tempted and tried

This took me way too long to get to, as I’ve had it on my must read pile for more than a year, but last night I finally had a compelling reason to read through Russell Moore’s Tempted and Tried, and I rekindled my dormant man crush for him. We think a lot alike and aim for the same target—to communicate the truths of God to the average Christian in a style that’s winsome and readable. I don’t mean “average” to be disparaging—it’s not what Romney means when he says “the 47 percenters.” I just mean normal people who would benefit if they could hear some of the same truths we discuss in seminary.

Moore’s book reads like a sermon series on the temptations of Christ, with numerous memorable lines and extended commentary on contemporary church and culture. I think anyone who is planning to preach on temptation and sin in general or Christ’s temptations in particular should read this book. Also anyone who is planning on sinning.

I scribbled down many highlights, and I’ll share a few:

1. There is a haunting passage in which Moore describes how slaughterhouses soothe their cows through the chutes of death and right up until the moment they’re killed (p. 25-26). The cows are so contented they don’t even realize they’re dead. The parallel to our temptation is obvious.

2. I developed my man crush on Moore from reading his chapter on the Lord’s Supper in Zondervan’s four views book on the subject, and I appreciated what he added about it here. We should take the Supper often because it announces to ourselves and to the satanic powers “what’s really true” about us. The Table is vital for maintaining our identity (p. 75).

3. “Pornography is not just an addiction; it is occultism” because it severs the relationship between a man and his wife, which is a picture of Christ and the church (p. 83-84).

4. The sexual mores of evangelical Christians are merely one generation behind the immoral choices of our culture. We now watch what our grandparents thought was pornographic. Here’s Moore’s memorable analogy:  “We have become slow-train sexual revolutionaries, embracing sexual anarchy a generation after the broader culture has done so” (p. 89).

5. On the prevalence of divorce and remarriage, which is beginning to look a lot like serial monogamy:  “John the Baptist put his head on a platter to speak the truth that not even a king can claim another’s wife. John the Modern Evangelical isn’t willing to put his retirement benefits on the table to say the same thing to a congregational business meeting” (p. 88-89).

I haven’t even touched on the best stuff (it’s on p. 124-25). Moore’s book is simply theology the way it’s supposed to be. You may not agree with every one of his points, but you’ll be better off for having read his book (assuming you apply the points that convict you, and unless you’ve completed Wesley’s steps to Christian perfection, I’m sure you’ll find more than a few).

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5 thoughts on “tempted and tried

  1. Sounds like a good book to add to my own pile. However, will it help me: (1) in planning not to sin; or (2) in not planning to sin?

  2. Jack,

    My comment was actually tongue in cheek, a take off on Mike’s at the end of paragraph 2 above (“planning on sinning”) and the Latin phrases “posse non pecarre” (“able not to sin’) and “non posse non peccare” (“not able not to sin”).

    Maybe my attempt at humor was less than . . . impeccable!

  3. Mike, have you anywhere addressed the (in)frequency of the Lord’s table as practiced by the typical evangelical church? I would be interested in reading your perspective.

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