Archives For Evangelism

 

Reframing our
Theology and Evangelism

 
A Review of

Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King.
Matthew Bates

Hardback: Baker Academic, 2017.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Danny Yencich
 
 
Matthew Bates’s recent Salvation by Allegiance Alone is a welcome book. It is useful—vital, even—for Christians of any traditional or denominational stripe grappling with the Gospel.

The book, which is clearly aimed at a mixed audience of laity and students, forwards a simple but important thesis: contemporary Christianity has, for the most part, gotten it wrong when it comes to “belief, faith, works, salvation, heaven, and the gospel” itself (2). Bates’s argument hinges on a fresh take on the first item in that list— “belief” (pistis). Whenever the Greek term pistis appears in the New Testament with reference to eternal salvation, Bates suggests that allegiance, not “belief,” “is the best macro-term available to us that can describe what God requires from us for eternal salvation” (5). Thus, “it is by grace you have been saved through allegiance” to Jesus the Christ (Eph 2:8, Bates’s translation, 4). This is a marked departure from the standard rendering of this and most other NT instances of the term pistis, which is to say: Bates has picked a fight with a lot of people. His argument, however, is robust and demands a close reading from anyone who would immediately dismiss the thesis out of hand.

Continue Reading…

 

“Recovering What Has Been Lost
in the Industrialization of Christianity

A review of
The King Jesus Gospel:

The Original Good News Revisited
by Scot McKnight.

Review by Chris Smith.


KING JESUS GOSPEL - Scot McKnightThe King Jesus Gospel:
The Original Good News Revisited
Scot McKnight.
Hardback: Zondervan, 2011.

Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

One of the major problems of the modern, industrial era is that of reduction.  In pursuit of efficiency, complex objects are reduced to basic essential parts.  A chair, for instance, is typically no longer the attentive handiwork of a craftsman as it was in ages past, but rather a set of mass-produced parts of the cheapest materials possible hastily assembled in a factory somewhere.  Foods also have been reduced to prepared substances that can be popped into the microwave; eating has been reduced to the acquisition of basic nutrients.  And Western Christianity is not immune to similar sorts of reduction: God’s reconciliation of all creation is reduced to saving souls; evangelism is reduced to persuading people to assent to a particular convictional statement.

Continue Reading…

 

764744: Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who"s Already There A Review of
Nudge:
Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There

By Leonard Sweet.
Hardback: David C. Cook, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

As one who grew up in the midst of the heyday of evangelicalism and who was never completely comfortable with notions of evangelism that amounted to little more than proselytizing, evangelism has come to be a dirty word.  However, in the concept of evangelism, like all dirty words (and I would argue all dirty people as well) there lies the possibility for redemption.  Leonard Sweet, in his new book Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There, offers a fresh, new take on evangelism that points us toward recovery of the language of evangelism in ways that are more consistent with the whole of the scriptural narrative than what passed for evangelism in the days of my youth.  In the book’s preface Sweet gives form to this new understanding of evangelism:

Evangelism for too long has been disconnected from discipleship.  In Nudge, evangelism is discipleship.  What yokes evangelism to discipleship, I propose is the art of attention, attending to life and attending to God (21).

Certainly, in our increasingly technological age, social critics have been denouncing our inability to pay attention (see for example, Maggie Jackson’s recent book Distracted LGT: our review), so it is refreshing to see the fundamental role that the recovery of attention plays in Sweet’s reframing of evangelism.  Another particularly refreshing facet of Sweet’s work here is the holistic way in which he describes evangelism using imagery connected to all five senses.

Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of  TRANSFORMATIONAL ARCHITECTURE by Ron Martoia


[ This book was sent to us as part of The Ooze‘s Select Blogger Program…] 

Ron Martoia’s new book Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives As Narrative came as somewhat of a pleasant surprise.  After reading the publisher’s blurb on the back cover, I almost didn’t read the book at all:

                “How can I more effectively reach people of my

generation with the Message of the Gospel?”

Quite frankly, this question wasn’t one that interested me.  However, I do know that publishers often add blurbs like that, which they think will aid the marketability of the book, but in reality may not be a fair representation of the book’s content.  So, I decided to give the book a chance, and I’m glad that I did.  Transformational Architecture is an insightful guide to making the shift from talking about our faith in propositional language to talking about our faith in terms of narrative.  Over the course of the book, Martoia demonstrates that he has a solid understanding of this cultural and philosophical shift, citing thinkers from Derrida to Lyotard to Ken Wilber.  This book is valuable for encouraging us to think about the language with which we think and talk about our Christian faith in a post-Christian culture.  However, the theological content of what Martoia wants to communicate with new language seems pretty fixed in traditional individualistic evangelicalism.  Thus, it seems that although Martoia has made a smooth transition in thinking bout HOW we talk about our faith, it seems that he has not made the shift from a theology rooted in individualism to a theology rooted in the gathered people of God (cf., Rodney Clapp’s A Peculiar People.)  Fundamental to Martoia’s theology is the “personal life history,” the story of an individual’s life, which seems to be primarily a modern philosophical construct, rooted in the personal autonomy of the age of Enlightenment.  The importance of an individual’s story shines most clearly in Martoia’s chapter on the “Imago Dei.”  Here, he botches the interpretations of a number of New Testament passages in service to his individualism, often implying that plural uses of “you” in certain passages of the Greek text should be read as singular ones (e.g., Col. 1:27).  While Transformational Architecture might be useful for helping pastors and other leaders in evangelical churches understand the shifts in Western culture over the recent decades, its blindness to the theological shifts of our age will ultimately render it little more than putting fashionable new clothes and makeup on a corpse.

 

Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative.
Ron Martoia.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $12 ] [ Amazon ]