"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.

You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
Dr. Adrian Rogers 1931-2005

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Book About the World While Immersed in the World

What is the measure for Truth? 

Jesus Christ said I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.     John 14:6  

John 1:1 says In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

The measure of Truth is Jesus Christ through the Word which is the Bible. 

photo credit Moody Press Newsroom
When I began reading the Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers, I was intrigued as the times we live in are so relevant to the Bible, prophecy and the relationship of the church.  Spoiler alert: I was deeply disappointed.  I thought that I would read a book that identified the truths behind the disappearing church and then would offer a solution to the problem. 

Instead, I have discovered that this book, the Disappearing Church is a perfect example of why the church is disappearing.  Mr. Sayers addressed the reasons behind the missing church in the worlds language.   Before I explain I must remind the reader of my opening, and what the measure is for Truth.  I will also refer to Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Mr. Sayers used the world and its academic know it all’s to explain why the church is disappearing.  

In a book of 167 pages, 157 plus people are quoted and these people are of a diverse background set of academics, with journalists, authors, sociologists, psychologists, historians and a few church fathers to fill in the pages.  Did you read that?  157 people were quoted to document the reasons why the church is disappearing. 

I had to wait until I arrived at page 48 to find actual Biblical verses cited to help the author get his point across.  Only 22 more times throughout the Disappearing Church did I find any other scriptural verses.  Many times I sifted through page after page where Mark Sayers could have cited scripture.  He instead wrote as if these were his words.  It is fine of course, to use scripture.  We have many sayings and phrases that come directly out of scripture.  But in a book about the church, we should be clear that the true director of things is God and His authority about the times we live in are in many, many Bible verses.  On page 98 a paragraph heading is Being Transformed by the Renewing of our Minds.  This is a direct quote from Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  To be honest, I felt Mark Sayers left many opportunities out to cite the Creator and instead left the reader waiting.  Of the 10 chapters and the conclusion Mr. Sayers opened only two chapters with quotes.  Both quotes seem wrong like they were googled and do not line up with the chapter they are on (Ch. 1 Header quote is by Dave Eggers, Ch. 4 Header quote is by Haruki Murakami).  I believe each chapter would have been served more efficiently with a Bible verse having the solution of the problems outlined.  

Mark Sayer did not only point out issues of the world, but he clearly pointed them out fully immersed in the world.  He discusses the movie SAFE with Julianne Moore in it and he states that the movie is basically a religious work (55).  It is a movie and from the sounds of it, a movie about a woman that has some mental health issues if he is depicting the movie accurately.  Now I have no problem with using this as an example of the failings of the modern church, but seriously, it is a movie.  He could more easily taken real life stories from the news sharing group mental issues such as those of churches that break off into fringe.  He could even have shared about Andrea Yates, the mother that drowned all of her children.  Yet, he uses a movie and this is not the only time.   On page 71 Mr. Sayers shares that he watched a documentary (recently) yet does not mention the documentary name.  He goes on for a few pages about this documentary and how it revealed situations and then compares this to the modern church with its first, second and third culture (43).  This would have been the perfect place to use the parable of the Sower which is in Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; and Luke 8:1-15. 

In a book that is about the Disappearing Church with the smaller addition to the title: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience, I expected the gospel to be used.  What I found instead were many references used that are from a person that is not fully living a life of “walking in Jesus’ footsteps” (48) which by the way is a Bible verse: He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself to walk also so to walk, even as he walked. 1 John 2:6.  

We are as believers commanded to walk as he walked as the verse above states.  Mr. Sayers missed the mark when he tried to dissect the problem with the church because he did not do so.  He uses even a Harry Potter reference-not to cite problems with the world but as a chapter header blended with Christianity Embracing the Cloak of Invisibility, by directing the spotlight elsewhere so that the church can get on with the business of being the church (141).”

My review of the book will conclude with Mr. Sayers own words, “We want God, but we still want our own authority (122).”  Mr. Sayers wrote a book more directed toward appeasing the world all the while trying to be supportive and helpful in figuring out the why’s the church is disappearing.  This book was choppy as in so few pages quoting so many people on so many things made reading difficult.  Mark Sayers could have done a far better service to why the church was disappearing by quoting scripture, shining the light on why the church is far from Truth, and then quoting scripture as to how to bring the church back.  The relevance of the church instead remains lost to me, one that loves the Bible and all talk about the Bible. I thought I would read tips on how the Bible can encourage others in a way to be rebuilders, as we do not have all the gifts of the Bible and I thought Mr. Sayers might have had the gift of perhaps word, to shine Truth back to believers.  

Instead I will close with my opening sentence, What is the measure for Truth?  The Bible. 

Mark Sayers book Disappearing Church is not a book that can help point us to that Truth as it leads one through a maze of confusion. If we are going to write a book about God’s church, then I think we should talk about His church using God’s model because then we have a solution to why the church is disappearing.

 Disclaimer:  I got a copy of this book for free from Moody Press Newsroom program.  The review and opinions here are my own and were not influenced by that fact.


Dizzy-Dick said...

I definitely will not purchase that book.

Humble wife said...

DD-excellent idea.