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About the Author
John Stonestreet is a speaker and fellow with the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and a sought-after communicator and thought leader on faith and culture, theology, worldview, education, and apologetics. He is the voice of two nationally syndicated radio commentaries: BreakPoint (with Eric Metaxas) and The Point. John is the coauthor of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview and Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage. He and his wife and three daughters live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
John Stonestreet is a speaker and fellow of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, as well as the co-host with Eric Metaxas of Breakpoint, the Christian worldview radio program founded by Chuck Colson. John is a sought-after speaker at conferences, colleges, and churches on the subjects of theology, apologetics, and faith and culture. He holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Bryan College and is the coauthor of Making Sense of Your World.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Jim Daly, Focus on the Family 11
Introduction: God Loveth "Re" Words 17
Words like restore, renew, refresh, resurrect, and redeem are found throughout Scripture. It is time for the church to relearn them
1 Great News! 27
The church is alive and well, and is at work in the world
2 Helping That Helps 37
Not all help is helpful, and the Christian church has learned much it can teach the world about caring for the poor
3 Capitalism for the Common Good 56
God is a worker, and we are created in His image. Therefore our work, when rightly understood and engaged, can bring good to the world
4 This Will Stop in Our Lifetime 67
Christians across America and around the world have heroically saved babies and helped women by offering compassionate alternatives to abortion
5 Women at the Well 80
Christians have led the way in rescuing women and girls from prostitution and human trafficking
6 Coloring Outside the Lines 90
Throughout history, Christians have championed education and education reform.
7 Justice That Restores 102
Societies struggle with how to handle those convicted of crime. Christians are leading the way in returning restored citizens to our communities
8 Forgiveness Heals, Time Doesn't 114
"Racial reconciliation" must be more than a buzz phrase. Many churches are taking it seriously and offering strategies for healing and progress
9 Loving God with All Your Mind 124
Confronting ideological intolerance, Christian professors are refusing to choose between their faith and their scholarship
10 It Doesn't Define You 135
Christians are living proof that one's sexuality isn't their deepest identity
11 Not the Least of These 148
Through a heroic perseverance, and strong faith, Christians can show the world how to handle suffering and disability
12 Giving Marriage to the World, Once Again 162
Christians are, once again, offering the good gift of marriage as a healing institution to a sexually exhausted culture
13 Suffer the Little Children 174
Christians have proclaimed the dignity of all life by taking seriously the exhortation in James to care for orphans
14 In the Beginning, God Created 183
God is a Creator, and we are made to create too. For centuries, Christians led the way in the arts. Some modern Christians are leading the way again
15 Aim Small, Miss Small 196
A mentor of ours once said, "If you want to change the world, start by cleaning your room."
Conclusion: Two Personal Stories 203
John and Warren both recount personal stories that demonstrate how restoration became a reality in their lives
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fire Bearers Archaeologists have unearthed a tale to delight the heart of every conservative in America, and to answer the question posed by Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet in Restoring All Things. How can the church act in ways that are restorative and life-giving without being reactionary? The story is set in Ephesus, seat of Artemis worship and home to the temple which housed the perpetual fire for their worship. Now, it happened that the priests, keepers of that fire, were essentially the utility monopoly of Ephesus, for they made it known far and wide that obtaining one’s fire elsewhere was an affront to the gods. Evidence now reveals that members of the early church in Ephesus would freely share their fire with the needy, simultaneously providing life-saving fire to the poor, contributing to the demise of Artemis worship, undermining the pagan temple’s source of revenue, and ending their tyranny over the people of Ephesus. The point of the story is that these first-century Christians accomplished all this without benefit of political representation, legislation, or so much as a single demonstration outside the temple. Bearing fire was an act of kindness –, a militant compassion — that met a need and effected change in the process. In chronicling God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People, the authors skimmed the cream from thousands of stories from the archives of BreakPoint and World Magazine, both of which exist to answer the universal questions: What’s wrong with the world? What can make it right? How can I be part of making it right? Each of the stories demonstrates with boots on the ground practicality how twenty-first century Christians can serve as fire-bearers, carrying the message of reconciliation, redemption, restoration, renewal, and resurrection, because all those “re” words from the Bible are gifts from God to our fallen world. The authors skillfully demonstrate that Christianity is the only worldview with the moral and philosophical resources necessary to: 1.Provide a basis for outrage over evil. If there is no ultimate authority, who gets to decide what’s wrong? 