Review: Unfashionable, by Tullian Tchividjian


First impressions: Tullian Tchividjian is a pretty boy, with his top button undone and his hair slightly spiky in front. His back jacket photo on his new book Unfashionable, actually made me suspicious.

But then Billy Graham's grandson and the new senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., launches into his call to the church to live "unfashionably." Goateed pastors singing with praise bands in church coffee shops be gone! Go to the Bible and recall how unfashionable Jesus was. Get your eschatology straight (the earth won't go up in smoke; Jesus will redeem every corner of it, and He invites us to be part of His redemptive work). Go be a redemptive actor, musician, or shoe salesman in a diverse church community that 1) speaks the Truth in love, 2) grieves over sin instead of watering it down or haughtily criticizing it, 3) gives generously of time, talents, and money, 4) builds members up with encouragement, 5) practices radical kindness, and 6) extols love, not lust.

Tchividjian (pronounced "cha-vi-jin") quotes from the giants (dead and living), from Charles Spurgeon to Abraham Kuyper to Francis Schaeffer. And even the edgy Shane Claiborne. He almost quotes others excessively, but it is clear Tchividjian is well read, and in good theological company.

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Tchividjian is careful, but he is challenging some of his Coral Ridge predecessor's tactics. The late D. James Kennedy was a very rationalistic apologist (that's a good thing---but he could have borrowed more from Cornelius Van Til, as Tchividjian does). Kennedy also zeroed in on redeeming American politics. Tchividjian wisely debunks the idea that our Founding Fathers were all orthodox Christians (p. 119), and he argues that Christians have more redemptive potential in other areas, such as the arts.

A friend and I are wondering if Tchividjian wrote this book in part to introduce Coral Ridge folk---who are already well versed in Evangelism Explosion, Calvinism, and rationalistic apologetics---to the Creation, Fall, Redemption paradigm and the call to redeem every area of life. Of course, along with many other PCA 30-somethings, I'm waiting for Tchividjian to get more radical with his redemptive living suggestions---all that he writes is fashionable to us---but the Coral Ridge crowd probably isn't ready for that yet. Meanwhile, we'll be reading Lauren Winner and Wendell Berry and listening to Tim Keller's sermons and Derek Webb's musical tirades.


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