My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

26 September 2005

Book Review - Where do you see God's truth?

He Speaks to Me Everywhere, Meditations on Christianity and Culture
Philip Graham Ryken
(P&R, 2004)

A little bit back I wrote a review of Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey, a book which set out to be the new worldview textbook for the next generation of Christian thinkers. My thoughts about that book weren’t exactly negative, but they weren’t glowing, either; the biggest complaint I register against Pearcey’s book is that I believe it falls in between the cracks of readership. It was too philosophical for some, not enough for others, and it addressed so many topics that few of them were dealt with in real depth.

Okay, big shot, what would a good worldview book look like? Well, a lot like He Speaks to Me Everywhere, by Phil Ryken, pastor of 10th Presbyterian in Philadelphia. This is most decidedly not a how-to book on Christian worldview; rather, it’s an invitation to watch and listen as one with a thoroughly Biblical worldview peeks out the window at the world around us.

Ryken incorporates worldview reflections into 10th Presbyterian’s Sunday evening worship services, of which 50 were collected for this book. These reflections are grouped into 9 headings like science, family, leisure, politics, church history, the Bible, etc. Each essay is only two or three pages and they generally run like this: Ryken sets the story, whether contemporary or historical, shows why it’s an important story, and then answers the question “How would God have us address this story?”

The value in this book is not that you’ll gain an encyclopedic knowledge of culture or even theology, but that you’ll see how theology matters in real life. As Gene Veith says in the foreward, These meditations show that theology is not an abtruse, academic specialty, a matter of lofty abstractions. Rather, theology, in all of its doctrinal rigor, illuminates everything it touches. Amen. This is the heart of having a Biblical worldview: to have a mind enraptured with God and the truth He pours forth in the Word, and going forth with that truth, believing it to be the best way to live in and engage the world around us.

You’ll find some rather illuminating ideas in this book, and you’ll probably also finds some points to disagree with. A few of the essays read more like extended sermon illustrations than true meditations (i.e., ”The Brooklyn Dodgers and the Third Use of the Law”); but most of the essays are thoughtful, Biblical, and important. He works through topics like an abortion pill, prayer bans at public graduations, why Doctor Phil really should annoy us, 9/11, etc.

Should you buy this book? Yep, it’s a keeper and it’s fairly easy to get through. I read through it by doing two or three essays each day for a couple weeks. Besides being some good brain candy, it is most importantly Christian worldview done very well. And that’s something for which all of us need good teachers.


Ellen Olivetti said...

I am anxious to read this book. I enjoy reading books that have practical applications to our worldview and show us how to view things through the lens of our faith. And, I also love the title ... I don't know if this is what the author had in mind, but it is a line from the old hymn "This is My Father's World." How about letting me borrow it. After all, you know where I live ...

Joe said...

Sounds like a good one, I'll have to pick this one up soon.

David said...

Total Truth was a great book, but I haven't look at the other ones though.

Alicia said...

Thanks for the suggestion! It looks like a great book. We're looking forward to see you, Lisa and the wee ones next weekend.