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The New Christians

Scot had a nice post on blurbing last week.  My own endorsement requests have dropped significantly of late.  I guess “blogger” doesn’t have as much cache as “national coordinator of Emergent Village” on the back cover.

In general, I agree with Scot: don’t summarize the book; don’t over-blurb; etc.

However, I disagree with him on the advice about not endorsing books with which you disagree.  One of my prouder blurbs sits on the back of R. Scott Smith’s Truth and the New Kind of Christian, a book with which I entirely disagree and which attacks my own work as well as Brian McLaren’s and Spencer Burke’s. My endorsement:

“Scott Smith and I agree on a lot. We share a deep commitment to Jesus
Christ, a love of the Bible, and a passion for the church. We also
agree that we’re currently living in a liminal time, and it’s those
“boundary times” when people look most closely at the beliefs that
underlie their practices. So, we’ve all got some things to figure out
right now, including what we can really know and the certainty with
which we can state our claims in a pluralistic society. I appreciate
Scott’s voice in this conversation. He is a careful reader of my work,
and he writes with a gracious and generous tone. Interlocutors like
Scott will be a helpful challenge to all of us in the “emerging
church.” I consider him a friendly critic and a brother in Christ.”

I also endorsed the 25th Anniversary Edition of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, the most-read articulation of the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement.  (I wonder if fellow endorsers DA Carson, David Wells, and Michael Horton squirmed a bit when they saw my name on the back cover.)  Although I’m not a proponent of penal subsititution (at least not at the expense of other atonement theories), what I wrote about that book is what I believe to be true:

“For those who want an evenhanded and robust defense of the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement, John Stott’s The Cross of Christ
is the benchmark. With a deft hand, Stott has given us a classic
articulation of this influential, evangelical doctrine that is both
vigorous and readable. Books like this stand the test of time.”

Brian McLaren, who might be accused of over-blurbing, has a very generous policy for endorsing just about every book many but definitely not every book that crosses his desk 🙂 .  Phyllis Tickle does the same, much to my benefit — she’s written a couple homerun endorsements for me.

I’m sure Scot agrees with me that each of us should read books with which we disagree.  It’s part of the academic process, and it should be for all of us who desire to continue to grow and learn.  With that in mind, I consider it entirely appropriate to endorse a book that I consider valuable, even if I disagree with the ideas therein.

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