Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I Gotta Read More!

I've gathered some fresh inspiration for fervent reading from the ladies over at girl talk. They included this wonderful quote from Charles Spurgeon in a recent post:

"...listen to Mr. Spurgeon go off about books in response to this verse: “When you [Timothy] come bring the cloak which I [Paul] left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments" (2 Timothy 4:13).
He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has had wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up in the third heaven, and had heard things unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He has written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every Christian, ‘Give thyself to reading.’ The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.

Right now I'm reading:
Chawkat Moucarry's The Prophet & the Messiah: An Arab Christian's Perspective on Islam and Christianity (IVP) - an excellent apologetic; written with great charity and thorough knowledge of the Quran, the Hadith, and Muslim theologians like Razi and Ghazali; and a book that I would be very happy to hand to my Muslim friends with an invitation to discuss.

Shayne Lee's T.D. Jakes: America's New Preacher (NYU Press) - a puff piece on the rise and fame of T.D. Jakes. Lee seems to think Jakes is a hero because he's an entrepreneur, nevermind the heresies he preaches. Shows little to no regard for the harmful, gospel-obscuring effects of Jakes' teachings.

John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life (Crossway) - I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this with a younger Christian brother at church; it's produced good fruit in both of our lives; thanks again John for teaching me to savor the Savior and to live zealously for His glory.

Richard Lint, Michael S. Horton, and Mark R. Talbot (eds.) Personal Identity in Theological Perspective (Eerdmans) - a collection of essays on theological anthropology. I've only read the first two chapters which give something of an overview of Christian anthropology. Insightful so far. But what I'm really looking for is a good anthropology that attempts to help today's church properly understand issues of race and culture and their implications for "doing church." I welcome all suggestions.


Anonymous said...

Have you considered "The Doctrine of Humanity" by Charles Sherlock? I thought it was insightful in dealing with the doctrine both in terms of biblical theology and sociology.

Anonymous said...

I generally find your comments quite insightful but you didn't do your homework when discussing Shayne Lee's book on T.D. Jakes. Dr. Lee is quite quite critical of Jakes in the later chapters--enough for Jakes to make every attempt to blacklist the book. Read the chapter "A Businessman and a Minister" or read the chapter on Prosperity, or read the chapter where he deconstructs Jakes' message to women. You really should read the book more carefully first before dismissing it.

You usually are so on point but you blew it on this one. Lee's work is not a puff piece but top-notch scholarship on postmodernism and contemporary American religion.

FellowElder said...

I don't know Sherlock's work, but will keep an eye out for it.

I just finished reading Lee's work yesterday after laying it down for a little while. After reading it, and because of the conversation going on over the "Dr. King Is Not the Model for Black Preachers", I was going to write something more complete. You're correct about Lee's inclusion of two chapters that raise some questions about Jakes' theology and practice.

First, he points out that Jakes is a modalist. He spends a little over one page on this cardinal issue in a chapter primarily highlighting some questionable business practices/relationships of Jakes! By comparison, in a complete chapter of 16 pages, he positively acknowledges Jakes as a "feminist" for promoting women preachers yet rakes him over the coals for essentially being a complementarian in the home (chap. 6). The chapter on Jakes' prosperity gospel (chap. 5) includes some critique from a couple of liberation theologians, but on the whole it's ambivalent as to whether what Jakes teaches is good or true.

I'm thankful for the work. Shayne Lee has obviously put some time into interviews and consulting a fair amount of material. I appreciate the insight into Jakes' personal life and times in WVa. And I appreciate his general thesis: Jakes is a particularly American, postmodern phenomenon. All of that was intriguing.

But in the end, I still lean toward "puff piece." The mistake I made in this post was not stating clearly enough that I was only 1/2 through the book at the time I mentioned it.

The errors that Jakes makes with the doctrine of God (modalism) and the gospel itself (false prosperity gospel; btw, can't remember a time I've ever heard him preach the gospel, much less preach it clearly) are serious enough to earn him the title "heretic" and serious enough to do real harm to many, many people. And given the magnitude of those errors, I think the book needed to be tougher than it was.

In Shayne Lee's defense, somewhere I recall him stating that he'd leave the theological wrangling over the pros/cons of Jakes' theology to others. I respect that; but the work was generally too positive or too silent on critical issues (except where I think the author's bias might have surfaced in advocating an unbiblical egalitarianism in gender roles) to be classed "top-notch scholarship on postmodernism and contemporary American religion."

I appreciate both the compliment and the rebuke you offer here. I pray that my statements would be more careful in the future and that they'll prove edifying for you and all the visitors who stop by. I don't think I blew it with this one, but you're correct that I did Lee the injustice of writing off the book before I'd finished it. For that, I apologize. Hope you'll keep chattin' with me from time to time.