Thursday, June 30, 2005

This Week's Christian Carnival is Online

This week's Christian Carnival is up over at ChristWeb. As always, there are lots of great posts to take a look at. Why not head over there now to see what's on the menu for this week?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Book Review: Jesus

In his new book Jesus: An Intimate Portrait of the Man, His Land and His People, author Leith Anderson takes a new approach to understanding the person of Jesus Christ and the full impact of his ministry.

Anderson places the events depicted in the gospels in chronological order in an attempt to construct a complete biography of Jesus. He also provides numerous historical facts throughout the book that help the reader understand the context, both culturally and historically, for Jesus' ministry.

The book doesn't just focus on the events of Jesus' life, his teachings, and the miracles he performs. Anderson also provides insight into the reaction of various people groups and governments to help the reader gain a better understanding of the full impact of Jesus' life on earth.

This book is a terrific resource particularly for someone who wants to be introduced to Jesus who may not have studied the gospels previously. It's also a great resource for believers as Anderson's research helps the believer gain a greater understanding of the full impact of His ministry.

The only shortcoming of the book is the absence of any biblical references throughout the book. Someone who is familiar with the gospels will have no trouble finding the biblical events depicted in the book. However, someone who does not have a certain degree of biblical literacy may be frustrated by the lack of scriptural references. Personally, I didn't have a problem with this but it could be a stumbling block for some readers.

Overall, I found this book enjoyable to read and would recommend it to anyone who wants a fresh perspective on the ministry of Jesus.

This book was provided to me by Mind and Media through Bethany House. No consideration was received for this review apart from the book.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Linda Foley Won't Back Down

Media Slander has been following the story of Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild, who recently accused the military of deliberately targeting journalists. Rather than apologizing for her remarks, she instead attacks her critics in a recently published statement. Media Slander has responded by fisking her statement. They are also calling for people to write to the individual Guild chapters to express outrage over Ms. Foley's remarks.

While it's no secret that many journalists oppose the war on terror that does not give them the right to make slanderous accusations against the U. S. Military. As my colleague Jim points out in a previous post, anti-war remarks from the Left have historically done more harm than good. Ms. Foley should apologize immediately. Based on her most recent statement, it doesn't appear that will happen anytime soon.

Update: The Augusta Free Press has a column today entitled Potty Mouth Politics that directly addresses over-the-top rhetoric such as what we have seen from Ms. Foley. (Hat tip: The Blue State Conservatives)

This is cross-posted at Stones Cry Out.

Friday, June 24, 2005

What is a Healthy Church?

Over the past year our church has gone through a number of changes that have prompted us to take a closer look at the biblical foundations for the church. One of the resources I found during this time that has been particularly helpful is a booklet entitled Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. I have summarized the booklet in my latest essay at Two or Three entitled What is a Healthy Church? Take a look and let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Book Review: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek is an indispensible guide to apologetics that you will want to have in your library.

Geisler and Turek start with an innovative approach to apologetics that they refer to as the "Road-Runner tactic" to equip the reader to be able to dismantle self-defeating statements they are likely to encounter in trying to reach unbelievers. This simple tactic makes the process of evangelism much less forboding than in might seem especially in trying to reach our postmodern culture.

Rather than assuming that their audience believes in the authority of the Bible they instead demonstrate that there is truth, that God exists and that objective evidence apart from the Bible shows that God exists. In fact, they don't get into the truth of the Bible until the second half of the book.

By taking this approach to the issue of God's existence, they recognize that our postmodern culture is biblically illiterate and must be shown that the Bible is true and trustworthy before relying on the Scripture as evidence of God's existence.

After reviewing all the evidence, even the most commited atheist will see that it actually takes less faith to believe that God exists and that Jesus Christ is who he claims to be than it would to continue to deny God's existence.

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is a book that you will want to read and keep on hand as a resource in reaching out to unbelievers.

This book has been provided to me by Mind and Media through Crossway Publishers.

Get the Mind & Media Podcast

Mind and Media is offering a podcast of author interviews. To get the podcast, click over to the Mind and Media homepage or

Becoming a Crying Stone

I'm pleased to announce that I am joining the team over at Stones Cry Out starting today. I'm honored to be part of this elite group of bloggers on one of the premier blogs in the 'sphere today. All five of the original members have been tremendous friends of this blog and have been very supportive in helping me find my own voice in the blogosphere.

Also joining the team is Doug Payton from Considerettes. Doug is another fine blogger and will make a great addition to the team.

We expect there to be more additions in the near future so check in frequently to see what's happening.

