A few weeks ago, I spoke at a conference of several thousand evangelical college students. Most were from Bible-believing churForeword by Randy Alcorn
A few weeks ago, I spoke at a conference of several thousand evangelical college students. Most were from Bible-believing churches like my own.
My message concerned the promise of a New Earth and the biblical principle of continuity. From Scripture, I pointed out that just as our old bodies will be destroyed, then made new in the resurrection, so the old earth will be destroyed, and then made into a New Earth. Next I cited Genesis 1 concerning why God put us on this planet. In fact, I’ll break right into the message here, quoting directly from the audio transcript, so you know exactly what I said (it’s important to the story):
….and God saw that it was good. And then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth.”
This was God’s purpose: that we rule the earth as His image-bearers to His glory; that we would care for the animals, and do the other things that we do in the development of culture.
So God created man in His own image; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number (not just the two of you; it’s going to be a world full of people). Fill the earth and subdue it.”
This word “subdue” is not a negative word. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned for the environment. And by the way, of all people, as stewards, don’t you think we ought to have reasonable concern for our environment and try to take care of it?
I hadn’t planned to ask that question, but I did. Suddenly somebody applauded. Now, at conferences, if you ask a question to a crowd and there’s widespread affirmative agreement, often enthusiastic applause erupts. If there’s moderate agreement, there’s moderate applause. But even if relatively few agree, there’s an unspoken etiquette whereby some give a token applause, perhaps to rescue the speaker, and especially the lone clapper! But that day something remarkable happened. Nobody else clapped! The solitary clapper suddenly stopped, as if to say “Oops…never mind.” (Probably with the feeling you have when you realize in a big crowd of people you’re the only one laughing.)
I joked about the awkward moment, saying, “Wow! Someone started to applaud!” I was alluding to the fact that it was surprising that anyone would applaud a pro-environment statement at a conservative evangelical gathering (by the way, I am thoroughly evangelical and often conservative).
Now, trust me, it didn’t hurt my feelings that no one else applauded. Those attending this conference were very warm and responsive to my messages. No problem there.
But here’s my point: these people were serious Christians attending a Christ-exalting Bible-believing and Bible-teaching conference. Yet even the peer pressure exerted by that one individual clapping failed to elicit applause from so much as one other person. Why?
I think the answer is that the great majority of those present were not only theologically conservative, but socially and politically conservative. And concern for the environment is generally regarded as part of the liberal agenda. Hence, it seems contrary to us. And what sounds socially liberal sounds theologically liberal.
I’m politically conservative on issues such as abortion, in which lives are at stake, I am also concerned about the welfare of the environment God has entrusted to our care (in which, by the way, human lives are at stake).
Even if concern for the environment makes us “sound liberal,” we should be willing to express it because God says we are the caretakers of His creation. That is a biblical job description, a divine calling from the beginning. It shouldn’t matter whether caring for the poor or caring for the environment is considered conservative or liberal. Who cares? We should seek to be biblical and Christ-centered, loving God and our neighbor, and not worrying about labels and who else does or doesn’t agree with us on a given issue.
I trust there were many young people in that audience concerned about caring for the environment. Many of them might have joined the applause had someone made the comment on their college campus. But I believe their conservative evangelical conditioning did not allow them freedom. Even though I made my comment about the environment based on Scripture, it did not seem safe or appropriate to join the applause. Had I spoken in defense of the unborn, which I have on many occasions, in that same group if one person had applauded I guarantee others would have followed (unlike the deafening silence you’d hear on most secular college campuses).
Here’s the truth: care for the environment is not something that can be comfortably applauded in many Bible-believing church contexts.
I believe this needs to change. We need to be part of cultivating a new biblical peer pressure that is pro-creation. Gardening Eden can be part of that change.
For too long, evangelical Christians have neglected our God-given calling to care for the planet entrusted to us. One reason may be that our eschatology indicates the earth is headed for ruin anyway, so there’s no point in trying to rearrange the furniture on the Titanic. Well, I too believe that the present earth will come to an end, as graphically described in 2 Peter 3. But God made this earth, and He promises us a New Earth.
