Monday, April 13, 2009

On Tour with Tullian

Virtually, that is. Today marks the beginning of Tullian Tchividjian's blog tour for his new book Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (Multnomah, 2009).

Many of you will be aware of Tullian's work as a pastor and writer. Tullian is the former church planting pastor of New City Church in Miami, FL, and now the new senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, a merger of New City and Coral Ridge. You can get to know Tullian a bit through this interview with Justin Taylor.

In this age of video, we have the wonderful opportunity to hear the authors themselves summarize their books and why they wrote them. Here's a youtube video from Tullian discussing Unfashionable.

I had the privilege of reading a pre-publication draft of Unfashionable and offering an endorsement. Here's my take:

"The most wonderful thing happened to me as I read Unfashionable: I was helped."

In a nutshell, the book is helpful. It's helpful to anyone trying to think through what does it mean to be a counter-cultural Christian. Tullian's repeated refrain--"To be for the world by being against the world"--helps clarify how as Christians our stance can be both oppositional in a fallen culture and redemptive. Many Christians have found this tension too elusive, falling off on either the side of retreat or of worldliness. Tullian helps us through that precarious balance with Unfashionable.


Tullian organizes the book into four parts with 17 chapters.

Part 1: The Call
1. A Cry for Difference
2. A World Without Windows
3. Seduced by Cool

Part 2: The Commission
4. An Unfashionable Standard
5. The Purpose-Driven Death
6. Redeemed to Renew
7. Presence of the Future
8. Where in the World Are Christians?
9. Unfashionable United
10. Making the Difference Together

Part 3: The Community
11. A Truthful Community
12. An Angry Community
13. Putting Off Stealing
14. Redemptive Words
15. No Longer Clammed Up
16. Love, Not Lust

Part 4: The Charge
17. Last Call

The book also includes a reading list and study guide for personal and group use. Tim Keller's foreword offers a very succinct lay of the land regarding the different approaches Christians have generally adopted to engaging the culture.

Some Appreciations

I appreciate several things about Tullian's vision in this book. First, it's biblical. I love pastors and preachers who limit what they "see" to what has been shown in the text of God's word. It would be fashionable to offer a "sure-fire" way of being and doing this or that as a Christian. But this book is all about being unfashionable, which, in a wonderful sort of way, is all about being biblical.

Second, I appreciate Tullian's wrestling with the nature of the church and her calling in the world. It would be easy to offer another call to Christians as individuals to engage in this or that way. And as individuals we must be in this warfare. But we're more than the sum of our parts if we're Christians. We're a family, a household, a nation, a flock. Including our corporate identity and resources makes wonderful sense in a time where it's fashionable to lament and neglect the church. And he goes so far as to call us out of our "tribal mindedness" and segregated churches to reflect the reconciled reality of life in Christ as His church. This book doesn't skip over issues but addresses them head on. That makes it worth reading.

Third, I appreciate that Tullian tries to work out what it means to be unfashionable in light of his eschatology. Not everyone will agree with his eschatology (does anyone ever agree on eschatology?!), but the attempt to understand the cosmic implications of the cross and resurrection and their bearing on the church's mission is refreshing. Tullian believes in "the presence of the future" and, believing it, tries to understand our marching orders in light of it. A pursuit well worth making.

Fourth, and finally, I appreciate the book as a pastor. Pastors are given a front-row view of the effects of culture on the lives of people and the church. We're often at pains to describe this effect, analyze it, give some prescriptions, and bind the wounds of our people and our churches. That's not easy; at least I don't find slaying the hydra-headed monster of the world an easy task. So, I'm always on the lookout for works that will be readable, engaging, and helpful. I want things I can recommend to my people that would benefit their souls, challenge their thinking, insist upon transformation and faith and dependence and risk-taking, that would call us out of ourselves and into the world, but not leave us like the world. For me, that's a helpful book.

Tullian Tchividjian's Unfashionable is a helpful book. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Eighteen others have offered endorsements of the book, from Tim Keller to Chuck Colson to J.I. Packer to R. Kent Hughes to D.A. Carson to Ed Stetzer to Collin Hansen and Kevin DeYoung.

Available at:
Barnes and Noble
Christian Audio

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