I am reading a new book – Thirsting for God – by Gary L Thomas.
The subtext is ‘Spiritual refreshment for the sacred journey’. It sounds painfully emergent and uber cool and comes with a big fat recommendation from one Mark Driscoll. The problem is that it seems to have elicited a very caustic response from within the ‘conservative wing’ of the evangelical camp. His response: ‘Do you really want to limit your reading to the “three John’s” – Calvin, Macarthur and Piper?’ (p12). Nice, I like it. He wants to see evangelical Christians return to ‘The classics’ of our Christian heritage and what does it matter if they are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, surely their view is valid in the discussion on finding a meaningful spiritual life?
‘We read with our hearts by allowing God to challenge our attitudes, our reaction, our emotions. Your mind may be tempted to dismiss a convicting truth because it is paired with a theological weakness or because the author is using an outdated method of biblical application. Don’t fall into this trap. Devotional reading is meant to challenge the inner soul. I read systematic theology to find out how to think correctly, but I read the classics to measure the temperature of my heart’. (p42)
Aah, lovely. However, one problem (for me at least). I refute the presupposition that says systematic theology (or any of the theologies for that matter) are merely there for intellectual purposes. The book of Romans is one of the most dense and deeply involving theological treatises of all time and in the midst of this we find Paul breaking out into spontaneous praise because he is so moved in his inner being.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Ro. 11:33-36)
It’s an old saying (a true classic actually) but, ‘all theology should lead to doxology’. However, I am going to persist with this book because it is very engagingly written thus far. Take this helpful insight in the war we must constantly engage in against the desires of the ‘flesh’:
‘We must behave as people do in a besieged city: they watch where the attackers are strongest and the defenses weakest. If they fail to do this, the city is lost. In the same manner we should keep our eyes carefully on the point where the devil most often attacks us, where human nature is weakest, where our frailties lie, and here we should keep guard most vigilantly.’ (quoting Johannes Tauler on p56).
You can’t argue with that advice. I will keep you posted.