It makes no sense to say that because the earth will be destroyed, therefore we shouldn’t take good care of it! Do we think that because our bodies will be destroyed we shouldn’t take good care of them? (What would you say to your teenager if you warned him not to smoke, and he replied, “But it doesn’t matter, because the Bible says we’re going to die anyway”?)
God entrusts us with the earth as He entrusts us with our bodies, and He intends for us to take care of both. If you are conservative, then doesn’t it make sense to try to conserve your own health, your family’s health, and the health of the world we inhabit? (That “conservation” became a liberal term instead of a conservative one is counterintuitive.)
Perhaps because many of those concerned for the environment scorn the Bible and Christian beliefs, we have ignored our stewardship job description, as if it were somehow incompatible with the gospel. But it was God, not an environmental extremist, who delegated to us the responsibility of creation care. It was God, not an animal rights activist, who entrusted animals to us. Just as John 3:16 is inspired by God, so is Proverbs 12:10: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.”
I have pointed out to people the inconsistency of their outrage that baby seals are being cruelly clubbed to death, while they defend the fact that baby human beings are being cruelly ripped apart in their mothers’ wombs. We should oppose cruelty to baby animals, and we should oppose even more cruelty to baby humans.
I stand with my friends, believers and unbelievers, who are concerned for the poor and the environment, even though we sometimes disagree on the best policies related to helping both. God’s Word makes clear His passion for the poor and His appointment of us as the caretakers of the earth. If I am a Bible-believing Christian, then these matters simply must concern me.
True, we cannot return this world to Eden. Yes, we should be looking forward to the New Earth, which God alone can make. (We humans have proven miserable failures when it comes to utopia-building.) Absolutely, human beings are more important than snail darters and spotted owls.
But we should still be caring for this Earth under the curse. While it groans awaiting redemption, as Romans 8 says, we need to be all the more careful to steward it with wisdom. We do this not because we owe our existence to Mother Earth; rather, we owe our lives to our Father God, and we owe it to Him to care for His Earth.
You do not have to like or agree with Ralph Nader or Al Gore in order to care about God’s creation. You can disagree, as scientists do, on the subject of the causes and effects of global warming. But Christians have no business dismissing everyone who cares about this planet as “environmental wackos” or “eco-Nazis,” cranks and chicken littles. Yes, of course there are extremists. (Hey, I live in Oregon, I know those extremists; but I still want Oregon to remain green!) Remember, there are “Christian wackos” too, but most of us do not appreciate being dismissed by that label. Don’t throw out the baby of responsible Earth-care with the bathwater of anti-enterprise gloom.
In Gardening Eden, my friend Mike Abbaté has done a wonderful job drawing attention to our calling to care for the Earth. His book is well-researched and readable, engaging and valuable. There is a directness, focus and passion to Gardening Eden, coupled with a rational and thoughtful consideration of others.
This book in your hands is not written by someone on the radical fringe, out of touch with the modern world. From the day Mike first met with me to share his vision for this book, I could see that he is smart and savvy, wise and articulate. Mike is a skilled professional, an architect and a city planner, an accomplished expert in his field. He is also a Bible believer and a committed follower of Jesus. Good for him that he takes so seriously the sacred task of stewarding God’s earth. I am delighted to stand with him.
As you read Mike’s book, keep in mind God’s Word. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). This is not our place to trash. It’s God’s place to treasure. And to care for the world, is to care for its people.
Scripture says, “The Lord rejoices in all He has made” (Psalm 104:31). If He rejoices in it, so should we. When you rejoice in something, you go out of your way to preserve it.
Proverbs 21:29 says, “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” Foolish people consume, wise people preserve, understanding that even if we die tomorrow, we should leave something behind for our children and our children’s children, and the generations that may follow. The Earth is not disposable. Nor are its resources inexhaustible.
Creation care makes good sense even if it were not explicitly stated in our job description. But read Genesis 1 and 2, and you will see that it clearly is.
If I told you I loved my children but allowed open gas lines in the house, removed the smoke detectors, and let broken windows go unfixed, you would have reason to question my parenting. Why? Because if a parent loves his children he’ll do his best to provide them a safe home.
God never revoked His plan to entrust the earth’s care to us. Romans 8 makes clear that the whole creation fell on our coattails, and, in our resurrection, will rise on our coattails—all the more reason that we should care for it.
