BOOK REVIEWS

The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant – Guy Prentiss Waters (2019)

Guy Prentiss Waters, The Lord’s Supper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2019), 127 pp.

The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant by Guy Prentiss Waters is another offering in the Short Studies in Biblical Theology Series, edited by Dane Ortlund and Miles Van Pelt. The aim of the series is to “connect the resurgence of biblical theology at the academic level with everyday believers.” I have eagerly devoured each volume and have benefited greatly from these short, readable works. The Lord’s Supper is no exception.

In keeping with the other books in the series, the author is writing from the unique perspective of Biblical Theology, which seeks to “build up the church by strengthening believers in their grasp of these life-giving truths.”

The Lord’s Supper begins by setting forth some basic covenantal terminology. Three aspects of a biblical covenant are explained:

  • A covenant assumes an existing, elective relationship between two parties and serves the solemn ratification of that relationship.
  • A covenant involves life-and-death issues.
  • A covenant is a sovereign administration of promises with corresponding obligations.

The author walks readers through the various covenants in Scripture and alerts them to their overall meaning and significance.

The next area of focus is the signs, which are appointed by God. These signs direct Christ-followers to the promises of God and ultimately turn their attention to Christ and his redemptive purposes in the cross.

Covenant meals are explored which serve as visual reminders of God’s grace and faithfulness. Also, these meals enabled the people of God to cultivate relationship with him and find solace by resting in his presence.

The culmination of the book explores the Lord’s Supper, which is not only a reminder of what Christ accomplished on the cross; it is a gracious look forward into redemptive history, one that promises a glorious return of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

The Lord’s Supper is a welcome addition to the Short Studies in Biblical Theology Seriesand is sure to encourage and equip the people of God as they become more acquainted with kingdom principles and the eschatological reality of things to come.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Preacher’s Catechism – Lewis Allen (2018)

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Allen Lewis, The Preacher’s Catechism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 216 pp.

I am a big fan of catechisms. So when I learned about The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen, I was intrigued. Actually, I jumped at the chance to read and review this book. Little did I know that this powerful little book would break me and convict me. It would mold and challenge me. It would encourage and edify me. The Preacher’s Catechism is remarkable in a myriad of ways, a few of which I will briefly describe below.

The Preacher’s Catechism is a book targeted to preachers. While some may consider this narrow target audience as ill-conceived, this strategy works well and helps accomplish the ultimate ends of the author.

Three convictions govern this book, which are set forth in the opening pages:

  1. The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
  2. Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their souls work.
  3. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.

With the governing convictions in place, Allen Lewis determines to utilize the pattern of the Westminster Shorter Catechism by targeting specific questions and answers to preachers. The book is arranged in four parts:

Part 1: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching

Part 2: Jesus for Preachers

Part 3: Loving the Word

Part 4: Preaching with Conviction

Summarizing the essence of The Preacher’s Catechism is an impossible task. But at its very heart is a series of gospel-centered challenges and soul-stirring encouragements. This work is like a theological battering ram that is designed to crush pride, self-sufficiency, false motives and deeds of the flesh. But make no mistake. The author does not intend to merely convict preachers; his ultimate aim is to encourage them. Once the feeble scaffolding of the flesh is sufficiently toppled, the author winsomely directs the attention of preachers to the cross. “Listeners need to know that the preacher is contented in his God and rejoicing in his Savior,” writes Allen. He continues, “When our lives as preachers are filled with a sense of amazement about the grace that is ours in Christ, others start asking questions about that grace and seeking it for themselves.”

To call The Preacher’s Catechism a success would be a profound understatement. For this book captures what is truly important about pastoral ministry. It is a vivid reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. It serves preachers by admonishing them and encouraging them. But in the final analysis, it leads preachers back to the cross. It graciously beckons them to not only preach Christ crucified but to cherish the old rugged cross and lay claim to the saving benefits that Christ wrought for his elect.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Apologetics and Worldview · BOOK REVIEWS

Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault On Mind, Morals, and Meaning – Nancy Pearcey (2010)

Nancy Pearcey has done it again.  Her book Total Truth captured the attention of thousands and helped equip a new generation of thinking Christians.  While some consider the term “thinking Christian” somewhat of an oxymoron (think, “military intelligence,” or “jumbo shrimp”), nothing could be further from the truth.  Indeed, clear thinking  and warm-hearted devotion are crucial characteristics for anyone who professes faith in Christ.  Anyone who rejects the notion of a “thinking Christian” should pause and consider the thought process generated in order to make the claim!

