Monday, January 26, 2009
As a New Year's determination, I began the year by reading Josh Moody's book "The God-Centered Life." I believe it is an outstanding book for several reasons.
One is it's even-handed approach to Christian history. Jonathan Edwards, doubtless, would not be flattered by people forming a neo-Edwards revival. In his analysis of the contributions of the great 18th century preacher and philosopher, Moody steers clear of the jaded, tired tactic of taking up the writings of historical figures as a club against modern Christianity. Instead, he notes both the greatness and the failings of Edwards in such a way that you can appreciate him as a man of God, yet remain Christ-loyal above all. And yes, there are some failings to report.
Moody cautions us not to harp on these, but appreciate the harshness of public ministry, and remember what it means and costs to carry the Scriptures with such brilliance and force as Edwards did. Also very memorable is the emphasis on setting Edwards in his historical context, thus freeing us from the needless pangs of trying to recreate life as it was in the Great Awakening. Moody does a great job showing a great example of a man who, though reputed to spend 13 hours a day in his study, was nonetheless a great father and husband of renown to his beloved Sarah. While accurately portraying Edwards as a cessationist, he shows that that label need not mean he was a preacher who marginalized the supernatural or attempted to squelch true and vibrant worship, provided that true fruit accompanied it. The "Sense of the Heart" is a badly needed concept today, as it explains just how God transforms people into lovers of Himself. Moody gives this concept a fair shake, and challenges us to see the glory of God with new eyes of faith, thus freeing us from the domination of self-centeredness. If you want to be challenged--yes, revived--I highly recommend this book for a balanced uplifting of heart and mind. For best results, read it sometime after or before re-reading Piper's "Desiring God." And, I might add, Dr. Moody is now my senior pastor. I am truly blessed.