Thursday, October 29, 2015


I am a runner. A runner runs. A runner also writes (at least I do).

I've run for years, but several months ago I got serious about it. The reason was simple: I was fifty pounds overweight. I was disgusted with my lack of eating self-control and disgusted with my body. It was time to get in shape.

I decided in February that I would run in the Savannah Rock 'N' Roll Marathon. Well, the race is now only nine days away. I've been training like a madman for a while now. It's been exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. While doing this, I've lost the fifty pounds I needed to.

After the marathon is over, I must learn how to maintain my current weight. While doing this I want to gain a better understanding of how to live a more healthy lifestyle. I realize that physical health is only so important, but God gave us bodies; we should be good stewards of them.

In light of all of the above, my blogging is going to make a seismic shift. I'll continue to write primarily about theological and church issues. However, I'm going to add blog posts about running in particular and health in general. My hope is that you will both continue to read this blog and benefit from the new topics.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mixed Emotions About the Homeless

This past Saturday I spent some time in Savannah's historic district both reading and relaxing. Due to my crazy work schedule I rarely get to do this. It was wonderful. Savannah boasts numerous pre-Civil War era squares that are excellent places to sit quietly. On Saturday I selected Orleans Square because of its awesome fountain (see my pic to the left).

After I had been in the square for about an hour, a man slowly entered, placed a blanket on the ground, lay down, and went to sleep. Based on his appearance I'm guessing that he is homeless. He stood in stark contrast to all the tourists and locals who walked through the square that day. Everyone ignored him as best they could. After all, he sort of messed up the photos they were trying to take of the lovely fountain. I watched the man for a while, wondering what to do. Out of respect for him, I did not take his photo while he slept. Eventually I just left the square.

I have mixed emotions when it comes to homelessness. Like any other city, Savannah has its share of homeless folks. I doubt that homelessness is as big of a national problem as liberals make it out to be. It's likely more of a problem than conservatives want to admit. Regardless, a significant number of Americans do not have homes.

On the one hand, those without homes need to take some responsibility for their actions. Just like all other citizens, they have certain rights and privileges. I have to work a lot. They need to as well. Additionally, due to our over-sized government, all sorts of social programs exist (for better or worse) to help people like these. Also, most cities provide places where the homeless can sleep and eat. Savannah has the Inner City Night Shelter.

On the flip side of this situation, we followers of Jesus need to show compassion to those with less. Even a cursory glance at Christ's teachings makes it clear that He expects us to care for the poor. Most churches in this country, especially conservatives ones, have done a poor job in following Jesus' expectations on this issue. Additionally, many homeless folks have little education and few skills. Because of this, they have no way to get a decent job. Also, a significant percentage of the homeless suffer from mental illness. This compounds their problems. My guess is that many feel as if there is simply no way out of their situation.

Making things even more complex, I've read and been told that some homeless people do not see their situation as a problem and do not want any help at all.

Just as I do not know what to do about and for the homeless in general, I did not know what to do for the man sleeping in the square. Part of me was disgusted and annoyed by his presence. Another part of me felt deep compassion for his plight. In the end I just walked back to my car and went home.

Not only do I have mixed emotions about the homeless, but I also do not know how to help them.

What about you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thank You, Arthur Sido, for Writing This Important Blog Post

Arthur Sido has penned a critical post entitled Pitting Jesus Against The Bible. He addresses the growing segment within Christianity that claims to follow Jesus but not scripture. This, of course, allows these folks to create a Jesus of their own making and liking. It is delusional.

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about this specific topic. I even began piecing together a blog post about it. However, Arthur beat me to the punch. And he did an excellent job of it. I highly encourage you to visit his blog and read the post. It is a well-written rejection of the fairly modern idea that Christians can somehow know Jesus while ignoring much of the written revelation about Him.

Linking: "Contemporary Church Worship: A Liturgy of Entertainment?"

Read some excellent thoughts from Jeff Clarke on both the problem of church entertainment and the benefits of a superior way of gathering. He discusses these in his post entitled "Contemporary Church Worship: A Liturgy of Entertainment?"

