©2008 Crossway Books,
With a Foreword by John Piper, and cover blurbs from the likes of Randy Alcorn, D.A. Carson, and Mark Dever, this little collection of essays would seem to be the perfect tool for helping Christians grow in their faith. The subtitle gives the reader the gist of the book: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. This is not an effort to identify worldliness as much as an attempt to remind Christ followers of the need to be separate from the world.
The editor, Mahaney, sets the stage for the scope of the book with the first (I’ll call them) sermon. The focus of the book is on a verse in 1 John (2:15) which reads, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” An explanation ensues to put into context the difference between the term world John uses here and when he writes “God so loved the world . . .” in the gospel bearing his name.
Other sermons included in the collection deal with the Christian and Media (Craig Cabaniss), Music (Bob Kauflin), Stuff (Dave Harvey), and Clothes (Mahaney). The final entry is a work by Jeff Purswell on “How to Love the World”.
This book will be a challenge for some, a stumbling block for others, and just another book to still others. It is not a book for a wide-ranging audience. It is written to help Christ followers grow in their walk with the Master. It will likely anger many of those who number themselves in the Christian community because of the high standard that is espoused. The writers themselves admit to struggles with meeting the ideals put forth in the writing.
In general, I find the collection to be faithful to the Scripture. The authors take to task a generation of believers who have allowed worldliness to infiltrate their numbers to the point of being no different from the world. It is because of this worldly trend in the church that many readers will get angry and toss the book out the window. It is also this trend that makes a book like this sadly necessary.
As with any book of this type, some readers will latch onto the truths pointed out and use them as a sledgehammer to cream their neighbors with. Giant football fingers will be donned to point at the sinners who need to take this chapter or that to heart. Many will use the essay/sermons in this little book to gain new heights in legalism. Such is the danger of any book like this—and often of any sermon that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.
Most of the chapters dealing with specific areas where worldliness is increasingly tempting are well written and founded faithfully to scripture. While the fashion chapter is lopsided toward women and can be seen as chauvinistic, Mahaney points out the reasoning behind his focus on women’s fascination with worldly fashion.
The closing chapter is probably the least coherent of the essays and might seem a little awkward in a book designed to help us turn away from the world.
Included in the book are thought questions for each chapter and a couple of appendices which address more specifically ways that women can be more scriptural when choosing the clothes they wear.
I don’t recommend this book for wide circulation—even among the Christian community. I do, however, believe that this would be an excellent tool in the hands of someone who desires to become more like Christ. Because of the concerns I have with the book being used as a foundation for legalistic finger pointing, I have to hold it to three out of five reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, November 25, 2008