Archive for November, 2011

Some of the blog entries I read recently that I thought was pretty thought provoking:

1.) It’s okay to kill your child when…?  Over at Bryan Lopez’ blog.  His wife and him has adopted many children over the years.

2.) Role Models for Little Girls: The Little Mermaid or Queen Esther?  Maungakiekie has a very good critique; I think we need to have more reviews by Christians at the level of worldview, and the author certainly does it!

3.) Darwin’s Deadly Legacy- Thoughts on the implication of Social Darwinism.

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I want to make it clear at the outset that I have nothing racial against other race, but I thought this news story made me think about the issue of race a little further from http://www.wavenewspapers.com/news/local/Black-and-Korean-leaders-to-commemorate-20th-anniversary-of-92-unrest-133587583.html:

Black, Korean leaders to commemorate 20th anniversary of L.A. riots

Seeking to create a multi-cultural Los Angels that exists in lasting harmony, Korean-American and Black community leaders are spearheading a committee to commemorate next year’s 20th anniversary of the 1992 civil unrest.

Korean Churches for Community Development, along with more than 50 broad regional and national civic organizations, officially launched the 4/29 SAIGU Committee at a Nov. 3 press conference held inside the Glory Church (formerly the Olympic Grand Auditorium), located at 1801 S. Grand Ave.

In the Korean language, SAIGU spells out 4/29 — the day on which the L.A. riots began — and the letters also stand for Service, Advocacy, Inspiration, Giving and Unity.

Speakers at the event included KCCD president Hyepin Im; Misook Na, a businesswoman and victim of the riots; Rafael Gonzalez, from the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles; Pastor Toure Roberts, of One Church International; and Rev. Norman Copeland, presiding elder of the L.A. District of the Southern California Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Also on the panel was Michael Brigham, a representative of Storycorps, whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their stories.

The organization has collected over 40,000 interviews from over 70,000 participants from all 50 states.

Each interview is recorded on a free CD for participants to take home and — with their permission — a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

According to Im, the committee’s vision is to revisit and learn from a tragic chapter in the city’s history, which was reflective of the racial, economic and political disparities of the time.

The unrest resulted in 53 deaths, 3,600 fires, 1,100 destroyed buildings, 2,000 damaged businesses and property totaling $1 billion, of which 50 percent was incurred by Korean Americans.

“I am honored to be in the company of our distinguished committee members,” Im said.

“Working with such a diverse group of leaders is a testament to the power of true partnership and respect for our differences. Through our forums and activities, the committee hopes to heal and build a Los Angeles founded on the spirit of unification.

Meanwhile, Na painfully relived the devastation when she saw her store burned to the ground.

“I felt a great sense of loss when I went to see the store the next day,” Na said, her words translated by Im. “There were those in the community who were trying to protect the store, but only rubble was left.

She added: “I have incurred great financial loss and it has been quite a struggle, but I’m thankful my husband and I got into the real estate business and have been able to move on with our lives.

“I see the riots, not as a conflict between the African-American and Korean-American communities, so much as a conflict of the Rodney King situation, in which there was great confusion and loss. My hope is that we can come together and then people will no longer be in a position where they can incur that kind of loss.”

Rev. Copeland echoed her sentiments, beginning his address with a look back in history.
“I am very committed that we move this process forward,” he said.

“As I reflect upon Plessy v. Fergusson where they took away the dignity of Black Americans, in 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education gave our children the opportunity to go to school.

“I knew Linda Brown, her mother and Jack Greenberg, who was the attorney in  the case that was argued by Thurgood Marshall in the Supreme Court.”

Copeland continued: “I have lived long enough to go through the rallies, long enough to see the pain and hurt from minority communities. Let me put it this way; we travel the same streets as Blacks, Latinos and Koreans, shop in the same stores, our kids go to the same schools.

“If we all work together, stand together, then we can build a neighborhood for all communities that will take us on a journey to make all our lives better.”