Pearcey’s newest masterpiece, Saving Leonardo is as the subtitle suggests a call to resist the secular assault on mind, morals, and meaning.  The primary assertion: “The only hope lies in a worldview that is rationally defensible, life affirming, and rooted in creation itself.”

THE THREAT OF GLOBAL SECULARISM

In part one, the author clearly articulates the necessity of a Christ-informed worldview.  She challenges readers: “Do you have the tools to detect the ideas competing for your allegiance in movies, school textbooks, news broadcasts, and even Saturday morning cartoons?”

Pearcey reveals the goal of the book at the outset: “The goal of this book is to equip you to detect, decipher, and defeat the monolithic secularism that is spreading rapidly and imposing its values on your family and hometown.”  As such, she calls Christians to abandon the “fortress mentality” that has been prominent for years; a mentality that gravitates to isolation from the world.  Rather, Christ followers ought to become familiar with their audience and engage with them on a worldview level.    “The first step,” writes Pearcey, “is to identify and counter the key strategies uses to advance the global secular worldview.”

Next, Christians must understand how secularism views the nature of truth.  Pearcey demonstrates how empiricism has spawned what we know today as the fact/value split.  This divided concept of truth is the most important feature of a secular approach to epistemology and is “the key to unlocking the history of the Western mind.”  The author is quick to explain the biblical concept of truth; a notion that was the theme of Total Truth: “Because all things were created by a single divine mind, all truth forms a single, coherent, mutually consistent system.  Truth is unified and universal.”

The fact/value dichotomy finds values in the so-called upper story (a scheme developed by Francis Schaeffer).  These values are private, subjective, and relative.  Values include religious claims and personal preferences.  Fact are found in the lower story.  These facts are public, objective and universal.  The author gives numerous examples of how the fact/value dichotomy is diametrically opposed to the biblical view of truth.  For instance:

  • “Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “Science yields facts but not ‘value judgments’; religion expresses values but cannot ‘speak facts.'” – Albert Einstein

Clearly, values posed in the fact/value dichotomy are never considered to be true.  Rather they are expressions of an opinionated individual; i.e. a so-called “bigoted Christian.”

TWO PATHS TO SECULARISM

Part two uncovers two paths to secularism, namely, the Enlightenment and Romantic movements respectively.  The Enlightenment (or Analytic Tradition) is fixated on reason and relies on the scientific method.  Immanuel Kant plays a central role here with his nature/freedom dichotomy.  Various worldviews have been spawned as a result of Enlightenment thought including empiricism, rationalism, Darwinism, logical positivism, linguistic analysis, utilitarianism, and materialism.

The Romantic stream (or Continental Tradition) relies on story and is fascinated by myth and imagination.  Again, various worldviews have resulted including idealism, Marxism, deconstruction, phenomenology, existentialism, pantheism, and postmodernism.  Both streams are reductionistic and the author is careful to bring this point home repeatedly.

Pearcey dissects both streams carefully and skillfully.  Her depth and insight is very helpful and encouraging.  The final two chapters are the most helpful and practical.  The author prompts readers to give up the typical Christian fortress mentality:  “Christians must go beyond criticizing the degradation of American culture, roll  up their sleeves, and get to work on positive solutions.  The only way to drive out bad culture is with good culture.”

The author reminds Christian parents that they cannot protect their children from unbiblical worldviews.  But they can “help them develop resistance skills, by giving them the tools to recognize false ideas and counter them with a solid grasp of biblical concepts … Christians are responsible for evaluating everything against the plumb line of Scriptural truth.”

Nancy Pearcey is picking up where Francis Scheaffer left off.  And she gives Schaeffer the last word on the subject: “One of the greatest injustice we do our young people is to ask them to be conservative.  Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary … We must teach the young to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo.”

