Book Review

"A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You" by Paul David Tripp

Mark Traphagen
Paul David Tripp
Thursday, May 1st 2008
May/Jun 2008

Paul Tripp begins A Quest for More with a declaration and a question: "God has given you the gift of his Son, not to make your little kingdom successful, but to welcome you to a much better kingdom. Now what in the world does that mean?" In other words, Quest is "a meditation on what Jesus meant when he called us to 'seek first his kingdom'" (Preface). It becomes clear early on in the book that by "meditation" Tripp means to provide us with anything but the quaint devotional pearls such a word usually connotes. Instead, he seeks to drive us to plumb the darkest depths of our hearts, but only so that great treasure might be found in the end.

The quest that Tripp says we are all on is our desire for transcendence, which is a good desire because God placed it in us. Our need for transcendence is an aspect of being created in God's image. The Bible word for this transcendence/desire is "glory." One of the implications of the fall is that humans continually seek transcendence in anything but its true source: God himself. The source of all true glory is God himself, but our connection with his glory is made through our earthly Commitments such as stewardship, community, and truth-seeking. Ultimately, true transcendence/glory is found only in living for Christ's kingdom.

For Tripp, living for the kingdom isn't just a "spiritual" exercise; it has practical implications for everyday life. For example, he asks how differently we might react in frustrating relationships if we had transcendent values in mind. Would we be so quick to speak harshly to the neighbor with the noisy kids if our first concern was for being salt and light in the world? In the first half of A Quest for More, Tripp asks many such questions. His goal is for us to see that sin has driven us to turn everything into what he calls a "little kingdom need" (the "little kingdom" being the kingdom of self). Our desire for more (i.e., transcendence) is twisted by sin into turning every "want" into a "need." All of these needs then block out true transcendence, found only in needing what God says we need.

Tripp understands that we will never appreciate the good news without first accepting the bad. The bad news he wants us to acknowledge is that grasping after little kingdom values isn't just "naughty," it robs us of the great and glorious big kingdom existence for which God made us. As C. S. Lewis put it, it is settling for mud puddles when the beautiful sea is in plain view. Tripp also describes this tendency as "shrinking." We shrink the grand kingdom of God into the small borders of our own "civilization of self."

The good news, Tripp assures us, is grace found through the cross of Christ, which frees one to pursue "Jesus-focused living," a life where both gratitude and groaning are normal. The last portion of A Quest for More explores the characteristic traits of such a life: forgiveness, longing for Jesus, sacrifice, being angry with God instead of at God, and hope.

A Quest for More is a book about transcendence that transcends its own genre. Among the plethora of current books promising a sense of purpose or the "best life now," Quest stands out because it is saturated in the gospel. Tripp neither plays lightly with our sin nor its remedy. As he always does, he allows the gospel to cut deep into the idols of our hearts, but only so as to open a slit through which he pours the good news that Christ sets sinners free, not only from the world but from themselves. In that place we find a "more" that never ends but always satisfies.

Thursday, May 1st 2008

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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