31.8.10

"Colors of God" by Peters, Phillips, and Steen


Randall Mark Peters, Dave Phillips, Quentin Steen. Colors of God: Conversations about Being the Church. Biblica Publishing, 2010. 232 pgs. 

Disclosure: This book was provided by TheOoze for the purpose of review.  @viralbloggers

Colors of God is a book by three self-described 'emergent church' pastors which explains a new way of doing church.  It might have been better titled Colors of Church.  The book is written in the style of a conversation, with paragraphs and sections divided by the first names of the authors, making a kind of combination of book with script.  In Part 1 the authors tell their own stories of how they came to be in this place with neXus, which is the church they have founded based on the principals espoused in this book. In Part 2 they go through their four colors: Blue - Gospel Faith. Green - Healthy Living. Red - Inclusive Community. Yellow - Cultural engagement.  

Theologically, they argue for several distinct positions. A moderate universalism, in the sense that we are all forgiven but some choose not to join God's party. An inclusive view of our vertical relationship with God, such that God is always delighted in us, though we can grieve the Holy Spirit we cannot disappoint God. Strong two covenant theology, in which the entire OT is basically God working to bring His people to their collective knees in despair so they will be ready to accept Jesus good news of unconditional acceptance posited only the necessary first step of accepting God's universal love and grace (does anyone else see the massive problems with a theology of this sort? What does this say about God? Why wouldn't he be spreading his universal love and grace from the beginning? and on it goes...). 

I could go on, but I will stop there.  This book was an odd mix for me.  The authors correctly diagnose many of the problems of mainstream evangelicalism, but the solutions they offer are as bad as the disease.  Stylistically, the book failed.  Reading this 'conversation' just felt awkward.  The only times it meshed was when each author took an entire section, otherwise it felt very disingenuous.  This feeling was, in fact, one which never left me throughout this book.  From the staged conversations to the staged Q&A to the descriptions of the authors and their stories. I always felt like more was left out than included.  As for the colors, they were meaningless; a gimmick, nothing more. 

Theologically, this book started on fairly acceptable ground, but quickly swam into incredibly murky waters.  As I have mentioned before, I strongly disagree with harsh two covenant theology on the basis that it makes such a mess of so much of the bible and of our view of God.  The exegesis given as an attempt to back up this theology is terrible, as was most of the exegesis in general.  This made me sad, as one of the authors graduated from the same school I did.  They make assertions like 'even if we are persecuted and recant our faith, we are still good with God'.  Too bad for all those martyrs throughout Christian history who should have just taken the easy way out (note the heavy sarcasm).  Too bad for these authors they seem to have missed Matthew 10:33, or at least 'deconstructed' it. 

Not only that, but the language and emphasis choices made in the name of 'inclusiveness' and 'cultural sensitivity' were terrible.  Health instead of holiness, avoiding 'sin', and replacing obedience with therapy? Like we don't have enough problems from therapeutic views on life (Please Note: I am not anti-therapy in the sense that many people need help from trained counselors.  However, I am against a therapeutic view of life in which happiness is the main goal).  

Overall, this book failed to argue its points well.  It failed to define its terms well.  It failed to exegete the bible well.  In other words, it failed.  I really wish it hadn't, but it did. This book started out with good questions, then it took a long walk off of a short pier. 1.5 out of 5 Stars. Not Recommended.  

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