I wish I had taken notes. That was my first thought as I finished this book tonight. I really wish I had taken notes, but I didn't and almost never do when reading a book. It's too distracting and with a book like this one, I didn't want to be distracted by anything.
Not only did I not want to be distracted, but I never really thought (prior to reading it) much about writing a review or promoting this book the way I feel compelled to do. Afterall, who am I to promote a John MacArthur book? Anyone who has been a Christian longer than 10 minutes already knows this brother is a reliable source of exceptional insight and sound doctrine, so my promotion of his work seems almost silly, in a way. Besides, what do I have to say about this book that smarter, more spiritually mature, well known folks probably have already said, and said much better than I ever could?
Regardless of all that, I am promoting this book and I do have something to say.
As I was reading through this book the overwhelming thought that kept coming back to me was that had I had this book in 2004, I would have most likely never even began ENo. Starting that blog wasn't even my idea in the first place. It was a suggestion from one of our original contributors. A few of us ladies had been sharing information via email & private chat discussions on the research we were each doing on the ECM, and she came up with the idea to share it all in one place, and make that place public access so that others might benefit from what we were learning. That's how and why Eno began.
If we would have had this book, I'm not so sure there would have been a need to start such a blog. Even if we would have still done that, this book would have been highly promoted as a crucial resource for readers from day 1.
I'm sure by now most of you already know that this book is geared toward explaining why contending for the faith is so critical, and the specific sources of attacks on the truth - where they've come from, what they look like and which groups among evangelicism are pushing them with a very serious agenda. I'm also quite sure that most of you know, especially if you've ever done this yourself, that contending for the faith with a person entrenched in the ECM is a bit like slamming your head off a wall - or the more common description - nailing jello to a wall. The reason for that is well explained in this book. Simply put, many of these men and women caught up in this have bought the lie from the leaders of that movement that truth isn't really worth contending for in the first place - it's much better to have "dialogue" - as truth is really just various shades of gray, and subject to "unpacking" and "reimagining" and "redefining". Certainty, to these folks is as offensive as it can possibly be, and if you're certain about anything, you're arrogant and self-righteous. Sound familiar at all?
Back in 2004 in the very beginning stages of my own personal research on all of this ECM business, I had a pastor friend really discourage me from doing that research at all. In his opinion, this was a passing fad, a momentary trend, and something that would never affect sound churches anyway. He expressed this opinion numerous times, repeatedly told me he was disappointed in my "wasting my time with such things" and suggested that it was all just a fringe movement that would die out before anyone even heard of it. I can only say it had to be the Holy Spirit but as much as I admired and respected this brother, I knew he was wrong. I wished he wasn't, but I knew he was.
I had already begun to receive emails from complete strangers reading ENo, telling me that what we were posting there was also showing up in their churches. It was coming in via bulletin inserts, promotional posters in the foyer for conferences and lectures, and book recommendations. In some of the more disturbing emails, I was informed that suddenly (seemingly overnight) their pastors and youth leaders were speaking differently, and leaning more toward what they considered postmodernism, doctrinal and/or theologcial liberalism and more. This was all brand new information to me, as I had never even looked up the definition of postmodernism, let alone understood what all this meant. What was obviously clear to me though, was that this so-called "passing fad" was not so fringe afterall. It was creeping into otherwise, and formerly known "sound" churches all across the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and many other places. I can't even count how many emails I received from ENo readers - all saying the same basic thing: "This trash is in my church, what do I do!?" To be completely honest, the most heartbreaking thing of all was when it showed up in my own (former) church, even while my pastor at the time was well aware of it, and completely against it. For all intents and purposes, he stood very much alone - and eventually left.
I wish I would have have this book then. It would have saved me countless hours of trying so hard to give Biblical answers to dismayed brothers and sisters. Pastor MacArthur explains quite well in this book how these things have entered the mainstream evangelical church, and how to get them out. Further, he asserts (and I agree wholeheartedly) that taking a passive or even an apathetic approach is exactly the wrong thing to do, and a big part of the reason we're in this Truth War to begin with.
"Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception" says the cover. The book description at CBD reads this way:
"Right now, Truth is under attack, and much is at stake. In a postmodern culture, Christians are caught in the crossfire of alternative Christian histories, emerging faulty texts, and a cultural push to eliminate absolute Truth altogether. As a result, many churches and Christians have been deceived. Worse still, they propagate the deception that poses itself as Truth! In The Truth War, John MacArthur reclaims the unwavering certainty of God's Truth and anchors Christians in the eternal, immovable promises found in His Word."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Every Christian ought to have it, and read it. Every pastor ought to have it, and read it. My own pastor is currently reading it, and I'm sure glad that he is.
While this is certainly not your standard book review, the things Pastor MacArthur reveals in this book are the very things I've tried so hard to say for the last 2.5 years. For me, in many ways, this is personal because it's affected me and my family in very personal ways. Pastor MacArthur says what I have tried to say, he just says them (much) better, and gives a lot more insight into why they're so important. In other words, "yeah, what HE said!"
Get it, read it, pray about it, get your husband or wife to read it, put it in your church library (or buy a second copy for just that purpose), and get a copy for your pastor's personal library as well. Discuss it, live it, do it.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)
Take a closer look at that through this book and find out why that wasn't just a polite suggestion, if you feel like doing it, when you have the time, maybe... someday.