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Wisdom for Interacting With Relativists

 Fast Facts on Tactfully Sharing Christian Convictions on Controversial Cultural Issues from Christian Ministries International.

Calvin arguing
When asked for your opinion on a controversial cultural issue, first ask your questioner, “Do you consider yourself to be an open-minded person who is tolerant of people who hold different beliefs from yours?”

The above question will disarm your discussion partner of ad hominem attacks (calling you names like “bigot”) and force them to engage in a rational discussion of the issue and your beliefs.

  • Explain that all of your personal beliefs as a Christian ultimately rest on three fundamental questions: Is there a God? Has He spoken? And if so, will we obey?

  • Point out that if God exists, and if He’s spoken on a given issue, the only appropriate response from us is obedience.

  • Share what God has revealed as truth on the issue you’re discussing. If your discussion partner protests, remind them that our personal opinions are irrelevant if God exists and if He’s spoken.

  • Offer to examine these fundamental questions with your discussion partner. Continue to point them to the evidence of a Creator who has revealed truth to His creation.

Source: http://gpo.r.mailjet.com/redirect/1pn8t1h8m890hpc6sgndcd/www.christianministriesintl.org/fast-facts/052114/

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Are Christians to “Pursue Happiness?” by Ken Myers

AGCABSS Ken Myers

 

The Pursuit of Happiness

 

When Thomas Jefferson selected the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” to describe one of the unalienable rights of man, he was appropriating an idea with a very long history. Since the time of Aristotle and before, happiness was understood as a condition to which all people properly aspire. But for the Greeks, as for the biblical writers, happiness was an objective reality, not just a feeling or an emotional state. The phrase “whatever makes you happy,” so commonly uttered today, would have been nonsense to Hebrews, Greeks, and Christians alike, since it implies no fixed moral order in which happiness resides.

Happiness is roughly synonymous with the biblical idea of “blessedness.” In classical and medieval Christian ethics happiness referred to a state of human flourishing or well-being that aligned the life of a person with the truest good. Actions, thoughts, desires, and ambitions had to be ordered in light of the proper end of mankind for a person to be truly happy. Happiness was thus an ethical, not a psychological project. To pursue happiness was to pursue the whole reason for one’s being, but that meant recognizing that one’s desires and actions were in need of correction. It meant accounting for the fact that human beings did not instinctively pursue the truest good, that some very attractive pleasures were not truly in keeping with the most essential contours of our nature. In Christian terms, the pursuit of happiness meant recognizing that God had created us to flourish in the context of obedience to Him so that our image-bearing nature might display His glory. Since our sin and consequent waywardness alienated us from our deepest, truest identity, the pursuit of happiness was only possible by grace, since we cannot by our own strength resist the disordering effects of sin in our lives.

So happiness on this historic account is really a function of sanctification, of growth in holy obedience. That formulation would no doubt come as a shock to most of our contemporaries, perhaps even to many Christians, though it would have probably caused a nod of affirmation from most pagan philosophers. How has it come about that a nation often assumed to be Christian, a nation also obsessed with pursuing happiness, has acquired such an anti-Christian understanding of what it means to be happy?

Part of the answer is tied up with the radical innovations in ethical thought that took shape during the eighteenth-century, the Enlightenment culture in which Jefferson was at home. It was a time in which philosophers were abandoning the idea of an essential human nature that defined human ends. It was, in a sense, an abandonment of the idea of sin, since these Enlightenment thinkers were quite willing to talk about (in Alasdair MacIntyre’s words) “untutored-human-nature-as-it-is,” and base their understanding of ethics and politics on a picture of an intrinsically innocent human nature. This was a time in which the freedom of the individual was becoming the ultimate good, for individuals and societies. The philosophies of the time when our nation was founded were committed to the idea of the individual as sovereign in his moral authority (see MacIntyre, After Virtue, p. 62).

In such a context, the venerable idea of the pursuit of happiness took on a whole new meaning. Happiness came to be understood as whatever any individual conceives it to be. Since it could no longer be objectively defined in terms of a fixed purpose for human nature, the pursuit of happiness soon came to mean the pursuit of pleasure, the relentless quest for fun, for an emotional state of carefree bliss. And this state need have no correlation to the ethical choices one has made, to the way one has ordered one’s life. In fact, many Americans seem committed to pursuing this kind of happiness by means of making bad ethical choices: committing adultery, dishonoring their parents, killing their unborn children, abusing their own bodies. When happiness becomes merely a mood, the sustaining of which is the highest good, rules tend to get broken, like eggs in Lenin’s omelet.

