Not the Way It's Supposed to Be, by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. (Eerdmans, 202 pp.; $19.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Wayne Brouwer, senior pastor at Harderwyk Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.
Item: A pastor at a neighboring church has a call to a new ministry. I hope he goes. I don't know him personally, but I do know that he is very effective. Just maybe, if he leaves, some of the people who are raving about his gifts and flocking to his congregation will take a look in my direction!
Item: A few weeks back I made a purchase for our church. Certainly it was for the benefit of one of the programs we are running right now. But elements of the purchase were really only for my own use. Can I get away with routing the whole payment through the congregation's budgeted line items, and thus save my own professional-development allowance for other things?
Item: I meet weekly with a men's Bible study/fellowship group. They ask me how I'm doing. Regularly I tell them I'm so busy, too busy. One friend asks me if I'm spending enough time with my family. There is a humble pride that wells up inside when I assure them of my godly intent to be a good husband and father, while in the same breath acknowledging that my faithfulness to Mistress Church kept me busy seven days last week.
Remembering these things brings a little embarrassment, and I'm glad about that. At least there is still some screeching in the ears of my soul when the "vandalism of shalom" (Plantinga's term) works its dissonant stealth.
But what bothers me, in these reflections, is the ease with which I envy, the passion with which I lie, the fortitude with which I sacrifice my family on the altar of self. And I'm a "good" person-at least in the eyes of society. So I ...1
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