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BOOK REVIEWS

The Great Cholesterol Myth – Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra (2012)

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 ME:“Doc, I cycle 100 miles a week, burn approximately 10,000 calories a week, take fish oil, and I’m eating better.  I even take advantage of “nature’s broom” by eating oatmeal almost every day.  However, my cholesterol just won’t drop.

DOCTOR: “Because of family history and genetics, you simply won’t be able to lower your cholesterol without a statin.”

So for the last four years, I’ve taken a well-known statin and the results have been favorable.  However, Drs. Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra disagree with the notion that lowering cholesterol prevents heart disease.  Their book, The Great Cholesterol Myth contains an argument that pumps feverishly through the arteries of this book: The real causes of heart disease include four key factors, namely – inflammation, oxidation, sugar, and stress.  The authors contend the real tragedy is the fixation with cholesterol which has produced an industry that boasts over $30 billion a year in the statin market.  In a shocking statement, both authors maintain, “Cholesterol does not cause heart disease.”

Bowden and Sinatra point out that cholesterol is vital for healthy living: “Cholesterol is an essential molecule without which there would be no life, so important that virtually every cell in the body is capable of synthesizing it.”  For over fifty years, the so-called lipid hypothesis has dominated the medical community which essentially states that “saturated fat runs up cholesterol levels, and elevated cholesterol leads to heart disease.”  The hypothesis has never been proved but continues to rule in the hearts and minds of most Americans.

One of the most helpful aspects of The Great Cholesterol Myth is the discussion about the importance of coenzeme Q10 (better known as CoQ10) which serves an important nutrient, a sort of fuel source for the heart.  Statins deplete CoQ10 which may lead to muscle pain, weakness, and fatigue.  Yet none of the doctors that have prescribed a stain in my case have ever mentioned that importance of supplementing with CoQ10.  The authors plead with readers who take statins to immediately begin supplementing their cholesterol lowering drug with  CoQ10 – a minimum of 200 mg daily.

Dr. Sinatra admits that he still prescribes statins on occasion but “almost exclusively to middle-aged men who’ve already had a first heart attack, coronary intervention, or coronary artery disease.”  He argues, “Statin drugs are anti-inflammatory, and their power to reduce inflammation is more much important than their ability to lower cholesterol.  But [and here’s the clincher] we can lower inflammation (and the risk for heart disease) with natural supplements, a better diet, and lifestyle changes such as managing stress.”

The authors reveal a fascinating study that includes five factors that significantly lowered the risk for heart disease:

1. Don’t smoke.

2. Drink alcohol in moderation.

3. Engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least half an hour a day on average.

4. Maintain a healthy weight (BMI under 25).

5. Eat a wholesome, low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet with plenty of omega-3 fats and fiber.

Notice that lowering cholesterol is painfully absent from the list.  Perhaps this is why, as the authors note, “Cholesterol is a relatively minor player in heart disease and a poor predictor of heart attacks.  More than half of all people who are hospitalized with heart attacks have perfectly normal cholesterol levels.”

The heart of the book explores the real culprit behind heart disease.  The authors dogmatically claim “the true cause of heart disease is inflammation” or as they put it, “acute inflammation hurts, but chronic inflammation kills.”  Second, oxidation is one of the sure signs of inflammation, which leads to a fascinating conclusion, namely – the only time cholesterol becomes troubling is if it’s oxidized (or damaged).  Third, the authors note that “sugar is a far greater danger to your heart than fat ever was.”  They go on to demonstrate that “the number one dietary contributor to heart disease is sugar.”  Finally, stress is included as a major cause of heart disease.

Bowden and Sinatra wonder out loud if statins will become the next medical tragedy – quite comforting to anyone who has relied on statins for years on end!  Side-effects are explored, which is well documented, and side-effects which I have personally experienced.  But the alarming news is that some researchers are warning that statins may contribute to Alzheimers, thinking skills, and memory.  One researcher comments, “Cholesterol changes the shape of the protein to stimulate thinking and memory.”  But the fact that is most often repeated is ability of statins to deplete the body of CoQ10.  “The depletion of CoQ10 is one of the most important negative effects of statins, and the one that is pretty much responsible for a host of common side effects involving muscle pain, weakness, and loss of energy.” To summarize, the authors maintain the risk of using statins outweighs the rewards.

