Blog | Topic: Books
Mar 11, 2014
Originally posted on the Brazos Press Blog, Don Opitz and I share why we wrote Learning for the Love of God.
Why Are We Students?
We study in order to
understand God’s good creation
and the ways sin has distorted it,
so that, in Christ’s Power, we may
bring healing to persons and the created order.
As God’s image-bearers we are preparing
to exercise responsible authority
in our task of cultivating the creation
to the end that all people and all things may
joyfully acknowledge and serve
their Creator and true King.
We have enjoyed fabulous fellowship on a number of different college campuses since the release of the first edition of this book. Both of us have had the opportunity to visit with students, staff, and faculty at many colleges and universities, and we connected with students from all over the place at the CCO’s annual Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh. Most of the students whom we’ve talked with are Christian students, and here is what we’ve been noticing:
1. While church involvement does not appear to be a high priority, these students do gather to sing, worship, and learn about their faith in other venues. Many have no strong commitment to a particular Christian tradition but rather are “generically” Christian and are earnest about their faith.
2. Few of these students have been discipled in any vigorous or consistent way. Their youth groups were lots of fun but without much substance. The vast majority of these students have not read a substantive book about Jesus, theology, or the Christian life in the past year, if at all. Nevertheless, many of these students yearn to go deeper, if only they could find a mentor (one of their favorite words) who would help them.
3. Almost none of the students that we’ve encountered can articulate a clear connection between their faith and their academic discipline, unless of course the student is a Bible or ministry major, and they are pursuing that calling precisely because they discern the obvious connection.
4. Most of the students whom we’ve talked to don’t just want to get a job to get by. They want to find meaningful work, ideally work that will enable them to connect their faith to their investment in their jobs.
We could add a few more observations to our list, but this is a good start. And we think this short list helps to explain why students have responded with curiosity and hope when we have presented the brief motto or mission for the Christian student above. Students are unfamiliar with church creeds, but having some kind of statement is appealing to them. They haven’t read much theology, but this sounds biblical and comprehensive and world-engaging. They can’t articulate the link between faith and field, but they sense that that is exactly what they need to do in order to integrate their often fragmented lives. These students want to live with purpose, and they know that the purpose has to be big and that it has to be pursued for the well-being of others.
We encourage you to begin to frame your life as a student according to the themes of this motto—creation, fall, redemption, image of God, responsibility, healing, culture—so that you will be equipped to frame your entire lives by these themes. It won’t make your life easy, but it will make it rich and challenging and ultimately fulfilling. We think that is what students are really looking for.
Learn more about Learning for the Love of God here.
Jan 30, 2014
The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness, coauthored with Don Opitz, was published in 2007. Our hope was to provide a resource that would equip college students to be faithful to God in their academic pursuits. Thanks to the good folks at Baker Publishing Group and Brazos Press, we are releasing a 2nd edition with a new title: Learning for the Love of God: A Student’s Guide to Academic Faithfulness. It includes updates throughout, two new substantive appendixes, personal stories from students, a new preface, and a fresh interior design. The new book also comes with a fresh new endorsement from one of our favorite philosophers and theologians James K.A. Smith of Calvin College:
“What does discipleship have to do with learning? How do I follow Jesus as a student? What does the Lord require of me at university? This marvelous book answers just these sorts of questions. It’s one of a kind, an expansive vision of Christian learning written not for professors but for students. Best of all, this is a book that can profit students in any educational context, secular or religious. Buy a box of these and give them to every high school senior you know.”
Wow. Thank you Dr. Smith.
Just in case the release of a revised edition of a previous book with a different title is confusing, here are a few FAQs:
Why does it have a new title? Good question. (Thank you.) The old title was connected to a very important book by George Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. While we really liked the idea of making the connection to that book, it was lost on most readers. Learning for the Love of God better describes the book’s content.
What is different about the new edition? Another great question! (Just doing my job.) There’s a new, short preface where we tell a few stories about how the first edition was helpful students. We didn’t want to change too much of the integrity of the original, so chapters 1-8 are very similar, with a few needed corrections and updates, making the text even more accessible to students. The interior design and layout make it easier to read, including a few pull-out boxes to highlight key terms and concepts.
