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The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness Hardcover – May 5, 2009
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“From grade inflation to global calamities, Albert Mohler is a steady guide. From the psychological coddling of the American ego to the hollowing of the American conscience, Mohler is unremittingly clear-headed. From Nineveh to New Orleans, Mohler holds the mirror at a blazing forty-five-degree angle between heaven and earth. The burning light of divine wisdom illumines a hundred shadows of our human folly. And at the center of the blaze is the mighty cross of Jesus Christ defining the final meaning of everything. I thank God for Albert Mohler.”
–John Piper, pastor for preaching and vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN
“Al Mohler is a unique gift to the church. His writing combines penetrating theological discernment and insightful cultural analysis with a passion to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m delighted that Al’s wisdom is now available in this book. May it be the first of many.”
–C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries
“In The Disappearance of God, Dr. Mohler has provided a striking, biblically-based treatment of a coterie of compelling issues which threaten the religious public at every turn. With his usual incisive and scintillating analysis, he sorts out healthy from unhealthy influences and charts a path for future church development. If you are serious about navigating our contemporary world, this is a necessary read.”
–Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas
“Here is a picture on the life of the church where it is being troubled, seduced, and attacked by today’s dominant cultural forces. Its analysis is clear and to the point., and its answers are biblically framed, thoughtful, and helpful. I wish there were more books like this!”
–David F. Wells, Distinguished Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"There is a paucity of prophetic Christian voices today speaking about the dangerous trends in our churches and culture. Albert Mohler is one of those leading voices who provides clarity and conviction in a culture of ambiguity, aimlessness, and ambivalence. I am thankful for his book The Disappearance of God and the clear direction it provides in the murky culture in which we live. Above all, I am thankful for Dr. Mohler and his heart for Christ’s church."
–Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources, and
author of Essential Church and Simple Life
About the Author
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is an esteemed authority on contemporary issues. A columnist, radio host, and blogger, Dr. Mohler has contributed to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and appeared on Larry King Live, The Today Show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and The O'Reilly Factor. Dr. Mohler has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Southern Seminary and has done research at Oxford University. Dr. Mohler and family live in Louisville, Kentucky.
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Top Customer Reviews
Among the essays contained in this volume is Mohler's landmark call for mature Christians to practice theological triage. This essay has received a wide audience and high praise from evangelicals since its original publication in 2004. The church would perhaps be greatly helped in the present generation by a book-length treatment of this subject by Dr. Mohler in the future. Additional essays treat the subjects of assurance, morality, sin, hell, beauty, the emerging church, liberal Christianity, open theism, church discipline, the "post-Christian" age, missions and preaching. Each essay functions well on its own, offering a solidly biblical analysis of the issue in the present milieu. For this reason, the book serves as a handy guide for Christian pastors and lay-people to utilize in responding to the claims and questions of those who have been engulfed in the waves of change in church and culture.
Readers may wonder why certain subjects are treated in single chapters while others are divided into "parts" over several chapters. For instance, the monumental work on theological triage is contained in the eight pages of the book's opening chapter, while the Augustinian flavored discussion of beauty covers three chapters and totals nearly thirty pages. The discussion on church discipline is divided into four parts (or chapters), covering some thirty-five pages. The divisions are as they are because of the original form of the essays. For instance, the four parts covering church discipline were originally published online on May 13, 16, 17, and 18 of 2005. Though a major editorial change may have resulted in a wide variation of chapter lengths, one cannot help wondering if continuity may have been better established in the book by combining these thematic units into singular chapters.
Additionally, because of minimal editorial work prior to publication, some loose ends are left untied. Chapter 14, on the divisive issue of Open Theism within the Evangelical Theological Society begins by stating, "Theology was front and center at the 2003 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta, Georgia." Mohler goes on to detail the charges which were being brought against Clark Pinnock and John Sanders for their teachings on the openness of God and the subsequent vote that was to determine if they would be able to remain members of the Society. The chapter ends with the statement, "This much is certain -- God will not change based on how a vote turns out." The original essay, written during the week of the Society meeting in 2003, ended as follows: "This much is certain -- God is not waiting to see how this vote turns out." Certainly both concluding statements are true, however, had Mohler or an editor chosen to include what actually happened with that vote (which took place over five years prior to publication of the book) perhaps his point of the theological demise within Evangelicalism would have been strengthened, in addition to his readers' curiosity satisfied. In point of fact, the Society did not vote to remove the offending brothers. Thus, inclusion of this information would have demonstrated that tolerance of unbiblical beliefs has not only infected the culture, liberal Christianity, and the emerging church, but even the cradle of evangelical theology.