Monday, October 26, 2015

Keeping the Gospel of Grace Front and Center

It's easy to get sidetracked from what is most important. Not only is our society an extremely busy one, but so is the church. Amidst this busyness, it is quite easy to take our eyes off what is most critical. When it comes to Christianity, the most critical thing is the Gospel itself.

The Gospel at its heart is based in the grace of God. We must never forget this. In our man-centered culture, the tendency is to elevate humanity to the position of most importance. This can and does seep slowly into the church. This in turn even impacts what Christians believe about the Gospel. In particular, I'm concerned about two growing segments within the church as they relate to the Gospel. Albeit in different ways, both groups stress man's work as being important to the Gospel. Both groups are wrong.

The first group I'm referring to is those Christians who act as if man's response of faith is something that he himself instigates (some call this group "Arminian," but I'm going to avoid that term because it simply leads to arguments). These folks believe that God bestows a certain amount of grace upon every human, but that it is up to said human to respond in faith of his own doing. They believe faith precedes regeneration. What this does is turn the faith response into a work. In essence, these believers are saying that a spiritually dead man can repent and believe while still spiritually dead. Not only does it make no sense theologically, but it also is patently false. Worst, it denies that grace is enough for salvation.

The second group is even more problematic. These folks, who may or may not actually be Christ-followers, deny that the atoning work of Christ is necessary for salvation. Rather, they say that Jesus' work on the cross was an act on his part to set an example of living sacrificially for others. While it is undoubtedly that, it is so much more. What Christ did on the cross caused the great transaction to occur: my sin for his perfection. This great exchange is absolutely necessary for salvation. If it is not, then salvation once again becomes a work of mankind as he wills himself to God. In order to deny that the atonement is necessary, you have to reject a great portion of the bible. In fact, the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament makes no sense when you hold this position.

The above two beliefs are just two of many variants that deny that God's grace is sufficient. As Christ's body, we must reject any and all of these positions. God's grace is not only what makes Christianity unique, it also makes salvation possible. If knowing God through Christ depended on our works, then no one would ever come to salvation. It is God's amazing grace, and it alone, that both makes salvation possible and causes it to occur.

Let's keep this issue front and center. God is honored when we emphasize his grace.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

True Worship

This book just arrived in the mail. I hope to find time later today to read much of it (it's only about 100 pages long). I prefer short books; most seem unnecessarily long.

Worship is both a key component of life and one that is misunderstood by many Christians. This is clear based on how many believers think that worship is limited to worship services in worship centers. The church is in desperate need of a greater understanding of what true worship is.

Dave Black highly recommended this book on his blog. That was all I needed to inspire me to order it. If you want to read what Dave said about about, then click here and scroll down to October 11th.

Click here to order the book.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

From the Department of Redundancy Department?

I've been told by some who shall remain nameless that I say the same things over and over on my blog. In essence, the accusation is that I'm being redundant. Is this true? If so, is it a problem?

Is my blogging from the Department of Redundancy Department?

I admit to spending a good amount of time pointing out the numerous problems embedded within institutional Christianity. I make no apology for this. However, I also write about other issues such as family and culture. Additionally, other posts look at positives we see in scripture as far as the church is concerned. I attempt to then make application to today's church. Finally, sometimes I blog about simple church practices and activities that I find both important and interesting. To sum up, this blog looks at much more than just institutional problems.

For the sake of argument, let's just say that my posts focus more on the institution and its absurdities than on anything else. Is this a problem? I think not. Here's why. First, each week institutional Christianity rolls along, largely unimpeded. The pastors do their thing. The people sit quietly. The offering plate fills up. Society is not changed. Because of this, at least some of us outside the institution must point out the problems. Blogging is one of the few avenues I have. As long as the institution keeps up its traditional nonsense, I will discuss the unbiblical nature of what I see. The institution's redundancy leads to my redundancy. We must keep these issues in the minds of other Christians. Otherwise, no change will come within the church.

