Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lutheran Book Review: Culture, Compromise, and Christian Response



Ham, Ken. Ready for Reformation: The Foundations of Our Faith are Crumbling. Green Forest: Master Books, 2015. Three paperback books plus DVD. $39.99. www.masterbooks.com

The set above includes the following:

Ham, Ken and Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard. Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009.189 Pages. Paper. $12.99. http://www.answersingenesis.org http://www.nlpg.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=595  http://alreadygonebook.wordpress.com (LHP)

Ham, Ken and Greg Hall with Britt Beemer. Already Compromised: Christian colleges took a test on the state of their faith and THE FINAL EXAM IS IN. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2011. 240 Pages. Paper. $13.99. www.masterbooks.net  www.answersingenesis.org (LHP)

Ham, Ken. With Jeff Kinley. Research by Britt Beemer. Ready to Return? The Need for a Fundamental Shift in Church Culture to Save a Generation. Green Forest, Master Books, 2015. 208 Pages. Paper. $13.99. www.masterbooks.com


Today, to accompany the publication of the third title, we share our previous reviews of the other two in this boxed set.

In 2009, we posted an LHP Review:

The title is provocative. And so is the content. Even though it is written in a very workmanlike way, the multiple authors get their point across. Although kids may be sitting in the pews (yet), they may well be sulking on the inside. They may be…Already Gone.
“Nationwide polls and denominational reports are showing that the next generation is calling it quits on the traditional church. And it’s not just happening on the nominal fringe; it’s happening at the core of the Faith.
“What are the factors that could cause the next generation to be lost from the local church? Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis commissioned Britt Beemer from America’s Research Group to find out. In the first scientific study of its kind, Beemer surveyed a thousand 20-30 year olds who used to go to Evangelical churches on a regular basis but have since left it behind. The results are not just surprising; they are shocking:
·        Those who faithfully attended Sunday school are more likely to leave the church than those who do not.
·        Those who regularly attended Sunday school are more likely to believe that the Bible is less true.
·        Over half of those who faithfully attended church feel that church is not relevant to real life today.
“Statistics reveal a huge disconnect taking place between our children and their church experience. The trends are frightening, but Already Gone shows how to fight back for our families, our churches and our world. We can make a difference today that will affect the statistics of tomorrow!” (publisher’s website)
In brief, the authors recommend focusing additional attention and effort to share the Word with those who attend on holidays (56ff). Some congregation members rarely attend. I don’t want to do pastoral care “by the numbers,” but the point is well-taken. I do wish there had been more mention of the means of grace in the text.
Resources and recommendations are provided for various vocations in the church, especially Pastors (154ff).
What can we do to avoid the scenario on the cover? Fathers, bring your families to church and provide a good example in faith and life. Receive God’s gifts regularly as a family. Churches should use Sunday School material that depicts Bible events as actual history. This goes for the accompanying art as much as the teaching. We should more fully embrace the questions of all ages, especially the young, being unafraid to explain the Biblical teaching on creation, the flood, incarnation, resurrection, and Last Day. We should be informed about scientific and secular “moral” theories about evolution, and human sexuality.
In some areas, you may be thinking, “But we’re already doing that.” Thanks be to God! Not all have been doing those things. Belief in a literal worldwide flood is demeaned by cute little cartoon Noah on his tiny little ark with the giraffes’ heads popping through a porthole. Children remember when we can’t answer or refuse to answer questions that came up in science class from Christian perspective.
The authors make reference to several books that have been reviewed over the years in the pages of QBR.
Why Men Hate Going to Church (Murrow, 119) is worth your time and money.
Reveal: Where Are You? (Hawkins/Parkinson, 128) is less helpful than originally expected, more of a wake-up call to American Evangelicalism.
Pagan Christianity? (Barna/Viola, 47, 125) simply cannot be taken seriously as scholarship.
Essentially, we’re not losing kids in college or high school in the numbers we’ve been fearing. We’ve actually been losing them on the inside at far younger ages, junior high and younger. I won’t spoil all the author’s recommendations, but hopefully you’ve read enough to get the book for yourself and recommend it to your friends, family, and congregation.
In conclusion, Dr. Ham quotes Dr. Luther: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point at which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on the battle front besides, is mere flight if he flinches at that point” (166, translated by Werner Gitt from the Weimar Edition).
The Rev. Paul J Cain
is Pastor of
Immanuel Lutheran Church,
Sheridan, Wyoming,
Headmaster of
Martin Luther Grammar School,
Wyoming District Worship Chairman,
 and Editor of QBR



In 2011, we published the following about Compromised:
Youth ministry is often frustrating. So many resources merely embrace the current or next fad. Young people are busy with sports, part-time work, and other interests. And parents sometimes have other priorities to bringing their children to Church or Youth Group. 

In this way, youth ministry is like running a school. You can discipline the children, who often understand what's going on, but you can't really discipline the parents. 

