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Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance Hardcover – Jun 4 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Book House (June 4 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801012600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801012600
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 16.3 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,009,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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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By D Glover TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 8 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
This is easily one of the best books read in awhile, and I read many. Guinness is profound in his penetrating analysis of the current state of Western Christianiy.
Thinking the dire need to be more relevant, the church has made themselves irrelevant. Caused by cuddling up to modernity's false notions of time, the church is off course and missing the target. Not caring about the past, they concentrate on the future. Read for yourself the latest and greatest on the New Apostolic Reformation and see what he's talking about. The focus is not even on the present but on the future! How arrogant to assume they know what's coming.
Guinness has so many tight sayings which if truly sorted through using the Word of God will cause each and every humble, believing Christian to stop and take stock. Time is uncontrollable. Redeeming the time is what it's all about, and this book shows what that entails, and what it does not.
Frank, provocative, astute. Marvelous addition to the growing controversy and one that needs to be widely read, discussed and followed.
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