Photo: (l to r) Rev. Young Ik Byun, Pastor Toure Roberts and Rev. Norman Copeland attend the launch of the 4*29 SAIGU Committee. Credit: Olu Alemoru

I know some who advocate that white Americans should give some reparation for African Americans.  I think one can be against the reparation without being against African Americans.  If there should be a reparation for African American today because of the past wrong against them…should there also be reparation for the Korean Americans as well for what was done to them in 1992?

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This work was an unofficial festschrift for Cornelius Van Til, edited by Gary North.  The story behind this second Festchrift for Van Til is an interesting story in it’s own right.  The work attempts to put forth the foundation for a Christian approach towards various academic disciplines that is informed from a Christian worldview.  I thought Rushdoony’s chapter on Psychology was worth while.  John Frame contribution to the chapter in theology was also good, as he explores the issue of theology as a system, while also it being more than a system, paradoxes in theology, the inter-relationship of doctrines, etc.  Van Til’s disciple Greg Bahnsen also contributed to this volume, with a wonderful chapter on apologetics and another on philosophy.  His chapter on philosophy discusses the issue and refutes pragmaticism, and Wiggenstein’s language game theory of language.  Vern Poythress’ contribution with the chapter on math is also another excellent chapter in the book, and probably is the beginning work done concerning a distinctively Van Tillian flavor Christian worldview approach towards mathematics.  I highly recommend this work, and I think it is a tragedy that this work is out of print.  Perhaps an update or a new book that is in the same spirit would be excellent in the near future!

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Last year I put together a list of Christmas recommended books for gifts on Presuppositional Apologetics that can still be accessed here. I thought I also put out another list of books that I recommend when it comes to area of Christian worldview and not just presuppositional apologetics or apologetics per se.  It is also important to have the right biblical and Christian view on any given subject or area. Here’s my 10 recommendation and my short summary why I think it’s important for a Christian worldview to have these work. Bookmark this page, since the next few weeks I’ll be loading up book reviews for these books! I think these books are also wonderful for one on one discipleship in developing Christian’s thought in their life and worldview.

1.) World Tilting Gospel Why? It’s important that Christians get the gospel down and correct–if one has parts of a worldview correct and yet misses the gospel as it’s foundation, how tragic that would be.  My review of it is found HERE.

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2.) God Has A Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of Modern Evangelism After a true understanding of the gospel, it is important to have the Bible direct Christians in how they share their faith–the way the Master did, using the Law of God to show people their need of a Savior.  My review of this book can be found here.

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3.) Foundations of Christian Scholarship An unofficial Festschrift for Cornelius Van Til, this book attempts to lay the foundation of Christian worldview in various academic disciplines from psychology, history,  economics, education, political science, sociology, math, apologetics, philosophy and theology.  Too bad there has not been new editions of this work in print.  It is good even though it is old! My review of this book can be found HERE.

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4.) Honest Money Especially with the upcoming 2012 election, the issue of a Christian worldview of economics would be important.  My review of this book can be found here.

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5.) Money, Posessions and Eternity It’s important to not just have a theorethical side of economics down, but the Christian worldview does spell out what it means practically how one sees money and possessions in the Christian life.  This book good is the best for that and I reviewed it here.

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6.) The Biblical Philosophy of History A lot of apologetics discussion is concern with the historicity of Christianity and it is important to realize that there are a lot of presuppositions behind one’s philosophy of history that shapes how one interpret or understand “facts” of history.  Rushdoony’s short work lays a Christian foundation of history and critiques of other’s worldview when it comes to philosophy of history.  You can read my review of this work here.

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7.) A God of Many Understandings With the big thing about Rob Bell this year, I think it is important to discuss the issue not just only as an issue of universalism vs. exclusivism, but also from the framework of what is a Christian worldview towards a theology of religion?  I review this book here.

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8.) Case for Life This work presents a good defense of the pro-life cause.  One can read my review HERE.

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9.) Redeeming Sociology Christian view of Sociology.  I shall review this work in the future.