Second, many bloggers who prefer simple church and are willing to discuss institutional problems also have another problem: they are weak doctrinally. I'm not sure why it is, but a lot of those outside the institutional walls hold unbiblical positions on issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, the atonement, and Hell to name a few. Many also border on universalism. The term "squishy" is a good way to describe their doctrine. Therefore, I'm part of an odd, small number of bloggers who hold orthodox Christian beliefs and also reject institutional church practices (Arthur is another in this odd camp). Since our number is so small, we must continue to bang the same drum.

If this seems like redundancy, then so be it. Nobody is forced to read anybody's blog.

Monday, October 19, 2015

At the Fountain

Yesterday my son Bobby and I spent a couple of hours walking around Savannah's historic district. One of the highlights of this walk is always Forsyth Park. The best aspect of the park is the fountain. That's me above on an absolutely picture perfect day. As a bonus, the ever-present humidity was even low. Awesome.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Church History is Authoritative Only As Far As It Follows Scripture

When it comes to the history of the church, most Christians swing to one extreme or the other.

On the one hand, some believers look to church history as carrying a significant amount of authority. In particular, certain creeds have been elevated by different groups of Christians to the point where they carry a great deal of power. The Apostles' Creed is one of these. Another is the Westminster Confession, which some Reformed and Presbyterian groups look to for much direction.

On the other hand, other believers reject church history as having any sort of authority. While they may look to some more modern creeds for direction, in general they simply take a "It's me and my bible" approach. These folks are generally ignorant of church history and don't care that they are. Many Baptist and non-denominational groups, for example, fall into this category.

Both positions fail.

There is a better way. We can learn a great deal from church history, both the good and the bad. While some decisions and creeds are positive, others are most decidedly negative. What do we do with this? What we do is look for the good.

As far as church history follows scripture, then we should look to learn from it. While it does not carry the same weight as scripture, where it is faithful to the bible we ought to carefully consider it. Additionally, we should treat it as though it carries authority - but only when faithful to the bible.

We can and must also learn from the myriad mistakes in church history. In particular, we cannot ever forget all the times the church has harmed, persecuted, and even murdered all in the name of "faith."

In summary, anywhere church history, especially in the creeds, does follow scripture, then we should be following it. This is because, obviously, when we do so we will be obeying the bible.

Let's avoid both extremes. This is a situation where the middle position is best.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Positive Acts - On Fleeing Naked and Wounded

Acts 19:11-20

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

Certain passages in the bible are very gratifying. Acts 19:11-20 is one of those. In that sense it reminds me of I Kings 18, where Elijah mocks and defeats the prophets of Baal.

However, this passage should also give us pause. The statement by the evil spirit is a somewhat frightening one. The beatdown he gives the sons of Sceva seems funny, but it stems from their lack of faith. What about us? Would the spirit recognize us, or would he send us fleeing?

It is exciting to see God at work in the above passage. The results in Ephesus for the Gospel were impressive. They appear to stem in large part from the nude scampering of Sceva's sons. This leads me back to my original question: would the evil spirit recognize us? If we say yes, then why?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Urban Legends of the New Testament

The church in America faces two primary problems when it comes to the bible. First, some believers simply do not care much about what scripture has to say. Second, other believers care what the bible says, but do not know how to interpret it correctly. Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions deals with the second problem.

In this book, author David Croteau tackles numerous different poor interpretations of well-known biblical texts. Croteau's major emphasis throughout is something that is sorely lacking in much of the church today: the utmost importance of context. The author stresses again and again that each verse must be understood in light of the verses and chapters surrounding it. Significant damage is done, and this happens a lot, when verses are yanked out of context and applied willy-nilly to situations that have nothing to do with the biblical writer's original meaning.

This book could be summed up in one word: context.

I like Urban Legends of the N.T. for more than just the important topic. Croteau has a clear, understandable writing style. He also has thought clearly through these issues. His arguments do not degenerate into the use of logical fallacies. Rather, he simply points out the context of the original verse or passage and applies it within that context. An additional bonus is that Croteau begins each chapter by providing the teaching that corresponds to the urban legend; he then goes on to debunk it.

