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Category Archives: David P. Craig

Dr. David P. Craig has been happily married for 21 years and has five children and three grand children. He has been a youth pastor for six years, a Senior Pastor for 16 years, and is currently working as a Gospel Centered Life Coach with Vertical Living Ministries – a ministry committed to equipping disciples and leaders to place Christ’s Lordship at the center of all of life. His doctoral dissertation was based on helping Christians to develop a “Vertical Life Plan” for strategically and intentionally placing Christ at the center of every aspect of life. He earned his doctorate of ministry at Northwest Graduate School of the Ministry in Seattle (Now Bakke Graduate School); his M.Div. at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA; and a B.S. in Biblical Education at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. David speaks Spanish fluently and has done several workshops and conferences for pastors and missionaries in Argentina, Cuba, and India.

Book Review on Bryan A. Follis’ “Truth and Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer.”

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Evangelistic Help for the 21st Century

Book Reviewed by David P. Craig

One wouldn’t think that a person who ministered and died in the mid to late 20th century would be one of the most helpful models for apologetics and evangelism in the 21st century, but in this book Follis makes a compelling case for Francis Schaeffer being an excellent model for us in these key areas of living out the Christian life.

Though Francis Schaeffer has been both lauded and attacked as a Theologian, Philosopher, and Apologist. He never claimed to be a proponent of any of these monikers. Schaeffer did not consider himself an academic or even an intellectual. When Schaeffer was frequently asked what he was he would say repeatedly (according to James Sire and others who knew him well) that he was not in “academic apologetics but his interest was in evangelism.”

When you read the works of Schaeffer, in particular what he classified as his Trilogy:  The God Who Is There; Escape From Reason; and He Us There, And He Is Not Silent” you would think he is actually an outstanding Theologian, Philosopher, and Apologist. However, all of Schaeffer’s writing (beginning at the age of 56) was really from his ministry of listening to, teaching, and counseling of a wide variety of humanity (from disillusioned Viet Nam veterans to hippies, from blue collar workers to white collar intellectuals. Schaeffer was primarily interested in the Lordship of Christ and that he would make a compelling case with others of how a relationship with Jesus was the center of everything.

The center of anyone’s life – if it is not filled with Christ – is ultimately a meaningless or empty center. Therefore, in this book Bryan Follis demonstrates how the writing, speaking, ministry, and lifestyle of Francis and Edith Schaeffer was so impactful because it was full of genuine love for humanity (as made in God’s image – and thus extremely valuable) and wrapped in objective truth in propositions and principles that emanated from the Bible.

In the final analysis what the Schaeffer’s modeled was a ministry that was balanced powerfully with a leaning into the supernatural reality of the Holy Spirit that resulted in genuine love and compelling truth. Christians that emphasize either truth without love, or love without truth will have a hard time in apologetics or evangelism. The Schaeffer’s are a wonderful model for all Christians for all time. They showed tangibly how to love God with all ones mind, heart, soul, and strength and in the process loved many “neighbors” as themselves into the Kingdom of God.

Follis has provided an excellent overview and guide into lessons that we may glean so that we too may be effective evangelists for Christ in the 21st century and beyond.

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Book Review on Francis Schaeffer’s “True Spirituality”

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Spirituality for The Real World

Reviewed By David P. Craig

In the introduction to this book on sanctification (how to live the Christian life) Francis Schaeffer says that it should have been his first book. In most of his books he is primarily concerned with engaging the mind, but this is a book that is primarily concerned with engaging the heart. He didn’t write this book until 1971, but wrestled with its contents mainly in 1953 and 1954 while on furlough from his ministry in Switzerland. Much of the material in this book came from Schaeffer’s wrestling with the reality of Christianity. He was wrestling with whether or not Christianity was true, and whether or not this truth in application really worked in the real world.

Here’s what Schaeffer discovered as God brought him out of his crises of faith:

(1) He found a solid foundation for how own faith and life. He became convinced again that the Bible answers the most basic questions that all humans can ask. This gave him delight in the biblical message as the source of the only true explanation of our existence.

