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Good News for Anxious Christians Paperback – Illustrated, October 1, 2010
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From the Back Cover
Like a succession of failed diet regimens, the much-touted techniques that are supposed to bring us closer to God "in our hearts" can instead make us feel anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Phillip Cary explains that discipleship is a gradual, long-term process that comes through the Bible experienced in Christian community, not a to-do list designed to help us live the Christian life "right." He covers ten things we don't have to do to be close to God, skillfully unpacking the riches of traditional Christian spirituality to bring the real good news to Christians of all ages.
"Yes! No! Whoa! There are so many terrific, alarming, insightful zingers in this book that I agreed, disagreed and, most of all, had to think about something on every page. Graceful and liberating, this book is a word of wisdom and hope that just might convince anxious Christians that the gospel really is better news than we've yet imagined."--Andy Crouch, author, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling
"Evangelicals worry about lots of things, including the state of our spiritual health. Phil Cary is worried too: worried that evangelicals are suffering needlessly because they have imbibed a consumerist spirituality that offers much but provides little. Phil's prescription for spiritual indigestion? A turning away from the self to the one who continually speaks a healing, saving word to us, Christ himself. This is, quite frankly, one of the best books I've read on the spiritual life over the past twenty-five years. I heartily recommend it."--Christopher A. Hall, president, Renovaré
"Phillip Cary has clearly and convincingly explained why so many evangelicals are anxious and believe they may be failing at faith. I highly recommend this book to my fellow Christian counselors and self-doubting Christians because Cary richly explains the comforting good news of our identity in Christ. He thus provides a solid theological basis for correcting many deeply distorted beliefs about the self which propagate anxiety. This book provides the best treatment of this subject that I have ever read."--Christopher Doriani, licensed clinical social worker
About the Author
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A good pastor (& church & Bible studies) will study JESUS, HIS WORKS, HIS WORD and do "applications for today" MUCH LESS, because if we study JESUS, then we will know Him, and that is when we truly have a "relationship" with Him (when we allow Him, through His chosen vessel, the Bible, to TELL us about Himself).
A large part of anxiety in Christians in America comes directly from the question, "How do I KNOW.....?" As in, "How do I know who God wants me to marry?," "How do I know what my "purpose" in life is?," "How do I know which job God wants me to take?" And our questions come because we have been taught (by American churches over the past few decades especially) to look INSIDE OURSELVES for these answers, to "hear God speak to us in our heart," etc. BUT, what God tells us to do in the Bible is to "seek wisdom," and we all too often forget that is exactly what Solomon asked for, rightly, from God.
The Bible does NOT separate the "heart" from the "head," as we are often taught to do, but considers them one and the same--the MIND. It is a false dichotomy we make, regarding what God speaks about in the Bible when He says "heart." The author goes over numerous verses, and you can see it there, when you read them. God is clearly talking about our mind.
And part of this is evident in how American churches (and teachers/Bible studies, etc.) tell us that we are to "have faith like a little child, just trusting Jesus," but that they conveniently neglect to ALSO consider, at the same time, ALL the passages in the Bible (and complete Proverbs, for that matter) that highlight WISDOM. And wisdom is something that definitely includes making wise decisions for ourselves, among the options God providentially presents to us.
So, basically, the book goes through the issues it addresses, and keeps pointing us back to looking for Jesus OUTSIDE of ourselves and looking TO ourselves to be active in making decisions in our lives, and NOT relying on hearing a "still small voice" to speak to us. (BTW, in his chapter on Job, he reminds us that God spoke to Job in a whirlwind, not in a whisper, and He also never told Job WHY he was allowed to suffer, so Job (to our knowledge) lived the whole rest of his life without that information, as we must sometimes too.)
Not being a scholar, and particularly a philosopher, there were many times that I had to re-read a paragraph so I could truly take in what the author was trying to convey; but as I did so, I just kept highlighting and highlighting to bring out all the truly remarkable and profound truths he shared! I would highly recommend reading the last chapter, which summarizes the book, first. Then you will have an idea of the points he's trying to make so as you read the whole book you'll have fewer of those foggy moments when you're a little unsure of where he's going with all this.
This is a book that I will spend a lot of time contemplating and searching the scriptures to confirm what he has said. The author himself invites us to do this because he wants us to think for ourselves.
I would recommend this book to "newish" Christians and to any Christian who has struggled with all the experiential, emotional based teaching they've heard over the years. I would recommend it to pastor's who feel trapped on the spinning wheel of church growth and would like to find some rest for their souls.
Top international reviews
I also loved that he invited us to think for ourselves and disagree with him. But even when I thought I was going to really disagree, I actually agreed! Like his chapter that claimed "you don't have to be transformed all the time." At first I couldn't believe he'd try and claim that, it says in Romans 12 we are to be transformed by renewing our minds. But when I kept reading, I realized that was NOT what he meant. So sometimes you really have to keep reading to get his point, but it is worth it. His point was that the evangelical world has a belief in "transforming events" other than salvation, things that instantly grant us some sort of spiritual maturity, but growing the fruit of the Spirit takes time. Sometimes people do have a more 'sudden' change, but for most of us, it is a lifetime of being transformed by God's Word and simple obedience... It's a reminder that it is faithfulness and steadfastness that God wants us to practice, rather than jumping from experience to experience hoping to gain some sort of easy spiritual boon.
But the best thing about the book (and you really ought to read the introduction, because it is terrific) is how it keeps pointing back to the Gospel itself. It was for freedom that Christ has set us free, and that freedom comes from the true Gospel of Jesus. The parts that just kept pointing me back to Christ Himself and what He has done for us were my favorites... because it is the Gospel that is the power of God in changing our hearts and lives.
I already gave this book to a friend, and I'm going to buy another one to give away. It really is that good.
This would be a good book study at any evangelical Church.