Tag archives: Book Review

How Should Christians Think About “Wokeness”?

by Molly Carman

July 22, 2021

Since its beginnings in the first century, the church has faced varied resistance from the surrounding culture and challenges to the gospel. Recently, a new challenge has emerged: “wokeness,” or the state of being “woke.” Merriam-Webster identifies “woke” as a slang term meaning being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” On the surface, wokeness might sound like seeking justice and showing concern for the weak and oppressed—things the Bible urges us to do (Isa. 1:17, Micah 6:8). However, wokeness often embraces theories and ideologies inconsistent with or even hostile to the Bible. Many well-intentioned Christians—out of a desire to be compassionate, accepting, and loving—are succumbing to cultural pressure to conform to woke ideology, likely unaware of its unbiblical tendencies.

To help Christians think biblically about wokeness, Owen Strachan, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview, has written a new book, Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement is Hijacking the Gospel. In the book, Strachan walks through the history of woke ideology and examines its consequences in American culture and the church. He also consults Scripture to give Christians advice for responding to the woke movement.

Wokeness in the Culture and the Church

The first two chapters of Christianity and Wokeness examine how woke ideology is entering the culture and, more consequentially, the church. According to Strachan, “wokeness” means to be “awake” and in tune with the prevailing zeitgeist. Critical Race Theory (CRT), which sees society as an intentional system of power structures meant to oppress others based on their skin color, is currently the most well-known example of woke ideology. CRT purports that “White Privilege” is at the root of social justice issues and must be eradicated. 

The 21st century American church has been both passively and actively incorporating woke ideology into their institutions and practices. Strachan observes that some Christians have started apologizing for and repenting of their “whiteness.” Often these actions are prefaced with the proposal that we should change the gospel to fit with woke ideology so that brothers and sisters of color will be more comfortable in the church. While true racial reconciliation is an important outworking of the gospel (Eph. 2), wokeness changes the gospel by teaching that white people are never able to fully repent for their actions because they are inherently racist by nature of being white. But the gospel says all have sinned, and everyone can be fully redeemed through the work of Christ. With its different view of sin and redemption, wokeness undermines the gospel. This is why Strachan argues, “[W]okeness is not a prism by which we discover truths we couldn’t see in a Christian worldview. Wokeness is a different system entirely than Christianity. It is, in fact, ‘a different gospel.’ But it is not just that. In the final evaluation, wokeness is not just not the Gospel. Wokeness is anti-Gospel.”

Why is Wokeness an Ungodly System?

In chapters three and four, Strachan outlines his concern with the theological and cultural implications of CRT and woke ideology. First, he encourages believers to guard their hearts and minds, noting the apostle Paul’s admonition not to be taken captive by false philosophies (Col. 2:8). Strachan argues that wokeness represents a man-centered gospel that takes others captive through legalism rather than setting them free in the grace of Christ. In other words, wokeness says that only your works can save you—but you can never actually accumulate enough works to satisfy its requirements. Ultimately, this philosophy promises so much, only to abandon its followers in the end.

Furthermore, Strachan provides guidance for responding to unbiblical ideologies. According to Strachan, wokeness calls into question the sovereignty of God and contradicts Scripture by saying that the root of all evil is “whiteness.” But, as Strachan explains, “[in] biblical terms, ‘white’ skin is not our biggest problem. Sin is.” He goes on to say, “If you have been convicted and demeaned for your skin color or heritage (whatever each may be), you have been wronged.” Woke ideology turns humans against one another, and results in individuals being judged by the color of their skin and status in society rather than the content of their character or their status in the eyes of God.

The Bible and Ethnicity

Because questions of race and ethnicity are so closely tied to woke ideology and CRT, chapter five and six provide an in-depth study of what the Old and New Testament have to say about our identity as human beings. Strachan explains how Genesis teaches that all humans are equally part of one human race. Although we may have different skin tones, languages, or ethnicities that distinguish us, we are all human beings who are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

Further, the doctrine of the fall—not CRT—explains the fractured relationships present in humanity. It is not the differences between our skin colors that make us misunderstand, betray, and abuse one another but the sin that infects us all. One tragic consequence of the fall is the sin of racism, which is one way that humans wrongly show partiality. God is not elitist and shows no partiality to anyone, as the apostle Paul frequently discusses in his letters (Rom. 2:11, 10:12; Gal. 2:6, Eph. 6:9). The New Testament also demonstrates how everyone can be united and reconciled in Christ through the gospel message (Eph. 2:14-18, 2 Cor. 5:16-21). God desires that, ultimately, every tribe, tongue, and language be untied in Christ to form the household of God (Eph. 2:19; Rev. 5:9-10, 7:9, 21:3). As Strachan explains, “Distinctiveness is no bad thing and is, in truth, a gift and blessing of God—but unity will be our song in all the ages to come.”

The Response to Wokeness

The final chapter of Strachan’s book considers the reality of American history, specifically slavery and the civil rights movement. He concludes with recommendations for how Christians can respond to woke ideology in a biblical way, reminding his readers: “We cannot fall silent. We cannot stand by as people around us are taken captive by wokeness or any ungodly ideology.”

