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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"The Way of the Dragon OR The Way of the Lamb" (Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel)

TITLE: The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus' Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It
AUTHOR: Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2017, (250 pages).

Is the culture influencing the Church or vice versa? Is the Church trying to take things into her own hands by trying the clothe herself with relevance, programs, activities, and worldly attractions in order to bring people into the Church? Are humans replacing God's way with their own plans? In this book, authors Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel examine the seductions happening in the Church at large. The title of the book was inspired by Eugene Peterson's perceptive observation about the temptations facing the Church. Are we adopting the way of Jesus or are we preferring the seductions of the dragon? What does it mean to employ the way of Jesus in a Church surrounded by cultural expectations and fleshly temptations? How do we discern and choose? What are the powers we need to recognize, keep in check, or adopt? For the authors, there are only two ways: God's way or the ways of the dragon. Key to the detection of which way lies in the way we receive and handle power.

What is the Way of the Dragon? It is simply about the exercise of power with greed, strength, and an attitude of world domination. It matches an eye for an eye and retaliates with an even stronger show of force. It despises weakness and attempts to hide any vulnerabilities. It takes the road most people traveled and refuses to accept failure at any level. Churches that practice these ways tend to avoid weakness and foolishness like a plague. They showcase their special leader. They boast in the size of their buildings and budgets. They grow at all costs even if it means minimizing the gospel. Between large and small, they always choose the former. In the process, they dine with the devil of prosperity and power.


The Way of the Lamb is however the path of weakness. It is high on eternal values and low in temporal living. It resists evil not with power but with humility and love. Just like Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who preaches and practices non-violence. The well-regarded human rights activist might have lost his life but he won the rights of millions of African-Americans. The authors share about the humble life of James and Rita Houston, who embrace their frailty and choose the path of humble living in spite of the great reputation they had achieved over the years.

After comparing and contrasting the two styles, Goggin and Strobel provide readers a way forward to help us discern which way we are presently traveling and how to go about re-aligning our lives according to the way of the Lamb. Admitting their foolishness in quitting Church early on in their lives, they note that many sages would have disapproved of their decision. Just because the Church is flawed does not mean we cut ties with the Bride of Christ. Just because we are unhappy with the failures of Church does not mean we give up on the Church. Just because many churches practice the way of the dragon does not mean we could automatically recreate a Church that does not do that. It takes a lot of faith to walk in the wilderness of worldly power and influence. We need to long for God's ways. We need to follow after Christ. We need to hear the Word of God being preached and practiced. The way of triumph must never be measured according to the values of the world. It has to be measured according to the Scriptures. This means getting on our knees as frequently as possible. It means getting back to the Word of God as the rule of life, instead of being distracted by the latest and greatest the world or culture offer us. It means non-violent resistance against the ills of society; reconciliation of relationships; being generous in a culture of selfishness; and viewing success on a whole new level. That is not all. The authors give us a list of reading resources that we can use to follow up on our own spiritual formation journey. Just one book like this is not enough to help us complete the journey. We need every book to point us back to the Word of God. Books like this could shine a light on our need but only the Word of God would ultimately sustain us and help us complete our journey. In the meantime, beware of the way of the dragon which often does one thing best: to hide or distract people from the way of the Lamb.

This book is a must-read for Church leaders and anyone burdened with the ministry of Church and Spiritual Formation.

Jamin Goggin is a pastor at Mission Hills Church in San Marcos, California. He has a Masters degree in New Testament Theology and Spiritual Formation. Kyle Strobel is Assistant Professor of Spiritual Theology at Talbot School of Theology. Both of them live with their families in California. Both Goggin and Strobel blog at Metamorpha, an online resource to help individuals discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They have previously co-written a book on spiritual formation entitled, "Beloved Dust."

Rating:

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This book has been provided courtesy of Thomas-Nelson under the BookLook Bloggers Review program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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