Books

Taking the Roof Off: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer

*The following is an excerpt from my article published by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. I was asked to reflect on an author who had changed the way I think.

My parents had a hardback version of Francis Scaheffer’s How Should We Then Live? sitting on a shelf in our house. It was a large, beautiful book, but I never took the time to read it. Honestly, the title never made sense to me as a child, and I had little interest in reading anything that I thought could be difficult to understand.

Years later I enrolled in a Ph.D. program and once again encountered Schaeffer’s work. An entire seminar focused on the ethics of Schaeffer, and I had the task of reading virtually everything that Schaeffer had published. That seminar changed my life and the way I think.

One key element of Schaeffer’s work that I found especially influential was his apologetic method of “taking the roof off.” Schaeffer argued that a person’s worldview is similar to a house; however, there is only one blueprint that can effectively explain all aspects of life and be lived out consistently—a Christian worldview. All other worldviews are defective in one way or another.

The rest of my article can be found at the ERLC website.

Biblically Sound Now on Kindle

For those of you interested in an electronic version of my new Bible study, Biblically Sound: Embracing Doctrine for Life, you can now get it on Kindle. The print version is currently selling for $13.59 (list price is $14.99) on Amazon, and the Kindle editions sells for $5.49.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

From the window of my office, I watched the construction of the MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Each day I was able to see the progress on the project. After the first few weeks of demolition and clearing the land, there seemed to be little or no progress from day to day. In fact, this lack of progress went on for a couple of months. I saw plenty of activity from workers, trucks, earth-moving equipment, etc. However, there was no visible progress being made. These first few months of construction, nevertheless, were the most important part. The workers were building the foundation.

Studying doctrine for the Christian often feels like watching a construction crew build a foundation. There seems to be a great amount of activity, but the results don’t appear visible. Just like the foundation is essential for the stability of a building, studying theology is crucial to the long-term stability of the believer.

The goal of this study is to provide you with the basics of biblical doctrine to make sure your foundation is sound. At times this will feel like the difficult work of laying an unseen foundation for a building. At other times, however, it will feel like we are soaring to great heights as we explore the breadth and length and height and depth of our faith.

In order to accomplish our goal of being biblically sound in our doctrine, we will take a step-by-step journey through the key doctrines of the Christian faith. In many respects, these are the non-negotiables of the faith.

As with any of my Bible studies, if you are interested in ordering 10 or more copies for your church, class, or small group, feel free to contact me by clicking on my faculty profile and using the contact information found there.

New Bible Study Available: Biblically Sound

More than a year ago, I embarked on a journey of writing two Bible studies commissioned by Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. At long last, the journey is complete. Biblically Sound: Embracing Doctrine for Life is the second study, and it is now available for purchase through the CreateSpace Store and on Amazon. Biblically Sound is a 10-week study of basic Christian doctrine from an admittedly Baptist perspective. This study is great for small or large group Bible study, Sunday school classes, or special doctrinal emphasis teaching as a congregation.

Don’t think of this study as a seminary-level systematic theology class. I have intentionally stayed away from much of the technical language found in formal, academic study of theology while still dealing with several nuanced views of theology. You will find that I direct you to the Scripture to answer questions because it is the Bible that forms the foundation of our theology.

If you want to see how one church used the study, you can watch the videos from Bellevue Baptist Church’s women’s ministry here. The large group time was co-taught by Donna Gaines (wife of Pastor Steve Gaines) and Jean Stockdale (longtime MOMS Bible study teacher at Bellevue).

You can always purchase copies of Biblically Sound and Biblically Correct through CreateSpace or Amazon. However, if you are interested in purchasing 10 or more copies for your church, please feel free to contact me by email or phone (you will find that information on my faculty profile), and I can work with you on pricing for large orders.

Biblically Correct on Kindle for $1.99 Starting Thursday

My recent Bible study, Biblically Correct: Engaging Culture with Truth, will be available on Kindle at a special price starting Thursday. Rather than $6.99, you can get it for $1.99 Thursday through Sunday (July 10-13). After Sunday, it will return to regular price. If you are looking for a Bible study for your church small group or personal use and you want to learn how to address some of the most pertinent topics of the day, this is a great opportunity to preview the study on Kindle.

If you have any questions about the study, feel free to ask me in the comments section or send me an email via the address linked in my faculty profile on the right. If your church would like 10+ copies of the print edition, contact me for special pricing.

*Stay tuned in coming weeks for the release of my next study, Biblically Sound: Embracing Doctrine for Life.

**If you have already , I would love to have more reviews on Amazon. Just log on and write a review. Thanks.

On Choosing Books: Reading from the Other Side

stack_of_booksIt’s that time of year again when I have to submit book requests to our campus bookstore for the upcoming semester (technically, it is past time, but the bookstore is always gracious to those of us who miss the initial deadline). For many of my classes, I have developed a standard list of books that I revisit every couple of years to see if there are any better ones. However, each of the last few semesters, I have taught at least one class that is new to my teaching repertoire. This fall it will be Selected Issues in Life and Death—basically a class dealing with various cultural issues of life and death, such as abortion, euthanasia, and human genetic engineering.

When selecting books for this class, I have decided to do something a little different. I have chosen a significant text edited by someone with whom I ardently disagree on these issues. My goal is to have students interact with and engage the best thinkers on the other side of the debate.

I generally survey fellow ethics colleagues at other seminaries before choosing books for new classes just to see if I am missing a key text. While interacting with my PhD mentor on my selection of texts for this class, I mentioned the book I planned to use from the other side of the debate and told him the names of some of the contributors. His response was priceless. He said, “I really like the names you’ve listed for your purposes. [Author X] is scary. Thus a good read.”

For most of my academic career, I have heard Dr. Paige Patterson (president of my seminary) say that students need to know the arguments of the best thinkers who disagree with our positions. My approach to this in the past has been to bring in their works and read/present selections to the students in class. This is the first time I have made a concerted effort to ask my students to buy and read something so diametrically opposed to a Christian perspective on an ethical issue.

By the end of this class, my students will understand the arguments of those who want to promote abortion at any cost, euthanize the weak and poor, and produce designer babies. With appropriate guidance from their professor, I hope they will also be able to critique and combat those arguments.

Far too often Christians find themselves wrapped in their bubble of Christian books and Christian arguments hearing tales of what people on the outside believe. I want my students to read firsthand what people outside our Christian bubble think. That is the only way we can truly know how to engage the culture.

The task will not be easy, but it should be a fun ride. As one of my former professors used to say, “Strap on your helmets, boys, we’re going to war.”

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For those of you wanting to know, the book I chose is Bioethics: An Anthology edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. Singer is famous for believing that humans have no right to life until at least 6–12 months in age (but possibly as late as 3 years). At the same time, he believes we could control the population by euthanizing all the elderly and infirm. And his is not the most extreme view in the book.