Ordinary : Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World
Radical. Crazy. Transformative and restless. Every word we read these days seems to suggest there's a "next-best-thing," if only we would change our comfortable, compromising lives. In fact, the greatest fear most Christians have is boredom-the sense that they are missing out on the radical life Jesus promised. One thing is certain. No one wants to be "ordinary."Yet pastor and author Michael Horton believes that our attempts to measure our spiritual growth by our experiences, constantly seeking after the next big breakthrough, have left many Christians disillusioned and disappointed. There's nothing wrong with an energetic faith; the danger is that we can burn ourselves out on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. What's needed is not another program or a fresh approach to spiritual growth; it's a renewed appreciation for the commonplace.Far from a call to low expectations and passivity, Horton invites readers to recover their sense of joy in the ordinary. He provides a guide to a sustainable discipleship that happens over the long haul-not a quick fix that leaves readers empty with unfulfilled promises. Convicting and ultimately empowering, Ordinary is not a call to do less; it's an invitation to experience the elusive joy of the ordinary Christian life.
- Paperback | 224 pages
- 137.16 x 210.82 x 20.32mm | 240.4g
- 07 Oct 2014
- Grand Rapids, United States
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Ordinary: The New Radical? We're so wrapped up in the excitement of the extraordinary---the radical---that we miss opportunities both to receive and to give what's really important. After the initial burst based on big promises and expectations, the result is often burn-out and disillusionment. Chapter 2: Ordinary Isn't Mediocre The focus here is on what isn't meant by "ordinary." Too often, it's seen as synonymous with "nominal," "mediocre," "passive," and "disengaged." My goal in this chapter is to challenge these assumptions. Chapter 3: The God of the Ordinary One of the areas where we see so little appreciation for the ordinary is in the marginalization of the doctrine of providence. In the face of secular naturalism, many Christians adopt a hyper-supernaturalism. Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is. But that renders miracles ordinary and the ordinary empty of God's activity. Everything goes down a notch. To appreciate the ordinary, we have to begin with God as the original worker. Here I try to distinguish God's miraculous and providential ways of working while giving both their due. Chapter 4: We Don't Need Another Hero We start early, in Sunday school, with the Bible as a collection of "Bible heroes." Then we look for celebrity athletes and entertainers, founding fathers and Mother Theresas, to boost are confidence in being on the winning team. But does the Bible itself encourage us to read it this way? This chapter draws attention to God as the real hero of the Bible, along with a supporting cast of characters who---like us---are often unfaithful. Only when we understand that Christ is first of all the Savior of people who don't follow his example can we accept ourselves as ordinary sinners with an extraordinary Redeemer. Chapter 5: Extraordinary Grace through Ordinary Means We associate the Holy Spirit with direct and immediate experiences inside of us. That makes sense, given the emphases in Scripture on the Spirit's indwelling work. Nevertheless, it also misses a lot. The Holy Spirit has always done extraordinary things through his ordinary creatures. This chapter traces the ways in which the Spirit is typically identified with visible and external matter: water, a cloud and pillar of fire, circumcision, a temple, and an otherwise ordinary bath and an ordinary meal with bread wine, in a fellowship of embodied saints who long for the resurrection to come. Chapter 6: Spontaneous Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be From a fountain of individualism---even narcissism, our culture prizes that which is spontaneous, personally chosen, with results that are immediately visible. Sometimes this impulse affects our view of discipleship. Why do the apostles talk so much about character traits like humility, patience, gentleness, self-control, and submission to each other? And are we prone to adopt, even in the name of being counter-cultural, the contrary characteristics that our successful neighbors value? Chapter 7: "The Kingdom of God Is Like..." Jesus compared the kingdom to a mustard seed. In fact, a lot of the analogies for the growth of the kingdom---and of individual believers---are organic. Planting strawberries with their mom, children often expect immediate fruit and lose interest when it doesn't appear. You can't really watch a tree grow, but it does. We know because Christ is raised and has ascended and has sent his Spirit to graft us onto him as our Living Vine. Once we stop looking for immediate results and evidence of our own growth and the visible triumph of Christ's kingdom, we can begin to care for things again. Chapter 8: Ordinary People The church in the abstract may be fine---the invisible company of God's elect. As the saying goes, "To dwell above with the saints in love---Oh, that will be glory! But to dwell below with the saints I know, well, that's a different story." Especially those of us who have been shaped by the amb
About Michael Horton
Michael Horton (PhD, DD) is Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. Author of many books, including The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, he also hosts the White Horse Inn radio program. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and four children in Escondido, California.