It’s that time of year when people walk around with ash on their foreheads and eat fish on Fridays. But wait, why don’t we practice Lent?
Noble argues that we live in a distracted age. Secularism bombards us with a paralyzing amount of “options” in terms of what to think about ultimate matters of meaning and existence. And the technological forms and habits of our current existence keep us sufficiently preoccupied such that the tide of modern life pushes us towards diminishing space for deep reflection. Both of these factors work to make modern humanity a deeply distracted, shallowly reflective bunch. The views we hold are “thin,” often inconsistent, and performative (cue social media)–perceived not so much as actual truth claims about the core of reality, but expressions of self-identity, and thus on par with personal preferences. In part 1 Noble unpacks this situation, drawing on observations from folks like Charles Taylor; and then in part 2 he offers practical counter-measures for how we can bear a sort of witness that disrupts the distracted, anesthetized age in which we live.
Relating this book to other literature: I felt like Noble’s work here was like a particular practical application of a slice of Carl Trueman’s recent work, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self (cf. expressive individualism). In addition, I sensed a lot of overlap in philosophical-cultural analysis with Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option (cf. we live in a now “unenchanted” world). Noble also expressly draws on the work of James K.A. Smith’s “cultural liturgies” and the church’s counter-formative liturgy. And then finally, there’s Charles Taylor of course.
Very thoughtful. Very insightful. Very good.
Ferguson uses the Marrow Controversy that occurred in the Scottish Presbyterian church during the early 18th century to illuminate and provide an excellent theological treatment on the classic issue of the relationship between law and gospel and their role in the life of the believer. This means he provides an analysis of subjects like legalism, antinomianism, and assurance. In some ways, you might think of this book as a deep dive into the topic “the gospel in the life of the believer” conducted through the lens of a particular historical case study. Ferguson’s treatment is both theologically astute and pastorally sensitive and applicable. This is one of those books I feel like I will want to return to and read again in years to come to refresh myself in the aid it supplies.
Phenomenal. One of the best books I’ve read in the last few years. This book serves as a prolegomenon to engaging and navigating our current culture by way of a historical-philosophical explanation of how we got here. This book connected a lot of dots for me in my own understanding of our contemporary society. Very, very helpful. A technical subject matter. But Carl Trueman is a fantastic writer. He makes it easy to follow his argument and is enjoyable to read.
On Sunday (Feb. 21, 2021) Dan will be preaching on Christ’s message to the church in Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17. So in this episode, in anticipation of that upcoming sermon, we spend time modeling how we might interrogate the passage with questions to try to gain a better understanding of it.