Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review of Worldliness by CJ Mahaney and Others

Author: Various, C.J. Mahaney Editor

Pages: 192 pages

Publisher: Crossway

Price: 9.74

Genre: Christian Living/Personal Growth

Quick Summary:

Worldliness. We all are tempted to sin in regards to our relationship to the world. Either we sinfully disengage or we sinfully over-engage. This little book is an attempt to draw a biblical balance that culminates at the Cross.

John Piper writes the Foreword in which he rightly names the authors as “gospel-lovers”. Piper encourages us to read on and calls this book a gift to pastors (as it is). C.J. Mahaney, the editor, begins the book by outlining the discussion. He defines worldliness and sets the stage for what follows. He gets to the core of the issue at the very beginning: “Only through the power of the cross of Christ can we successfully resist the seduction of the fallen world”. What followers are the various authors making Mahaney’s chapter practical. Craig Cabaniss considers the Media, Bob Kauflin discusses Music, Dave Harvey confronts Stuff, Mahaney again joins the discussion with his chapter on Modesty, and Jeff Purswell closes up the book by offering advice on Loving the World. There are also two helpful appendixes (one a modesty check, the other about modesty on your Wedding Day). Also, to our benefit are discussion questions.

What I Liked:

Few people can walk (or write) in such a fashion that they stay on the tightrope between legalism and licentiousness. Mahaney and those that write with him in this book do just that. In each chapter, regardless of the topic, they always point you to the Cross and the glory of God. They never drift toward legalistic list making nor give you a license to sin. They get to the core of worldliness—our heart and its relationship to God.

The length of this book is perfect. The writing is catchy. The questions are probing. The appendix is helpful. The discussion questions are wonderful. That is why I will be taking our young men through a study of this book. Excellent work…much needed.

What I Disliked:

I personally was not that involved in the fifth chapter on dressing modestly. Nevertheless, it is a needed chapter and a wonderful exposition on modesty. I also disliked the fact that this book confronts my sinfulness to the core. I did not like the fact that it challenged me to unplug my television and shut down my computer. I did not like that it does not give me lists of do’s and don’ts but rather makes me ask questions that get to the core. But then again I do not like those things because I desperately needed this book. So even though I “disliked” those things that is what I love about this book—or more importantly what I love about the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

Should You Buy It?

Our church just purchased 10 for our young men’s study. No matter what age or gender you are this book is deeply relevant. Even if you think an MP3 might be a character from Star Wars, you figure Lil' Wayne is one of John's children, an Eminem is something you eat, or you make an appointment at the doctor's office because your neighbor suggest you should get an HDTV, you still need this book. We are all affected by worldliness. Buy it today!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


  1. Good review. I did not like the same things you did not like. OUCH. Hate it when I get spiritually punched in the nose.......and deserve it!!!

  2. Terry,

    I told my wife that they should have made the book shaped like a paddle.

    Also, was the chapter that convicted you the most the same one with me? You know...the one about dressing modestly. I'm sure I have made tons of people stumble with my Hong-Kong Fuey T-Shirt. LOL

    All kidding aside the one that convicted me the most was the one on the Media. As you said...OUCH!

  3. Have you seen the following blogs about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads:



    They tell about another side of the man and his group.

  4. Steve,

    Assuming this is more than a drive-by quoting...I have debated on whether or not to leave your links up. I think, at least for the time being I will.

    I fully support CJ Mahaney and the folks at SGM. That being said I am certain that they sin. I am certain that they have holes in their doctrine and I am certain that there are even things that are not 100% biblical at their church. But the same is true of me. I checked out both sites (although, in fairness not for very long) and am not convinced. But I will keep them up...at least for now.

  5. Mike

    I am glad that you have for the time being decided to keep up my comment with the links.

    I am glad you have at least looked at these links.

    Unfortunately I see a common theme of over controlling leadership within SGM that shows up in repeated postings of people of what happened to them at various SGM Churches throughout the country.

    I agree that no one is perfect. The canned phrase that one usually hears is that the leaders are "imperfect." Unfortunately I don't see these "imperfect" leaders admitting their imperfections.

    The story about Jim who started the sgmrefuge.com blog is sad. Jim claims that the leadership of the FL SGM Church he was involved with refused to even work with Peacemakers to try and resolve their conflict. This action is quite sad when they claim to endorse Peacemakers (Mahaney endorsed the Peacemakers book).

    Thus IMO Mahaney may speak and talk a good game there sure appears to be a number of problems with the group he leads.

  6. Steve,

    Hey, I am very thankful that this was not simply a "drive-by" posting.

    Again, with somewhat limited understanding and reading of the situation here is the problem I see with the websites you have posted.

    1) It seems like an "in-house" issue. Airing it on the internet by creating your own website does not seem like the best approach. (Again, if they did try to go through Peacemakers then it sounds like they tried biblical methods). I just always question a website that seems to be more about what they are against instead of what they are for.

    2) At least one of those websites claims that their biggest problem is on issues of polity. If that is the case then such a discussion is irrelevant when it comes to books like this one. People can get the gospel right but get polity wrong. People can get polity right and the gospel wrong. I'd much rather have the former than the latter. So, if polity is the chief issue then I see no point of dragging these men down.

    3) I have been ridiculously blessed by the preaching and the ministry of Mahaney, and Joshua Harris (not sure of many other SG guys--although I appreciate Dave Harvey's book on marriage). Here is the deal--even if these guys are wrong I can still learn from what they are writing. When they get the gospel right I embrace it. When they mess up I don't. I would only hope people would offer me the same grace and sympathy.

  7. Mike

    I am glad that i am showing you I am not just a drive by. I will discuss the matter as you are now seeing.

    First of all the blogs that I shared aren't my blogs. I am not the owner though I do participate in the discussions on these blogs.

    I would add that these blogs have been a source of healing for a number of people who were battered sheep due to SGM leadership in various churches. In this regard these blogs have served a good purpose. It has been very helpful for those hurt to discover that they weren't the only ones abused of experiencing SGM double speak. One example of this double speak is there saying "we are approachable" but when one does that to leadership, leadership claims the member has a "heart" or attitude issue.

    If you just read their books and filter them how a mature Christian should do then you should be OK. It appears membership in their group is where you have the biggest risk.

  8. Mike

    I would also make the following comment about C.J. Mahaney. He is quite a reader of books but not a reader/analyzer of the book (the bible).

    Mahaney certainly reads a number of books and is knows as a book worm. He even quotes a number of books written by men when he speaks. He also is quite a good orator and has an very impressive set of speaking skills.

    With that said, I don't recall him ever teaching scripture where he shows that he has done some deep exegesis of scripture such as studying what the text said in its orginal Greek or Hebrew. This could be done using a number of tools that don't require learning of either of these languages. As I am sure you know, much is lost in the translation. It is sad to not see one in the position he is in not doing this.

    Thus Mahaney relies more on what other people write than studying the word of God in depth for himself IMO.



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