The Book I Wish I Could Have Written

When writing The Conservative Church, De Bruyn sang as he slew, especially in the last 100 pages. He argues: A church must have a care to preserve true doctrine and a holy lifestyle, but especially, in these days, ordinate affection.

The book has three sections parallel to truth, goodness, and beauty. The first chapters deal with the gospel and sound doctrine including some insightful comments on Christian unity. In part two, he deals with morality in the church, but narrows his focus mainly to worship. There are helpful principles that stretch into preaching in these chapters.

But he reaches his height when taking on the modern Goliath of the affections. “Probably the greatest difference between thoroughly conservative Christian churches and more nominally conservative Christian churches will be their divergent views on the matter of beauty and the affections.” (123) These four chapters are both readable and wise–a vital corrective to most seminary educations.

Spurgeon said of Puritan Thomas Brooks, “He scatters diamonds with both hands.” And there are a few passages where De Bruyn has plenty to give.

“Desires could be fitting—ordinate, or unfitting—inordinate. To put it another way, your affections were true or false.” 130

“Orthodoxy cannot stand alone. … Ordinate affection is essential to knowing the truth.” 135

“Everyone has an eclectic set of prejudices and sentiments, which he usually defends as vehemently as Laban looking for his idols.” 150

“Someone who has learned to love the trivial, the debased, and the sentimental cannot unlearn those loves in a day. Nor will he do so easily, for your loves are just that—the things you love, and which seem to be a part of yourself. Not easily are our idols torn from us.” 152

“You cannot do in your church in a few years what is meant to be done through culture over centuries.” 164

“If we wish to love what God loves, we must pursue the art of true judgment. … No judgment or discernment will come to irreverent, flippant people.” 177

“Culture cannot be divorced from religion.” 183

“There is something quite conceited and egocentric about members of a 2000 year-old institution who have no interest in its past, and a near-obsession with its present.” 207

“When tradition preserves untruths, it becomes the guardian of a lie that will not die.” 211

“We do our people no favors when we deny them essential parts of Christianity simply because such things require patient and lengthy explanations or because such things require disciplined and intense study.” 224

In a very useful appendix he lists just under 100 books arranged in headings for further study as a basic curriculum for the subjects treated in the book. Even if this book merely serves as a sign post guiding us to these authors, it will have served a Samwise-like role in the completion of our quest.

Because it meets such a contemporary need while still brimming with fresh use of Scripture, every pastor should familiarize himself with the arguments in these pages.

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