Practicing Thankfulness – Sam Crabtee

Sam Crabtree, Practicing Thankfulness (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2021), 138.

Some of the best gifts come in small packages – an engagement ring, a ticket to Europe, a diamond pendant. From time to time, a small book will hit the shelves that pack a powerful punch. Such is the case with Sam Crabtree’s, Practicing Thankfulness.

Crabtree’s little book is barely 100 pages but is filled with biblical wisdom, practical encouragement, and even contains some much-needed admonition. The book revolves around the author’s definition of gratitude:

Gratitude is the divinely given spiritual ability to see grace, and the corresponding desire to affirm it and its giver as good.

Crabbtree builds an unshakeable edifice around this definition by demonstrating the need for gratitude, the wisdom of gratitude, and the end result of gratitude. A chapter that is especially helpful, Portrait of a Grateful Heart helps readers understand the need to be utterly transformed by Christ. In other words, what we truly need is not merely to be thankful; our hearts must be transformed by Christ. The author adds, “Our hearts pivot on the word of Christ. Either they swivel toward him in wonder and gratitude and affection, or they swivel away from him in stubborn, truth-suppressing pride or apathetic indifference.” In the end, gratitude toward God reveals that a person has a regenerate heart, one that has been transformed by the Holy Spirit.

The author reveals the dangers of ingratitude. Indeed, “the very dividing line between glory and dishonor is whether a person gives thanks or not.” He adds, “Thanklessness is at the root of homosexuality, covetousness, envy, murder, and a whole array of foolish and faithless derailments, as clearly stated in Romans 1:21-32.” The entitlement mindset, which has American young people in a death grip is laid bare in this chapter as the author compares the thankful person with the ingrate.

In recent years, a growing number of books and resources have focused on the subject of gratitude. Crabtree’s book is unique in that his encouragement is intimately connected to the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person may grow in his or her ability to express gratitude but such an exercise falls dreadfully short if it fails to acknowledge the supreme gift Giver, namely, the Creator of the cosmos. In other words, a person may express gratitude but prove to be an ingrate if God is not honored, acknowledged, and glorified.

Practicing Thankfulness, while challenging throughout, is a deeply warm and practical book. Sam Crabtree writes with the heart of a pastor and one who has not yet arrived. Readers will be enriched, educated, and moved to action. They will grow in their ability to practice gratitude, which will pay rich dividends to everyone in their circle of influence. Most of all, God will receive the glory and they acknowledge him for every good gift – even small packages.

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

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers – Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton: Crossway, 2020), 221 pp.

Dr. Dane Ortlund has gained a reputation for writing Christian books that are solid, edifying, and gospel-centered. His newest work, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers is No Exception. Ortlund uses Matthew 11:29 as the basis for his book:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

The author writes, “This book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. Those running on fumes.” Ultimately, Ortlund is jealous to draw the attention of readers to the heart of Jesus Christ.

23 chapters await readers who will be captivated, encouraged, and loved y their Savior. Some readers will need to readjust what they have previously learned about Jesus and move in a more biblically oriented direction. Ideally, this book should be read one chapter at time, in a devotional sort of way. Such an approach will allow the mind to be sufficiently instructed and the heart to be filled with encouragement.

A few citations will give a sense of the tone and direction the book takes:

Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. he is the most understanding person in the universe.

The Jesus given to us in the Gospels is not simply the one who loves, but one who is love; merciful affections stream from his innermost heart as rays from the sun.

It is impossible for the affectionate heart of Christ to be over-celebrated, made too much of, exaggerated.

Jesus Christ is closer to you today than he was to the sinners and suffers he spoke with and touched his earthly ministry.

If God sent his own Son to walk through the valley of condemnation, rejection, and hell, you can trust him as you walk through your own valleys on the way to heaven.

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers is packed with heart-warming scholarship and Christology that moves the soul. It is eminently practical and encouraging from start to finish. It will prove to be one of the most important Christian books in 2020!

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

The Attributes of God: An Introduction – Gerald Bray

Gerald Bray, The Attributes of God: An Introduction (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2021), 159 pp.

Gerald Bray offers the latest installment in the Short Studies in Systematic Theology Series by Crossway Books. The series is designed to introduce readers to a specific theological subject and equip the next generation of Christian leaders. The great strength of this series is brevity. Readers are able to spend a short amount of time and receive maximum benefit from the top-notch scholars in this series.