In the twentieth century, aided by the rise of mass media and ubiquitous forms of entertainment, the pursuit of happiness-as-fun came to be felt as a kind of moral imperative. Writing in the mid-1950s, psychologist Martha Wolfenstein noted the emergence of what she called “fun morality,” an ethic that displaced the old-fashioned goodness morality “which stressed interference with impulses. Not having fun is an occasion for self-examination: ‘What is wrong with me?’ …Whereas gratification of forbidden impulses traditionally aroused guilt, failure to have fun now lowers one’s self-esteem.” Not only has happiness been detached from objective human ends and identified uncritically with personal pleasure, the pleasures assumed to be the source of happiness are increasingly the most trivial and fleeting. Submitting to the dictates of fun morality makes the passive consumption of entertainment a more plausible road to happiness than subtler, more demanding pleasures like learning to play the violin, acquiring a love of literature, or cultivating a beautiful garden.

As it happens, the dominant assumption that happiness is a custom-built project with potentially instant payoffs does not seem to have made most people that much happier. In a recent essay entitled “The Pursuit of Emptiness,” John Perry Barlow observes: “Of my legion friends and acquaintances who have become citizens of Prozac Nation, I have never heard any of them claim that these drugs bring them any closer to actual happiness. Rather, they murmur with listless gratitude, anti-depressants have pulled them back from The Abyss. They are not pursuing happiness. They are fleeing suicide.” Barlow reports on an experiment in looking for smiles on the faces of people in the “upscale organic supermarket” in San Francisco in which he regularly shops. In eleven months, seeing thousands of faces, “nearly all of them healthy, beautiful, and very expensively groomed,” he counted seven smiles, three of which he judged insincere. Instead, in supermarkets and elsewhere, he sees a characteristic “expression of troubled self-absorption [which] has become a nearly universal mask.” Trying to find happiness on our own terms, rather than on the terms our Creator has built into our nature, is an exhausting and disappointing undertaking.

Carl Elliott, author of the book Better than Well, perceptively documents how many Americans use various “enhancement technologies” in the effort to feel better about themselves (which may be the working definition of happiness for many of our contemporaries). Elliot senses that the American project of pursuing happiness has become so desperate that it now seems to require “not only that I pursue happiness, but that I pursue it aggressively, club it into unconsciousness, and drag it back bound and gagged to my basement.” The lengths to which people go to nab happiness are astonishing: the drugs they take; the fantasies they sustain; the money they spend; the relationships they poison.

There is something of a backlash against this militant happiness-seeking, this regime of relentless perkiness. Earlier this year, Eric Wilson’s slim manifesto, Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, was greeted by a chorus of sympathy. Wilson questioned the virtue of striving to be perpetually upbeat, reminding readers that it is sometimes quite emotionally healthy to respond to the tragedies of life with darker sentiments. Other recent books have questioned the tendency to treat sadness as a mental illness. These protests are fine as far as they go, but they are still working with the assumption that happiness is a subjective state.

The recovery of a richer vision for human happiness is a project for which Christians are uniquely situated. We believe, unlike most of our contemporaries, that we are made to delight in the knowledge and love of God, to find our fulfillment as creatures only as we walk in His ways. Knowing also that we live in a world disordered by sin, we recognize that true blessedness will often, until Christ returns, involve suffering, persecution, and sacrifice. Our happiness is not a right, but a gift from one who was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. To the best of our knowledge, Jesus never asked the disciples: “Are we having fun yet?” But He did teach them that faithful servants would enter into the joy of their master. Happiness is the fruit of aligning our lives with God’s purposes for us. “If you keep my commandments,” Jesus promised, “you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:10–11). The pursuit of such single-minded faithfulness, not simple-minded fun, is the true road to human happiness.

 

About Ken Myers: is host and producer of Mars Hill Audio in Quinque, Virginia. He is author of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture.

© Tabletalk magazine – September 1st, 2008. 
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to http://www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Any exceptions to the above must be formally approved by Tabletalk.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: http://www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800

 

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A Fascinating Look At 112 Triads Illuminating the Trinity by John M. Frame

Adapted from Appendix 1 in the phenomenal book: The Doctrine of God by *John M. Frame, Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2002

I will present here a list of triads that have sometimes been thought to reflect or illumine the Trinity in some way. I will offer a few comments, but normally will present them without comment.

