Review: What the Church Won’t Talk About
“We were enduring the consequences of poorly made decisions. We had no idea how to help our friends go through their terrible trials. We were disappointed weekly by the church’s avoidance of tough topics, or the black-and-white binary boxes. The church gave us cat-poster clichés or pulpit-pounding guilt-trips. So we adopted the self-improvement techniques of culture, which turned out to be self-improvisation, and it only made us worse.”
From the intro to JS Park’s new book, “What the Church Won’t Talk About.” Which begs the question…So what is the answer? What will make it better?
When pastor and blogger JS Park messaged me and asked me to review his new book, What the Church Won’t Talk About, I was both shocked and honoured that he would ask lil ol me. I should warn you that I came into this book expecting to like it. I have been following blogger JS Park for a couple of years now. I remember very clearly the first post I read about his personal struggle with pornography addiction, and how he found freedom in the grace of Jesus Christ. I was amazed that a pastor would be so open and vulnerable about that. After that I read his post on being an introvert and I was immediately hooked on this former atheist turned pastor’s blog. The way he was so open about his own struggles, doubts, sins and caffeine addiction was like a breath of fresh air in a blogo-sphere full of angry, ranting, Calvinistic adolescents hell-bent on just being right. Over the past year or so, I have had the privilege to get to know Joon on a more personal level through Facebook and email, and though we live approximately 3200 miles (5180 kms) from each other and have never met in person, I consider him a friend, and a brother in the faith.
JS Park has a love on for everyone. From the vibrant, happy, feeling-the-presence-of-God, filled-to-the-brim, street preacher to the lonely, broken, doubting smoldering wick of a depressed teen who is hanging on by a thread. And all that comes through loud and clear in this love drenched, Jesus focused book. Not afraid to tackle any topic, JS Park takes us on a journey through the grittier section of his email in-box, where the hardest questions get asked. Questions about faith, doubts, struggling with lust and porn, to the hard questions about forgiveness, depression, homosexuality and abortion. So often we in the church try too hard to get the answers “just right.” Someone confides to us a problem so we give them a pat answer, about praying harder, or singing more psalms, or trying harder, or just stop sinning!
Not here anyway.
For those of you who like pat answers, this book is not for you. If you like closing your eyes and pretending that girl doesn’t have depression and doesn’t cut herself, or there are no homeless people, or that abuse doesn’t happen, or that the church is limited to the confines of your upper-middle-class, white, suburban, perfect little Christian bubble, then this book is not for you – actually, maybe it is for you. If you would rather condemn the girl who had an abortion instead of loving her, this book might get your feathers ruffled. If you believe that people can’t change, if you believe that God can’t change hearts and minds, then this book will challenge you with the sovereign grace of God. You will be challenged to think outside the box and look at the person behind the problem. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the book, but with humility, he admits that he could be wrong, and he even challenges us to, ” Question everything. Use the Bible as your lens. Ask: Would Jesus have agreed with this?”
With that all said, Joon and I do agree on the most important thing: It is all about Jesus. And Jesus is the answer. And that is what this book is really about. Written with a rare vulnerability we don’t often see in pastors, in each situation Joon always points us to the grace of the Gospel of Jesus as the ultimate answer. Jesus meets us where we are, as we are, in our sin and misery and pulls us to himself. He loved us when we were unlovable, and we should do the same for others.
Now, I admit that I am unashamedly and passionately Reformed, and in my Reformededness (is that a word?) I am prone to recommending books by Reformed authors. Well, Joon used to identify as Reformed, but he no longer does, although with the amount times he quotes Reformed guys like Tim Keller, I wonder if he will come back around… 😉 Anyway…Overall I really enjoyed the book and I recommend it to those hurting souls who are looking for answers for the hard questions.
Find it here: