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A call to humility

BOOKS | Author stresses the importance of graciousness

A call to humility
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Calvinists like to steer their doctrine on the straight and narrow path.

British theology teacher Michael Reeves affirms that priority in Authentic Ministry: Serving From the Heart (Union 2022). Yet he wants to get more personal and go beyond the traditional outline of systematic theology. Reeves is president of Union School of Theology in England and director of the European Theologians Network. An earlier book, Delighting in the Trinity (2012), was more theological.

In this latest work Reeves warns about a slide in the direction of “using Scripture and the knowledge of God simply to get the next essay done, or the next sermon done.” We should delight in God for God’s sake, because He is God and is worthy of our worship. Jesus did not die on the cross for our self-improvement.

Reeves’ themes are not controversial in terms of theology. One is to boast only in the cross. Through the cross we can grow our identity in Christ, not in our performance.

He recommends we learn to pray boldly, breathing in God’s Word, then breathing it out with prayer requests and thanksgiving.

We should strive to grow in humility and remember that the study of theology can unconsciously puff us up. Success can be a challenge. “If you pursue success, you can usually make a name for yourself if you try hard enough,” he writes. “But the story of the church is tragically littered with cautionary tales of fantastically gifted leaders who have crashed because of their lack of character.”

He shows the importance of friendship, noting how the greatest church leaders were encircled by strong friends and associates.

Suffering is designed for our growth in Christ, painful in the short run but blessed as we grow from God’s corrections.

Reeves is well read in the masters, drawing on John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, several Puritans, Charles Spurgeon, Abraham Kuyper, J.I. Packer, and John Stott. He brings a refreshing style of writing, with simple and clear sentences. He sticks to the straight and narrow in doctrine while pointing to a gracious emphasis that deserves equal time among Calvinists.

Russ Pulliam

Russ is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star, the director of the Pulliam Fellowship, and a member of the WORLD News Group board of directors.


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