Monday, January 25, 2010

Dug Down Deep

A friend of mine, enthusing over a speaker at a meeting recently, said something along these lines to me: "Theology is good and all, but this guy got powerlah!" (In other words, this guy had great rhetoric). I, unfortunately, couldn't think of what to say in response during that time. But it showed something that seems embedded in the thinking of many Christians here, that somehow doctrine and experience are to be separated. We wouldn't go so far as to say doctrine doesn't matter, but it's the other stuff that really gets us pumping as Christians. Which dismays me, because the opposite is true. What we really believe really does matter, because it drives all other areas of our life. There's a reason Scripture exhorts us to watch our doctrine closely. In fact, I would say the aforementioned speaker was the least powerful where his theology was weakest.

Which is why I'm pleased to hear of Josh Harris' latest book, Dug Down Deep, and why I'm choosing to feature the book here. This is a book about doctrine, told through the lens of Josh's personal experience. Josh speaks of his hopes for the book: "I hope the book will be accessible to people who might not normally read theological books. That includes Christians who are turned-off by doctrinally faithful but arrogant believers as well as people who are skeptical of the usefulness of Christian doctrine. I also hope that it will be given to friends outside the faith who have never really understood basic Christian beliefs."

Furthermore, Josh Harris, because he is known as the guy who wrote that dating book, reaches a wider constituency than other Christian writers who fall in his camp. His style is also deliberately very simple, which I think is a plus. We need Josh Harrises alongside the Don Carsons.

I've come to realise that because Malaysians don't read in general, so just recommending or giving a good Christian book isn't a very good strategy to help each other mature in Christ, the goal of every Christian. It either doesn't get read or just read superficially. But the reading of good Christian books can still be useful in the larger context of a relationship, of ongoing teaching and discipling. And I hope that Dug Down Deep might still prove useful in this regard.

Challies and DashHouse have fuller reviews if you want to know more about the book. You can find out more about the book and preview Chapter 1 here.

Labels: ,

January update

Just a quick update - I've been in Kuala Lumpur since just after the New Year. I went to a great if intense conference, and then been helping out at a church here while I wait for my visa. I have some good news on that front - there's been progress and I should be returning to the UK next month. Been very busy, and trying to get used again to being in a big city! I'm also preaching a full sermon for the first time this weekend, and haven't as yet done much prep, so need to be getting to it ASAP!


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Honouring your parents: a short bibliography

Since there isn't much out there in terms of what it means to honour your parents as a Christian in an Asian context, I thought I'll just list what helped me.

Greg Jao, 'Honor and Obey' in Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents, Jeanette Yep (ed.). Helpful, especially in looking at the relevant biblical texts.

*Marvin Wong, Honoring Parents in Between Friends: Reflections on Christian Discipleship in the 'Real' World. He summarises and builds on Jao's work with more sustained reflection. This is the single best thing I read.

Goh Kim Guat, Confessions of an Errant Child in Kairos Magazine, June 2003, Building Strong Families. An honest sharing of the struggles of caring for an aged mother, alongside a meditation on grace. Available here. One of my church members also shared a similar experience in our church newsletter which I also found helpful.


Sarah Lanier, From Foreign to Familiar
Denis Lane, One World, Two Minds

These are two short introductory books on crossing cultures. Though these books tend to be geared towards missionaries, they're also very helpful for building understanding across generations, I find.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Latest on use of word "Allah"

If a Malaysian High Court ruling stands, Roman Catholics here can resume using the word "Allah" as their translation for God in their local language.

The court on New Year's Eve overturned a three-year-old government ban that prevented the Catholic Church from using the term Allah in its literature. The Arabic word has been used by various faiths in this Muslim-majority nation for centuries, and the church argues that it is the only suitable way to denote God in the Malay language.

Read the whole thing.

Labels: , ,