I have tried to weed out those that seem to me to be obviously arbitrary, contrived, or uninteresting, but readers should not assume my evaluation of any of these. I do not place any theological weight on these examples—nor do I urge readers to do so. All I would claim is that these triads are of some interest and that they may in some measure reflect, illumine, or provide for the evidence of the Trinity on any of these triads (except for the first one).

Some are taken from other sources, but I will not be able to provide adequate documentation in many cases. I have been building this list for many years, and I have lost track of many sources, for which I apologize to the authors (Nathan Wood, The Trinity in the Universe, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1984 has an even longer list of vestigia). The chapter numbers refer to the chapters in The Doctrine of God.

Scripture and Christian Theology Triads

 (1) Texts anticipating, reflecting, or explicitly teaching the Trinity (chaps. 27-29).

(2) Divine act, covenant making, and period of application.

(3) History, law, and sanctions, as elements of the suzerainty treaty.

(4) God’s word as powerful, meaningful, and self-expressive (See John Frame, Perspectives on the Word of God, Eugene, OR.: Wipf and Stock, 1999, 9-16).

(5) Events, words, and persons as media of God’s word (See Perspectives, 17-35).

(6) Prophet, priest, king.

(7) Revelation, inspiration, and illumination (See Perspectives, 31-32).

(8) Revelation: general, special, and existential.

(9) Control, authority, and presence, as God’s lordship attributes (as discussed throughout The Doctrine of God).

(10) God’s oneness as unity, equality, and concord (Augustine).

(11) Goodness, knowledge, and power, as classifications of divine attributes (as in this volume). Omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, as exemplifications of these.

(12) The theological account of God’s holiness as mysterium temendum et fascinans (mystery arousing fear and fascination – Rudolph Otto).

(13) The threefold repetition of “holy” in Isaiah 6:3.

(14) God as life (John 14:6), light (1 John 1:5), and love (1 John 4:8, 16).

(15) God’s righteousness as standards, actions, and moral excellence (chap. 21).

(16) God’s will as decree, precept, and wisdom (chap. 23).

(17) God’s spirituality as control, authority, and presence (chap. 25).

(18) God’s acts, attributes, and persons.

(19) Miracles as signs, wonders, and powers (chap. 13).

(20) Creation of heaven, earth, and sea (the three-layered universe).

(21) The sun, moon, and stars.

(22) Providence as government, revelation, and concurrence.

(23) God’s decrees, creation-providence, and redemption.

(24) Law, redemption accomplished, and redemption applied (chap. 13).

(25) Jesus as the Word, his acts in history, and his nature as God and man (chap. 13).

(26) Election, effectual calling, and individual soteriology (chap. 13).

(27) Biblical history: the old covenant period, from the incarnation to the Resurrection, Pentecost to the consummation.

(28) The three parts of the Old Testament in the Hebrew Bible: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.

(29) Many triads in Bible stories and laws: three stories in Noah’s ark, three sendings of birds after the Flood, three sons of Noah, three visitors to Abraham, three patriarchs, three divisions of the tabernacle, three feast periods, three offerings. The cleansing of a leper by blood, water, and oil on the ear, thumb, and toe (Leviticus 14:1-20). Three years in Jesus’ ministry, three temptations, and three crosses.

(30) Grain, wine, and oil as chief staples, elements of offerings, sacraments, and rites.

(31) Creation, redemption accomplished, and redemption applied.

(32) Man as image of God: in Meredith Kline’s view, the image consists of physical, judicial, and moral qualities (in my terms, situational, normative, and existential qualities (Meredith G. Kline, Images of the Spirit, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980).

(33) Human responsibility as accountability, liability, and integrity (chap. 8).

(34) Justification, adoption, and regeneration-sanctification as the major benefits of redemption (chap. 13).

(35) The grounds of assurance of salvation: the promises of God, the fruit of salvation in one’s life, and the internal witness of the Spirit (normative, situational, and existential).

(36) Sanctification: definitive, progressive, and final (at the consummation).

Non-Christian Religion Triads

 (37) A.A. Hodge says that the doctrine of the Trinity captures and balances the truth of deism, pantheism, and mythology, by its teaching about the Father, Spirit, and Son respectively (See his interesting discussion in A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1976, 107-10).

(38) Triadic polytheisms: (a) Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva in Hinduism; (b) Osiris, Isis, and Horus in Egyptian religion; (c) Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar (Babylon); (d) Anu, Elish, and Ea (Sumer); (e) Uranos, Kronos, and Zeus (Greece); Odin, Thor, and Loki (Norse).

(39) Raimundo Panikkar: everyone has three aspects: divine, anthropic, and cosmic (normative, existential, and situational).

