Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review: Renewal as a Way of Life, A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth. by Richard Lovelace, Wiph and Stock Publishers, Eugene. OR. 2002

Overview—Give a brief overview of the book, including its theme, perspective and approach.
After his magnum opus, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Lovelace puts the cookies on the bottom shelf with Renewal as a Way of Life. He covers much of the same ground as his longer volume, but packages and applies his insights in a new way. He begins with a solid section tracing the Biblical theology of the Kingdom of God where he emphasizes what the normal Christian life should look like. He then turns toward the three classic enemies of the believer: the flesh, the world, and the devil. Here Lovelace shows the deceitful ways each enemy attacks. To be forewarned is to be forearmed! Lovelace then displays the messianic victory of Christ and how that empowers both individual and corporate renewal.

Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.
As the strength of Dynamics was its comprehensiveness, the strength of Renewal as a Way of Life is its brevity. Those who don’t want to slug through nearly 500 pages in his earlier work will find Renewal as a Way of Life very accessible. But he does not just dumb-down his early work. Renewal is substantial in and of itself and covers some new ground as well, particulary the sections on the Kingdom of God and the Messianic Victory. The weakness of Lovelace’s book are the same as his earlier work. Renewal sounds like a reflection of the concerns of the 70’s and 80’s. I felt as if I were going on a trip down memory lane! An updated edition would serve the church well.

Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.
Lovelace has simplified his “renewal grid”, dropping the confusing category of “desenculturation” and integrating that emphasis in the sections on the flesh, the world, and the devil. This makes his book more like to be pulled for reference from my shelf. I am still persuaded that his renewal grid serves as a fine evaluation and assesment tool for healthy church dynamics.

Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.
p. 181 “John Calvin, Richard Baxter and other ecumenical Protestants have rightly insisted that only a united body of Christ in each region can effectively design and carry out ministry. When English Puritans complained to Calvin about the Anglican bishops and their popish prayer book, Calvin advised them to put up with the ‘tolerable stupidities’ of the latter and not to trade the former for a Presbyterian system. He considered it more important for the English church to stay unifies that to adopt the polity he had drawn from the New testament. For only a unified church can efficiently minister in any region.”

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