My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble," and synonymous statements, echoes through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. It shows up in Proverbs, comes forth from the lips of Jesus, spills onto the page in James and 1 Peter, and even floats to the surface in Revelation. Humility is an important subject, and a difficult quality. Christopher Hutchinson, Senior Pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg, Virginia, has given us some help in thinking about the virtue of humility in his new 252 page paperback, "Rediscovering Humility: Why the Way Up Is Down". This volume is an easy-to-read, devotional approach that is friendly and thoughtful, and meant to be useful for most anyone.
Hutchinson spends three chapters introducing humility, and then allows faith, hope and love to guide the rest of the discussion. His approach is exegetical, theological, pastoral, and devotional. "Rediscovering Humility" is chock full of timely quotations from Puritans and pastors, and swimming in stories. The author mainly hopes "that this little work will jump-start a dialogue on what humility should look like in today's church" (xviii). I think his book may well do just that.
In "Rediscovering Humility" the author doesn't shy away from important topics. Not only does the book touch on sin, salvation, sanctification, celebration and the celestial, but it sagaciously and solicitously comes at other subjects as well. To give the reader a taste of the dishes Hutchinson serves up, here are several short samples. With regard to theology and doctrine, "Christians are not claiming that they have discovered the truth themselves, but that a gracious God has revealed it to them...Closely connected to the idea of resting in Christ's accomplished work is the dictum of healthy self-doubt" (49-50). In the area of social justice, the author reminds us that the "New Testament, however, is not interested in upending social structures as a whole...The gospel has come to do greater things than to restructure current social structures" (118). Hutchinson encourages churches to lean more heavily on prayer, because a "church that does not pray much does not sense its need for God's grace much" (135). When focusing on Christian leadership, the author rightly asserts that authentic "Christian leadership needs to be relentlessly meek - consistently and self-consciously humble in all its endeavors after the model of Christ. Indeed, humility is the goal of all true Christian leadership" (144). As the author addresses unity, he notes that "God's grace in the gospel creates a gospel-wrought humility, which, in turn, leads to a gospel-driven unity" (180). And, while discussing church well-being, the author observes that "when churches are self-focused, all about their own growth and branding, then there is no rest there for God's people, no gospel. The churches have become factories, when the world needs a garden - a place to rest in Christ from one's own works, surrounded only by His beauty and grace" (213).
There was one remarkably gracious and wise consideration that Hutchinson made in the area of racism and remembering past generations. I am compelled to quote it in full: "Regarding the past, believers may look with horror upon the sins of slavery and Jim Crow, and rightly condemn both institutions. But do they really think that many believers today would have avoided the cultural pressures that captured so much of the church at that time? Would most of today's white Christians really have been among that small, persecuted minority in the antebellum American South who actively opposed slavery?...When today's believers evaluate the sins of past generations, humility and empathy are always in good order, even as we speak the truth and hold to the standards of God's Word. Christians might also consider what future generations will say about today's church when believers look back at our cultural accommodations. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (204-5). Humility should affect our judgments of the past.
"Rediscovering Humility" ends with a list of one hundred verses on humility, and an index of Scriptural references. Both of those will make the book usable for preachers and Bible-teachers. If a topical index had been added, this volume would have been even more helpful.
All told, "Rediscovering Humility" should be snatched up in bulk and handed out to those you know. It needs to find a place on your church's book table. And it would make an ideal resource for adult classes. It's a book I happily recommend for all, and especially my fellow ministers.
My big thanks goes to New Growth Press for the free copy of the book used for this review. There were no strings attached, no requirements to fulfill, and no obligations to satisfy. Therefore, this review is freely given and freely handed on.
The book can be purchased here: "Rediscovering Humility"
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