The Church in an Age of Crisis: a book review

First Baptist Church of Minneapolis in downtow...

First Baptist Church of Minneapolis in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just finished reading James Emery White’s latest book The Church in an Age of
Crisis, subtitled 25 New Realities Facing Christianity. The timing of the
reading of this book coincided with the end of the 2012 Presidential
If you were paying attention at all to the campaign, you would have
seen and heard many of the 25 new realities in Dr. White’s book showcased:
marriage, the modern family, celebrification, media supersaturation, and the new
American dream, to name a few. Not all of them were debated as part of political
platforms, but all of these topics were on display in some form or
One section of the book, titled “Forgetting How to Blush,” could
have used the campaign video sometimes referred to as “The Virgin Voter”, as an example for the
chapter. That video upset me, but even more unsettling to me than the video is
that “The Virgin Voter” was apparently an effective political campaign tool,
because the party that made that video is now in office. (There is a link to the video at the bottom of the page) Dr. White points out in The Church in an Age of Crisis, that one of the new realities facing Christianity
in America is understanding that there isn’t much that can be put before the TV
viewing public or You Tube fans that will cause them to question whether what
they are seeing is morally acceptable or not. Point taken.
In his book, Dr. White refers to the men of Issachar – men who “understood the times and knew
the best course for Israel to take.” The emphasis of the book seems to be that
Christians need to understand the times in which they live. I think The Church
in an Age of Crisis offers us good way to do that. Not all the information
contained in the various chapters is particularly new, but reading about the
issues  with the understanding that most of these new realities have come
about in the last two decades, makes the message of the book compelling.
I have to admit, reading The Church in an Age of Crisis was a bit of a downer, but
it was worthwhile for the truth that it speaks to those of us who sometimes long
for simpler times.

Tip: The most encouraging section of the book is contained in
the Afterword; don’t miss reading it.
Review in 140 characters (or there abouts): Straight talk to Christians about the real world in which we live, and the
real hope we need to share.
I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it. My review, whether positive or negative, is solely my own opinion

Because place matters

Cruise liner in Plymouth Sound with Mount Edgu...

Cruise liner in Plymouth Sound with Mount Edgumbe in foreground (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently returned from my first ocean cruise, which happened to fall very close to my 60th birthday. I didn’t plan for the two events to coincide, but it was fun that it turned out that way, and it certainly added a deeper dimension to my vacation.

On the cruise I read a book that is designed to add a deeper dimension to the daily journey; it is called A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life, by James Emery White. Dr White’s book takes us to nine locations around the world, but it is not a typical travelogue. This book shares Dr White’s personal journey to these varied sites, and it also includes a series of reflections on how these places have helped him to face some of the challenges of living a Christian life in the 21st century.

Of the nine locations written about, my favorite was St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt Sinai in Egypt. It is the oldest location described, and thus has the greatest sense of history about it, for me. After all, is this not the very area where Moses first heard God speak from the burning bush? (I laughed out loud at the description of a fire extinguisher located at the site) While sharing the history of this famous and holy place, Dr White also reminds us in this chapter that one of the greatest longings of believers is to hear from God, and he poses the question, “ How does this conversation play out in real life?”   I like  Dr White’s ‘pretense-free’ style of writing. Here’s an example of it at the close of Chapter 3, St Catherine’s Monastery. After offering examples,suggestions and disciplines for hearing from God, Dr White says this:

“Make sure you are open to whatever God says. That you are ready to receive his word to your life, whether you like it or not. Otherwise, why bother? It’s just a game. And God will speak to you. He will tell you things to start, things to stop. He’ll prompt you to sacrifice, and even do things that look foolish in the eyes of the world. He’ll push the frontiers of faith, and challenge the most rooted of sins.”

I enjoyed reading Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life.   It not only presented a variety of travel destinations that are worth considering, but it brought a new awareness to the fact that, as believers, we are on a spiritual journey every day of our life – one that deserves our whole-hearted attention.

Full disclosure: I asked for the opportunity to review this book, and was sent a copy of the book free of charge for that purpose. I was not compensated for my review. Although I received the book free of charge, I was under no obligation to write a favorable review. If I gave it a good review it’s because I think it’s a good book.