(40) In mysticism: cogitation, meditation, and contemplation.

(41) In mysticism: purification, illumination, and ecstasy.

Ontology

(42) Predicables, cases, and exemplifications, like wisdom, Socrates’ wisdom, and Socrates. I see these as normative, situational, and existential (See Nicholas Wolterstorff, On Universals, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, 133).

(43) Thales is said to have believed that every object has three dimensions: physical, living, and divine.

(44) Hegel’s being, nothing, and becoming, and other triads on patterns of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

(45) Many twofold distinctions can be construed as triads, for the two terms are related in an important way, producing a unity that brings them together similar to Hegel’s dialectic. Thus: subject/object, naïve/theoretical, free/determined, one/many, form/matter, and so forth (Thanks to my correspondent Daniel Davis – henceforth DCD for this observation).

(46) Instantiation, association, and classification (Vern Poythress, described in chap. 29; other threefold distinctions in his writings: particle, wave, field; expressive, informational, productive).

(47) Beginning, middle, end.

(48) Good, true, and beautiful, seen as convertible in scholastic philosophy. But being, unity, and particularity are also among the convertible “transcendentals.”

Epistemolgy

(49) Object, subject, and law (DKG).

(50) The situational, normative, and existential perspectives.

(51) In logic: major premise, minor premise, and conclusion.

(52) Dooyeweerd: the Archimedean point, by which we see the world rightly, must not be separated from our selfhood, divine law, or the totality of the meaning of the cosmos (I see these as existential, normative, and situational, respectively).

(53) Rationalist, empiricist, and subjectivist approaches of secular philosophy (DKG).

(54) Knowledge as justified, true belief (see chaps. 11 and 22).

Ethics

(55) Faith, hope, and love, as virtues that abide (1 Cor. 13:13)

(56) Three lusts (1 John 2:16).

(57) Teleological, deontological, and existential schools of secular ethics (DCD).

(58) Great commandments: love God, love yourself, and love your neighbor.

(59) The world, the flesh, and the devil.

(60) Goal (glory of God), motive (love, faith), and standard (Word of God).

(61) Good works seek the goal of God’s glory, on the basis of the cross of Christ, in the power of the Spirit.

Language

(62) Contrast, variation, and distribution (Poythress: see chap. 29).

(63) Expressive, informational, and productive (Poythress: see chap. 29).

(64) Locution, illocution, and perlocution: locution in a piece of language; illocution is what is done in the language (command, question, statement, etc.); perlocution is what is done through the languages (educate, mislead, annoy, amuse, etc.- See J.L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975).

(65) Three grammatical persons: I, you, and he.

(66) Theories of meaning, locating meaning in the author’s intention, the hearer’s understanding, and the text itself.

Education

(67) Grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic—the classic trivium.

Mathematics

(68) Theories of mathematics: formalism (determined by inner consistency), constructivism (based on the structure of the human mind), and Platonism (mathematical objects and relations belong to the ontology of the world).

The Physical World

(69) Field, wave, and particle (see chap. 29).

(70) Red, green, and blue (the primary painters’ colors), from which other colors can be made. I have said (rather tongue-in-cheek) of the first triad that blue is the sky (normative), green is the earth (situational), and red is the interior of the body (existential).

(71) Yolk, white, and shell.

(72) Liquid, solid, and gas.

(73) Height, width, and length (Each constitutes all of space, yet they are distinct).

(74) Outside, inside, and above. (Also used as three viewpoints: “from outside,” etc.)

(75) Number, space, and time (yielding arithmetic, geometry, and calculus).

(76) Past. Present, and future.

(77) Matter, energy, and meaning. David Bohm, a disciple of Einstein, believed that each of these replicates the other two. Each is a basic manifestation of reality.

(78) The nine dimensions of some recent theories: a trinity of trinities.

(79) Root, trunk, and branches.

(80) The sun brings light, heat, and life.

The Human Body

(81) Circulation, respiration, and nervous system.

The Human Mind, Personality

(82) Mind, knowledge, and love.

(83) Memory, understanding, and will (Numbers 82-85 are important to Augustine’s discussion of the Trinity).

(84) Being, knowing, and willing.

(85) In self-knowledge: the self as subject, object, and knowledge.

(86) In self-love: the self as lover, beloved, and love.

(87) Thought, word, and deed.

(88) Intention, action, and response (especially within the same person).

(89) We form our selfhood in our relations to others.

(90) Unity and plurality in the human mind and in the human race (chap. 29).

