Links worth a look!


Enjoy some of the links we thought were worth a look!

Unashamed Workman – Find a good church by finding a faithful pulpit

Kevin DeYoung – ‘How God healed me from my abortion’

Trevin Wax – 4 Things a pastor should consider before engaging social media

9 Marks Online – 5 things all Christians have

The Resurgence – How do you know if you’re called to pastoral ministry?

If you come across something yourselves you think we’d like to share with our readers – let us know. We always love hearing from you.

Prayer fuel: News from around the world


Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the March issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

Algeria: church growing
The Algerian church is one of the fastest growing in the Muslim world, it was reported in early February.
More than 100 testimonies have been broadcast through SAT-7 and church services are aired several times a week. The Algerian government gave an official licence to the church in 2011, so it can exist and worship freely. Fellowship of European Broadcasters (FEB) 

France: ‘family-phobia’
More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Paris and Lyon on February 9 to protest against the introduction of same-sex ‘marriage’ and proposals to legalise medical procedures that will allow same-sex couples to have children.
President Francois Hollande, who has suffered near-record low poll ratings, has postponed further social reforms, which demonstrators have described as ‘family-phobic’, until after next month’s municipal elections. Christian Concern

Tanzania: slaughter avoided
More than 100 Muslim extremists on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar stormed a church, following an evening worship service, on January 11 and beat a visiting preacher.
The mob, including suspected members of Islamic extremist groups, meant to attack the congregation’s senior pastor, Bishop Daniel Kwilemba, who was not present at the church. The men shouted that they wished to slaughter the bishop. Morning Star News

 

For more news and prayer fuel from around the world, subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

Youth leaders column from Dave Fenton: A Barnabas spirit…


We’re all quite good at structure these days.

We have our aims, objectives, values and mission statements and, generally, these have improved the way we do things. There is more training around, particularly in all these fields, but I wonder if our training stretches to, or even includes, the way we deal with people.

How teams operate

I have just returned from two weeks at Wimbledon, acting as a steward (someone has to do it!). That whole operation is done by nearly 300 people all in teams with people in charge of different groups around the grounds. It is fascinating to watch teams operate. Some leaders operate by chasing people up as soon they see them do something they shouldn’t — others operate by encouraging people with helpful advice. There are over 50 mentions of the word ‘encourage’ (or its derivations) in the Scriptures and it is more used in the New Testament than in the Old when the church was in its infancy and plenty of people were making mistakes.

Encouragers

Undoubtedly there are some us who need a word of caution or rebuke but I suspect there are many more who flourish when encouraged. I wonder if you’re’ feeling encouraged in your ministry with young people at the moment. Is there a culture of encouragement in your church — and that does not mean saying ‘you’re great’ when you’re not? Many people doing youth ministry are quite inexperienced and need encouragement in the way they do things. A critical spirit is often a product of insecurity and I keep hearing about people being discouraged by criticism. It can also emerge from jealousy, as a younger leader emerges with an amazing gift which appears to overshadow ‘the boss’. One would hope that would be a matter for great rejoicing, but, sadly, it often isn’t.

It can also emerge from inflexibility. A plan had been devised and nothing can change it — it is cast in stone. But it is obvious to most that it needs changing — the result is tension and criticism. How we work together is vital. Ministry is a team exercise and it works best when each encourages the other and rejoices in the gifts seen in that team. That is the way a team will flourish. I would love Barnabas’s name (Acts 4.36) as part of my epitaph (no plans to demise just yet!). If I could be remembered as one who encouraged others to flourish I would rest easy.

It may need a conscious effort — ‘love has given me great joy and encouragement’ (Philemon 7) — and we may need to evaluate how we build our teams and get them using their gifts in the wonderful patchwork of ministry that weaves together to make an effective team. It may need a change of attitude — it may need a change of leaders’ meeting style, so that meetings encourage rather than deflate. By all means evaluate and shape team members, but do it in a way that builds them up. They should not fear their leader — they should enjoy working under their godly leadership.

 

Dave Fenton – associate minister at Christ Church Winchester and Training Director of Root 66 which runs training courses for youth ministers across the UK. 

This article was first published in the August 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

Anglican update: Where are we now?


