The University Without a Campus

See the source image

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, “It was the worst of times; it was the worst of times.”  By that I mean that the post- and also pre-World War II era, including the 1960s, was a time of great political and cultural calamities, and it was a time of great spiritual drought and uncertainty.

There was no Internet on which to search for the topic Christian worldview.  Nor was there an Amazon, Goodreads, or Abebooks on which to find needed resources.  The Christian school movement, including the revitalized classical Christian school movement and home schooling, were largely non-existent.  Christians in politics usually meant more liberal people fighting for Civil Rights (somewhat correctly) or more conservative people opposing Civil Rights (wrongly).  Christianity and philosophy were separate subjects who barely acknowledged one another.  Reformed theology was limited to a small number of folks who clung to the Five Points of Calvinism or some traditional Presbyterians who were hold-outs against the theological wars of the 1920s.

Billy Graham represented in both positive and less positive ways the face of evangelicalism.  There was little concern for finding the Christian mind because few thought that it even existed.

And yet, there were and had been a cadre of Christian scholars and thinkers who had swum against the tides.  They circles were small; their followers were few; their books were obscurely published and, in not in English, usually untranslated.  They found themselves rarely noted, reviewed, footnoted, or referenced.  This was what I called in a series of talks some years ago “The Wilderness Years.”

The topic mesmerizes me.  I was first reminded of it when James Jordan published an article called “The Closing of the Calvinistic Mind.”  Later, P. Andrew Sandlin published a similar article titled “The De-Intellectualization of the Reformed Movement.”  For them and for me, the story was powerful because it was autobiographical.  When I rediscovered this topic, somewhere around the year 2005, the age that Jordan and Sandlin wrote about had passed.  For me, it had faded into the back of my mind, but reading about it was like discovering a door leading back into the foundations of my own journey and still incomplete worldview.

As I described the events of the time, an Australian friend described the situation as “A university without a campus.”  I thought it an apt and beautiful phrase.

Like all historical recollections, this one is incomplete and not fully nuanced.  But here in this post, I want to call attention to a world of books that were, even in the most intellectually barren and spiritually slim times, “out there.”  Some few found them.  They told others.  The books got picked up here and there.  Iron sharpened iron.  The remnant read the books.

One can find many books today that are, in most respects, better written, more applicable, and improved.  But these were the books that showed up in those Wilderness Years.

Charles H. Craig

Charles H. Craig may be among the most under-acclaimed heroes of Christian publishing. He took over Presbyterian And Reformed Publishing in 1957 and was responsible for seeing to the publication of so many good books.

THE UNIVERSITY WITHOUT A CAMPUS

Books Published by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company

(also called The Craig Press)in the 1950s-1970s

See the source image

Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics. 1977

——–Homosexuality: A Biblical View, 1978

Theonomy in Christian Ethics came near the end of the period that I have as my focus.  The picture above is of a much later edition.  In many ways, this book and author were high-jacked.  Dr. Bahnsen wrote a lengthy, detailed study of Biblical law.  It was attached to a movement, alternately called Theonomy or Christian Reconstruction, which made it handy to refute it by attacking some aspects of the movement.  It lessened Bahnsen’s standing as a first-rate scholar in apologetics and philosophy, not because of anything wrong with the book, but because it overshadowed the work of the man.

Whether one accepts any or all or none of its content, this was a powerful study that has yet to receive due compensation from Christian thinkers.

See the source image

Gordon H. Clark. Historiography: Secular and Religious. 1971

——–Karl Barth’s Theological Method.

———-Religion, Reason and Revelation. 1961

———-The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God. 1964

———-Three Types of Religious Philosophy. 1973

Gordon Haddon Clark was one of the greatest philosophical thinkers of the 20th century.  Wheaton College committed a kamikaze attack on its own academic standards when it pushed him aside decades ago.  Controversies within Presbyterian circles pitted Clark against Cornelius Van Til, resulting in the small remnant of Calvinist thinkers battling each other rather than confronting the enemies in the opposing trenches.

Much recovery has been done by Douglas Douma’s biography of Clark, titled The Presbyterian Philosopher:  The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark. There are probably more serious students of Clark’s writings than ever before. R. C. Sproul said that Clark is one of the few Christians of our time who will be read 500 years from now.  Almost all of his books are currently in print from the Trinity Foundation.

