Book Review: We Cannot Be Silent

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Friendship with a person does not minimize the sinfulness of his or her sin or compromise the cross.  Christian faithfulness in our generation demands that we allow ourselves to genuinely love people even when we cannot endorse their lifestyle, grant recognition to the relationship they believe they deserve, or sanction their sin.  Both love and truth are essential as we establish a right relationship with our neighbors in a way that consists with our ultimate commitment to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Dr. Al Mohler, We Cannot Be Silent 

 

 

It is so sad to me that many people would describe Christians by listing what they are against.  That has got to change if Christians are going to have an opportunity to impact the world for Christ.  We must begin to be known for what we are for…love, grace, mercy, and the good news of the gospel itself.  Dr. Al Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has written a book to that end… We Cannot Be Silent.  In order for us to truly be culture makers, we must know the truth of Scripture and be able to live it and speak it in a way that is both winsome and faithful to the relationships that God has placed in our lives.  The more that we do to love and serve our neighbors, the more we will have an opportunity to point them to the truth of God’s word.  There are a ton of issues up for debate in our culture…the point of Mohler’s book is the idea of “speaking truth to a culture redefining sex, marriage, and the very meaning of right and wrong.”  That’s a weight task for sure…but one that is worthy!  This book is a great encouragement for anyone that desires to take on the task of truly living out the gospel in day to day conversations on the big issues surrounding culture.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • We cannot understand our times without looking honestly at the moral hurricane sweeping across our culture, leaving very little untouched, if not radically changed in its wake.  But understanding is just a start.  When it comes to marriage and morality, Christians cannot be silent—not because we are morally superior, but because we know that God has a better plan for humanity than we would ever devise for ourselves.
  • Secular refers to the absence of any binding divine authority or belief.  Secularization is a sociological process whereby societies become less theistic as they become more modern.  As societies move into conditions of deeper and more progressive modernity, they move away from a binding force of religious belief, and theistic belief in particular.
  • The twentieth century will be recognized as the century of the greatest change in sexual morality in the history of Western civilization.  But, even as our own century is plowing new ground of moral revolution, the fact remains that the seeds were planted in the twentieth century.  The question remains, how did all of this happen?
  • Understanding the challenge before us is a necessary first step, but the Christian church is called not only to understand the challenge but to respond to it in faithfulness.  As Flannery O’Connor rightly warned, our responsibility is to “push as hard as the age that pushes against you.”  That’s going to require a monumental act of faithfulness for the Christian church in this generation, but as we must clearly understand, anything less will mean the abandonment of Christianity.
  • The marriage crisis is a moral crisis that did not start with same-sex marriage, nor will it end there.  The logic of same-sex marriage cannot end with same-sex marriage.  Once marriage can mean anything other than a heterosexual union, it can must eventually mean everything—from polygamy to any number of other deviations from traditional marriage.  It is just a matter of time and the progressive weakening of moral resolve.
  • The devastating carnage of AIDS created an opportunity that allowed for an emotional and political realignment of American morality.
  • How is it that American society was so pervasively influenced by moral revolutionaries if most of the citizens who made up that society claimed to be Christians of some sort, and in particular, evangelical Christians?
  • Far too many evangelicals held to what they rightly believed was biblical “position” on matters of sexual morality while lacking the comprehensive biblical worldview that would have provided the intellectual sustenance for their position.
  • While Christians should expect the government to respect and protect marriage, we cannot accept the notion that the nature of marriage is ultimately in the hands of government.  Instead, Christians must insist that marriage is a pre-political institution.
  • Christians should not be surprised that a secular culture rejects moral restrictions imposed by religious authority.  Since a secular culture resists any binding theological authority, it will refuse to be bound by any moral restriction that, in the views of any given people, appear to restrict behaviors solely on a theological basis.
  • Arguing that we should draw a clear distinction between who an individual wants to go to bed with and who an individual wants to go to bed as requires the dismantling of an entire thought structure and worldview.
  • The transgender revolution represents one of the most difficult pastoral challenges this generation of Christians will face.
  • A biblical response to the transgender revolution will require the church to develop new skills of compassion and understanding as we encounter persons, both inside and outside our congregations, who are struggling.
  • The reality is that there is no end to the transgender revolution; endurance is one of its central dynamics.
  • The Christian response to the transgender movement must begin with Scripture.
  • If nothing else, the transgender revolution shows Christians that the gospel confronts ideologies, patterns of deception, and spiritual opposition in every generation.  The fact that we fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, is perhaps never more poignant and important than in the midst of a struggle.  The transgender movement reminds us whom we are really fighting.  We must remember we are fighting with a gospel that cannot fail.
