Affirming the Apostle’s Creed

Affirming the Apostles’ Creed, by J.I. Packer ★★★★★
Packer takes 18 short chapters to briefly summarize the meaning of the apostle’s creed. This book is written more in the form of a devotional book or introductory text to the Creed. It is not an advanced analysis of the origin and substance of the creed. Still, Packer never writes fluff, and this book is pure solid meat all the way through. Packer has a way of bringing home the truths of Scripture to help one understand why every bit of doctrine is of vital importance. This book is worth reading for anybody of all ages. Betsy and I read the book together each morning before going to work.

A Black Day for Cycling

Sir Lance-a-Lot Lost was stripped today of his seven Tour de France titles. Such is a black day for a great sport. Thankfully, the European Cycling Commission (UCI) decided against awarding anybody the title for those seven years, since most of the riders in second place had also been accused or highly suspected of doping. Sir LanceLot is not the first knight fallen from the Round Table, and probably is not the last. The black day is not for Lance, though I’m sure he will experience massive depression over this news. It is for a sport that has placed inhuman demands on people, not only in the Tour, but so many other bicycle races that have been contrived, including the RAAM (ride across America). Riders will continue to devise techniques of enhancing their performance in an artificial fashion. Cheating will then rise to new levels.
The evidence against Armstrong is overwhelming. I won’t belabor recalling the evidence since the USADA has done that quite well, well enough to convince the UCI that he was worthy of being stripped of his titles. There are good arguments against taking away the titles. After all, Lance was a formidable athlete. One can detail the brilliant strategies that Lance often used to win those titles. Yet, to not act decisively will forever color the sport as doping-permissive, and where it is so pervasive, such radical actions are necessary and should be lauded.
Lance appears to the public as their type of hero, winning in the face of the worst adversity (cancer), pushing on through honest determination to succeed and conquer. His friends feel otherwise, that is, what few friends he still has. When one looks at the entire life of Lance, there never was a time when Lance and his public persona were even close to matching. Lance was always a “win at all cost” person, somebody who would run over his own mother to win a race. His arrogance and ruthless striving had no morals and no bounds. Is this what we want to see in an American bicycle hero? I don’t think so. It is unfortunate that most of life in American culture is now with the Armstrong persona. There is no aspect of life that is not affected by the American-Armstrongian win-all mentality.

As far as we can tell, Einstein did not dope. Nor did he win the Tour-de-France. Such were the better years of cycling, when the sport could be enjoyed, and when exercise and entertainment could be mixed together into one grand activity. The bicycle is one of the more fascinating intentions of the 19th century, and it is not surprising that the airplane was invented in a bicycle shop. There is no other device that better promotes fitness, efficiently harnesses energy for movement, is mechanically simple and inexpensive, doesn’t pollute, is orthopedically gentle on the body, can be ridden at all ages, and has a plethora of uses outside of exercise and leisure activities. Like all good things, they can also be abused and used for evil intentions. That is the curse we live under, that we cannot be happy with the goodness of life, but must always pervert it or destroy its good intentions. There is one race worth running and is spoken of by an anonymous preacher man, saying “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2. Drugs and performance enhancement medications are unnecessary in the race that we confront, and the prize far greater than a silly little Tour-de-France title.

Reformation Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, by Carl Trueman ★★★★★
This book is small and short, a compilation of a series of four lectures he gave at a conference in Wales in 1999. Contrary to the other book I had just reviewed by Trueman (Republocrat), I loved this book. It is light reading, in that it is composed as lectures. Trueman spares no punches. Trueman’s concern is the church, and these lectures are addressed to both intending to go into the ministry. The first lecture addresses the relevance of the Reformation in our day. Trueman addresses excesses, both in forgetting the lessons of the Reformation, but also the excess of idolizing the Reformation, and putting a halt to the principle that we need to be ever reforming the church. Perhaps both excesses are just as dangerous. The second chapter addresses the Bible as a book of sorrow and speaks of how our fun-loving entertainment culture makes pleasure/happiness our goals even from the pulpit perspective. The third lecture refers back to the Scripture being our sole guide, and how ministers must have total command of the Scriptures, including mastery of Biblical languages and systematic theology. The final lecture wraps up with a discussion of our assurance in Christ, and how today’s world seeks to identify that assurance through either actions or feelings that we experience, rather than focusing completely on Christ.  This book is a highly relevant read, a reminder of the faith that we have but are so quick to forget.