Although Christians ought to recognize racism’s sinfulness and the necessity of repentance for racist thoughts, actions, and attitudes, they should also recognize that certain groups of people are not inherently racist simply because of the color of their skin. Strachan concludes, “Wokeness is advancing far too quickly to treat this matter lightly, or to assume that these issues will simply ‘go away.’” He reminds his readers, “No—they will not go away. As we have argued throughout the book, strongholds and false ideologies must be destroyed, not ignored or treated with a softshoe approach.”

May we all heed this timely warning and put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17) to stand firm against all unbiblical ideologies in our day and proclaim the gospel of truth.

Owen Strachan’s recent interview about his new book on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins can be viewed here.

The Unshakable Faith of a Baker From Colorado

by Kaitlyn Shepherd

July 9, 2021

I remember when Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2017. People hoping to witness the oral arguments had been camped outside the Court for days. That morning, crowds of people waited to hear how the justices would rule on Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who had declined to make a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.

In May 2021, Phillips published his account of what happened in The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court. The book describes his split-second decision to not bake the cake, explains the ensuing years of legal challenges, and recounts the lessons he learned from the experience. His story is an encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness to sustain His children throughout life’s difficulties.

As Legal Battles Mounted, Phillips’ Faith Only Grew

Phillips begins by recalling a life-changing conversation he had with two men, David and Charlie, who came into Masterpiece Cakeshop to ask him to create a custom wedding cake for their wedding. Phillips politely declined, stating that he could not create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding but that he would be happy to sell them anything else in his shop. The conversation was brief, and David and Charlie refused to give Phillips a chance to explain his rationale further.

Phillips recalls his desire to extend the conversation so he could explain that although he will gladly serve anyone, he cannot express every message “because of the content of the message that the imagery or words on the cake might convey” (3). Since opening Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993, Phillips had adhered to this simple rule and had previously declined to make cakes featuring a variety of messages, such as obscene language, hateful rhetoric, and statements or images that “mocked or contradicted [his] faith” or celebrated events such as divorce or Halloween (61, 71).

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Phillips and held that compelling him to express messages he disagreed with did not violate his First Amendment rights. After the case worked its way through the lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court took the case. In June 2018, the Court sided with Phillips and held that the Commission’s actions violated Phillips’ right to freely exercise his religion. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the record showed the Commission’s “clear and impermissible hostility” toward Phillips’ sincerely-held religious beliefs, and he explained how the Commission treated Phillips differently than other bakers, who declined to create custom cakes that expressed messages opposing same-sex marriage.

Less than a month after this victory, Phillips faced another legal challenge. On the same day that the Supreme Court granted cert in Phillips’ case, one would-be customer, Autumn Scardina, had requested a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate a gender transition. Phillips declined to create the cake because of its intended message. In response to charges brought against him by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Phillips and his attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Commission. In March 2019, the state’s attorneys offered to settle the case after evidence showing the Commission’s continuing hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs surfaced. After this second victory, Phillips hoped to continue his business in peace.

That peace, however, was remarkably short-lived. In June 2019, Scardina, seeking over $100,000 in fines and damages, filed another lawsuit against Phillips in state court. On June 15, 2021, the court ruled against Phillips. The court found that Phillips’ refusal to bake the cake was based on Scardina’s transgender status, not on the cake’s intended message, and that forcing Phillips to bake the cake would not violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

Phillips concludes the book by describing the lessons he learned during the many years of legal challenges. He states that although some may have intended their attacks to destroy his faith, his faith is now stronger than ever. He expresses gratitude for having been given a platform to speak the truth. Phillips has also grown in humility and patience and has learned to be a better listener. He has gained a greater appreciation for the wise system of government instituted by the Founders. Most importantly, though, Phillips experienced God’s goodness:

[C]oming through oppressive days, enduring the death threats, the hate mail, the obscene phone calls and public demonstrations, seeing the tears of my wife and the worries of my children, hearing people call me a bigot and a Nazi, listening while elected officials openly mocked the deepest convictions of my soul—let me assure you, this is when God’s mercies abound. This is when He comforts us in the deep places of the soul that only He can reach. (188–89)

Peaceful, Unshakeable Faith in God’s Provision

Phillips’ compelling testimony is a must-read for any believer. First, Phillips’ account provides a thorough and accessible description of one of the most influential religious freedom cases of the past decade. He clearly describes the timeline of events and explains why the case was so momentous, not only for him but for all people of faith (98). Although the case concerned Colorado’s attempts to compel Phillips to speak messages that violated his conscience and to force him to choose between his religious beliefs and his business, the case has broader implications for the rights of all Americans “who share[] his biblical views on human sexuality and marriage” (194).

