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Shortchanging the World?

"American Christians and Worldiness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World" by C.J. Mahaney

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As the editor and contributor, C. J. Mahaney begins the book Worldliness by posing the provocative question of whether 1 John 2:15 is still in our Bibles, or if we have, in true Jeffersonian fashion, simply cut out the beloved disciple's exhortation: "Do not love the world" (15). The reason for such a metaphorical excision is that the very command gives rise to more questions than it answers, such as:

Does it mean I can't watch MTV or go to an R-rated movie? Do I have to give up my favorite TV shows?...How do I know if I'm spending too much time playing games or watching YouTube clips on my computer?...Can a Christian try to make lots of money, own a second home, drive a nice car, and enjoy the luxuries of modern life?...How do I know if I'm guilty of the sin of worldliness? (17)
These are certainly important questions to ask, particularly in light of Mahaney's observation, borrowed from James Hunter, that Christians have "lost a measure of clarity" with respect to how we relate to the world (21). "We have softened," says Mahaney, to the point where the adjective worldly and the noun worldliness have lost much of their meaning in the contemporary church (22). Against the Christian culture of capitulation, Mahaney rightly insists that "the greater our difference from the world, the more true our testimony for Christ-and the more potent our witness against sin" (23). Worldliness, Mahaney writes, "is a passionate plea to a generation for whom the dangers of worldliness are perhaps more perilous than for any that has gone before" (24).


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Issue: "A Feast in a Fast-Food World" July/August 2009 Vol. 18 No. 4 Page number(s): 39-40

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