The money quote from the entire book, in my opinion, comes from page 202. The author says that in practicing sound biblical interpretation the reader must remember:

First, seeking the author's intent must always precede attempting to apply a passage. Second, the primary meaning of a passage needs to be the focus of interpretation. While secondary or tertiary meanings can be identified and interesting, they should not be the focus of interpretation. Third, the interpreter must remember that only primary meanings build doctrine. If a text has an implication (a secondary meaning) that appears to support a certain doctrine, a separate text should be located that has that doctrine as its primary meaning.

As for negatives, this book has few. In fact, only one comes quickly to mind: Dr. Croteau embraces the church institution. This does not mean that he agrees with every aspect of it (he couldn't and write a book like this at the same time); however, he still is firmly entrenched. Frankly, as a seminary professor he has little choice.

Despite this issue, Urban Legends of the N.T. is worth the read. It's a solid reminder of just how important context is in accurately understanding the bible.

This book reminds me somewhat of another good one: The Most Misused Verses in the Bible.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How Much Would It Cost Me to Attend Ligonier?!?!

A few days I ago I received a flyer in the mail for the 2016 Ligonier National Conference. It is addressed to "Pastor and Mrs. Eric Carpenter." I guess they don't realized that I resigned from professional pastoring five years ago. That's probably because I haven't attended a Ligonier conference in five years either.

As theology conferences go, Ligonier is a good one. The line up of speakers is usually excellent, and the topics are both interesting and relevant. This year's focus - the Gospel - could not be better. Part of me would really like to attend. However, since I'll be working I won't be going (when I attended Ligonier conferences in 2009 and 2010 I was employed as a salaried pastor; thus, I had all sorts of free time to travel to Orlando for a few days).

If I had the time, just how much would it cost me to attend? Let's do the math.

If I registered right now it would cost $169.00. Prices increase as the conference approaches.

The Meal Plan for four meals is $59.00.

The cheapest hotel reservation is $79.00. However, with taxes included the cost would rise to close to $100.00. The schedule calls for two nights; total hotel cost equals $200.00.

Gasoline cost from Savannah to Orlando and back would be somewhere in the vicinity of $100.00.

Meals to and from Orlando would be about $25.00.

The cost, then, for me to attend the 2016 Ligonier National Conference would be a whopping $553.00.

That is a lot of money.

Of course, when I last attended Ligonier I was a pastor; therefore, I let the church pick up the tab since it was part of my monthly expenses. That means that hard working people back home in Savannah shelled out hundreds of hard-earned dollars for me to sit and listen for three days. It was a good deal for me.

Did I forget to mention the books? Like most conferences, Ligonier has a large room full of theology texts, all for sale. These go on the pastor's expense account, too.

Something is not right with this picture.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Reformed on Salvation. Anabaptist on the Church.

The longer I live the more thankful I am for the Reformers. As we near October 31st, the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door in 1517, I can't help but muse upon just how much we owe those who came before us. For hundreds of years prior to the Protestant Reformation the Gospel had been largely locked away behind the pomp and circumstance of the Roman Catholic Church. The average person on the street had no access to the truth of the Biblical Gospel. Most people couldn't read, and even if they could they would not have had any way to read the scriptures in their first language (since the Bible was stuck in the Latin Vulgate at that time).

Enter the Magisterial Reformers. Men such as John Wycliffe, Jan Huss, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, John Calvin and many more literally risked their lives for Biblical truth. Some, like Huss, lost theirs at the stake. These men, who were able to read the Bible, saw that the Gospel is all of grace. They understood that Jesus Christ's work is complete. It is about Christ and Christ alone. God used the Reformers greatly to proclaim the wonderful news that Jesus accomplished all that was required.

Secondarily, I agree wholeheartedly with the Refomers' strong belief in the absolute sovereignty of God when it comes to salvation. I love both the 5 Solas and the Doctrines of Grace; I love them because I believe they are scriptural.

The Reformers stuck to the Bible when it came to the Gospel. For this I am indebted.

And yet...

When it comes to church life, the Reformers dropped the ball - at least where the Bible is concerned. Frankly, the Reformers did very little to alter the church from what it was (and still is) in Catholicism. The priests simply became pastors. The mass was replaced with a new sacrament: the sermon. The big buildings hardly changed at all. Because of this, I reject the Reformers' model of church life.

