Cheryl L. Stansberry

About Cheryl L. Stansberry

Cheryl's Blog
Cheryl L. Stansberry is a homeschooling mama of four, bibliophile, blogger and writer, and holds dual PhDs in Procrastination and Disorganization with a particular penchant for avoiding housework whenever possible. Despite all this, she still manages to get everything done at just the right time and is under the distinct impression that procrastination is a virtue. She makes her home on the eastern plains of Colorado.

You can read more of her work at her blog.

By This Standard Book Review

By This Standard Book Review

By This Standard

by Greg L. Bahnsen
Length: Approximately 8 hours to read (245 pages).
TCB Rating:
five-stars
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Book Overview

Millions of Christians, Greg Bahnsen asserted, have failed to “recognize the continuing authority of God's law today or its many applications to modern society.” Neglecting Christianity's tool of dominion, “they have thereby reaped the whirlwind—cultural and intellectual impotence.”

Who should read this?

By This Standard, was written for all Christians seeking a greater understanding of the importance and applicability of God's law to all areas of life. It is for those who like King David, cry out, “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97)

This book is also for those who have not given much thought to how God's law may encompass a broader spectrum in the lives of everyday Christians beyond that of a personal, inward moral law.

Do you, dear reader, wonder how your faith applies to all areas of life? Then this book is for you.

By This Standard Book Review 1

SUMMARY

David Bahnsen, the author’s son, writes in the prologue:

“The goal of By This Standard was to provide laymen readers a synopsis of the great exegetical and ethical claims of its predecessor (Theonomy in Christian Ethics): that God’s law is a reflection of His character, that God’s character never changes, and consequently, His eternal expectations for His people never change.”

Christianity is more than a personal religion: it is also capable of cultural transformation. The natural outworking of a changed people is a changed culture.

The pages of By This Standard reflect Greg Bahnsen’s own love for God’s law. His book is divided into three parts. In The Authority of God’s Law, Bahnsen makes his case from Scripture and explores the importance of God’s law, as a reflection of God’s character, and how His people are given a standard upon which to model their lives.

In part two, Application of God’s Law to Political Ethics, he addresses how biblical law was applied in both the Old and New Testaments and how it can be applied today. Part three, Antagonism to God’s Law, addresses common objections to the law’s general validity and its political use.

“A common working assumption is that New Testament believers are not expected by God to live according to Old Testament stipulations. It is erroneously thought that their ethical attitude and  standard should be limited to the New Testament, almost as though the Old Testament is now nothing but a historical curiosity—rather than a revelation which is still profitable for “instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Greg Bahnsen wrote the above in the forward to By This Standard. It is the heart of the issue and the pages of his book are filled with passionate pleas to look upon the law of God with renewed delight and  an increased desire to walk in its precepts. Too many Christians look elsewhere for guidance and authority on matters of law. God’s law is perfect, and as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 attests, it is there to equip us for EVERY good work.

By This Standard  was written “to stimulate Scripture-guided reflection on the question of whether the Old Testament law is still binding as a moral standard for today.”

Bahnsen continues: “My prayer is that through these books Christians will become convinced of the wisdom and authority of God’s commandments, learning to say from the heart: “Oh how love I thy law.” (Psalm 119:97)

By what standard? This is the common refrain reverberating throughout Bahnsen’s book. Are we to live by God’s revealed word or the law of self-proclaimed autonomous man? And whose word is sovereign, God’s or man’s?

These are important questions that must be addressed and taken seriously by Christians today. How we view God’s law will grossly affect how we live. Not just in our personal lives, but in the workplace, community, church, government, and culture at large.  

The church has largely retreated today and because it has, the light and salt Christians are called to bear have been removed from culture. We are reaping its rotten fruit. Bahnsen calls us to carefully consider the ramifications of relegating God’s law to a corner in the basement. We dishonor God when we dishonor His law.

ANALYSIS

My copy of Greg L. Bahnsen’s By This Standard, is well-worn, dog eared, and highlighted extensively.  It is one of my favorites, not only of his works, but of all the books I’ve ever read. To say I enjoy his work is an understatement.

Bahnsen’s love for God and His word is palpable. He reasons from Scripture and implores his readers to do the same. This particular book is easily digestible in its parts and it is best to be consumed this way. Chew on it. Delve into the Scriptures. Pray over what you’ve read and ask for wisdom.  

Repeat for the entirety of the book. And keep By This Standard on hand for future reference, discussion, and writing.

I do and it’s served me well. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is my hope that every Christian would read it once and consider its claims that God’s law is our ethical yard stick. No other standard comes close. No other standard is perfect, reflecting the character of a just and holy God.

Gresham Machen stated, “The gospel does not abrogate God’s law, but it makes men love it with all their hearts.” Bahnsen, in By This Standard, helped me to see the truth in this. And it is with this in mind that I offer up this review.

By This Standard is exceptional. It is written in such a way that you’ll find yourself highlighting its pages as a Calvinist would Romans 9. Bahnsen’s words are quotable and concise. His words are crafted in love and concern for God’s law and his desire for the believer to see how beautiful and beneficial the law of God really is.

One of the many reasons why Greg Bahnsen’s work and ministry has greatly affected me is because in him I saw a man who loved the LORD with such passion until God called him home.  He esteemed Christ highly and encouraged others around him to do likewise. Such is the legacy of Greg Bahnsen. And it is this legacy that springs from the pages of By This Standard.

His focus is on God and His law-word, a reflection of His holiness. God’s holiness is our permanent standard of morality. Autonomous man seeks his own way, cleverly devising way to be like God, determining good and evil for himself.

But we know the end result. The stench of its rotten fruit flows downward from the streams of culture.

The law of God is perfect and just, our standard of righteousness in our personal and public lives.

Would that more Christians realize this and begin to seek out the law of God, loving it with all their hearts and learning to apply their faith to all areas of life.

 

CONCLUSION

By This Standard is a great introduction to the woefully neglected topic of the validity and applicability of God’s law today. It is not an extensive treatise—it doesn’t address many specifics (as his earlier Theonomy in Christian Ethics would) but it serves an important function nonetheless.

Christians need to return to the topic, pick up this book, and resume a much needed discussion. By what standard are we living today? Why do many look upon God’s law as harsh and tyrannical but at man’s law as just and acceptable?

We have it backwards!

I implore you, my reader, to pick up a copy of Greg Bahnsen’s By This Standard, if only to sit down and prayerfully reflect on the implications of neglecting God’s perfect law. This book is a good starting point. It is concise enough for the average layperson and meaty enough for the learned theologian.

Bahnsen stated, “we find that a man’s attitude toward God’s law in an index of his relationship to God Himself (Ps. 1; Rom. 8:l-8).” Where are you at?

 

FAVORITE QUOTATIONS

“The entire Bible is our ethical yardstick for every part of it is the word of the eternal, unchanging God; none of the Bible offers fallible or mistaken direction to us today. Not one of God’s stipulations is unjust, being too lenient or too harsh. And God does not unjustly have a double-standard of morality, one standard of justice for some and another standard of justice for others. Every single dictate of God’s word, then, is intended to provide moral instruction for us today, so that we can demonstrate justice, holiness, and truth in our lives.” (17)

“We need a perfect yardstick by which to measure holiness in our lives. The Bible teaches us that the Lord has provided this guide and standard in his holy law (cf. Rom. 7:12). The law is a transcript of the holiness of God on a creaturely level; it is the ultimate standard of righteousness in any area of life, for it reflects the moral perfection of God, its Author. (36)

“Whether the Christian strives to imitate the holiness of God, to model his behavior after the life of Christ, or to be led by the Spirit, he will invariably be directed by Scripture to heed the law of God; the law is a transcripts of God’s unchanging holiness, the standard of righteousness followed by the Saviour, and the pattern of sanctification empowered by the Spirit. (63)

“As a Savior from sin, Christ is interested in every aspect of life infected by sin at man’s fall. ‘He comes to make his blessings flow, Far as the curse is found.’ Just because man’s social existence and his political efforts have been cursed by sin, Christ the King proves His righteousness in the realm of human politics, even as he reigns over every other department of man’s thoughts, life, and behavior.” (153)

five-stars
By | 2018-05-31T11:09:35+00:00 May 31st, 2018|

The Ultimate Proof of Creation Book Review

The Ultimate Proof of Creation Book Review

The Ultimate Proof of Creation

by Dr. Jason Lisle
Length: Approximately 9 hours. To read (218 pages)
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Is there such a thing as an ultimate proof of creation? Dr. Jason Lisle affirms and explains in his book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation: Resolving the Origins Debate.

Who should read this?

This book is recommended for all Christians looking to sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and to always be ready to give an answer to those who ask a reason for the hope that is within you.

The Ultimate Proof of Creation Book Review 1

SUMMARY

As Christians, it should be our deepest desire to take 1 Peter 3:15 to heart and glorify God with our speech as we carefully craft our words with salt and light. To love our neighbor is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be graciously prepared to give a defense. How does one accomplish this? Is there any one way to go about it? Do I need to provide evidences and understand a lot of science?

There are many who contend that unbiased evidence is the absolute standard, that by compelling evidence the origins debate can be settled. Then there are others who believe scientific evidence is entirely irrelevant. Lisle explains that, although scientific evidence is useful in discussions relating to the origin of life, it cannot settle the matter.

The crux lies in one’s worldview. All facts are interpreted in light of it. Evidence cannot speak for itself. There is nothing neutral in this universe—our beliefs about God, the universe, morality, and more are colored through our life’s experiences and presuppositions.

The lens in which we view reality will determine how we interpret the evidence. The myth of neutrality has long been perpetrated by believers and unbelievers alike. As positive as evidence may be, to present it to someone with an antithetical worldview may not be the best course to take. Our most reasonable and logical arguments using evidence will fall on deaf ears to someone whose reality is colored by an unbelieving worldview.

So if evidences are interpreted through our worldview, what’s the point of apologetics? 1st Peter 3:15 gives us our base answer. Like evangelism, it is because it is part and parcel of our identify in Christ. Some plant. Some water. But it is God who gives growth. And so it is with apologetics. Its importance cannot be overstated.

Though it is the Holy Spirit who regenerates, God in his graciousness uses you and me to bring about all His holy will. And what is most reassuring, is to trust that Christ provides in himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Lisle, in “The Ultimate Proof,” helps us see this. The ultimate proof is simply this: that without the  God of Scripture, you can’t prove anything. Greg Bahsen said it this way, “Christianity is reasonable in virtue of the impossibility of the contrary.” Lisle shows this in his book. He helps the reader understand that it is only Christianity that makes sense of reality. It is only Christianity that is logically consistent.

Dr. Jason Lisle takes us through the nature of evidence and how worldviews affect us, especially as it deals with apologetics. He explains and illustrates ultimate proof and then explores the nature and concept of logic and how it applies.

ANALYSIS

I am a huge fan of Greg Bahnsen, who has written several books on presuppositional apologetics. I believe Lisle’s book, “The Ultimate Proof of Creation,” deserves to be shelved on the same bookshelf. While Bahnsen’s books apply to all areas of apologetics, Lisle applies his specifically to the creation/evolution debate.

That his is more focused is of great use, especially to those who are frequently engaging in debates with skeptics. Lisle lays the basic foundation in discussing worldviews and the nature of evidence and then goes on to explain how it applies in debates.

This book contains a mini-course in logic. If you are anything like me, it might take a few run-throughs to understand its mechanics thoroughly. But his strength is in taking a complex topic and relating it to the average reader. He gives examples in his discussions of logical fallacies and equips the reader to spot them whenever engaging skeptics.

His style is pleasant and conversational. Illustrations are scattered throughout the pages. For those familiar with the ministry Answers in Genesis, I’m sure you will recognize them. Dr. Lisle has put together an excellent primer on apologetics. One that doesn’t depend on our knowledge but on the treasure that is Christ.

He leads the reader step by step through both formal and informal logic, explaining its mechanics. Then he goes a step further by illustrating how a skeptic would use logical fallacy in a debate. Then, in turn, he arms us with a proper response using the ultimate proof of creation.

You needn’t know the complexities of science. But you can hold your own in a debate by reducing your opponent’s worldview to absurdity. Only Christianity is logically consistent. Lisle reaffirms this continually in his book. His aim is to prepare us to unashamedly share our faith with the confidence in our ultimate standard, which is Christ.

He breaks presuppositional apologetics down for even the average layperson. He walks through each subject with precision. His examples and illustrations bring apologetics alive in a way that’s easy to understand.

Practical. That’s the word I would use to describe “The Ultimate Proof of Creation.” This isn’t a book to be read once and relegated to the back of the book pile. It’s one to be used time and again and to be passed around. It’s contents are vital.

I say this as someone who once engaged skeptics using evidence based apologetics. These cannot be said to have been debates but two people with two vastly different worldviews talking over each other.

Skeptics love to emphasize logic. But their worldviews are anything but logical.

Do you know how to spot the logical inconsistencies? Lisle shows you how. He gets his readers to understand what the issue really is, how we should view apologetics. Do we put God in the docket or do we show the skeptic that without God he has no leg to stand on? Which method glorifies God?

To those who are accustomed to evidence based apologetics, this might be a paradigm shift for you. Lisle emphasizes that evidence has its place, but it must be secondary. There is no use in arguing over evidence when your worldviews are antithetical. It will become frustrating for both of you.

Christ is our ultimate standard. Everything we do and are should reflect that. This is the takeaway from Lisle’s book. Don’t let a skeptic run with data to prove his case. Let him know that without Christ, he couldn’t prove anything. Merely by coming to the debate, he has conceded.

He is borrowing from the Christian worldview. Don’t let him. Force himself to logically face his own worldview. He won’t be able to withstand it, and will, according to Lisle, look for a rescuing device and a way out.

Let the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ grace our speech as we seek to honor God with our endeavors.

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CONCLUSION

We are means by which God works in history. God is ultimate. It is He that brings change and growth. It is with this in mind that we approach apologetics. And it is this which Dr. Jason Lisle gives us the tools to do so in a manner that will give God all the glory.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s one I’ll be returning to often, along with Bahnsen’s “Always Ready: Directons for Defending the Faith” and “Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended.”

If you are interested in engaging in apologetics, I implore you to check this one out.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • But by now it should at least be very clear that everyone interprets evidence in light of his or her worldview. And it is clear that creationists and evolutionists have different worldviews, and as a result, they interpret the same evidence differently. For this reason, evidence by itself will not cause a person to reconsider his worldview. Any scientific evidence can be interpreted in such a way as to fit into any given worldview (p.28). 
  • Evolutionists must assume the preconditions of intelligibility in order to make any argument whatsoever; they must assume things like laws of logic and uniformity of nature. But these preconditions of intelligibility do not comport with an evolutionary worldview; they only make sense if creation is true. Hence, we have an ultimate proof of creation: we know that biblical creation must be true because if it were not, we could not know anything at all (pp. 45-46).
five-stars
By | 2018-04-01T23:12:57+00:00 March 27th, 2018|

How Christianity Changed The World Book Review

How Christianity Changed The World Book Review

How Christianity Changed The World

by Alvin J. Schmidt
Length: Approximately 13 hours. To read (403 pages)
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

The positive influence of Christianity is far reaching especially in the rich history and culture of Western Civilization despite a long standing ignorance or adamant denial of its contributions. Alvin J, Schmidt, in his book, How Christianity Changed the World, desires to bring a greater awareness of the profound impact Christianity has had on the development of Western Civilization.

Who should read this?

This book was written for all people in order that a greater understanding and appreciation of how Christianity has impressed upon the culture, turning it upside down, may be widely known. Paul Maier, in writing the forward to the book states:

“No other religion, philosophy, reaching, nation, movement—whatever—has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done. Its shortcomings, clearly conceded by this author, are nevertheless heavily outweighed by its benefits to all mankind.”

How Christianity Changed the World Book Review 1

SUMMARY

How Christianity Changed the World, first published in 2001 under the title Under the Influence, is a little known and greatly under appreciated survey of Christianity and its influence on history, especially in the development of Western Civilization. Much has been written on history, few acknowledge how pivotal Christianity is to the story.

References to Christ and his influence are sporadic and brief, as if the life and teaching of Christ and his followers are inconsequential and bear no lasting positive effects. It was the author’s desire to remedy this and make available an easily accessible resource to serve as a spring board for the wealth of information that is out there but must be mined and sifted through in order that a clearer picture of the truth may be presented.

How has Christianity influenced us? And in what ways? The book begins by taking a closer look at individuals whom Jesus Christ has changed. And so it begins: changed people change culture. This is the very concept Schmidt is driving at. A person does not exist in a vacuum once conversion has taken place. Light permeates the darkness and by extension all other areas: human life, sexual morality, the elevation of women, charity, health care, education, economics, science, art, literature, music, and science. It has no end.

An individual changed by Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will live out that change. It will carry into their personal and professional lives as they seek to apply the Scriptures to all areas of life.

This is what we have seen in history though few are aware and fewer still acknowledge it.

Schmidt acknowledges that what is presented barely scratches the surface. In fact, a whole book could easily be devoted to each chapter. Due to the need for a comprehensive study of the subject, he highlights some examples of the more prominent effects of Christ’s influence has had in history, whetting the appetite, and leaves us with a treasure of end-notes in order that we may dutifully take up the mantle and strike out on our own in search of truth skewed today by those who willfully suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Study notes are included at the back of the book, helping us to work through the information and chew on what was presented so that we might carry it with us and apply what we’ve learned as we go about our lives.

Colossians 2:3 tells us that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus Christ. There is much treasure to be found and Schmidt points us in the right direction, giving us glimpses of the men and women who have gone on before us in search of that treasure, and upon finding it, shared the wealth of it with the world.

This is their story. And our story. But above all, it is His story, and it needs to be told for generations to come. Alvin J. Schmidt, in his book How Christianity Changed the World, gives us the tools to do so. To tell the world what Christ has wrought and how He has changed us and the world for the better through Him.

ANALYSIS

In 2007, I wrote a short research paper for my Western Civilization I class on The Influence of Christianity on Western Civilization. Schmidt’s book served as my spine and although I’ve since grown in my understanding of biblical law and the influence of Christianity’s influence on society, it has remained a favorite of mine precisely because it was the stepping stone to my interest in reformed theology and church history.

As Schmidt once acknowledged that each chapter could easily be developed into a book, I’ve had it in mind to do the same with the paper I’ve written. As a blogger and writer, I posted my paper and was surprised to see the traffic it brought. People from all over the globe are searching for answers to the same question: how did Christianity change the world?

This is why I previously mentioned that this book is greatly under appreciated. There is so much information made available in its pages that the average person is unaware of. Evangelicalism today is lacking because of its disconnect to theology and history and its relation to culture. Early Christians had no such problem. They lived and breathed Christianity. And it showed.

How Christianity Changed the World is a great book. I have no qualms revealing my bias in favor of it precisely because of what it does. It brings awareness to a sorely lacking truth: that Christianity is a far greater positive influence than what we realize. It also serves as a stern tutor and causes us to reflect. Do our lives mirror so great an influence? Does it pour out into our daily lives as was shown to be the case of the faithful who have gone on before us?

Alvin J. Schmidt writes in an easy to understand and engaging style. Because the subject matter is so extensive,  he does well to divide the book into easily accessible chapters with appropriate footnotes.

Each chapter serves as a stand alone survey of how Christianity has influenced that particular aspect of life and because of it is better suited as a reference book to come back to time and again.

Of course the book could just as easily be devoured at length but to get the full picture, it should be slowly consumed and chewed on, taking time to hunt down original sources, and reading more on the subject as time allows.

This is not a book to be read once and put away but one to return to for reference. Culture today despises Christianity but fails to recognize it for what it truly is. A life and culture changing influence that has graciously benefited all. To this end, readers of Schmidt’s book are provided with a wealth of information that serves to repudiate the false claims of unbelievers.

More needs to be said on the subject and greater awareness needs to emerge. Schmidt’s book is a great first resource. It is a survey and by no means extensive. But what is written here is also new to many. Contrary to the history texts treatment of the subject. Christian influence on values, beliefs, and practices in Western Culture are abundant and well ingrained into the flourishing society of today, as noted by Schmidt.

The book’s greatest weakness is also its greatest strength. Its contents are a survey of Christianity’s influence and therefore not as extensive as some would like. But because it is condensed in the manner it is, though it can hardly be called limited, it is easily accessible to the layperson. Homeschoolers will especially appreciate its layout and substance.

That is is well researched and heavily footnoted is a plus. As I’ve grown in my understanding in theology and biblical law, I’ve looked back on the book and not as readily agreed with some of its conclusions but it served me well. It is well rounded and engaging and keeps the reader’s interest.

I hold it in high regard as a well-written and informative publication that needs to be readily read by others.

Its shortcomings could be recalled simply by preference of its readers. And this is not so much a weakness but as a difference in opinion. That the book is engaging, informative, and well researched should far outweigh any perceived weakness on the part of an individual reader.

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CONCLUSION

History books are filled with the rich details of men and women whose lives were changed by Jesus Christ and impacted the world through ideas found in Scripture in a wide array of disciplines. To deny the influence of Christianity on Western Civilization is to deny history altogether. Although at certain times there loomed dark areas in church history by those who deviated from the faith the overall positive contributions far outweigh the negative.

There is no mistaking the fact that Christianity has changed the world for the better, Alvin J. Schmidt, in his book ,How Christianity Changed the World, gives us a great resource in order that we may understand and embrace how all-encompassing Christianity is and how it truly reflects how faith applied will turn the world upside down, piercing the darkness and bringing so great a light into a lost and broken world.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “On the basis of the historical evidence, I am fully persuaded that had Jesus Christ never walked the dusty paths of ancient Palestine, suffered, died, and risen from the dead, and never assembled around him a small group of disciples who spread out into the pagan world, the West would not have attained its high level of civilization, giving it the many human benefits it enjoys today.” (p. 14) 
  • “The liberty and justice that are enjoyed by humans in Western Societies and in some non-Western countries are increasingly seen as the products of a benevolent, secular government that is the provider of all things. There seems to be no awareness that the liberties and rights that are currently operative in free societies of the West are to a great degree the result of Christianity’s influence.” (p. 248)
five-stars
By | 2018-03-02T20:04:52+00:00 February 17th, 2018|

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