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THINGS THAT CANNOT BE SHAKEN PB Paperback – 24 Apr 2008


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Primer to Strengthen a Christian's Confidence and Joy 13 Aug 2008
By David A. Vosseller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." - Heb. 12:28-29.

The Scripture verses above and the great hymn by John Newton, "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken", inspired Westminster Seminary professor K. Scott Oliphint and RUF national campus ministry coordinator Rod Mays to write this book: Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World. Their purpose in writing it, as a recent interview states it, "is to put an easy and concise read into the hands of young (or older) men and women struggling with the issues of authority and purpose, or who find themselves serving in an environment where questions about authority and purpose are prevalent in daily conversations and circumstances."

In the book itself, the authors state that they are concerned that "there seems to be a significant gap in the ability of most today to synthesize the truth of the Bible with what we see around us. Because of this inability, the Bible is reduced to the level of helpful personal advice and inspirational thought." (pp. 19).

It is hard to categorize this book, but it is best described as an attempt to strengthen all believers in their trust and confidence in God, His Word, and His provision for His people. There are only five chapters, each deriving their titles from lines from Newton's hymn. And the chapters also build on one another to show the power of the Gospel for us today, and tries to answer the questions that many believers wrestle with in their hearts. Is Christianity true and is God's word really a valid source of authority? If it is true, how do we apply it to our lives and can it make a difference? What does God have to do with my relationships? For each question, the authors apply Biblical answers and compelling arguments to challenge our default (and sinful) patterns of thinking and behavior.

There were at least three areas in which I thought this book was very helpful. First, their dealing with the issue of truth or authority: "People seem either to believe that truth is what makes them feel good and works best with their experience...or that truth is what makes sense to them objectively and intellectually." (pp. 20). The authors clearly show the errors and failures of these two options and point the reader instead to the authority of Christ and His Word.

The second excellent area is in their dealing with our "felt needs": "The essential human components of mind, emotion, and will were deadened by the fall. Therefore, if we remain in our sins and apart from Christ, it is impossible for us to think correctly--about God or about ourselves. We set our affections on the wrong things in an effort to enhance our lives with fulfilling relationships and enjoyable things and circumstances. Pleasing self, in an effort to find peace and happiness, is both the default mode of the human condition (after the fall) as well as its driving, conscious force. In seeking to meet all our felt needs, all the while ignoring or misdiagnosing our unfelt needs, we inevitably turn to perverse and damaging solutions." (pp. 49). Having described our natural problem in seeking what "we want", they then remind us of God's solution..."The gospel reminds us that true satisfaction will not be found by fulfilling our true desires by means of `finding ourselves' and then meeting our needs by our own efforts...We only come to recognize the real need for living water when Jesus brings it to our attention." (pp. 67).

The third area that I thought was very helpful was the Biblical concept of `spiritual amnesia' - forgetting the true and important things of God, and allowing other false beliefs to guide us. The Bible frequently commands us to remember, this book reminds us why it is necessary! "Spiritual amnesia, by definition, looks to nothing permanent. It satisfies itself with `the fleeting pleasures of sin.' ...It has no view to the end; it does not look to the reward. It is willing to exchange immediate pleasure for postponed pain. It is a spiritual malady that can only end, like Israel, with death in the wilderness and no hope for the Promised Land." (pp. 136).

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to strengthen their faith, be reminded of what is true and why it matters, or who just wants a reminder of the true joys that faith in Christ promise and provide.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A stirred soul, but not shaken 21 Jan 2009
By E. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Today's world is a place where ultimate truth is too often disparaged and minimalized. In fact, many skeptics belittle the idea that there is such a thing as exclusive truth, especially when it comes to religion. In Things That Cannot be Shaken, Reformed thinkers K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays use the Bible as the central foundational source to show that there are certain things we can know for sure, including God's blueprint for life.

Basing each chapter on stanzas from the 1779 John Newton hymn, "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken," the authors begin their work by stressing the overall authority of the written Scripture. Utilizing a presuppositional apologetic viewpoint, they propose that the Bible--"not our senses and our mental faculties"--should be the ultimate authority or "we will be forever confused and confounded with the issues that press in on us every day" (p. 32).

Once the Scripture is accepted as the foundation, the believer must understand that fulfillment in life only comes through following God. Those desiring the things contrary to God end up resorting to sins such as using drugs, drinking to excess, and even cutting parts of one's own body with razor blades. "We must worship something," the authors write on page 54. "And if our misdiagnosis of our felt needs leads us to pursue something created rather than the Creator, then we will attach ourselves to that creating thing religiously. We will, in fact, worship it."

One of the more challenging chapters of the book was titled, "We are not alone." The authors believe that there are too many distractions in life, including "time-saving technology" that ends up eating up more time rather than conserving it. Even too many church activities can get in the way. "Could it be that the church is no less guilty than the culture in its attempts to entice us into the programming whirlwind?" they ask on page 96. The result of a hurried lifestyle? Missing the opportunity to properly sit at the feet of the Savior and meditate on God's truth.

In Chapter 4, a Calvinistic view of salvation is stressed because the work of Christ "was planned and agreed upon before time began." When the Holy Spirit comes into the lives of the sheep (John 10), a struggle for holiness ensues. Two words are used--"mortification" and "vivification"--to explain how Christians live their lives warring against sin while partaking in life with the Holy Spirit.

The final chapter compares this world to C.S. Lewis's Narnia, a place where Lucy and her siblings were not destined to spend the rest of their lives. The authors write on page 151: "As we know Christ here, more and more, we are preparing ourselves to know him better there, where he will have a new name. There we will see him face to face, and his presence, now invisible to us, will be visible in all its glory."

Praise God for those things of God that cannot be shaken!

P.S. This is review #300. Yee-haw! It's been fun reviewing these 300 books during the past eight years, which has been my pleasure. Thanks for your many comments. Now if I only had more time to read...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Reminding Believers of the Gospel and Its Power 5 Sep 2008
By Erik Raymond - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Believers are often the question is asked by the skeptic, "How do you know what you believe is right?" This is increasingly true today with reality of a culture baptized in relativism. Christians then, ought to have an answer.

K.Scott Oliphant and Rod Mays aim to help Christians better answer such questions in their new book Things that Cannot be Shaken. The book flows out of the hymn by John Newton, Glorious things of Thee are Spoken. The authors walk through the hymn and interact with Scripture to reinforce biblical truth.

It seems, though not stated explicitly, that the book is written for those in the university scene. If this was not the intention then it is an ideal application. Those believers who are interacting with worldviews on college campuses must have some basic things nailed down.

One of these things is the issue of authority. I love that Oliphant and Mays attack this first, for it is the basis for reason and discussion. In the context of asking questions like, "But what about the Koran? What about the Book of Mormon? Is there really only one way to God?" The authors state:

"The problem posed in reconciling biblical truth with apparent contradictions in experience of course, is the problem of authority. This problem is not a new one."

What I really enjoyed about this book is the explicit gospel-centeredness of it. The authors were continually reminding me of the cross and the gifts that were purchased. They talked much about the Holy Spirit, the battle of sanctification, and the joy of salvation. So in this sense it is not so much a book on apologetics but a book on the greatness of the realities of the gospel, which then becomes an informed and passionate apologetic.

I enjoyed the writers' style in this book. They were no doubt intentional in appealing Christians who live in culture. They were relevant. They used a lot of everyday illustrations to communicate truth. In a personal favorite they write:

"The newer generations living in the twenty-first century have never known what life is like without television or videocassete/CD/DVD recorders or TiVO. Because of technology, we can, at least in some sense, `create' the reality we desire. It is now possible, for example, to program electronic screens with what we want to see when we want to see it. We can use pre-selected iPod tunes as the soundtrack for our lives. This has the double effect of on the one hand, creating the feelings and ambience we desire and on the other hand, letting the rest of the world go by."

They also talk about the relationship between pornography, drugs, self-mutilation, sports fandom, sex and the gospel. Further, they go on at length about the movie Momento and its counter cultural effect.

Overall, I was challenged, encouraged, and refreshed by this quick read. The authors serve believers well in reminding us of the Things that Cannot be Shaken.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Roadmap for Our Relativistic World 14 Aug 2014
By Pastor Eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The concept of ultimate authority has been obliterated in modern day culture. Rejection of absolute truth and unshakable precepts have marked the current age. Faith has been the subject of fierce criticism and ridicule. In light of these philosophical drifts, believers face the challenge of navigating the waters of a hostile culture and remaining faithful to the Lord. Such a walk is not without its pitfalls. Doubts and questions may arise in a believer's heart. The struggle toward practical righteousness is an intense battle only sustained by the Spirit's power. The promises of eternity appear to be overshadowed by the temptations of today. It seems that in every age, followers of Christ have to deal with direct assaults on the truth that defines their lives.

Within their book, Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World, authors K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays provide some encouragement and guidance for modern believers. Using the John Newton hymn "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" as an outline upon which chapters hang, the scriptural truths of each stanza are examined. Far from being relegated to the past, the authors seek to show how the words of the song speak out to the issues of our age. They begin with an affirmation of the ultimate authority of God as expressed in the written word. When such a foundation is established as the ground of thought and belief, one is prepared to see how the gospel can radically transform a life. The closing chapters provide practical guidance for the continued mortification of sin while at the same time cultivating a solid hope in eternal things. As a whole, the book serves as a systematic understanding of the Christian life.

The goal of this book is to help believers stand firm in the faith. The content of the book achieves this initial goal with a plethora of scripture and a writing style that reveals the truth in well-stated terms. However, the second part of the book's title that references life in a relativistic world is largely absent. Rather than contrast the claims of society with the superiority of scripture, only a scant reference is made to the world's challenge to Christian thought. The majority of the book is spent showing how the scriptures should shape life and there is nothing wrong with such material. It makes for a good book, but for those looking for answers to questions posed by the current culture a letdown might be experienced. Aside from this one observation, the material is solid and the authors well spoken.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pastor Mark L Turcio 8 Aug 2008
By Mark L. Turcio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was well written. The authors deal with the issue of pluralism and relativism in our American culture quite well. The book can be used as an excellent source of counseling to a generation of College students and Grad students who have been inundated with this view. The book also deals with those inside the church who are bitten by the philosophy of the age. The reader will be engaged throughout the book to evaluate his/her philosophy and to weigh it against the belief of an absolute standard for truth. Like many philosophers and their philosophy. Only time (The next Generation) is able to prove the shaken foundation that many place their beliefs on. The book also can serve as an excellent means for equipping pastors, leaders and lay people with an objective standard for truth against the subjective non unifying spirit of the age. E Pluribus Unum the American motto on the great seal of the nation since 1782 was founded on the principle of "out of many one" The idea of unity over and against relativism shows the strength of unity and single-mindedness, and the weakness of a culture that allows many truths. This book accomplishes both an accurate understanding of the futility of relativism, and the strong foundation of the things that cannot be shaken. Read it!
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