(2) He developed a confidence in the Scriptures as the authoritative and inerrant Word of God. This confidence in the Scriptures would in God’s providence, be of enormous help to him in the work the Lord was preparing for him to accomplish.

(3) In the same way, he was being prepared to deal with the great barrage of questions, doubts, and hurts that would come at him from Christians who were struggling with their faith, for in the years to come many of these people would come to his home at L’Abri for answers.

(4) Prayer became more real to him and the supernatural realities of God’s working in his life and the lives of those he ministered to became paramount to the success of L’Abri. He would often say, “How many churches and ministries would not even notice and would carry on in exactly the same manner as usual, even though every reference to dependence on the Holy Spirit and to prayer were suddenly to disappear from the pages of the New Testament!”

5) He discovered that the central, unfolding theme of God’s revelation is the love shown by God to us, and the trusting and dependent love that we are called to show Him in return.

Early in the book Schaeffer distinguishes the difference of  justification by faith (the beginning of the Christian’s life) and sanctification by faith (the rest of the Christian’s life). He says, “The important thing after being born spiritually is to live. There is new birth, and then there is the Christian life to be lived. This is the area of sanctification, from the time of the new birth through this present life, until Jesus comes or until we die.”

In thirteen chapters Schaeffer does a masterful job of showing that that Christian life involves the head, heart, and hands and biblically, theologically, and practically develops the following four themes:

(1) The true Christian life, true spirituality, does not just mean that we have been born again. It must begin there, but it means much more than that. It does not mean only that we are going to be in heaven. It does mean that, but it means much more than that. The true Christian life, true spirituality in the present life, means more than being justified and knowing that I am going to heaven.

(2) It is not just a desire to get rid of taboos in order to live an easier and a looser life. Our desire must be for a deeper life. And when I begin to think about this, the Bible presents to me the whole of the Ten Commandments and the whole of the Law of Love.

(3) True spirituality, the true Christian life, is not just outward, but it is inward–it is not to covet against God and mankind.

(4) The Christian life is positive–positive in inward reality, and then positive in outward results. The inward thing is to be positive and not just negative, and then sweeping out of the inward positive reality, there is to be a positive manifestation externally. It is not just that we are dead to certain things, but we are to love God, we are to be alive to Him, we are to be in communion with Him, in this present moment of history. And we are to love men, to be alive to men as men, and to be in communication on a true personal level with men, in this present moment of history.

Schaeffer does a wonderful job of addressing the world, the flesh, and the devil; as well as helping you find freedom from the bondage of sin. He also shows the antithesis of Christian living in comparing the reality of Christianity with the unreality of other religions and world-views.  I highly recommend this book in helping you understand the wonderful and exhilierating doctrine of sanctification.

 

Book Review on R.C. Sproul’s: The Prayer of the LORD

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Great Insights and Principles On Prayer – Reviewed By David P. Craig

There are some great books that hone in on the specificities of what has commonly become known as “The Lord’s Prayer” – particularly it’s exposition from Matthew 6:9-13. This week I will be completing a preaching series on the “Lord’s Prayer” which began in January and will be ending in May of 2018. I read seven books specifically as expositions or sermons based on the Lord’s Prayer of which this was one of those seven. I also consulted various commentaries on the passage as well.

Of all the resources I consulted on the Lord’s Prayer that I enjoyed Sproul’s the most. This book not only breaks down the specific petitions in the prayer but also contains helpful chapters on the following: “How Not to Pray”; “Questions and Answers” on Prayer from various passages of Scripture; and a whole chapter devoted to the question: “If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray?”

If I were only going to get only one book specifically on “The Lord’s Prayer” this is the one I would recommend. Sproul is a master communicator and does an excellent job providing insights, principles, and pointed applications that help you to be more God-centered, God-focused, and God-glorifying in your prayer life. As I have been taking in Sproul’s insights I have found myself growing in my intimacy with Christ, and helping others to do the same.

