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Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World Paperback – April 24, 2008
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"The authors make vivid the two-way street of our communion with God and God's being with us. Their book is full of things that we today need urgently to take to heart."
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
About the Author
K. Scott Oliphint (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and has written numerous scholarly articles and books, including God With Us. He is also the co-editor of the two-volume Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader and Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics.
Rod Mays is the national coordinator of Reformed University Fellowship, the campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America. He has also served as senior pastor of Presbyterian churches in South Carolina, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
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Within their book, Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World, authors K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays provide some encouragement and guidance for modern believers. Using the John Newton hymn "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" as an outline upon which chapters hang, the scriptural truths of each stanza are examined. Far from being relegated to the past, the authors seek to show how the words of the song speak out to the issues of our age. They begin with an affirmation of the ultimate authority of God as expressed in the written word. When such a foundation is established as the ground of thought and belief, one is prepared to see how the gospel can radically transform a life. The closing chapters provide practical guidance for the continued mortification of sin while at the same time cultivating a solid hope in eternal things. As a whole, the book serves as a systematic understanding of the Christian life.
The goal of this book is to help believers stand firm in the faith. The content of the book achieves this initial goal with a plethora of scripture and a writing style that reveals the truth in well-stated terms. However, the second part of the book's title that references life in a relativistic world is largely absent. Rather than contrast the claims of society with the superiority of scripture, only a scant reference is made to the world's challenge to Christian thought. The majority of the book is spent showing how the scriptures should shape life and there is nothing wrong with such material. It makes for a good book, but for those looking for answers to questions posed by the current culture a letdown might be experienced. Aside from this one observation, the material is solid and the authors well spoken.
Basing each chapter on stanzas from the 1779 John Newton hymn, "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken," the authors begin their work by stressing the overall authority of the written Scripture. Utilizing a presuppositional apologetic viewpoint, they propose that the Bible--"not our senses and our mental faculties"--should be the ultimate authority or "we will be forever confused and confounded with the issues that press in on us every day" (p. 32).
Once the Scripture is accepted as the foundation, the believer must understand that fulfillment in life only comes through following God. Those desiring the things contrary to God end up resorting to sins such as using drugs, drinking to excess, and even cutting parts of one's own body with razor blades. "We must worship something," the authors write on page 54. "And if our misdiagnosis of our felt needs leads us to pursue something created rather than the Creator, then we will attach ourselves to that creating thing religiously. We will, in fact, worship it."
One of the more challenging chapters of the book was titled, "We are not alone." The authors believe that there are too many distractions in life, including "time-saving technology" that ends up eating up more time rather than conserving it. Even too many church activities can get in the way. "Could it be that the church is no less guilty than the culture in its attempts to entice us into the programming whirlwind?" they ask on page 96. The result of a hurried lifestyle? Missing the opportunity to properly sit at the feet of the Savior and meditate on God's truth.
In Chapter 4, a Calvinistic view of salvation is stressed because the work of Christ "was planned and agreed upon before time began." When the Holy Spirit comes into the lives of the sheep (John 10), a struggle for holiness ensues. Two words are used--"mortification" and "vivification"--to explain how Christians live their lives warring against sin while partaking in life with the Holy Spirit.
The final chapter compares this world to C.S. Lewis's Narnia, a place where Lucy and her siblings were not destined to spend the rest of their lives. The authors write on page 151: "As we know Christ here, more and more, we are preparing ourselves to know him better there, where he will have a new name. There we will see him face to face, and his presence, now invisible to us, will be visible in all its glory."
Praise God for those things of God that cannot be shaken!
P.S. This is review #300. Yee-haw! It's been fun reviewing these 300 books during the past eight years, which has been my pleasure. Thanks for your many comments. Now if I only had more time to read...