Now, my discretionary stewardship decisions may look quite different than yours. You don’t have to do it my way; I don’t have to do it yours. But together as Christ-centered, Bible-believing, people-loving Christians we should agree also to be creation-loving. We shouldn’t have to follow secular culture in reasonable creation care, we should lead the way. And when people ask why we care about the planet, we should be ready to tell them we love the world because we love its Creator and Redeemer.
Mike doesn’t leave us on the theoretical level, but offers specific suggestions for creation care, right down to alternatives in growing and buying food.
Mike Abbaté is not using this book to make extreme claims or pick a fight or take political sides. This is not a political book that stereotypes or berates people or assumes the worst of them. If you find some things in the book you disagree with, fine. You don’t have to wear a Tree Hugger t-shirt (I don’t). We can disagree about the ultimate causes and significance of global warming, and which government policies will and will not help care for the environment.
Can’t we just agree to be good stewards of God’s Earth?
Gardening Eden contains good theology, worldview, science, and practical application. This book is fair and balanced, demonstrating an unapologetic love for God’s creation, something conservatives and liberals alike should share. It is a welcome and much-needed resource, whose time has come. I pray it will open the minds and hearts of many to the privileges and responsibilities of stewarding God’s world.
Now, let me finish my story. After speaking at the evangelical youth conference that day, I stayed and spoke with many great students who were wonderfully responsive. Afterward, as my wife Nanci and I headed to lunch, I smiled and said to her, “Wasn’t that something when that poor person applauded, and nobody else joined in?”
Nanci, eyes big, replied, “That poor person who applauded was me!”
Well, Nanci, I know you will applaud Mike Abbate’s book. And I hope you, the reader, will join in applauding the notion that we should be thoughtful caretakers of God’s creation. Not in spite of the fact that we believe the Bible and trust Jesus, but precisely because we do....more
It contains some good and accurate things here and there, but unfortunately its central message is in explicit contradiction to Scripture and histori It contains some good and accurate things here and there, but unfortunately its central message is in explicit contradiction to Scripture and historic Christianity.
Oddly, Bell insists that he’s not a universalist, yet his book indicates that he believes exactly what universalism does—that every human being will ultimately be saved, and that none will experience Hell. To teach this and yet claim you’re not a universalist (just because you disagree with some things that some universalists think) is like saying that though you cheer for the Red Sox you’re not a Red Sox fan, or though you own a dog, you are not a dog-owner. I mean, come on, go ahead and qualify the brand of universalist you are, but don’t deny you’re a universalist when your core belief is the core belief of universalism. The very fact that Bell can make such a statement and get away with it is indicative of the sort of cloudy thinking that has taken hold.
I recommended before Kevin DeYoung’s excellent detailed critique of Love Wins. I want to add my recommendation of Dan Franklin’s new and outstanding 35-minute podcast concerning Love Wins. Dan is a clear-thinking, biblically-based pastor at my home church. (He is also a fine husband to my daughter Karina and a loving father to my grandsons Matt and Jack, but that’s not why I’m recommending this audio commentary!) Dan does a weekly podcast called Groupthink Rescue, and Love Wins is his subject this week. He’s also written a more detailed critique, but I found his podcast particularly clear, thoughtful and easy to listen to. If you’re going to invest just a half hour on this issue, I can’t think of a better way to do it. You can also listen to or download from iTunes, and subscribe to his podcast, which has other equally good episodes.
I posted earlier a link to the chapter on Hell from my book If God is Good. Someone who read Bell’s book and then my chapter said to me that oddly, it appeared to them as if I had made an attempt at refuting every major point of Bell’s book. Obviously that wasn’t the case, since I wrote it two years before Bell’s book came out. But when I read Love Wins, at times I saw why this reader thought that. I suppose Rob Bell has successfully set forth all the modern presumptions that people bring to this issue, and that keep them from trusting the biblical teaching about Hell that has been part of historic Christianity. In addressing those presumptions, without knowing it, I was anticipating Bell’s book. This also shows that, as Bell admits, he’s not saying much that’s new. Unfortunately, he is reaching a huge audience, and his book sales have been further fueled by the controversy. But I would rather have more books sell and more people equipped to refute his teachings, then avoid the controversy—some things warrant controversy, and this is one of them, since the gospel itself is on the line—and not just before the watching world, but inside churches.