 

 

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Book Review of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

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“Insightful Thoughts From a Beautiful Follower of Jesus”

Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (what a beautiful name) has written a delightful book highlighting her conversion to Christ and instruction on many topics that are thought provoking and insightful. Among the variety of topics covered in this book are evangelism; hospitality; education; homosexuality; church planting; male and female roles in complementarity; hermeneutics; dating; marriage; parenting; foster care; adoption; and worship.

The author writes in an entertaining way, and yet shares insights with tremendous depth and cogent logic. My wife and I have both enjoyed discussing the variety of topics brought forth by Butterfield and are grateful for her wisdom and biblical insight. Though we don’t agree with all of Butterfield’s conclusions we especially appreciated her honesty; critique of Christian legalism; and insights into reaching out to those who identify themselves in any way other than “Christian.”

As a pastor in a very secular community I was given many illustrations that will help me become better at reaching out to those who are “outsiders” of our church community. I am grateful that Rosaria has shared her “secret thoughts” publicly. As a result I think that my wife and I have been equipped to be “salt and light” in our community and will be more effective in our outreach to those who desperately need Christ (as do we) in our community.

Rosaria is to be commended for her service to our Lord as a Christian wife, mother, educator, evangelist, and disciple maker. Any follower of Christ would be encouraged in their pursuit of Christlikeness and better reflect His inner and outer beauty as a result of reading and practicing the wisdom articulated in this delightful book.

 

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Book Review on Cabal’s and Rasor’s “Controversy Of The Ages”

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A Good Example of Civil Discussion on A Controversial Topic

Book Review by Dr. David P. Craig

As a pastor who tries to keep current with the latest discoveries and teachings in science and how they mesh with the Bible I found this book immensely helpful from a Christian perspective. The author’s do several things really well in this book:

(1) They give a good overview of the history of the interplay between science and biblical interpretation with a very interesting analysis of The Copernican Conflict; The Advent of Darwinian Evolution;  The Scopes Trial and its results; and the more recent controversy over the age of the earth.

(2) They present a consistent hermeneutic learned from Galileo that assumes biblical inerrancy, not inerrant interpretation and the objective truth that nature and and biblical revelation cannot be in conflict/disagree. There must be a striving for both theologians and scientists to pursue truth in special (biblical revelation) and nature (general revelation).

(3) They give a very interesting discussion of evolution and how it was received by both scientists and theologians within a short time following his completing his Origin of the Species. They discuss some of the main issues of conflict brought on by the acceptance of Darwin’s theory from its inauguration until modern times between theologians and scientists of note.

(4) They demonstrate that the resulting world view of Darwinian Evolution has resulted in many liberal theologians and scientists buying into “metaphysical naturalism, that everything interesting about the world reveals there is no God;” as well as how, “human experience rather than the Bible has become the ground of Christian knowledge.”

(5) Throughout the book the author’s give a helpful analysis of the three main views among Theologians and Scientists today as exemplified by Young Earth Creationists (as propounded by Henry Morris, Ken Ham, and Andrew Snelling) and their largest organization: Answers In Genesis; by Old Earth Creationists (as propounded in particular by Hugh Ross and those in his ilk), and its primary organization; Reasons To Believe; and lastly, the most recent organization that sings the praises of Evolution: BioLogos – with its influential proponents like C. Francis Collins.

(6) There is a fascinating discussion of flood theories, fossils, and dating mechanisms in dating the earth – pro and con for both old and young.

(7) One of the most helpful aspects of this book is its discussion of first, second, and third level doctrines that are essential to Christianity. The author’s refer to Albert Mohler’s “Theological Triage of three levels to ascertain theological urgencies.” For example, first level or essential doctrines to Christianity would include “doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.” Second order or level doctrines would include issues that often separate congregations and denominations like the mode and method of baptism and whether women can serve as pastors. Third level doctrines would include the eschatological unfolding of the plan of God (e.g. pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, a-millennialism) and issues like the one the authors are addressing. The authors apply the principle of theological triage to the three main views today with reference to science and theology. It is a very interesting and enlightening discussion of the relative unimportance of “age” with reference to the essentials related to the gospel and what makes one a Christian.

