Book in Review: "Renaissance"

Call it what you want. Renaissance. Revival. Healing of a massive scale. We need it here in the west. Through self sufficiency and "relevance" our churches have grown sterile. Through comfort and distractions we Christians have forgotten what is at stake and have thereby taken our eye off the ball. A sharp rise in the religious "nones," a reversal of the moral compass, the explosion of the gender revolution, and the lack of power in both our churches and in our lives--all cumulatively show: We need help.

Guinness's book Renaissance looks to offer hope to the church in the Modern age, and while he has been a severe critic of the modern church in other works (such as the "The Last Christian on Earth"), "Renaissance" is strangely optimistic. Why? How could there be hope in a time like this you ask? Guinness says, "Let there be no wavering in our answer. Such is the power of the gospel that the church can be revived, reformed and restored to be a renewing power in the world again." Guinness's hope rests not in the power of mankind, the genius of leaders, or the laws of the land--but on the promise of Jesus Christ that "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not stand against it!"

Guinness goes on to say that our hope is not naïve. “With the glory of the resurrection at the center of our faith, and the long story of the church’s decline and renewal behind us, it is on cliché but a conviction that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” We do not serve a powerless God, rather we serve the God who puts flesh on dry bones, who brings to life those formerly dead in trespasses and sins, and who transforms children of wrath to adopted sons. This is the God we serve, and with such a God going before us we can only be full of hope no matter how bleak the circumstances appear.

Make no mistake Christ will build his church, but He will do it in His way and not in ours. In perhaps my favorite chapter entitled "The Dynamics of the Kingdom" Guinness reminds us: “The kingdom of God is an upside-down, back to front, inside out kingdom that stuns our expectations and blasts us out of our ruts and our prejudices. Above all, it rebukes our pride and pricks the bubbles of our pretensions.” We can look to no human savior or to no foolproof method. God alone holds the keys to revival and we would do well to follow wherever He leads, especially if it makes us uncomfortable.

Like everything else I have read of Guinness up to this point "Renaissance" does not disappoint. I do think he spends a little to much ink defending the Christianity's effects on civilization (chapter 4) as it distracted me from the broader topic, but nevertheless this is a good read from one of my favorite authors. I highly recommend "Renaissance" to everyone, especially Christians who find themselves discouraged and searching for hope in these turbulent times.

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