2.Support a level of forgiveness that leads to healing and reconciliation. 3.Offer a more robust understanding of identity than what is offered by a culture that seeks to devalue life. 4.Bring meaning, significance, and value to life in the womb and life characterized by disability and suffering. 5.Fuse artistic expression with “bedrock concepts of truth and beauty . . . redemption and healing.” 6.Restore dignity and worth to those in poverty through meaningful work, because “the poor matter to God, and work reflects His glory.” 7.Integrate worship on Sunday with one’s 9 to 5, Monday to Friday occupation, since both are a means of participation in God’s “restoration of all things to Himself.” 8.View all of humanity with respect (regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation) as image-bearers of God. 9.Address the “why” of education in meaningful ways that exalt the life of the mind as we fulfill our chief end: “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Practical expressions of faith are a powerful apologetic, and Restoring All Things translates a theology of redemption into meaningful steps that any believer can tackle. Many items from the “To-Do Lists” at the end of each chapter have found their way onto my to-do list for my family. For example, I want to watch “Shark Tank” with my kids to encourage their already blossoming entrepreneurial spirit. I want to read several of the books the authors recommend. (More information about one that I’ve already read and reviewed is available here.) I want to continue to invite those on the fringes into the circle of warmth and acceptance available in Christ-centered community. Restoring All Things is a call to the classic understanding of vocation which is masterfully defined by Frederick Buechner: “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” One person’s deep gladness can transform a family or a faith community into an army of fire bearers. Let the restoration begin! This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.
The first few lines of the introduction let you know you're in for something interesting. Why, the authors ask, is God so into 're' words, such as resurrection, restoration, and redemption? What does this tell us about God's heart, that these are the ways He relates to His creation? When we Christians look at the culture/geopolitical landscape, do we adopt a different set of "re" words? Do we tend towards reaction, rejection, and resistance? Could we take a page from God's book and replace those negative concepts with something like renewal, revival, and reconciliation? And wouldn't that make our witness clearer and our efforts more fruitful? This book starts off by asking some worldview questions, and they're foundational. What is the world? (Accident, Illusion, or Creation?) And what are we? (Images of God with a responsibility to fellow man, or chance arrivals in a chaotic galaxy?) And what we we to do with the world? (Do we have a role, do we have a purpose, can we make a difference, is it worth trying?) The heart of this book is stories of people who decided to make a change, to extend their hands and roll up their sleeves. What I love most is that these people looked at the same disturbing news stories that the rest of us saw. Yet instead of seeing all the wrongs as evidence that Earth spins abandoned on its axis, they looked and said, "My God is restoring all things. How do I participate?" What made the difference between disgusted resignation or apathetic acceptance and creative intervention? The Gospel. So we read about Friend's Ministry, a productive 61 acre community garden. Their mission? "To give people a dignified place to work in exchange for help." Gardening contracts trade 37.5 hours of work for the payment of a bill up to $300.00. Along the way, gardeners form friendships and mentoring relationships, and learn life and job skills. We read about New Horizon's Ministry, which serves an otherwise invisible demographic in Colorado. If a woman gives birth while in prison, the state takes her child. On the surface, this seems to make sense. However, the deadline to reclaim the child falls within most prison sentences. So the mother forfeits her child, losing any chance to rebuild her family. That's where New Horizon's steps in. They take the children, and place them in loving Mennonite homes. When the mother is released, she too is cared for and shepherded as she reintegrates. If all goes well, mother and child begin a new life together surrounded by a great support system. We read about The Rare Genomics Institute, a group dedicated to sequencing the genome of people with rare diseases. They service mostly children whose diseases are unknown and so far incurable. By isolating any genetic abnormalities, they hope to give researchers and doctors more information to work with. The "ordinary people" come in because the services are crowd funded - the $7,500 procedures are paid for by donations. The authors even discuss the arts world, and point to the way song and story and image all convey truth, goodness, and beauty. All in all, this is a good read. It's a reminder to think before we begin pontificating about the decay of our culture- after all, there's more than a few chances to do good right there amid the bad. Or as one guy said, "Let your light shine before men, so that they can praise our Father in heaven." I thank Baker Publishing for providing a review copy.