The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark by [Doug J. Douma, Lois Zeller, Betsy Clark George]

Norman De Jong. Christianity and Democracy. 1978

———-Education in the Truth. 1977

While many evangelicals accepted, embraced, and defended public schools, the Dutch in America maintained a suspicion and opposition to Christ-less education.  They were not fighting against integration, the removal of non-descript prayers, or evolution; rather, they embraced a whole philosophy of education.  Norman De Jong wrote several books that provided such foundations.

Herman Dooyeweerd. The Christian Idea of the State. 1968

———-In the Twilight of Western Thought. 1960, 1980

———-A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, 4 Volumes. 1953

One of the greatest names in philosophy in the world today is a name that is ignored still in many philosophy departments both secular and religious.  Herman Dooyeweerd, a Dutchman, wrote extensively on philosophy and culture. Through most of his life, he was little known here in the United States.  Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing picked up some of his books and lectures, or had them translated, for the North American readers.  HD is not an easy read, but he has sparked a number of followers in philosophy, history, and theology.

See the source image

David Hugh Freeman. A Philosophical Study of Religion. 1964

———-Recent Studies in Philosophy and Religion. 1962

Freeman wrote and contributed to a number of volumes that P & R published.

E. R. Geehan, editor. Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and  Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til. 1971

This work, which probably garnered few readers, was an in-depth discussion of Cornelius Van Til’s thought as critiqued and defended by friends and foes.

Philip Edgecombe Hughes, Christianity and the Problem of Origins. 1974

Reverend Hughes wrote quite a few fine books, including several Bible commentaries.  He taught at Columbia Theological Seminary due to a grant for a theology professor from a wealthy conservative donor.  A British scholar, Hughes wrote the little noticed short work listed above.  I read it for a Western Civilization class taught by Henry Wood, one of that small remnant who read the Calvinist thinkers back in their day.  That short work was powerful. It needs to be made available again.

Jon R. Kennedy. The Reformation of Journalism: A Christian Approach to Mass  Communication. 1972

Both the book and the author are forgotten.  I read it back in the 1970s because I was taking some journalism classes.

See the source image

Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee

Francis Nigel Lee. A Christian Introduction to the History of Philosophy. 1969, 1978

———-Communism Versus Creation. 1969

———-Communist Eschatology. 1974

———Origin and Destiny of Man. 1974

Francis Nigel Lee was a prolific writer, a scholar who collected Ph. D.’s like other people collect coffee mugs, and an engaging preacher.  He wrote several fine books, but the biggest was Communist Eschatology.  I spent a couple of years searching for this book.  I could remember back when P & R was just about giving it away.  Finally, I contacted Christian cartoonist Vic Lockman, who agreed to sell me his autographed copy.

I had the pleasure of reconnecting Vic and Dr. Lee via emails.  I was saddened when Lee died some years back.

No photo description available.

Ronald H. Nash, editor. The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark. 1968

The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark: A Festschrift - Ronald H. Nash Ed. - 1968 HB

In Hot Spring, Arkansas some years ago, I was searching–I thought in vain–through the most worthless, cluttered, junky used bookstore I have ever been in.  98 percent of the books were trade paperback romance novels and the like.  But somewhere in the high reaches on a shelf, I saw a good hardcover edition of this festschrift to Gordon Clark.  Outstanding book, containing contributions from several of the other authors mentioned in this posting.

See the source image

Gary North, economist, libertarian political thinker, theonomist, Christian Reconstructionist, author, and more.

Gary North, An Introduction to Christian Economics, 1973

———-Marx’s Religion of Revolution: The Doctrine of Creative Destruction. 1968

Although I now have a couple of dozen books by Gary North, I don’t think I have ever acquired An Introduction to Christian Economics.  From these two books that North did for P&R, he went on to create his own publishing firms which were putting out his books and those of his followers.  It is easy to find fault with Gary North on some topic or the other, but the man wrote some fine studies and has labored hard for the cause of Christian thought.

Vern S. Poythress. Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God. 1976

This book has been reprinted, revised, and expanded.  Poythress is among the last of the old-time Calvinist worldview thinkers who has lived on to be in the top cadre of such writers and thinkers.  His books are many.  I know because I keep trying to get all of them.

W. Stanford Reid. Christianity and Scholarship.

I am not sure if I have this book or not.  The topic is one on which dozens of books are being published today, but it was not as common in the past.