Finally, Bowden and Sinatra explore how supplements can lead to heart health such as vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fats included in wild salmon.  Additionally, they recommend that stain users immediately begin to supplement their diet with CoQ10.  “Just as a gasoline engine can’t work without spark plugs, the human body can’t work without CoQ10.”

I am not ready to pitch my statin until my doctor recommends doing so.  But The Great Cholesterol Myth has got me thinking.  And it has led to some concrete action steps such as implementing CoQ10 into my daily diet.  I’m actually looking forward to my next doctor visit – where my list of questions will be long.  Let’s just say, I’ll be getting my money’s worth that day!

BOOK REVIEWS

Holy Roar:- Chris Tomlin & Darren Whitehead

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Chris Tomlin & Darren Whitehead, Holy Roar (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017), 128 pp.

Chris Tomlin has become somewhat of a household name in recent years. His worship songs have circled the globe and are songs in languages from every tribe and nation. I will never forget sitting with a group of college students in an Eastern block country. I was the only participant that did not speak a lick of Russian. These students belted out song after song in their heart language – and I didn’t understand a thing. But twenty minutes into the service, this group of joyful worshippers began to sing “How Great is Our God” – in Russian. It was a moment of sheer delight as I hummed the well-known words in English and worshipped with my Russian comrades, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Holy Roar is the collaborative work of Chris Tomlin and his pastor, Darren Whitehead. In each chapter Pastor Whitehead unpacks the seven Hebrew words of praise and invites readers to join in each of the respective aspects of God-centered worship. Each of the words is summarized below:

  1. Yada (ידה) – The hands of praise
  2. Halal (הלל)- The fools of praise
  3. Zamar (זמר) – The music of praise
  4. Towdah (תּוֹדָה) – The expectation of praise
  5. Barak (ברך) – The posture of praise
  6. Tehillah (תְּהִלָּה) – The songs of praise
  7. Shabach (שׁבח) – The shout of praise

Whitehead briefly defines each Hebrew word and makes direct application that can be immediately implemented in the Christian life.

Tomlin concludes each chapter with personal story about a song he’s penned or recorded and how that song relates to the Hebrew word for praise in the chapter.

Holy Roar is a short and readable book. It may be used as a devotional or may be utilized by small groups of Christ-followers who are seeking the face of God. The authors invite readers to join them on “this unifying journey of praise.” Each participant, then, will join the heavenly throng (as I joined with my Russian friends) in the collective holy roar.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Apologetics and Worldview · BOOK REVIEWS · Schaeffer Sympossium · VERITAS FELLOWSHIP

He is There and He is Not Silent- Francis Schaeffer (1972)

I first read He is There and He is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer in 1992.  Multiple readings have ensued and I turn back to Schaeffer’s book again and again for help with apologetics.

Schaeffer argues for three basic areas of philosophical thought: metaphysics (being or existence), morals (the dilemma of man), and epistemology (the problem of knowing). Philosophy and religion are essentially devoted to the same questions, namely, metaphysics, morals, and epistemology.

Philosophy is concerned with either an academic subject or a person’s worldview.  It is the later, that Schaeffer is concerned with in this volume.  Schaeffer contends that every man is a philosopher of sorts because it is impossible for humans to live without a worldview.

Metaphysics

There are three basic answers to the question of metaphysics.  The first answer is that “everything that exists has come out of absolutely nothing.”  Naturalism’s answer suggests no energy, no mass, no motion, and no personality.  This answer is, as Schaeffer calls it, “nothing, nothing.”

The second answer is that everything had an impersonal beginning.  This answer leads automatically to reductionism.  “Beginning with the impersonal must be explained in terms of the impersonal plus time plus chance,” writes Schaeffer.  This answer poses many problems.  But the two primary problems fail to answer the major philosophical question: the need for unity and the need for diversity.

The third answer is the biblical answer.  The third answer is the only rational and satisfying answer.  This answer suggests that we must begin with a personal beginning.  And to have an adequate answer of a personal beginning, one must have a personal infinite God, and personal unity and diversity in God (found the holy Trinity).