Bray’s work, The Attributes of God: An Introduction provides an overview of God’s attributes and drills down into two attributes in particular – God’s essential attributes and God’s relational attributes. Essential attributes, what theologians like Louis Berhof refers to as “incommunicable attributes” include simplicity, incorporeality, invisibility, aseity, infinity, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, impassibility, immutability, and eternity – to name a few. The author shows how these attributes are grounded in Scripture and how they are expounded in church history.

God’s relational attributes (or communicable attributes) include attributes such as righteousness, holiness, goodness, mercy, and love – to name a few. Again, Bray links these attributes to Scripture and shows how they are taught in church history.

The author wraps up his discussion with a thoughtful chapter that reveals how relevant this subject truly is. Bray adds, “The all-important distinction between God’s essential attributes and his relational ones is the key to understanding how God can understand our suffering and at the same time be able to rescue us from it. God’s eternity and his immutability are necessary for us to have assurance of our salvation.”

Readers will benefit from reading this work and the other offerings in the Short Studies in Systematic Theology Series. It will be a small step in the right direction as they seek to grow deeper in grace and build a strong edifice of knowledge for a lifetime of ministry.

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

Reformed Systematic Theology: Man and Christ – Volume 2 – Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley

Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Man and Christ – Volume 2 (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2020), 1159 pp.

For the past several years I have maintained the discipline of reading at least one work of systematic theology. This year, I have the privilege of reading and reviewing Reformed Systematic Theology: Man and Christ – Volume 2 by Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley

I referred to the first volume in this series as engaging, educational, and enthralling. Beeke and Smalley pick up where they left off and continue to help readers magnify the great worthiness of Christ and his gospel.

Volume 2 begins with a study of anthropology and offers an exhaustive treatment of the subject through a Reformed lens. The author unpacks the essentials of this important branch of theology and provides the necessary exegesis, evidence in Scripture, and church history. Each chapter concludes with practical application that draws readers to the throne of grace.

Next, the authors carefully teach the doctrine of Christ. Readers are introduced to the person and work of Christ and are acquainted with his threefold offices of prophet, priest, and king. Beeke and Smalley add, “Though his sacrifice is the foundation of our salvation, his intercession is central to its application, for Christ ever lives as the Mediator of the new covenant, and all grace comes to us through him.”

Many will be intimidated by this behemoth of a book. Yet, a disciplined student will be rewarded by a careful reading of this important text. It not only educates and encourages – it challenges each person to come face to face with our Savior and meditate on his life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Read this book prayerfully and anticipate a blessing beyond belief.

Highly recommended!

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

Holy Sexuality and the Gospel – Christopher Yuan (2018)

holyChristopher Yuan, Holy Sexuality and the Gospel (New York: Multnomah, 2018), 234 pp.

Rosaria Butterfield calls Christopher Yuan’s book, Holy Sexuality and the Gospel “the most important humanly composed book about biblical sexuality and godly living for our times.” That is quite a statement from such a respected woman. After a thorough reading, I concur that this indeed is a powerful and timely book.

Christopher Yuan is a professor at Moody Bible Institute who marks out our identity as human beings in this book. He clearly reveals that we are image bearers of God, created with a purpose for God’s glory. However, each creature has fallen short of God’s glory and has been plunged into a state of sinfulness – by nature and by choice. Yuan establishes biblical sexuality and builds upon this foundation by exploring the biblical basis for marriage and singleness.

The theme of holy sexuality is at the center of the book. Holy sexuality, which is radically contrary to the zeitgeist we’ve grown accustomed to consists of two paths: “Chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.” Yuan explains, “Chastity is more than simply abstention from extramarital sex; it conveys purity and holiness. Faithfulness is more than merely maintaining chastity and avoiding illicit sex; it conveys covenantal commitment.”

Yuan maintains that the term holy sexuality is necessary since current terminology does not adequately or accurately reflect the biblical standard of sexual expression. He argues, “The purpose of this phrase is to transcend the current secular paradigm of sexual orientation that is unable to point toward God’s clear intent for sexual expression.” Holy Sexuality is meant to eliminate the confusing jargon which is usually associated with this controversial subject. Yuan adds, “Instead of deterring how we ought to live based on enduring patterns of erotic desires, God’s call for all humanity, quite simply, is holiness.”