Cabal and Rasor have written a very civil book on the interplay of the various issues and views in regard to scientific and biblical interpretation. I think they have written a book that helps lay people like me understand the complexity of the issues and yet puts the “cookies on the shelf” so that one can see that though these issues are important – they are not essential to the gospel, but are nevertheless important and demand that extremists be balanced and listen to one another as everyone seeks to interpret all of God’s revelation (the written Word and the natural world) in a gracious manner that is always and ever in pursuit of God’s truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review on Donald S. Whitney’s Praying The Bible

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A Simple Guide To Learning How To Pray The Scriptures

Reviewed By Dr. David P. Craig

I have completed several books by Donald Whitney over the years and always appreciate the fact that he is doctrinally sound and extremely practical. This little book is no exception. Whitney’s goal in this book is to help the reader overcome the “boring routine of saying the same old things about the same old things” by teaching the reader the variety, freshness, and excitement of praying through the Bible.

Perhaps the most helpful chapter in the book is the section on “Praying the Psalms.” He quotes Ben Patterson, “By praying the Psalms back to God, we learn to pray in tune with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In learning to pray through the Psalms it helps the one praying to be (a) Balanced in prayer – as the Psalms convey every doctrine in the Bible; (b) Emotionally healthy – as the Psalms deal with every human emotion: joy, anger, fear, anxiety, discouragement, loneliness, etc.; (c) God centered – usually we have a tendency to be self-absorbed – the Psalms get our focus back on God; (d) Accurate – Whitney writes, “God gave the Psalms to us so that we would give the Psalms back to God. No other book of the Bible was inspired for this express purpose.”

Whitney, also has a helpful guide to praying through the 150 Psalms in the back of the book. Praying through this plan insures direction and guidance for prayer as well as momentum for prayer. The author gives great examples of how to pray other Scriptures and various genres and even tackles some thorny questions related to prayer. I have been tremendously helped in my own prayer life by this terrific book and I’m convinced that it will help anyone grow in their excitement and communication with the Lord in prayer.

 

 

 

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Book Review of Peter Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”

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The Missing Element Of Biblical Discipleship

By Dr. David P. Craig

The two ministry points that I’m most passionate about are biblical preaching and making multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ. I have been discipling men for over thirty years and I have found that the missing element in most discipleship curriculum and workbooks is the whole area of emotional health. Peter Scazzero’s books (he’s also written  The Emotionally Healthy Church and The Emotionally Healthy Leader) are like Biblical Discipleship 201, 301, and 401. It is essential to know how to study the Bible, pray, share one’s faith, etc. However, the emotional health of Christians is often ignored, neglected, and never addressed. Along with other discipleship oriented books – Emotionally Healthy Spirituality will help make a Christian disciple truly whole and holy.

As a pastor for the past thirty years In four different churches I have seen many elderly people who have been Christians for many years, but instead of being mature emotionally, many of these people have simply plateaued at the age of 10, 20, or 30 and have lived stuck in their immaturity emotionally for years. Instead of being Christians for sixty years it’s more like they have lived for sixty years as a ten-year-old Christian.

In this book Scazzero addresses the emotional make-up of people using a plethora of biblical and practical applications. He also draws on historical figures that have much to say about biblical emotions. He also addresses the ramifications of generational sin, familial dysfunctions, and cultural distractions that get between us and our walk with God.

The first seven chapters primarily deal with the problems associated with emotionally unhealthy spirituality and the last three chapters give hope through solutions. Using a variety of spiritual disciplines and personal examples Scazzero helps the Christian identify emotional unhealthiness and easy cures based on the Scriptures. For anyone who is passionate about transformation, liberation from bondage, and following in the steps of Christ this book is a must read. It’s extremely beneficial to read this book in a small group along with the workbook and DVD that are based on this book. I have taken five groups of men through this book and several of the men have described this book as “revolutionary,” “paradigm-shifting,” and “life-transforming.”

I highly recommend Scazzero’s books be read along with their workbooks in small groups (men with men; and women with women) for maximum transparency, accountability, and transformation into the likeness and image of Christ.

 

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