Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Worldliness," Edited by C. J. Mahaney

A couple weeks ago I read and reviewed a pre-pub copy of this book (coming Sept. 30, 2008):
C. J. Mahaney, ed. Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. With a foreword by John Piper. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 191 pp.
The book has six chapters:
  1. C. J. Mahaney, "Is This Verse in Your Bible?" [1 John 2:15]
  2. Craig Cabaniss, "God, My Heart, and Media"
  3. Bob Kauflin, "God, My Heart, and Music"
  4. Dave Harvey, "God, My Heart, and Stuff"
  5. C. J. Mahaney, "God, My Heart, and Clothes"
  6. Jeff Purswell, "How to Love the World"
Each chapter climaxes by showing how the glorious gospel is central and essential to "resisting the seduction of a fallen world."

Here are the endorsements from the book's front matter:
  1. “This book is biblically grounded and Christ-centered, full of grace and truth. Every chapter raises the bar of Christian living without falling into legalism. One of the most timely and much-needed books I’ve read in years. I highly recommend it.”
    -Randy Alcorn, author, Heaven and The Grace and Truth Paradox

  2. “Expertly addresses the issues that prompt that subtle, insidious, silent slide away from God that each of us is prone to take. Pay attention to this thought-provoking work and protect your heart for God.”
    -James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel; teacher, Walk in the Word

  3. “This book is biblical, practical, pastoral, and wise. It is honest about the authors’ own temptations, and it is so specific it will be controversial! But such a book is greatly needed as a challenge today—for all of us.”
    -Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary

  4. “The strength of the work is that the authors try very hard not to let you forget the sheer God-centeredness of the gospel.”
    -D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

  5. “These skillful soul surgeons are brilliant at diagnosis and treatment, and they will help you see yourself, your sin, and your Savior. I now know the first book I am going to reach for when a Christian is wrestling with worldliness—or isn’t but should be! This is a book I will make use of, by God’s grace, again and again.”
    -Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi; President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

  6. “Praise God for this little tool—specific enough to be helpful, grace-filled enough to be really helpful!”
    -Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church; Executive Director, 9Marks Ministries
My review's introduction:
C. J. Mahaney observes, "Some people try to define worldliness as living outside a specific set of rules or conservative standards. If you listen to music with a certain beat, dress in fashionable clothes, watch movies with a certain rating, or indulge in certain luxuries of modern society, surely you must be worldly. Others, irritated and repulsed by rules that seem arbitrary, react to definitions of worldliness, assuming it’s impossible to define. Or they think legalism will inevitably be the result, so we shouldn’t even try" (p. 29).

These two groups will react negatively to this book for different reasons. The former group will think that it is not strict enough (perhaps accusing it of libertinism), and the latter group will disparage it for so specifically “resisting” seductive “worldliness” (perhaps accusing it of legalism). The authors of this book wisely avoid and gently rebuke both of these extremes because they wrongly focus on externals. Its primary target audience is the latter group.
My review's conclusion:
Worldliness is a sensitive, practical, specific, relevant, pastoral, accessible, engaging, humorous, concise, clear, refreshing, wise, grace-motivated, biblical book—ideal for pastors to recommend to their flocks and for small groups to study. It skillfully addresses controversial external issues by focusing on their root heart issues and then showing how the gospel is functionally central to every square inch of the Christian life.