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Tim Challies

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reviews

March 03, 2010

There is little doubt that masculinity has fallen upon hard times. Differences between men and women, between masculinity and femininity are downplayed in favor of sameness, in favor of androgyny. Suggesting that the biblical vision of masculinity has fallen prey to a foolish culture, Richard Phillips writes that his new book The Masculine Mandate “is written for Christian men who not only don’t want to lose that precious biblical understanding, but who want to live out the calling to true manliness God has given us. We need to be godly men, and the Bible presents a Masculine Mandate for us to follow and fulfill. But do we know what it is? My aim in writing this book is to help men to know and fulfill the Lord’s calling as it is presented so clearly to us in God’s Word.”

February 24, 2010

Wired for IntimacyI read recently of a researcher who wanted to study the effects of pornography on young adult males. He carefully built the structure for the study, determining how he would compare young men who had experienced pornography with a control group comprised of those who had never come into contact it. Tragically this researcher had to cancel his study. He found that he was unable to put together a control group; he could not find young men who had not discovered pornography. The experiment was impossible to conduct.

That is the kind of society we live in today, a society that is absolutely overwhelmed with pornography. The lure of porn is almost irresistible, particularly to young men. If the devil wanted to find a way of destroying young men, of impacting the ability for men to relate properly to women, of disrupting families and hardening hearts, he could hardly do better than this.

February 16, 2010

Early in George Orwell’s iconic 1984 is a particularly haunting scene. Winston, the hero of the story, is confessing to his diary a sexual encounter with a prostitute. Though Big Brother rigidly controls even sexual union and though sex is viewed as “a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema,” still Big Brother cannot remove from humanity the desire and the need for intimacy. One evening Winston spots a prostitute near a train station. “She had a young face,” he writes, “painted very thick. It was really the paint that appealed to me, the whiteness of it, like a mask, and the bright red lips. Party women never paint their faces.” In a society where abject fear and loneliness are the norm, Winston craves the intimacy of sex. But as he goes into this woman’s apartment and lies with her, he turns up a lamp, casting a bright light on her face. And immediately he sees that the appearance of beauty was a lie. “What he had suddenly seen in the lamplight was that the woman was old. The paint was plastered so thick on her face that it looked as though it might crack like a cardboard mask.

January 19, 2010

Dug Down Deep by Josh HarrisCan you believe it’s been five years since we last saw a new book from Josh Harris (assuming we don’t count the re-titling and re-release of Not Even a Hint / Sex Is Not the Problem, Lust Is)? His last book was Stop Dating the Church which released all the way back near the end of 2004. But the wait is over. Today he returns with Dug Down Deep, a book whose title is drawn from Jesus’ parable about the man who dug deep to build the foundation for his house (see Luke 6:46-49). The rains poured, the river rose, but the house on the solid foundation stood firm. You know the story. Harris says, “digging down and building on the rock isn’t a picture of being nominally religious or knowing Jesus from a distance. Being a Christian means being a person who labors to establish his beliefs, his dreams, his choices, his very view of the world on the truth of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished—a Christian who cares about truth, who cares about sound doctrine.”

January 12, 2010

A Fathers GiftI love the book of Proverbs and often feel bewilderment when I think of how few Christians, and Christian parents in particular, rely on the wisdom it contains—knowledge that is at once deep and wide. Proverbs is, in so many ways, a manual for raising wise, discerning, godly children. Why then don’t we turn to it more often?

January 05, 2010

The Trellis and the VineI kind of wish I had read The Trellis and the Vine in 2009 instead of reading it on January 1, 2010. That way I could have put it in its rightful place on my list of the best books published that year. As it stands, though, the most I can say now is that it’s the best book I’ve read so far in 2010. But that is little praise, I suppose, considering I am now only three days (and three books) into the new year. We may have to suffice it to say that this is an exceptional book, one that ought to be read by any pastor or church leader (and any interested layperson, at that). It is one that would definitely have made it onto my list had I read it immediately after its release instead of a couple of months later.

November 24, 2009

Going Rogue.jpgI kind of like Sarah Palin. I did, really, from the moment she burst onto the international scene as John McCain’s running mate. Of course I live in Canada so she would never have been my Vice President but still, I found in her qualities that I admired. Mostly I appreciated her common sense approach to politics and her aw shucks, hockey mom persona. It was attractive mostly by virtue of how approachable it made her, how normal she seemed. She compares very favorably in this way to the many career politicians who seem completely out-of-touch with the rest of us—men and women who have lived their whole lives in the upper tier of society and who can’t imagine life on the other side of the Forbe’s lists.

October 24, 2009

The Case for GodIt is a rare occasion that I find it difficult to point out any redeeming features in a book-when I struggle to find a single positive to write in a review. Unfortunately Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God is one of those books-one that is so monstrously bad, so hopelessly awful, so wretchedly miserable, that it took concerted effort just to finish it. Heck, even the cover stinks-a pile of religiously-significant books hovering at a strange angle over a plain background. I tell you what: I will concede the font. The book is set in Granjon, a very nice, classical font that is very consistent with the earliest Garamond type faces. It is classy and classical but without being antique. But that is as good as the book gets.

October 17, 2009

Have a Little Faith by Mitch AlbomI did not ever read Tuesdays With Morrie, a book that has been described as “The bestselling memoir of all time.” I find that claim a little difficult to believe, but I suppose that the eleven million copies in print may prove it correct. From the pen of that same author, Mitch Albom, now comes Have a Little Faith, a book that shot straight to the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers within days of its release. Like its predecessor, this book is probably best-termed a memoir, a book that describes the impact of a pair of clergymen on the life of the author.

October 13, 2009

Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on EarthIt has been a couple of years since Richard Dawkins’ last major work, The God Delusion (my review). That book was a long-time fixture on the bestseller lists and served to establish Dawkins as the foremost spokesman for the New Atheists. Dawkins has long had two related emphases in his writing and speaking: the non-existence of God and the evidence in nature that evolution is responsible for all that exists. Where The God Delusion emphasized the former, his latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth, emphasizes the latter. It is primarily a counter-attack to advocates of Intelligent Design, and represents Dawkins’ attempt to provide natural evidence for evolution.

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