I'll also still be contributing at Two or Three as well as posting stuff here on a regular basis.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support and prayers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Christian Carnival Road Trip

Dee at In the Spirit of Grace takes us on a road trip for this week's Christian Carnival. As always there are a number of great posts on a wide variety of topics to read. Take time to check out the great links in this week's Carnival. Thanks to Dee for doing such a great job with the Carnival.

Monday, June 20, 2005

PCA Rejects School Resolution

The Presbyterian Church In America rejected a resolution presented to their General Assembly urging parents to remove their children from public schools. (Hat tip: Stones Cry Out) A similar resolution is pending before the Southern Baptist Convention.

This is a difficult issue for parents and churches alike. The Dawn Treader has some thoughtful comments on this debate and examines both sides of the issue. Be sure to read the comments as there is a very interesting debate taking place.

Friday, June 17, 2005

PCA Joins Call to Pull Children Out of Public Schools

A Tennessee PCA pastor has introduced a resolution at their General Assembly that resembles the resolution being introduced at the Southern Baptist Convention encouraging parents to remove their children from public schools (Hat tip: Two or Three):

A Tennessee pastor is calling on fellow members of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to "remove their children from public schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education." Pastor Steven Warhurst of Kingsport introduced the resolution on the floor of the PCA's General Assembly in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The resolution states, among other things, that "the public school system does not offer a Christian education, but officially claims to be 'neutral' with regard to Christ," and that "the public schools are by law humanistic and secular in their instruction" (emphasis in original). In response, the resolution encourages PCA officers and members to remove their children from the public school system and, instead, give them a Christian education "for the glory of God and the good of Christ's church."

Warhurst's resolution also states that "sending thousands of PCA children as 'missionaries' to their unbelieving teachers and classmates has failed to contribute to increasing holiness in public schools." The pastor says he grew up attending public schools, but that when he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, he had to "unlearn" many of the things he had been taught.

"We are people who drank heavily from the trough of state education and realized that it's poisonous," Warhurst says, "and now we've found cisterns of living water, so to speak -- and we'd love other people to join us. I'd love to see every family in the Presbyterian Church in America take their children out of the public schools and train them in the fear and admonition of the Lord."

Warhurst, whose church consists mostly of home-schooling families, says Christian pastors have been silent on the issue far too long. He thinks he knows why that is.

"I think one reason pastors don't speak out against public schools or encourage Christian education is because people will get mad and leave [their church]. That's probably the primary reason: fear," he says. Additional factors, he says, could be "some ignorance of the public school system and what is really going on there" and "a lack of understanding of the Christian worldview."

I suspect this will not be the last we hear on this subject. As parents and churches become more aware of what's really being taught in public schools and how their curriculum is directly in opposition to Chrisitan principles expect the calls to remove children from public schools to grow louder.

Mind and Media interview with Nancy Pearcey

Stacy Harp at Mind and Media has a terrific interview with Nancy Pearcey, author of the book Total Truth (which I reviewed here). Take a few minutes to listen to this conversation on the issue of developing a Christian worldview and hear her insights into this wonderful book.

I've Been Tagged

Stacy Harp from Mind and Media has tagged me to answer a few questions on books. I love to read (I am a book reviewer, after all) so I welcome the opportunity to share a few thoughts on some of my favorite reads.

What is the total number of books you have owned?

Literally hundreds. Books are a tremendous weakness for me. It's been that way for many years. I've either sold or given away many but still have too many to count in my house. Thankfully I have to drive some distance to get to a decent bookstore. Otherwise I would be in big trouble. Although online shopping makes it easier to buy books there is nothing that compares with spending hours browsing through a bookstore looking for the next great book to read.

What is the last book you bought?

Since I became a Mind and Media reviewer, I haven't had to buy many books because I get so many for free. The last book I bought was Why Is the Foul Pole Fair? by Vince Staten which is a fascinating look at the minutiae of baseball that people don't typically think about such as what goes into the design of a ballpark or the history of trading cards or the origin of the press box or how a baseball is made. It's a must read for any true baseball fan.

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read was Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey which I reviewed for Mind and Media. This is a book that anyone who is serious about developing a solid Christian faith will want to own. I suspect this is a book I will be reading many times in the future and be able to get something fresh from it each time I read it.

What are five books that mean a lot to you?

This is a tough question to answer only because I would have a hard time narrowing it down to just five books. Apart from the Bible, I guess it would have to be the following:

1. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
This was one of the first Christian books I bought after I accepted Christ and remains one of my favorites to this day. Lewis does an excellent job of exposing the tactics of the enemy through the correspondence between Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. It 's a fine example of a book that can be read multiple times and still seem fresh.

2. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
If I had to choose one of the Narnia books as my favorite this would be it (at least so far - I'm still reading the Chronicles to my daughters). One the most wonderful aspects of this book is the relationship between Lucy Pevensie (she is the first of the four Pevensies to discover Narnia) and Aslan, the lion who represents Christ in the books. Lucy has a sense of wonder in her when she is around Aslan that seems foreign to many Christians today. In many ways I wish my faith were more like that of Lucy's - a willingness to be awed by the power of Christ.

3. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
This is one of the few books that I can really label as "life-changing". That's a term that is too easily thrown around these days but this book really lives up to that claim. This book has helped our marriage more than any other we have read. It's one I don't hesitate to recommend to other people because of Dr. Chapman's ability to cut to the chase on what really makes a relationship tick. This book will help you understand how you can best show love to your mate as well as understanding how you need to be shown love as well.

4. Choose the Life by Bill Hull
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote that "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ". Bill Hull explains that modern Christianity is much like the Christianity that Bonhoeffer describes. He then goes on to explain what can be done to develop true followers of Christ: disciples and not just believers. This is a must read for anyone who is serious about growing deeper in their relationship with Christ.

5. The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
This fairytale is more than just another children's book. It is at its heart the gospel presented in very simple terms. I was first introduced to this book when I was in college (long before I imagined I would have a family of my own) and it has been one of my favorite stories ever since.

Now it's my turn to tag a few other bloggers. I will tag Portia Rediscovered, The Anchoress, News from the Great Beyond, The Dawn Treader, and Mark Daniels. Let's see what some of their favorite books might be.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Christian Carnival LXXIV

I'm honored to have the opportunity to host this week's Christian Carnival. Thanks to everyone who submitted posts to this week's Carnival. There are a wide range of subjects covered this week and plenty of great blogs to check out. Special thanks to Dory at Wittenberg Gate for allowing me to host the Carnival. Here are this week's Carnival submissions:

Adrian Warnock is calling all Christian bloggers and is compiling a comprehensive list of Christian blogs. He's already got nearly 3000 blogs on his list. He also hints at some exciting news in the Blogdom of God that is coming soon.

Cindy Swanson at Notes in the Key of Life interviews Christian author Lisa Samson, whose new book, "Club Sandwich," deals with the struggles of caring for aging parents while still raising your own children. Lisa handles the topic with humor, charm and grace.

reasons why takes a look at Isaiah 30 to see if there is guidance for hearing God's voice. Does God have an individual will for believers or does he lead by subjective inner impressions?

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman presents Stones Kids Cry Out which compares Jesus's statement about stones crying out with the singing of children about God when they have no idea what they're singing.

World of Sven has a study of Mark 2:13-17 which looks at why Jesus ate with sinners and outcasts. How might this reshape our ideas about God's attitude to sinners and how we are to live holy lives?

Sierra Faith says that if you visit Africa, visit a church — a church that is alive with The Hope that transforms and has defeated Evil.

How can the church effectively reach our post-modern culture? The Regulator deals with this question in Regaining Our Virtue in Post-modern Times.

PlaidBerry also has some thoughts about Postmodernism in Postmodern Medicine - Take Two.

faithCommons asks By What Authority? which he contends is the most consequential yet unimportant question ever asked of, or by believers.

Oh, How I Love Jesus has a post entitled Two Words that is a testimony of faith in the face of an employer who was and may still be an unbeliever.

Between Sundays writes about Preparations, which deals with both spiritual preparations and little things like having clean socks.

There's nothing like a good story. In the Musings of Micah Girl, Micah thinks about the making of a good story while discussing everyone from Garrison Keillor to Jan Karon and everything from ministry to homeschooling in her post, The Power of Story.

Moral Relavitism: Protestant and Catholic Perspectives is a conversation concerning moral relativism from differing perspecitves, including a Protestant viewpoint by Monk of Vita ab Alto and a Catholic viewpoint by Joe at DeoOmnis Gloria .

Diane at Crossroads says that many in the post-modern generation believe denominationalism is a thing of the past. But are they perhaps missing an important point about denominations?

Hammertime at Team Hammer's Musings tackles the issue of Biblical Inerrancy and has some very thoughtful analysis on this subject.

Richard of dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos traces the early history of the growth of Christianity in a new series starting with a post entitled Success in the Cities.

Incarnatus est writes that authentic Christianity means being part of a church in his post entitled Just me and Jesus? Being "saved" is not an individual matter but involves being part of a community of believers.

