Why I Think the New Age is the Truly Hot Issue for the Christian Church, Or, Keeping Up with the Carsons

The crop of new theological books for 2011 is huge. The problem is that the cool people seem to read each one while I’ve only caught up to 1987 (Emergent what?—the New Age is the most pressing issue facing the Christian Church!). The cool people also seem to read all the old books I still haven’t gotten around to—Augustine, Calvin, Aquinas, Baxter, Ryle. I feel woefully behind.

And that woe of mine sometimes keeps me from fully enjoying and profiting from what I’m reading. There’s a nagging thought at the back of my mind while I read (nagging a little more loudly than the one that reminds me to check my e-mail) that there is so much more to read if I want to be viewed as "up" on things. I feel hurried as I try to read the book in front of me. No time to process; gotta make another notch in the book belt!

But I have come to think recently that I simply must trust God’s organization of my schedule. Who can say why I pick up certain books and not others? I do have a general plan, but even that plan isn’t and can’t be very specific. Who knows when I’ll have time to read a given book? I might plan for it to be this year, but I have to admit, only “if the Lord wills will I read this or that” (Jas 4:15). Ultimately, God ordains when I’ll read certain books. He knows what influences I need and when. I have a responsibility to be diligent, to redeem the time, but I don’t have to read it all. A husband, father, and preacher like me can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t.

God orders my steps. He even gave me the reading speed and mental capacity I have. He didn’t give me someone else’s. Like one of the cool people’s, you know.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. Crooks on May 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks, Mark. Great post.

  2. Andy Naselli on May 14, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I’m confused. I thought you consider yourself to be one of the cool people! http://www.byfaithweunderstand.com/2011/04/18/i-instapaper/

  3. Mark L Ward Jr on May 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    The cool people allowed me to think for one blog post that I was one of them. Soon, however, I discovered it was all a game that the cool people play!

  4. Austin Barker on May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I’ve finally learned the secret to faking my way into the good graces of the cool crowd – I just read the preface and first few chapters of books, then put a bookmark in it and place it in my to-be-continued pile (which constitutes probably 50 percent of my library), but meanwhile I have enough savvy on the subject to bluff my way through a cool conversation. Couple that with the fact that many not-so-cool authors state their major premises in the first few chapters anyway and then spend the remaining 8 chapters fleshing it out (both the book and the subject), often with intellectually unnecessary repetition. In my observation, the powerful art of brevity is often sacrificed for the idea that “If I keep saying it in different ways, more people will get it.”

    • Mark L Ward Jr on May 24, 2011 at 10:15 am

      You got it, Austin. Every once in a while I can do that with a book… Discerning when you can skip fluff after getting the real contribution of a book is difficult but a worthwhile skill.

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