Another significant weak spot in the book is in the treatment on the emerging church. While the information presented in these chapters is accurate and the analyses needed, readers may be disappointed to find very little original analyses by Mohler himself. The essays that make up chapters 10 and 11 amount to a protracted book review of D. A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. Carson's work may be the most relevant and balanced examination of the emergent trends, yet in a book such as this by a scholar such as Mohler, one should expect to find original insight and critique rather than a summation of another's work. As president of one of the largest seminaries in the world, Mohler is certainly able to respond to the issues presented by the emergence of a radically different church in our day. It is our loss that we do not have it contained herein.
Although each article stands very well on its own to offer pointed and profound theological and cultural analysis, in their present form they have the feel of a disjointed miscellany, lacking the flow of careful thematic development from start to finish within the book's covers. While a reconsideration of the order of the chapters may have aided this somewhat, perhaps what is more needed is a more careful editorial process which would take the articles as they were originally written and weave them together in a way that more cohesively develops the theme of the "disappearance of God."
If this reviewer understood the main point of the book as a whole, it is that the disappearance of God in the culture has created a spiritual vacuum. Many in the church have responded to this vacuum inadequately by accomodating cultural trends to the neglect of biblical doctrine. Traditional understandings of God, hell, and the church have been jettisoned in exchange for postmodern and post-Christian ideals. Mohler addresses several of the most pressing concerns of our day (more accurately, of 2004-2005, for some of these concerns have undergone a course correction to some degree in the intervening years) with searing intellectual analyses and offers a clarion wake-up call to the church. Mohler would have the church to recommit itself to expository preaching, absolute truth, and gospel-centered missions, uniting around the central and most precious of Christian doctrines through a process of theological triage.
In conclusion, The Disappearance of God represents some of the most clear-thinking biblical thinking about several pressing issues that the church needs to confront in our day by one of its most articulate voices. Those who have read the essays before will be disappointed perhaps to find that this book contains nothing that they have not already encountered. Still, we should be glad to be reminded of the truths these writings contain and grateful to have them bound in one volume (not to mention having them accessible when there is no wi-fi connection or when a power outage occurs). While the initial disappointment of being served intellectual leftovers may taste bitter at first bite, we must not allow ourselves to be so cynical to miss the blessing that is ours because of gifted men and the fruit of their labor such as we have in this volume. The church should be grateful for present-day voices like Al Mohler, and for publishers who wish to broaden their impact.
It is the primary or first order theology priorities under fire in today's evangelical churches. One chapter is titled Can We be Good without God? The next chapter is titled The Disappearance of Sin. Man never wants to believe he deserves eternal torment of Hell, because he is in rebellion with God. Lot of individuals, who call themselves as evangelical, no longer hears sermons on sin, but mistakes or doing harm. These churches often do not teach about hell. The wrath of God is not taught or at a minimum. This work is about Today's theology; Today's thought process to bring Christianity into the 21st century. Certain thing is held contrary to Liberal theology, quite evangelical sounding, but open to other perspectives in today's society.
Dr. Mohler starts a discussion about the emerging church after 75 pages. This discussion lasts 37 pages. Open Theology is paramount. The church seeks to culturally relevant: Rejecting the omniscience of God. They believe in a God who does not the future, but reacts to what transpires. The doctrine of assurance and the perseverance of the saints are void, because God is not fully in control. There is deep compromise with what the Bible teaches and what society teaches is sin- going against God's Will.
This book speaks of the need for the teaching of theology and disciplining members of the church. To be more particular about who is a Christian and what it means to follow Christ. Christians should seek out churches that teach sound doctrine or only accept membership to those who believe in sound doctrine.
For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for "feel-good" theology.
We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.
If you read his blog there really is nothing new, but if you don't then this is a great book!
Al Mohler makes a strong case that the church at large needs to stop being pressed into our culture's mold and return and bolster biblical Christianity in key areas.