The matter of homosexuality has been vigorously debated in recent days and has been especially elevated since the recent Supreme Court decision that legalized so-called “same-sex marriage.” Personally, I struggle with much of the literature that is either for or against “same-sex marriage.” It is hotly contested on both sides and generally produces more heat than light. But Dr. Yuan’s book takes a different path. Never once does he deviate from the biblical path to purity. He maintains the biblical boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman and sets forth a case that is both compelling and compassionate.

Christopher Yuan has written a thoughtful and compelling book. It is grounded in sacred Scripture and faithfully reflects the teaching of Scripture. Yuan’s convictions are uncompromising, yet he writes out of a deep and authentic love for people in the homosexual community. His tone is always charitable, yet he never compromises the teaching of God’s Word. Holy Sexuality and the Gospel is a much-needed corrective to the overly simplified approach that some Christian writers take. It avoids the pitfalls typically associated with this subject and leads readers to a place of faithfulness and fulfillment. Christian readers will be encouraged and challenged by Dr. Yuan’s heart. And readers who struggle with same-sex desires will be patiently instructed by a writer who writes with patience and biblical fidelity.

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

What Does The Bible Teach About Homosexuality? – Kevin DeYoung

aI read an important book today.  It is not a weighty theological treatise.  It is not a book about spiritual formation.  And it certainly is not written to inspire.  This book is about homosexuality.  Like it or not, in our culture, the topic of homosexuality has moved from stage left to center stage.  Everyone is talking about it.  Many people are affirming homosexual relationships – liberals and conservatives alike.

I recently read Steve Chalke’s booklet, A Matter of Integrity.  The author, who happens to be a Baptist pastor, seeks to legitimize and normalize homosexuality.  The booklet is written with tones of grace and the author appears very kind.  The only problem – the book is dead wrong.  The book opposes Scripture.  And the book fails to glorify God.

Kevin DeYoung’s new book, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality addresses a controversial topic with grace but never at the expense of truth.

Part One – Understanding God’s Word

The author guides readers through a maze of texts and helps them unravel what Scripture really says about homosexuality.  His tone is gracious.  Yet he is unafraid to proclaim what God proclaims – homosexuality is a sin to be repented of.  Everyone who turns from their sin may find peace and forgiveness that flow freely from Jesus who paid to set sinners free.  DeYoung is quick to demonstrate that homosexuality is not acceptable in God’s economy.  But he is even more eager to point people to a God who forgives:

“The God we worship is indeed a God of love.  Which does not, according to any verse in the Bible, make sexual sin acceptable.  But it does, by the witness of a thousand verses all over the Bible, make every one of our sexual sins changeable, redeemable, and wondrously forgiveable.”

Part Two – Answering Objections

DeYoung has left no stone unturned here.  In part two, he answers typical objections and responds with grace and truth.  All his answers are supported by the weight of Scripture.

There is much to commend here; more than one review can cover.  However, Kevin DeYoung helps readers understand what is at stake in this debate and uncovers four vital issues that every Christian should be concerned with.  I urge readers to purchase the book and study these powerful warnings:

  1. The moral logic of monogamy is at stake.
  2. The integrity of Christian sexual ethics is at stake.
  3. The authority of Scripture is at stake.
  4. The grand narrative of Scripture is at stake.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality will not be the most inspiring book you’ll read all year.  However, it may be the most important book you read.  It is a book that may cause you discomfort.  It is a book that will certainly cause you to reevaluate your position on homosexuality.    Ultimately, this book will point you to the Book.  And sacred Scripture clearly reveals God’s position on homosexuality.  Homosexual behavior, like any other ungodly behavior, is sin; a sin which must be repented of and forgiven.

The Supreme Court has spoken.  Their historic decision on June 26, 2015, will leave an indelible mark on American history.  But God has also spoken.  Our sovereign God has the final word on every subject and in every nation.  Our response must be to submit to his authority and render joyful obedience.  Unfortunately, obedience is being jettisoned in the highest court of the land.

May readers approach this subject with minds and hearts that are open to God’s revelation.  May they be challenged and moved to obedience.  And may the gospel open doors of hope so that many will find their rest in Christ the Savior!

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

Providence – John Piper

John Piper, Providence (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2021), 710 pp.

2020 was a year of pain, suffering, and anguish. COVID-19 impacted countless lives, crushed the economy, overwhelmed our health care system, and influenced the presidential election. By mid-December, the virus claimed over 300,000 lives in the United States alone. We were told what is classified as “essential” and what is not deemed “essential.” Stay home-stay orders, social distancing, wearing masks became a normal part of daily lives.

