Thursday, July 24, 2008

Turning Your Heart Toward God- Thigpen and Kline

I have never read a book that I liked so much all the while gritting my teeth but it has now happened. Let me explain.

It is a non-fiction work written in a study guide format. One of the authors is editor of the bi-monthly "The Catholic Answer" which presents problems in the theological field.

The book touts itself as "a 12-week exploration of the spiritual disciplines." Let me say that it definitely delivers from that perspective. It covers topics like simplicity, forgiveness, reticence, obedience and several others that are often overlooked. These topics A few times it sort-of comes across as New-Age(y) but I don't think that is the intention.

What you will notice is the constant mention of Desert Fathers, Desert Wisdom, or Desert Elders. The "Desert" jargon was a term given to Ascetics and Monks who lived in the 4th and 5th century who were heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

My problem is there seems to be more of a reverence for the "Desert Wisom" than for the Word of God. There are many scriptures throughout the book but it seems to be in the shadows of the Desert Wisdom.

It reads very easy and the disciplines themselves are good to focus on. I would recommend this book for a discerning mature Christian who can differentiate between "thus says the Lord" and what Agatho said.


Seriy said...

Dear Bro. Dead Theo,

You have posted in the past rather clearly and articulately about your passion for the Gospel as reflected in the Reformers (and disappointment at the sympathy with Romanism at your old seminary).

As a former Catholic, could I pose 2 questions?

(1) What is the attraction for Western evangelicals to Roman Catholic authors? (See your last 2 book reviews.) (Or for that matter, why is one of the best sellers written by a Mormon? Or are most modern evangelical writers dull and uninspiring? Is the worth of a book based on its popularity or how it brings glory to God?)

(2) Is it truly the case that the Reformers of ages past had such a shallow spiritual life from which we have nothing to learn? (This question is very "tongue and cheek" and is begging the question.)

I enjoy your blog quite a bit, so please take no offense. If there is, my apologies.


Dead Theologians said...


Thanks for the excellent question.

In answer to your first question I think many people who claim to be born again are not and live a deceived life.

In reference to your question about my reviews please note my post
NavPress offered to send me some books if I would give critical reviews of them. I told them I would but that I was going to be honest about them.

The content of a book, like the last one I reviewed, might be good but the push of the Ascetics and Monks was not.

>>Is it truly the case that the Reformers of ages past had such a shallow spiritual life from which we have nothing to learn?

Actually the ones of old I much prefer. I think there is much to learn from the reformers.

What brought you to the point of a "former" Catholic?


Seriy said...

Dear DT,

Thank you for the response.

It is good that you are giving NavPress feedback on their books.

What does confound me, though, is the motive of publishers such as NavPress to distribute stuff that "supplements" the spirituality of the Scriptures. (NOT talking about books besides the Bible and direct commentaries, but rather Roman, Mormon, humanist, and otherwise inclusive/universalist stuff passed off as "spirituality".)

Is it the companies themselves that are driven more by numbers and the manna/profit motive? Or is it yet another sad commentary on the state of fallen human beings in the US church that only want potato chips and reject real spiritual meat?

There is a tempation for me (or perhaps other Christians) to fall into elitism. If it were not for God's grace and mercy, I too could be sucked up into chasing "doctrines of demons" and "false gospels". That is where I was in Catholicism before Christ saved me.

Without giving you a whole blog on how Christ saved me, suffice it with this. (If you really wanted the blow by blow, please let me know. Again, I don't want to hog your blog. :))

Through a number of adversities as a teen and young adult, the Lord opened my eyes to the truth of His simple Gospel in the Word. Being taught to rely on dead works and believe in baseless superstitions was not connecting me to the Lord. One time, at a rite called "penance" (really confession), part of "confirmation" (like Bar Mitzvah in Judaism), I went to the confessional box with the priest. "How have you sinned?" "I have no faith in any of this. I would like to learn, though." Remedy: "Say 7 Hail Mary's and 7 Our Father's." Result: confirmed out of RC...

I am grateful the Lord allowed this to happen, as it forced me to see His plan in His Word. He brought some godly friends into my life. He has "confirmed" me in His Gospel by grace through faith.

I love people in RC. Many are warm and sincere people. However, the Roman system is an affront to Christ because it makes a caricature of Him and makes human beings slaves to works, which will never suffice except maybe to put them in purgatory (non-existent). As the leopard cannot change its spots, so Rome has not changed hers. And Christ's people should relate to Rome accordingly, as we ought to relate to Mormons vs. their "prophets".

My closing note (forgive me for such a long response) is that we ignore church history at our peril. Indeed, I am increasingly amazed how much there is to learn from your so-called "dead theologians" (and in contrast how many trees are felled needlessly to promote the phony gospels of today in their "christian" veneer). For instance, reading a book like Wylie's History of Protestantism makes me realize how much God has and can intervene in history to save people even from Roman tyranny.

Let us not spit on the memory of the Hebrews 11 saints and beyond (including the Reformers). We do not need Rome's gospel, but Christ's Gospel.

Thank you for your worthwhile blog.


Dead Theologians said...


That was refreshing to read. It is wonderful to see how God opened your eyes to the RCC.

In reference to your earlier observations yes, it is all about money.


grateful said...

Seriy, I am a former Catholic, and was very devout.
Your post couldn't have said it any better! I was going to jump in and post to our dear Bro. Dead Theo to his on the book.

just a note. It's hard to tell who is spiritually 'mature enough' for most books. Why take the chance? I say if believers got along without it before it was published, well... is it really worth the risk of stumbling someone?

Believe me books like that are very attractive to those of us who are ritualisticly inclined. Big trouble for the likes of me.

I would have needed to join RA (ritualholic's anonymous) if I hadn't gotten saved. ;)

Dead Theologians said...


Very good point. Since that post NavPress has stopped sending me books to which I am very happy.

On a side note...
I am amazed at the Emergent friendly, Social focused, Liberal loving books that this company sent me. Out of probably 40-45 books that were sent over time only 2 were keepers.


grateful said...

DT said:"Out of probably 40-45 books that were sent over time only 2 were keepers."

a sign of the times I think. very sad.
With all of the well educated Christians there should be an abundance of worthwhile books to read. Once I personally wanted to write Ichabod on the door of the Family Christian bookstore. Just to make a point. It's grieving to see where those garbage books are taking people today. People want their ears and eyes tickled. And the so called Christian publishers and bookstores will gladly do the job.


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