Can you tell me more about the two new substantive appendixes? Of course I can. I’m glad you asked. The first appendix, “Deeper,” is an annotated bibliography, suggesting books for students looking for the next step. It’s also fun and a little funny, we think. A little different from most bibliographies we’ve read. The second appendix, “Liturgies for Learning,” was inspired by Jamie Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom. Smith argues that deep learning is never merely cognitive. When our emotions and our bodies get involved, learning tends to sink in and stick. Turning on the emotions and tuning in the body can happen in the classroom, but it sure helps to practice good liturgies of learning outside the classroom. So, we offer six learning exercises to put into practice!
If I already have a copy of The Outrageous book, should I buy a copy of Learning for the Love of God? Yes, in fact you should buy 5 copies of the new one.
Is there anything else you would like to say about the new book? Just this… the new book includes this dedication:
“For our friend and favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, whose love for God and learning exemplifies a life of faithful service to the King.”
Thank you Byron for your friendship and encouragement in this project! And thank you to all the readers who have made a 2nd edition possible!
Jan 16, 2014
Most of the time I cringe when I hear someone offer this advice: “You have to do what makes you happy.” I’ve seen too many people follow this counsel to its logical conclusion, only to be hurt and lost. Happiness is fleeting. What makes us individually happy is rarely a way to measure a good life. When we offer advice like this, I wonder if we are more concerned that the person needing the guidance avoids pain and feels better about him or herself. Are you happy in this relationship? Are you happy in your job? Are you happy in your $50,000 convertible? Is happiness really the issue here?
David K. Naugle is professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University and has written about shallow attempts to define happiness. His important book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness (Eerdmans) helps readers make the connection between happiness and love. The book is instructive for those who desire to pass along Christian faith to the next generation. Naugle writes, “Scientific, economic, and cultural forces have produced a paradigm shift in the way most people understand happiness. It has morphed in the minds of many Americans into a promise of sustained pleasure and painlessness.” According to Naugle, Christians must develop an understanding of happiness that is countercultural: “The happy life consists of learning how to love both God supremely and the world in the right way at the very same time.”
Dr. Naugle is also the author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Eerdmans), selected as a 2003 Christianity Today Book of the Year. What follows is an interview with him about Reordered Love, Reordered Lives:
(Download the interview as a PDF handout here)
Derek: What motivated you to write about love?
Naugle: Over the years, I have become convinced that people don’t necessarily do what they say they will do, or behave according to their beliefs, or act on the basis of their thoughts or ideas. However, at the end of the day, people will do what they love!
Augustine put it like this in his book Enchiridion: “For when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves.” We are motivated to do what we do by the things we love, care about and desire. Our lifestyles follow our loves; our loves lead to our lifestyles.
It seems to me that this has been the missing element in various Christian programs of moral and spiritual formation. We can’t just impart biblical information and expect much to happen. Our deepest loves, affections and desires must be reordered for lives to change in a Christ-like way.
But our loves and lives remain severely disordered, especially because of cultural influence. No one knows this better than CPYU! In light of the biblical teaching on love which is the nature of God, at the heart of the greatest commandments, and is the chief of virtues (1 John 4; Matthew 22; 1 Corinthians 13), a book on love and the necessity of reordering our loves, seemed like a good idea.
Derek: On the surface, it does seem obvious that love is related to happiness, but what is the deeper meaning? Where do we often get love and happiness wrong in our culture?
Naugle: If we follow the main outline of the biblical story, we discover that God intended for us to enjoy the deep meaning of happiness (or shalom, as it’s called in the Hebrew Old Testament) rooted in rightly ordered loves for God and for everything else under and in Him.
When we sinned, however, we lost this deep meaning of happiness found in God and in his good creation, rightly related. However, we did not lose our love or longing for happiness; in fact, it may have even deepened, even if it was distorted and disordered.
As extraordinarily needy and ignorant people in search of a fulfilling life in a deeply fallen world, we attach our loves in intense ways to whatever we think will make us happy, whether it be people, places or things.
But these people, places or things that we love for happiness’ sake fail us every time. They promise the satisfaction we have been longing for, but they fail to keep their promises. They simply are not made to do so. We end up frustrated once again. As Bono famously sings: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!”
Out of this disordered love in search for happiness, our lives become a mess, a wreck, especially because of our idolatries, vices, habits, and addictions. We will turn to crime, violence, and even warfare, if that’s what we think it will take to get what we want, since our deepest sense of self and overall well-being depends on it. See James 4:1-2, for example.