Rev-Ed at Attention Span says we are rich but we want more. In life. In church. In everything. We ignore the fact that we're spoiled rotten.

Matthew Anderson at Mere-Orthodoxy wrestles with evolutionary theory and intelligent design in a post entitled Evolutionary Theory Confusions.

Bruce at sprucegoose has a review of a new book entitled "The Barbarian Way" which he says challenges us to live passionately from from our hearts and less from our minds.

Lance at Ragged Edges continues his series on how faith and work intersect in God at Work (Part 2). He looks at Jesus' miracle of feeding the 5000 and draws out five actions that success requires.

Hannah Im wonders whether the Parable of the Good American would be anything like the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jay at DeoOmnisGloria looks at why Protestants and Catholics have different Bibles.

Hornswoggled has news that a Jesus Seminar II is being planned by pastors of some of the largest churches in America.

Dr. Bob of The Doctor Is In marks his one year blogging aniversary with a reflective post entitled One Year Ago. He has some fascinating observations on blogging that I can identify with.

Gladmanly reflects on Paul's Apostleship from Romans 1:1-7 and how it relates to recent events where he is serving in Iraq.

Douglas Bass, who blogs at Apprehension, has been reflecting on the prayer of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.

Robin at I Was Just Thinking... says it shouldn't be a mystery as to whether someone is a Christian. It should be apparent by looking at how they live their life.

Tim at Callmeteem has some advice for fellow preachers in a post entitled Humility and the preacher.

Katy at Fallible thinks that men haven't changed much since the days of Abraham (and she may be right, too).

Martin at Sun and Shield admits he's hooked on Free Cell but still manages to find some life lessons in his addiction.

Phil at Another Man's Meat reflects on his personal experience with the welfare state and believes he has found the antidote: freedom.

A Pentitent Blogger wrestles with the issue of giving in a thoughtful post entitled Preaching for Dollars.

Technogypsy asks whatever happened to the Christian sin of usury?

Respectful Insolence responds to a 14 year-old commenter on a recent post of his regarding Frank Peretti and Evolution.

Beneath the Dirty Hood has submitted a list of 15 ways to get depressed. Make sure to read #15 carefully (including all the links).

A Nutt's View takes a fresh look at the Shield of Faith and offers some interesting insights I hadn't noticed before.

Wallo World has a fascinating short story on good people and heaven entitled "Knockin' On Heaven's Door".

A Physicist's Perspective gives an exhortation from Psalm 119 on how we ought to study theology -- not just for intellectual improvement, but so that we may believe and obey God's Word.

Better Bibles Blog reflects on the life of Dr. Kenneth Taylor, the man behind The Living Bible, who passed away this past week.

Dadmanly shares his struggles with despair and sadness and how God used them to set up a divine appointment for him in a post entitled "It is Well With My Soul".

Kim from Sharing Spirit writes in The Secret of Life is Death that by dying to our self and being crucified with Christ, that is when we really begin to live.

The Northern 'Burbs Blog kicks off a series on the Biblical view of the enviroment in A Green Bible - For Real.

Ales Rarus reports on the fisking of a Washington Post article about so-called "non-controversial" human embryonic stem cells.

In a post that deviates from her usual style, Paula at Listen In offers a piece called "Cookie Monster." The story, about a struggling Christian, is short and simple. Its message is not.

Mark Olson at Pseudo-Polymath presents Plumbing the Carnival Crowd for Ethical Advice. Let's see if we can offer him some help with a sticky situation. the Outer... has a re-examination of the story of Mary and Martha. Traditionally, the story juxtaposes serving with listening to Jesus. He suggests an alternative view.

all kinds of time... has some food for thought, a brief review of the constant usage of food in the Bible, and how we should be using it today as well.

notes from the front lines shares how a youth baseball league coach's innocent e-mail teaches a father a valuable lesson about God's love in "I Think We Can Come Back".

Author JD Wetterling’s new blog, Midweekly Reality Check responds to a recent guest column in The Wall Street Journal entitled, “It’s Hard to Be Easy,” that asserts “there is no real escape…the simple life [is] a myth.” JD refutes that by quoting Christ: “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” and demonstrates it in his own life: “It’s Not Hard to Be Easy”.

At Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels, a post entitled Welcoming the Frenzied, notes that we are surrounded by crowds of people who are "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Our call is to welcome them, as Jesus welcomes us. The piece also contains three practical suggestions on how we can do that.

Viewpoint undertakes a deconstruction of a column by Reverend Dr. N. Graham Standish in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and reveals the widened cultural divide between the left and right following the last election.

