Kingdom Triangle by J. P. Moreland is a unique book that is a combination of Christian philosophy, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, and a plea for a life of spiritual power. The purpose of the book is twofold: first, assess the crisis of our age; second, provide a sort of Biblical blueprint for dynamic Christian living that will meet that crisis. Section one presents the crisis and section two suggests the solution. The second section is split into three sub-sections dealing with what Moreland calls “the Kingdom Triangle.”
In section one, Assessing the Crisis of Our Age, Moreland first presents what he sees as the two serious threats to our present age: the philosophies of naturalism and postmodernism. Moreland is clearly in his element, as he not only describes the philosophical foundations for naturalism in detail, but also shows its considerable shortcomings. Naturalism is described as a “thin” worldview, offering very little substance and a shallow view of the world. Postmodernism is dissected just as thoroughly. Moreland concludes that these philosophies offer no ultimate hope, truth, or purpose, yet they have infiltrated and dominated our culture.
Overall, the first section deals heavily with philosophy and worldview issues, which is insightful and lays a solid framework for the rest of the book. The second section, which really is the meat of the book, offers less philosophical material and deals with a practical solution to the crisis.
Section two, Charting a Way Out: The Kingdom Triangle, has three chapters: “The Recovery of Knowledge,” “Renovation of the Soul,” and “Restoration of the Kingdom’s Miraculous Power.” These are the three points of the triangle.
In dealing with the recovery of knowledge, Moreland provides a substantial dose of Christian epistemology to counteract the imbalances of naturalistic and postmodern theories of knowledge. This chapter is full of solid material – it could be one of the most useful primers on Christian epistemology, providing a great balance between being thorough and staying comprehensible.
Next, Moreland addresses the second point in the triangle – the renovation of the soul. His goal here is to exhort the Christian in spiritual disciplines. First he defines what he calls “the empty self” – a life that is characterized by being individualistic, infantile, narcissistic, and passive. This is a plain rebuke of a shallow, apathetic, selfish Christian lifestyle. He emphasizes the heart of the Christian and the life of prayer and devotion. With heavy influences from the works of Dallas Willard (e.g., The Spirit of the Disciplines, Renovation of the Heart), Moreland provides excellent strategies for developing a deeper Christian lifestyle that is disciplined and strong.
Finally, the author addresses the third point of the triangle – restoration of the Kingdom’s miraculous power. Moreland’s goal here is to stir Christians up to seek and expect the manifestations of God’s Spirit through answered prayer, healing, prophecy, and a life that is marked by the Spirit’s power. The author proceeds carefully, but clearly. Yes, there are differences of opinion here – nevertheless, the Christian life should be a life of power. This chapter is not Moreland’s area of expertise, but he makes a substantive case for a restoration of the Spirit’s power through numerous testimonies and first-hand experiences.
From an apologetic point of view, Moreland’s Kingdom Triangle is a valuable read. Really, he is making the case for a Christian life that is full, balanced, and powerful. He addresses the mind, the heart, and the spirit. This book is insightful, challenging, and very relevant.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
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