The Short Review: Buy this book!
The Long Review:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children (Hosea 4:6).
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Modern Christianity is in the process of reliving history before a watching world. Like the Israelites of old, many of today’s Christians have tired of hearing the Word of God and following its instructions. Professing Christians don’t want mere Christianity any more: they want ”Christianity And” – a Christianity that is blended with popular yet ungodly ideas and practices. This syncretism, which Michael Snow aptly describes as an “unholy conjunction” between Biblical Christianity and non-Christian worldviews, has led the visible church to embrace all manner of harmful practices and heresies. Three doctrines which have been tainted by heretical concepts are those of love, prayer, and forgiveness:
As the powerful wind of the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times—remember this word!) blows us along a new path, we take basic Christian essentials like love, prayer, and forgiveness and hook them up backwards. We hack them from their roots in the Bible and turn them into heresies.
How did we get here? Quite simply, we have forgotten the whole counsel of God (p. 13).
Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies is Mr. Snow’s reminder to a Christianity gone astray of what the Almighty actually requires of His people.
In this engaging and easy read, Mr. Snow argues that today’s Christians want love without obedience, prayer without exhortation, and forgiveness without repentance – concepts the Bible inextricably intertwines. When it comes to love, for instance, Christians have combined a biblically anemic notion of love with ideas drawn from pop psychology and philosophy. At the same time, they have divorced love from the biblical commands of obedience. As a result, any rebuking or church discipline of unrepentant sinners is characterized as Unloving and Negative. Yet, Being Nice and “winking at sin” is not being loving at all, as Mr. Snow correctly notes: “We do not truly love people when we will not confront them” (p. 28), and
Just as Paul could not, Christians who love cannot remain silent when face to face with fellow believers who are departing from the narrow way. Though Scripture mandates that we speak up, this imperative sounds off-key to generations that have allowed the faceless Zeitgeist to explain away God’s word through today’s fads (page 30).
The refusal to address disobedience in professing Christians has led the church to embrace the utilitarian idea that an unbiblical form of love will solve all of life’s problems. Such an approach is wreaking havoc in today’s churches:
The great lie of our day is that love has nothing to do with obedience. Our fellow Christians, openly, with premeditation, break Christ’s commands while proclaiming their peace with God. The most heart-wrenching example of that is the Christian who abandons his or her mate and children. Other horrendous examples include abortionists and divorce lawyers in our churches. Then there are those Christians committing fornication, adultery, or homosexual acts. These practices all flourish among us today (page 37).
In short, by embracing a false concept of love, Christians actually end up tolerating and condoning, if not promoting, some of the most unloving behavior imaginable. I have been on the receiving end of such “heart-wrenching” actions and I can personally attest to the devastation caused. It’s grievous enough when a professing Christian openly and unrepentantly sins against another believer. It’s downright tragic when that Christian’s church holds him up as a role model to emulate while at the same time characterizing his victim as an Unloving Unforgiver. Is this the way God’s people are supposed to minister to one another? Is this the witness God’s people want to share with the world?
The situation for the visible church only gets worse, though, because a heretical view of love is only one of the places where it has gone off track. When heretical love is combined with heretical views of prayer and forgiveness, the professing church creates, in the very least, a toxic environment for its members. The trail of broken and devastated lives in today’s churches loudly testifies to this fact. I won’t detail all of the heresies the church has embraced in these areas and how they have harmed others, but I will urge you to pick up a copy of Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies to find out. Mr. Snow’s theological accuracy and insightful diagnosis of the many heresies plaguing the professing church is sure to both encourage those who hold fast to biblical truths and comfort those who have been hurt by the application of bad doctrine in their congregations. Suffice it to say that this is not a laughing matter and should not be taken lightly by anyone who is serious about following God. As Mr. Snow again rightly notes, “Eternal consequences follow our conduct in this life” (p. 53). Sobering thought.
So what is the solution to the quagmire in which the church now finds itself? The solution Mr. Snow urges is the same solution the Israelites of old found after reaping the consequences of their disobedience: Repent. Return to God and His ways. Remember the whole counsel of God – and put it into practice:
Only in acknowledging the authority of the whole counsel of God and acting upon it do we hold any hope of pursuing that holiness to which we are called. The only hope of seeing a revival of the Church lies in a holy pursuit (p. 120).
In these days where Protestantism has once again been declared dead, professing Christendom is sorely in need of a revival. Only time will tell whether or not that long-hoped-and-prayed-for revival comes. The road to re-climbing to the height from which the church has fallen starts with one person at a time returning to biblical truth and walking the narrow path. It is my hope that more and more people will do so in my lifetime. In the meantime, though, I urge you to pick up a copy of Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies to see how God’s doctrines are supposed to be “hooked up” and to receive encouragement to keep fighting the good fight. May all who claim the name of Christ truly return to the Lord and serve Him with gladness.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not required to write a positive review of this book.