This month’s Anglican Update is a significant one – for me, anyway!
For, amazingly, it is now ten years since I started writing this column. But, before you rush to hang out the bunting or indeed to send congratulatory gifts of whisky or cheeses, I thought it would be worth taking a moment to review where we are now – one decade on.
In terms of the Church of England, in some ways little has changed. I could have cut and pasted most of the first column I wrote for EN in 2004 and reproduced it now – and probably few would notice, except, I am sure, the editor!

Ten years ago
In that edition I wrote: ‘At its heart, the battle over homosexuality is a battle between those who continue to believe, as Christians generally have, that because of humanity’s sinfulness and limited capacities, God must reveal himself to us – ultimately through the Word of God both written and incarnate – and those… who apparently believe that the Christian faith is primarily a matter of human cultural construct’. To all this we might say – plus ça change!
And what of Anglican evangelicals? Sadly it is fair to say that among those who claim the label ‘evangelical’ in the Church of England there has rarely been less harmony and understanding. The future of the Church of England Evangelical Council seems unclear. Different groupings – representing open evangelicals, conservative evangelicals and charismatic evangelicals – seem to regard one another with suspicion, sometimes hostility and often mutual incomprehension. Are we saddened by this?

Conservative evangelicals
When it comes to conservative evangelicalism specifically, my observation – for what it’s worth – is that in terms of doctrine it is strong, but in terms of devotion sometimes rather weak. Some of today’s conservative evangelicalism is a reaction against the evangelical pietism and charismatic excesses of earlier generations. But I often wonder whether, in seeking a better balance, some conservative evangelicals have become so suspicious of experience, so distrusting of emotion, so wedded to one particular way of preaching, and so committed to doctrinal purity that what we sometimes have is more akin to an ideology than a fully-rounded Christian life.
Such problems are not new, perhaps. Bishop J.C. Ryle wrote in 1879: ‘Cease to regard the gospel as a mere set of abstract propositions… Look at it as the introduction to a glorious personal Friend. This is the kind of gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons was the loving heart of an actual living Christ!’
And J.I. Packer wrote in Themelios magazine in 1996: ‘The great Puritans were as humble-minded and warm-hearted as they were clear-headed, as fully-orientated to people as they were to Scripture, and as passionate for peace as they were for truth. They would certainly have diagnosed today’s fixated Christian intellectualists as spiritually-stunted, not in their zeal for the form of sound words but in their lack of zeal for anything else’.
As for me, I’m with the Puritan Thomas Goodwin who wrote: ‘I never yet took up party religion in the lump… I have found gospel holiness where you would little think it to be, and so likewise truth. And I have learned this principle, which I hope I shall never lay down till I am swallowed up of immortality, and that is, to acknowledge every truth and every goodness wherever I find it’.
Now you may hang out the bunting and send me whisky and cheese! Glory be to God.

David Baker
Rector of the churches of East Dean with Friston and Jevington, East Sussex

 

This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

Prayer fuel: News in the UK


Here are a handful of news-bites from around the UK included in the March issue of EN. May these spur us on to pray for our country and issues we all are facing.

Insulting end
On February 1 the word insult was removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act after the successful campaign by the coalition of groups, ‘Insult me’.
The Home Office had been working with the police to prepare them for the change, where the word and its wide interpretation in law had led to arrests of people for calling Scientology a cult, or for religious discussion between a Muslim and a Christian.
The Christian Institute

Pass it on
The Bible Society is launching ‘Pass it On’, a campaign which will urge parents to read, listen to or watch Bible stories with their children, it was reported in late January.
Organisers are talking with children’s authors to release print adaptations of biblical stories. New apps for iPads and android tablet devices are also understood to be in the works. A ComRes survey revealed that 12% of Londoners think Santa Claus is in the Bible. The Christian Institute

Mary Jones world
Work has begun to turn a deconsecrated church in Bala, North Wales into a new £1 million visitor centre telling the story of the woman who saved for six years to buy a Bible and walked 25 miles to collect it from Thomas Charles.
The new centre will tell their story and give visitors the chance to learn about the Bible’s impact in Wales and the rest of the world. Bible Society’s Newswatch

 

For more news and prayer fuel from around the UK, subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

Editors commentary: God and the storms?


