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Friday, September 22, 2006

Book Review - Fool's Gold

The last two days I have been shuttling 11th and 12th graders between school and the beach for some kind of science class. While the field trips take me out of the office there is one positive. With no computer and the ability to bring a limited number of books I am afforded reading time, which I greatly appreciate. Field trips are great for giving me time to read that I would not ordinarily devote to that end. It is beneficial. And I get paid $6.00 and hour to do it, or pray, or study, or do ministry planning.

The last two days I have read a book entitled Fool's Gold? Discerning Truth In An Age of Error. It comes in at 207 pages and so is relatively short. It is a book with chapters written by several different authors. The general editor is John MacArthur. Some of you may know him from his radio broadcast, Grace to You. He has also been a prolific author. While there are several areas where I do not agree with Bro. MacArthur I have found him to be very good on several topics. The other contributors to this book are all men who are intimately connected with his ministry. Nathan Busenitz, Dan Dumas, Kurt Gebhards, Daniel Gillespie, Carey Hardy, Rich Holland, and Phil Johnson who has an extensive web site.

This is a book that extols the virtue of Biblical discernment. He tells us what Biblical discernment is, why it is important, and how it is to be applied. The latter is done through a practical examination by the aforementioned men of several contemporary movements and publications.

The principles of discernment are applied by:

Nathan Busenitz to The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Phil Johnson to What Paul Really Said by N. T. Wright
Daniel Gillespie to Wild At Heart by John Eldredge
Rick Holland to The Revolve New Testament by Transit Books
John MacArthur to contemporary worship music
Carey Hardy to invitations and altar calls
Phil Johnson to the American approach to politics
Kurt Gebhards to consumerism with a biblical mind-set

Their critique of these different publications and issues is interesting and thought provoking. I found myself in agreement with much of what these men wrote. Of course being a real proponent of biblical discernment the book struck a sensitive chord with me.

These men all come from a Calvinist background and as is usually the case do not use the King James Bible. I found that ironic in the context of a book on discernment where so much emphasis was placed on the Scripture and rightly dividing it. My remedy for that is to simply exercise Biblical discernment.

Overall I found the book to be interesting. A couple of the chapters seemed to be a little long and a couple of the men seem to bemoan the lack of space available to deal with their subject a little too often.

MacArthur's view of the ecumenical movement has probably not won him many friends. He is one of the few, possibly the only one I know of, other than Independent Baptist who bemoan the adverse affects of the spirit of ecumenism.

On a scale of five stars I would say it is a three star. But it is short enough that it is worth the read. I found my copy in a used bookstore a couple of years ago and it has been sitting on my to read shelves since then. Yes, I have "to read shelves" plural. This is why I accept field trips because it helps me to make a dent in my "to read shelves".

Quotes from the book:

"What happens to preachers who obsess about cultural 'relevancy' is that they become worldly, not godly."

I promise not to comment on every quote but this one really hit home with me because I believe I have seen this very thing in Baptist churches.

"God did not have a speech impediment when He spoke His Word. He supernaturally froze the words, idioms, illustrations, and allusions into his revelation. Resolving the difficulties in understanding the text is the job of the preacher, not the translator."

"There is a disturbing presupposition going unchecked here. Do we really have to be like the world to reach the world? Or do we really believe that the truth of God is eternal and that it has relevance for every culture, time, and place?"

"Several of the songs tell the Lord He is great and worthy of praise, but none ever really says why. No matter; the goal clearly is to stir our emotions, not to focus our minds on any particular aspect of God's greatness."

"In fact, this means music and preaching should have the same aim. Both properly pertain to the proclamation of God's word."

Quoting Tozer on altar calls, "Don't come down here to the altar and cry about it; you go home and live it."

"Personal holiness, not political dominion, is what causes men to glorify our Father who is in heaven."

"If we give up (or cover up) what makes us distinctive, we lose our savor and forfeit our only real influence."

"If your life is devoid of any distinctive goodness, then change your behavior before you openly tarnish the name of Christ."

"Our fallen flesh would even seek a way, if possible, to make holiness itself a self-aggrandizing, pride-inducing hobby."

"If we have no desire to be discerning, we won't be discerning. If we are driven by a yearning to be happy, healthy, affluent, prosperous, comfortable, and self-satisfied, we will never be discerning people."

"All the desire in the world cannot make you discerning if you don't study Scripture."
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