Archive for the ‘Product Summary’ Category


Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

The Encouraging Thoughtful Christians to be World Changers are difficult courses. On purpose.

Wheaton College Professor Mark Noll in his seminal book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994), opens his book with these prophetic words: “The Scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Touché! This author defines evangelical as “emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual (Miriam/Webster).” Concerning evangelicals and intellectualism, perhaps we evangelicals have no doubt dropped the ball in the past.

Noll traces the collapse of the evangelical mind to the mid 1800s, about the time that Stephen Crane was finishing Red Badge of Courage. Then, Noll argues, evangelicals proverbially became in and of the world instead of in the world and not of it. In other words, they wed themselves to the prevailing world views. It was about that time, too, as scholar George Marsden in The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Non-Belief ( 2000) explains, that evangelicalism abandoned the American university. Marsden laments, we all lament, that today, the once pervasive influence of religion in the intellectual and cultural life of America’s preeminent colleges and universities has all but vanished. For financial reasons, or other reasons, t he vast majority of evangelicals attend secular universities. Let’s face it: the secular university, at least, is a hostile place for evangelical Christians.

But that is changing. For several reasons, the present generation of evangelicals is reclaiming the university and all other gates to culture creation. Alistair McGrath, Evangelicalism and the History of Christianity (1995) has a very optimistic vision. He, and other scholars like Os Guinness, argue that within a few years evangelicals influence will be preeminent if most professions. Much as the evangelical Puritans captured the American elite from 1620-1700, today evangelicalism is captured the elite decision makers of this culture. Obviously this bodes well for the future of this great nation.

Let me put it this way: there are about 12 million college freshman each year. What if suddenly 1 million or so of those freshman were spirit-filled, smart, well-equipped academically, freshman? Would not our government, our industries, our arts, and our churches look a lot different in 5-10 years? I think so.

The Encouraging Thoughtful Christians to be World Changers series is committed to equipping these culture creators, world changers for Christ, to make a difference in American culture. This series is committed to the glorious goal established by Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated (1852). Newman’s Idea of a University grew out of Newman’s struggle with the rise of scientific learning—a struggle that continues today. Newman, it seems to me, is a 19th century Evangelical trying to come to grips with his culture. Likewise, it is the desire of this author to help your students to comes to grips with their culture.

What is this culture to which this generation is called to share Christ? The first great spirit of the times is the notion of subjectivity. The only authority in a person is that thought or notion that originates in that person. Next, that subjectivity has led most Americans to conclude that truth is not attainable. Therefore, a plurality of truths is most desirable and the tolerance of them is a virtue. S. D. Gaede, When Tolerance is No Virtue (1993), argues there is only one conviction that is deemed legitimate and worthy of public displays of passion, and that is the conviction of uniform tolerance. Finally, the net result is, as stated by the scholar Kenneth J. Gergen, The Saturated Self (1991), is a series of clashing relativities where the very ground of meaning, the foundations and structures of thought, language, and social discourse are crumbling. The very concepts of personhood, spirituality, truth, integrity, and objectivity are being demolished and replaced by a sort of “do-it-if-it-feels-good-and-does-not-hurt-anyone-else” world view.

Ironically, the Christian evangelical G. K. Chesterton retorts, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” The future, if these guys are in control, in other words, is pretty bleak. It is doubtful, in my opinion, that a free people can live together and prosper in this sort of free-wheeling, self-serving nihilism. That is where your students come in.

They are coming, ready or not, millions strong. Smart, free, filled with the Holy Ghost. Not afraid to rock the boat, willing to die, even, for their faith. They are coming. That is the people for whom I have written these difficult courses. A people who are the new elite, the ones whom God has called forth to write a new chapter in history. They understand that culture creation is not about high SAT scores, or good grades, or high paying jobs. It is about obeying God at all costs.

This series, then, is committed to equipping your young people to be world changers for Christ in a hostile, even dangerous place, among a hungry, needy people. To that end, this book is dedicated to the ambitious goal of preparing our young people to be 21st century world changers for the Christ whom John Milton in Paradise Lost called “the countenance too severe to be beheld.” (VI, 825)


Friday, July 31st, 2009

Recently I was asked to summarize my ministry.

