Thursday, 1 December 2016

Crazy Busy, God's Word and Homosexuality

Over the last few years Kevin DeYoung has released some short books. Like Just Do Something, these books are about 100-150 pages and can be read in a few sittings. Since they are short books, I thought I would try and leave a short review of them.

Crazy Busy
My wife had previously reviewed this book here, but I have only gotten round to reading this now (as I have been busy - go figure). Being busy isn't necessary a sin, it depends on your motivates on taking on too much. Are you busy because you are a people pleaser or seek praise of others or love the self promotion that comes for being busy and achieving things? This book challenges you to analysis yourself to work our what is driving your busyness. One quote that stuck out for me was:
"We assume, “If I don’t do this, no one will. Everything depends on me.” But the truth is, you’re only indispensable until you say no. You are unique. Your gifts are important. People love you. But you’re not irreplaceable."
There is a chapter on raising our children, and how we should perhaps stop freaking out about all the activities we just have to enrol our kids and how much hands on time we really need to give them. There is another chapter on technology the internet and how as adults we should be using our own screen time and there is a chapter near the end about suffering and how today, we kinda don't think things should be as hard as we find them. Perhaps we should have some expectation of suffering in order to have a realistic view of life.

This book was fairly well balanced, which lead me to think, in this regard, DeYoung is starting to write a bit like John Stott.

Taking God at His Word
My gut feeling is that of the three books here, this one probably sold the least because this once comes across a bit more boring and serious, even though it is about words that God Himself has said to people like us. People treat words from world leaders with high esteem (or contempt) but generally with seriousness. We probably should be doing that more with the Bible.

This short book looks at what the Bible says about itself. While this sounds like a circular argument two things should be noted. When dealing with your ultimate authority, you can't appeal to anything else. If reason is the be all and end all of knowing, you defend that position with reasons. Likewise if you think the Bible is the be all and end all of Christian living, you justify this position from the Bible, else you are saying something else is. The other thing to note is that the Bible isn't one book by one person, but it is 66 books written in multiple time periods, in different countries, in different languages captuing in different experiences. There is already a long tradition within the Bible on how people (like say Jesus) treated the writings before them.

There is a chapter each on the standard theological categories of the Bible such as sufficiency, clarity, authority and necessity. A good summary of these attributes are said to be:
"Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because the Scripture is necessary."
There is also a chapter on how Jesus saw the Bible of His day and a final one employing people to stick to what the Bible says.

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
My guess is, this is why you click on this link. Homosexuality is a hot issue at the moment, so no matter what you say about it, at least you will get page views. When this book first came out I listened to the talk DeYoung gave on this topic, so some things in this book I had heard before.

DeYoung is careful to frame what his book is and isn't about. This is not about what to do if you kid comes out, or if you are invited to a same-sex wedding, or you are asked to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The book isn't really about what you should think and do towards your gay friends, but primarily it is about what the Bible says about homosexuality. What you do with that may (or may not) affect your behaviour. Because of this limited scope and of what little the Bible really says about homosexuality, DeYoung also tries to frame the issue withing in the wider Biblical story line, showing that this is a minor issue:
In one sense, there’s not a whole lot about homosexuality. The story of the Bible is not the story of God giving a lecture on same-sex marriage or trying a case before the Supreme Court. Although homosexuality is one of the most pressing and painful controversies of our day, it’s not what the church has been singing and praying and preaching about for two thousand years.
And yet, in some ways it is.
He does go on to say that there is a link to the wider story of salvation, in that the Bible does call homosexuality a sin, and those who do not repent will not be in the new creation.

The first part of this book looks at creation in Genesis 1-2 and then the five key bits in the Bible where homosexuality is really mentioned (see there isn't much in there about it). These passages are: Genesis 19 with the men of Sodom; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 with the Old Testament law; Romans 1:18-32 with those giving over their passions and worshipping people and not God; and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11 with their use of two specific Greek words: malakoi (μαλακός) and arsenokoitai (ἀρσενοκοίτης).

The second part of this book addresses common objections. Just looking at the chapter titles, they are "The Bible hardly ever mentions homosexuality", "Not that kind of homosexuality", "What about gluttony and divorce?", "The Church is supposed to be a place for broken people", "You're on the wrong side of history", "It's not fair" and the "The God I worship is a God of Love". This a good selection of objections, and chances are you have heard some of these already (ie these are no straw-man objections).

DeYoung does engage in the higher critics on this topic but shows his skill in that he is able to simplify some complex arguments and present quite a clear case as to what the Bible says about homosexuality. One of the strengths in this book is that DeYoung cites non-Christians academics in the area of history and ancient Greek, some who are in favour of same-sex marriage. These academics conclude, based on what the actual text says within its original context, that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. It shouldn't be that surprising in that the Church has been saying this since it's inception.

Other books by Kevin DeYoung I have read:
Just Do Something


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