Not only our own ignorance, but the false, misleading messages of our culture through music, TV, films, and advertisements also misdirect us and lead us into a big, ugly ditch (to put it mildly) … all in search of happiness! As Augustine once said, “… what am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction?”
This is precisely where the Christian gospel enters the picture. When we believe in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection, our sins are forgiven and we are reconnected to God. He then enables us to love God and everything else in God in reordered ways. We don’t reject the world, but worldliness; we don’t reject creation, but its corruption. In other words, we seek to love the created world in a reordered and right way in God as its creator and redeemer.
This, I believe, is the key to discovering the deep meaning of happiness both now and forever! Reordered love and reordered lives and the discovery of the deep meaning of happiness are the primary benefits of the Christian faith and God’s good news about Jesus Christ!
Thus, the connection between love and happiness, as I try to develop it, follows the major points of the overall biblical narrative, and I can summarize the story like this:
The deep meaning of happiness in God as He intended at creation rooted in rightly ordered loves and lives;
Happiness lost in the fall of humanity into sin and replaced with devastating ignorance and disordered loves and lives;
The deep meaning of happiness already redeemed and one day fully restored in Jesus Christ who graciously reorders our loves and lives through the Christian gospel.
Derek: This is from the review of your book in Publisher’s Weekly: “Many Christians will enjoy this book and be renewed in their quest for true happiness. Others will not, given the author’s insistence that accepting Jesus is the only way to real happiness. In a religiously pluralistic world, the wisdom of Christianity can be shared with everyone if presented correctly.” How do you respond to this?
Naugle: Well, actually, though PW (Publisher’s Weekly) didn’t intended as such, I take their criticism as a compliment. I didn’t cave into politically correct religious pluralism! Furthermore, my goal was to do what PW said I should have done, namely to show how “the wisdom of Christianity can be shared with everyone if presented correctly.”
PW thinks I failed at this, but I think I succeeded (Lord willing), especially by appealing to various expressions of popular culture that show how our disordered loves can disorder our lives and make us miserable. For example, Alan Jackson’s C&W song — “Everything I love Is Killing Me” — hits the nail on the head! And Johnny Cash’s return to faith shows how his reordered love for God reordered his life, and brought him into an experience of the deep meaning of happiness. And what happened to Cash can happen to us as well.
In this sense, then, my book is a form of cultural apologetics, showing how Jesus Christ is the sweet fulfillment of our deepest longings and desires as we search and find the genuinely happy life in Him (I am employing Charlie Peacock’s thoughts from his endorsement on the back of the book).
Derek: What are some practical ways that parents and youth workers can help teenagers “reorder” their loves?
Naugle: In many ways, this is what the seventh and last chapter in the book are all about. There I point out that the deep meaning of happiness we experience now is not perfect and never will be. Presently, we live between the cross and the consummation, at the “hyphen” between the “already” but the “not yet.”
Consequently, at this time in God’s narrative plan for history, we must enroll in the school of Christ for the ongoing mending of our hearts. In Christ’s school of followership, the Christian practices make up the curriculum for life change and consistency. It’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheel on this subject of the Christian practices since so many good books are already available by authors like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. I recommend them highly.
However, what may be of particular interest to parents, youth workers, and students is my own autobiographical description of “The Disciplines and Me” on pages 193-203. Here I talk about the Christian practices I learned from my mentors early on as a student that have served me well over the years. I talk about the Bible and books, church and community, prayer, the enemies of the Christian life, virtue and vice, thinking, loving and doing, and so on. Hopefully a portion of my own story may be of inspiration in the “how to reorder our loves” department.
Download this interview (.pdf) here.
Nov 22, 2013
Surprised by Joy, the autobiography by C.S. Lewis, was the first serious book I ever read. By serious, I mean, it was the first book I took seriously. It wasn’t an easy book to read either. For the first time with a book I wasn’t assigned in a class, I took notes. I underlined passages. I looked up words I didn’t know. Before the Internet this required having another book by my side. A dictionary, I think it was called.
I don’t even know where I got a copy. All I remember is that I was in college and I was beginning to ask “big questions” about life and faith. A few older people suggested I read something by C.S. Lewis. I learned that this is something many older Christians do when they’re not sure how to answer your questions. It’s a good strategy. Now I use it.