Schaeffer concludes: “The reason we have the metaphysical answer is because the infinite-personal God, the full Trinitarian God is there and he is not silent.”

Morals

There are only two basic answers to the question of morals.  The first: Everything had an impersonal beginning.  The is the answer of atheism.  Schaeffer never minces words.  He writes, “Beginning with the impersonal, there is no explanation for the complexity of the universe or the personality of man.”  When one begins with the impersonal, one eliminates the possibility of morals or ethics.

The second answer is the biblical reality of a personal beginning.  Man was created by an infinite-personal God.  Man sinned or “made a decision to change himself” as Schaeffer notes.

“The starting point,” writes Schaeffer “to the answer (of the question of morals) as with metaphysics is the fact that God is there and he is not silent.”

Epistemology

Schaeffer concludes by setting forth the problem concerning epistemology and the epistemological answer.

The epistemological problem concerns the tension between nature (particulars) and grace (universals).  When nature becomes autonomous, the universal is lost with the hope of giving the particulars meaning.  The problem is that when nature becomes autonomous, nature “eats up” grace.  Schaeffer argues that when we are left with only particulars, we become lost in the areas of metaphysics, morality, and epistemology.

The epistemological answer was summarized by the Reformers.  The Reformers did not allow for a dichotomy between nature and grace.  The reason: they had verbal propositional revelation.  The Reformers were vocal about the reality of God’s existence and the reality of his revelation.  Schaeffer popularized this view in the title of his book, He is There and He is Not Silent.  God has spoken truly about himself.  However, he has not spoken exhaustively about himself.

Schaeffer urges readers to come face to face with two gigantic presuppositions – “the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system and the uniformity of natural causes in an open system and in a limited time span.”  Ultimately, readers must determine which worldview fits with the facts.

Schaeffer summarizes, then, the basic presuppositions in historic Christianity.

1. God is there.

2. God is the infinite-personal God who has made man in his image.

3. God made man a verbalizer in the area of propositions in his horizontal communications with other men.

4. God communicates to us on the basis of propositions, viz, he is there and his is not silent.

Schaeffer maintains, “Under the unity of the apex of the infinite-personal God, in all of these areas we can have meaning, we can have reality, and we can have beauty.”

He is There and He is Not Silent is an essential work of apologetics.  It should be required reading for every Bible College/Seminary student.  Schaeffer put his finger on the essential issues of the day – even in the early 70’s and especially in our day.

Apologetics and Worldview · BOOK REVIEWS

Two Contents, Two Realities – Francis Schaeffer (1974)

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Sometimes the best things come in small packages.  Case in point: Two Contents, Two Realities by Francis Schaeffer.  To call it a booklet would be inaccurate.  To call it a pamphlet would be insulting.  The worst accusation one could hurl at this work is irrelevant or outdated.  Originally published in 1974 as a position paper that was presented at the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, Schaeffer’s work (as usual) is prophetic, timely, and challenging.  His writing aims squarely at the Christian mind but always impacts the heart.  And whenever the mind and heart are inflamed by Christian truth, the hands and feet are quick to follow.

Schaeffer’s proposition in this piece is simple.  The culture is getting increasingly more secular and ungodly.  There are two contents and two realities:

Content # 1: Sound Doctrine

Content # 2: Honest Answers to Honest Questions

Reality # 1: True Spirituality

Reality # 2: The Beauty of Human Relationships

The First Content: Sound Doctrine

Schaeffer argues, “We must have the courage to make no compromise with liberal theology and especially neo-orthodox existential theology.”  He argues strenuously against any system that abandons the role of the intellect which is tantamount to rejecting propositional revelation.  In regards to the doctrinal content, Schaeffer maintains there are three things we must recognize:

1) There must be a strong emphasis on content.

2) There must be a strong emphasis on the propositional nature of the Bible, especially the early chapters of Genesis.

3) There must be a strong emphasis on the practice of truth.

Anyone who takes a serious look at the church in the 21st century must admit that we have clearly moved away from these important components in Schaeffer’s system.  Theology is marginalized in most churches.  Propositional truth is relegated to modernity and cast aside in favor of mysticism and existentialism.  And while practicing the truth may be in vogue, one wonders which truth is being practiced given the shaky epistemological groundwork.

