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A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking [Paperback]

by Douglas Wilson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3, 2003 1591280109 978-1591280101
Satire is a kind of preaching.
Satire pervades Scripture.
Satire treats the foibles of sinners with a less than perfect tenderness.

But if a Christian employs satire today, he is almost immediately called to account for his "unbiblical" behavior. Yet Scripture shows that the central point of some religious controversies is to give offense. When Christ was confronted with ecclesiastical obstinacy and other forms of arrogance, he showed us a godly pattern for giving offense.

In every controversy godliness and wisdom (or the lack of them) are to be determined by careful appeal to the Scriptures and not the fact of people having taken offense. Perhaps they ought to have taken offense, and perhaps someone ought to have endeavored to give it.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Douglas Wilson is pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho, and editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine. Among other titles, he is author of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Reforming Marriage, and "Reformed" is Not Enough.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 121 pages
  • Publisher: Canon Press (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591280109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591280101
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas Wilson is the minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, which is a member of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC). After his stint in the submarine service of the U.S. Navy, he attended the University of Idaho, where he obtained an MA in philosophy.

As one of its founders, he has served on the board of Logos School, a classical and Christian school (K-12), since its inception. He is also a Senior Fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College. He is the author of numerous books, including Reforming Marriage, The Case for Classical Christian Education, Letter from a Christian Citizen, and Blackthorn Winter. He is also the general editor for the Omnibus textbook series. His blog can be found at www.dougwils.com.

All his favorite authors begin their names with initials--C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, H.L. Mencken, J.R.R. Tolkien, N.D. Wilson, and P.G. Wodehouse. The one exception is Nancy Wilson, a favorite author to whom he has been married for over thirty-four years. They have three children and fifteen grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Work on Satire September 22, 2004
By D.P.
Doug Wilson is an exceptional writer, and this book shows why. This book was written as a polemic for the use of satire in relation to others. Wilson is very humorous in this book. He is always humorous to read, but this book was exceptionally so.

Because many Evangelicals (including in the Reformed community) find it very offensive when someone uses satire to make a point, Wilson does an excellent job to show how that there actually is satire in scripture and that they did poke fun at people to proove a point. This can be a very valuable and effective tool when used in the biblical sense (as Wilson cogently shows).