The phrase “it changed my life” is overused. It easily becomes cliché. But I don’t know how else to say it: reading C.S. Lewis changed my life. But here’s the thing… it has less to do with the words he wrote and more to do with what he represented as a person of faith. During the formative years of my life (college), I needed a model for living. Lewis, for me, was my first Christian mentor from afar, a guide for life and learning.
Today, November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. I’ve been reflecting this week about all of the things Lewis has taught me. I offer my top three.
First, by reading C.S. Lewis I became a better student. It’s easy to adapt to playing the school game. Most of my schooling life was about doing the least amount of work required to get the grade desired. After reading Lewis, I had a renewed passion for learning. I wanted to know more about how ideas “worked” and where they came from. I began to see the connection of learning and living. Ideas have legs. Lewis taught me that Truth is important and should be taken seriously. And we should be willing to follow the truth wherever it leads. God is, after all, the source of all truth.
Second, by reading C.S. Lewis I learned that it is a possible to think and be a Christian at the same time. Maybe this is obvious to most people, but I had to learn it. I had to gain a vision for it, really. And Lewis was a model for me. After reading Surprised by Joy, Lewis’s story of journeying through atheism to Christianity, I remember thinking: if Lewis can be a Christian, I can be a Christian. Lewis didn’t seem bothered by the supposed challenges to the Christian faith. He took them on, offering engaging and thoughtful replies.
Third, by reading C.S. Lewis I learned that it is possible to be creative and a Christian at the same time. Unfortunately, in some Christian circles I was running in, creativity was often squelched. I don’t know any other way to say it. Some Christians, and some Christian traditions, seem to fear creativity. Not so for Lewis. In fact, he dedicated the latter years of his life to shaping the Christian imagination. The Narnia Chronicles and his The Space Trilogy are obvious examples, but my favorite Lewis book is The Screwtape Letters. A senior devil writes letters to a junior devil about how to keep someone from becoming a Christian. I couldn’t get enough of it. I still can’t. It’s the Lewis book I return to again and again.
There’s much to learn from C.S. Lewis. I didn’t even mention the many ways that his writing helped me answer tough questions about the faith. But it was his story and character that has shaped me the most.
Nov 7, 2013
“Somewhere along the line we’ve failed students. We haven’t listened to them enough. We’ve told them what to say and how to say it, but we haven’t listened.” – Lacy Crawford
Lacy Crawford was an independent college counselor for fifteen years. Her specialty was helping wealthy families get their children into elite universities. During this time she was also “coming of age” herself, going to graduate school, bouncing around working in different non-profits, living in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and London.
Her novel, Early Decision, basically tells her story and the stories of many of the families she worked with over the fifteen year period. It follows five Chicago-area high school students from August to January, as they enter the competitive college admission process. But the book is about much more. In an interview, Crawford explains her motivation for writing:
“I began to write Early Decision to understand how thoughtful, dedicated parents can be so driven by fear of their children’s futures that they are willing to place enormous value in a system that is reductive with regard to character, and that is, if taken to its current extremes, harmful to a child’s development.”
Crawford is a gifted writer. Her writing style and story-telling ability, alone, make the book a delight to read. That she cares deeply about her students and youth culture, as evidenced in the quote above, gives the book added value, especially for those who desire to see young people grow into healthy adulthood.
If you are a person who cares about youth and families as well, perhaps a parent, teacher, coach, pastor or youth leader of some kind, here are three reasons why you should read this book:
First, the novel exposes the competitive nature of the college admission process and the place of “college” within American culture. The main theme of the book is college, after all. But, of course, college is about much more than a degree or even an education. For many, it is about status. It’s about future ambitions and a symbol of success.
While the book does focus on the elites (elite families trying to push their kids into elite schools), all parents and youth workers will be able to relate to these wealthy families in some way. The parents want what they think is “best” for their child. They have the means to provide resources to get what they want. But the book should give us pause, no matter our financial situation, because it forces us to ask bigger, better questions about the place of “college” in our culture. What is college for? Why do we send our young people to college? What are good reasons for going to college? Do teenagers we know and love even want to go to college? How should we define success and the “good” life? If asking these kinds of questions makes you uncomfortable, don’t read Early Decision!
