Our Good Crisis
Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes
by Jonathan K. Dodson
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 17 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 15 May 2020
"Pastor Jonathan Dodson poignantly unpacks the perennial truths of the greatest sermon of all time, revealing its ancient wisdom for our morally confused times. Replete with real-world examples, both historical and contemporary, this book offers a compelling countercultural solution to our moral crisis grounded in Jesus' upside-down kingdom."
-Allen Yeh, associate professor of intercultural studies and missiology, Biola University
"Jonathan has written an important book for followers of Jesus in our divided and hostile culture. Brimming with theological insight, genuine hope, and a beautiful way forward for these confusing times, I believe this book will greatly improve our credibility as disciples in the world."
-Jon Tyson, lead pastor at Church of the City New York, author of The Burden Is Light
"The Beatitudes can be intimidating to Christians, and more so the more we know what they mean. This book provides fresh and honest insight into the beauty and glory of these words of the kingdom. Whatever crisis you may face now or in the future, I pray this book will reframe for you what it means to be 'blessed.'"
-Russell Moore, president, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
"I can't think of a more encouraging and challenging way to spend our time than to dwell on these famous words of Jesus. Jonathan Dodson will help you understand their revolutionary meaning and also apply Jesus' teaching for our cultural moment."
-Collin Hansen, editorial director of The Gospel Coalition, author of Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church
"Our Good Crisis is a compass, drawing the reader back to our true north, to God himself. As we walk across the ever-changing landscape of our age, Dodson reminds us of the never-changing goodness of the Beatitudes. God in heaven is the source of virtue, of all that's good, of the very remedy needed for the crises we see in the world and in ourselves. This meditation on the Beatitudes will nourish your soul and exhort you to walk with Jesus, living out his kingdom here on earth, by the power of his Spirit."
-Jen Oshman, author Enough About Me: Find Lasting Joy in the Age of Self
"Our Good Crisis is exactly the kind of Christian book we need more of—one that examines the text of Scripture carefully while listening to the anxieties of our age with sympathy. By applying this approach to the Beatitudes, the opening lines of the Sermon on the Mount, Jonathan Dodson achieves something wonderful. He encourages believers to live faithfully amid our moral and technological complexities, and he helps doubters imagine what it would be like to take Christ's ancient wisdom seriously today."
-John Dinkson, author and historian, senior lecturer in public Christianity, Ridley College, Melbourne
"A keen look beneath the frenzied surface of our modern world to see what lurks there—how people think, both about themselves and their world. It is these attitudes that are here brought face-to-face with the truth of the Beatitudes. This book is direct and helpful."
-David F. Wells, Distinguished Senior Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Reflecting on secular and nonsecular thinkers, Jonathan does an amazing job of pointing us to the message that brings about true human flourishing. This book will challenge and encourage you to boldly live out your faith. This is a must read!"
-Ivan Valdez, member at City Life Church, Austin
"It's easy enough to see the impending crises brought about by our technical, data-driven age; it's harder to believe that these difficulties present us with an opportunity for self-reflection, and yes, even spiritual growth. In Our Good Crisis, Jonathan K. Dodson guides us back to the ancient wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount, showing readers how the Beatitudes can lead us to blessing even in—especially in—the modern age. Confronting everything from our propensity to outrage to our fixation with self to our comfort addictions, Our Good Crisis reveals Jesus' words to be as good news to us today as they were to those who first heard them."
-Hannah Anderson, author of All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment
"We are in an age where the performance of the self is more important than the reality of the self, creating what Dodson calls a crisis of the good. Jesus' words, then, in Matthew 5 can feel alien to us—otherworldly. They demand that the inner self be the chief concern, rather than how the world sees us. Near the end of his book Jonathan Dodson writes, 'Each beatitude inspires and challenges us at once.' That's true and it's also true of Dodson's book. Each chapter is both compelling and exposing."
-John Starke, lead pastor of Apostles Church Uptown, New York City, and author of The Possibility of Prayer
Average rating from 5 members
The word "crisis" nowadays is very much an understatement. With the recent pronouncement of the Covid-19 as a pandemic, many people are living in a state of an emergency. There are chaos in many places, though some may say organized pandemonium. Author Jonathan K Dodson brings clarity to the meaning of crisis. He presents a whole potpourri of moral conundrums that are fast becoming confusing and troubling. He compares and contrasts the difficult choices behind abortion, sex, financial scandals, and various forms of injustice on age, gender, ethnicity, etc. He also questions the way the society at large have been using (or abusing) the word "crisis." How can it be good? In order to answer that, author Jonathan Dodson adopts three approaches. The first is the etymological approach, to study the origins of the word 'crisis.' He goes all the way back to the original mention of trees in Genesis, namely, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Secondly, he traces the history of how the word crisis has developed through the ages. What was originally used for moral judgment, the word has evolved to describe "momentary uncertainty." This parallels the rise of relativism and comes at a time where there is increasing dilution of moral clarity. He laments how this leads to the confusion surrounding the essence of what is good and what is not. Finally, Dodson takes us through the "Greatest Moral Document," also known to many of us as the beatitudes of Christ. Going through all nine of the beatitudes, the author uses each beatitude to target a particular trend or moral choice in society. He uses "poor in spirit" to hit out at individualism and selfishness. By admitting we are poor and humbled in the first place, we will not easily give in to self-focused programs that arise out of our own loss of identity. In "Blessed are those who mourn," we are faced with the reality of tragedy and senseless acts of violence. We are encouraged to re-examine the way we become distracted by technology, habits, and harmful acts to our neighbours. In "Blessed are the meek," Dodson address the topic of true humility. This helps us see our true inheritance in