Broken-Down House

Paul Tripp has recently written this book in order to address the problem of how believers are supposed to live in a world that is broken-down. As usual, Paul offers much helpful counsel that is solidly biblical.

Paul starts out with the idea that the vision of faith sees the possibilities, whereas the lack of faith sees only what is there, and lacks the necessary imagination to think that the world could be any different than it is. This does not lead to unrealistic idealism. On the contrary, it leads us in two directions simultaneously: to see the world as what it is: a broken-down house. But then it also pushes us in an eschatological direction: it will not always be like this, and God can use us to change the world. This book is for the person to whom the world has become gray, dull, boring (in other words, they have succumbed to accepting the world as it is, rather than seeing the broken world with the eyes of faith). The book, in other words, if full of life and hope, because it is full of grace and reliance on the power of God.

Another very encouraging thing I saw in this book is that there was a heightened emphasis on the church. For some time now, one of my primary concerns with the CCEF folk has been a lack of emphasis on the public means of grace (Word and Sacrament). What they say is almost always biblical, but it is what they do not say that has concerned me. This book has an important step in the right direction in emphasizing the importance of the church. However, it still did not quite go far enough in this direction, in my opinion. The church is there, quite strongly, actually, but primarily because of the emphasis on community. Now, being involved in a community of fellow believers is not only essential to the Christian life, but it is also essential to Tripp’s argument. I have no quibble with his saying this. However, I would merely want to ask this question: where are the public means of grace in the CCEF paradigm? Where are the public Word and the public Sacrament as the primary means of grace that God uses not only as converting ordinances, but also as discipling ordinances? I would love to see one of the CCEF guys write about this, and the importance of this for Christian counseling. I have been a fan of their approach to Christian counseling from the get-go. So, this criticism should definitely not be seen as nixing the value of the book or the general approach, which I think is extremely helpful (Paul’s class on counseling, which I took at WTS, was one of the more helpful classes I took during my four years there).

So, take up and read, especially if you lack a sense of purpose in life, and feel that life is boring and gray. The book will challenge you to think redemptively about the world.


  1. Martin said,

    July 23, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Hi Lane,

    Long time Greenbaggins reader – seldom (if ever) commenter.

    I appreciate your review of this book. I’m halfway through and so far have found it edifying. Am I right in thinking that the church emphasis, and lack thereof, comes in part 2?


  2. greenbaggins said,

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Chapter 12, Pursuing Community, is where Paul gets into the realm of church.

  3. Roy said,

    July 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Emphasis on church membership characterized Adams’ printed works and influence. Ref, eg, the Journal of Pastoral Theology (not sure it has current editions), Christian Counselor’s Manual, Pulpit Speech, the entries of his current blog.

    I’ve sometimes wondered if there is a divergence of opinion between the current CCEF folks and the CCEF first generation.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    July 24, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Roy, you could be right. Personally, I think Paul Tripp has a very high view of the church, but doesn’t always let that influence counseling in terms of the solution to problems.

  5. Martin said,

    July 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Thanks, Lane – I’ll be reading Ch. 12 with a weather eye!


  6. Lou G. said,

    July 25, 2009 at 10:42 am

    (Regular reader, but I think this is the first time I’ve commented)

    I’ve just started reading the book, but don’t you guys think that to a large degree the Broken Down House that is being restored to future glory is also a good metaphor for the church? I have a very high view of church in terms of how God miraculously uses His ordained means of grace to reflect His glory and accomplish His purposes, but I also know from many, many years of experience, that the Bride is not what she could be, should be and — absolutely Will Be. Just a thought… Thanks for all your great articles :)

  7. Shawn said,

    July 31, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Thanks for your review Lane, and for all your work on your blog. Like you, I have a very high regard for the work being done by CCEF. I have found their books to be extremely helpful in many ways. However, I too have wished that their paradigm would place greater emphasis upon the public means of grace. Thanks again!

  8. Samuel Conner said,

    August 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    It seems to me that, to the extent I understand it, the CCEF model of sanctification-in-community is seeking to redress a perceived surrender by the Church of the ministry of face-to-face pastoral counseling (a surrender to the secular mental health establishment and an emerging christian extra-ecclesial mental health establishment.) Their motto is “restoring Christ to counseling and counseling to the Church.” It may be that the deficit that you perceive is not actually present in their theology of sanctification. It may be simply that they are emphasizing what they perceive to be deficient in the present Church. They perceive a deficiency in private ministry of the Word and are seeking to redress that.

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