What most breaks my heart is that, when it comes down to it, Bell is actually saying “Jesus was wrong.” Now, of course, he would never actually say that in those words. Nor does he consciously believe it. But because (as I show in both Heaven and If God is Good) Jesus is absolutely emphatic on the reality and nature and eternality of Hell, it is impossible to disbelieve in Hell, and to believe in universal salvation, and actually believe what Jesus said.
Why? Because Jesus referred to Hell as a real place and described it in graphic terms (see Matthew 10:28; 13:40–42; Mark 9:43–48). He spoke of a fire that burns but doesn’t consume, an undying worm that eats away at the damned, and a lonely and foreboding darkness.
Christ says the unsaved “will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). Jesus taught that an unbridgeable chasm separates the wicked in Hell from the righteous in Paradise. The wicked suffer terribly, remain conscious, retain their desires and memories, long for relief, cannot find comfort, cannot leave their torment, and have no hope (see Luke 16:19–31).
Our Savior could not have painted a bleaker picture of Hell.
C. S. Lewis said, “I have met no people who fully disbelieved in Hell and also had a living and life-giving belief in Heaven.” The biblical teaching on both destinations stands or falls together. If the one is real, so is the other; if the one is a myth, so is the other. The best reason for believing in Hell is that Jesus said it exists.
Some will say, “Okay, maybe Hell exists, but no one will go there, or if they do it will only be temporary; surely Hell is not eternal.” But Jesus said, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). Here in the same sentence, Christ uses the word “eternal”(aionos) to describe the duration of both Heaven and Hell. Thus, according to our Lord, if some will consciously experience Heaven forever, then some must consciously experience Hell forever.
The best reason for believing Hell not only exists, but will be inhabited by people and is eternal, is that Jesus said so in the clearest possible language.
It isn’t just what Jesus said about Hell that matters. It’s the fact that it was He who said it.
“There seems to be a kind of conspiracy,” wrote Dorothy Sayers, “to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘mediaeval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin.... We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”
Why do I believe in an eternal Hell? Because Jesus clearly and repeatedly affirmed its existence. As Sayers suggested, you cannot dismiss Hell without dismissing Jesus.
Atheist Bertrand Russell wrote, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in Hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”
Shall we believe Jesus or Bertrand Russell? For me, it is not a difficult choice.
C. S. Lewis said of Hell, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.”
We cannot make Hell go away simply because the thought of it makes us uncomfortable. If I were as holy as God, if I knew a fraction of what He knows, I would realize Hell is just and right. We should weep over Hell, but not deny it.
Rob Bell is a pastor, and has a lot of influence on other pastors, and not only in emergent churches. And that is perhaps the greatest tragedy in this. Titus 1:9 says this of the church leader: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” It is every pastor’s job to correct doctrinal error, particularly in the central issues of the faith. When a pastor actually promotes doctrinal error, this is particularly serious. And it puts a heavy responsibility on other pastors, who understandably don’t want to appear to be critical, to correct and refute doctrinal heresy.
It grieves me how many people are reading Rob Bell’s book and books such as The Shack (where universalism is not explicit but clearly flirted with) and other writings contradicted by Scripture, whose pastors don’t consider it their job to enter into controversy. We have elevated tolerance over sound doctrine, and appearing to be nice, over being truthful. As Jesus was, we should be full of grace and truth, not choose one over the other.
We dare not act as though love demands we be quiet about the truth. In fact, Scripture calls upon us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). I would encourage all pastors to address this issue. Consider going to your pastor and asking him to preach about the biblical doctrine of Hell in light of all the fuzzy thinking on this issue that is out there, and has been galvanized through Bell’s book. (Fifteen years apart, I spent hours in dialogue, citing passage after passage, to two different highly influential former pastors, each of whose books have sold millions of copies to evangelical Christians. Both of these men gradually became universalists, and they believe most of what Bell is now teaching; perhaps one of them influenced him, I don’t know.)