Derek Gilbert of Weapon of Mass Distraction shares his experiences in talk radio in a post entitled UFOs: New Spin, Old Idea.

Horn+Swoggled takes another humorous look at American Christianity -- and where it's going bizarrely off-track in a post entitled Dating Site Takes Parable of the Sower Seriously.

Thanks again to everyone for the great submissions. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as your host for this week. Next week's Carnival will be hosted by In the Spirit of grace.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Happy Blogiversary Michelle Malkin

Today marks Michelle Malkin's one year blogiversary. It doesn't seem like it's been only a year since I was reading her blog long before I got started. She has a terrific post highlighting some of the best moments from her first year of exceptional blogging. Her blog is one I check several times a day as she always seems to have something new and fresh that she is discussing.

Congratulations, Michelle. Keep up the great blogging!

How You Can Get Free Books

There are still opportunities for bloggers to become Mind and Media Reviewers. Just click on the graphic above to go the Mind and Media website to find out more about how you can get free books.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Women Should Embrace the Blogosphere

Friend of this blog Lorie Byrd has a guest column over at encouraging women to embrace the blogosphere. As Lorie correctly points out, more women are moving into the blogosphere. I believe that's a good thing as women often bring insights to issues that many men (like myself) totally miss.

Lorie is without a doubt one of the finest and most prolific bloggers out there. In addition to her own fine blog Byrd Droppings she contributes at Polipundit, Confirm Them, and Media Slander. If you haven't had a chance to check out these blogs you should. Make sure to bookmark them and visit them regularly.

Congratulations to Lorie on getting her column published. I hope this is the first of many of your columns we get to read.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Coming Soon: Christian Carnival

I'm honored to be hosting next week's Christian Carnival. If you want to participate, please e-mail a link to your post to Any post written before June 15th is eligible for submission. If you've never participated before and would like some guidance on what can be submitted, check out this post over at Wittenberg Gate.

DVD Review: Veil of Deception

Recently I had the opportunity to view Veil of Deception: The Impact of Same Sex Marriage on American Youth. The DVD is produced by Mission: America which is a ministry dedicated to educating Christians on the dangers of homosexual activism and their attempts to destroy the biblical foundations of our country. The purpose of the documentary is to show how acceptance of homosexual marriage will lead to the destruction of families and our youth.

The film does an excellent job of showing how various homosexual advocacy groups have managed to infiltrate public schools by the establishment of Gay/Straight Alliance chapters and other clubs that promote homosexuality among middle and high school students. It also shows how groups such as the ACLU have allied themselves with homosexual groups in order to force school systems into not only allowing such groups on school campuses but force them to provide tolerance education. School systems that have dared to resist such programs face the ACLU's wrath through litigation.

The film also brings to light the involvement of the NEA in advocating homosexual education in public schools and documents the story of one delegate who when she raised concerns about the NEA's activities was chastised for objecting to their involvement. Although the NEA does not specifically come out and endorse homosexual behavior, they do endorse tolerance education such as their National Bullying Awareness Campaign that promotes programs that theoretically operate under the guise of promoting safety of students but end up allowing homosexual advocates to use these programs as a way to promote their agenda.

The film even documents how some cities are allowing public funds to be used for the establishment of homosexual youth centers where homosexual teens can go and engage in all sorts of homosexual behavior with government approval. The filmmakers specifically site the city of San Diego's homosexual youth center as an example.

Although the filmmakers correctly assert that acceptance of homosexual marriage will ultimately destroy families and lead to wider acceptance of homosexual behaviors as normal, they offer little in the way of statistics or other research data to backup their assertions. As a result, the film is unlikely to persuade those who do not already have strong objections to homosexual marriage that it is as grave a threat as the filmmakers portray it. However, the film does a very good job of educating concerned parents of the tactics used to push the homosexual agenda particularly within the public schools. As a result, this film is probably of more value as an educational resource to parents and teachers who are concerned about homosexual advocacy in public schools and promotion of homosexual "rights" by government officials.

This DVD was provided to me by Mind and Media through Mission: America. No other consideration was received for this review apart from the DVD.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I Am David

It's rare these days that I run across a movie that I can enthusiastically endorse. However, "I Am David" is one of those movies that I consider a must-see film.

The movie is based on Anne Holm's 1963 novel and chronicles the story of 12 year-old David who escapes from a labor camp in Bulgaria in 1952 and sets out on a mysterious journey to Denmark. David has no idea what he will encounter along the way. In fact, having spent most of his life in the labor camp, he has to learn along the way how to trust other people and discover who he really is at the same time.

