Book Review: Good Faith



“We believe that when people commit to a Jesus-shaped way of life, they create a counterculture for the common good—living their lives not for themselves but for the benefit of others to the glory of God.  If we do this, we can reshape the imagination of our culture so that the gospel can renew hearts and minds in the generations to come.” p. 23 David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Good Faith
Good Faith by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons is a thought-provoking look at the role of the gospel in light of the culture.  The main idea of the book is being a Christian when society thinks you’re irrelevant and extreme.  The gospel should inform the way that we engage the difficult conversations. People should walk away from dialogue with Christ followers feeling cared for and respected.  I appreciate the image they use of a Christ-follower having a firm center and soft edges.  It’s like being the opposite of a Werther’s Original candy!
I highlighted several things while reading and have posted my notes below…
  • What does the future hold for people of faith when people perceive Christians as irrelevant and extreme?  In what ways can faith be a force for good in society?  How can people of faith contribute to a world that, more and more, believes religion is bad?
  • Social media makes it far too easy to self-select voices that always affirm and never challenge our assumptions and sacred cows.
  • We believe that when people commit to a Jesus-shaped way of life, they create a counterculture for the common good—living their lives not for themselves but for the benefit of others to the glory of God.  If we do this, we can reshape the imagination of our culture so that the gospel can renew hearts and minds in the generations to come.
  • If Christians are to be agents of good faith, we’ve got to overcome the real or perceived barriers to talking with people who don’t already agree with us.  We need to become experts at engaging  in difficult conversations.
  • We believe that the problem is our culture’s lack of a shared center.  The bottom has dropped out.  There is no center any longer.  There is a giant vacuum in the middle of our moral and spiritual lives.
  • As Christianity has been ushered out of our social structures and off the cultural main stage, it has left a vacuum in  its place.  And the broader culture is trying to fill the void.
  • A century and a half ago, the KJV was “a conceptual canopy of the entire English-speaking world.” Mark Noll, The Bible in American Public Life
  • “The worldview answers people now live by are provided by feelings.  Desire, not reality and not what is good, rules our world.  That is even true for the most part within religion.  Most of what Americans do in their religion now is done at the behest of feelings…The quest for pleasure takes over the house of God.  What is good or what is true is no longer the guide.”  Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today (2009)
  • Given the challenges Christians face, from both outside and inside the church, living with good faith is our way forward into an uncertain future.  We must be the people of God who, rather than being defined only by what we are against, are also defined by what we are for.
  • We have no real ability to be or to generate good on our own.  “Whatever is good…is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17).  This means that good works done with wrong motives can still have a positive impact.  The effect of hot food on a hungry person doesn’t depend on our motivation.  The road to irrelevance is paved with overthinking.
  • Our good works should be a response of selfless love toward others in thanks for Jesus’s unconditional love for us.
  • Good faith starts with loving God and loving others—the great commandment.
  • The next ingredient of good faith is biblical orthodoxy.  What we believe matters.
  • Finally, how we live our love and belief is the third ingredient of good faith.  How do we translate our love and our beliefs into everyday living?
  • Do we understand the implications of orthodoxy for how we live, work and relate?
  • How well we love + What we believe + How we live = Good Faith
  • When there is confusion about key issues in our society, Christians out to bring clarity to a situation and then compel others to act.
  • We should be the very best at spotting what’s good.  Our taste for goodness should be so well cultivated that, whoever orderly, right, abundant, generous, and flourishing work is on display, we call it out, support it, and encourage it.  Even if it doesn’t come from a Christian.
  • Let’s acknowledge the common grace and goodness happening all around us.  Let’s trust God to use his image-bearers for his good purposes, even if they don’t recognize him.
  • Ask yourself, what is missing?  How has God uniquely gifted or positioned you to create something or support something who is imagining a new and better way?  As Andy Crouch says, “The only way to change culture is to create culture.”
  • I knew that God had appointed this time in this place for his purposes.  Good faith doesn’t mean memorizing a script but cultivating a quiet dependence on the God of the universe to meet you in the difficult conversations he brings your way.
  • One of his predecessors, founding father James Madison, once wrote, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.  This right is in its nature an unalienable right.”
  • Confident pluralism requires that good faith Christians concern ourselves with defending everyone’s liberty.  This may feel uncomfortable at first for those who are used to Christianity holding a privileged place in American society.  But pluralism and, more importantly, Christ’s common to love our neighbors oblige us to defend the rights of all citizens to live by their conscience—in and out of the public square.
  • Religious liberty and freedom of speech are rights that can only be put to the test at the distressing intersection of different ideas.
  • Some of our most significant learning moments come when a person is bold enough to tell us what we need to hear.  As Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” (NIV).
  • “For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.  And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  1 Corinthians 15:25-26
  • If we get relationships wrong, little else matters.
  • In fulfilling God’s purposes, we find our purpose.
  • The ultimate deception is that freedom can be found in chains.
  • A framework for how good faith believers can respond to current issues and to figure issues that arise:
    THEOLOGY | What does God’s Word and the church’s wisdom reveal about this?
    MINISTRY | What is the proper pastoral response to people living in a fallen world?
    RELATIONSHIPS | How should I engage friends and neighbors with whom I disagree?
    POLITICS | What government policies, however imperfect, best empower human flourishing?
    PUBLIC SQUARE | What is the appropriate relationship between personal conviction and day-to-day interactions with those who hold different sets of beliefs?
  • If our churches can’t be the safest place on the planet for people to talk about their feelings and experiences and to find themselves in Christ, our churches aren’t doing ministry the way Jesus did.
  • Engagement in the public square, then, should (and does) reflect a variety of ways God is calling his people to be faithful.
  • Jesus practiced the sacred art of seeing people.  When we have soft edges and firm centers, we can see people Jesus dearly loves.  And when, aided by the Holy Spirit, we see them, we can look beyond the trends and into real people’s hurts, hopes, and needs.
  • Good faith Christians lead the way when we have confidence in what we believe and practice seeing those who believe differently.
  • “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139: 23-24
  • “Bless those who persecute you.  Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them…live in harmony with each other.” Romans 12:14, 16
  • “Work at living in peace with everyone and work at living a holy life.”  Hebrews 12:14
  • The Christian community is called to be a counterculture for the common good.  We are countercultural when we: love others well, remain committed to orthodox beliefs, make space for those who disagree, stand out from the crowd, ask the right questions, live under God’s moral order, offer a vision of human intimacy beyond sex, practice hospitality, do the good, hard work of racial reconciliation, value human life in every form, at every stage, love our gay friends and trust God’s design for sex, build households of faith, are theologically grounded and culturally responsive, make disciples, practice the sacred art of seeing people, and make disciples and faith communities that are Christlike.
  • Led by love, grounded in biblical belief, and ready to live as a counterculture for the common good, we trust that our good faith will be used by God to renew the world.

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