It is not loving to be silent when people are told the lie that they need not turn to Christ in this lifetime to be saved from their sins. If people believe that there is no Hell, or that they cannot end up in Hell, or that Hell is not their default and fully deserved destination, then it virtually guarantees they will end up in the Hell that Rob Bell doesn’t believe in.
In the final day no one will stand before me in judgment. No one will stand before Rob Bell in judgment. We will all stand before Jesus in judgment. And it is His view of Hell, not mine or Rob Bell’s, that will be proven, forever, to be true.
If Rob Bell is right and there isn’t an eternal Hell, or no one will end up there, then Jesus made a terrible mistake. And if we cannot trust Jesus in His teaching about Hell, why should we trust anything He said, including His offer of salvation?
We may pride ourselves in thinking we are too loving to believe in Hell. But in saying this, we blaspheme, for we claim to be more loving than Jesus—more loving than the One who with outrageous love took upon himself the full penalty for our sin.
Who are we to think we are better than Jesus?
Or that when it comes to Hell, or anything else, we know better than He does?...more
Mark Galli is the senior managing editor for Christianity Today magazine. As a journalist educated at UC Santa Cruz, Fuller Seminary, and UC Davis, heMark Galli is the senior managing editor for Christianity Today magazine. As a journalist educated at UC Santa Cruz, Fuller Seminary, and UC Davis, he is not someone whose résumé screams “intolerant fundamentalist.” Whether it’s meant as a compliment or criticism, most who know Mark would call him “open-minded.” He dialogues respectfully with those coming from various theological orientations. He doesn’t rush to judgment or hastily draw lines in the sand.
Galli is a big-tent evangelical, and that’s part of what makes this book so potent. His penetrating critique of Rob Bell’s Love Wins demonstrates that even a big tent can be only so big before terms such as Bible believing and evangelical, in the historic sense, begin to lose their meaning.
Galli understands not only his particular branch of Christianity, but what C. S. Lewis called mere Christianity—the irreducible core of our faith. Though Galli has strong theological underpinnings, this is not a sectarian work, it is a treatment that true Christians of nearly every background should be able to embrace and affirm together. (Should be, I said; I don’t mean that they actually will.)
Evangelical churches, both Calvinist and Arminian, hold to very different theological distinctives and have widely divergent positions on baptism, church government, and eschatology. But they have consistently shared the common belief that everyone will go to one of two eternal destinations: heaven or hell. This is not and never has been a fringe issue.
Mark Galli is a historian and a former editor of Christian History, one of my favorite magazines of all time (all 100 issues are on my shelf). With his grasp of theological history, Mark is acutely aware of something many modern authors, and I don’t just mean Rob Bell, appear not to grasp: God hasn’t given this generation—so accustomed to opinion polls that want to know what we think—the luxury of remaking theology on the fly and redefining the gospel.
Mark graciously and skillfully shows how the Love Wins version of the Good News is actually bad news. Our culture needs us not to reinforce its soft, malleable, and fleeting worldview but to offer a God-revealed, redemptive alternative. Mark’s trinitarian emphasis roots the gospel not in personal experience but in God’s own nature, which is what ultimately led to his creation and redemptive plan. That’s why this book is much more than a critique, and something of a manifesto.
C. S. Lewis warned against chronological snobbery—the assumption that recent viewpoints are better than ancient ones. Love Wins minimizes the doctrines of penal sacrifice and substitutionary atonement, ascribing them to “primitive cultures.” In contrast, Galli embraces these doctrines and quotes unapologetically (and in context) Jesus and Paul, as well as Luther, Edwards, and Spurgeon. The gospel he affirms is timely precisely because it is timeless.
God Wins is built on biblical and historical rock, not cultural sand. That’s exactly the needed foundation for a response to Love Wins, an attractive book heavy on feelings but light on biblical and historical reasoning....more
In Erasing Hell, Francis Chan speaks with compassion. You can almost feel him trembling over the issues at stake. He recognizes this debate is about GIn Erasing Hell, Francis Chan speaks with compassion. You can almost feel him trembling over the issues at stake. He recognizes this debate is about God, His nature and His authority. I sensed both humility and prophetic power in this book.
I’ve talked with Francis personally and been at a few conferences where he’s spoken. It’s like watching a fire burn—you don’t know exactly what’s coming next. That same passion is on the pages of his book. Chan lays his heart on the table. It’s rare that a book mixes straight-from-the-heart talk with careful citation of Scripture. Erasing Hell does exactly that. I was not only informed, but moved.