Although the movie has outstanding performances from Jim Caviezel and Joan Plowright, it is really Ben Tibber who steals the show with his portrayal of David.

While not appropriate for very young children (due to thematic elements), this is a great film for older children and families. Many of the film's themes will make for great family discussion.

"I Am David" is a true jewel of a film and one that everyone should make an effort to see.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Book Review - Total Truth

For the past several days, I've been blogging Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from It's Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey. This project has been unlike any other I've undertaken as a reviewer for Mind and Media.

From the outset I suspected that this book would probably be one of the most important books I had read in recent memory. I was not disappointed. Ms. Pearcey has written a terrific book that is a must-have for Christians.

This is also a book that I can envision reading over and over again and still be able to come away with something new each time I read it. As I was blogging the book I realized that I was really only scratching the surface of what was in it. There's much more to the book than what I have written about. The fault is mine for not grasping more of what she had to say.

I am very much like the typical evangelical that she describes in the book. While I have a robust faith I have not fully developed a biblical worldview. I have not spent much time reading serious Christian literature such as the works of Francis Schaffer, R. C. Sproul, John McArthur, or John Piper. I have read some C. S. Lewis but that's been mostly his fiction. I haven't read many books by Luther, Calvin, or Augustine. As a result, I'm not as well equipped as I should be in the area of apologetics. Thankfully, Total Truth provides a great place to start and has encouraged me to read more of the classics of Christian literature.

Ms. Pearcey has written a thoroughly enjoyable book on a very difficult subject. She has carefully researched her topic and has provided tremendous insight into the current state of evangelical Christianity. I encourage you to get this book and read it for yourself. You will be thankful that you did.

No consideration has been received for this review. The book has been provided to me by Mind and Media through a generous gift from Crossway, publishers of Total Truth.

Entries in the Total Truth series:

Blogging Total Truth

Total Truth - Part 1 - What's In a Worldview?

Total Truth - Part 2 - Starting at the Beginning

Total Truth - Part 3 - How We Lost Our Minds

Total Truth - Part 4 - What's Next? Living It Out

Update 6/13/05: I received the following e-mail today from Nancy Pearcey:

Dear Tom,

Thank you for drawing my attention to your excellent review of Total Truth. I am honored to see such a thoughtful and comprehensvie review. You have described the book's major themes with clarity and force.

Many thanks,
Nancy Pearcey

Nancy R. Pearcey

Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar
World Journalism Institute

Total Truth - Part 4 - What Next? Living It Out

In the final part of her book Total Truth, author Nancy Pearcey asks a critical question: Now that we understand what it means to have a biblical worldview what to do we do with that knowledge? How do we live it out? This excerpt from the book provides a great answer:

Moment by moment, we must learn to say no to sin and worldly motivations. In a world of moral relativism, where everything is reduced to personal choice, simply saying no is in itself a very hard teaching. If it does not seem hard, then we are probably accommodating the world without realizing it. If we are not saying no in ways that bring us to our knees to seek God's enabling power, then it's likely that we are not standing against the sinful system of the world as we ought.

The principle of dying to worldly systems applies beyond obvious sins. In a culture that measures everything in terms of size, success, and influence, we have to say no to these worldly values as well. In a culture that judges people by reputation and achievements, we have to resist the lure of living for professional recognition and advancement. Not that these things are wrong in themselves. But when they fill our hearts and define our motivations, then they become barriers to our relationship with God--which means they become sin for us. As Paul says, anything not of faith is sin, because it blocks our singleminded devotion to God and hinders our growth in holiness. (Total Truth, pg. 356-357)

The challenge for Christians today is to move beyond salvation and into sanctification. It is not enough to simply bring someone to salvation, rather our charge is to teach people to follow Christ in their daily lives at every level and in every situation. Every decision we make, every situation we encounter should be examined through the lens of the biblical worldview. When confronted with a decision we should ask ourselves whether we are making our decision based on worldly wisdom (which is inherently foolish) or on biblical wisdom. Have we consulted the Bible for guidance on how to deal with that situation? Have we prayerfully considered our options before moving forward? Are responding according to cultural norms or biblical mandates? This is what Paul was referring to when he wrote about being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The Christian faith is not simply an emotional conversion experience. It's not just about receiving pardon from our sins by pledging our faith in Jesus Christ. It is about living a life set apart from the world. Jesus has the power not only to save but to change lives as well. It's time for Christians to be living transformed lives. Nothing speaks louder to a fallen world than to see Jesus in each one of us.

