Metaxas consciously places his Seven Men in the tradition of Plutarch’s Livesof the Noble Greeks and Romans or Foxe’s Book of Martyrs—biographical works intended chiefly to hold up the conduct and character of certain men as examples for readers to emulate (or avoid). He has sketched the lives of seven famed Christian men in order to commend their exemplary behavior to all readers, but especially to young men, who “especially need role models. If we can’t point to anyone in history or in our culture whom they should emulate, then they will emulate whomever.” With that in mind, he has selected seven figures who share the distinction of “Christian manliness,” and recounted their amazing lives in elegant and natural prose.
The lives Metaxas has chosen are remarkable and the men who lived them deserve to be talked about and lifted up as examples of Godly obedience: William Wilberforce and his lifelong crusade to end slavery, George Washington’s refusal to become a tyrant after the war, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s outspoken opposition to religious apathy in Nazi Germany, Eric Liddell’s refusal to run his best Olympic event on the Sabbath and his death as a humble missionary to China, Jackie Robinson’s victorious example of Christic submission in the face of slander and violence, Pope John Paul II’s vigor Continue reading →
Desiring God, for those not already familiar, is a treatise on the deep joy and delight found in the life of the Church. Since the time and writing of Immanuel Kant, believers have consistently struggled with the concern that taking pleasure in the worship and service of God may devalue those things as acts of obedience—that duty and delight are somehow incompatible. Piper assures us that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, says Piper, the Heidelberg Catechism’s formulation of “the chief end of man” (“to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”) could be restated as “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
In this revised edition of Desiring God, I encountered the writings of John Piper for the first time, even as he was revisiting his successful book after twenty-five years in print. Happily, I found it as earnest, approachable, and salient as the first readers must have a quarter of a century ago. Regarding that happy phenomenon, Piper has this to say Continue reading →
The Lamb’s Agenda is Samuel Rodriguez’s vision for a cultural transformation of America. The vision is almost utopic: “Envision,” he writes, “a village or town or suburb or city anywhere in North America on a lazy, late Sunday morning in May,” where every beautiful flower is in bloom and every last man, woman, and child (except the hospital’s “skeleton ER crew treating the occasional bee sting or broken ankle”) is in Church worshipping God. He asks us again to “envision” the victorious march that led America to that future, a peaceful and powerful movement he refers to as “the Third Great Awakening.” The impetus that is meant to drive this movement is a combination of two historical American spirits (and Rodriquez’s personal heroes): the evangelical zeal of Billy Graham and the social activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The “Lamb’s agenda” is an analogy within an analogy, like an awkwardly designed set of Russian nesting dolls, Continue reading →
Rob Bell recently came out (pun intended), rather enthusiastically, in support of homosexual marriage. Contextually, these comments seem in keeping with the spirit of his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, and its promo videos, in which Bell speaks of “the way Christians are used to talking about God” (to wit, “orthodoxy”) as an outdated, nonessential relic (he builds an analogy around a broken down Oldsmobile) of a less enlightened age. Bell’s clarified position, while disappointing, is not surprising. Continue reading →