Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

One in four. That’s the average of how many women in America have experienced some form of sexual assault.

One in six. That’s the average number of men have been sexually assaulted.

These are underestimates.

Sexual assault is a crime surrounded by misconceptions and confusion. Definitions are either too specific to sufficiently identify instances of assault or too vague to even be helpful. It’s a crime that robs victims of their dignity and their identity. And often, in our attempts to be helpful, we find ourselves at a loss; we don’t really know what to say or how to help victims of assault and abuse.

How can the stain of disgrace be removed?

Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb provide a compelling, thoughtful and hopeful answer in Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault, as they apply the gospel to this horrendous crime.

Dividing the book into three sections, “Disgrace,” “Grace Applied,” and “Grace Accomplished,” the authors handle the subject matter with great care. It’s evident that they’re not working from a theoretical perspective, but that this is hands-on, practical knowledge. In part one, they begin by providing a proper definition of sexual assault. They define it as follows:

Sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority. (p. 28)

“This definition,” they explain, “gets beyond our society’s narrow understanding of the issue and expands the spectrum of actions to be considered sexual assault.” (ibid) In fleshing out this definition, they also go to great pains to clear up a number of misconceptions:

  1. Sexual assault can be physical, verbal, or psychological
  2. Prior consent does not mean unlimited consent
  3. The perpetrators of sexual assault are more often than not educated, middle class, white men who know their victims
  4. While underreporting is a serious problem, false reporting is actually quite rare

Practically, this means that the myth of the mystery deviant jumping out of the bushes is just that: A myth. While things like this can happen, it’s more likely that a victim will be abused by a friend, family member, coworker or other acquaintance.

They also look to the effects of sexual assault. What was surprising to me was how varied the harmful emotional, psychological and physiological effects that can be. Some are: anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, eating disorders, gastrointestinal disturbance, hyper-arousal, various phobias, insomnia and other sleep disturbances, jumpiness… on and on the list goes (p. 39).

Further, the authors stress that it’s important to understand that acknowledgement does not equate or ensure automatic healing. Naming the sin committed is only the first step in healing.

In part two, “Grace Applied,” the Holcombs examine the implications of the gospel on the effects of sexual assault:
[Read more...]

Looking Ahead: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2011

Looking at the books I enjoyed over 2010 made me think about the ones I’m really looking forward to in 2011. Here are a few:

Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father edited by Dan Cruver, with contributions from John Piper, Richard D. Phillips, Scotty Smith, Jason Kovacs, and Dan Cruver (Cruciform Press, January 2011)

One of the ambitious dreams that Reclaiming Adoption and its authors share with the Apostle Paul is that when Christians hear the word adoption, they will think first about their adoption by God. As it now stands, Christians usually think first about the adoption of children. Reclaiming Adoption sets out to change this situation by providing breathtaking views of God’s love for and delight in His children — views that will free you to live boldly in this world from God’s acceptance, not in order to gain it…

Dan Cruver and his co-authors are convinced that if Christians learn to first think about their adoption by God, and only then about the adoption of children, they will enjoy deeper communion with the God who is love, and experience greater missional engagement with the pain and suffering of this world. That’s what this book is about. What the orphan, the stranger, and the marginalized in our world need most is churches that are filled with Christians who live daily in the reality of God’s delight in them. Reclaiming Adoption can transform the way you view and live in this world for the glory of God and the good of our world’s most needy.

Order this book | Read a sample

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb (Crossway, January 2011)

The statistics are jarring. One in four women and one in six men have been sexually assaulted. But as sobering as these statistics are, they can’t begin to speak to the darkness and grief experienced by the victims. The church needs compassionate and wise resources to care for those living in the wake of this evil. Other books attempt to address the journey from shame to healing for victims of sexual abuse, but few are from a Christian perspective and written for both child and adult victims. In Rid of My Disgrace, a couple experienced in counseling and care for victims of sexual assault present the gospel in its power to heal the broken and restore the disgraced.

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb present a clear definition of sexual assault and outline a biblical approach for moving from destruction to redemption. Rid of My Disgrace applies a theology of redemption to the grief, shame, and sense of defilement victims experience. This book is primarily written for them, but can also equip pastors, ministry staff, and others to respond compassionately to those who have been assaulted.

Pre-order this book | Read a sample

Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson (Crossway, October 2011)

We may know the gospel. We may believe it—even proclaim it. But we also may assume the gospel and become lethargic. In this book Jared Wilson seeks to answer the central question, how do we experience and present the gospel in a fresh, non-routine way in order to prevent ourselves and others from becoming numb? His answer may be surprising: “by routinely presenting the unchanging gospel in a way that does justice to its earth-shaking announcement.” We don’t excite and awaken people to the glorious truths of the gospel by spicing up our worship services or through cutting-edge, dramatic rhetoric, but by passionately and faithfully proclaiming the same truths we have already been given in Scripture.

