24/05/2006

Who Switched the Price Tags? (by Tony Campolo)

'Who Switched the Price Tags?' is 20 years old, but still mostly relevant. Tony Campolo, a fairly outspoken American Christian, uses the premises that God wants us to enjoy life, and that we've got a lot of our values upside-down. He has a point, and I felt the book was well-written and quite thought-provoking in places.

However, I didn't agree with all he said. That we should avoid legalism is fine; that we should put time and energy into our marriages and family life is of course good advice. That we are part of the Body of Christ, like it or not, and that church fellowships should care for each other and enjoy social times as well as worship is also correct and probably needs to be said repeatedly.

On the other hand, I didn't really agree that 'traditions' are necessarily a good thing. Indeed, his arguments (that 'traditional' churches have a lot of loyal members, who threaten to leave when a new minister introduces new ideas) seems rather flawed to me. What is the point of hanging onto church members who are there simply because they like traditions? He suggests that families need to build similar rituals and traditions to hold onto their children as they grow up. I would hate to think that my children only came home for the sake of traditions. Relationships, in both the home and the church, are vital and while there may sometimes be value in traditions, they can equally disguise the importance of the primary relationships.

Nor am I convinced by the author's recommendation to take risks. Yes, we shouldn't get too caught up in security and avoid all possibility of anything new. On the other hand, some risks are simply foolish. There's a happy mid-ground.

Still, I think the book is worth reading for anyone feeling as if the world's values are upside down - and perhaps those of the church, too. There's no need to agree with everything in a book in order for it to be interesting and useful.

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