Second, the novel is about the relationship between parents and teenagers. More specifically, Crawford does a masterful job at helping the reader see why it is often so difficult for parents and teenagers to have meaningful conversations. Parents are scared their kids won’t succeed in life. Teenagers are terrified to fail and not live up to parental expectations. While reading Early Decision, I was constantly reminded of Chap Clark’s important ongoing research and book Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers. Clark’s research has shown that the defining issue for contemporary adolescents is “systemic abandonment.” Parents can be over-involved in the wrong things, and un-involved in the right things, both at the same time! Clark writes:
“We have evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture. We are a culture that has forgotten how to be together.”
At one point in the story, Crawford’s narrator makes a keen observation:
“Something came into clearer focus about the way the [wealthy family] had raised their girl, about the gifts they had attempted to give her, while overlooking the most ordinary things: taking her to visit refugee camps, for example, though they were never home for supper. As though they had taught her hand gliding while neglecting that boring bit about walking.”
Crawford is able to write in a way that is critical but not cynical. Her protagonist often empathizes with the parents’ primary concern (wanting what is best for their kids) while exposing the deeper pain the culture of achievement and abandonment has wrought. This makes the satire and criticism even more persuasive and ultimately more scathing. No one is innocent here. After reading this book, we all are forced to (re)assess our priorities and do a better job listening to our kids.
Third, the novel is about emerging adulthood and the challenges facing young people to “grow up” in today’s world. Not only does Crawford’s narrative provide insight about teenagers trying to get into college, but it also tells a story about a 27 year-old trying to make a life. Ann, the college counselor and central character, also struggles with career, educational decisions, romance and the prospects of marrying a boyfriend who just won’t commit. I was surprised by how compelling this part of the story was as well. This is a great book to read alongside of Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood: A Practical Theology for College and Young Adult Ministry by David Setran and Chris Kiesling as well as The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of them Now by Meg Jay.
Early Decision is about as good as it gets. The subject is important, the characters are authentic, the dialogue is believable, and the metaphors and analogies are literary without being snobby. I highly recommend it and anxiously await another novel from Ms. Crawford.
Jul 18, 2013
My good friend Byron Borger is hosting the annual Hearts & Minds Summer Lecture at Robert Morris University tonight. The lecture will be given by William Edgar, discussing his new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality (Crossway). You can learn more about the event here. If you are in the Pittsburgh area you won’t want to miss it!
I was reminded of a review/reflection I did a few years ago about a biography of Francis Schaeffer by Colin Duriez. If you are interested in a good introduction to Schaeffer’s legacy, I highly recommend Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Crossway). Here’s my review:
“Who is Francis Schaeffer?” The question came from a young, bright, Christian college student who over heard me talking about the new biography Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life by Colin Duriez. “Are you serious? You don’t know who Francis Schaeffer is?” I responded. It was as if someone from a far-off tribe had asked me “Who is this Jesus of Nazareth that you speak of?” My heart began to beat a little faster, and I had the privilege of introducing this young student to the giver of Christian intellectual life, my savior, I mean, my hero, Francis Schaeffer.
There was irony in this conversation, of course. I was talking to a young, Christian student, who is passionate about developing a Christian approach to sustainable agriculture, linking it to deeper, local community life. We have had numerous conversations about the church in the 21st century, the kingdom of God, and environmental concerns. She was beginning to make connections with her deepest convictions about the environment and the Gospel and was living them out at a summer internship on an organic farm. Connecting what she believed about the world with how she lived in the world, was being manifested (incarnated) in tangible ways, and she had a plethora of resources to draw from: books, conferences, mentors and MP3 lectures. Here’s the irony: while she had no idea who Francis Schaeffer was, he had pioneered a movement of Christians to not only think more deeply about the Christian faith and how it sustains the attacks of modernity and the scientific revolution, but he also pleaded with believers to live-out faith in ways that showed the world the “Truth” of the Gospel. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that if this same college student would have had similar convictions 50 years ago, the only place on the planet where she could have had an opportunity to wrestle with these questions, network with like-minded people and seek a Christian understanding of her concerns would have been under the teaching of Francis Schaeffer at his L’Abri ministry in Switzerland.