terms of the value of heavenly rewards instead of the temporal treasures of the earth. In "Blessed are those who hunger after righteousness," we look at the dilemmas surrounding moral choices of right vs wrong. Personal values must line up with spiritual virtues. Human preferences must align with biblical principles. Avoid self-righteousness, and don't mix it with true righteousness. In "Blessed are the merciful," we learn to see the difference between tolerating the wrong to boldly upholding the right. This calls for firmness rather than stubbornness. The former calls for controlled resilience while the latter refers to those who are intolerant of people who don't see their point of view. "Blessed are the pure in heart" gives us the opportunity to let ourselves decrease, that God many increase. Let our own self-importance take secondary stage. For inner purity is about letting go of our own prejudices and trusting God to take charge, especially when we feel we are helpless. In "Blessed are the peacemakers," Dodson cautions us about letting anger deteriorate into offensive behaviour. We are called to see peace not as an absence of conflict but the presence of constructive engagement. He brings us back to the meaning of true shalom. In "Persecution," we are reminded about how privileged we are in our modern society. Learn to care for the have-nots, and the less privileged. Remember the persecuted even as we brace ourselves for future trials that may come. My Thoughts Dodson has essentially turned "crisis" into an opportunity to point us back to the origins of the word. By doing that, he reminds us not to base our understanding of "crisis" according to modern subjectivity but on the strong foundations of its original meaning and how it relates directly to the beatitudes. Dodson starts on a somber note, making himself vulnerable as he shares his own setbacks. In that manner, he tells the reader that he is not speaking from some moral high ground, but is sharing his ideas from a fellow member of a sinful human race. That is especially appropriate given the nature of this book, which is about moral judgment and ethical values at stake. Moving from personal confession to public application, the author shows us how the beatitudes of Christ directly addresses the moral confusion of our day. I appreciate the fresh approach that Dodson has given with regard to teaching the beatitudes. Many begin with a deep treatment of the Biblical text before bringing in the applications. One example is in the popular "Inductive Bible Study" approach that goes from Observation of the Test; to the Interpretation; and subsequently the Application of the text. Dodson approaches it from another angle. He highlights first the reason for the need to study the beatitudes. He then describes the emptiness of the world values before ushering in the venerable teachings of Jesus. This is possible because the list of beatitudes are not only brief but easily understood at first glance. While there are deeper insights to be discovered, the first cursory glance would keep us mindful of the blessings that come with each virtue. Why do we need this book? If there is one reason, it would be remindering ourselves that we are susceptible to moral flaws and misjudgment. Only by comparing ourselves to the biblical standard can we appropriately know and to decide what is right thing and what is the wrong thing to do, at least on a spiritual and ethical standpoint. Like how Dodson says it: "The Beatitudes are a vision of the kingdom breaking into earth." When believers do just that, they are practicing what they have been praying all along in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in heaven as it is on earth." Jonathan K. Dodson is pastor of City Life Church in Austin Texas. He is also founder of the Gospel-Centered Discipleship.com that aims to produce resources for discipleship. Rating: 4.25 stars of 5. conrade This book has been provided courtesy of Inter-Varsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Life these days presents us with unique challenges. With the rapid development of technology, social media, and the ever changing cultural climate, how are we to navigate these times and remain faithful? Our culture seems to be clinging to self for dear life in almost every realm. What does this mean for us as believers as we seek to life for Christ and follow His vision for our lives? Our Good Crisis answers these questions by giving us a look at the Beatitudes in light of the “moral chaos” going on around us. Dodson looks at Matthew 5:1-11, and sees the beatitudes describing a life of flourishing and purpose. Each beatitude is fleshed out and contrasted with what characterizes our culture, such as self-expression, tolerance, outrage, distraction, and comfort. How do we mourn in an age of distraction? How do we be merciful in an age of tolerance? How can we be pure in an age of self-expression, or seek peace in an age that breaks out in outrage over the smallest of issues? He ends with the last beatitude: persecution. Our culture cherishes comfort and fights against anything meriting persecution. "This book is for all who have failed to live up to the Beatitudes but want more. It is for those who want to mature, but aren’t sure what next step to take. It is for those who recognize the moral chaos around them and want to do something about it. It is for anyone concerned about our good crisis." - Jonathan K. Dodson I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it focused on the need to really focus on the Sermon on the Mount in light of the many present day issues that we face and that our children will face. Our culture can easily affect how we live and think, and so we are on constant need or reorienting ourselves to Christ, and what it means to follow Him. The book also serves as a cultural commentary, pointing out where we tend to fall short of Jesus’ vision of flourishing in this sermon. It will inspire you to at least dig into God’s Word more, and give you a taste of what it means to navigate through the moral chaos that has become our normal. I would recommend this book to anyone that is confused about our culture and the plethora of moral options that we are presented with on a daily basis. It is not easy dealing with these issues, but we have Christ and His righteousness, His goodness, His mercy, His grace, and His peace as ours to show us the way. "God unfurls his moral excellence is these stunning statements of blessing. Each one presents the possibility of a world rid of moral chaos. The Beatitudes are a vision of the kingdom of heaven breaking into earth, populated with the meek and the just, the pure and the true." - Jonathan K. Dodson Read & Repeat
I found this to be a very informative read regarding the Beatitudes. The author explores each of the phrases in the Beatitudes from the two horizons (the original context and our on context and application. The author provides relevant narratives from experience that highlight each Beatitude. He humbly presents his own failures as to the daily application of them to his own life. I would recommend this to be on your reading list and to give to others.