Friday, October 29, 2010

The Pursuit of the Holy

Author: Simon Ponsonby
Publisher: David C. Cook
September 2010
ISBN 978-0-7814-0366-5
Religion/Christian Life

This review is going to be short and to the point. While the author has the credentials of a thoughtful theologian, and the degrees to back it up . . . and while his purpose for writing this book is pure and unadulterated by anything the world has to offer . . . the book is fundamentally flawed (in this reviewers opinion.) The source of the spring is tainted by the subtle poison of works righteousness.

Author Simon Ponsonby is quite correct in his diagnosis of the condition of the 21st Century church. The church has failed to be salt and light in the world. The church has been more influenced by the world, than the other way around. The church does need to “open up those deep, old wells of holiness.” A radical transformation does need to take place if we are to win the world to Christ.

However, we do not love our neighbor, and thus attain holiness. We do not practice good works, and thus attain holiness. We do not search the scriptures, and apply the principles of God’s Word to our lives, and thus attain holiness. Heaven forbid, we do not “conform to Christ and the gospel we profess,” and thereby attain holiness!

Author Simon Ponsonby hit the center of the target when he declared (along with many other notable theologians), “the doctrine of the holiness of God, rightly understood, is among the most exhilirating and motivating of all dotrines we could speak about, for to address this subject is to get at the very core of who God is.” (p. 32) The quotation from Puritan Thomas Brooks is crucial; “God’s holiness is his nature, God’s nature is his holiness.”

However, having hit the very center of the target, it is somewhat disconcerting to see the author move away, deliberately or no, from the application of these declarations – holiness is not an article to be acquired by works righteousness. Holiness is a state of being. It is not something we do, it is something we are. And apart from the relationship one has with the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from acknowledging his Lordship in our everyday lives, apart from Jesus Christ “having the preeminence in all things,” (Colossians 1:18) the believer can never hope to be holy.

We love our neighbor as we love ourselves; we seek the things of others, and not our own things; we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, because we are holy, and thus are able to do so. The church is not holy because of what she does, but because of whose she is. And if the church of the 21st Century is not the salt and light that she ought to be, if the world is doing a better job in terms of social justice and relieving the poor and the oppressed, it is not her activity level that needs to be adjusted . . . it is her relationship to the one who purchased her that needs to be revisited. The rest will follow.

As an historical overview of the failings of the church, and a blueprint for where the church ought to be, The Pursuit Of The Holy by Simon Ponsonby is an excellent work. But with sincere apologies to the author, there doesn’t need to be another “divine invitation”. That invitation was given, long ago, at Calvary.
253 pages. $14.99.

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