(91) Some people are normativists, always seeking justice. Others are situationalists, wanting to be committed to a cause or activity beyond themselves. And some are existentialists, focused on their own feelings. In families, the oldest child is often normativist, and the other children sort out the other two roles. These are aspects of all or us, but we differ in focus.

Human Society, Culture

(92) Husband, wife, and child.

(93) Physician, pharmacist, and patient (Normative, situational, and existential, respectively, if you take this triad from the patient’s point of view – Taken from an ad for Women’s International Pharmacy, placing each term at one point on a triangle. Anything is fair game for theology!).

(94) Think, work, and serve (the motto of Tennessee State University – DCD).

(95)  Godel, Escher, and Bach (relatively normative, situational, and existential – See Douglas R. Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach, New York: Random House Basic Books, 1980).

(96) Piety, doctrine, and social action, seen as varying emphases among (especially Reformed) Christians. In truth, each requires the others.

Art, Music, And Literature

(97) I, IV, and V, the three primary chords, defined by triads of tones.

(98) Root position and two inversions of triadic chords.

(99) Tonic, tierce, and quiet.

(100) Melody, harmony, and rhythm (the music as composed).

(101) Timbre, volume, and harmony (the music as presented).

(102) The threefold structure of the twelve-bar blues.

(103) The threefold structure of many classical forms: theme, development, and recapitulation; fast, slow, and fast movements in sonatas and concerti; the da capo aria.

(104) Themes with variations, in which the variations correspond one-to-one with the theme, but are widely different from each other.

(105) Composer’s conception, the score, and the performance (any of these can be called “the piece” – Thanks to Steve Hays for this suggestion).

(106) beauty as integrity, proportion, and splendor.

(107) Aesthetic theories: formal (locating beauty in qualities inherent in objects), emotional (locating it in the response of the perceiver), and relational (finding beauty in the capacity of objects to arouse responses). I see these as normative, existential, and situational, repectively (DCD).

(108) “Unity within monotony” as aesthetic criterion (DCD).

(109) Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) describes three stewards: one increased the Lord’s investment, then a second did, but the third did not. As in many jokes, two people would seem to be too few, and four too many (I recall watching on TV a discussion among several comedians about “three guys” jokes [as, “An atheist, a priest, and a rabbi were going past a bar…”]. They agreed that there was something unique about the number three that was crucial to that form of humor).

The first sets up a pattern, the second establishes it as a continuing pattern, and the third consummates the pattern, driving home its significance. This is not essentially different from the work of the persons of the Trinity: initiation, accomplishment, and application (We should, of course, not see a rigid or unvarying pattern here. There are also important twofold distinctions in Scripture [e.g., Old and New Covenants, Creator and creature, double restitution for theft in the Mosaic law, law and gospel], as well as fourfold, sevenfold, tenfold, etc. But the threefold distinctions are strangely pervasive, and they hold special interest for our present discussion).

(110) The chiasm is a frequent literary device in Scripture, especially in the Pslams, but also in prophecy, prose narratives, etc. It is essentially an A-B-A form in which one idea, theme, image, or motif gives rise to another, then returns to the first with some level of enrichment. The chiasm can become more complicated, when the text includes chiasms within chiasms: so, A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C creates the total structure as A-B-C-DC-B-A. Often the central item (D in our example) receives the emphasis. But the overall structure can be understood as triadic: theme, additional theme, return.

(111) The chiasm exists implicitly in all literature. A story begins in a situation and encounters a problem that brings the situation to a different state: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis-consummation (as in the “quest” genre: a journey from comfort to ordeal to enlightement; stasis, katabasis, anabasis). In Scripture: Jesus’ preincarnate glory, his state of humiliation, and his resurrection and ascension to an even greater acknowledgement of his lordship; or creation, fall, redemption.

History

(112) Confrontation, consolidation, and continuation: stages of major cultural movements (reformation in the church and political change).

*John M. Frame is an American philosopher and a Calvinist theologian especially noted for his work in epistemology and presuppositional apologetics, systematic theology, and ethics. He is one of the foremost interpreters and critics of the thought of Cornelius Van Til (who he studied under while working on his B.D. at Westminster Theological Seminary). An outstanding theologian, John Frame distinguished himself during 31 years on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, and was a founding faculty member of WTS California. He is best known for his prolific writings including: Apologetics to the Glory of God; No Other God; The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God; Salvation is of the Lord; The Doctrine of the Christian Life; The Doctrine of the Word of God, and several others. He is a regular contributor to many books and reference volumes, as well as scholarly articles and magazines.