The lockdowns had a devastating effect on thousands of people. Businesses were permanently closed, many churches stood at a stand-still, and hopelessness ruled in many hearts. One report suggested that suicide rates among young adults skyrocketed due to the pandemic.

In the midst of this crushing heartache, John Piper released his newest book, Providence. I received an advance copy and began diligently reading this massive book, weighing in at over 700 pages.

Dr. Piper lures in readers with a four-fold invitation:

  1. An invitation into a biblical world of counterintuitive wonders.
  2. An invitation to penetrate through words into reality. While the term “providence” is not found in Scripture, the reality of providence occurs on every page of the Bible.
  3. An invitation into a God-entranced world.
  4. An invitation to know God in a more intimate way.

Once readers become aware of the theological terrain that lies ahead, the 700 pages to follow are much less daunting.

The book is arranged in three parts. Part one explores a definition and a difficulty. The difficulty wrestles with the notion of divine self-exaltation. Piper discusses the typical negative creaturely response to a God who finds pleasure in exalting himself. The author demonstrates that anyone who resists the idea of a self-exalting God has fallen prey to a sinister mindset. Indeed, “The idea that God is unattractive to us because he acts for his own glory cloaks a deeper resistance: he is unattractive because he is God.”

Part two focuses on the ultimate goal of providence. Three areas are discussed which include:

  1. God’s ultimate goal in providence before creation and in creation.
  2. The ultimate goal of providence in the history of Israel.
  3. The ultimate goal of providence in the design and enactment of the New Covenant

The great benefit of part two is delighting in the big picture of God’s providence. From before creation, to the cross, and the final glorification of the elect, we find God orchestrating every detail for his glory and for our good. As Piper writes, “God is supremely committed to the display of his glory for the admiration and enjoyment of all who will have it as their supreme treasure.”

Part three reveals the nature and extent of providence. The author skillfully demonstrates how God’s providence reigns over all things including the weather, world leaders, circumstances, and the demonic realm. Piper shows how God’s providence superintends over sin and triumphs in conversion.

In the end, Piper gloriously describes the final achievement of providence in the return of Christ, the glorification of his elect, and his reign on the New Earth. He writes, “The great goal of providence is the shining forth of the glory of God in the holiness and happiness of his people through Jesus Christ.”

My own experience as I neared the end of Providence was a keen sense of disappointment that the book was drawing to a close. Frankly, Providence helped me maintain a God-centered perspective, even in the midst of a tumultuous year.

Providence is a theological tour de force. It is heart-warming, mind-riveting, and soul-shaping. My hope is that Piper’s great accomplishment, dare I say his magnum opus, will have a similar impact on countless people around the world. There is no question that John Piper’s Providence will be one of the most read and treasured books of 2021.

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

Rejoice & Tremble – Michael Reeves

Michael Reeves, Rejoice & Tremble (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2021), 179 pp.

I’ll never forget my visit to St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida. It was a rare opportunity to see Dr. R.C. Sproul preach. I entered the sanctuary to a bustle of people. Some were visiting. Others were preparing to worship. After several minutes of exploring, I made my way into the sanctuary. Posted above the main entryway were words that said in essence, “You are moving from the profane to the holy.”

I made my way to the fourth row where I engaged in some conversation with others. Before I knew it, an older woman seated in front of me turned around to face me, put one finger to her mouth, and made it clear that this was not the time to chit-chat. This woman was convinced that we had moved from the profane to the holy. Is it any wonder that R.C. Sproul says, “We have made our worship services more secular than sacred, more common than uncommon, more profane than holy.” Tragically, many churches fail to see the gravity of worship. They have turned worship into a three-stage circus.

One of the most reoccurring themes in Scripture is the command to fear the Lord. Michael Reeves drives this point home in his recent book, Rejoice & Tremble: The Surprising Good News of the Fear of the Lord. Reeves argues strenuously and persuasively that “the fear of God is just the tonic we need.”

Few books have been written that explore the theme of fearing God, so Dr. Reeves’s book is a much-welcomed and much-needed guest. In a stroke of biblical genius, the author distinguishes between “sinful fear” and “right fear.” It appears that many people have misunderstood what it means to fear God. Reeves is set on correcting this dilemma.

