November 21, 2017

Love not the World – Review

A Review of Randy Leedy: Love not the World: Winning the War against Worldliness

This is our second review of this book. We add it to our list of reviews because we want to draw more attention to Dr. Leedy’s excellent volume. You can find our first review here.

David Potter

Charges and countercharges of worldliness and legalism characterize controversies that have divided former friends and allies. One could simply preach love and forgiveness, but that would require painting over differences that are more than superficial. At the heart of the controversy is worldliness: what does the Bible teach about defining and defeating the world? On the one extreme, hardly recognizes that worldliness exists at all, and on the other extreme, everything relating to our contemporary culture is worldly by definition.

Is there a way out of this mess? Randy Leedy offers a positive answer in his new book, Love not the World: Winning the War against Worldliness(Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 2012). A short read at 144 pages, the book is packed with biblical information and biblically informed application.

After an introduction which surveys the current literature on the subject and defines legalism, Leedy spends the first two chapters defining the world, first from the Old Testament and then from the New. The words for world in the Old Testament do not have the same range of meanings as the New Testament words, but he finds that the term gentiles/nations conveys ideas very close to the New Testament terms.

In the next three chapters, he first discusses applying the teaching of Scripture directly, then the necessity of extending the teaching to matters not directly addressed in Scripture. Thirdly, he offers guidelines for application to current issues.

The final chapter addresses defeating the world in the life of the Christian. In conclusion, he sets before us the contrasting conditions of worldliness and Christlikeness.

Leedy handles the technical matters of semantics and biblical theology very well. He uses illuminating illustrations. I very much appreciate his over-all positive tone, which shows itself both in his emphasis on the fact that the purpose of avoiding worldliness is so that we can glorify God and in the charitable way he treats those with whom he does not agree.

One can take several lessons from this book.

  • All of us, without exception, are subject to the temptation of worldliness. Just because we do not succumb in some areas does not mean that we need not guard ourselves in other areas. No one has a corner on the market in holiness.
  • Until we agree on the basic biblical principles and the procedure for applying them, we will never agree on practical matters. Any discussion of worldliness and godly standards must start here. Much of what passes for serious argument is short on sound exegesis. In fact, some of it actually ignores the relevant Scripture altogether.
  • We need to resolve the current issues for the sake of promoting both Christlikeness and unity among brothers.
  • Even if we agree on the basic scriptural principles, we will not necessarily all come to the same conclusions regarding their application for a variety of reasons. Applications may differ in different cultural contexts. Cultures change not only according to geography but over time. Worst of all, our flesh does not want to accept restrictions.
  • We could come to much greater agreement if we would hash through these problems together in a spirit of love and loyalty to God and His Word. In the early Christian centuries, the church fathers argued over the meaning of the New Testament teaching about the trinity and about the nature of Christ. Their original impetus was the entrance of heretical teaching. Although they could agree on what they were against, they had a hard time expressing what they believed in a positive way. Eventually they arrived at a relatively simple and accurate way to express what the Bible teaches on the subject and their explanation has stood the test of time. We need a similar discussion on worldliness today.

I highly recommend this book. It is one that you will both read and refer back to many times.

David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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