See the source image

Rousas John Rushdoony. Foundations of Social Order. 1968

———-Institutes of Biblical Law. 1973

———-Intellectual Schizophrenia. 1961

———Law and Liberty. 1971

———-The Messianic Character of American History. 1968

———-The Myth of Overpopulation. 1969

———-The Mythology of Science. 1967

———-The Nature of the American System. 1965

———-The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy. 1971

———-Politics of Guilt and Pity. 1970.

———-This Independent Republic. 1964

Pilloried, ignored, discounted, and politely not mentioned, Rousas John Rushdoony was one of the most important thinkers and writers of the 20th century in regard to Christian thought.  Yes, he was wrong sometimes, but try reading Augustine and Calvin for perfect thinking.  RJR was the most widely diffused thinker I have ever been acquainted with.  I met him a few times, corresponded with him a few times, and read and listened to him quite a bit.

The books listed above are, besides being on a variety of topics, brilliant gems.

See the source image

C. Gregg Singer. From Rationalism to Irrationality: The Decline of the Western Mind From the Renaissance to the Present. 1979

———John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits

———-A Theological Interpretation of American History. 1964

It was Singer, along with Rushdoony, whose books first taught me a critical lesson:   I didn’t know how to read serious, analytical material.  And another lesson:  I didn’t know how to think Christianly about politics and culture.  Even on points where I disagree with the late Dr. Singer now, I still have to respect what his books taught me.

J. M. Spier. Christianity and Existentialism. 1953

———-An Introduction to Christian Philosophy. 1966

Spier was another Dutchman, I think, who helped pave the way for English speaking people to read and understand Dooyeweerd.

See the source image

Hebden Taylor. The Christian Philosophy of Law, Politics and the State. 1966

———-Economics, Money, and Banking , 1978

———-Evolution and the Reformation of Biology. 1967

———-Reformation or Revolution. 1970

E. L. Hebden Taylor was a British Anglican theologian and writer.  His books are all out of print and hard to find.  One of my copies came to me from New Zealand.  A dear couple, the young man now deceased, gave me copies of The Christian Philosophy of Law, Politics, and the State and Reformation or Revolution.  Taylor was a strong disciple of Herman Dooyeweerd.

See the source image

H. Van Reissen, author of Society of the Future and a monograph titled Nietzsche.

H. Van Reissen, The Society of the Future. 1952

Van Reissen was a Dutchman, part of the cast of thinkers in the Free University of Amsterdam orbit, and a profound Christian scholar.

See the source image

Cornelius Van Til. The Case for Calvinism. 1964

———-Christian Theistic Ethics. 1971

———-A Christian Theory of Knowledge. 1969

———-Christianity and Barthianism. 1962

———Christianity and Idealism. 1955

———Christianity and Modern Theology. 1955

——–Common Grace, 1947

———-The Defense of the Faith. 1955

———-An Introduction to Systematic Theology. 1966

———The Intellectual Challenge of the Gospel. 1953

Cornelius Van Til was one of the greatest apologists of his and our time.  There are plenty of critics around.  I cannot completely land myself within his complete system, but I have gained so much from my limited studies of the man and his labors.

In the late 1990s, P&R would publish two major studies of Cornelius Van Til.  One was by Greg Bahnsen and the other by John Frame.

         

William Young. Foundations of Theory

———-Hegel’s Dialectic Method: Its Origins and Religious Significance. 1972

Young was a translator of Dooyeweerd’s New Critique , and he authored a couple of philosophical studies.  A few years back, another company published a collection of his writings which range from philosophy to theology.

             

Modern Thinkers Series, edited by David H. Freeman

Nietzsche by H. Van Reissen

Kierkegaard by S. U. Zuidema

Dewey by Gordon H. Clark

Bultmann by Herman Ridderbos

Sartre by S. U. Zuidema

Van Til by Rousas J. Rushdoony

Niebuhr by G. Brillenburg Wurth

Barth by A. D. R. Polman

Tillich by David H. Freeman

James by Gordon H. Clark

Freud by Rousas J. Rushdoony

Toynbee by C. Gregg Singer

This set of books was outstanding in its day.  I have several of them and wish I had them all.  P&R has somewhat revived the tradition with its Great Thinkers Series.

Books Published by Baker Book House

Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism.

H. Henry Meeter, Basic Ideas of Calvinism. 1939

Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture. 1959

Baker Book House often worked in tandem with Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing.  These three books are all classics in the field.  I think that they may all still be available.

Books Published by William B. Eerdmans

Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education. 1946

———-A Christian View of Men and Things. 1952

Herman Dooyeweerd, Transcendental Problems of Philosophical Thought. 1948.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. 1923

Four books among many that William B. Eerdmans published that were influential in Calvinistic Worldview Thinking.

Books Published by Ross House Books

Gary North, editor, Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective. 1979

Ross House became the publishing firm for R. J. Rushdoony’s books.  They are still pouring out old and newly published volumes of his work.  This work was an early publication that has some really tough essays on Christian thought.  It is worth searching for and buying.

See the source image

Time  fails me from being able to scope out and discuss, even briefly, many of the other works of the Wilderness Years.  Besides the men mentioned above, others like George Grant, John Frame, Joseph Morecraft, Gary DeMar, David Chilton, Calvin Seerveld, H. Evan Runner, Arthur Holmes,  Carl F. H. Henry,  and many more were writing, teaching, preaching, and laying the foundations for Christian thinking from solidly Reformed positions.

Also, much more could be said about the formative roles of James Orr, a Scotsman, and those incredible Dutchmen–Groen van Prinsterer, Abraham Kuyper, and Herman Bavinck.

No photo description available.

Christian Thinking–Help Is Here

Thankfully, a trickle has turned into a flood.  For a period of time, we might say from the 1920s through the early 1970s,  Christian thought in America retreated.  It retreated from the academy, from politics, from culture, from economics, from art and literature, from philosophy, and other areas devoted to the life of the mind.

I stand behind the sentence stated above, but also note that it is full of holes.  The decades of the 20th century were the years that God raised up J. Gresham Machen, Herman Dooyeweerd, T. S. Eliot, Karl Barth, C. S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Carl F. H. Henry, R. J. Rushdoony, Christopher Dawson, and a host of other Christian thinkers.  The problem was not the lack of Christian thought or Christian scholarship and certainly not the lack of Christian scholars and intellectuals.  The problem was that the main body of Christians didn’t engage in Christian thought, and the part of the world that did produce scholarship didn’t tend to recognize or interact with Christian thinking.

It was this empty chasm that led Harry Blamires to lament “There is no longer a Christian mind” in his book titled The Christian Mind.  Mark Noll recast the idea in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by stating, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”  Sure there are plenty of Christian musicians (some of whom are reputed to be good), Christian fiction writers (some of whose book covers do not feature Amish girls),  Christian cookbooks and diet plans, Christian wall art replete with Bible verses (some of which actually apply to the pictures), and Christian kitsch.

There are also lots of truly good Christian books dealing with personal, family, relational, and church related matters.  We are also blessed with having some theological heavy weights in our own time along with easy access to the theological writings from all the past centuries.

That being said, the Christian mind is often found to be flabby or starved.  The well-toned muscular Christian mind is still in short supply.  Professor Digby’s concern in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was “Why don’t they teach logic any more?”  That is one concern among many.  There are still far too many Christian ministries that are fluff-centered.  There are far too many churches that are more user-friendly than God-centered.  There are far too many Christians happily retreating into being a clueless witness in a pagan arena (public schools, for example) than in being a cutting edge in a true cultural confrontation.

To say that help is on the way is already passe.  Help is here.  God has always equipped His Church and His People with tools for dominion and conquest.  The Bible itself, of course, is a primary source weapon for any and all cultural battles.  And the Bible didn’t come off the presses and hit the book racks yesterday.  2000 years of interaction with language studies, theological wrangles, cultural confrontations, philosophical interactions, and even outbreaks of screaming and hollering have left us with an embarrassment of riches, Biblically and theologically speaking.

I am all in favor of putting Christian kids through a weight-lifting program with hefty copies of Augustine’s City of God, Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and about 6 dozen novels, 2 dozen histories, 20 to 30 works of virtuous pagans–ancient and modern, and a healthy dose of Shakespeare’s plays and Southern poetry and fiction.  But we have to balance out and help refine the work of the “greats and classics” with some specialized worldview thining skills.

I admit that I am a Christian-worldview addict.  Show me a book on Christian worldview thinking and I want it.  The first time I heard the word “Christian World and Life View,” I had no idea what it meant.  Within a short season, that phrase changed my life and redirected my teaching career before it ever actually began.  I have never looked back.

All this brings me to the key point of this blog:  Two books that were published this past year on Christian thinking.

Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians was written by Bruce Riley Ashford and published by Lexham Press.  Dr. Ashford serves as Professor of Theology and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ashville, Kentucky.  That seminary, by the way, is under the leadership of Dr. Albert Mohler and is becoming a center of Christian thought and ministry training.  Lexham Press, a relatively new publishing house, is rocking Christian scholarship with a combination of short, powerful books like the one above, along with some other heavy-weight works such as their translation and publication of Reformed Dogmatics by Gerhardus Vos.