Second, Phillips’ story will encourage believers who may feel disheartened. Although losing 40 percent of his business, facing hateful emails and death threats, and having his reputation attacked by public officials could have caused Phillips to waver in his faith, his testimony overflows with a sense of peace and an unshakeable belief in God’s character and provision. As Phillips recalled while waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict:

You might think the long wait was especially stressful—an exercise in impatient endurance, where we gritted our teeth to get through the endless days. But it wasn’t like that at all. I genuinely felt an immense peace after our arguments. I was content in knowing we’d done everything we could do. That we’d been as faithful as possible and the outcome really was always totally in God’s reliable hands. (143)

Phillips’ faith is a testament to the Holy Spirit’s power to encourage believers throughout life’s challenges.

Finally, Phillips’ account can inspire believers to stand firm in their faith. Although his experiences could have made him retreat from his faith, Phillips viewed them as an opportunity:

What’s the point of suddenly being on so many people’s radars if you can’t use those moments to share with them your deepest beliefs? That, for me, is the best news in the whole world: the love of Jesus Christ. (11)

Unfortunately, hostility toward Christianity and toward those who adhere to a biblical worldview is only increasing. Like Phillips, may we all have faith to stand firm and to be willing to serve as God’s instrument whatever the cost.

Kaitlyn Shepherd is Research Assistant for Legal and Policy Studies at Family Research Council.

Authentic Justice is Biblical Justice

by Jaelyn Morgan

June 15, 2021

A Book Review of Voddie Baucham Jr.’s Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe

The call for social justice from woke activists is loud and overwhelming. With so many voices advocating for various political solutions to our society’s perceived injustices, many Americans feel overwhelmed and wonder, what is the solution? Anarchy? Rebellion? Reparations? Reconciliation? However, beyond the outward expressions of injustice and external solutions to real problems lies a spiritual battle between competing worldviews. In Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, theologian Voddie Baucham Jr. equips Christians to identify the worldview conflict underlying contemporary demands for social justice and exhorts them to pursue biblical social justice instead of the Critical Social Justice ideology which has captivated the Western world.

Summary

At the onset of Fault Lines, Baucham traces the thought line of Critical Social Justice (CSJ), including Karl Marx (Conflict Theory), Antonio Gramsci (Hegemony), the Frankfurt School (Critical Theory), Critical Race Theory (CRT), and Intersectionality (I). According to Baucham, biblical social justice and CSJ are currently separated by fault lines. However, he predicts that an earth-shattering catastrophe will soon reveal that both parties stand on opposing sides of a vast divide.

In chapter one, “A Black Man,” Baucham contextualizes his assessment of the issue, describing his upbringing in newly desegregated California with a strong mother and an emphasis on personal responsibility (19). In the second chapter, “A Black Christian,” Baucham shares his conversion testimony and assimilation into the Southern Baptist Convention, contrasting his welcoming experience into a white church with his unwelcoming experience in a formerly all-white school. He also notes that his introduction to racial reconciliation came from white, not black, Christians.

In chapter three, Baucham discusses the prevalence of false stories in the current narrative of social justice, specifically the false premise that “police are killing unarmed black men” (45).

In chapters four through six, Baucham demonstrates how “antiracism” has the “hallmarks of a cult” (66), including a new theology and a new glossary of terms that sound Christian but deviate significantly from the historical faith. Citing CSJ leaders, Baucham demonstrates that antiracism has its own cosmology, original sin, law, gospel, martyrs, priests, atonement, new birth, liturgy, canon, theologians, and catechism (67). Specifically, he describes the new priesthood and canon of antiracism, rooted in Ethnic Gnosticism and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

Baucham exposes fault lines in evangelicalism regarding social justice in chapter seven. Among evangelical churches and leaders, he documents their implicit acceptance despite explicit denial of CRT/I ideologies, the silencing of those who reject Critical Theory, and the political maneuvering within the Southern Baptist Convention to make CRT/I seem compatible with the Bible.

Further, Baucham describes, in chapter eight, the damage the CSJ movement has done to communities of color, including the black church, the family, and the unborn. In particular, he criticizes CSJ’s question-begging logic, opposition to facts, and warns about its political implications. For example, in the following chapter, Baucham uses the test case of abortion to demonstrate how the assumptions of CSJ dictate destructive policy, addressing the false narrative of single-issue voting, and the false premise that America’s two political parties merely represent different priorities rather than “a clear-cut distinction between competing worldviews” (185).

In chapter 10, Baucham assesses the key fault line underlying the current call for social justice in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. He urges Christians to understand that a primarily spiritual—not cultural or political—battle is occurring between the biblical worldview and CSJ/CRT/I worldview and their antecedent theories of Marxism, Conflict Theory, and Critical Theory (209).

Baucham concludes the final chapter by re-emphasizing his heart for the book, which is his love for God, the church, and a dismay that God’s people are being swayed by an ideology that is inherently unbiblical. The book ends with three appendices: The Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, the original version of Resolution 9 submitted at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention, and its revised and adopted version.

Analysis

Fault Lines is a winsome, socio-theological analysis of the political call to Critical Social Justice. With poignancy, grace, and persuasion, Baucham exposes the fault line of competing worldviews between biblical social justice and Critical Social Justice, exhorting believers to stand firm on God’s Word rather than capitulating to the human philosophies of the world.

