“How to” Manual for Christian Life
Patricia Engler has written a most helpful and inspiring book to help post-secondary students, and in fact everybody, deal with a constant barrage of secular messages, especially in science. Her objective, and hopefully the objective of all of us, is to “know, defend and live out the truth of God’s Word.” Her book is aimed specifically at the post-secondary student, but it is suitable for every Christian. She also discovered, as a result of a six-month trip around the world to consult Christian students in many diverse countries, that while Christians in these cultures face a variety of challenges, the solutions are largely the same. So, what are these solutions? Patricia has penned this book to share those solutions with us.
The first step, naturally, is to discover what challenges one faces. For a start, all Christians who engage with their culture, are bound to encounter convincingly presented messages that challenge a biblical worldview. These include museums, zoos, aquariums, movies, books, nature shows, kids’ media, news stories, magazines, science centres and national parks.
Patricia then describes the intellectual atmosphere at a modern post-secondary institution. In such an atmosphere, where most people are supportive of unbiblical views, it would be easy to be overwhelmed. It is certainly tempting to compromise one’s faith with the pervasive intellectual atmosphere. However, it makes a huge difference whether one’s authority is God’s Word or man’s word. For example, if we accept the concept of millions of years of world history, then we need to accept man’s word over God’s Word in several major areas. Even if we don’t mean to, we are basically saying the Bible is wrong.
Much modern philosophy comes from a humanist spiritual agenda which takes its inspiration from evolutionary teaching. In addition, evolution is linked to other man-made teachings including Eastern mysticism. Even many Christian educational institutions actually promote evolutionary doctrines that contradict the gospel. This is true even on a global scale. To avoid compromise therefore, it would be best to begin your courses already armed with suitable defensive strategies. What every person needs is strong spiritual, intellectual and interpersonal foundations.
The author then shares with us the kinds of foundational tools one needs to face the world. Firstly, she discusses how one must work at and develop strong spiritual foundations including prayer and Bible study. Remember your confidence that God’s Word is true. Scripture stands up to scrutiny. Next, she discusses intellectual foundations. In this context she declares that apologetics training is a ‘must have’ for any Christian in a secular classroom and culture. This includes training in spotting faulty logic, psychological manipulation and the confusion of facts with opinions. Lastly one needs lots of Christian support: friends, campus groups, church and maybe even mentors.
After all this, Patricia brings us into an actual classroom where messages that challenge a biblical worldview are bound to confront us every day. Based on her own personal experience, she shares with us how to deal with these situations, starting with “Don’t panic.” In this context she demonstrates how to catch many common fallacies. Among common persuasive techniques the world uses are the appeal of fitting in with one’s peers (conformity); the appeal of agreeing with the ‘experts’ (authority); the subtle pressure to believe an oft repeated statement (repetition); and the appeal of situations described in emotional terms (sympathy).
It may seem like a daunting task to undertake this preparation that Patricia describes. Most people find any instructional manual daunting. But Patricia succeeded in her objectives and others have too. The critical issue is forming the intent to survive your education with faith intact. God gave you talents which you should certainly develop. Whether you want to be a doctor, nurse, engineer, or whatever, you need to undertake post-secondary training. With God’s help you too can use the benefits of your training to be the salt of the earth.
Patricia Engler. 2021. Prepare to Thrive: a survival guide for Christian students. Answers in Genesis. 295 pages.
CSAA recommends that as an excellent tool to provide understanding of scientific issues, one makes use of the on-line free resource HeadStart. It provides non-technical definitions and the significance for creation of major terms in biology and fossils and geology.
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