Every Square Inch is a book for square one; that is, it is a book for beginners.  (I am an old grizzled warrior in these matters, but I, too, profited greatly from the book.)  The title is taken from Abraham Kuyper’s defining phrase:  “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ who is Sovereign over all, does not cry ‘Mine.'”  Kuyper, a Dutch Christian who is the father of much of our Christian worldview thinking, is one of three key thinkers that Ashford credits and recommends.  The other two are Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis.  If the only thing a reader got from this book was the recommendation to ready Kuyper, Schaeffer, and Lewis, that reader would do well.

Abraham Kuyper was noted for his unusually large head. What the mind inside that head produced was far more astounding.

C. S. Lewis produced a wide variety of books from fiction and poetry to apologetics and literary criticism.

It is hard to imagine where the Christian community would be if it had not been for Francis Schaeffer.

Ashford devotes chapters to such topics as culture, calling, the arts, the sciences, politics, economics, education, and mission.  For sure, each chapter is incomplete, but this book is a starting block.  Each chapter ends with recommended readings.  The chapters themselves makes the cases for Christian pursuit of each of the areas of thought and life.  Key authors, and not just the three above, are quoted.  Summaries and thought questions are found at the end of each chapter.  There is also a whole chapter devoted to six case studies of Christians, including the blessed trio, who actually did apply the faith in their academic lives or life missions.

This book is a necessity for grounding students in Christian thinking.  It can also be used as for teacher training in a Christian school.  It is also useful for discipling or mentoring.  Since it is short, affordable, hardback, and easily readable, I hope it is soon found on many Christian home bookshelves, book stores, Christian school classrooms, and Christian colleges.

Nancy Pearcey is just plain intimidating.  She is a short, petite middle-aged lady you might expect to encounter in the grocery store, but don’t be fooled.  She has become a virtual Christian version of Achilles, minus the vulnerable heel.  I was blessed by getting to hear her and meet her at the Association for Classical Christian Schools conference in Dallas, Texas in June of 2015.  She was at the back of the meeting room when she was introduced to speak, so she hurried to the front, looked frantically for the steps, and seemed a bit out-of-breath when she began her talk.  That was just a glimpse of this fiery brain that is undaunted by whatever piggish legions unbelief has put in her path.  Dr. Pearcey serves as drill sergeant, or rather as a teacher at Houston Baptist College (where the incredible Louis Markos is also a professor).

She has authored and co-authored some really useful books in the past, such as The Soul of Science, How Now Shall We Live, and Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity.  Her most recent book is Finding Truth:  5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes,   which is published by David C Cook, a long-time publisher of Christian books and resources.  This book is, like Ashford’s book described above, a beginner book.  In this case, however, the book is for beginning to analyze and counter non-Christian thought.  It is heavy on method with the intent being the training of Christian students in apologetic thought across the spectrum of thought.

Nancy Pearcey’s personal experience was that of a church-raised girl who came to a point of unbelief or agnosticism.  Like many a potential unbeliever of the past, such as Augustine, G. K. Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis, the Divine Chessplayer gave her a brain concussion.  The tool God used was Francis Schaeffer and his ministry known as L’Abri in Switzerland.  In short, Dr. Pearsey repented of her unbelief, embraced Christ, and devoted herself to loving God with all her mind.  Her pilgrimage has taken her to and through the works of Christian thinkers such as Herman Dooyeweerd and Phillip E. Johnson.  Her target audience consists of people like the man who told her “I lost my faith at an evangelical college.”

This book provides a 5 step program or 5 tests for students and Christian apologists to use in confronting unbelief:

  1.  Identify the idol  (meaning that unbelief is not belief in nothing, but belief in a false god of some sort; in other words, an idol)
  2.  Identify the idol’s reductionism (an idea borrowing heavily from Dooyeweerd and the brilliant Roy Clouser on all non-Christian thought being reductionistic)
  3. Test the idol: How does it contradict what we know about the world?
  4. Test the idol: How does it contradict itself?
  5. Replace the idol: Make the case for Christianity

Complete with a study guide, extensive notes, and sample test-thought questions, this book is a college level course for Christians.  An eager high school class could do well with this study as well as college students.  Teachers, preachers, and study groups could also enjoy the book.

