Releasing Today: Tim Challies’ “The Next Story”

Tim Challies can be counted on to shoot straight. His book reviews are valuable precisely because he’s not afraid to say that a book is terrible, and as he refuses to beat around the bush, he evaluates from a perspective of sound theology and biblical wisdom, loving discretion and insightful discernment. Tim’s first book, in fact, was on Discernment, and the one that released today is The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. I’m grateful to have received an advanced reading copy, and I’m excited to commend this book to you. I need it. My family needs it. The people with whom I’m in covenant need it.

Do you need it? Consider these questions:

Do you catch yourself frittering moments away, distractedly clicking from one webpage tab to another, going from your email to your reader to other sites you frequent? Have you caught yourself compulsively checking email or twitter or facebook at every break in conversation or at the end of every paragraph you read? Have you felt a suspicion creeping around on the margin of your mind, warning you that new technologies are reshaping your daily life? Have you wondered what that implies about your friends and children? Do you feel a vague anxiety about whether to get the latest gadget? Is there something deeper, something under the surface, of which these questions are only symptoms? Or maybe you’ve concluded that all these newfangled developments are just evil, placing blame on technology rather than on the people who make use of it?

In The Next Story, Tim Challies serves all of us as we face these questions. This book applies the gospel to life in the digital age. Tim has read widely on what technology is, on how it affects us individually, and on how it has changed the water in our fishbowl. He’s not only done the research, he’s meditated on it in light of the Scriptures.

I’ve seen some claims that Tim does more describing than prescribing in this book, and while that is the case (he says so himself, in fact!), it does not mean that he offers no recommendations. In fact, it may be that the light touch with which he exposes idolatry strikes the mortal blow to it. By addressing the root issue. Tim’s tone isn’t that of the preacher shouting imperatives, but as he discusses the way that God’s good gift of technology is perverted when sinful hearts use it to worship money or sex or power or influence, as he explores the glory of un-mediated communion with God and other people, wisdom’s call can be heard in the street. Those with ears to hear are summoned to worship God and love the brethren, and they won’t need detailed prescriptions for applying wisdom and Christ-likeness to their own lives. They will be spurred to mortify the flesh, to renew their commitment to what matters and what is true, and to keep digital communication in its minor, supplemental role, a convenient tool but never a replacement for the face to face.

This book is theoretical, theological, and practical, and the fact that you’re reading this post proves that you live in the digital age. If you want to understand that reality, I know of no better book on the issue than The Next Story.

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