Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: In God We Trust


book cover


In God We Trust
by Steve Ham


Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Master Books
First Released: 2010


Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
Biblical faith is being undermined and criticized with an increasing fervor in schools, on job sites, and in the marketplace. Are you equipped to face the onslaught of secular, anti-Christian values and viewpoints? Can you clearly state why you believe in Christ and the authority of the Bible? How does this work in your daily life? In God We Trust is a guided journey that will help you:

• Identify the influence of the secular worldview and how it attempts to compromise the Word of God.

• Distinguish between genuine authority and the counterfeit authority of so many at present.

• Realize how your commitment to God’s authority will impact your church, family, and others for Christ.


Review:
In God We Trust is a mix of Christian Living, theology, and apologetics. It basically says that we have every reason to believe that the Bible is the authoritative and accurate Word of God, so we need to use it to interpret what we see around us rather than using what we see around us to interpret "what the Bible really means." By accepting Biblical authority, our whole way of living will change because we know with assurance what God wants from us and has promised us.

The author wrote in a somewhat formal tone, but it was still easy to understand his points. The author used Scripture to make his points. I'd highly recommend this book to all Christians, especially pastors and teachers (both for youth and adult).

Chapter One was about why we need a solid reason to believe in the gospel rather than simply assenting to it "just in case hell turns out to be true."

Chapter Two was about why the gospel is hard for non-Christians to believe.

Chapter Three asked who can be the real, final authority on God and what He wants and then explained why human reason and philosophy, science, personal experiences, government, or culture and tradition can't be the ultimate authority on God.

Chapter Four showed that God is the authority about Himself, the Bible is His Word, and the Bible is reliable and without error.

Chapter Five showed that, if the Bible is reliable and without error, then it needs to be our authority on life--our "first and final source" for truth. It explained the difference between the specific, "special" revelation found in God's Word and the "general revelation" found by studying nature. You need special revelation to properly understand general revelation or you'll likely draw some wrong conclusions.

Chapters Six was about the authority of God. It talked about His characteristics and how we can't fully wrap our minds around some of these concepts, like the Trinity, based on our human experience, and that's because He's God...He's not like us. But we can still accept the things He tells us about Himself.

Chapter Seven was about how God the Son is also God and has all of God's authority. If Christ is "the Word," then he "spoke" the whole Bible, not just the red-ink parts in the gospels.

Chapter Eight was about how Christians are tempted to make changes to the gospel to make it sound nicer, more appealing, or less foolish to non-Christians. But when we do that, we deny the authority and work of the Holy Spirit whose job is to (among other things) convict people of the truth of the gospel.

Chapters Nine through Thirteen were about how accepting Biblical authority changes how we live. It changes our focus in life (chapter nine), how we view and practice worship (chapter ten), how we live and value our family roles (husband, wife, father, mother, etc.)(chapter 11), how we view the purpose of the church (chapter 12), and how we share the gospel (chapter 13).

The Appendix contained what I had expected to be included in the first section, chapters 1-5. Here the author stated that if the Bible is true, then we would expect to see it confirmed in the word around us. He listed some confirmations found in science and fulfilled Bible prophesy.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt from pages 64-66
The axiomatic approach stands on the claims of Scripture first, with the foundation that God's Word is already the full, sole, and final authority. The evidentialist position, while often in agreement with the principle that God's Word is the authority, is also an attempt to interpret Scripture on the basis of how a supposed neutral assessment of the evidence determines the meaning of the passage being read. The problem is that a "neutral" assessment is never really neutral. At some stage, autonomous human reasoning is adapted as part of the interpretative method, rather than Scripture being the foundation for the interpretation of evidence.

As an example, some from an evidentialist approach have come to the conclusion that human death, as a consequence for sin, can only be a spiritual rather than a physical death. This position has been adopted by and large to account for the popular belief that death has been in existence before man, as illustrated by a fossil record that supposedly precedes man by millions of years.

The scope and definition of "death" as a consequence of sin is truly determined by the reader's approach being "axiomatic" or "evidential." It is an important issue because the Bible tells us in Romans 5:12 and 17 that we have salvation through one Man's death (Jesus) and that this has saved us from the death consequences of one man's sin (Adam).

The difference between an axiomatic position and an evidential one in relation to the subject of "death" as a consequence of sin is real and has real ramifications in the way we assess both our need for Christ and the impact of His death on the Cross. Ultimately, it is an issue relating to the authority of Scripture itself.

The only consistent understanding of the gospel comes from an axiomatic approach. This approach allows the reader to know that physical (and spiritual) death is only normal because we live in a sin-cursed world. Death is our enemy: "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:26). It is a consequence of sin that has separated us from God and His designed purpose for our lives to glorify Him. We then find perfect consistency in Jesus as the sinless sacrifice, dying and then rising to conquer death--so that in Him we can have life. We can have confidence knowing that Christ will one day restore all things back to the perfection of His original creation where there will again be no death nor suffering and perfect union with our Creator: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, or sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Even so, there are still many from the evidentialist camp who have recognized that human death prior to sin is a direct contradiction with Romans 5 (and other similar Scriptures). As a result, these people, still maintaining an evidentialist approach, have asserted that the death consequence in Genesis 3 must be of a physical nature but restricted to humanity--not animals. One of the main reasons for this is that the fossil record contains billions of animal fossils, supposedly (as the secularists claim) laid down millions of years before humans came into existence. From the evidentialists' perspective, they then assert that when the Bible talks of death as a result of sin, it is only talking of human death. In this way, the evidentialist approach has already placed a human belief system as the authority in interpreting Scripture rather than allowing Scripture to give us the framework of assessing the fossil record evidence. To support their philosophical input into the text of Genesis, many further assert that the beginning chapters of Genesis are poetic (or mythological) rather than literal history.

In an attempt to be neutral, the evidentialist has assessed the evidence with a presupposition of "millions of years," which then becomes the basis of assessment before even considering that Scripture itself may have a perfectly logical and historical explanation for the evidence of the fossil record. In other words, man's wisdom is placed above God's.


[Note from Debbie: the Biblical explanation is that many animals died in the world-wide Flood that occurred during Noah's life and that most fossils were created at that time. Experiments have shown that the layering effect was caused by the sorting action of the moving water based on weight and shape.]

2 comments:

Carol Flett said...

Thanks for a very comprehensive review. This is very helpful.

Debbie, ChristFocus Book Club said...

Carol,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm glad you found my review very helpful. :)