requirement for salvation. In fact, our material wealth is never a condition of salvation - whether we've got a lot, a little, or none.
In fact, Lazarus was never commanded to sell his home, which Jesus stayed in often. Solomon, David, Moses, Jacob, were all blessed with material wealth. None of them worshipped their possessions, and Pastor Platt doesn't mention their leadership as a model for how we should treat our possessions. Joseph of Arimathia was wealthy enough to own a tomb. Jesus certainly didn't tell him to sell that. And tithing is never encouraged in this book.
In fact, dozens of references to homes, cars, clothes, and things are sarcastically lamented as non-Christian demonstrations of our self-centeredness, and that if we keep these things instead of giving to the international poor, we should question our own salvation. He turns his sarcasm and biting tone to worship style, buildings, and programs too. In fact, he writes that it's a sin to build a $12 million dollar sanctuary and only send $5,000 to foreign aid to feed starving people. His damnation of that paltry sum is never juxtaposed with the decades of service such a building may provide as a venue for tens of thousands of hungry SOULS to learn about Christ. He also doesn't mention that those hungry people will be hungry again tomorrow unless something changes in their country, their government leaders, their cultures, and their economies. He has no suggestions on how we Christians should address that.
This is the same kind of "Spiritual Abuse" as the "Health and Wealth" theology spewed by some popular evangelists, except we are told that we are guilty of abhorrent sin when we have stuff instead of poverty. We're further instructed to leave where God placed us in ministry (especially if you're in a mega-church, a church with programs, or a church with many services, bands, and visual arts.) If that is our "misguided" understanding of Jesus' desire for our ministry, then we are living sinfully and not within the Word according to Pastor Platt.
I reject nearly every argument people present if they first consider it necessary to bash the predecessors responsible for whatever they want to change before they can present the merits of their proposal. Making someone else look bad in order for me to look good isn't taught by Jesus either.
The maintenance committee leader who criticizes the prior painter a decade earlier before he can propose we paint our sanctuary again is just wrong. The treasurer who must point out all the difficulties of working with the prior bookkeeper before recommending we change our procedures is misleading. The pastor who tells me I'm living sinfully worshipping in my church before telling me I need to go overseas to help people in "secret church" learn about Jesus is manipulative. Pastor Platt does not appear to stand on Biblical truth as his foundation. He builds his case on the backs of what he perceives is wrongful worship and false salvation.
So, I reject this premise as being manipulative, totally out of context with Biblical truth, and yet another "Theology of Works" approach to Christianity.
If this were contextually written, Pastor Platt would have written at least one time about tithing. He'd have mentioned at least once the promise of Blessings in both Old and New Testaments. He'd have at least acknowledged that we know that not ALL will know Christ. And he'd at least devoted some portion of a chapter expounding love, compassion, and service as Biblical motivation to follow his prescription for practicing our faith. Instead, we get guilt, works, and theological abuse.
Bummer. I really don't like writing such criticism.
Not sure, but that would stand on its own merit.
Not really interested.
So sorry to write such criticism.
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