Wednesday, August 29, 2012

book review: Why Holiness Matters

title: Why Holiness Matters: We’ve Lost Our Way — But We Can Find it Again
author: Tyler Braun
date: 2012
publisher: Moody Publishers

Beginning with the April 2009 Newsweek story "The Decline and Fall of Christian America" and shaped in part by Gabe Lyons' differentiating values of the "next Christians" [provoked (not offended), creating (not critics), called (not employed), grounded (not distracted), community focused (not alone), and countercultural (not “relevant”)]; Tyler Braun states that "the upcoming generations are developing a better understanding of cultural engagement with their faith." (10-11) Tyler's perspective on the portrait of holiness that has been painted for Millennials is pretty negative - it sounds like something out of the 1950's: we were taught holiness is something we become by not dancing, drinking, having sex, or watching R-rated movies. If we could avoid those evil things, we would be holy. (11) Tyler is right in saying that "We must grasp holiness not as new behavior, activity, or disciplines. Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behavior." (12)

While some of the promotional material points to Tyler looking at what it means to be holy from a millennial (generation born 1980-2000) Christian worldview perspective, I think his audience is much broader than that. I'm a Boomer, but much of what he writes resonates with the reader's desire to live a righteous life, but settling for just living an "authentic / relevant / transparent" life embracing our faults / fears / failures as who we are destined to be. Why Holiness Matters tackles the issues of guilt & shame that impede our growth as Christians. 

Why Holiness Matters takes us on a journey, revisiting the truth that any holiness that we desire to achieve starts (and ends) with the Holiness of God.

Holiness begins in us by following Jesus and allowing Him to apprehend us through His love, not for the sake of wealth, strength, or power, but for the sake of becoming a reflection of (the imago Dei) of who He is. (158)
While this is not an easy or light subject, Tyler writes with an ease that connects with the reader. With references from 90′s-kid-favourite "Boy Meets World" to the film "Good Will Hunting", Tyler's observations resonate with my hopes, fear, and aspirations revolving around living a holistic life empowered by the Spirit of God. 

Some of the things that Tyler tackles are more specific to some congregations and/or parts of the world than others. His chapter on "Values" which unpacks his thoughts about tradition vs traditionalism and how that pertains to millenials - is unfortunately still an issue for some groups. 

I was glad for his chapter on "Community", for too many groups tend to make holiness a "personal" (redefined as "private" issue). Tyler writes :
Holiness, as God desires it of us, is only possible through our connection to the body of Christ. Our relational connection to God must manifest itself as a relational connection to His body of believers for us to be whole. (96)

“Community” is a word which gets thrown around a lot, it's one of the common buzzwords that church use to self-describe themselves. But in reality is community isn’t easy. "In fact, community is downright messy because it exposes us for who we really are." (103)

Tyler Braun gives us a lot to chew on in less than 150 pages. I will highly recommend this book to anyone who might be interested in pursuing life "with God, with others".

No comments: