by St. Athanasius is a classic Early Church response by a pastor/theologian/apologist against the attacks leveled against the dual nature of Christ–the God/Man. Athanasius was in his day and continues to be in our own time a giant of Christian orthodoxy. If you don’t read this review, read his book! It will edify, challenge and perhaps humble you friend.
In Scaling the Secular City, Moreland displays his acumen in dealing with some of the toughest challenges posed to Christianity. He accomplishes this with rigorous argumentation and a winsome spirit, the likes of which is worthy to be emulated.
J.P. Moreland is arguably one of the
most influential American Evangelical apologists of the latter century and the first part of the twenty-first century. His adeptness is especially clear in the areas of philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. Through his debates, lectures, and writings, Moreland has served well the cause of Christ by equipping people for ministry both in the academy and in the local church.
Now available in summary form The Creation Hypothesis where J.P. Moreland and others argue for the possibility of an intelligent designer as an alternative to Darwinian evolution concerning the question of origins.
The apologetic value of the book, other than the extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter, is the scientific evidence that argues strongly on behalf of an intelligent designer and as such, it seems to be a useful tool for dialogue with naturalistic skeptics.
Moreover, it’s also a much needed tool to educate the church who have unwittingly swallowed a naturalistic worldview, and as such, have crippled many in their respective vocations (be it biology, education, law, philosophy, etc.) to letting their light shine for Christ.
Now available in summary form is Os Guinness’ “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion” This book’s value is multifaceted but wins the day for instructing believers on how to winsomely engage the culture with the Gospel of Christ.
Especially helpful is Guinness’ insight into our age of acute self-promotion (E.g., media freaks) or hyper Narcissism. To reach the indifferent, belligerent, enemies of the Gospel with the message, Guinness holds that we must consider four elements. First, we must start by understanding the nature of unbelief. Second, we must look at how God addresses unbelief. Third, we must reach unbelievers where they’re at, not where we hoped they would be. Fourth, we must go to the core problem—the heart!
Moreover, Scripture must inform our mode of communication to unbelievers and we must always consider the audience when aiming to persuade. In order to guide the conversation and be persuasive we must keep in mind five “pillars” of the Faith in our message: creation, fall, incarnation, cross, the Spirit. These properly focus a gospel centered apologetic.
Now available is Mere Apologetics: How To Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith by Alister McGrath. The value of this book is multifaceted where cogency, clarity and conviction mark the topics under consideration.
McGrath argues that we are to understand apologetics as the reasoned defense of the Faith which must be practiced with gentleness and respect toward outsiders. When defending we must answer honest questions and be person relative. When commending we must show the wonder and splendor of the kingdom. And when translating, we must do so exegetically, hermeneutically and person relatively so that our language can be understood by a child. McGrath has served the Christian community well by providing a book that aids new and older believers in the aforesaid.
Available now is my short review of The Soul in Cyberspace by Douglas Groothuis where he considers computer technologies and ways they affect the soul. All technologies brings with them what is good but also some things that are bad.
Technologies are a double edged sword: depending on the way it’s wielded (handled) can determine whether one flourishes in life or comes to ruin in life. That might sound extreme to you, but is it?
This is must reading for anyone wanting to understand what is required to wisely navigate the shoals of our 21st century idol of technology.
Available now is my summary of The Universe Next Door by James Sire. This worldview catalog is part of the arsenal needed for believers to understand the major beliefs held by both their neighbors and also themselves.
The value of this study is akin to a baseball scout taking the necessary time to understand the opposing team’s ball player’s strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. After such due diligence is accomplished, the odds of “competing” and “beating” the “opposition” are enhanced. Too often Christians are bested in the classroom, boardroom, or family room because we have not done our due diligence regarding other worldviews when compared to Christendom. This book is a remedy for such maladies as Sire notes:
“For any of us to be fully conscious intellectually we should not only be able to detect the worldviews of others but be aware of our own—why it is ours and why in light of so many options we think it is true” [Opening page]
Available now in summary form is The God Who is There by D.A. Carson. This introductory resource on the big ideas of the`Bible is indispensable to aid both young and old with the main Biblical ideas and to see how they all point to Jesus.
This book in particular is an amazing example of writing a “salvation history” tome in terms a high school student can grasp without forfeiting theological rigor.
Too often the Bible is read like a “fortune cookie” whose ideas are not tied to any overarching theme or purpose. This book explains the Bible’s unifying message in a way that models how to faithfully read the Scriptures so that the reader may actually hear God’s voice in a more sure, clear way. Take up and read friends.
Available now in summary form is Politics for Christians . This book is written for the busy student or parent in mind. The goal of integration is both conceptual and personal. The former blends its’ theological beliefs with one’s profession of faith into a coherent Christian worldview, where the latter seeks to publicly and privately live out the implications of what it means to be “Christ’s disciple”. Moreland/Beckwith (series editors) argue that the reason integration is vital (among other things) is because the Bible is true in its teachings and our vocations and discipleship demand it.
As Christians, we divide on many things and our preferred political party is certainly one of them. Whatever party lines believers find themselves coming under, a fundamental question needs to be answered: “what policies come closest to our worldview as ambassadors for Christ?”
Answering that question takes careful thought and humility. It’s my hope that the summaries of this book will help the Christian in particular be salt and light as they engage to the glory of God, the political process. Moreover, it’s my desire to see the citizens of heaven consider their temporary earthly citizenship as a means to rule and reign that honors Christ and their fellow man, rather than shaming his name. Take up and read friends.
Available now in summary form is Avery Dulles’ A History of Apologetics who deftly provides a view into the great minds of Christendom’s past so that we may presently be more faithful to our generation with the real Gospel of Truth that alone rescues sinners from eternal peril.
There’s a treasure trove of wisdom the church has at its disposal that is too often neglected either through: ignorance (i.e., people don’t read Church History), or perhaps through spite (i.e., Protestants and Catholics refuse to appreciate one another’s contributions), even a lack of evangelistic urgency (i.e., Believers don’t really care to share their beliefs because of fear, indifference, etc.), perhaps because of an unbiblical view of the life of the mind as it informs our daily living (i.e., a Fideistic bent). This book is one more aid to remedy the 21st century plague in the Church of anti-intellectualism.
Available now in summary form is Francis Shaeffer’s Volume 1_A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture
In this volume Schaeffer argues for absolute truth that’s based on the God Who is There. When a culture denies this reality despair sets in because under opposing varied worldviews, (e.g., monism, pantheism, naturalism, etc.) man becomes the measure of all things. The despair is a signal of our “mannishness” (a Schaefferism) that reveals humans are created in God’s image and can’t escape that fact.
To suppress the aforementioned humanity ends up in madness, escaping from reason and plunging into the hopelessness that naturalism in particular provides with no objective meaning in life. He considers how worldviews truly play out in this enterprise called life. It is Schaeffer’s first book in this volume that sets the stage for the rest of his writings.
Available now in summary form is Francis Schaeffer’s Volume 2_A Christian View of The Bible As Truth
In this volume Schaeffer continues to argue for absolute truth that’s based on the God Who is There. He acknowledges that God has revealed himself not only in nature (i.e., general revelation), but also through the truth of scripture (special revelation). He then argues for the historicity of the origins account in Genesis where God created out of nothing all that exists apart from himself. He then hones in on the primacy of scripture as God’s final word to his creatures. This word is both trans-cultural and trans-time. He further touches on the flow of history in space and time through the book of Joshua and points out the idolatry of Israel and God’s dealings with them. Lastly Schaeffer considers how one can view the Bible and art.
Available now in summary form is Francis Schaeffer’s Volume 3_A Christian View of Spirituality
In volume three A Christian View of Spirituality, Schaeffer dovetails the thought of the “God who is There”, and considers what spirituality consists of. He starts off by accentuating the fact that no people are “little” or insignificant because they are image bearers and it’s often the little matters that have monumental consequences in life. Moreover, true spirituality is always grounded in the thought life where ideas ultimately govern people’s destiny. Because the life of the mind is downplayed in many Evangelical circles, too many of its’ youth who grow up in church leave the faith never to return. a major contributing factor is the egregious way God’s word is ignored and handles by leadership. Sermons are constructed in shallow and glib manners. This has terrible effects on the witness and vitality of the church. The remedy is getting back to sound doctrine and living out its implications so that Christ is honored among the nations as the church community is true to the Lord.
Available now in summary form is Francis Schaeffer’s Volume 4_A Christian View of the Church,
Here, Schaeffer considers many difficult issues Christendom needs to address if it is going to be salt and light in this world. Among the issues is orthodox Christian doctrine, which too often is dispersed for peripheral doctrines that don’t hold up the structure of historical Christianity. We major on the minor issues and ignore the major ones like “the perpetuity of spiritual gifts vs. the Trinity”. This occurs when we do our theology from a man centered base, not from the God who is there and grounds all absolute truth.
Another issue is that the watching world longs for a love that is real and true. Believers have an opportunity to demonstrate this love only when God’s truth is their passion and the Lord Jesus is their model. Too often that’s not the case and God’s name ends up being profaned. Then there’s the departure from our Reformation roots as evangelicals which has resulted in a loss of confidence in the Scriptures inerrancy and authority, and subsequent promises of blessing and cursing. This has made the gospel a sham and many of our churches have become tombs for the living dead. Lastly, if the aforesaid is not reversed, we will be remembered as that generation who talked the talk but did not walk the walk. To such people Jesus says, “Depart from me I never knew you, you workers of iniquity .”
Now available in summary form Volume 5_A Chrsitian View of the West . In volume 5 A Christian View of the West, Francis Schaeffer considers Western civilization, its roots, its glories and horrors.
This is followed by the issue of our planet’s pollution, and what can be done, the abortion of untold millions in America, and the generation that has been lost.
He concludes with the issue of truth and the decaying ramifications of morality, law and civility in a society that has embraced relativism. We are there now in 2018.
POSTSCRIPT: Francis Schaeffer’s writings are uncannily relevant today 36 years after their publication. His insight into the Scriptures and engaging Culture with it are a wonderful model of a believer who is in the world, but not of it. His passion for Christ and reaching people with the gospel is refreshingly substantive and raw, it is direct and compassionate, it is rational and heart felt. In my view, he is one of the many whom the writer of Hebrews describes: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” (Heb. 13:7)
Now available in Summary Form Theological Book Summaries Considering a Few Who Have Shaped the Church’s Thought: PATRISTIC & MEDIEVAL PERIOD / REFORMATION & MODERN PERIOD
The writer to the Hebrews wrote: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” Hebrews 13:7. Too often Christians find themselves imitating the faith of those who actually do not speak the word of God to them in truth. Instead, they listen to teachers who proclaim what their itching ears want to hear to their utter destruction. One way to guard against that is to consider how believers through the centuries understood the Gospel, and treasured Christ as they lived out its implications.
There are two cautions, two extremes, I think are critical to consider if we are to love God with our minds and hearts. First, we must guard against thinking that because something is old (pick a number) it’s irrelevant in the present and for our future. Second, we must guard against thinking that because something is new it’s relevant for the present and future. Both extremes are foolish, irrational, clothed in hubris and blind us from discovering objective truth in order to live it out presently and in the future.
The following summaries are provided to encourage, challenge, comfort and invigorate the follower of Christ to consider how in the last two millennia followers of Christ understood and lived out the implications of their faith. It’s to consider how these believers spent their energies for the glory of God and the cause of the kingdom, and to see where their example is worthy to be emulated.
Some things will seem odd, some things odious, some things onerous, and some things endearing. I trust in no way you will be bored. These summaries are but a taste of their substance that I’ve attempted to capture so that you, the reader will take up and read at the source. (Soli Deo Gloria)