Reviewed by Dale Lewis
Don't Stop Believing by Michael E. Wittmer
"Without any doubt, Wittmer has written a book with which there will be disagreement. Yet he has taken a gracious, humble approach on issues of critical importance to the viability and vitality of the church."
If fundamentalism is mentioned, it screams of narrowmindedness and intolerance. If liberalism is heard in a conversation, it evokes questioning traditions as well as discrediting a conservative point of view.
When I think of compromise, of a meeting at the middle ground per say, assumed to be good for both parties, I see outward acceptance permeated with disappointment and grumbling. The author of Don’t Stop Believing passionately states that right practice and right belief must coexist together within the church. Our compassionate concern for social issues and action must not diminish the core doctrines of our faith. In his words, we must not stop believing!
Conservatives imply that it doesn’t matter how we live as long as we believe in Jesus and key theological points, while some emergent Christ-followers respond that it doesn’t matter what we believe as long as we live like Him. Each position is polarizing and appears to offer less than a fully alive biblical faith. Michael Wittmer, professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, calls a “double technical foul” on both sides. He then skillfully crafts a third path that retains the insights of both the conservative and liberal mindsets while avoiding the “out-in-left-field” extremes.
He examines ten hard questions that confront contemporary Christ-followers
with the necessity of not dogmatically judging, offering the potential
of biblical middle ground. A few examples of his questions:
+ Can you belong before you believe?
+ Is hell for real and forever?
+ Which is worse: homosexuals or the bigots who persecute them?
In, Don’t Stop Believing, there are no pregnant pauses, no awkward transitions between chapters or questions that seem out of bounds. His use of diagrams to clarify his thoughts helped aid the process of understanding.
One of the many nuggets of truth to be remembered and lived out from Don’t Stop Believing is, “Genuine Christians never stop serving because they never stop loving, and they never stop loving because they never stop believing.”
Without any doubt, Wittmer has written a book with which there will be disagreement. Yet he has taken a gracious, humble approach on issues of critical importance to the viability and vitality of the church.
This book is for you if you’re open to a more complete understanding of the differences between conservative and liberal points of view and have the desire to meet halfway.