For those who worry that this book advocates just ripping people to shreds and not carring about them, then that is mistaken. He even states this later on in the book that this is not the biblical attitude which we are to have. Overall, Wilson sets out to have a biblical and not an overly emotional and sensationalistic attitude as much of Evangelicalism suffers. This was a fun and easy book to read (I read it in one day).
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Designed to shake things up December 15, 2003
First, to the previous reviews...
'A reader from Canada' appears to be making an ad hominem attack against Wilson, commenting on a book he hasn't read: 'If the quotes from the reviewer below are accurate'.
It's not surprising that 'A reader from Kirkland' would hate this book, because one of Wilson's goals appears to be to force us to look beyond our pietistic memory of what the Bible says, and actually _read_ what it says.
As for Phil 3:8, the Greek word is 'skubalon', and Wilson's rendering appears quite reasonable (the KJV rendered it 'dung'). Instead of insisting that an apostle would never write such a thing, Wilson calls us to see the strength of the contrast Paul makes between the worth of knowing Jesus and all that he used to think important.
Wilson builds a solid case that satire and strong words are biblical, quoting from Jesus, Proverbs, the OT prophets, and Paul. The title indicates that he is well aware that satire is a weapon, and he is diligent in pointing out where it is and is not appropriate.
This book is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Even if you wouldn't use satire yourself, it's valuable to see just how much is in the Bible, and how well it is used. As for being nice, Jesus was not 'nice' to the Pharisees. Wilson suggests there might be a lesson for us all.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be imitators of Christ November 11, 2003
As the subtitle suggests, this book is a Biblical defense of the use of satire. The author regularly uses this device to poke fun at various groups in his publication Credenda/Agenda (he's the editor and one of the main writers). My wife and I recently discovered this publication and disagreed over the use of often biting satire in it. We purchased this book to see his defense of its use.
This is not a straightforward, well structured, dry proof. Instead, the book is a pleasure to read and makes its case even though it meanders a bit. There is a clear discussion defining satire, chapters on the use of satire by Jesus, Paul, and others in the Bible, answers to common objections to the use of satire, instruction on the proper, biblical use of satire, and even a special section devoted to the satiric treatment of modern evangelicals (not necessarily in that order).
We found this work very helpful and are convinced by the argument in favor of the use of satire. Two concerns we had about satire were answered: 1) that satire is not loving, but gives offense and 2) Jesus did use satire but that doesn't mean we should. The answer to the first is that satire can be loving in giving Biblical offense. The answer to the second is to ask the basis on which we pick and choose how to imitate Jesus and whether that standard is Biblical.
I only give four stars (and would prefer to give 4.5) because there are several sentences in the book that we had to read several times before we understood what they meant. I think this was partly due to somewhat odd construction and partly due to our not understanding a metaphor, reference, or the use of satire right away.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp! April 11, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a good work on the biblical use of satire. As always, the author Doug Wilson delivers with wit, wisdom and humor along the way. As it is indicated throughout the book, this work was prompted as a defense against some who charge Doug Wilson and the contributors of Credenda/Agenda with sinning in their use of satire. The book begins by first defining satire, notably it's four necessarily components (object of attack, vehicle, tone and norm) and making the distinction between Horatian and Juvenalian satire by it's tone, the former being more subtle and the latter being more biting. Since those who use satire is often attacked as arrogant, this is the subject of Wilson's second chapter in which he notes the two different standards the world and the Bible has in measuring humility and arrogance. One sees humility as focusing on self, while the other preaches Christ; one sees arrogance as believing you have the truth while the other see arrogance as an attack on God. This is followed by a biblical survey of the use of satire by Jesus, the Old Testament prophets and the Apostle Paul. After this survey, Wilson explores some of the reason why satire is needed and answer some anticipated objections. I thought his explanation of the reasons why American Evangelicalism is an appropriate target of satire when they are unbiblical is worth pondering carefully over. Towards the end of the book Wilson also add some caveat that satire ought to be used carefully and only during certain situations in particularly towards false spiritual leaders and fools. He also mentioned (which I'm glad he did say) that those who love to practice satire on their loved ones ought not to be encouraged to practice this and that such a person is being unbiblical. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Defense of Satire in Evangelism
The age of the internet has helped to bring a tough approach to dialogue. Go to any blog and you can find a side of people that you might not normally see in public. Read more
Published 2 months ago by ApologiaPhoenix
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
A challenging read in the sense that it does not let you get lazy in your assumptions.
There are obviously some that might trash on this book because it challenges assumptions... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This was just so well done... Hilarious and very biblical. It helped me see some things differently than I had in my little Christian bubble.
Published 9 months ago by Brandi Huerta
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensibly sound
I gave it 5 stars because for someone who has attempted to mingle a fallen sense of what love is with how the Bible defines what love is, this book assists in clearing any foggy... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Joseph Dominguez
5.0 out of 5 stars Biblically Grounded . . .
Some may see this book as an attempt to justify an attitude of "satire for sport." But this is not that at all. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Matt
5.0 out of 5 stars Humor is warfare
Excellent writing from Douglas Wilson. He clearly presents Biblical evidence for the appropriate use of satire and humor when defending the truth of God. Read more
Published on March 7, 2010 by W. Shurtliff
5.0 out of 5 stars Well... Like it or not
Another highly entertaining and informative book by the Credenda Agenda gang. Thought provoking to say the least, but those with thin skin better look elsewhere.
Published on December 2, 2003 by NATHAN D GARRETT
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