One of Fault Lines greatest strengths is its persuasion based on a careful evaluation of primary sources. The book is an investigator’s dream. Each chapter contains footnotes, encouraging readers to understand the issues from the sources themselves and not take Baucham’s analysis out of context. Baucham carefully defines all the tenets of CSJ and its antecedent theories from the writings of CSJ’s leading advocates such as Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, Peggy McIntosh, and others. Baucham also anticipates critiques and addresses objections which could be levied against him from those sympathetic to CSJ.

Another strength of Fault Lines is Baucham’s personal experience. His life, training, and ministry provide the reader with unique insights, including the debate among black evangelicals of whether the priority of black Christians ought to be in their blackness or their Christianity (21); the “Marxist thread which runs through all grievance studies,” including “whiteness studies” in CRT (93); and the CSJ worldview assertion that “Christianity is part of the oppressive hegemony” (207), meaning Christianity is not only wrong and oppressive but that it must be overthrown and made obsolete.

Finally, Fault Lines is theologically centered and redemptively driven. The author’s high view of Scripture is clear in his use of biblical passages and principles as the basis for defining biblical social justice and rejecting the CSJ worldview. After discussing biblical principles for social justice based on Scripture’s text, Baucham states, “here is the key: People are ignoring these principles because the standard of justice upon which their pleas are built does not come from the God of the Scriptures. While that may be fine for others, those of us who claim to know Christ are held to a different standard” (44, emphasis original).

Constructively, for those unfamiliar with the current debate surrounding the CSJ movement, the addition of summaries at the end of each chapter would be beneficial, allowing readers to trace Baucham’s successive line of argumentation more easily throughout the book.

Fault Lines is a must-read book for anyone who desires to understand the basis of today’s call for social justice and a biblical response. Baucham’s argument that the biblical social justice worldview radically differs from the Critical Social Justice worldview is relevant, perceptive, and necessary. Followers of Christ who rightly strive to live by God’s Word in every sphere of life will find encouragement, clarity, and hope from Baucham’s thoughtful work on social justice and the gospel.

Jaelyn Morgan is an intern for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

Book Review: Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult

by Meg Kilgannon

June 7, 2021

If you are scrupulous about using “preferred pronouns” and avoid “deadnaming” at all costs, this book may not be for you. Maria Keffler has long advocated for the rights of parents, and she need make no apology for the sage advice she offers.

If you think writing a book to challenge the idea of “affirmative care” for children makes her mean, cold or uncaring, you’d be very wrong about that. It is precisely her compassion for others that compelled Keffler to write this book. Having been on the receiving end of phone calls from desperate parents who search high and low to find authentic help for their struggling child, I can appreciate the very real need this book serves.

For the uninitiated, it’s useful to define some terms. As with any cult, transgenderism has its own set of vocabulary that manipulates word meanings and the people who speak that new language. The book even includes a glossary for this purpose. We will start with the term “transgenderism” itself and then move to the book’s title: Desist, Detrans, & Detox.

Transgender,” according the glossary, is “claiming to feel a mismatch between one’s biological sex and one’s sense of self; presenting oneself to the world according to stereotypes that do not align with those of one’s biological (birth) sex.”

To “desist,” in the world of gender ideology and transgenderism, is to have “adopted a transgender identity for a period of time, but to have come to accept your birth sex as reality.”

A “detransitioner” is “a person who presented as other than his or her birth sex, transitioning socially and/or medically, but has since accepted his or her birth sex as reality, and presents as such.”

Detox” refers to the detoxification or deprogramming that must take place to save a child from the cult. Often, this is the step that allows a child to return to his or her authentic self, and is a state that must be maintained. Managing access to the internet and toxic friends or family members, as well as pulling children from a school that is “affirming” an opposite sex identity or presentation all fall into the category of “detox.”

It is clear from her writing that Ms. Keffler cares very much. She relies not only on her training, but has taken the time and effort to collaborate with other experts in the field to write a practical, readable book. She centers the book on the family, using her training in educational psychology to reenforce loving common sense. Her parenting advice in significant portions of the book will be useful to any parent with teenagers and/or young adults. What parent doesn’t need a refresher on setting boundaries or motivation theory?

Perhaps the best advice in the book comes in chapter three, “Your Relationship with Your Transgender-Identified Child.” Here Keffler reviews the kinds of things parents forget in the throes of crisis parenting (or even just after a long, trying day): relationship skills; considerations for different aged children, including adult children; and staying focused on the goal. The goal in this case is rescuing your child from the gender cult, but parents needing help with other difficulties in life will also benefit from this chapter.

If more help is needed for your child, the author recommends using resources available at faith communities which still honor the dignity of the human person. She writes:

Whether or not you’re a person of religious faith, a church, temple, or mosque is a good place to start. Religious freedom is under fire by those who would see all traditional values expunged in America, but religious freedom is still the law of the land in the United States, and houses of faith still operate according to their consciences and scriptural mandates. If you know a house of worship that has not capitulated to the transgender narrative, start there. If you do not attend religious services, ask friends or colleagues about other local churches. Call the church secretary or administrator and ask about their doctrinal policy on the issue of transgenderism. If you’re comfortable with the response, tell them you’re looking for a therapist and you wonder if they can recommend someone.