Wilson’s book will stir churches to live out the power of the gospel with a fervent, genuine zeal. After an explanation of the term “gospel wakefulness,” Wilson unpacks implications for worship, hyper-spirituality, godly habits, and sanctification, as well as other aspects of church life. Pastors, church leaders, and all in ministry, especially those who are tired or discouraged, will be uplifted, emboldened, and empowered by this book.

(Not yet available for pre-order) [Read more...]

Book Review: Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

Title: Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
Authors: Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
Publisher: Crossway (2010)

Over the last three years, Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears have been releasing books at a mind-boggling pace.

Vintage Jesus focuses on the question of who Jesus is and why it matters; Death by Love looks at the atonement; Vintage Church explores what it means to be the Church.

And now they’ve released Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Based on Driscoll’s sermon series of the same name from 2008, Doctrine examines 13 essential beliefs of the Christian faith: the Trinity, Revelation, creation, image, the fall, covenants, the incarnation, crucifixion & resurrection, the church, worship, stewardship and the Kingdom.

In many ways, this is Driscoll’s most focused book. As the story goes, the book originally weighed in at over 700 pages. The authors were forced to do some serious pruning. The result is a sharp 464 page work that sacrifices cuteness for clarity.

This is a welcome change, particularly for those who really don’t appreciate Driscoll’s sense of humor (and even for those who do). While his personality is definitely present, it doesn’t overshadow the content (something that happened in certain passages of Vintage Jesus).  Honestly, this is exactly how it should be. The content in this book is compelling enough on its own.

Worshipful Connection

As the authors provide readers with a foundational knowledge of each doctrine studied, they manage to tie each doctrine together so that we can see how they all fit. This is particularly evident in the chapter on worship. Driscoll & Breshears write: [Read more...]

Too Staggering a Claim to Remain Neutral

“If Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead. If Jesus is alive, then Christianity is alive,” write Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears in their latest, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (p. 279).

In support of the release of Doctrine, Crossway has released two sample chapters including a 24-page chapter on the Resurrection of Jesus:

Apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no savior, no salvation, no forgiveness of sin, and no hope of resurrected eternal life. Apart from the resurrection, Jesus is reduced to yet another good but dead man and therefore is of no considerable help to us in this life or at its end. Plainly stated, without the resurrection of Jesus, the few billion people today who worship Jesus as God are gullible; their hope for a resurrection life after this life is the hope of silly fools who trust in a dead man to give them life. Subsequently, the doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection is, without question, profoundly significant and worthy of the most careful consideration and examination.

Driscoll & Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, p. 279

“Apart from the resurrection. . . people today who worship Jesus as God are gullible.” It’s a harsh truth. Is it one we’ve taken time to consider?

Around this time of year is when the TV specials and magazine articles begin appearing in an attempt to debunk Jesus & the resurrection. “Maybe Jesus didn’t really die on the cross,” they say. “Maybe he only looked like he did.”

Maybe everyone who claimed to see Jesus hallucinated.

Maybe the whole thing is a bunch of gobbledygook cobbled together from various mythologies. After all, at the time, everyone’s god had come back from the dead… right? [Read more...]

Religion Saves: Why a Week?

Religion-Saves-intro

Inspired by 1 Corinthians, in which the Apostle Paul answers a series of questions posed by the members of the Corinthian church, Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle began the “Ask Anything” campaign on their website. Here, online listeners and church members could pose any question they wanted (subject to moderation for inappropriate content), and readers would then vote for their favorite questions. In the end, 893 questions were asked, 343,203 votes were cast and the top nine questions were selected for the sermon series, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions.

This series, covering birth control, humor, predestination, grace, sexual sin, faith & works, dating, the emerging/emergent church, and the regulative principle (!), also included a new feature: Attendees were permitted to text message in any question they had during the sermon and Driscoll would answer, on the spot and off the cuff.

The resulting sermons were then reformatted and expanded in the book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, released in June, 2009, through Crossway and RE:Lit.

I read this book over the course of several days in August, 2009, not only because I enjoy Driscoll’s teaching and writing, but because I wanted to see if it differed much from the sermon series itself. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was far more in-depth, and many chapters were far more thoughtful than the initial sermons themselves.

I also found that I had so many notes, there was no way I could contain them all in a single post! (In case you’re wondering, I had six pages of notes covering all nine subjects. The only book I’ve ever had more on was The Shack—and no, that’s not an indication of the quality of this book.) In light of this, I am devoting the week to my thoughts on Religion Saves.

When reading, I also noticed there were a few interesting patterns that developed, with several themes being interconnected. And because I enjoyed the interplay which occurred, I’ll be grouping my comments on each section thematically, rather than in order of publication.

Tuesday’s post will feature Birth Control, Sexual Sin and Dating. Wednesday is Predestination, Grace and Faith & Works. Thursday is Humor, the Emerging Church and the Regulative Principle. And Friday will be a wrap up and final thoughts.

In the end, I hope that this week will be enjoyable, grace-filled, thought-provoking, and, ultimately profitable for everyone.

At the very least, I hope it’s not boring for those who stick through it.