Authors Ken Ham and Greg Hall tackle the state of Christian colleges and come to some surprising and troubling conclusions. 
Will a Christian college build a student's faith or tear it down?
Parents and students sacrifice large sums of money for a Christian college education. Why? They are purchasing a guarantee their child's faith in God and the Bible will be guarded and developed. But is the Bible being taught? Will they graduate believing in the inerrancy of Scripture, the Flood of Noah's Day, and a literal six day creation?
Apologetics powerhouse Ken Ham and Dr. Greg Hall reveal an eye opening assessment of 200 Christian colleges and universities. In an unprecedented 2010 study by America Research Group, college presidents, religion and science department heads were polled on critical areas of Scripture and core faith questions.
Ken Ham is an accomplished author of some of the most popular and effective apologetics research on the market. He is the founder of Answers in Genesis - U.S. and the president of the Creation Museum. (publisher's website)
Ham and Hall's writing is in a popular style rather than an academic one, much like Already Gone. Sadly, some of America's Christian religious institutions are already gone, too. Some are uncertain of their identity and message. We face a battle for the minds and souls of young Christians in higher education.

Two-dimensional barcodes take the reader to http://creationcolleges.org to show the detailed responses of university presidents, academic deans/vice presidents, and the heads of each institution's science and theology/religion departments. While I think such a study is helpful, it has limitations that affect how helpful its results will be to me as a Lutheran.


Only colleges in agreement with the Answers in Genesis Statement of Faith are commended. Source: http://www.answersingenesis.org/colleges/all/
Bible Institutes
  • Grace Baptist Bible College (Winston Salem, NC)
  • Frontier School of the Bible (La Grange, WY)
  • Word of Life Bible Institute (Owen Sound, Ontario; Pottersville, NY; Hudson, FL)
  • Piedmont Bible College (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Kentucky Mountain Bible College (Jackson, KY)
  • The Crown College of the Bible (Powell, TN)
  • Verity Institute (Indianapolis, IN)
Colleges & Universities
  • Baptist Bible College & Seminary (Clarks Summit, PA)
  • Louisiana Baptist University (Shreveport, LA)
  • Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA)
  • San Diego Christian College (El Cajon, CA)
  • Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary (Kansas City, MO)
  • Ohio Christian University (Circleville, OH)
  • God's Bible School & College (Cincinnati, OH)
Seminaries
  • Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (Allen Road Allen Park, MI)
  • Landmark Baptist Theological Seminary (Haltom City, TX)
  • Southern California Seminary (El Cajon, CA)
As you can see, many have a Baptist background or theological position. I'm not making any derogatory assertions here, just stating fact. 

There are honest differences between Bible-believing Lutherans (in the LCMS, my church body-NOT the ELCA) and Bible-believing Baptists. Knowing the theological position/biases of the authors is important. 

Those of us in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are well aware of work that needs to be done in-house in our Concordia Universities and Colleges. Our seminaries are top notch. And the LCMS is one of a very small number of church bodies that officially hold to a real 24-hour-day 7-day creation!


What does this book reveal? Watch the YouTube preview:
 


I recommend Already Compromised as a resource for Christian pastors, congregations, and parents to help prepare children for college (and junior high and high school). It is so sad that the secularization of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth is repeating itself in our day.


How should the book be used in our midst?

Read the official Questionnaire in Appendix D (228ff). Visit institutions that you are thinking about attending. Ask the questions yourself of the faculty there. Do your own research. Compare the answers you hear to Scripture and the recommended acceptable answers. Involve your pastor in the process.


Use this book to learn about historical criticism of the Bible and the JEDP false teaching. Learn about apologetics and worldview. Teach your young people about the dangers of political correctness. And begin early. Answer their questions. Use realistic art in Sunday School and VBS.


Already Compromised is the beginning of a process, not the end of one. It is one tool that can be used to answer the question: Will a Christian college build a student's faith or tear it down? That question could and should be asked at every educational step.

It is often said that our young people are the future of the Church. And while that statement is true, it is misleadingly incomplete. All the baptized are part of the Church NOW! They deserve the best education their parents can give them at every stage, whether that is at home, a Christian school, a private school, or a public school. Parents need to reclaim their "Honor your father and your mother" mantle as the first and primary teachers of their own children so that errors in doctrine and worldview are handled early and often so that their children receive a Christian education.
View article...

Instead of handwringing, Ken Ham and Jeff Kinley share insights based on research by Britt Beemer in Ready to Return? The Need for a Fundamental Shift in church Culture to Save a Generation.

Much of what has demanded my time as a pastor since we received our review copy of this title has been the subject matter of this title. I've had to give a defense of the faith once given to the saints to those who were once counted among the saints, but now prefer to live together outside of marriage, heed the siren call of addicting substances and images, deny the divinity of Christ, and who no longer schedule funerals for their loved ones, among many other challenges of the pastoral ministry in Wyoming in 2016.

A recent conference provided me the opportunity to learn that some of the Millennial Generation see Christian apologetics as an attack rather than a defense. That was eye-opening!


Predictably, Ham recommends general Christian apologetics and creation apologetics in particular (96), with focus on the flood and ark (108). He brings up the difficult discussion Christians need to have about public education (161ff). He lays responsibility for the current situation on Christian homes and congregations (170).
 
Not all is lost, of course. I rejoiced that the Gospel is acknowledged as the only solution for a faithful remnant given the state of the Supreme Court of the United States (201).

I see apologetics as creating doubt in a person's non-Christian worldview. It is an exercise in clearing a field of rocks and weeds in preparation for evangelism, sharing the Gospel. Conversion is the work of God the Holy Spirit. This trilogy can face us up to our challenges. Only the Trinity can save us. 

This generation already has a Savior. His Name is Jesus.


Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.