Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: Contend

I had the privilege of reviewing Aaron Armstrong's new book Contend, published by Cruciform Press. I was excited to do so since I have enjoyed reading Aaron's blog for quite a while now...plus, I just really enjoy books, particularly books that don't cost me anything. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed.

Using the book of Jude as his foundation, Contend addresses three main things: what is contending and why we ought to do it, what we should contend for, and how to contend well for the glory of God.

In American culture, we are really good at segregating - church stays at church and it doesn't affect the rest of our life. We like to just be able to go along with everything and not cause "problems". But Aaron argues that if we truly know who God is and what He has done and if we truly take our faith seriously, we will contend against anything or anyone who comprises the truth of Christianity, specifically the authority of Scripture, the nature of God, and the gospel. He says:
To face inward, affirming and clarifying among and between orthodox believers everything God has done for us—this is a necessary, ongoing activity of the church. But that must not and cannot be our exclusive preoccupation. We must also at times—as a necessary complementary activity—be intentional about facing outward, contending with those who deny who God is and what he has done, whether these voices come from within the church or without.
I was blessed by the clarity with which he explained and defending contending. He illustrates how willing we are to contend for what is important to us in every other area; our love for the Lord ought to bring out the same response:
This idea that we don’t need to defend—or at best rarely need to defend—something we love is ludicrous. If we are willing to offer defense for our families, our political preferences, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, how much more should we be willing to offer a defense of the gospel? If we truly love Jesus and if we truly care about the well being of the Church then we must contend. 
Overall, Contend was well worth reading. It is a clear and concise application of Jude that is both theological and practical. What Aaron Armstrong set out to do, he did well. I left with a better understanding of what I should contend for, why and how.

But, at least for me, the best thing about Contend is that it gave me a vision of the joy that is found in contending for truth. I am sometimes loathe to speak out because I am afraid of offending or turning people away from the gospel. And sometimes, I'd rather just keep quiet - it's simpler. But Contend reminded me of the glorious truth that I get to contend for these things, by the Lord's strength and His glory:
So it is and will be in our every act of contending; it is God who will give the increase—not our strength, persistence, persuasiveness, charm, or cultural relevance. Despite our foolish words and wavering hearts, God delights to use us as his instruments. Let us delight in this as well!
Contending is, as Aaron puts it, both a sacred duty and a great delight. Contend was well worth my time, and I believe yours, because it reminded me of that truth.

(I was given a free copy of Contend to give an honest review. There were no obligations other than I read the book and share my thoughts here.)

1 comment:

  1. I read and reviewed this book, too! It was such an encouragement! Enjoyed your review.