Friday, April 14, 2017

A Lifetime of Books – Musings (2)

I have three books about wedding ceremonies; while I am sure that I glanced at them at one time, I’ve never used any of the ceremonies – so they are going in the trash. I’m sure the authors meant well, and it isn’t that there aren’t useful tips in them, but weddings are so personal that I can’t imagine using something canned; same with funerals – but I don’t have any books on funerals. I’m told that there are preachers who use Sunday messages prepared by others – I don’t get that either. I’ve carried these three books too many miles, it’s time to say “goodbye”.

Here is another book that is going in the trash. It is written by a well-known ministry leader in the Richmond region…very well known. The author makes it clear that he does not believe that Jesus is God. I have a problem with someone in “Christian” ministry not believing in the divinity of Jesus Christ. I have a problem with that person teaching that Jesus isn’t God and yet holding himself out as a minister of the Gospel. A friend of mine, who heads a Christian organization, once endorsed a ministry partnership with this author’s organization – when I pointed out to my friend that the author did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and that I found it difficult to see how my friend could endorse a partnership with the author’s ministry, I was in effect told that there were donors that had ties to both organizations and that no one was going to rock the boat. Well, it can be all about money can’t it? Anyway, no need to hang on to this book.

Ah, here’s a book on Ezekiel’s Temple; it’s about a secret to be found in the temple. I met the author a few years ago and he gave me a copy of the book. I read it and sent him some thoughts. They were gentle thoughts, but they did point out some concerns with the book. He was gracious and surprised, he told me that no one had ever given him any criticism of the book – he thanked me and I think he meant it. I didn’t get the impression that he thought I might have a point or two, but he was nice about it. Anyway, I hope the brother is doing well these days. As I said in my last post, when I see the word “secret” I become skeptical.

Here are two face books from seminary. It’s nice to reminisce when flipping through them, but hey, we’ve moved on haven’t we? Memories are nice, and that was a sweet time, but these two thin volumes need to take a journey out of the house.

The next book cover tells the reader that the author “shares the secrets of church growth”. There is that word “secret(s)” again. Why did I purchase it? I must have been looking for a secret, a quick fix, a shortcut, a formula. Why do we think that if something “worked” there that it will “work” here? Isn’t that word “work” the problem? Aren’t we called into relationship with the Trinity and with one another? Can’t we trust our Lord Jesus to build His Church? Can’t we rely on the Holy Spirit to do “here” what He desires to do, which may not be what He is doing “there”? This is not to say that we can’t learn from one another, that those “here” cannot learn from those “there” – but it is to say that when we package how-to formulas that we run the danger of seeking to manipulate the One who cannot be manipulated; we run the danger of descending into the realms of sociology and marketing. We would never do that…would we? When Jesus Christ ceases to be our focus what do we become? What happens? This book is exiting the library. 

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