The Second Content: Honest Answers to Honest Questions

Schaeffer identifies the strong Platonic worldview that has been embraced by mainstream evangelicals – a view that divides man into two parts, namely, spiritual and physical.  He rightly adds, “We must consciously reject the Platonic element which has been added to Christianity.  God made the whole man; the whole man is redeemed in Christ.  And after we are Christians, the Lordship of Christ covers the whole man.”

Herein lies the rub.  Since historic Christianity is the truth (what Schaeffer calls elsewhere, “true truth),  it must therefore “touch every aspect of life.”  Difficult questions may be challenging, but answers must be given nonetheless.  Forever gone are the days when one answers, “You must just believe.”  Such a mindset is tantamount to blind faith – which in all reality is no faith at all!

Schaeffer adds, “Answers are not salvation.  Salvation is bowing and accepting God as Creator and Christ as Savior.  I must bow twice to become a Christian.  I must bow and acknowledge that I am not autonomous; I am a creature created by the Creator.  And I must bow and acknowledge that I am a guilty sinner who needs the finished work of Christ for my salvation.”

The church must address cultural questions as well as questions that come from within.  Schaeffer maintains that in order for this to take place, there must be sufficient training in both the church as well as the academy.

The First Reality: True Spirituality

Behind true spirituality is a commitment to truth which is stated in propositions.  Schaeffer spoke to the liberals in his day and echoes that same reality to emergent types and neo-liberals with this bold challenge: “Anybody who diminishes the concept of the propositionalness of the Word of God is playing into … non-Christian hands.” He proceeds to encourage readers to grasp propositional truth by making truth come alive in the streets and in the marketplace of ideas.  He reacts strongly to any system that is a mere end in itself: “A dead, ugly orthodoxy with no real spiritual reality must be rejected as sub-Christian.”

The Second Reality: The Beauty of Human Relationships

Schaeffer observes, “We are to show something to the watching world on the basis of the human relationships we have with other people, not just other Christians.”  Schaeffer illustrates how we are called to love people without compromise.  He uses the liberal theologian as an example.  He adds, “Yes, we are to stand against his theology.  We are to practice truth, and we are not to compromise.  We are to stand in antithesis to his theology.  But even though we cannot cooperate with him in religious things, we are to treat the liberal theologian in such a way that we try from our side to bring our discussion into the circle of truly human relationships … We can have the beauty of human relationships even when we must say no.”

Francis Schaeffer’s understanding and exposition of two contents and two realities is very helpful as one seeks to make inroads with secular people.  I commend it and trust that this excellent work will be read and digested by many.

Apologetics and Worldview · BOOK REVIEWS

Genesis in Space and Time – Francis Schaeffer (1972)

Great thinkers throughout the course of history have queried, “Where did it all come from?  Who made the cosmos?  What made the cosmos?  What or who holds it all together?  What is the meaning of life?  What is the basis of knowledge?  Where are we heading?  And where do we go when we die?  For those who reject a personal Creator – the questions posed above become totally unanswerable.  For all those who reject a personal Creator, there is a hopelessness that lies under their dogmatic certainty.

Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer examines the flow of Biblical history.  The book of Genesis sets the parameters and helps articulate a Christian worldview that includes a personal God.  “He is there and he is not silent” as Schaeffer remarks in another book.  At the core of the book stands the belief in a personal Creator.  Affirming macroevolution or denying a personal Creator stands behind the hopelessness among the unbelieving world.  Schaeffer adds, “It is either not knowing or denying the createdness of things that is at the root of the blackness of modern man’s difficulties.  Give up creation as space-time, historic reality, and all that is left what Simone Weil called ‘uncreatedness.’  It is not that something does not exist, but that it just stands there, autonomous to itself, without solutions and without answers.”   The proliferation of the so-called new atheism is vivid proof that Schaeffer articulated almost forty years ago.