Keffler offers an unflinching and objective review of the factors at play: the culture, the schools, the family, the parent(s). No one gets a pass, but neither is anyone attacked. The author simply asks the questions that need asking so that answers can be found or at least earnestly sought.

Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult is a must for parents confronting transgenderism in their families. If you know a family facing down the transgender cult, or if you are facing a crisis in your own family, this practical guide may offer a bit of wisdom or a helpful perspective at just the right moment.

Meg Kilgannon is Senior Fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council.

How Can Believers Weather the Cultural Storm?

by Molly Carman

July 24, 2020

It is no longer safe to assume that anyone has a biblical understanding or perspective of culture. The push for relative truth, cancel culture, and happy-go-lucky logic is the new normal that is being shoved down the throats of Christians and conservatives who are not “woke” enough to go with the flow. There is a gathering storm over tradition, religion, and the family. In order to be ready for this cultural storm, we must prepare an emergency response plan.

In his new book, The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church, Dr. Albert Mohler seeks to open the eyes of Christians and prepare them for the storm that is gathering in an effort to preserve the church and family. Dr. Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his writings have appeared in a variety of journals including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He admonishes his readers to remember that “the first task of faithfulness lies in understanding reality.” Dr. Mohler then encourages his readers to be willing to acknowledge that there is a storm gathering, to listen to wisdom about how to best weather the storm, and resolve to be faithful and courageous in the throes of the storm.

Nine Gathering Storms

Mohler presents nine different storms that are gathering—over western civilization, the church, human life, marriage, the family, gender and sexuality, future generations, pop culture, and religious liberty. These nine storms culminate into one large storm that, if ignored, will have eternal consequences. While it can be tempting to ignore these storms, or to at least downplay their threat, Mohler argues that recognition of the current cultural situation must lead to reformation.

The cultural storm began to brew over western civilization with the rise of secularization, argues Mohler. Primarily, he points to the influence of the Enlightenment and the degradation of the intellect. A large segment of today’s society pushes for total acceptance of a certain progressive ideology, and intolerant to the point that it has become unacceptable to be a believer in some circles. Politics have become the new foundation for society, and Mohler is concerned that Christians have replaced theology with politics, suggesting that we do not need another political victory, rather, “We need a theological protest.”

This storm of secularism in western civilization has seamlessly crept into the church, transforming fundamental values and beliefs. If you want to change a culture, argues Mohler, do not start with the customs, but change the values and beliefs and the behavior will follow. “The failure to teach truth eventually leads to failure of Christ’s people even to know the truth,” he argues. Mohler goes on to say, “The great threat we face is not to the church’s existence, but to its faithfulness.” Culture no longer goes to the church with questions—rather, culture has begun to question the very purpose and relevance of the church.

As the storm gathers over the church, it inevitably affects the family. Destroying the family is the quickest way to alter the morality of a society. Specifically, Mohler shows how devaluing life through abortion has become a central part of the battle for the family. This touches on questions of anthropology, which deals with the nature and purpose of humanity, and this, unfortunately, is now more divisive than ever. “[U]ltimately,” says Mohler, “every worldview must answer the question of what a human being is.”

Marriage, too, has been devalued through the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Moreover, cohabitation and divorce have wreaked havoc on families and communities. Mohler writes, “The greater tragedy is the failure of Christians to take marriage seriously.”

Incredibly, due to the moral revolution, even the terms “male” and “female” have become offensive. Personal autonomy is now the standard for ultimate meaning and satisfaction. Mohler demonstrates how the rejection of the natural created order leads to pain and confusion. The family is now one of the most broken units of society, and unless it is restored and defended daily, it will become an afterthought.

Further, the storm is gathering over future generations. Due to the collapse of the natural family, many people are marrying later and choosing to have fewer children (if any) than previous generations. Pleasure and self-fulfillment are the highest goods, and little thought is given to the future. This selfish mindset has been spread by the engines of pop culture and the entertainment industry. “The narrative we ingest,” writes Mohler, “the songs we listen to, the images on our screens have a clear, moral agenda,” and it is distorting our Christian worldview.

In addition, a storm is gathering over religious liberty. Once considered America’s first freedom, religious liberty has been reconstructed by secular and cultural elites to mean religious privilege. Mohler admonishes his readers to develop an apologetic for their faith and understand that religious freedom is the battleground for preserving the value of God, truth, and freedom.

Three Habits to Weather the Storm

So, what are the takeaways from Dr. Mohler’s new book? How do we go faithfully into the storm and weather it well?

As Christians, we have a responsibility to acknowledge why the storm has gathered—because we have forsaken God. The first step in weathering the storm is to remember the hope that is within us. Forgetting God is what got us here. Returning to God and trusting Him is the only way to restore the damage caused by these storms. This requires humility, intentionality, and endurance.