  • The biblical worldview insists that our embodiment actually demonstrates God’s love for us, his gift to us, and part of his purpose and plan for our lives.  To amputate and cosmetically reform the body in this sense is an act of defiance against the Creator’s purpose.
  • Christians recognize that the inclination of every sinful human heart is to find security and salvation in something outside of Christ.  If only pills, therapy, or a surgical procedure could deal with our problems, we would not have to deal with the reality of our sin.
  • The theological and pastoral challenges we face in the transgender revolution are indeed enormous, but they are not beyond the sufficiency of Christ’s cross and resurrection.
  • Modernity has washed away many of the structures, intellectual presuppositions, and moral commitments that made marriage secure and stable.  In many respects, the real debate in America today is whether or not our society should even try to overcome our tragic and subversive experiments with marriage.
  • Going back to the Reformation itself, we live by the principle of Sola Scriptura, affirming that Scripture and Scripture alone is our final authority.  The reason for this is straightforward.  We believe that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.  This means that to obey the Scriptures is to obey God and to disobey the Scriptures is to disobey God.  Evangelicals can never look at Scripture as just the communication of mere information.  The Bible summons us to be obedient and humbly receive what God has revealed to us in his Word.
  • The first essential theological principle is the sovereignty of God over all creation.  The Creator has the absolute and solitary right to define the purpose of what he has created.
  • Out of the reality of a redemption already achieved, Christians are explicitly called to live out what it means to be male and female and live lives of holiness and righteousness.
  • At the same time, we must be very thankful that we are not left as those who are merely washed—we are also waiting.  Our sins are forgiven and we now await the new heaven and new earth.
  • Christians guided by Scripture recognize current controversies and confusions over sex, marriage, and other issues of importance as part of what it means to live in a fallen world.  This also reveals why the church in its distinctive witness must honor the good gifts God gives us, just as Scripture instructs us, in order to accomplish two great purposes.  The first of these purposes is to obey God and to find true happiness and human flourishing as we obey.  The second purpose is that we live out that obedience before a watching world so that others may see the glory of God in the Christian’s faithfulness in marriage and every other dimension of life so that others who need Christ may find him.
  • Our response to persons involved in homosexuality must be marked by genuine compassion.  But a central task of genuine compassion is telling the truth, and the Bible reveals a true message we must convey.  Those contorting and subverting the Bible’s message are not responding to homosexuals with compassion.  Lying is never compassionate—and ultimately leads to death.
  • Accrediting agencies, some of which have long been in an internal struggle to accommodate Christian institutions within their existing nondiscrimination policies, will come under increased pressure to eliminate from membership any school that discriminates in any way on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the admission of students, the discipline of students, student housing, and the hiring of faculty.
  • Without protection for religious liberty and Christian conscience, these laws will be used in a way that requires many Christians in business to decide between compromising conviction or going out of business.
  • Since Scripture is the very word of God, it never fails, it never errs, and it is sufficient to reveal to us God’s pattern for humanity, the truth about ourselves, and the reality of our sinfulness.  To accommodate to the moral revolution and affirm its morality is to look at what the Bible calls sin and call it something else.  More than that, the moral revolutionaries now demand us to shift our understanding of same-sex behaviors and relationships from the category of sin to the category of moral good.  But we need to recognize and take into account what this would mean.
  • Friendship with a person does not minimize the sinfulness of his or her sin or compromise the cross.  Christian faithfulness in our generation demands that we allow ourselves to genuinely love people even when we cannot endorse their lifestyle, grant recognition to the relationship they believe they deserve, or sanction their sin.  Both love and truth are essential as we establish a right relationship with our neighbors in a way that consists with our ultimate commitment to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • We cannot possibly expect a generation of young Christians to be faithful if they see themselves as doing nothing more than parroting simplistic moral principles given to them by their parents and pastors.  They will move into faithfulness only if they are grounded in the fabric of the faith and in the deep truths of Christianity.  They will continue in faithfulness only if they see themselves standing in continuity with a Christian community rooted in the apostolic age.
  • We must not exile ourselves, and we certainly must not retreat into silence while we still have a platform, a voice, and an opportunity.
  • In one sense, everything has changed.  And yet, nothing has changed.
  • We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us.  Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again.  God’s truth has not changed.  The holy Scriptures have not changed.  The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed.  The church’s mission has not changed.  Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

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