Durch die Wüste

Durch die Wüste, by Karl May ★★★★★
Durch die Wüste means “Through the Desert”, and is the first of many adventure novels published by Karl May, written at the end of the 19th century. It is an adventure story along the lines of Indiana Jones and probably served as the model for Indiana Jones and other similar movies. The adventurer, Kara ben Nemsi travels from the North Saharan desert across Egypt, to Mecca, and ends with him preparing to enter Kurdistan, thus the sequel is Durch Wilde Kurdistan. I read the book in order to better understand German, and it was great at being about 98% understandable, with only a few parts completely passing me by. I’ll probably continue the novels, but the read is rather slow. It took me about 3-4 months to get through this book and was read on my Kindle. The book is highly recommended for those learning German.

None Dare Call It Conspiracy

None Dare Call it Conspiracy, by Gary Allen ★★★
Who doesn’t want to rule the world? While madmen like Dr. Evil, Pink Panther and James Bond villains, and others have been made the brunt of Hollywood comedies and spy films, it perhaps distracts us from the fact that there may be people who would like to rule the world. Some have been accused of desiring world domination, like Adolf Hitler and Mao Tse-Tung, but history and available evidence suggests otherwise. It is unfortunate that those least accused of desiring world domination are those most obscure to most of us. The effort of this book is to point out those groups and individuals. Allen begins the book by simply stating that the evidence is so overwhelming of a mass conspiracy, that doubting the conspiracy suggests that one is blind to the facts. Yet, Allen fails to provide any substantial proof in this book that such an entity exists. Allen focuses mainly on the international bankers and Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), of which the bankers have an intimacy. Little mention is made of the Bilderberg group, the Club of Rome, the Jesuits and Illuminati, and other hypothetical world conspirators. I’m sure there are many more groups out there. I’d like to rule the world, so, I guess that I am a one-man conspiracy. Allen is prudent enough to disengage himself from the more dark shadowy groups out there, like the Illuminati and Masons. Allen has a good point in this book. It is in the banker’s best interest to have a controlling influence on politics, while not having to have a public face. It is in the interest of CFR members to control world policy to their best interest. If one calls it a conspiracy that the bankers and CFR (and Bilderbergers) are intimate, perhaps there is a conspiracy out there.
Much discussion was given to the banking influence at fueling world conflicts. Allen discusses what many already know that bankers such as the Rothschilds were funding both sides of the conflict in both WWI and WWII, and have done much to force conflict to happen. Allen might have included many other major conflicts. He fails to explain precisely why banking would be interested in funding the weaker side of a conflict, knowing that the money will be lost forever. He also fails to include the host of other factors that fuel the wars and conflicts that occur in today’s world. I simply cannot accept the statement of so many conspiracy theorists that it was the bankers were the predominant factor that created the major conflicts of the world. It had to have been greatly multifactorial, with banking simply facilitating and encouraging the conflicts.
Is it the conspiracy (Allen calls them the Insiders without telling you exactly who they are) that is leading the world to various forms of socialism, whether it be national socialism, Fabian socialism, or international socialism (communism)? I doubt it. I can see how fabian-style socialism can be desirable by the super-rich such as Soros or Rothschild since it allows them to control decisions that ultimately serve their own interests. In other forms of socialism, everybody loses except for a single few people. How communism would be desirable to bankers escapes me, yet Allen suggests that ultimately bankers and Insiders would like the entire world under strong socialist monetary control.
Worst for this book is failing to understand that man is inherently evil and self-oriented, and that any position of power will ultimately seek to further one’s own best interests. Allen fails to suggest that events, circumstances, economic cycles, wars, poverty, and wealth follow certain paths and laws outside of any evil-minded masterplots, and that in all aspects, whether in the big or the small picture, God is in control. So, people will think that they are in control, only if we remain blissfully unaware of them.  Allen provides part of the picture, but not the big picture, of what’s going on out there. And for part of the picture, it is worth reading. The book is a little bit dated, written in 1972 when the USSR was still going strong.

Laverne Swanson Rayburn, R.I.P.