I don’t want to overstate this. Certainly Francis Schaeffer wasn’t the only “thinking Christian” in the 20th Century. But it did dawn on me that while this student didn’t know who Francis Schaeffer was, she was certainly living in his legacy. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was a Presbyterian pastor who became a missionary in Europe to expand a children’s ministry that he had started with his wife Edith. He was also deeply concerned with the “liberalization” of the church, especially the “higher criticism” approach to scripture. Not only did Schaeffer travel from city to city starting children’s ministries, but he would also lecture on the contemporary challenges to biblical, evangelical faith. In 1955, the Schaeffers started L’Abri (French for shelter), a place for “truth-seekers” to come and ask questions, wrestle with faith, and study Christianity more deeply. People came from all over the world, many converting to Christianity and many being energized to live-out their faith in powerful ways. You can learn more about this amazing ministry in Edith Schaeffer’s book L’Abri.
Colin Duriez’s biography is an excellent place to start to learn more about this remarkable man. I recommend it highly, not only for those wanting to learn more about Schaeffer but for anyone who is interested in a deeper engagement with the Christian faith and culture. Schaeffer’s story needs to be known for generations to come and Duriez has told his story beautifully. Instead of retelling his story here, I’d rather discuss what I learned. What follows are three important things that I learned about Schaeffer through reading this book, and why I think each one is vital for the church today:
First, Schaeffer was not afraid to ask tough questions about his faith. Before starting L’Abri, Schaeffer went through a grueling period of doubt and reconsideration of the Christian worldview. In fact, his wife thought that there was a chance that he was going to walk away from his faith altogether. Fortunately, this crisis of faith led Schaeffer to an even deeper commitment to the Truth of the gospel and to starting one of the most influential ministries of the 20th century. Probably the most significant aspect of Schaeffer’s legacy is his belief in the Christian faith for the sole reason that it is True. Because of this, he wasn’t afraid to meet intellectual challenges head on, even opening himself up to the possibility that he could be wrong. Humility became one of his defining characteristics. What a legacy for the church to consider. Do we, as the body of Christ, welcome times of questions and doubts? Do we take the time to fully understand opposing viewpoints? Is humility one of our defining characteristics? In order to engage the culture around us in effective ways, we can learn much from Schaeffer’s approach.
Second, Schaeffer was not only concerned with a “thinking” faith, but also a “living” faith. Schaeffer thought that too many Christians were not living out what they believed. Following his faith crisis, Schaeffer was determined to live in a way that revealed the Gospel to be true. If there truly was a God who was present, working in history and in our lives, then we should live in a way that conformed to this reality. We should expect God to meet our needs, provide opportunities to minister and make Himself known to others. In many ways, L’Abri could almost be seen as Schaeffer forcing God’s hand, making Him be true to His word. And the story of L’Abri is, itself, confirmation of the Truth of the Christian faith. Do we live in ways that require the Gospel to be true? Or do we simply live out an American, Western lifestyle and hope God is there to bless us? I think Schaeffer would challenge us to evaluate our lives to see if we really live as if the Biblical story is the True story of the world. Schaeffer’s words from an interview in 1980:
“I think there are many Christians – I mean, real Christians, real brothers and sisters in Christ, people I’m really fond of – who believe that certain things in the Christian faith are true, and yet, somehow or other, never relate this to truth. I don’t know if it comes across, what I’m trying to say, but I believe it’s truth – and not just religious truth, but the truth of what is. This gives you a different perspective.” (p. 189)
Third, Schaeffer was willing to partner with people outside of the evangelical Christian faith who supported a common cause. While not wavering on his personal convictions regarding evangelical faith and the authority of Scripture, he had no problem joining others who had similar concerns regarding public policy and social justice. This is certainly more widespread today, but in Schaeffer’s day, as a reformed Presbyterian pastor, it was almost unheard of to work along side Catholics or Mormons or agnostics who were united to confront injustices in the world. The church today should glean needed wisdom from Schaeffer’s willingness to work with and learn from others outside of his Christian tradition.
Schaeffer’s story is one that needs to be told and retold. Thanks to this new biography, more people can learn about this important person in Christian history. Christian college students, especially, need to be reminded of the coherence and Truth of the Gospel and how it applies to all areas of life. Duriez’s biography reminds us that the life and writings of Francis Schaeffer is a good model for how to put this into practice.
Jun 28, 2013
Here is the recording from the webinar yesterday. It was an honor to have the opportunity to interview my good friend Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Bookstore and to hear his recommendations for summer reading and study. For what it’s worth, I purchased 6 of the 54 books he mentioned!
