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I am, therefore...

Books | Two foundational books on how to think as a Christian

Issue: "Follow the Greenback Road," Jan. 25, 1997

Every January I endeavor to re-read a handful of classic books. This year that pleasant task has been made that much more delightful by new editions of two of my favorite titles on the list.

Christianity: A Total World and Life View is a much-needed reprint of Abraham Kuyper's masterful 1898 Princeton lectures. Detailing the comprehensive claims of Christ on the totality of life--including politics, education, art, recreation, and culture as well as spirituality--the book offers a seminal definition of the Christian world and life view. Influential for generations--helping to shape the thought of such men as J. Gresham Machen, Cornelius Van Til, and Francis Schaeffer--it has been rereleased in the hopes that a whole new generation of leaders may be able to benefit from its biblical vision.

Mr. Kuyper was one of the most remarkable renaissance men of the last hundred years. He was a prolific author, editor, journalist, educator, pastor, theologian, and political reformer. He founded the Free University in Amsterdam, established the Christian Democrat Party, and ultimately was elected to the highest office in his native land, the Netherlands. His great attainments in such a wide variety

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of disciplines and endeavors grew out of his conviction--so clearly articulated in this book--that every aspect of life and godliness must be yielded to the kingdom authority of Jesus. A very helpful study guide written by T.M. Moore and an illuminating introduction by McKendree Langley round out this attractive reprint.

Orthodoxy is perhaps the best-known and most brilliant book penned by one of the literary giants of the 20th century. G.K. Chesterton was an English journalist, poet, novelist, biographer, and historian who wrote more than a hundred books on a dizzying array of subjects. I have read more than half of them--and have yet to be disappointed. Indeed, I am more often than not flabbergasted by the great man's wisdom, insight, and unflagging wit. Nevertheless, the singular achievement of Orthodoxy would have been enough to secure Mr. Chesterton's place as my favorite writer of all time.

The book, initially published in 1908, is a defense of the truth and beauty of Christianity. But it is no technical analysis of dogmas and creeds. Instead, it is a paradoxical joust between that which indisputably is (such as the fact that Christianity is a far more comprehensive and wide-ranging worldview than that of contemporary materialism) and that which is but so much pretense (the shallow, narrow-minded bromides of secularist thought). Orthodoxy's simplicity and subtlety make it a model apologetic for the faith. This beautifully bound new edition is enhanced by an appreciative introduction by Philip Yancey and a helpful topical index.

Both of these volumes fundamentally shaped my thinking when I first read them years ago. They continue to each time I reread them.


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