Betsy and I have just returned from the funeral for a most remarkable person, the mother of our pastor. I wondered who would be officiating the funeral since I never thought that a pastor would perform the funeral service for their own mother. Yet, Dr. Rayburn noted that he also did the funeral for his father as well as his oldest sister. The sermon was remarkable in that it not only honored mom but reminded all of us how we are all new creations in Christ with personal exhortations.
Laverne was a special person in our life. We met her when she moved to Tacoma from St. Louis, Missouri. Her husband was the founding president of Covenant Theological Seminary, but died in 1989, leaving her a widow for 23 years. She moved to Tacoma in 1999. She would hold coffee clatches for women, of which Betsy often went. She was always at church, sweet and friendly but motherly in her firmness to what was right.
Laverne had a life that was mostly quiet and behind the scenes. Yet, the number of people that she influenced in her life is difficult to count. I think of the great influence that her husband had on the world, in establishing Covenant College and Covenant Seminary, with the forming the PCA denomination, in commissioning and sending Francis Schaeffer to Europe, in influencing countless students that attended Covenant Seminary and are now pastors or leaders in church and society. Little of that influence would have happened if it wasn’t for Laverne being there.
To the family, including the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Laverne, Betsy and I offer our deepest sympathies. The loss is only assuaged by knowing that she is with the Lord and we will all too soon be with her also. To Laverne, I offer a song often sung at German funerals, and a favorite of mine…


1. Wo findet die Seele die Heimat, der Ruh?
Wer deckt sie mit schützenden Fittichen zu?
Ach, bietet die Welt keine Freistatt mir an,
Wo Sünde nicht kommen, nicht anfechten kann?
Nein, nein, nein, nein, hier ist sie nicht,
die Heimat der Seelen ist droben im Licht!
2. Verlasse die Erde, die Heimath zu sehn,
Die Heimat der Seele, so herrlich, so schön,
Jerusalem droben, von Golde gebaut,
Ist dieses die Heimath der Seele, der Braut?
Ja, ja, ja, ja, dieses allein
Kann Ruhplatz und Heimat der Seele nur sein.
3. Wie selig die Ruhe bei Jesu im Licht!
Tod, Sünde und Schmerzen, die kennt man dort nicht.
Das Rauschen der Harfen, der liebliche Klang
Empfängt die Erlösten mit süßem Gesang.
Ruh’, Ruh’, Ruh’, Ruh’, himmlische Ruh’,
Im Schoße des Mittlers, ich eile dir zu!
4. Bei aller Verwirrung und Klage allhier,
Ist mir, o mein Heiland, so wohl stehts bei dir!
Im Kreise der Deinen sprichst „Friede!“ du aus,
Da bin ich mit deiner Gemeinschaft zu Haus!
Heim, heim, heim, heim, ach ja nur heim!
O komme, mein Heiland, und hole mich heim!”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCi37wnGkEs