Enter the Anabaptists. While the Reformers deviated little from the Roman model of church, the Anabaptists embraced not only the Biblical Gospel but also the Biblical model of church life. They kept things simple. They emulated what they saw in the Bible. They rejected unbiblical concepts such as salaried clergy, special buildings, and worship services. They also saw the church as free, unencumbered by a cozy relationship with the state. It was this rejection of the church-state alliance that brought persecution and death to many of them. Almost all of their early leaders were slaughtered, either by Catholics or Protestants.

It is the Anabaptist model of church, which is basically just the Biblical model of church, that I embrace. This is not to suggest that either A) the Anabaptists had everything figured out perfectly, or B) that all Anabaptists were the same. However, they generally attempted to allow scripture to inform what they believed and how they acted as it pertains to living out church life.

For this, I'm deeply indebted to the Anabaptists.

In the end, this leaves me in the somewhat odd situation of being Reformed on salvation, but Anabaptist on the church. So be it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Piper GIFs

John Piper is one of my favorite authors. I've read more of his books than any other. One thing Piper is known for is his gesticulations while preaching. Well, somebody took the time to put together a few classic Piper GIFs. Fun stuff. Enjoy.

Thanks to Arthur Sido for finding this.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Take the Trinity Test

Tim Challies and Rebecca Stark have put together a very solid little quiz that focuses on the doctrine of the Trinity. Since it's only made up of 33 questions it doesn't take long. While some of the questions were easy, a few made me stop and think. I managed to get all 33 correct, but I had a little uncertainty along the way.

I encourage you to take it. Click here to do so.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Marathon Update: Only One Month To Go!

(I apologize in advance for the self-centered nature of this post. There was no way to avoid it.)

Back in February of this year I weighed about 220 lbs. Curiosity got the best of me. I decided to look up how much I should weigh based upon factors such as height, weight, age, bone size, etc. My guess was around 190 lbs. I was shocked to find that the weight I should be at was more like 165-175. Yikes.

It was at that point that I decided to make a significant change in my life. By the grace of God, I almost immediately started eating correctly and exercising more regularly. I'd always enjoyed running, but now it became a means to an end: getting to my goal weight of 175. In order to accomplish this, I knew that I needed some sort of concrete motivator. It wasn't difficult to settle upon one. I'd always wanted to run in the Savannah Rock 'N' Roll Marathon. The timing was perfect because it allotted me nine months to prepare. Additionally, the cost would not be prohibitive since it happens right where I live.

Here we are eight months later. I've been at my goal weight and holding steady for a few months. Additionally, I've run in four relatively short races both for fun and for marathon preparation. This past Saturday night I placed 5th out of about 50 people in a local 5K. Sweet.

The marathon is one month from today! I cannot wait. However, training still calls. Between now and then I have to tackle two more long runs (about 20 miles each). Those are the worst. They are boring and tiring. The last few miles are even painful. Ugh. Despite that, it will be worth it in the end.

The 26.2 is calling my name. It will soon be here!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Positive Acts - A Little Help

Acts 18:24-28

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

I love the above passage because of its simplicity and beauty. Luke describes a relatively straightforward situation where a gifted orator needed some help with his content. Apollos, who clearly had good intentions, was extremely skilled in proclaiming what he knew. The problem was that he didn't have a complete knowledge of the Gospel. Aquila and Priscilla rightly discerned that Apollos needed some help. The key to this passage is how they responded to his need.

Aquila and Priscilla could have rebuked Apollos. They could have "put him in his place" due to his lack of knowledge. They could have deeply discouraged him. However, they rightly understood his skills and intent. Instead of taking a negative approach, we read that "they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." This is edification at its best. These two seasoned Christians understood Apollos' need and assisted him in overcoming it. This is what Christ-followers should be doing.

Luke then tells us the outcome. Apollos was able to in turn assist other believers in a different area. Luke reports that "he (Apollos) greatly helped those who through grace had believed." Apollos accomplished this by giving superior arguments to the Jews of the area. With his new, fuller knowledge of the Gospel as told to him by Priscilla and Aquila, he was able to successfully show that Jesus is the Christ.

