Worldliness: Resisting the seduction of a fallen world, is a book that was published last year by the guys at Sovereign Grace Ministries. It is edited by CJ Mahaney and has chapters by Bob Kauflin, Dave Harvey and Jeff Pursewll.
This is a desperately needed book in a time when Christians are rediscovering the doctrines of grace and being freed from the legalisms of the Reformed and Pentecostal churches in the last century, but are turning to functional antinomianism and what Bonhoeffer called ‘cheap grace’. Yet this book seems to get a right balance between preaching grace and a grace that transforms morally. And rather than looking at the externals first (what we listen to and wear), they focus primarily on the heart.
This book is gospel centered, and teaches us a wise way of viewing worldliness. John Piper in the introduction sums it up well when he says:
What does it look like when the blood of Christ governs the television and the Internet and the iPod and the checkbook and the neckline? Most people have never even asked this question, let alone answered it. The only way most folks know how to draw lines is with rulers. The idea that lines might come into being freely and lovingly (and firmly) as the fruit of the gospel is rare. That’s why this book is valuable.
This book is very short and only covers 4 subjects in detail: Media, music, stuff (possessions), and clothes. Each chapter is clear, concise and challenging.You can’t read this book and not be challenged. It really does point out sins in your life, and does it with extreme precision. However, it is done with a generous dose of the balm of the gospel. If you want to get serious with mortification – get this book.
However, the fact that the chapters are so culturally relevant ( written last year) means that this book has a rather short shelf life. But I guess that is the challenge of writing a book on worldliness – the guise of the world changes all the time. However, this book is extremely relevant in it’s principles all the time, and the examples should be relevant for the next 3 to 5 years.
A slight problem with the book is its Americanisms. This is a very small niggle, but a genuine one. C J writes on clothes for women, heavily relying on his wife and daughters. It is a good chapter, but you do feel that at points he is trying to justify an American Church view on beauty. However, don’t let that put you off.
The highlight of the book is chapter 1 by CJ called ‘Is this Verse in your Bible?’. In it he looks at the Jefferson Bible and the way that we cut out verses of the Bible that we find too challenging.
You can download a free PDF of that chapter here.
In conclusion: A short, sharp, shock to the system. If you dare, buy it, read it, pray about it…change!