Between Babel and Beast

Between Babel and Beast, America and Empires in Biblical Perspective, by Peter Leithart ★★★★★
This is one of the better books I’ve read in a while, and so will spend more time than usual in offering a review. It is uncommon that I would order more copies of a book soon after completing it, in order to encourage others to read the book, but this book is an example of such a text. It is a must-read for Americans. I  enjoy reading Leithart, even though our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) has occasionally attempted to label him a heretic for his stance on federal vision, an entity that I’ve yet to have a competent theologian adequately define for me.
I’ve been interested in the dynamics and politics and religion since it is an election year, and the politicians are out-selling themselves. Some theonomists would argue that there is no difference between politics and religion (such as Rushdooney), since the only legitimate government is a Christian government that follows the civil law of Moses. Such will be the case when the saints alone rule the earth in their original condition absent of original sin. Until then, we must always differentiate between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Leithart asks a penetrating question as to how the kingdom(s) of man treats those of a Christian faith. Do the various nations of the world act against God’s kingdom or in support of it?
The introduction to the book first explains the purpose of Leithart writing the book. In a way, it is a sequel to another book he wrote titled “Constantine”. This book was reviewed by me previously. Before beginning the book, Leithart gently reminds the reader that he (assuming that the reader is an American Christian) is first and foremost a Christian, but also a reminder that America is a part of the city of man. He will elaborate on that much further in the book.
The first three chapters with their conclusion are a history of empires from a biblical perspective. Beginning with the first empire ever, Babel, Leithart outlines in the first chapter the evolution and children of Babel through the book of Genesis. Babel is not used in a particularly pejorative sense, but simply to define an institution that is the “city of man”, a political state or empire established on earth. Introduced in Genesis is also God’s imperium, God’s rule on earth, found in those faithful to Him. The promise to Abraham to build him into a great nation echoed that counter to the Babel that Abraham came out of. Chapter 2 continues with the children of God (Israel) being delivered from the Babel of Egypt. The allusions to the similarity of Abraham being called out of Ur were emphasized. Similarly, the call of the Jews out of Babylon/Persia back to the land of Israel was again likened to the exodus of Moses. Leithart spends much time in Daniel, first discussing how empires could be beasts (by mistreating God’s people) or not, such as Cyrus returning the Jews back to the homeland. Thus, the conclusion was that the Old Testament was not against empire, but against rival imperialisms, “rival visions for the political salvation of a human race”. The third chapter continues into the Roman empire, with both bad news (the execution of Christ and martyrdom of the saints) with good news, such as with Constantine and most of the emperors after him supporting the Christian church, and allowing it to behave freely. Good news included protections in the apostolic period, where Paul appealed frequently as a citizen of Rome, and Rome protected Paul, giving him free transport to Rome to build the church there.
Chapters 4 & 5 comprise a new section, titled “Americanism”. Chapter 4 (Heretic Nation) describes what it means to be American, holding “an assurance that the declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution establishes the best political order the world has ever seen, the last best hope of mankind… Our national self-consciousness is a “Messianic consciousness””. Chapter 4 is a lengthy chapter that I will inadequately summarize. Leithart discusses how with the rise of Constantine and eventually the fall of Rome, the struggle for identity of the roles of church and state have been prevailing themes. Church historians, including Eusebius, emphasized that Constantine was like another Moses, delivering the people of God. Thus a transformation occurred in how church and state regard each other. Such examples include Pope Gregory VII instituting the concept of a holy war. As national identities became more prominent in Europe,  the state played on this notion, leading to many religious wars. The puritans sought delivery from this, sailing to America to form a new hope for man, a new world order, a nation that could be religiously free and beacon to the world; essentially, it was the formation of a new “Israel”, and puritan reading of scripture had a strong nationalist bent. Leithart offers many examples throughout American history of politicians likening America to the new “Israel”. Leithart continues, “Americans are today biblically illiterate, but biblical cadences continue to echo in our political rhetoric, setting the terms of our nation’s purpose and mission. It was no accident that President Bush memorialized the first anniversary of 9/11 with a Statue of Liberty speech full of intertextual links with the opening verses of John’s Gospel… Bush, like many American Christians, has so instinctively and viscerally identified Jesus with the spread of American-style liberty that he can hardly distinguish them.” American wars were referenced to “Americanist typology…  “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the Coming of the Lord,” … fighting and dying like Christ not to make men holy but “to make men free””. Concluding, “Sacrifice American style can only go on and on. For in Americanism, this fourth great biblical religion, there is no final sacrifice, no end to bloodshed until we have rid the world of evil until the American creed becomes the creed of humanity. In this too, we are a heretic nation”. Chapter 5, summarized briefly, mixes quotes that adamantly state that we are not an empire and we do not interfere with the affairs of other nations, with examples that prove that we do everything but that. Starting with Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s doctrine, speeches from Washington, he shows the extreme political hypocrisy. Sadly the examples of history do NOT start with our involvement in WWI like we are typically taught, but rather from the inception of our empire, with the war against the Barbary Pirates in 1803, to our involvement in conflicts in the Philippines in 1813, our treatment of the Indians, and our development of manifest destiny, all show our early and aggressive entanglements around the globe.
Part III of the book, labeled between Babel and Beast, everything is attempted to be put into context of how Christians should view America. Chapter 6, American Babel, starts…”Europe’s secularization is its long retreat from Christendom, the disestablishment of the church, the decline of active Christianity, the migration of the holy from the church to the nation. Americanism is impervious to the secularization of the European variety because America was never part of Christendom to begin with”. The growing spirit of the importance of the American message in the world is then shown by Leithart in numerous historical examples, one example being that of John Foster Dulles, a very devout Christian, who helped form the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and felt it important for America to make the rules for how nations should behave with each other. In all points “American policy must establish, ensure, and maintain the dominance of America. Whether the dominance was of American ideals or America as a great power dictating the terms of a world made comparatively little difference”. Later, Leithart states “Anyone who thinks that apocalyptic political rhetoric is a thing of the past, or who thinks that Americans have given up thinking of ourselves as a messianic nation, … has not been listening carefully to the rhetoric of the war on terror. . . Americanism is a mythology that justifies American power and explains–sometimes explains away–American action… Scratch Americanist rhetoric and the reality beneath the skin is often un-American and undemocratic. These inconsistencies are perhaps inherent in Babelic imperialism: Babels call the nations to a glorious vision of a single tower and city and speak with a single lip, but the aim is finally to promote Babel’s interests and advance Babel’s power.” Many examples of America advancing their influence in the world contrary to the principles of our own state is given. Leithart offers a lengthy diatribe against our stated agreement from the 1923 Hague conference against using warfare, most notably aerial bombardment, as a means of inflicting injury on civilian populations. The offenses against warfare against civilians since 1923 are too numerous to mention, but perhaps one needs to be reminded of the true story of Kurt Vonnegut in Dresden at the end of WWII. It makes one want to weep. Chapter 7 finally asks whether America, as an empire (Babel), is a good empire, or an evil one (beast). He mentions how the US has done great good, mostly through our citizens (eg., Voice of the Martyrs, intervention on Afghan converts, etc.), something no other nation would have done. The tone quickly changes as to how much of our foreign aid has gone to nations who aggressively suppress Christianity. In effect, much of America’s actions seem to be detrimental to the kingdom of God (the church) on earth. He ends with sober admonitions, “we play with beasts, and our Americanist lenses do not allow us to see the danger. We fund our favorite beasts, then turn a blind eye when they devour the saints. It is a dangerous position, not only for the Christians who suffer at the hands of our allies but also for the United States. Those who consort with beasts might become bestial, and beasts do not long survive”. “As far as Christians are concerned the only appropriate response is to repent of being Americanists…”.
Unfortunately, most who read this book, or the summary that I offer, will either a) object vehemently to Leithart’s admonitions, feeling that he is unfair to the American experiment, or b) somehow feel that we are beyond or above this book. None of us are above the admonitions in this book. Americanism has pervaded us to the point of being beyond recognition. Leithart does not call us to leave the U.S. We cannot establish a haven elsewhere in the world as such an action is nothing more than repeating the error of our ancestors in coming to America. He is quite perceptive about identifying the political mis-thinking of much of the American church, and to that, we must give our undivided attention.
As a side note, Leithart does not hold to conspiracy theories, or a dark mind working behind everything. He would be the first to identify the crisis of Babel resulting from original sin, which is inescapable in this life. I would agree that Americanist ideology is the second tier above that, as Leithart identifies in this book. The corruption and influence of the trade and banking system is only subservient to the ideology of Americanism, whether it be to oppress poor nations by import tariffs or create wars to promote the military-industrial complex. Those who feel that the bankers control the world are naive to the ideologies that control the banking systems. Whatever your take on this book, the reader will find it thought provoking, and well organized. To Americanism, we must weep and repent.

Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul

Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul, by John Hale, through the Teaching Company ★★★★
John Hale is mostly an underwater archeologist and did much work in the Mediterranean Sea. This video course in 24 half-hour lectures, takes you on a “tour” of the mostly archeological aspects of Greece and Turkey, including the Greek Isles, showing where to go, what to see, and offering many tourist tips along the way. Hale is both entertaining as well as informative, and his teaching style is quite relaxed but never sloppy. Betsy and I both watched this series through, enjoying it totally. It provided motivation for someday going to Greece and Turkey.

Authority of Scripture

The Authority of Scripture, by Edward J. Young, as found on iTunes U, Westminster Seminary ★★★★★

This series is 12 lectures averaging an hour each. It was given during the mid-1970s, of moderate recording quality.  I found this lecture set to be totally awesome. I don’t understand why Dr. Young is only limited in his popularity, as he is a true theological giant. Young was a professor at Westminster Seminary, worked with JG Machen, and is best known for his lengthy commentary on Isaiah. Young gives some general lectures on Scriptural authority and infallibility, mostly in the context of discussing the attacks that have come upon denying the authority of Scripture. He spends a number of lectures on Genesis, discusses the issue of the authorship and authority of the Pentateuch, provides several lectures discussing the issue of the authorship of Isaiah, and then of Daniel. He speaks in a raised monotone voice, like an old-time preacher. Each sentence is thick. He has no trouble holding one’s attention. There are some particular aspects of this lecture series that I deeply appreciated.1. He doesn’t coddle with the documentary hypothesis. For those who are unaware, the documentary hypothesis claims that the Pentateuch is an assembly of writers, the Eloistic writer, the Jawistic writer, and the Priestly writer, with one other thrown in at times. The immediate way to spot a documentary hypothesis believer is when one speaks of two accounts of creation. Now, Young does a superlative work of demolishing the entire notion of the documentary hypothesis, showing how it is unnecessary, unScriptural, irrational, and inconsistent. Why so many conservative scholars give credence to the documentary hypothesis is beyond me. They should have had Prof. Young as their teacher.2. He doesn’t force a young earth/old earth distinction but completely destroyed the notion of theistic evolution. Young admits that when he gave the lecture series, theistic evolution was not yet been suggested, showing insight in Young’s ability to know what darling heresies might arise among conservative theologians. He was definitely ahead of his time. He absolutely demolishes the Francis Collins theistic evolution theory.4. His refutation of the Barthian notion of Historie vs. Geschichte is priceless. Young explains in detail Barth’s thinking, and it is best to just hear it from him.5. He is magisterial in his response to the 2 or 3 authorship theory of Isaiah, the other authors being a Deutero-Isaiah and a Tritero-Isaiah. Young makes clear that many of the so-called assaults on Scripture are simply nothing more than unbelief. Why so many conservative scholars have given in to these assaults, including professors at Westminster and Covenant Seminary, is beyond me. Young has every choice and humorous words for these folk. The series is a total must listen to series, and it is free. Just get into iTunesU and download it onto your iPod, and then enjoy some of the best teaching on Scripture available,  for the next 12 plus hours.