Apollos took his edification from Aquila and Priscilla and in turn used it to edify other believers. This is as it ought to be. Edification leads to edification leads to edification, etc.

Simple and beautiful.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Papal Ponderings

Pope Francis has come and gone. The church in the USA remains the same. After all the pomp and circumstance we are left with the vast variety of problems that we had prior to his visit.

I'm not surprised that many American Roman Catholics were thrilled to have Jorge Bergoglio (his real name) on U.S. soil. He has been lauded by many as a Pope who is willing to change things for the better. In some situations this is, in fact, true. For example, this particular pontiff shuns some of the ceremonial nonsense that normally goes along with his position.

In addition, Jorge truly does appear to care for the poor and downtrodden in society at large. Furthermore, he speaks out in favor of peace, for which I am grateful. Finally, the Pope not only accepts but also recognizes at least some of the Roman Catholic abuses of the past; he recently apologized for Rome's vicious persecution of the Waldensians in the years leading up to and during the Protestant Reformation.

In light of all this, should we be thrilled? Should we even consider, as many evangelicals now do, this Pope to be our brother in Christ?

Despite some of his outward uniqueness, Pope Francis has not been willing to change one thing about Roman Catholicism that never changes: Roman dogma. The Council of Trent showed us this hundreds of years ago. As a reaction to the Reformation, the Catholics gathered on and off over the course of eighteen years to basically say, "We still believe what we've always believed." Rome does not compromise or change any of its theological positions. It still has seven sacraments. It still celebrates the Mass. Most troubling, it continues to reject salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

Put simply, this Pope continues to believe the Roman gospel, which is a different gospel from the one clearly taught in the Bible. Therefore, this Pope cannot be a true follower of Christ despite his outward actions.

On a related note, Pope Francis is not a big fan of definitions. This leaves things messy. While he speaks much about the social side of life, his statements on theological matters are unclear at best. We are left to assume that he believes what Rome always has.

Finally, Jorge remains at the epicenter of THE largest church institution on the planet. If there is one position on earth that exemplifies all that is wrong with the leadership, authority, and power that has warped the church into an institutional framework, it is the papacy. The Pope is the hub.

In the end, little has changed. Although this new Pope does some things differently, he still rejects the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the key issue.

To learn more of the excesses of the Pope and the Vatican, watch the two videos below:

Friday, October 2, 2015


I have a tendency to get offended by people fairly easily. Recently I realized that this causes me much more consternation and angst than it does those doing the offending. Therefore, when I saw a friend recommend the book Unoffendable on his Facebook account, I figured it would be worth the read.

Author Brant Hansen makes the case that as followers of Jesus Christ we have no right to get angry. In part because of this, we can and should be unoffenable people. This, in turn, makes life better and less complicated. Hansen's argument has more depth than what I've described here, but this is the gist of it. He even tackles the ubiquitous Christian idea of "righteous anger." The best part of this book is that Hansen supports his thesis with a good amount of scripture from various parts of the Bible.

I appreciate the author's belief that we, as Christians, should be humble people. Since God has saved us, people who don't deserve saving, we have no reason to be prideful. On page 192 of Unoffendable Hansen writes, "At the beginning of this book, we talked about the crazy idea that we are not entitled to anger, and how taking this idea seriously actually opens up new dimensions of rest, grace, and simplicity in our lives. We are, above all, embracing a radical humility."

As for negatives, my only real criticism is that the author stresses the grace of God almost to the complete exclusion of sanctification. While God saves us and sustains us through His grace, He also has an expectation that we will grow in holiness. Hansen basically ignores this topic. I find this fascinating because it seems to me that growing in unoffendability (is that a word?) is part of growing in sanctification.

Two other aspects of this book annoyed me a bit, but this has to do with personal preference more than anything substantial. First, the author writes in a very casual, conversational style. This is fine, but takes some getting used to. Second, although Hansen quotes various versions of the Bible, he leans heavily on the New Century Version (NCV). This version has a low reading level, and thus reads in a choppy manner.

If you can deal with a casual writing style and don't mind the NCV, then I recommend this book to you. The author address a topic that we all need to ponder.