Previous entries in this series:

Blogging Total Truth

Total Truth - Part 1 - What's In a Worldview?

Total Truth - Part 2 - Starting at the Beginning

Total Truth - Part 3 - How We Lost Our Minds

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Total Truth - Part 3 - How We Lost Our Minds

In Part 3 of her excellent book Total Truth, author Nancy Pearcey examines the evangelical movement and how it developed. She begins by sharing the all too familiar story of a typical convert who comes to faith in Christ in the midst of emotional turmoil. As Ms. Pearcey explains, an examination of the history of evangelicalism shows that while evangelicals have been successful in creating converts it has lacked the intellectual components necessary to turn those converts into disciples:

Historically, evangelicalism began as a renewal movement within the churches, not as a separate denomination--and that explains why at first it did not develop an independent intellectual tradition. It didn't need to. It could take for granted the inherited theological and ecclesiastical structures within the denominations where it arose. Like the priests before them, evangelicals focused on the personal appropriation of theological teachings like sin and atonement. Their goal was to cultivate a subjective experience of objective biblical truths. As a result, when evangelicalism became dominant within various groups--or when evangelical groups broke away from existing denominations altogether and became independent--they suffered from a certain theological weakness. Evangelical groups tended to downplay the role of theology in favor of practical application such as personal devotion, moral living, and social reform. (Total Truth, pg. 253)

Evangelicalism can trace its roots back to the days before the American Revolution and Ms. Pearcey does an excellent job of providing the historical context for the growth of the movement and the various factors (both positive and negative) that impacted rise of evangelicals in America. Perhaps what is most striking is that the same factors that have historically been negatives for the evangelical movement remain so today. Ms. Pearcey identifies four factors:

A focus on an intense emotional conversion experience. Typically presentations of the gospel will focus on sin and atonement and often use emotion to sway the person to accept faith in Christ. However, once the emotion subsides the person is left lacking for objective, intellectual reasons for committing to faith in Christ. It is the inability to intellectually defend their faith that leads many new converts to discouragement.

The cult of personality. Ms. Pearcey refers to this as the celebrity model of leadership which simply means that people are drawn more to the strong personalities of the evangelists and/or pastors than the person of Christ. Today we see the same phenomenon as Christians are caught up in the celebrity culture (albeit within Christian circles) as much as the culture at large is fascinated with celebrity. One only needs to look at how Christian books are marketed (with a wide array of ancillary materials produced along with the latest blockbuster such as the Left Behind Series, The Prayer of Jabez, or The Purpose Driven Life just to site a few examples) to see this at work. People tend to gravitate towards leaders who inspire them rather than those who teach them.

A deep suspicion of theological learning, especially as embodied in creeds and confessions. While the liberal teachings of some seminaries may make some evangelicals rightly skeptical of theological learning, the fact remains that such learning is a critical part of our intellectual growth as believers.

One only needs to examine the growth of the Emergent Church movement as well as the "seeker friendly" or "seeker sensitive" church to see the intentional moving away from creeds, confessions, and other traditional doctrines that have long been the foundation of the church. One observation that Ms. Pearcey makes is particularly fascinating in light of this movement:

It is a common assumption that, in order to survive, churches must accommodate to the age. But in fact, the opposite is true: In every historical period, the religious groups that grow most rapidly are those that set believers at odds with the surrounding culture. As a general principle, the higher a group's tension with mainstream society, the higher its growth rate. (Total Truth, pg. 261)

An increasingly individualistic view of the church. People become separated from the local congregation by failing to see the value that the community the church has for them. Much of this attitude is a reflection of the revivalists' messages that focused more on the individual and their needs rather than addressing the body of Christ in the local church.

So far, we have seen the importance of developing a sound, biblical worldview in order to be able to defend the Christian faith. We have seen how the rise of Darwinism has lead to a broad acceptance of a naturalistic worldview that has had wide ranging effects beyond the debate over whether creation or evolution is taught in public schools. And we have seen how evangelicals have historically lacked the intellectual tradition to be able to develop a sound, biblical worldview. So what do we do about it? How do we develop the biblical worldview we so desperately need? The answers lie in the final section of the book and we'll examine them in the next post in this series.

Previous posts in this series:

Blogging Total Truth

Total Truth - Part 1 - What's In a Worldview?

Total Truth - Part 2 - Starting at the Beginning

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Pulling the Kids out of Public Schools

When the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Nashville later this month, they will be considering a resoultion to encourage Baptists to pull their children out of public schools (hat tip: The Narrow):

Rev. Grady Arnold pastors an SBC church in Texas and heads up an organization called Along with fellow Baptist David Scarbrough, Arnold has submitted a resolution that calls on the denomination's churches "to lovingly warn all of their members concerning the toxic spiritual nature of the government school system."

