- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0781409977
- ISBN-13: 978-0781409971
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 202 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth Paperback – February 1, 2014
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I admit I live in a different culture and though I may enjoy a brew now and then I am holding up on the tattoos although I have plenty of surface area. I mention this at the outset because in much of American culture pastors who drink and have tattoos won't get much of hearing from teetotalers. That would be a shame because there is much in the book to think about.
I think people are more willing to be themselves in a pub then in a church which is one of the lessons we can learn from this book.
As I reviewed my notes I found I had highlighted many passages For example, "People are not pagans to be converted. projects to be preached at, or demographics to be reprogrammed". And "If you want a safe faith you will never really know God because he doesn't hang out in the shallow end much...."
There is one point with which I take issue. This quote is found on page 46, "Jesus did not come to convert people. Nowhere did he ever say that was his goal. What we do see is that his primary desire was to give glory to the Father by revealing his glory...."
I certainly agree that Jesus came to glorify the Father. He is clear about that in John 14-17 but Jesus also says in Luke 19:10 "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." This sounds like conversion to me. So seeking to convert is not at odds with glorifying God but in fact the way in which Jesus glorifies the Father. This reminds us that incarnation may involve invocation.
He occasionally throws out disturbing (in a good way) ideas that cause you to rethink church norms. Take this example from page 32:[Jesus] didn't come and take on flesh so that you would someday pray a salvation prayer, go to church, and settle for a semi-religious life. He has bigger hopes and dreams for you than that. He came so that His divine life could actually take root in you and so that you could relate to Him like humans used to before sin messed everything up.
And this from p. 58: The gospel is not news that we can accept Jesus into our lives. The gospel is news that Jesus has accepted us into His life and that we can live His life now. This echoes Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..."
Although I was greatly encouraged and challenged by the book, I had two major quibbles with Halter's theology. Early in the book he writes, "Here's the deal. People are not looking for doctrine. They're looking for a God with skin on, a God they can know, speak with, learn from, struggle with, be honest with, get straight answers from, and connect their lives to." (p. 14) I agree heartily with this statement, but at the same time I worry about the fact that Christian dogma can so cavalierly be thrown out the window. The gospel is both incarnational (relationships) and theological (truth).
My biggest problem with Halter's book was a strange affirmation he made regarding our humanity. He boldly asserts that Christ did not come to make us more godly, but to make us more human. But nowhere in the Bible does it say, Be human as I am human. Jesus was the perfect, sinless man who came to show us what a perfect, sinless life was like. I get the feeling from Halter that humanness means wearing our warts and weaknesses as badges of honor. This is plain silliness. Our weaknesses define us as fallen sinners, but they should not define us as Christ-followers. As Oswald Chambers puts it, "The miracle of redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One. He does this by putting into me a new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ." (My Utmost, Nov 19). Even Halter admits this when he talks about how all who follow Christ are under "spiritual renovation."
Redemption cannot be limited to salvation from hell. If it doesn't include the promise of transformation, we have only a forlorn hope.
In spite of my disagreements on these points, I really enjoyed Halter's book. His ideas are nothing new, however; they have been freshly worded for a new generation. Previous bestsellers on the subject have been Lifestyle Evangelism by Aldrich (1981) and Out of the Saltshaker by Pippert (1994).