Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: Retro-Christianity

Retro-Christianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith. Michael J. Svigel. 2012. Crossway Books. 320 pages.

As a whole--and in many of its parts--evangelicalism today has lost its way. Having moved the ancient landmarks that had long pointed out the safe path (Proverbs 22:28), evangelicals have wandered into a deep forest of forgetfulness. 

If you are looking for a book about church history, a book that stresses the importance of KNOWING church history, a book that emphasizes the importance of having orthodox doctrines or traditions, then Retro-Christianity might just be the book for you. It is a book that, in some ways, traces the church from the first century to the present day. Though it isn't strictly speaking a history book--not as you'd traditionally think of a history book at any rate. The author briefly traces the history of the church emphasizing the strengths and weaknesses of each time period in church history. Here are the things this generation--this century, this time period, etc--got right. Here are a few things we should consider adapting to fit this generation's needs. It doesn't idealize the past OR the present. If there are problems OR weaknesses, Svigel addresses the issue(s). The book is very organized. And Svigel does make a point of defining (and redefining in some instances) everything he's discussing or presenting. So he does try his very best to be understandable by readers.

Part One: The Case for RetroChristianity
1. How Did It Come To This
2. Going Retro Without Going Wrong
3. What is RetroChristianity
Part Two: RetroOrthodoxy: Preserving the Faith for the Future
4. The First Canon of RetroOrthodoxy: Some Things Never Change and Never Should
5. The Second Canon of RetroOrthodoxy: Some Things Have Never Been the Same and Never Will Be
6. The Third Canon of RetroOrothodoxy: Some Things Grow Clear Through Trial and Error
Part Three: RetroClesiology: Beyond the Preference-Driven Church
7. Church Classic: Four Common Myths and Four Classic Marks
8. The Essential Marks of a Local Church
9. The Essential Works of a Local Church
Part Four: RetroSpirituality: Living the Forgotten Faith Today
10. From "Me" to "We": Growing Together in Christ
11. From "We" to "Me": Nurturing Personal Christian Identity
12. Where Do We Go From Here? From Retrospect to Prospects

For those readers who are considering leaving their local church to switch to another local church, or to switch from one denomination to another, then I think Michael J. Svigel has something to say to you specifically. His chapters on going beyond a "preference-driven" church were great. He definitely has opinions on church hopping and church shopping! And his message that it isn't all about you and what you like is probably a needed message in the contemporary church.

The strongest chapters in RetroChristianity are probably "The Essentials Marks of a Local Church," "The Essential Works of a Local Church." Though his three canons of RetroOrthodoxy were important too. Especially his definition of orthodoxy as being core beliefs held "Everywhere. Always. By All."

While the book does have definite strengths, I'll be honest, Retro-Christianity wasn't always the easiest of reads. There were chapters that seemed too technical to be fascinating. Then again, there were chapters that are very straightforward, very basic, very relevant. This is more a book about your relationship with the church than a book about your relationship with Jesus. Though, of course, one of the main messages is that the church is lost if her center is not on Jesus Christ, if the church tries to add other things to the center foundation. It can't be Jesus + Me. Or Jesus + Us. Or Jesus + Psychology. Jesus + Culture. Jesus + Awesome Worship Band. Jesus + Family-Friendly Programs.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I think I've heard of this book. My husband might have read it. Happy to have found your blog on Semicolon blog link up :)