When I think about my ministry these words come to mind:

–Christ Centered
–World View Centered/Culturally Relevant
–Home school friendly
–Student Directed
–Academically challenging
–Culture Changing (not Retreating or Assimilating into)

This author is profoundly, enthusiastically about the future. Not only do I trust in our Mighty God, I am greatly encouraged by what I see in this generation. God is doing great things in your midst.

There is much need. Social critic Os Guinness in his seminal work The Dust of Death (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1973) prophetically argues that “western culture is marked . . . by a distinct slowing of momentum . . . a decline in purposefulness . . . Guinness implies that the ideals and traditions that have been central to the American civilization are losing their compelling cultural authority.& nbsp; There is, in short, no corpus of universally accepted morality that Americans follow. As Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997) states “ . . . there is no recognized moral knowledge upon which projects of fostering moral development could be based.”

In his poem “The Second Coming” William Butler Yeats writes

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.

America in the beginning of the 21st century is spinning out of control. America is stretching its wings adventurously, but drifting farther away from its God. America is in trouble. How do we know?

Whatever needs to be done, you are probably going to have to do it. You are first generation to grow up when wholesale murder is legal; the first generation to access 130 channels and at the same time to access almost nothing of value. In 1993, James Patterson and Peter Kim in their book The Day America Told the Truth (NY: Simon & Schuster Publishers, Inc., 1993) warns that 87% of Americans do not believe that the Ten Commandments should be obeyed and 91% of them tell at least one lie a day. Unfortunately I doubt things are any better today than they were over 10 years ago. This is a time when outrage is dead. This is the challenge, the bad news.

The good news is that I think we are turning a corner. It is my belief that Americans in the near future will be looking to places of stability and strength for direction. Besides, by default, those people whose lives are in reasonable good shape, who have some reason to live beyond the next paycheck will have almost an inexorably appeal. Those who walk in the light will draw others into the very-same light. My prayer is that this curricula, in a modest way, will help you walk in the light.

At the very time that 21st century Americans are searching for truth, at the very time they are hungry for things of the Lord God is raising a mighty generation! You will be the culture-creators of the next century. You are a special generation, a special people.

Young people, it is my strong belief that you are the generation God has called for such a time as this to bring a Spirit-inspired revival. At the beginning of this century God is stirring the water again. He is offering a new beginning for a new nation. I believe, you are the personification of that new beginning.

You are part of one of the most critical generations in the history of Western culture. Indeed, only the generation of which Augustine was a part comes close in importance to your generation. In both cases—today and during the life of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo”civilizations were in decline. Young Augustine lived through the decline of the Roman world; you are living through the decline of American cultural superiority. However, the barbarians conquered Rome; the Christians conquered the barbarians.

As did Anne Bradstreet and other young Puritans who settled in 1630 Boston, you will need to replace this old, tired culture with a new God-centered, God-breathed society, or our nation may not survive another century.

While a graduate student at Harvard University in the mid-1970s, I attended a chapel service where the presenter self-righteously proclaimed that we Harvard students were the next generation of culture creators. Indeed. Perhaps he was right—look at the moral mess my geneeration created!

Evangelical scholars Nathan Hatch and George Marsden argue, and I think persuasively, that you, young people, will be the next generation of elites. You will be the next generation of important politicians, inspired playwrights, and presidents of Fortune 500 companies.

It is my profound belief, and fervent hope, that you young people will be the new elite, the next culture creators. I define “elitism” as the ability and propensity of an individual or group to assume leadership and culture-creation in a given society. Theologian Walter Bruggemann in his essay “Blessed Are th e History-Makers” reminds us that culture iscreated, history is made, by those who are radically committed to obeying God at all costs.

Will you be counted among that number? Be smart, but above all, be obedient to the Word of God. In American cultural history, for the first time in 300 years, in your generation, I observe the marriage of smart minds and born-again hearts. This combination is potent indeed and has revolutionary implications for 21st century cultural American. Now, as only once before (i.e., during the Puritan era), this generation is both smart and saved, in other words, it is a spirit-filled elite, and the ramifications are exciting to say the least.

To that end, this book is dedicated to the ambitious goal of preparing you to be 21st century world changers for the Christ whom John Milton in Paradise Lost called “the countenance too severe to be beheld.” (VI, 825)