Confronting Kingdom Challenges is a collection of addresses from a gathering of the World Reformed Fellowship in March 2006. The theme of the conference was the burdens and opportunities the church worldwide faces and how we can, well, confront them. Some of the topics addressed are AIDS, sex trafficking, urban poverty, and ethnic conflict in the Middle East.
This book is a good introduction to several of the problems it discusses, a sort of heads-up to the church that they’re out there, and that we need to consider how the body of Christ will address them. I was especially challenged by the chapter on the Middle East, and the chapter on missions gives some good foundations for how the church should engage an increasingly global culture.
I’m a big-picture/visionary kind of guy, so I’m into things like this that ask the question of what the global church should do. The hard thing about that is that you run the risk of having huge grandiose ideas, talking in generalities and never getting down to how you are going to achieve those ideas. That’s a weakness of mine, and I think it’s also a weakness of this book. Because the authors address what “the church” should do about several immense topics, each in a fairly brief chapter, there just isn’t room to offer much in the way of practical application. Some of the chapters suffered more than others from this, but there were several points where I thought no real action was being recommended.
I was also a little turned off by the frequent references to what “Reformed Christians” and “Reformed churches” should be doing about this or that. Of course, this isn’t surprising given that the addresses were given to the World Reformed Fellowship, but after a while it begins to sound like we think we’re the only real Christians around. References to church cooperation were usually specific to Reformed churches of different denominations working together. But honestly, there’s just not that much difference between a Reformed Baptist, a Presbyterian and a Dutch Reformed church. It’s not all that hard for them to work together because the distinctives are pretty minor in the scheme of things. Throw a Bible-believing Pentecostal or Methodist church into the mix, and that’s where it really begins to look like we’re making an effort to cooperate for the sake of the Gospel.
So the book has weaknesses, but as an introduction to some serious issues facing the church, this book is a good read. It’s especially strong on humanitarian topics, and should convict us of the need to put the Gospel into action by addressing these before a world that doesn’t believe Christians care.
Side comment: I really like the look of this book. The colors and design of the cover are really cool, and I like the font used in the headings. You can have that for free.