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Book Review: Set Apart — calling a worldly church to a Godly life

May 6, 2007

Who can deny … that the evangelical enterprise has become worldly, that materialism grips the church, that pleasure-seeking dominates us, that evangelicals watch sensuality and violence like everyone else, that immodesty is de jure, that voyeurism and pornography and sexual laxity and divorce are on the rise, and that we, like Lot, could find that Sodom has been born anew in our own homes. God help us if while decrying sin, we are sprinting headlong after it.

We must lay this to heart: A worldly church cannot and will not reach the world. — R. Kent Hughes, Set Apart

In Set Apart (available at amazon.com), R Kent Hughes calls our attention to a serious problem in the modern church. He cites multiple sources and calls upon the reader’s own experience to prove that the church has become contaminated by the world. Speaking from the perspective of an evangelical preacher, he urges the church to be “Set Apart to Save.”

In demonstrating the contamination of the church by the world, he calls on us to become set apart from the world in nine areas: materialism, hedonism, viewing sensuality, violence and voyeurism, sexual conduct, modesty, pluralism, marriage, and commitment to the church. On materialism, he shows that the spending habits and debt problems of Christians are no different from those of non-Christians. He shows that Christians pursue the same twisted, dysfunctional pleasures that the world pursues. We watch the same sensual television shows. We entertain ourselves with the same violence. We are immersed in the same warped attitudes toward sex and marriage. Rather than taking a stand against the corrupt values of society, we have blended in. Society tells us that anyone who preaches one true way, to the exclusion of others, is a narrow-minded bigot and a social pariah. So we have kept quiet. Some of us have even begun to believe what society is saying.

Hughes points us to another road. By saying “No” to the world we can say “Yes” to the blessed life to which God calls us. Instead of distorted and dysfunctional pleasures that do not satisfy, we can fully enjoy and participate in the pleasures prepared for us by God. In doing so, we can be a light to the world.

The Restoration Movement churches need to listen to this message. We are immersed in the same culture that Hughes describes, and are taking on the characteristics of that society. If we are to be a light to the world, we must be different. We must be set apart. A worldly church needs to be called to a Godly life–first for our own salvation, but also for the salvation of the world.

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3 comments

  1. Alan, Thank you for your review. I was very challenged about my “set apartness” when my wife and I spent time in / around an Anabaptist community. Although the Amish and Mennonites were certainly distinct on the outside, (clothes, horse and buggy, etc…) it was the evidence of their inside which struck me. They and their children demonstrated respect, humility, modesty, temperance and more. It was not their clothes which set them apart but their lifestyle and hearts. The experience has forever changed what I consider to be “set apart”. PhilRestorationUnity.com


  2. Hi Phil,I have immense respect for the Amish and Mennonites. The response of the Amish community to the schoolhouse shooting has been nothing short of breathtaking. A similar attitude was demonstrated by a Mennonite school whose baseball team was involved in a horrific bus wreck in Atlanta. Their convictions about forgiveness are amazing–a higher calling for us.


  3. Thanks for calling my attention to this work Alan. It sounds like a work I need to read. Blessings brother,Bobby Valentine



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