Finally, in order to go faithfully and courageously into the storm, Mohler admonishes his readers to institute three habits into their lives. First, make church the highest priority for your weekly schedule. Plan your life around the rhythms and routines of the local church. Second, take the effects and influence of technology, screens, and social media seriously. Be master of your technologies, lest they master you. Third, fill whatever home you find yourself in with the fragrance of the gospel. Promote the spiritual health of the next generation, remind yourself of God’s call on your life, and do the good works He prepared in advance for you to do.

Dr. Mohler’s book is an opportunity to teach us how to recognize the coming future storms and prepare well by responding with courage and faith. He encourages his readers to remember that while God is in control, the storm is still real. As we trust Him, let us walk faithfully and weather the storm together.

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs intern whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

Yawning at Tigers

by Family Research Council

October 27, 2014

Have American Christians tamed God? Has the awesome God of the Bible been reduced to fit our limited human understanding? Drew Dyck’s insightful book Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God So Stop Trying answers these questions. The God of the Bible is one who is to be feared and reverenced. Dyck points out human responses to encounters with God in Scripture. Responses included prostration, awe, speechlessness, death, and intense emotions. He is holy. He is mighty. When He is encountered men are moved.

Dyck notes that in many of our most prominent churches God has been relegated to something we as humans can grasp. It is true that God has revealed Himself in ways we can understand, especially in the Incarnation of Jesus, but it is a limited revealing. To see the full unveiled glory of God is too much even for the Seraphim who cry “holy, holy, holy” before God, yet cover their faces with wings. Moses could only look fleetingly on part the glory of God. God is dangerous, He is not like us. Preaching a message of love and mercy while ignoring the wrath and power of God is to diminish the God of the Bible to a god of our own making. Yet this diminishing does not reduce Him it merely leaves us with a false god.

Like His holiness and wrath, God’s love can’t be minimized to fit with human understanding of justice. God is the ultimate lover and redeemer of the souls of mankind. His love reaches us in ways we can’t completely comprehend. God loved us while we were sinners. This profound concept is something that deserves our attention and awe.

Yawning at Tigers presents a God that is separate from His creation yet immanent. A God that is full of wrath yet abundant in mercy. These things are not mutually exclusive; they are a reflection of Truth that is more perfect that we can imagine this side of heaven. We must never stop preaching a God that is holy enough to turn His back on His own Son and loving enough to send Him to die for us. Dangerous. Wonderful. Separate. Immanent. this is the God Christians must never fail to preach in all of His awesome splendor.

Understanding the GLBT Political Agenda And What You Can Do About It

by Peter Sprigg

January 4, 2012

Book review: A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been, by Michael L. Brown

Note: Dr. Brown will be giving a policy lecture about his book at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC on Thursday, January 5, 2012. For more information and to register, click here.

Reviewed by Caleb H. Price

In the span of a few short years, American culture has undergone a breath-taking shift in attitudes about homosexuality and transgenderism. Behaviors that were recently viewed by most to be unseemly, if not immoral, are now embraced. What was good is now evil. What was evil is now good.

And while homosexual and transgender activists insist that there is no agenda in play, a closer look shows that this 180-degree turn was no accident.

In his latest book, A Queer Thing Happened to America, Dr. Michael L. Brown documents this cultural sea-change. Here, he takes the reader on an eye-popping account of the strange and bewildering trajectory that gay activists have charted for America.

And he persuasively argues that the trip were on will result in the catastrophic deconstruction of the most basic building blocks of human society biological sex, marriage and family.

The topics covered in this comprehensive work are timely and helpful for understanding the GLBT political agenda. Brown fearlessly engages political correctness on these issues and winsomely encourages concerned citizens to step up the plate and take action before its too late.

Specifically, Brown details how our schools and universities have been strategically targeted by GLBT activists to bring about their revolution in the span of two short generations. Terms like tolerance and diversity now almost exclusively refer to sexual orientation and gender identity. And intellectually honest debate on these issues has been completely stifled in the academic and mental health professions.

In this context, Brown offers a strong rebuttal to the born gay myth and the largely unquestioned view among cultural elites that sexual orientation and gender identity are equivalent to race. And he points out the undeniable and disturbing parallels of this equation to issues like polyamory and pedophilia.

Significantly, A Queer Thing offers an indictment of the one-sided embrace of the GLBT political agenda by media and corporate elites and the mean-spirited attack on those who hold to traditional values on these issues. Here, Brown treats the semantic issues well and shows how GLBT activists have masterfully reframed terms to advance their agenda.

Similarly, Brown provides a helpful understanding of and rebuttal to of the GLBT revisionist theology that has taken root in both the church and secular arenas. Given that Christians are called to offer a winsome answer for their convictions, this section is very helpful in equipping those who feel inept discussing these difficult issues.

At its core, A Queer Thing details the totalitarian nature of the GLBT rights movement. The inevitable conflict between religious liberty and sexual freedom is chillingly presented. Here, those who disagree with Brown will be particularly challenged.