Frame was born (1939) and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He came to know Christ at around 13 or 14 years of age, through the ministry of Beverly Heights UP Church (in particular the youth and music ministries) and some Christian friends.

For his education, Frame received degrees from Princeton University (A.B.), Westminster Theological Seminary (B.D.), Yale University (A.M. and M.Phil., though he was working on a doctorate and admits his own failure to complete his dissertation), and Belhaven College (D.D.). He has served on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary and was a founding faculty member of their California campus. He currently (as of 2005) teaches Apologetics and The History of Philosophy and Christian thought at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL. He is appreciated, by many of his students, for his charitable spirit and fairness to opposing arguments (although, he fairly demolishes them nonetheless).

Frame is also a classically trained musician (he plays the piano and organ) and a critic of film, music, and other media. He has been involved in the music/worship ministry of the church since he was a teenager, upon coming to faith in Christ. He is deeply committed to the work of ministry  and training pastors.

 

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Book Review – Think Christianly: Looking At The Intersection of Faith and Culture by Jonathan Morrow

Every Christian Should Read This Book!

 I hardly ever read a book from cover to cover in one sitting. I was glued to this book from beginning to end because it is so relevant, so logical, so engaging, so insightful, and most of all – full of practical helps and solutions in penetrating culture with the gospel!

Every once in awhile a book comes along that as a pastor I hold it up in front of my congregation and say, “You need to get and read this book and then give it away – or buy two copies so you can use one as a resource and get another to give away.”

Jonathan Morrow’s book is such a book. I think we are living in as James White says, “Serious Times,” and as such it’s important for Christians to think seriously about how our faith and our influence in culture intersect. In this book Morrow takes on a monumental task – in four idea packed sections he addresses how our faith and culture intersect; secondly, how we can prepare ourselves to engage culture; thirdly, particular areas where we must engage; and lastly, ways our churches can engage in culture, and insight into why we think and act the way we do.

The book addresses issues like science, bioethics, relativism, sexual issues, and the stewardship of creation. There are very interesting interviews with experts in nineteen different areas where Christians are already engaging culture, and how we can learn from their examples (e.g., Craig Hazen, William Lane Craig, Scott Klusendorf, Dennis Rainey, Jay Wesley Richards, Scott Rae, and C. John Collins).

Each chapter has helpful statistics, questions, and insights to help you engage the issues. Also, in each chapter there are recommended books, websites, and DVD’s on the topics and as mentioned above – helpful interviews with experts in the different areas covered.

I highly recommend this book for all Christians who desire to penetrate culture intelligently, effectively, and in a gospel-centered manner. It is absolute MUST reading for college students, pastors, youth pastors, and anyone in church leadership. However, I think every Christian who reads this book will benefit from the plethora of helps offered by Morrow and the resources at your fingertips in this very helpful book. I would also recommend that this book be used in small groups, or in discipleship groups for maximum impact – so that some of the ideas will be put into practice and thus our culture really will be impacted with the gospel.

 

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Book Review: Following Christ By R.C. Sproul

Four Great Books In One Place

If you can find this book it is a terrific buy. It contains four books by R.C. Sproul in one. The original four books were entitled “Who is Jesus?” (1983); “Ethics and the Christian” (1983); and “God’s Will and the Christian” and “Effective Prayer” – both issued in 1984. These books have been reworked by reformation Trust as individual titles again. However, if you want to get a better bang for your buck try to get a copy of this book. R C Sproul is a phenomenal communicator and writes clearly, articulately, theologically and practically.

The Way “Following Christ” is organized is as follows:

Part One: Who Is Jesus?

1) Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

2) The Titles of Jesus

3) The Life of Jesus

Does Prayer Change Things?

4) The Place of Prayer

5) The Purpose of Prayer

6) The Pattern of Prayer

7) The Practice of Prayer

8) The Prohibitions of Prayer

9) The Power of Prayer

How Can I Know God’s Will?

10) The Meaning of God’s Will

11) The Meaning of Man’s Will

12) God’s Will and Your Job

13) God’s Will in Marriage

How Should I Live in This World?

14) Ethics and Morals

15) Revealed Ethics

16) Legalism and Antinomianism

17) The Ethics of Materialism

18) The Ethics of Capital Punishment

19) The Ethics of War

20) The Ethics of Abortion

21) Ethics and Conscience

I can’t recommend this book highly enough – whether you get the four books in one, or individually as they have been reissued – either way – with Sproul it’s always a winner!

 

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