19 October 2011

review: turning the tide

Charles Stanley. Turning the Tide. New York: Howard Books, 2011. 1439190623.

Although there is no shortage of Christians who choose to speak on socio-political topics, there certainly does seem to be a lack of responsible dialogue in the arena.  In the name of fairness, one could say that this is somewhat true for believers on both sides of the political aisle.  I personally believe that many left-wing advocates are pushing in ways that discredit not only the Founders but also the Bible on which they forged this nation.  So I admit that I am personally biased in my assessment (you are too, even if you claim otherwise).  Having a stated position does not make a person wrong; knowing what you believe is a product of actual thought rather than sentimentalized feelings.

Anyways . . .

Given the sea of voices that have `emerged in the last decade, it is worth listening to the voices of our elders, who have spent their lives working in America's church to see God's Word make an impact in our culture.  Charles Stanley is one of our nation's great preachers, and he offers here the product of godly wisdom that has come from a life of service and devotion to Word and Truth now directed toward a shifting and changing nation.  And it is worth our time and effort to listen to his perspective, rather than follow the trends of those who only hear what they want to hear and forget that those who have built this country have a contributing perspective for us today.

In terms of a book review, I'll be brief.  Among other things, this book is a primer for young pastors on how the church should interact with the issues of culture, society and government.  Stanley speaks clearly from his own convictions, but never makes a statement which is tied to a particular party, movement or candidate.  That is part of the calling for preachers - one that needs to be relearned - to neither decry nor support a particular political agenda any further than it is working for the kingdom of God.  I have often said that in my work as pastor I do not look to speak about the state, but then there are days when the state comes into the church and must be addressed directly.  This is the same vein in which Dr. Stanley writes, and offers his perspective on this nation under God.

The book is written to the believer who wants to see a more godly presence in our nation, not out of legislative or judicial will, but out of a sincere turning to be the people of God among those who work together.  The Founders did not establish an official religion, and that is not what Stanley advocates here.  But the principles of Christian behavior remain at the core of what our first documents advocate, and the Christian faith has played a pivotal role in the history of this nation . . . the phrase God Bless America is not exclusive to us as a people, but is a prayer seeking to have the divine-human relationship flourish in this country.

Turning the Tide guides the reader (by the way, the book is more than suited for small group or personal devotional study, complete with prayers and action steps to help the process of moving forward) to understand biblical precepts of society and government.  Although the chapter titles begin to look more like a political platform type of book, the content never denigrates to that level.  There is a continual emphasis on life as a gift from God and the rights and responsibilities that come along with that gift.  Stanley does well to keep that at the forefront of the discussion.

Again, this book is highly recommended as a proper way to have a biblical discussion regarding the socio-political side of the American experience.  As I write this it is clear that all sides are unhappy with the present state of affairs.  But there remain some deep divisions on just how to move forward.  As Christians we ought not jump on the bandwagon of any movement or party, nor defame and disown any involvement in the political arena until we have considered the type of perspectives offered in this book.  Maybe Charles Stanley doesn't work for you, maybe it's not enough . . . Either way, consider this level of discussion, which begins and ends with Scripture and the glory of God through the kingdom come in Jesus.  (All in the tone of a humbled love.)

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