Dever, Mark, J. Ligon Duncan III, R. Albert Mohler Jr., C.J. Mahaney. Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 192 pp. $21.99. Purchase from Westminster for $14.51.
Do these men need any introduction to the evangelical community? The men who comprise the Together for the Gospel “movement” are Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and C.J. Mahaney. Contributors include Thabiti M. Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. Every two years, since 2006, these men have gathered in Louisville, Ky to exhort and challenge pastors and Christians to stand together for the gospel. In other words, be the unity that is called for in Scripture despite denominational “walls.”
Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology was the theme for 2008. This book is an adaptation of the messages presented at that three day conference. The audio can be downloaded and listened to here for free.
Beginning with the necessity of sound doctrine, Ligon Duncan offers an apologetic for the need of biblical doctrine to be taught on a regular basis. In what I thought was the best message of the conference, Thabiti discusses what it means to bear the image of God and how we, as Christians, need to be more explicit in doing. John MacArthur discusses the inability of the sinner to repent apart from the grace of God.
Mark Dever looks at five common mistakes from the pulpit by pastors trying to “improve” the gospel. R.C. Sproul looks at a controversial subject; i.e., the curse motif of the atonement–I thought the second best message of the conference. Al Mohler takes an academic look at the rejection of substitutionary atonement in recent years. Piper looks to the book of Hebrews to discuss how Christ will create in us a radical sacrifice. C.J. Mahaney concludes with the sustaining of the pastor’s soul–yet another quality message.
Obviously, the charge can be brought against these men that they are all Calvinists. While that may be true, that does not mean that they are arguing against non-calvinists. Rather, they are showing how these doctrines give them an urgency to sharing the gospel in thought, word, and deed. I liked C.J. Mahaney’s comment at the conference when asked about the heresy of hyper-calvinism. His response was something along the lines of I thought hyper calvinism was just someone who got really excited about the gospel!
For those who disagree with these doctrines, then MacArthur’s chapter will not be for you. However, these messages will encourage your soul and exhort you to diligent study of the Scriptures.
I would recommend this book to anyone in pastoral ministry. As I stated earlier, you can download the messages for free and listen to them. Having attended the conference (and taking notes), I have found that reading the book is better for me as it allows me to interact a bit more with my thoughts and the thoughts of the speaker.
Finally, a reading (or listening) of Mahaney’s chapter on sustaining the pastor’s soul is a must for all in the ministry as well as those who attend church on a regular basis. Pastoral care is often not mentioned and taken for granted by many. Mahaney helps to change that.