Help is here.  Let’s keep pressing on.

Men Wanted for Church Jobs

Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring, Jim Grassi  Jim Grassi, in the book Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring, writes,

“Growing and dynamic churches seem to have four things in common:

  • passionate pursuit of God,
  • compulsive care for people,
  • emphasis on home groups,
  • and a strong and vibrant ministry to men.

It is men who will lead the church to a new reformation.

It is men who are accountable to strengthening families by modeling God’s Word.

It is men who can support and connect with assisting widows (single moms) and orphans (41 percent of children with no biological father in the home) of our day.”

Mentoring for the Growth of the Kingdom

Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring, Jim Grassi

I review lots and lots of books these days.  I review in a year about a tenth of the books that Tim Challies reviews in a week.  One of the things that a reviewer learns is that the book publishing world is massive.  I end up with whole stacks of books on all sorts of subjects.  I confess to not getting every review book read.  The very good ones are not read deeply enough.

But a reviewer is a scout.  He rides way out front and discovers what lies ahead.  Speed is essential.

A book reviewer or reader has to know what niche to place a book in.  Books fill a number of purposes, some greater or deeper than others.

One of my recent reads, in order to post a review, was Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring by Jim Grassi. This is a good second or third book to read on mentoring.

I have been increasingly convinced for several years now that spiritual mentoring is vital to the health of individual Christians and the church.  I preach sermons.  I love preaching and the impact of sermons.  But sermons are not up close and personal enough.  Sermons speak to all, while mentoring addresses the individual.  Mentoring is an indispensible complement to sermons.  Paul mentored Timothy.  That mentoring took them to many lands and situations.  Paul continued mentoring Timothy via his letters after Timothy was assigned to the church in Ephesus.  Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the Word, but also to mentor a core group who will then mentor others.  “And the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

No man is an island.  Every man will be mentored.  A mentor is a teacher, a personal trainer, a guide.  The culture around us, the values of the unbelieving world, the sinful human nature, and the devil are all out there offering mentoring at discount prices.  It is highly questionable whether someone can be saved, but not mentored, or discipled.

No doubt but that women and girls in the church need good and godly sisters-in-Christ to guide them along the way.  Paul tells Titus that the older women (and “older” is relative to the average age in a church) are to be teachers of good things to younger women.  Women’s ministries are vital, absolutely essential, to the life of the church.  In an effort to offset the feminist and egalitarian impulses in the church world, some Christians (alas, many of us Reformed folk) have overly limited the teaching role of women.  The motive was to prevent women from being pastors and exercising authority over men.  The excess was in stifling the needed role of women mentoring women.

But men are the biggest potential failures and losers in Christ’s kingdom.  Satan has many disguises that lure men toward passivity and feminization or to a warped masculinity and ungodly totalitarian style.  Men are posers and are masters of deceit.  Even though Jesus came into this world a male and gave us a model of true Masculinity, we men fail.

Hence the importance of mentoring.  This book, Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring, contains lots of guidelines, suggestions, and methods for implementing successful mentoring programs in the church.  That is why it is a good second or third book.

Jim Grassi’s prior book is titled The Spiritual Mentor.  That book, along with many other current books, give more of the content and methods of spiritual mentoring.  One doesn’t have to get a book with the word “Mentor” in the title for instruction.  Any book or Bible study that faithfully lays out patterns for Bible study, doctrine, prayer, and practice will work.  

 

The Spiritual Mentor, Jim Grassi

After one has actually either started mentoring or found a mentor, then books on building these programs in the church can be used and implemented.

For several years now, I have been burdened with the topic of mentoring.  Part of what the Lord has shown me is that I may not be the one who will be doing the mentoring in a way that I want to see it done.  Pastors and preachers cannot always be the personal training mentors for every man and boy in the congregation.  We preach to equip the saints for works of service.

I have also been reminded that as a teacher in a Christian school, I am doing mentoring work.  I don’t teach books and information.  I teach children.  I teach boys and girls, young men and young women, who are growing in mind and spirit.  As a teacher, I experience strong connections with some students and not as much connection with others.  That is fine.  The student who comes alive in literature class will bond with me more than the mathematicly or scientificly inclined student.  (Saying that, I also realize that students don’t line up in such rigid categories.)

All in all, I recommend this book.  I received it free of charge as a review book and am not obligated to endorse it.  Mentoring or being mentored is more important than reading books about mentoring.  But thankfully, we are seeing more and more books to help us wherever we and our churches are in this matter.