Winsome and witty, well reasoned and meticulously researched, Michael Brown raises the bar with A Queer Thing and calls citizens to take action to turn the tide of the GLBT agenda at the local level. Theres even an accompanying website offering detailed action steps for citizen involvement (www.aqueerthing.com).

Carpooling with George Washington

by Robert Morrison

August 26, 2011

Commuting to Washington, D.C. can be nerve-wracking on the best of days. But when the hour-long commute drags on for more than two hoursas it did this week on the day of our earthquakeit might be especially trying. Motorists are not happy campers when traffic approaches gridlock downtown in the Capitol.

I go slightly out of my way, however, to drive daily down Pennsylvania Avenue. I count it a privilege to pass by the stately Capitol dome with its Statue of Freedom standing proudly on top. The Capitol was planned by George Washington. Hard to believe now, but there were no great domed buildings in America when His Excellency opted for a Roman architectural style. His favorite play was Cato, an English tragedy about a great Roman champion of republican virtue.

As trying as the drive on earthquake Tuesday might have been, the way was eased by my carpooling with George Washington. Ive been listening to Ron Chernows Pulitzer Prize-winning book-on-disk, George Washington: A Life. Its a wonderful book and the latest of some seven hundred Ive been able to read during fifteen years of commuting.

Chernows Washington is a full-blooded figure. He has faults, to be sure, but his virtues shine forth. Chernow describes Washingtons incredible bravery. Young Col. Washington dashes into the teeth of battle during the French & Indian War. He even rushes into a hail of bullets, slashing with his sword against the muskets of British regulars to keep them from shooting their allies, the heroic Virginia militiamen.

Washington studiously avoids all boasting of his military exploits, but in a private letter to his brother Jackie, he notes that he had two horses shot out from under him on the Pennsylvania frontier and four bullet holes in his coat following the 1755 battle that left nearly 700 British and Virginia militiamen dead. It was the worst defeat British arms had suffered in the history of North America. Washington organized the retreat after the death of Gen. Edward Braddock. He even ordered his wagons to drive over Braddocks grave so that Indians would not find it and desecrate the body.

Ron Chernow follows Washingtons life where the evidence leads. We wince when we read that the young Washington sold recalcitrant slaves for shipment to the West Indies. Thats where the expression sold down the river comes from. And its terrible to read that he hanged two deserters from his Virginia militia company. Washington was a stern taskmaster. He expected to be obeyed. But everyone respected him for his justice and growing humanity.

Chernow gives us Washingtons religious views. You would not find him leading prayers, as Gov. Rick Perry recently did. But neither would he spurn public expressions of fidelity and duty to God.

Chernow writes:

However ecumenical in his approach to religion, Washington never doubted its signal importance in a republic, regarding it as the basis of morality and the foundation of any well-ordered polity…For Washington, morality was so central to Christianitys message that no man who is profligate in his morals or a bad member of the civil community can possibly be a true Christian.

If Washingtons constant suspicion that he is being cheated is a character flaw, it is mightily tempered by seeing what Washington did with his vast wealth.

George and Martha Washington never turned away beggars at their doorstep. Let no one go away hungry…provided it does not encourage them in idleness.

Who would have thought George Washington was the original compassionate conservative? FRC has been highlighting Real Compassion on our website to show how

Christians can make a difference in their own communities. The German poet Goethe, a Washington contemporary, once said that if each one sweeps his own doorstep, the world would be clean.

Washington spent countless hours as a Vestryman for Christ Church, in Alexandria, and for Truro parish in Fairfax. In those times, the Vestry was the committee of Christian laymen who looked after widows and orphans, who helped the indigent get back on their feet. But they were expected to get back on their feet. It was no charity to keep them dependent and subordinate.

During the great welfare reform fight in Washington of 1994-1996, former radical Adam Walinsky came to FRC. This ex-speechwriter for Robert Kennedy said he didnt agree with most of our social agenda, but he did agree with us on welfare reform. If you dont think welfare harms the morals of a family, just consider the English royal family.

Thats a stunner. George Washington considered the English royal family, too. He found it increasingly difficult to pledge his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to the English royals who governed so foolishly and were so careless of their American colonists rights and liberties.

Washington chafed at British royal red tape. He hated the Proclamation of 1763 that declared the Trans-Appalachian West off limits to colonial expansion. King George III had not risked his regal neck fighting on that frontier. Who was he to bar settlement of it?

Washington also denounced British mercantile regulations. In his efforts to reduce his dependence on slave labor, Washington began growing wheat at Mount Vernon and marketing fish. He created a small fishing fleet on the Potomac. The best salt for preserving fish came from Lisbon, Portugal, but British regulations forced him to buy inferior salt from Liverpool.

Ill join with my conservative friends in denouncing federal intrusions and usurpations. We dont need, for example, a wasteful and unconstitutional federal education department. But youll never see me denouncing Washington. I have too much reverence for our Founding Father for that.

