Book Review: The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind by Alister McGrath (InterVarsity Press)
Atheists think that Christians are intellectually dim.
Sometimes they are right.
In Passionate Intellect, Alister McGrath does an amazing job of helping Christians step up their game while simultaneously debunking the myth that Christianity is unreasonable.
I highly recommend this book! McGrath gives you six chapters on the purpose, place and relevance of Christian theology. Then, he turns to actually confronting various issues such as how we should think about science, atheism, and creation and evolution.
The following excerpt is just one of the many ways McGrath shows his superior rhetorical skills. In this section, he exposes and demolishes the arrogance of the new atheists who claim to be more “enlightened” than 90% of the world who believe in God. In fact, for awhile they even tried to get people to refer to them as “Brights”. Here is how McGrath responds:
Making disciple-making disciples (or making DMD’s) sounds redundant.
Yet, very few are actually doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 28:18-20. Instead, the commission to “make disciples” is often interpreted in one of two ways:
- Some “make disciples” by making converts and then outsourcing their “discipleship” to a church program.
- Others gather converts together and attempt to “go deeper” but place no emphasis on being a witness to their neighbor.
This is the danger of separating evangelism and discipleship. The former is engaged in evangelism, the latter is engaged in what he or she believes to be discipleship. Evangelism without discipleship isn’t evangelism. Disciple making without evangelism isn’t disciple making.
That’s why we need to recapture a true understanding of what it means to make disciples.
Discipleship Training or Transforming Disciples?
“Discipleship training” is usually a class that informs our knowledge of God but it doesn’t always encourage us to live for God.
Making DMD’s is a much more robust commitment to the spiritual transformation of another. When Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples, He was basically telling them to make disciple-making disciples. Just as Jesus invested in them, now they were to invest in others.
Matthew 28:20 was a charge to the disciples to teach more disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded (ie “Love God,” “Love people,” and, oh yeah, “Make disciples!”).
Timothy Tennent is the president of Asbury Theological Seminary and the author of Theology in the Context of World Christianity. I had him for a class on World Missions in 2007 when he was still a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
I’m including some of the highlights from a lecture he presented on the 7 Megatrends Affecting Global Missions in the 21st Century:
1st Megatrend: The Collapse of Christendom
› For the longest time, Christianity was at the center of American culture. It was socially acceptable and sometimes even profitable to be Christian in our society. In the 21st century, however, Christianity will move more and more towards the periphery.
› Hendrik Kraemer said, “The Church is always in a state of crisis; its greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it.”
› We are moving from a state of belief to a state of unbelief.
› We are moving from a denominational to a global identity. Being Presbyterian or Methodist is not as important today.
2nd Megatrend: The Rise of Postmodernism
› There are theological, cultural, and ecclesiastical crises that arise from postmodernism. People no longer believe that truth is true. The power of the word is lost for most people. For a preacher who believes that God has revealed Himself through words, this is a dangerous mindset.
3rd Megatrend: The Collapse of “the West Reaches the Rest” Paradigm
› The emergence of a Post-Christian West (4,200 people are leaving the Christian faith per day in Western countries).
› The emergence of a Post-Western Christianity (In non-Western cultures, Christianity is blossoming, for example, in Africa alone Christianity gains about 24,000 new members per day!)
You can download Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy on Kindle today for $1.99. Not sure if it’s just a one day deal but it’s a $28 savings.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Amazing Grace, a groundbreaking biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century, the man who stood up to Hitler.
A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism.
After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double-agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Fuhrer, and was hanged in Flossenberg concentration camp at age 39. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the 20th century.
Bonhoeffer presents a profoundly orthodox Christian theologian whose faith led him to boldly confront the greatest evil of the 20th century, and uncovers never-before-revealed facts, including the story of his passionate romance.
About the Author
ERIC METAXAS is the author of Amazing Grace, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (but Were Afraid to Ask), and thirty children’s books. He is founder and host of Socrates in the City in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic, Washington Post, and other publications. He has written for VeggieTales and Rabbit Ears Productions, earning three Grammy nominations for Best Children’s Recording
Some troubling research according to Greg Laurie:
- Only 1 in 20 Christians has ever shared the Gospel.
Let’s combine that with some data from ARIS 2008:
- US Population = 307,006,550
- Self-proclaimed Christians in US = 233,324, 978 (or 76%)
- 1 in 20 US Christians who has ever shared the Gospel = 11,666,249 (or 4%)
What does Jesus have to say about this?
Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
One of the definitions of deny is “to refuse to grant a request.” If 19 out of 20 self-proclaimed Christians won’t acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny his
request command to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and be witnesses (Luke 24:48, Acts 1:8) then what are we to conclude?