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10.) Future Men After arriving at a Christian worldview, it is important to impart that knowledge to the next generation and hence the topic of parenting is important.  Today, there is many problem with the issue of raising boys to become men, I review this book here.

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If you have read any of Doug Wilson’s book previously, you would expect his style and wordsmiths to shine through in this work. My expectation was not disappointed. Wilson did a good job tackling this topic of raising up men from a Christian perspective. The work is filled with practical wisdom concerning raising up boys to be men, applications which derive from Scripture. More fascinating to me is Wilson’s attempt to teach on how to even think about raising a boy. The work is written from a Complementarian perspective and thus recognizes the unique differences and difficulties in raising up boys won’t be the same with raising girls (I understand Wilson has also written on that subject). Wilson also grounds his perspective on raising boys to be future men from the position of Calvinism. Wilson ought to be respected for making the conscious attempt to apply his theology to the question of raising up men. Here is perhaps the weakness I find in the book, when it comes to certain things he prescribe to that I disagree with: Padeobaptism, Padeocommunion, sacremental theology and Postmillennialism. However, I think the book has enough food for thought, such as the discussion of “being cool”,the current education system that can cripple and work against young boys, young boys playing war and fighting, etc that are very stimulating and well thought out. I also enjoyed his critique of pop culture which we (and any of our kids) are heavily surrounded by. In my estimation, Wilson’s work reflect the maturity that often cultural fundamentalists lack in understanding the culture around us, and yet he is able to properly critique it beyond the stereotype of “just don’t do ____” without thinking through the whys. I’ve also thought it was the best concise theological effort in grounding manners that boy should have in honoring women that I’ve read. I recommend this book, with the caution of the areas I’ve already highlighted which I disagree with him.

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I wrote this review some years ago.

For those who have been growing in their knowledge and application of defending the faith in Presuppositional Apologetics (that emphasize beginning from the Bible first, focus on epistemology[Theory of knowledge], Ultimate Standards and authority, etc) one might find that over time it can be difficult to lay out everything with what Presuppositional Apologetics has to offer in a concise introduction. Several months ago, this writer have begun pondering about what book he can recommend as an introduction for those who might be interested for the interested but non-technical reader.

“Thinking Straight in a Crooked World” would serve as a good book as an introduction to General Apologetics from a Presuppositional Apologetics perspective. Many people who have been intimidated by the works of Van Til and Bahnsen either by the length of their books, the language in their writing, or the philosophical bent to their literature would find that “Thinking Straight in a Crooked WOrld” would help fill this gap for a ‘beginner’s book’.

The book begins with the Ultimate Authority of the Word of God when we pursue apologetics. Having laid out the Biblical mandate to defend the Christian faith from the Bible, it then goes on to articulate what a worldview is and how everyone has a worldview (whether we call it religion, philosophy or ‘the way we explain the world’.)

The Chapter titled “Worldview Building Blocks” laid out what every worldview have as presuppositions about this world: what the reality and nature of the material world is (Physics), the nature of things that exist (Metaphysics), how we know things (epistemology) and how we determine right and wrong (ethics).

Throughout the book it is laced with great illustrations and a good of amount of quotes from atheists and critics. It offers in different chapters in the book a general critique of various worldview such as Eastern Religion, Secular Rationalism, and trends and ideas of pop culture.

In addition, author Gary DeMar devotes several chapters to the post-Rationalism’s cultural fad with the occultic, UFO-ology, the para-normal, demonology, etc. This was a rather interesting twist to the flow of the book unlike other Presuppositional Apologetics book that this reviewer have thus read so far. Yet, critiquing the para-normal and the occult has its place given where our culture is heading towards today.

The book concludes with an optimistic chapter of how Post-Modernism (being self-refuting) will eventually collapse as an ideology and Christianity has a chance to fill its void in the battle place of Ideas and ultimate commitment.

A true grasp of this book would assist any reader into further understanding in other apologetics literature.