The mission of CPYU is to work with churches, schools, and community organizations to build stronger relationships between young people and those charged with helping them grow into healthy adulthood. I was reminded yesterday that in order to fulfill that mission, for CPYU, for parents, and for church leaders, we need thoughtful and biblical resources. Byron’s calling is helping us in our calling, by pointing us to the best of what’s available. Thank you Byron!
Click here to download (.pdf) the power point presentation to see the list of books recommended.
Click here to order books from Hearts & Minds (Byron is offering 20% off all the books mentioned during the webinar!).
Click here to read Byron’s very popular Booknotes blog.
Click here to visit CPYU’s Resource Center.
Click here to purchase previous CPYU webinars.
CPYU strives to provide meaningful resources to equip you as you work with young people. Please let me know if this webinar was helpful to you and if you have any questions about other CPYU resources.
Jun 25, 2013
Gearing up for the webinar this Thursday (1:00pm EDT) “Top Ten (or so) Picks for Your Summer Reading: The Best Books for Pastors, Parents and Youth Workers” with my good friend Byron Borger, I was reminded of something I had written a few years ago about how I fell in love with reading. Enjoy!
In high school I read a novel to impress a girl. It worked, I think. We’ve been married for almost twelve years. The novel was A Time to Kill by John Grisham. I was never much of a reader growing up, but then I was given a new motivation: a beautiful girl mentioned that A Time to Kill was one of her favorite books. What was I to do? Rent the movie? That’s not a bad idea, but I didn’t want to blow this one. So I began to read.
Here’s what happened: the girl and I began dating, yada, yada, and I fell in love with reading! From the last page of A Time To Kill my senior year of high school until now, I have been a reader. All I needed was a book that I liked, that kept my interest, and that was meaningful. I didn’t know books like that existed! Or, just maybe, could it be that my new found love had more to do with, well, my new found love?
It’s no secret; reading has taken a hit in our culture of late. Many studies have shown that fewer and fewer people are reading. Young people, especially, are reading less and less each year. I can’t guarantee a spouse for every reader, but I can offer a few thoughts on what I’ve learned about reading over the years:
Reading takes time, patience, and discipline. Perhaps the biggest excuse for not reading is that people think they are not good readers. For many, reading is difficult, slow and tiring. It still is for me. But here’s what I’ve learned: the more I read the easier it becomes. Like anything that requires training to do well (think sports, art, writing), your reading ability gets better over time. You need to practice.
Reading requires sustained motivation. Not to take this analogy too far, but after my honeymoon period of reading, I needed a new reason to continue. The words of Jesus came to mind: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Reading is one way to love God with our minds. There are other ways to love God with the minds we’ve been given, for sure, but there is something about reading that stretches our thinking. Or better, it gives our brain (a muscle, you know) a work out! Reading can be an act of worship and love toward God. Is there a higher motivation?
Reading slows us down, draws us near to God and energizes our service toward others. Recently I heard a challenging sermon about the importance of drawing near to God. The pastor explained that when we draw near to God in prayer and study, we are brought into the mission of God. We begin to see the world as God sees it and respond, through the power of the Spirit, in the way God responds to the needs of the world. Reading often does that for me. With a book in hand, alone at a desk or library or coffee shop, I’m forced to think more deeply about an aspect of God’s world. As I draw closer, I’m reminded of the role I have to play in His-story, as a conduit of God’s love. Watching movies, hearing lectures or engaging in deep conversations are helpful too, but there is something about reading a good book, or meditating on a Biblical verse that moves me toward action. Reading requires focus. When I’m focused, I’m more aware of the needs around me and more likely to respond.
As you know, our faith is based, to a large extent, on the written word. Discipleship requires reading. And reading, I believe, brings us closer to the word made flesh. It’s not easy or always fun, but it is rewarding. No, my wife was not my reward for reading! I can’t believe you thought that. Although, the reward does have a lot to do with love, that’s for sure.
Jun 18, 2013
Top Ten (or so) Picks for Your Summer Reading
June 27 – 1:00pm (EDT)
Click here to register.
Join me as I ask CPYU’s favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, to suggest the best books to read this summer. Byron owns Hearts & Minds, a bookstore in Dallastown, PA and has been in the book business for over 30 years. He enjoys crafting custom-made lists for specific audiences. He is a long-time friend of us here at CPYU and has agreed to offer a list for us. Listen in as he shares key titles to inspire us in our tasks as parents, youth workers and Christian leaders.
Watch a video of Byron discussing why reading matters here: