Christmas books

Six warnings about theft that goes beyond election-stealing

Issue: "Gore strikes out," Dec. 9, 2000

Is Al Gore trying to steal this election?" That's the question our subscribers have frequently been asking us, and WORLD'S answer is yes-if "election" is defined in its historical and legal meaning as an event that takes place at a particular time with rules for registering a vote decided in advance and maintained throughout. But we've also pointed out that this Gore grab is consistent with the Clinton/Gore postmodernist worldview: Mr. Gore's "higher criticism" of Scripture leads to his deconstruction of statutes.

Political constancy, in short, slips away if the theological base is not firm. That's why, as I worked my treadmill in recent weeks and watched news from the Florida treadmill, I also looked at three books that critique attempts to steal far more than an election, and three more that show why biblical understandings are so important culturally.

Erwin W. Lutzer's Ten Lies About God, and How You Might Already Be Deceived (Word, 2000) is a terrific book to give to people who say they believe in God-but a god of their own devising. Chapters refute attempts to steal God's glory with statements such as "God is whatever we want him to be," "God is more tolerant than he used to be," and "God does not know our decisions before we make them." The clear and vital message is that to be biblical is to be controversial in today's society.

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The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words (Broadman & Holman), by Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem, shows what's wrong with translators' giving in to political correctness and activist agendas. Stressing that "The Bible is God's own Word to us," the authors criticize the desire of some translators to change "he" to "they" and "father" to "parent." They note that translators may be well-intentioned in seeking not to offend, but the results are subtly changed meanings of the original texts and less-than-accurate translations. J.I. Packer calls this "the best book on its theme," and its authors have impeccable credentials: Mr. Poythress is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Mr. Grudem is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Bruce Ware's God's Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Crossway, 2001) systematically demolishes the arguments of the trendy view that God doesn't make up His mind what to do until He hears from us. Mr. Ware provides scriptural affirmation of exhaustive divine foreknowledge and shows how open theism harms prayer lives, weakens our confidence in God's guidance, and leads to despair amid suffering and pain. He also explains why the concept appeals to some: "The culture in which we live, including much of the Christian subculture, has drunk deeply at the well of self-esteem"; in open theism, "we feel like we are almost peers with God.... He is a listener and a learner as much as he is a consultant and advisor."

The theft of institutions God has established is also important: Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher set forth The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (Doubleday, 2000). Most of the information reflects the title and will be known to WORLD readers, but it's useful to have the results of many studies gathered and summarized in a very readable manner. One new finding is particularly worth noting in churches that take no disciplinary steps to try to restore troubled marriages: Bad marriages often show dramatic turnarounds if people just stick it out. Over three out of four people who rated their marriages as very unhappy in 1987 and 1988 but did not get a divorce viewed their marriages as "very happy" or "quite happy" when they were surveyed again from 1992 to 1994.

The need for the rule of law goes well beyond elections. Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (Basic Books, 2000) is a thoughtful and original analysis of the importance of legally clear property rights in making it possible for poor people to build businesses and break out of deprivation. The United States remains a land of opportunity in part because those rights are clearly laid out; other countries can learn from us, as long as we do not start following the way of the rest of the world.

Finally, Cynthia Crane's Divided Lives (St. Martin's Press, 2000) shows the horror of Nazi Germany in a new way, by profiling 10 Jewish-Christian women who survived Hitler. Their hard stories, and the even harder stories of six million murdered human beings, show what happens when political power trumps theological truth and the rule of law is forgotten.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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