Ordinary (Michael Horton)

Evangelicals never really rejected Roman Catholic monasticism. They simply moved it either to the mission field (if they were conservative) or did weird communes (if they read Sojourners). In either case, if you weren’t on board, you really weren’t living the Christian life. In fact, you might not even be a Christian. It’s the new salvation by works.

If you’ve ever been pressured or guilt-tripped by these movements, then Horton’s book can save your sanity. It might even help save your soul. Instead of a review, I was almost tempted to simply copy/paste quotations from Goodreads. It would have same effect. But here goes.

It’s harder to love your neighbor, change diapers every day (sorry, Christic Manhood guys), and go to work every day, than it is to “do the crazy thing for the gospel” (the latter is an actual quote from a Passion conference). But what did Paul tell us to do? As we await the Lord’s return to work quietly with our hands.

We grow in the Christian life, not by the next big thing, but by receiving the means of grace. The most beautiful section of the book is on the catechetical life. As evangelicals, our favorite metaphor for God (or the Christian life) is “being on fire.” True, God is a consuming fire, but that verse in Hebrews is actually meant to make us uncomfortable. The more common metaphor for the Christian life is the organic one. God is tending his garden (and you are not meeting him alone in it). Jesus is the fine, we are the branches, not the firewood.

Jesus never promised to meet us in the next bold thing (fad). He promised to meet us in Word, Water, and Wine and Bread.

I really can’t praise this book highly enough. The best I can do is simply firebomb the review with quotes.

“Sometimes, chasing your dreams can be “easier” than just being who we are, where God has placed you, with the gifts he has given to you.”

“Christ’s body is not a stage for my performance.”

“Although it is a bit of a caricature, I think that there is some truth in the generalizations I’m about to make. The tendency in Roman Catholic theology is to view the kingdom of Christ as a cosmic ladder or tower, leading from the lowest strata to the hierarchy led by the pope. Anabaptists have tended to see the kingdom more as a monastery, a community of true saints called out of the world and a worldly church. Lutheran and Reformed churches tend sometimes to see the kingdom as a school, while evangelicals (at least in the United States) lean more toward seeing it as a market.”

“The power of our activism, campaigns, movements, and strategies cannot forgive sins or raise the dead.”

“we’ve forgotten that God showers his extraordinary gifts through ordinary means of grace, loves us through ordinary fellow image bearers, and sends us out into the world to love and serve others in ordinary callings.”

“No longer a star in my own movie, I can take my place in this gift exchange. The gifts that I have are not only for my private use, but for me to pass along to others. And the weaknesses I have are important because they make me more dependent on others.”

“We’re not building a kingdom, but receiving one.”