Schaeffer maintains that one must understand the book of Genesis in order to develop a workable approach to metaphysics, morality, and epistemology.  Genesis in Space and Time continues to be relevant as many evangelicals back away from a literal interpretation of Scripture and a six-day creation week.  Genesis in Space and Time is prophetic, bold and relevant.  It is a powerful antidote for postmodern skeptics.

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No Final Conflict – Francis Schaeffer (1975)

“It is my conviction that the crucial area of discussion for evangelicalism in the next years will be Scripture.  At stake is whether evangelicalism will remain evangelical.”  So stated Francis Schaeffer in his 1975 landmine, No Final Conflict.  While this treasure was penned over forty years ago, it remains relevant and applicable to 21st-century culture.

It was not unusual for Schaeffer to warn Christians.  He did it often during the seventies and eighties.  His chief warning in No Final Conflict is to cling to the propositional truth of the Scriptures:  “We must say that if evangelicals are to be evangelicals, we must not compromise our view of Scripture … The issue is clear: Is the Bible truth without error wherever it speaks, including where it touches history and the cosmos, or is it only in some sense revelational where it touches religious subjects?”  Schaeffer smelled a “rat” in 1975.  He always had a good sense of smell!  The pesky “rat” that Schaeffer detected continues to scurry about in postmodern culture; in fact that “rat” has produced offspring.  The liberalism of the 70’s is flourishing in the 21st century.  Schaffer’s antidote is simple – We must embrace the truth of Scripture: “In our day that point is the question of Scripture.  Holding to a strong view of Scripture or not holding to it is the watershed of the evangelical world … We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not.”

One of Schaeffer’s key points is to clear up the confusion between reason and faith.  Indeed, this was one of the major notes of his writing.  He saw a unity between faith and reason; a unity that is marginalized especially by the new atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  Schaeffer posits, “There may be a difference between the methodology by which we gain knowledge from what God tells us in the Bible and the methodology by which we gain it from scientific study, but this does not lead to a dichotomy as to the facts … if both studies can be adequately pursued, there will be no final conflict.”  Truth is “unified” as Nancy Pearcey observes.  There is no conflict between reason and faith.

Dr. Schaeffer went to be with his Lord in 1984.  If he were still with us, I’m convinced that he would never have an “I told you so attitude.”  Rather, he would continue to admonish believers to hold to a strong uncompromising view of Scripture.  He would challenge Christ-followers to cling to the rock of propositional truth.  And he would warn disciples of Christ to flee from anything that looks like a rat, smells, like a rat, or walks like a rat.  His warnings mattered over forty years ago.  They continue to be as relevant as ever!

BOOK REVIEWS · Leadership

MINISTER OF MERCY – Alexander Strauch (1992)

The man  who gifted the church with his work, Biblical Eldership delivers an equally impressive volume – Minister of Mercy.  The former title dealt with the office DEACONof elder; the latter deals with the office of deacon.

Part One – Dividing Up the Work: Word and Deed

The first section focuses on the necessity of dividing the work between elders and deacons.  Generally, elders minister in Word through a solid biblical teaching ministry.  Deacons on the other hand, minister in deed and offer assistance to needy and hurting people in the body of Christ.  Specifically, the job description of the deacon is surveyed.

Part Two – A Two-Office Church: Overseers and Deacons

Part two may be the most crucial part of the book.  The author clears up the misunderstanding that is typically associated with the office of overseer (elder) and the office of deacon.  A clear distinction is drawn between these two important New Testament offices.

Part Three – The Qualifications for Deacons

As such, the qualifications for the office of deacon are explained with exegetical precision.  Additionally, the deacon must be examined publically by the overseers and the congregation.  Finally, the qualifications for wives who assist their husbands is clearly articulated.

Part Four – The Importance of Deacons in the Church

The author alerts readers to the importance of this office by directing their attention to 1 Timothy 3:13, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, the office of deacon serves as a place of influence and high honor in the local church.  Strauch adds, “Do not underestimate the potential influence the diaconate can have on the local church … Although deacons do not teach or govern the congregation, they can be spiritual giants who exercise bold faith.”

Alexander Straunch should be commended for writing such a practical and readable book.  This man has done his homework which is set forth in graciousness and humility.  A solid work that pastors should turn to again and again as they seek to raise up new deacons in the church.