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This work is worth the money and time in buying and reading from front to end. If you do not have money, sell your possessions to buy it! Our church has read this for our mid-week fellowship and it has challenged all of us in our Christian life when it comes to the issue of finance and posessions. It has also been used by the Lord to make me re-evaluate and re-affirm the importance of what I do in this life now, in light of the reality that there is an eternity with God coming. This work is best read a chapter a week, and meditations or discussion over (the back of the work has some useful group questions). Alcorn teaches the principle of Christian finance with Scripture as his foundation and plenty of illustrations that vividly hammer the point home. Readers will appreciate the statistics he cite from time to time as well. I do not believe I am over-exaggerating when I say that every Christian must read this book. To borrow a saying Alcorn used in his book, our church hymns tells us a lot about Christ, and our check book should as well. The book tackles on the topic of how unbiblical the prosperity of the gospel is, Christian giving to the local church, wisdom in giving to charities, dealing with materialism, church building funds, paying of pastors, fundraisers, raising kids and teaching them Christian giving, loans, savings, etc. Again, this book is worth buying, not only to finish reading from cover to cover (and applying it), but it’s worth being a home reference after one is done as well. Highly recommended.

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This work is an abridgement of the author’s doctoral dissertation from the University of Edinburgh, and readers will get the sense that the book has a lot that carried over stylistically from the thesis. The work examines three Christian apologist that lived in the second century– Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria–and their relationship to Greek philosophy. For those who are interested in the history of Christian apologetics and Greek philosophy, one would be excited just to know of this work. Chapter one has a good discussion of Gnosticism in relations to Greek philosophy, and also the account of how Christianity was able to trump against Greek philosophy in the fact that Christianity as an evangelistic religion was able to convert the masses while Greek philosophy tend to be an exclusive club of the elite. There are however, several weaknesses with this book. A major weakness of the book is that the point of the book was never made clear in chapter one, the introduction of the book, or in the rest of the book for that matter. What was it that the author was trying to prove? Was the work nothing more than just a historical account of these three men’s view of Greek philosophy? None of this was clearly stated. When the author describe the position of the Christian apologists, he states their view and gives a foot note where readers can find the original statements by the apologists. This is appreciated–however, this became an extensive practice and multiple times I wished he could have provided the actual quotes just so that the readers can read it themselves. After a massive survey of the rational apologetic of Irenaeus, the author towards the end of his treatment of Irenaues then called him “at least anti-rationalist” (38). However, when one consider what the author brings forth as evidence of Irenaus being an irrationalist, the citations prove more that Irenaeus believed in mysteries rather than irrationality. They are by far, two different things. Here I think Cornelius Van Til’s nuance between Christian mysteries and irrationality is important–Christian theology demands that some things are mysterious to finite human beings who are not able to comprehend everything. However, Christian mysteries are not ultimately irrational since it is based upon the metaphysics that all of reality is rational since God is the rational creator of everything. It is unfortunate that the author was not familiar with Van Til or at least seem not aware of Van Til’s insight here. The author’s concluding chapter (“Epilogue”) over all seems to be a big tangent from the three main chapters of the book. He summarizes how the three apologist reveals the three spectrum of Christian response to Greek philosophy: Irenaues who was rather “neutral” or eclectic when it comes to Greek philosophy, Tertullian who was officially hostile against it, and Clement of Alexandria who was in favor of Greek philosophy; then the author states how he sides more with Clement of Alexandria.  But one must remember that giving historical description of something is not the same as prescribing one particular norm over the other.  The author also revealed his synthesis of Christianity was not just only with Greek philosophy–but much broader, with the culture of the day as well, citing less conservative scholar such as Niebuhr and Harnack that did not dealt with the three apologist or Greek philosophy per se. One wonders why the author did not focused more on the three apologist’s view of culture instead of Greek philosophy if the epilogue was going to be devoted to getting on the soap box in his talk about being in the left wing of the church (page 97) that is more welcoming of the culture and seeking a new future where Christianity and culture goes hand in hand. Here the author paints with too broad of a brush without going in specifics or any normative limitations in safeguarding the faith and the gospel from corruption. But again, I digress from the main point-the pontificating of the concluding chapter did not follow from the study. While I appreciate the survey given of these three church fathers, it has only made me yearn to study the primary sources for myself.