Arnold says the vast majority of Christian children (88 percent) who attend public schools leave the church once they graduate. "Southern Baptists have been playing the 'ostrich with its head in the sand' routine long enough," the Texas pastor laments. "The time is way overdue that we acknowledge the devastating effects public school is having on the faith of our children."

He notes that while some in the SBC leadership maintain that sending their children to public schools is equivalent to being "salt and light" in a secular environment, data gathered by the denomination indicates just the opposite is happening.

"The public school system is officially godless," Arnold tells Associated Press. "Jesus Christ is divorced from history, from science, from every subject. We want an integrated faith where you can quote the Bible, talk about the Bible freely in any class and any subject."

A similar resolution last year called for the immediate pullout of children from public schools. That proposal failed to pass. The Arnold-Scarbrough measure stops short of that and, instead, calls on churches to become aggressive and pro-active in
starting Christian schools and in supporting home schooling.

As I have discovered as I am reading Nancy Pearcey's excellent book Total Truth, the problem with our education system is not just that it omits God and the Bible from curriculum. It is that our public education system embraces a worldview that places no value on the absolute truth of the Bible. As a result, students leave school believing that truth is relative and a matter of personal judgement rather than an absolute, unchanging standard. It's about time that Christians wake up to the reality that our public schools are not the place to be sending our kids to learn. What public schools teach is not what any responsible Christian parent would want their children to learn.

Total Truth - Part 2 - Starting at the Beginning

"When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." -- GK Chesterton

In Part 1 of Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey argues that everyone has a worldview whether we realize it or not. As Chesterton states so brilliantly in the quote above, the failure to embrace a biblical worldview does not mean that a Christian lacks a worldview. Instead, it means that they have embraced something other than a biblical worldview.

All worldviews start with an opinion on Creation. A worldview will attempt to answer questions about the origin of life. In analyzing a particular worldview it's helpful to determine how it deals with these questions. More than any other worldview, Darwinism has had the most detrimental effect on our culture.

Ms. Pearcey begins her analysis of Darwinism by documenting the origins of Darwin's theories and examining the scientific evidence that has been used to attempt to prove Darwinism as being true. A careful examination of the facts shows that there is no scientific evidence to support Darwinism.

However, Ms. Pearcey does not simply rely on disproving Darvinism through scientific analysis. It's not sufficient to simply highlight the flaws of evolutionary theory. There must be an alternate explanation of our origin. The answer lies in Intelligent Design.

Proponents of Intelligent Design not only use scientific evidence to prove Darwinism is false but also prove that biological structures are so complex that they cannot have possibly come into existence by chance.

Ironically, one of the common tactics of evolutionists is to argue that Intelligent Design proponents are attempting to inject religion into science when in fact it is Darwinism that resembles a religion since there is no scientific evidence to support evolutionary theory.

But the bigger issue is the wider impact that Darwinism has had beyond what's taught in science class. Acceptance of Darwinism as true is the first step towards adopting a naturalistic worldview and moving away from a biblical worldview. In order to win this debate, according to Ms. Pearcey, it is necessary to see Darwinism as part of a larger naturalistic worldview and not just scientific theory. As she explains:

"...the major impact of Darwinian evolution does not lie in the details of mutation and natural selection, but in something far more significant--a new criterion of what qualifies as objective truth. As one historian explains, Darwinism led to a naturalistic view of knowledge in which "theological dogmas and philosophical absolutes were at worst totally fraudulent and at best merely symbolic of deep human aspirations." Let's unpack that phrase: If Darwinism is true, then both religion and philosophical absolutes (like Goodness, Truth, and Beauty) are strictly false or "fraudulent." We can still hold on to them if we really want to, but only if we are willing to place them in a separate category of concepts that are not genuinely true but "merely symbolic" of human hopes and ideals." (page 154)

The effects of Darwinism are wide-ranging and include (but are not limited to) theology, education and the law. As Ms. Pearcey demonstrates in the balance of this section of the book, the wide acceptance of Darwinism has led to our abandonment of absolute Truth. As a result, values become relative and a matter of indivdual opinion.

How did we get to this point? Why has this happened? Why don't Christians have a stronger worldview tradition? And what do we do to fix this problem? That's the subject of the next part of the book.

Previous entries in this series:

Total Truth - Part 1 - What's In a Worldview?

Blogging Total Truth