Monthly Archives: September 2010


Mark’s #31 – The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World by R.C. Sproul (203 pages)

The Consequences of Ideas is a brief survey of the history of the philosophers and their philosophies that have shaped the world we live in today.

In the introduction R.C. Sproul states, “This book is written not for philosophy scholars but for laypersons — albeit educated laypersons.”   While it is a ‘brief survey’ of philosophy, many of the concepts and ideas are not easily understood or explained.  In short, this was not a lazy Sunday afternoon read.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the review, and in some cases, the introduction to many of the great philosophers and their thoughts on ultimate reality.

Here’s a list of each of the chapters, which will help you get an idea of the direction and content of the book:

The First Philosophers 13
Plato: Realist and Idealist 27
Aristotle: ThePhilosopher 39
Augustine: Doctor of Grace 51
Thomas Aquinas: Angelic Doctor 65
René Descartes: Father of Modern Rationalism 79
John Locke: Father of ModernEmpiricism 91
David Hume: Skeptic 103
Immanuel Kant: Revolutionary Philosopher 117
Karl Marx: Utopian 133
Søren Kierkegaard: Danish Gad?y 147
Friedrich Nietzsche: Atheistic Existentialist 159
Jean-Paul Sartre: Litterateur and Philosopher 173
Darwin and Freud: In?uential Thinkers 187
Conclusion: Gilson’s Choice

We read this book as part of our monthly Apologia discussion group over a period of two months.  In our first session, there were many participants and a lively discussion.  Whereas, by the second month, for whatever reason, most of the participants had dropped out of the discussion.   It’s too bad too, because I felt the most enjoyable and thought provoking chapters of the book came in the second half of the book with the more recent philosophers and their more readily apparent consequences in our world today.

I would recommend this book as an introductory survey of philosophy, though there are some things I wish Sproul would have done a bit differently in the book.   For example, I wish he would have concluded each chapter with a brief discussion of just how the particular philosophies have manifested themselves in the world through history and in our present day world.  To be sure, there was some of this throughout the book, but for the most part, I felt the reader was left to grope for ‘The consequences of ideas’ on their own.


Mark’s #30: ‘Dug Down Deep’ by Joshua Harris (241 pages)

Dug Down Deep is a mix between an introduction to systematic theology and an autobiography.   Joshua Harris, perhaps most famous for his books ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ and ‘Boy Meets Girl’, wrote this book to show his journey of discovering the importance of studying, discerning, and embracing sound theology.  Along the way, each chapter deals with a specific area of doctrine.

This book is a great book for the young, restless, and reformed (or reforming) crowd.  Harris makes it clear which authors and pastors he draws heavily upon.  It is the typical list among the new Calvinist movement – Piper, Grudem, Packer, Dever, Mahaney.   As such, those who are already familiar with, and have read, the works of these authors will not get many new insights into doctrine, life, and faith.

However, for the new believer or the young Christian aged 16-35, I would gladly recommend this book.  Joshua does a good job of showing the connection between life and doctrine, which can sometimes be lost in the study of systematic theology.


Mark’s #29: The Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger (222 pages)

As I sit down to write this short post, my wife warns me, “You know that book is a classic. You can’t say anything bad about it, it will make you look stupid.”

Hmmm…. I’ll try my best to not look like an idiot….

Written in 1951, this is a ‘classic’ book about teenage angst, rebellion, and cynical adolescence.  The story follows two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caufield right after he get’s get out of prep school.   It’s written from an autobiographical perspective.  As such, like many 16-year-olds, Holden seems to have a high view of his own wisdom and insights on people, relationships, and life in general.

As the story progresses, the reader begins to see a bit behind the veil into the insecurities and lostness of the kid.  Everywhere he goes he seems to run into some kind of conflict – always the result of others actions, not his of course.

I had a hard time with this novel. Probably because, as my wife implied, I’m not well trained with the ‘classics’ yet, thus, I’m an idiot.  I found the plot to be a bit too nebulous.  I was hoping that he would at least finally make the call to the girl he seemed to love – he didn’t.

Perhaps I just need to talk to english teachers Ron and my mother-in-law Brenda to enlighten me.


Ron’s #34: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

For me, reviewing a book on parenting is like reviewing a book on snowboarding. I know what a snowboard is, I understand the theory of how to snowboard, I have seen snowboarders (good and bad ones), and some of my best friends have snowboarded sometime in their lives. I, however, have no experience with a snowboard.

As Kristie and I move toward adoption, I thought that I should read a few books to begin thinking about parenting. Lots of friends like Shepherding a Child’s Heart, so it’s a good place to begin.  In a statement, the essence of this book is, “Help your child learn to honor and obey you as you honor and obey God.” Tedd Tripp shows that in this “circle of blessing” is where the child is richly blessed.

I liked that the main focus of this book is to place God at the center of your family. A child is not at the center of it. Unfortunately, we have several friends where the child is the center, and the parents cater to every whine and whim of the kid. It’s sad, as they don’t see it, almost blinded by their “love” for the child. The child has replaced God as the center. As a teacher, I see the end results of this when they grow to be teenagers. They are self-centered and selfish after growing up a steady diet of the junk food of parent-servants and self-esteem-for-nothing for 13-15 years. If you disagree with this, you have not spent much time around this type of spoiled teenager. Shepherding offers a different approach to this. Rather than placing the child at the center, guide the child to recognize that there is something more important than himself and even than his parents at the center: Jesus Christ. Teaching to obey and defer to another leads to a people who can see beyond the myopic scope of their own navels and banal desires. These children grow to be respectful and healthy adults, not grown-up babies who still whine and whimper until they get their own way.

Included in this reasoning is spanking. I’m still not sure if I agree or not, but I was interested to hear his reasoning. My biggest concern is not spanking in principle, but rather on his shaky mandate based upon a verse in Proverbs. It is hermeneutically unstable to base theology on a proverb, so I would need a little more direction on why this is important to Tripp’s message.

I appreciate the overview of parenting philosophy contained in this book, and I think that it started me off in the correct direction. Parenting ought to contain the Gospel as much as a sermon or a book. All spheres of our life should seek to proclaim the all-encompassing majesty of our God.

But, as I started off saying, what do I know about snowboarding?


Ron’s #33: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

“Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.” (Chapter 17)

If I wanted to run my own fiefdom, this would be my handbook, one written by an Italian almost as famously ruthless as Vito Corlene. Currently, my 10th grade students are reading excerpts from this, and I hope they enjoy/endure it. The essays can be pretty dry to our 21st century lives; the text is mired in 16th century historical records, making it difficult to understand at times.

Chapter 17 holds the juiciest parts, one that you should read for fun. This chapter contains the most famous line of the book, “Upon this a question arises” whether it be better to be loved than feared?…it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispossessed.”

As I read this, I kept imagining how recently political leaders would respond to Old Nick’s advice. How would George W. or Obama look if they followed some of his advice on how to treat citizens? I added an assignment with the reading that makes students write about advice to modern politicians. I’m eager to read what they create.

If I had some foresight, I would have ordered a book called A Child’s Machiavelli: A Primer on Power. The artist drew child’s pictures that apply Machiavelli politics to the elementary playground. Sounds fun!

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