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I just found this you tube clip. Have not seen the whole thing yet, but thought this might be of interests.

Dr. Lisle’s apologetics is shaped by the works of Dr. Greg Bahnsen and Cornelius Van Til.

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If these guys would just burn their dollar bills, that would remove their own buying power, but on the one hand it rid us of some of the inflation cause by the government overproducing currency.

Or on the other hand, they can give it all to me, and I will make sure it will not be in circulation for a long time.

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For those who are familiar with Cornelius Van Til and his work on apologetics, this book will be a treat. The author happen to be Cornelius Van Til’s nephew, and the work explores the implication of Calvinistic theology on culture. Divided into three parts, the first section is largely devoted to the question of what is culture, the relation of it to culture and the effect of sin upon culture. In light of John Calvin’s 500th birthday, for those who are exploring the rich heritage of this servant of God will enjoy part two of the book that discusses the historical development of Calvin and his Reformed predecessors’ contribution towards the intellectual framework for a Calvinistic culture. This section also has a discussion about Augustine. Finally, the third section goes over some of the implication of the theology of Calvinism as it pertains to culture. Excellent work, rather lengthy read at times, but thought stimulating never the less. It has a vintage Dutch Reformed flavor throughout the book. Despite being dated, it is still relevant for those who are exploring what their theology mean when it comes to culture

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I. Identifying Old Testament historical narrative

a. Old Testament historical narrative is a specific type of narrative.

i.      Some scholars might not see this as a distinct category while some do.

ii.      Historical narrative “is national and not familial or tribal[1]

iii.      Thus, historical narrative does not imply that regular narratives are somehow not historically factual.

iv.      Instead, Old Testament historical narrative focuses on the nation of Israel/Judah.

b. Historical narrative tend to be more of “a series of accounts…with cause-effect sequences given much weight than plot.”[2]

c. In historical narratives, God often speaks through the representatives of the kings or the prophets.[3]

d. Books that have many historical narrative within them:

i.      Joshua

ii.      1& 2 Samuel

iii.      1 & 2 Kings

iv.      1 & 2 Chronicles

II. General principles in interpreting Old Testament historical narratives

a. Since historical narratives are types of Old Testament narratives, the same principles of interpreting narratives apply here as well.[4]

b. Since historical narratives usually have built in cause and effect sequences, sometimes the narration in the text provides a commentary of God’s objective perspective concerning the matter.

i.      For example, consider Hezekiah, king of Judah in 2 Kings 18

1. He was right with the LORD (v.3, 5)

a. He did this by practicing righteousness (v.4, 6)

2. As a result, the LORD was with him (v.7)

a. He did not have to serve Assyria (v.7)

b. As an effect of this, he even defeated the Philistines (v.8)

ii.      Similarly, see 2 Kings 17:19-20 of God’s perspective given in the narration.

c. Since God often speaks through the prophets in historical narratives, pay attention to the recorded dialogues of the prophets, since they are God’s Word.

i.      2 Kings 17:9-18 mentions that God sends prophets to warn the people (v.13)

d. Consulting the Prophetic genre

i.      Sometimes the Prophetic books in the Bible are contemporary with the historical events recorded, and consulting them will provide context information that would help interpret the historical text.

ii.      At other times, prophets mentioned in the historical narrative have their own book written in the prophetic section of the Bible.