Republicrat

Republocrat, Confessions of a Liberal-Conservative, by Carl Trueman ★★
I read this book based on the recommendations of readers at Amazon.com and several of the reviewers. The book has a good deal of truth to it, in that Trueman refuses to take sides with either the Republicans or the Democrats. He successfully points out the hypocrisy of the Republican Party, showing that their antics and behavior tend to be as immoral as the Democrats, pointing out when the Republicans turn a blind eye on their own immorality. Specifically, Trueman spends an entire chapter attacking Fox News, which tends to be the darling child of the conservative right. Trueman is also honest enough to offer his own bias, including his love for socialized medicine and heavily restrictive gun laws. He comes from England and views our system in a very British manner. Trueman tends toward social conservatism and economic liberalism, though it would be unfair to say that as a blanket categorization of his position.
He strives hard to demand the use of words that are specific to their meaning. His pet misused word is “Marxist”, claiming that Marx’s system is simply that of the economic resolution of dialectic tensions throughout history. Actually, anybody that has read Das Kapital realizes that it is more than that, in that Marx prescribes an entire economic system and not just the philosophical basis for that system. Trueman fails in his own plea, in that even in the last paragraphs of the book, he speaks of Havel living in a “Marxist” state, suggesting that Marx offered more than a philosophical theory of economics. Trueman repeatedly uses the words “Capitalism” and “capitalist”, even though those are pejorative words coined by Marx himself, and tend toward the same meaningless statements as accusing somebody of being a Marxist.
Trueman’s greatest flaw is his inability to visualize anything beyond the political divides. As an example, he spends a great amount of time praising the British health care system and asks whether it is better to have health care controlled by politicians vs. Capitalist insurance companies. In reality, the British system is bankrupt and a very poor example of an ideal health care system. I need not belabor how euthanasia and extreme waits for care are now bedeviling the British system. Neither need I suggest that the American system that has insurance companies so heavily regulated that they are no longer capitalistic systems need to be mentioned. Trueman fails to mention that both systems are woefully broken and worthy of being completely dismantled. Third-party indemnification is the problem, not the solution, whether that third party is the government or the insurance company.
Truemans understanding of economics is a dismal lacuna. He fails entirely to see the problems of economics in the modern state, and the absence of morality of forced redistribution of wealth and artificial creation of “money” by the state. He praises the economic liberal pastor of Scotland ministering to Scottish miners living in poverty, yet becomes no different than American mega-church pastors that cater to the felt needs of their congregations.
I was extremely disappointed with this book. From the praise that so many conservative Reformed theologians gave to this book, it is clear to me that Reformed theologians should stay out of politics and stick to theology. This is seen clearly when JG Machen, a great Reformed theologian, lauded Woodrow Wilson, one of the worst presidents of all time. Trueman is caught in that same muddle. He argues for Scripture as a basis for viewing our politicians but immediately lapses into sentimentality. Perhaps the only author that has been able to force a biblical interpretation on economics and social issues of the state has been Gary North. Even though I don’t always agree with North, I always appreciate the fact that he refuses to tend toward sentimentality and forces his statements to maintain a biblical orientation.
In summary, Trueman does a muddled attempt in giving a Christian view of American politics. He is successful in showing that the Republican Party is not the moral or Christian party, but he fails entirely in offering a Christian alternative for thinking and action. Thus, I don’t consider the book worth reading.