Ron Chernows book is 903 pages long. The audio version is 33 discs long. I expect to be carpooling with George Washington for weeks to come. Im honored to be in his company

Book Review: Surprised by Oxford

by Mark Trammell

August 12, 2011

Adrian Rogers, longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, once said, I wouldnt trust the best fifteen minutes I ever lived to get me into heaven. This simple statement has such a profound truth: our hope is in Christ Jesus. This is a truth that Carolyn Weber, in her exquisitely written memoir, Surprised by Oxford, comes to realize.

Ms. Weber, a native of Ontario, Canada, grew up in a community where the name of Jesus is not included in everyday conversation. Growing up in spiritual darkness, she found herself not only opposed to evangelical Christian beliefs, but categorically annoyed by them. Surprised by Oxford, details her first year of graduate work at Oxford University, a place where she did not expect to find faith in God, but nonetheless, in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, became a new creation in Christ.

Surprised by Oxford is captivating, mentally stimulating, and spiritually energizing. Intertwined with thought-provoking quotations from poetry and Romantic literature, Ms. Weber refreshingly exhibits a level of honesty and vulnerability that all readers can appreciate. Evidenced by the boldness of the classmate she affectionately refers to as TDH (tall, dark, and handsome) to share the gospel, Ms. Webers conversion to Christianity is a testament of the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit: pointing people to Salvation in Christ Jesus. She allows readers to peer into her thought process, her rational questioning of the existence of God, and her search for truth in a way that can only be rivaled by the great C.S. Lewis.

Carolyn Webers memoir is different from others of its kind. What makes her memoir special is her attention to her post-conversion experience. Sophomorically, many new Christians expect post-conversion life to be nothing but roses and bonbons. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the words of John 15:18-20:

18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

Ms. Webers stories are relatable, a quality that enriches the overall quality of her memoir. Her struggles are real. Her relationships with family and friends changed dramatically. She faced persecution in the field of academia, a field that generally associates faith with ignorance. Her ability to overcome these hurdles and literally stand firm for absolute truth, when confronted by old friends and professors shoveling moral relativism, is an encouragement to all believers. The trials she faced, in her relationships and in academia, are not specific to her, but rather a telling reality that, in some respect, all Christians will face.

As I aimed to become a teacher, God made me a student. This quote from Surprised by Oxford is a beautiful summation of the entire text. Its splendor is not derived from any brilliance in diction or syntax; rather it derives from a honest illustration of the sovereignty of God. Surprised by Oxford is the celebration of the grace of God, grace that is available to all those who will accept it. I consider Carolyn Webers memoir a treasure, and recommend it to believers and skeptics alike. Through this beautifully written memoir, it is obvious that Carolyn Weber is an extraordinarily talented storyteller. I am confident that Surprised by Oxford will enrich the lives of readers in generations to come.

Mark Trammell is a Policy Intern at the Family Research Council, and is a 3L at Liberty University School of Law.

Race and Liberty in America, Jonathan Bean

by Kyle Forti

February 7, 2011

Jonathan Beans Race and Liberty in America addresses the role race has played in the history of the United States. It develops the conjunction of race and ideas of liberty by compiling a diverse survey of pieces from Americas earliest days to the present. Bean takes advantage of the perch that the year 2011 offers and allows history to speak for itself as these issues were (and most currently are) queried. As a result, this is a book likely to appeal to a wide audience as has already been evidenced by the praise it has received from critics on both sides of the isle.

From page one, Bean leaves very little doubt that Race and Liberty in America is not a partisan book, nor one advocating a conservative or liberal ideology. Rather, his thesis and emphasis is to track the classical liberal tradition and its response to slavery and other race issues by offering an excerpt from each period in American history. To do this, Bean fills each chapter by citing journalists and authors, pastors and activists, political leaders and businessman. He scopes-out the structure of the early anti-slavery movement, on into the Republican Era, through color consciousness, the Roosevelt years, and classical liberalisms involvement in the Civil Rights Era.

As Bean prefaces most of these historical markers, he weaves in the definitive ways in which the American idea of liberty so affected the outcome of racial tensions in every season of note. The last part of the book takes the observations of the past and then turns to the role race and liberty will, in coming years, follow in the United States.

Ultimately Race and Liberty in America provides insight into what was central to the progress made by the classical liberal tradition and its critique of slavery and race in recent history. Bean effectively ties together the chronological flow of history and parallel flow of ideas that went along with it. It is because of this approach that Bean is able to thoroughly identify and investigate those concepts that played the most significant role in streamlining race and liberty in America: individual freedom, Christianity and Judaism, the Constitution, colorblindness, and capitalism.

Bean seeks to move beyond placing trust in political parties for the answers to the questions that yet remain, but rather encouraging citizens to once again seek out the basic questions for themselves: What is race? Why should government define race as it chooses? Why are immigrants available for other benefits not with other citizens? Why is government involved in the race business at all?

Bean poses these challenging questions as well as sobering, provocative statements: If race is a fiction, then it is a fiction worth disposing of because it has done far more harm than good. Race and Liberty in America maintains distance from the distractions of todays political debate by providing a comprehensive framework on the issues of race and American liberty in which to properly gain knowledge and move forward.

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