‘What do you think?‘ she asked me.

Someone in our congregation had been asked on Facebook about the accusation, which hit the headlines recently, that the heavy storms across Britain were God’s judgment for the government’s legalisation of gay marriage.
The question put me on the spot. My response was to say that as a nation we are guilty before God of all kinds of sins and already under his judgment. Whether or not the floods were related to that matter specifically was beyond my wisdom.

Atmospheric theology
But the question was a fair one. The Bible would encourage us to take God’s control of the weather very seriously. Though the original world was very good, the creation is under a curse because of mankind’s sin (Romans 8.19-23).
More specifically, Psalm 148.8 declares that the storms ‘do his bidding’. We see just that from Noah’s flood in Genesis, through the weather conditions of the plagues of Egypt, to the story of Jonah; right through to some of the visions of judgment in Revelation. At the same time both the OT and the NT tell us that good weather, especially for the growing of crops, is in the hands of God (Deuteronomy 11.13-15; 1 Kings 11.35-36; Matthew 5.45; Acts 14.17). Jesus commands the winds and the waves (Mark 4.41). We can’t duck the issue.

Defending God?
Some Christians would like to somehow distance God from natural disasters. I was sent a manuscript recently, from someone who had experienced the suffering of many Christian folk in Haiti, which pursued this line. I sympathised with where the author was coming from, but, in all honesty, the Bible does not dally with that kind of theodicy. It declares him to be sovereign, even over terrible disasters. Severe weather killed Job’s sheep and shepherds and all his ten children. His worshipful response includes the well known words: ‘The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away’.
‘But surely’, another point of view would say, ‘these storms are down to climate change, which is man’s fault rather than God’s.’ Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Past President of Chicago Theological Seminary, has stated in The Washington Post that ‘superstorms aren’t an act of God’, but the result of the ‘moral evil’ of continuing to pump fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere, producing global warming.
But this either/or approach tends to be a little naïve. Often Scripture shows us God’s acts being worked out through human choices, both for good (Philippians 2.12, 13) and evil (Romans 1.24, etc.). The climate change approach may be true and, at the same time, the storms still acts of God.

The gospel
It is a fact that moving away from our Christian roots does seem to have been paralleled by steep decline in the nation. The financial collapse of 2008 has left us with very little money to play with even to address the devastation brought about by the storms; thus, it seems, the catastrophic delays in government help. And all this just as George Osborne was trumpeting the upturn in the economy.
But despite the gloom, under the radar of the media’s gaze – fixed forever on the confusion of Anglicanism and the continuing scandals of Roman Catholicism – ordinary local churches, faithful to the Bible, are slowly making headway as they hold out the gospel.
Our nation is indeed under God’s judgment, but, as I speak to Christians in churches across the country, it is evident that simultaneously many people are being saved. Don’t despair. Job met God in the storm.

John Benton

This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

Links worth a look!


Enjoy some of the links we thought were worth a look!

Above Every Name – It starts with the heart

Between Two Worlds – 8 Strategies to increase your reading

Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood – Gaming, greatness and the perfect day

The Good Book – I’ve got a friend who struggles with… gossip

Out Of the Ordinary – Conceit and keeping in step with the Spirit

If you come across something yourselves you think we’d like to share with our readers – let us know. We always love hearing from you.

What’s your game?


What's your game?I’ll never forget the Christmas of 1986.

After much cajoling, whining and emotional manipulation, my parents finally bought me a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K. Despite the many assurances that such a purchase would help me fulfil my homework responsibilities, my prevailing memory is of hours spent on games such as Jet Set Willy and Manic Minor.
The bleeps and bloops, sound effects and two-colour graphics were nothing like I’d ever seen before. Back then, games came on audiotapes and you daren’t stay in the room at the same time as it was ‘loading’, lest you breathed in the wrong way and caused the whole thing to crash.
Things are different in 2013. Games don’t come on tapes now, but on disks or, increasingly, as DLC (Down Loadable Content). The big gaming brands of yesteryear — Sega and Atari — have both withdrawn from the industry as behemoths Microsoft and Sony muscled them out with the Xbox and Play Station brands respectively.

