Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: What's Your Worldview?

Your worldview, that is, what you believe about the world, matters. James Anderson says:

"Worldviews are like belly buttons. Everyone has one, but we don't talk about them very often" (pg. 12).

"Your worldview shapes and informs your experiences of the world around you. Like a pair of spectacles with colored lenses, it affects what you see and how you see it" (pg. 13).

"What you think about...any...major issue of the day depends on your underlying worldview more than anything else...worldviews play a central and defining role in our lives. They shape what we believe and what we're willing to believe, how we interpret our experiences, how we behave in response to those experiences, and how we relate to others" (pg. 13).

James Anderson has written an interactive and engaging book:

"To help you identify and clarify your worldview.
To encourage you to consider the big questions and to think through some of the implications of various answers.
To help you appreciate that there are important differences between worldviews--and that not all worldviews are created equal!..." (pg. 14)

To accomplish his purposes, Mr. Anderson takes a unique approach. What's Your Worldview? might be the first question he asks, but it isn't the last. Anderson takes a Socratic approach, inviting his reader to a conversation and leading him (or her) to examine the beliefs he (or she) holds by asking 21 questions of his reader. Each of the questions, as well as what Anderson means by them, is expounded on one, short page. Like the old "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" novels, the next page that you read in What's Your Worldview? depends upon how you answer the question posed by Anderson, at which point there is a page-and-a-half explanation of your worldview or another question to answer.

Of What's Your Worldview? Anderson writes:

"... it covers the most prominent and influential worldviews in Western culture today (plus a few more), and it highlights some of the most serious challenges faced by those worldviews. The book doesn't drill down all the way...[and] isn't meant to be the last word on worldviews...Rather, it's meant to be the first word in a fruitful conversation about maters of ultimate importance" (pg 98).

Additionally, Anderson has sought to write a book that helps his reader think critically about worldviews. He encourages his reader to examine the various worldviews (21) presented in the book, comparing them with one's own, noting strengths and weaknesses. I believe Anderson has successfully fulfilled his goals and has written a concise, thought-provoking work that will bless many. It also gives me some food-for-thought as I interact with those who don't share my own worldview.

*Thanks again to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of What's Your Worldview? in exchange for my honest opinion!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: John Knox

John Knox (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) Greed. Corruption. False teaching. Murder. The problems in the early Church ran deep. History teaches us that this is exactly what happens when believers fail to read and study God's Word. Throughout history, God has used many men and women to call the Church back to the Holy Scriptures rather than the traditions of man. John Knox is one such man.

Long time readers of this blog need no introduction to Simonetta Carr or her "Christian Biographies for Young Readers".  As I've written before, Ms. Carr is one of my favorite children's authors due, in large part, to her commitment to "...go beyond the simple story of someone's life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character" (from the Copyright Page). There is a purpose and depth to Simonetta's writing which exceeds that found in much of written material for children today. This is why I am excited that she has added another title to her lovely series!

In her latest title, John Knox, Ms. Carr introduces us to a humble man whom God used to purify and build His Church. Knox began life simply enough becoming educated at university and working a fairly quiet job as a notary. However, he lived during turbulent times, and his life didn't stay "quiet" for long. His story is a fascinating one as he moves from bodyguard to preacher, from chains to freedom, from country to country, facing rulers within and without the Church. During this time, he wrote books answering questions such as: "...What should we do in time of trouble?" (pg. 24) Knox could answer this question because he lived during times of much trouble. How did Knox answer this question? How did he respond to the troubles that he faced? How should we face trouble? How can we prepare our kids to face trouble? Studying history by reading books like John Knox will help all of us to be more readily prepared as we encounter the trials of life.

Like the other books in the "Christian Biographies for Young Readers" series, John Knox is carefully researched, informative, and interesting.  Ms. Carr includes a map and timeline to aid understanding. Once again, Matt Abraxas serves to further draw the reader into the story of Knox's life through his vivid artwork, and Ms. Carr includes appropriate, well-chosen photos to accompany her writing. Additionally, the reader will discover with Knox the exciting, good news of the Gospel that "...Christ did everything for our salvation, and the special offerings, good works, and prayers the church was requiring were not necessary to earn it" (pg. 6).

As we've come to expect from the "Christian Biographies for Young Readers" series, John Knox is a high quality, hardcover book with thick pages and a sewn binding, making it a sturdy, collectible title that will hold up well to many years of use.

Christian Biographies for Young Readers 5 Book SetI highly recommend John Knox and pray that many will be encouraged as they seek to serve God faithfully in the face of trouble and that they will grow in their understanding of the importance and value of studying church history as a result of this splendid work!!

You can find out more about Simonetta Carr's "Christian Biographies for Young Readers" here, including activity pages for several existing titles (Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin) and a study guide for John Owen.

*Many thanks to Cross Focused Reviews, Reformation Heritage Books, and Simonetta Carr for providing me with a complimentary copy of John Knox in exchange for my honest opinion!