Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Review: The Ever-Loving Truth

Voddie Baucham is a big guy with a big personality, and a powerful Christian apologist in a hostile culture. Last November he spoke at the Northern Ireland Ministry Assembly, and made a big impact with his forthright style and cultural analysis. In this book, written back in 2004, Voddie examines the cultural opposition to Christianity before discussing what Christians should be doing in response.

In some senses, we've come full circle, to a similar culture to that of the early church. 'Much of what we are experiencing in post-Christian America is eerily similar to what the early church experienced in pre-Christian Rome.' The thing is that our response to this culture is so different to the first Christians - they challenged, we conform. Indeed, the problem is more stark than that - 'In many ways the church has begun to look too much like the prevailing culture and is therefore unable to provide a viable alternative.'

The three suppositions of our culture are relativism, tolerance and pluralism, which he discusses in turn before showing how they are myths. However I sometimes found his arguments hard to follow, with occasionally weak arguments. His purpose was spot on, but his arguments were weaker than (for example) Don Carson's in his 'Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.' He then moves on to survey the media's portrayal of Christians, with a number of stereotypes, never very positive.

In perhaps his strongest section, Voddie moves on to present an exposition of 2 Peter 1 on why we believe the Bible (which he had preached at NIMA, and which inspired my own sermon a couple of months ago), as well as the essential truth about Jesus. It was a good reminder of the 'fundamentals' of the faith, if that word can be used in a positive sense.

However, I did feel that sometimes I wasn't following what was being said, due to it being primarily an examination of American culture. For us Brits/Irish/outsiders, while we can find the cultural analysis helpful to some degree, it was very American. Further, Voddie seems to be writing with a certain political agenda regarding affirmative action and racial politics in the US, which may or may not be a greater influence than the gospel at certain points.

All in all, those interested in apologetics and culture could well find this useful, but really, it would be most useful for American Christians.

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