Bigger budgets and wider appeal
Games look and feel like Hollywood blockbuster titles now and have the production budgets to match. The controversial Grand Theft Auto 5 took $800 million on its release day and 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 generated more revenue than James Cameron’s film Avatar.
The demographics of who plays games have also shifted significantly in the past 15 years. Adults like me, who grew up with video games in the 80s, make up a significant portion of those who play them today. Quoting a report commissioned by Pixwoo, a social gaming network, wired.co.uk says: ‘Rather than being a 12-year-old male, the average gamer is actually 35 years old with a job and a family’. Games aren’t just for the male demographic either. The Washington Post recently reported that almost half of the gaming population is now female. And, with the advent of family-friendly consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, games have a far wider appeal than ever before.
All of this is to say that video games in 2013 can’t just be written off as a fad, something kids grow out of, or just for nerdy teenage boys who have acne and are bad at sport. Like Facebook and Twitter, the new entertainment media has grown into a global and cultural phenomenon in its popularity.
Why are games so loved? Well, put simply, video games are a ton of fun. The creativity of game developers, designers and artworkers elevates the medium into a legitimate art form. Playing Halo 4 is like watching a high production interactive sci-fi movie, and games like Sim City, where you plan and run a city (infrastructure, taxes, town planning, etc.), offer real learning potential. Gaming in 2013 is more sophisticated than ever before, but is not without its issues.
Violence in games
Advances in technology mean that the next generation of video games can feature photo-realistic graphics and, in some cases, violent content or adult themes. Expect more tabloid headlines like, ‘Grand Theft Auto 5 torture row: teachers slam scenes of extreme violence in most expensive game ever made’.
The main difference between the Hollywood blockbuster film and gaming in 2013 is that now you can interact with the virtual worlds of Xbox One and PS4 game consoles. Fancy winning the Champions League as Barcelona football club in FIFA 13? Go for it! Perhaps overseeing an expansive military operation is more your thing? Then Battlefield 4 is for you. Want to go on a city-wide murderous rampage? You’re in luck! Grand Theft Auto 5 just came out.
In the Old Testament there is always an evaluation of violence: it is either God’s right judgment on sin or the violence itself is clearly demonstrated to be evil. However, violence in video games either happens in an amoral context or no moral context at all.
There are some challenges ahead and some titles are clearly not appropriate for all people. Just as with the film industry, video games are regulated and suitability advice is given to parents via the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) mark on the cover of each game.
Developing the right tools
The big issue for parents, however, is when young people are with peers who have access to games that are age inappropriate. Parents need wisdom to help young people think through what they ought to do with the choices they’re presented with when an adult is not there to make decisions for them.
My nephew is 13 years old and my older brother has told him that he’s not, in any circumstances, to play Call of Duty (PEGI 18) at his friend’s house. Will Ashar obey his parents’ wishes? Well, that’s going to depend on a number of factors. We know that law alone will be insufficient in helping him make the right choices.
Therefore, we need to help young people develop the tools they need to make good decisions: a Christian mind and Christian worldview, in which they understand how a person is loved by God, dehumanised by violence and the consequences of ‘sewing in the flesh’. That it will make a person harsh, cold and hard-hearted towards Jesus. Paul’s words to the Philippians come to mind: ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things’.
On line safety concerns
Next generation blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Destiny and Titan Fall feature a significant shift away from traditional single player games to focus on multiplayer online experiences, inviting gamers to interact with each other over the web. This can add a significant element of fun because you can play competitive matches with friends or new people online. However, the anonymity that online gaming affords players means that it isn’t always a pleasant experience. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been called a cheat, loser, noob (newbie / new inexperienced player) or usually much worse on Xbox Live because I was doing particularly well at a competitive game.
Online bullying is a real concern and we need to help young people be safe in this new environment. If we don’t understand the online world of Xbox Live, Play Station Network or PC gaming and are responsible for young people who use this media regularly, we ought to learn quickly because the internet isn’t going away and we need to help young people make safe, responsible and sensible decisions.
Good use of time?
I remember a friend telling me about the time he told his wife that he was going to have a quick go on Championship Manager (a football management simulator) before going to bed. He recounted to me of how mad she was with him when he casually rolled into bed at 5.00 am and how telling her that he’d won the league with Leicester City didn’t help make things better. Video games are not unique in presenting us with the challenge of making responsible decisions when it comes to time management. How many hours are spent on Facebook, flicking through TV channels or looking at cat videos on YouTube? It is simply another entertainment media we need to handle with care.
I was chatting to a friend (a father of two) about what it means to parent responsibly when considering these issues. He talked about restricting screen time for teenage children to one hour per day. They can choose between TV and games but all screens are used in the family social space and for no longer than the agreed time.
Thinking through the issues
For many, video games are a great source of entertainment. Some people enjoy X-Factoror The Great British Bake Off, I happen to prefer a more interactive media. However, we ought to be discerning, disciplined and apply Christian thought and a Christian mind to all the media we consume, be it Facebook, going to the movies, the music we listen to, what we choose to watch on TV. In the same way, we also ought to think about how we can enjoy, safely and responsibly, the benefits of the new interactive media and how we help those entrusted to our care. 

