The ScribblePreach Awards 02.25.17

From the Pub: Not Naked But Reclothed

For all the accusations that Lewis is a Christian Platonist, here, I think, is a poignant refutation of Plato’s ultimate claims:

“Our own situation is much like that of the erudite limpets. Great prophets and saints have an intuition of God which is positive and concrete in the highest degree. Because, just touching the fringes of His being, they have seen that He is plentitude of life and energy and joy, therefore (and for no other reason) they have to pronounce that He transcends those limitations which we call personality, passion, change, materiality, and the like.

The positive quality in Him which repels these limitations is their only ground for all the negatives (infinite, immaterial, impassible, immutable, etc.) and use them unchecked by any positive intuition. At each step we have to strip off from our idea of God some human attribute. But the only real reason for stripping off the human attribute is to make room for putting in some positive divine attribute.

In St Paul’s language, the purpose of all this unclothing is not that our idea of God should reach nakedness but that it should be reclothed. But unhappily we have no means of doing the reclothing. When we have removed from our idea of God some puny human characteristic, we (as merely erudite or intelligent enquirers) have no resources from which to supply that blindingly real and concrete attribute of Deity which ought to replace it.

Thus at each step in the process of refinement our idea of God contains less, and the fatal pictures come in (an endless, silent sea, an empty sky beyond all stars, a dome of white radiance) and we reach at last mere zero and worship a nonentity.” – CS LEWIS, MIRACLES

Kindle Deal of the Week: Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes.

This Nancy Pearcy book is a 5-star, 141 reviews Amazon find, and comes with accolades from a reader friend I trust. So for $2.99, I’m taking it.

Preaching: Um, Like, How do I Stop Using Filler Words?

I’ve noticed some annoying fillers popping up in my preaching lately, to the point of distraction. Mine is “Right?” Others include “So,” “Like”, “Um…” What’s your favorite filler?

Apologetics: Atheism is a Fancy Word for Polytheism.

This is a failed article I wrote for First Things Magazine. Maybe you have higher standards ūüėČ

Theology: Tim Keller on The Shack

“But here is my main problem with the book. Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible.”

A Glimpse of Truth: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.

This article is a review of three books written by academics, each with the same conclusion: people aren’t rational. They’re tribalistic and egotistical. I’m going to quote this one as I speak at UNC Charlotte this Tuesday night. Please pray alongside me.

Books and Lit: The Jesus Storybook Bible Turns 10. 

I enjoyed reading Sally Lloyd-Jones journey through the publishing grinder, and some of the divine twists and turns it took to get this one out there.

Writing: Pixar and the Art of Storytelling.

I knew when I saw the first video this was going to be my winner in the “Writing” category for the week. This is a new, free series – and they get it so, so right.

Christians and Culture: The Fractured Republic

This interview with Yuval Levin is fantastic – easy and insightful. I’ve seen his book on multiple “top 10” lists for 2016.

Micro Book Review: Community, by Brad House

5 out of 5 stars.

As I’ve been charged to reignite our church’s small group ministry, I’ve been surveying a litany of books on small groups. I had read Brad House’s book before seminary, and I was curious if it would stand up to my now PTSD (Post Traumatic Seminary Disordered) scrutiny.

Well, it did.

Not only that, but I found it miles beyond the other dozens of books I’m reading in terms of theological frameworking and practicality. No doubt the prescription of the book is radical, but in my mind it is justified by the theological foundation laid, and Brad holds our hand by giving us step-by-step processes we can use to implement it.

Two warnings: one, this is not an easy book. The first chapter alone is a theological firehouse which might feel overwhelming. The ideas Brad lays out are so unfamiliar to many churches and individuals that they will surely take chewing on to process. But it’s worth it.¬†It’s also not easy in the sense that the call of the book is personally radical and challenging. This, from what I see, is the main critique given by the negative reviewers: “It just seems too hard.” Well – maybe. But in my mind, the vision here is¬†compelling.

Second¬†warning: This is a book produced by the Community Groups pastor at Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill church in Seattle. I think it’s a shame that Brad’s excellent, excellent work will be tagged forever with Driscoll’s reputation (Brad House now works at Sojourn Church in Louisville, KY).

I’ve had several friends who were a part of Mars Hill, and each of them told me the small group experience was the highlight of the whole thing. This book tells me why. If you are a leader of a church, or, really, a member of a church – this book the best starting place I know for forming missional, life-giving communities in your area.

Take and read.

(PS – the book has been critiqued for not being scripture heavy. It IS, but most of the scriptures are end-noted so as not to clog up the book. I appreciated that, personally).

PPS – I happen to know from friends that this book was actually not the end-all for training small group leaders at Mars Hill. Also used were Paul Tripp’s book “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” and “How People Change“, by Timothy Lane, two more excellent resources.

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Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.