What I read wasn’t the final edit, so some of the contents may have changed by the time the book’s released in early July. But these were some of the chapters:
Does Everyone Go to Heaven? Has Hell Changed? Or Have We? What Jesus Actually Said About Hell
Chan’s book goes deep and detailed exactly when it needs to. It occasionally appeals to the original languages, e.g. the meaning of the Greek words Gehenna and aionos. It does so in order to deal with misleading statements about those terms in Love Wins.
The author explains that he asked his friend Preston Sprinkle to assist him in the research. That research and Francis Chan’s presentation are a dynamic combination.
Chan is honest, admitting that when it comes to Matthew 25:46 “everything in me wants to interpret it differently, to make it say something that fits my own view of justice and morality.” Then he adds, “But from what I can tell, this is what the text is saying.”
One of the tests of whether we truly believe in the authority of God’s Word is whether or not we bow to it and accept it by faith even when it is painful or disturbing to do so. (What should it tell us if the Bible seems to always agree with us?) Chan models this approach to biblical interpretation. Will we pridefully believe what we want to, or humbly believe whatever God has told us?...more
Ben Avery has written a fascinating story of how the Bible we hold in our hands came into being. Javier Saltares has illustrated it with art that rangBen Avery has written a fascinating story of how the Bible we hold in our hands came into being. Javier Saltares has illustrated it with art that ranges from beautiful to breathtaking. I read a lot of big books and deep theology, but I was raised on comic books and I love an interesting and visually striking graphic novel. For this work of nonfiction to be so well researched and so magnificently illustrated is a marvelous combination. Though I’ve read several books on how we got our Bible, I learned a lot more in The Book of God, and had fun in the process. This book will reach an audience that would never read the same information in a conventional volume. I predict a higher level of reader involvement, inspiration and retention due to the combination of engaging text and stunning artwork. Congratulations to Ben, Javier and Kingstone Media on this terrific achievement. I look forward to reading more books of this kind....more
“C. S. Lewis said ‘Aslan is not a tame lion,’ and Mark Buchanan shows us what that means. The undemanding God-in-the-bottle genie who exists to serve“C. S. Lewis said ‘Aslan is not a tame lion,’ and Mark Buchanan shows us what that means. The undemanding God-in-the-bottle genie who exists to serve us is a modern heresy. It’s the God of the Bible who calls the shots. We are servants of a fierce King, who is gracious, but never manageable. Your God is too Safe reminds us what it means that Jesus is God—and we’re not! Dangerous faith in our untamed Savior leads us to the joy we crave. The breath of life rises off the pages of this book....more
C. J. Mahaney and friends, men I trust, have written an excellent treatment of a vital and recently neglected subject. The difference between the worlC. J. Mahaney and friends, men I trust, have written an excellent treatment of a vital and recently neglected subject. The difference between the world and the church is eroding at an alarming rate, and we need help with holiness. This book is biblically grounded and Christ-centered, full of grace and truth. Every chapter raises the bar of Christian living without falling into legalism. Worldliness is one of the most timely and much-needed books I’ve read in years. I highly recommend it....more
Dinesh D’Souza writes as well as he thinks. What’s So Great about Christianity? is unapologetic about its insistence on truth. Yet it’s winsome, not gDinesh D’Souza writes as well as he thinks. What’s So Great about Christianity? is unapologetic about its insistence on truth. Yet it’s winsome, not grouchy, like some of the atheist books, whose authors are so angry at the God they don’t believe in. Dinesh thoughtfully offers clear evidences and grounds for faith that refute the arguments Christians are inundated with in a post-Christian culture. I’m glad to recommend this engaging and strategic book....more
My friend Karl Payne has written a thoughtful book based on years of study of the Scriptures and personal experience counseling Christians under demonMy friend Karl Payne has written a thoughtful book based on years of study of the Scriptures and personal experience counseling Christians under demonic influence and attack. You need not agree with all the author’s positions, but if you trust God’s Word then you are compelled to believe that there are powerful demonic spirits at work in the world, and that the goal of Satan, prince of demons, is to distract, deceive and devour us. Spiritual warfare is a reality, and the person most likely to lose the battle is the one least aware of it. I recommend Karl’s book to help you become more aware of our enemies’ strategies, and prepare yourself for spiritual combat. ...more