Pod Bhogal is Head of Communications for UCCF:The Christian Unions. Follow him on Twitter @podbhogal for video game and football-related tomfoolery. He sometimes Tweets about student mission.

This article was first published in the December 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

Is God saying something to the UK through the recent weather?… and more in the March issue of EN


March 2014 highlightsA few highlights to look forward to in the March issue of EN! It’s scheduled to arrive from the printers on Friday February 21. Of course you can always e-mail subs@e-n.org.uk as well if you’d like a complimentary copy or if you’d like to subscribe!

Cross Roads (book review)


CROSS ROADS Crossroads
What if you could go back and put things right? 
By Wm. Paul Young 
Hodder & Stoughton. 304 pages. £7.99 
ISBN 978 1 444 745 993

It’s 18 million copies and six years since The Shack burst onto the Christian scene. There’s little doubt it has been an influential book and it’s perhaps surprising it’s taken this long for a second novel to come from William Young’s pen.

Loved and loathed in equal measure, it seemed to divide Christianity at its broadest level, though most evangelicals were agreed it contained some alarming teaching. Given the success of the first volume, expect to see Cross Roads in bookstores (both Christian and secular) and topping internet lists — it’s already climbing the Amazon rankings.

First of all, it’s worth outlining what kind of book this is. It’s a story told in a classic novel form which occasionally leans on the allegorical style of Pilgrim’s Progress. Young would like you to think that it’s in the mould of C.S. Lewis (indeed, ‘Irish Jack’ is one of the key characters that makes regular appearances). But the story is not as subtle as one of Lewis’s allegories. It’s more direct: the story of Tony Spencer, a bad husband, brother, father, but enormously successful in business.

Tony suffers from a brain tumour, collapses and is in a life-threatening coma in a US hospital. The action is equally divided between two locations: one in Tony’s soul, pictured as a wasteland landscape inhabited by Tony, Jack, the Holy Spirit and Jesus; the other as Tony consciously inhabits various characters who come into contact with his body — a Down’s Syndrome teenager, a nurse and so on.

A good big picture?

If all that sounds a bit, well, weird, just dispense with the detail for the moment. At a macro level, this is a basic story of redemption. Tony gets one chance to change things. He can heal one person. Obviously, he will heal himself, won’t he? The book is the story of how he wrestles with his conscience and finally uses this one-off healing power to benefit someone other than himself.

As a story of redemption, that’s just about digestible: bad man turns good in the end and so (the lesson goes) don’t you go being bad. Of course, redemption stories always run the risk of being sub-biblical. They sound suspiciously like salvation by works. That’s always going to be a risk. But as a kind of ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ story, they can serve a purpose, and this one does too.

It is even relatively orthodox on some key ideas: the oneness of the Trinity (p.71) and the substitutionary nature of the atonement (p.194) are just two (perhaps surprising) examples. But overall, the macro story is infused with meaningless psycho-babble which clouds the storytelling. At one point, when Tony tells Jesus that he doesn’t feel very wonderful, Jesus replies: ‘For there to be an “I am not” there must first be an “I am”. Image and appearance tell you little. The inside is bigger than the outside when you have the eyes to see’ (p.65). I found myself thinking of one of The Matrix films: I really have no idea what they are talking about!