Sinful fear, of course, is prohibited in Scripture. Adam is the first example of one whose sinful fear caused him to flee from God. “This is the fear of God,” writes Reeves, “that is at odds with the love of God. Dreading, opposing, and retreated from God, this fear generates the doubt that rationalizes unbelief. It is the motor for both atheism and idolatry, inspiring people to invent alternative ‘realities’ in place of the living God.” The end result of this sinful fear leads to marginalizing God’s beauty and abandoning him, in the final analysis.

The solution, according to Dr. Reeves, is manifesting “right fear” of God, which involves a blend of fear and joy: “There is no tension between this fear and joy. Rather, this trembling “fear of God” is a way of speaking about the sheer intensity of the saints’ happiness in God. In other words, the biblical theme of the fear of God helps us to see the sort of joy that is most fitting for believers.” Reeves continues:

The fear of God as a strong biblical theme thus stands as a superb theological guard dog. It stops us from thinking that we are made for either passionless performance or a detached knowledge of abstract truths. It backs us into the acknowledgment that we are made to know God in such a way that our hearts tremble at his beauty and splendor, that we are remade at the deepest level. It shows us that entering the life of Christ involves a transformation of our very affections so that we begin actually to despise – and not merely renounce – the sins we once cherished, and treasure the God we once abhorred.

Rejoice & Tremble will challenge and encourages readers and push them forward in ways that are God-honoring. Indeed, this is only the tip of the iceberg as Michael Reeves challenges followers of Christ to make their ascent to the summit of God’s glory. In the end, as the author makes clear, the fear of the Lord subdues and eliminates fears that plague the people of God.

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

“Dancing” in the Cemetery: A Meditation on the Death of Rush Limbaugh

The news of conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh’s death prompted responses around the country. He was affectionately referred to as “the Babe Ruth of talk radio.” Sean Hannity said, “He was an innovator. He was a pioneer. He was a trailblazer. He was a great patriot.” Brit Hume called Limbaugh “a giant.” Representative Jim Jordan called him “an icon, patriot, an American hero.” And former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich referred to Limbaugh’s death as “a tragic moment.” Gingrich added, “He was a wonderful man and one of the greatest heroic figures of the conservative movement.”

But not everyone was so quick to pay homage to the iconic talk show host. One sentence, in particular, caught my attention yesterday. The vitriolic remark that was directed at Limbaugh saddened and angered me. The comment was so inflammatory and mean-spirited, I’ve chosen not to quote it here. It was that bad.

Abusing Liberty

As Americans, we have been granted the gift of the first amendment which gives us the freedom to speak our minds. We have the freedom to disagree. We have the freedom to dissent. We have the freedom to differ with our ideological opponents. Benjamin Franklin said, “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” And so we exercise our first amendment rights, in despite the current trend by Progressives to silence free speech. We offer our opinions and should be able to do so without fear of censorship or persecution.

As Christians, however, we have a higher calling than the first amendment. We are called to love our ideological opponents: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43–45, ESV).

While we are protected by the first amendment in America, we run the risk of abusing our liberty when we zealously heap unfair insults and accusations on our ideological foes. We abuse our liberty when we “dance” on the tombstone of our ideological enemies. Such a path is simply not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ. “Our chief end,” according to the Westminster Confession of Faith is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” One of the ways we glorify God is by loving those with whom we disagree.

The Way Forward

Loving our enemies does not necessarily mean we agree with their worldview, support their ideology, or endorse their political convictions. It is entirely possible to actively oppose our opponents but maintain a posture of respect. For example, former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. made the following comments after receiving word of Limbaugh’s death:

Sometimes I didn’t agree with him, but I admire him for what he was able to get accomplished. I hope Democrats and Republicans alike take what’s most important about him from him, which is don’t forget the betrayed, forgot, and marginalized in our society whatever they may look like. It turned out to behave, vengeful, try to help them. On his best days, that’s what he tried to do.

Ford is not a political conservative. Yet, he is able to show respect to Limbaugh and honor his legacy. The way forward requires clear thinking and hearts that submit to Scripture. Followers of Christ would do well to remember a few critical principles before we set foot in the graveyard of our enemies.