Given the contributors, I expected this book to be good, but it exceeds expectations. There’s no weak link. Every chapter, including the introduction,Given the contributors, I expected this book to be good, but it exceeds expectations. There’s no weak link. Every chapter, including the introduction, brings a unique and vital perspective to a critical subject. It’s impossible to overstate the power and eternal impact of our spoken and written words, for good or evil. With stylistic diversity but thematic unity, these men bring a rich, biblical, Christ-centered, interesting and immensely helpful perspective. I wholeheartedly recommend The Power of Words and the Wonder of God....more
J. P. Moreland and Klaus Issler’s The Lost Virtue of Happiness is a rare book. It manages to be biblical, deep, understandable, engaging and practicalJ. P. Moreland and Klaus Issler’s The Lost Virtue of Happiness is a rare book. It manages to be biblical, deep, understandable, engaging and practical all at the same time. As few books are, this one is worth contemplating, discussing and putting into practice. I highly recommend it for personal and group study....more
For years I’ve pointed people to John Piper’s classic Desiring God, which is high on my list of all time favorite books. A year ago I told a friend thFor years I’ve pointed people to John Piper’s classic Desiring God, which is high on my list of all time favorite books. A year ago I told a friend that I’d love to see a “mini-Desiring God,” a short but sweet version of John’s message on joy and desire, which has touched so many lives, including mine. The Dangerous Duty of Delight is more than I asked for. Dynamic, joyful and lifechanging, this message is biblical, Christ-centered and desperately needed in the church today. I read the book last week and have already given away copies to family and friends....more
Several years ago, while researching the New Earth for my book Heaven, I stumbled online upon Creation Regained. I ordered it based on its title aloneSeveral years ago, while researching the New Earth for my book Heaven, I stumbled online upon Creation Regained. I ordered it based on its title alone (which often proves to be a big mistake). From its opening chapter on worldview, I knew I had discovered a treasure. As I read what Al Wolters had to say about creation, fall and redemption, I found myself repeatedly exclaiming “Yes!”
Until then, I had read only a few other books that resonated with the vast redemptive scope of Matthew 19:28, Acts 3:21, Romans 8:18-23, and other Scriptures. Regrettably, I have seen few since. For too long we have reduced and distorted the gospel to the snatching of souls from earth to a distant and intangible realm suitable for angels, not people. Yet the Bible shows that in His unfolding drama of redemption, God is at work to reclaim not just our souls, but our bodies, and not just our bodies, but the Earth from which that first human body was made, and over which God purposed us to reign.
Al Wolters concisely and persuasively demonstrates that God’s plan for righteous humanity to live on and reign over an uncursed earth was not thwarted by Satan or by man’s sin. (How small a God he would be if that were the case.) He never revoked or abandoned his original great commission for us to rule a good earth to his glory. The last chapters of the Bible promise that God’s original design revealed in the first chapters, greatly enhanced and magnified through Christ’s work, will indeed be fulfilled on a New Earth. Having fallen on mankind’s coat-tails, the earth will rise on our coat-tails, so that resurrected humanity will occupy and rule a resurrected Earth. This is the full gospel of the kingdom, and it is one that is vital to a biblical worldview. It alone explains the Bible’s description of Christians as those who are “looking forward to a new heaven and new earth.”
Creation Regained is biblically and philosophically sound, and offers an understanding that is both refreshing and satisfying. It will be for many a paradigm shifting perspective, one desperately needed by today’s churches and families. The penetrating insights Al Wolters brings will help us to stop redefining the gospel in narrow and shallow and individualistic terminology and assumptions which discredit the breadth and depth of God’s redemptive plan. Readers of this book will celebrate a central and liberating truth that has become tragically obscure: God has no more given up on the rest of his creation than he has given up on us.
The new Postscript to Creation Regained brings together and clarifies key elements of this vital discussion. It’s an insightful and welcome addition to the book. Regardless of your theological leanings, you have much to gain from reading this great book. I highly recommend it....more