The devil is in the detail

And this begins to explain the serious problem with the book. In telling the macro story of redemption, the micro details are, at best, misleading and, at worst, plain wrong. There’s hardly space to catalogue the detailed scriptural disaster field that this book presents, but some key lowlights will suffice:

* There’s a deficient view of salvation. Tony — the bad man, remember — discovers that Jesus has inhabited his inner being since birth. Sure, Tony prayed a prayer as a young child in foster care, but that (as the book reveals) was insincere. Anyway, Jesus was already there. Tony just needed to realise it. Despite the orthodoxy of the description of the cross, salvation is expressed solely in terms of relationship with the Jesus who is ever-present in the inner being.

* Not surprisingly, therefore, regeneration is redefined. It is ‘centred and built on everything you got right, not what you got wrong… the focus is on rebuilding, not on tearing down. In every building torn down there is much that remains that was once true and right and good, and that gets woven into the new…it is the refurbishing of the soul’ (p.159). As most Bible readers will understand, refurbishment is hardly a biblical salvation category.

* There’s a poor doctrine of hell. ‘Tony’, says Jack (C.S. Lewis), ‘hell is believing and living in the real when it is not the truth… whatever you believe about death and hell it is not separation’ (p.48). What happened to the ‘great chasm’ of Luke 16.26? There is a kind of insipid universalism here.

* The relationship between the Father and the Son is distorted. ‘Why are you here?’ Jesus is asked by Tony. ‘Papa hasn’t shared that piece of purpose with me so far… he knows I like surprises’ (p.69). How different from the teaching of John’s Gospel, for example, where adult Jesus knows precisely what he is doing and saying and why.

* Moreover, God is not supremely sovereign. As a plot device, giving Tony the power to decide who the one person Jesus will heal is may work. But, as theological detail, it will not do.

The detail simply does not stand biblical scrutiny. However, behind all this are two particular problems for evangelicals.

Two problems

First, there is the question of the voice of God. In her February 2009 review of The Shack (see the EN website), Sarah Allen perceptively pointed out that God does not speak in The Shack; rather Young speaks on his behalf, effectively putting whatever words he wants into God’s mouth. The same error is repeated here. In fact the Bible is dealt with almost entirely negatively. The idea of an authoritative proclamation from God himself as the Spirit inspires the Bible writers is absent. Instead we get Young’s own interpretation of what God might say.

Second, there is the question of the Trinity. True, as explained above, the book is orthodox on the oneness of the Godhead. But there are significant problems with the personification of the Trinity. For Young, the Spirit is a native American grandmother. Jesus is a good-time guy in a checked shirt. The Father turns out to be represented as a seven-year-old girl.

This is simply heretical. God the Son is incarnate in Christ, not a next door neighbourly woodchopper. The Father is personified in Scripture, but as a Father, not a small child. And he is not enfleshed. Neither is the Spirit. While Young may feel that these are useful plot devices to represent the relationships that exist between the three persons of the Trinity, they are not biblically accurate or helpful.

Is it any good?

And therein lies the dilemma of the book. Is it any good? That largely depends on whether you feel it is possible to separate the big picture from the small detail. Personally, I cannot. Young has set out to deliberately use Christian detail to serve the bigger picture. Unlike, say, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, the allegory thus becomes dependent on the small elements that make up the macro story. No one believes in talking animals, and so the Narnia books work: the allegory is not pushed too far. Young’s book is quite different.

If the two can be separated, then this is an average book about redemption and the danger of living for yourself. Perhaps, just perhaps, someone who is not a Christian might pause and think after reading it. But they will get the same message, better put, from Dickens’s Christmas Carol, for example. If the two cannot be separated, then this book is everything I feared it might be: a distorted, sub-biblical picture of the glorious Christian faith, empty of the wonder of the cross. Which is rather ironic really, given its title.

Adrian Reynolds, 
Director of Ministry at the Proclamation Trust

 

 
This article was first published in the December 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.

http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057