1. For instance, 2 Kings 20:1 talks about Isaiah, son of Amoz, whose prophecy is recorded in the book of Isaiah.

iii. The context of God’s relationship to His nation through their covenant relationship is an important lens in interpreting historical narratives.

i.      See 2 Kings 17:15

ii.      The blessings and curses of the Mosaic Covenant to Israel are conditional to her covenantal faithfulness

1. Leviticus 26

a. Examples of promised blessings (v.1-13)

i.      Raining season (v.4)

ii.      Land yield produce (v.4)

iii.      Live securely in the land (v.5)

iv.      Peace in the land (v.6)

b. Examples of curses (v.14-39)

i.      Enemies will rule over them (v.17)

ii.      Seven fold plagues (v.21)

iii.      Beasts of the fields destroying their children (v.22)

2. Deuteronomy 28

a. Examples of promised blessings (v.1-14)

i. Their enemies are defeated (v.7)

ii. All the nations will fear them (v.10)

iii. Good storehouses (v.12)

b. Examples of curses (v.15-68)

i. Pestilences (v. 21)

ii. Drought (v. 24)

iii. Scattered (v.64)

[1] Eugene H. Merrill, “History”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers), 91.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See Session Three outline.


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I thought it might be good to give a link to a post I wrote here back in 2009, titled “Total Depravity and the implications for Apologetics.”

You can read it by clicking HERE.

It was a good reminder for me to remember the implications of the biblical doctrine sin and Christian anthropology, and it’s implication for apologetics.  A reminder of an important facet of Presuppositional apologetics, and what Cornelius Van Til and Greg Bahnsen have taught in their approach towards apologetics.

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I write this review during a time in the United States where Occupy Wall Street and protests against banks is on the front page news. In light of the attention on economics and banking, this book is one that would serve as a Christian introduction to the concept of money, and banking. I thoroughly recommend this book, since North’s argument follows and is presented clearly. Here I can only highlight a few points from the work: North makes the argument that historically money is valuable socially (and not when someone is alone on abandoned island) and not the invention of the state, since it was around even before state monopoly of money. Bringing his theology to bear, North states that the only one who can have absolute monopoly of anything is God, given our corrupt human nature and therefore government standardized money is not going to be a good thing, and has been the result of much ill (such as printing more money bills which leads to inflation that then affects the prices and quality of products, etc). North also explains in his book the difference between banking and lending to the poor with no interests, nothing that the Bible does not condemn the former (and passages even supporting it) while condemning the latter. North’s argument against the Federal Reserve is filled with interesting historical facts and paints a picture of the irrationality and danger of the system. I have always heard rumors that North was all for the gold standard backing the dollar, but I thought it was good to finally read in his own words that he was for the competition of gold, silver, dollars or yen as money and hence not an arbitrary position that gold must necessarily be the standard. This is important to note, and he even argues that one must not forget gold has no intrinstic value, though it does have historical power as currency and stable since more gold are rarely mined for given geological limitation and the costs of mining for them. Again, excellent work. I have also enjoyed his summary after every chapter, that capture each point made with a sentence. This is useful for readers to go back afterward and consult the summary without necessarily reading the whole chapter again.


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Covenant Theological Seminary has for free Seminary lectures on the early years of Francis Schaeffer by Jerram Barrs, which is available by clicking HERE.

This is the course description on their website:

Course Description

Identification of the biblical emphasis in the thought and life of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, with a focus on the development of their early ministry in the United States and Europe and the founding of L’Abri. The course considers issues related to spiritual growth, the Christian family, the unity of the church, Christians and the arts, and various aspects of Christian ministry.

The same lecture series is also available on ITUNES!

After hearing the whole lecture, I thought the series was pretty good.  The professor personally knew the Schaeffers, and he brought out interesting insight from time to time.  Those stories are gold.  The early years of Francis Schaeffer, and that of his family are important background to understanding the development of Schaeffer’s thought and attitude.  Interesting is the discussion of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist distinction that play much in understanding Schaeffer’s life’s theme of “Truth and LOVE.”  The lectures are also heavily dependent upon the book, THE TAPESTRY, by the wife Edith Schaeffer who wrote about their family’s journey.  Definitely worth listening to, whether you are familiar with Schaeffer’s work, or you have heard about Francis Schaeffer but never read his work yet (which will be a good introduction).

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