1. Remember that each person is created in the image of God

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Since all people are made in God’s image and created to glorify him (Isa. 43:7), they have inherent dignity. Psalm 8:3-5 says, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” Helmut Thielicke beautifully expresses the truth of mankind’s dignity:

His greatness rests solely on the fact that God in his incomprehensible goodness has bestowed his love upon him. God does not love us because we are so valuable. We are valuable because God loves us … The primary controlling relation that leads to the definition of what is, therefore, the relation to God.1

2. Remember that Christian compassion should undergird our attitudes and actions

Scripture reminds us, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12–14, ESV).

3. Remember that our words will be read by our opponents family and friends

Each time I read a piece of angry rhetoric directed at Rush Limbaugh, I wonder how these words affect his wife, Kathryn or members of his family. Perhaps we should stop and think before we utter a series of words that might cause someone else to experience pain, especially someone who is grieving the death of a loved one.

4. Remember that we are accountable for our words

The Word of God reminds us, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37, ESV). Ours is a higher calling. Our challenge is to obey God’s divine standard: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV). J.C. Ryle says, “May we never care what men say of us, so long as we walk in the light of God’s Word. May we strive and pray to be wholly independent of, and indifferent to man’s opinion, so long as we please God.”2

Post-Mortem: A New Perspective

None of this is to suggest that we hide our views or change our convictions. John Adams said, “Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” Our first amendment rights give us the freedom to disagree with our opponents. So argue your case. Make your convictions known. Passionately plead your case and proclaim your worldview. Exercise your God-given rights. Disagree with Rush Limbaugh. Make your voice heard. But if you are unable to be respectful with your ideological opponents who are relegated to the graveyard, keep your opinion to yourself. Find somewhere else to “dance.”

  1. Helmut Thielicke, Nihilism (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1961), 110-111.
  2. J.C. Ryle, Warnings to the Churches (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), 37.

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality – Nancy Pearcey

pNancy Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality Grand Rapids: Baker, 2018, 337 pp. $15.31

The publication of Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity sent shockwaves throughout the evangelical world and help equip a new generation of apologists. Total Truth confronted the notion that scientific knowledge and moral knowledge are separated into two domains. The lower story includes objective truths that are public and valid for all people. This is the realm of empirical science. These truths are true and verifiable. The upper story includes the realm of moral knowledge which is private, relative, and subjective. Hence, the so-called unified concept of truth was obliterated and separated into two domains.

Pearcey’s previous works, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning and Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes have also left an indelible mark on the church and culture at large. The impact of these books on me personally, cannot be overstated. My suspicion is that many people would concur.

Nancy Pearcey’s newest offering, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality pick up where the other titles left off. The overarching goal of Love Thy Body is to “uncover the worldview that drives the secular ethic.” Ultimately, the book is designed to “show that a secular morality doesn’t fit the real universe.”

Readers familiar with Pearcey will quickly see the influence of Francis Schaeffer on her thought. It was Schaeffer who originally exposed the so-called “fact/value” split which has created a fractured epistemology that continues to be propagated today.

Pearcey shows the practical outgrowth of this fragmented worldview (or the two-story worldview) by pointing to several contemporary culture matters including abortion, euthanasia, “same-sex marriage,” and transgenderism. She helps readers understand how these various worldviews have been smuggled into our culture and links each of them to the two-story dichotomy.

Readers will be encouraged and challenged to walk through the argument of Love Thy Body and will be better equipped to not only contend with culture but also reach out to people who have been deceived by a pagan worldview.

Readers will discover that Pearcey’s argument is not combative. Rather, her heart cries for people who have been co-opted by this deviant worldview. She pleads with readers to reach out and love people with Christ-centered love: “Christians must present biblical morality in a way that reveals the beauty of the biblical view of the human person so that people actually want it to be true.”

Love Thy Body is a book that is filled with description and prescription. Facts and figures run through the book but the author is not content to leave her readers with data alone. She sets forth a workable prescription which is set on helping people and healing them at the deepest level. Therefore, “We must work to educate and persuade on a worldview level,” writes Pearcey. Such an approach is imperative if Christ-followers have any hope of reaching a lost world with the saving message of the gospel. Running through the book is a mindset that Pearcey, no doubt, learned from Schaeffer, namely, sharing the gospel with a tear in one’s eye.

Love Thy Body is riveting, challenging, educational, a shot to the heart, a challenge for the mind, and bold push for the feet. It will spark controversy in some venues and may even precipitate debate in the local church. Surely, this kind of debate is necessary as Christians seek to influence culture for God’s glory.

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