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Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance [Hardcover]

Os Guinness
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 4 2003
Prophetic intercession has caught fire as God's people learn the power of praying his promises back to him. In this extraordinary book, James Goll draws from the stories of Elijah, who travailed for rain, and Anna, the praying prophetess whose intercession prepared the way for the Messiah, to illustrate the biblical mandate for intercessory prayer. James tells his own gripping, life-changing experience of how God gave him and his wife four children after years of barrenness, and he uses this testimony as a metaphor for what God can do for dying churches and hopeless circumstances when Christians lay claim to God's promises. Readers will gain a fresh vision after reading The Prophetic Intercessor for the importance of intercessory prayer for themselves, their churches, and the world.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely! March 25 2004
This book has an interesting way of making its point. The flaps and back jacket of the book advertise this as a critique of the modern church's mad rush to be relevant. However, he begins with an interesting description of our slavery to time - he calls watches "the gods on our wrists." This obsession with time has translated itself into an obsession with being "timely," i.e. current and up to date and relevant to the culture around us. And the downside is that in our obsession to be relevant, we have become irrelevant. He says this:
"After two hundred years of earnest dedication to reinventing the faith and the church and to being more relevant in the world, we are confronted with an embarassing fact: Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenuously; never have Christians been more irrelevant."
He is correct - even in this era of the megachurch, where the advocates of relevance champion their methods because of the size of their churches, the fact of the matter is that the church is, and has been, losing its saltiness. Most church growth is the result of professing Christians transferring churches. Also, because of the watered down "relevant" gospel that is preached in our day, most of those who profess faith probably don't possess it.
Guiness makes a case, and I think a good case, that true progress doesn't come from accomodating to the culture, but through resisting the culture. He quotes C. S. Lewis who says that "progress is made only into resisting material."
Among other things he points out that our quest for relevance is fueled by our fascination with futurism. We are always trying to construct a church for the next generation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Idol of Relevance July 8 2009
By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER
In this little book, Os Guinness applies his clear-headed cultural analysis to one of the prevailing idols of the day: relevance. First making the case that western culture is held captive by the clock (the "little gods on our wrists"), Guinness goes on to show how this frantic obedience to the schedule has spilled over to infect all our thinking with the urgent but misguided agenda to be always relevant and fashionable in the eyes of the world.

Our culture views relevance as synonymous with truthfulness and importance. Tragically, this mindset also dominates much the church in the west and has lead to all manner and degree of compromise in life and faith. As Guinness so aptly argues, the more the church attempts to be relevant to the culture around it (read: the more the church attempts to ape cultural thinking and living, assuming that the church must look like the world to be able to speak to it), the less relevant the church becomes. The message of the gospel is perennially relevant as are the mediums that the Bible outlines for spreading it. Guinness calls the church to speak to the idolatries of the age with a bold, prophetic voice rather than, as is all too common, adopting those idolatries and covering them with a very thin Christianese veneer (a case where medium undermines message). Highly recommended!! Another great read in the same spirit is Guinness's book Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Idol of Relevance?? March 2 2004
What is a relevant message? What does keeping it real mean? Is there an obligation of the preacher to hold the unbeliever's interest? OS GUINNESS attempts to give a point of reference to the church about society's culture, the church, and the preached Word of God. He argues man's misunderstanding of time: How he perceives the past, present and future has resulted in him abusing God's revealed truth and in him preaching of another gospel.

OS GUINNESS argues the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always pertinent and appropriate. " The Gospel addresses the human condition appropriately, pertinently, and effectively. This is true whatever your generation, whatever your culture, or whatever century you live in." pg. 13. He further argues all Christians should share the message of Christ to all unbelievers in all types of situations. The Christian life should be defined by the Gospel.

On the cover of the book is a challenge to the idol of relevance. How can one worship relevance? Relevance is worshipped when God's truth is disregarded and it is sought more than God's Will. Pastor seeks to hold people's interest by giving messages that today's listener finds relevant. But if what is taught (doctrine) is not true to God's word, how can it be relevant to the unbelievers most important need? Man's most important need is forgiveness for his sins and eternal life. The Christian should stay faithful to God's word. If not the Christian is not faithful to God and holds no relevance to the unbeliever. The Christian's authority comes from God. Only through obedience to God's word can a Christian be relevant to the unbeliever.

Those who profess to believe Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord have often moved away from historic doctrine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The "gods on our wrists" Nov. 22 2003
In this refreshingly insightful book, Guinness exposes how the Church has bowed to the idol of relevance and its relationship to time (trendiness). The Church is too busy trying to keep up, constantly conforming itself to what the world says it needs to in order to relevant. Too much is given to being fresh, new, up-to-date, attunded, appealking, seeker-sensitive, audience-friendly (p. 76) The Church is too often looking to become "future-savvy", producing futurism, which is a quack-science that picks up current trends, and projects them into the future, and then pretends the results are predictions (p. 77) Leaders who have such a mind set ought to be called down as false prophets.
In having such a mentality, the Church actually becomes irrelevant. Guinness teaches us the only way the Church can actually be relevant is through being faithful to the gospel, for "in itself the good news of Jesus is utterly relevant or it is not the good news it claims to be." (p. 13) Guinness calls the Church to stop being "obsessed with the new" (p. 77) and rather to learn from the past, and most importantly, the eternal.
On a personal note, like the one reviewer mentioned, I agree this book shows the errors of the "New Apostolic Reformation" (the neo-charismatic apostolic/prophetic movement) in their constant stream of prophecies of the "coming" Church. They constantly threaten "Join us or be left behind" (p. 76)
I also would highly recommend an equally insigthful (and much more thorough) book by Philip Kenneson's called "Life on the Vine."
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