Book Review: Already Compromised by Ken Ham & Greg Hall

The subtitle of Already Compromised reads, “Christian colleges took a test on the state of their faith and the final exam is in.”  As a graduate of a Christian college I can’t say the results of the study were surprising or eye-opening in the least.  In fact, it was exactly what I have said for years (for the record, I graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic College in 1999 (now Palm Beach Atlantic University)).

The thesis of the book is found very early in the first chapter: “The compromise that we’re seeing in Christian colleges always centers on this: what we believe about the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture.  This is the issue.  The authority of Scripture is a central point of faith.  If you don’t get the first two chapters of the sacred text right, you cannot get the rest right either.”  The authors follow up this observation with a stern warning to parents just a few pages later, “Please understand this: if you send your students to a Christian college or institution, three out of four times they will stand in front of teachers who have a degraded view and interpretation of Scripture.”

I guess too many Christians have their heads in buried in the sand on this issue, but the fact that these authors were surprised by the issue to me is shocking.  I attended Christian school from Pre-K all the way through my undergraduate degree, and one thing I learned is that just because someone teaches at a Christian school doesn’t mean they believe what Scripture says (just like attending church and Sunday school doesn’t mean someone’s a Christian).  I encountered professors in my undergraduate degree who had a very strong Christian faith, and then I encountered others with whom I debated (argued) vigorously because their view of Scripture and Jesus was just flat-out wrong.  But I never once fooled myself into thinking that every teacher at my institution was a believer.

After dissecting the results of their study the authors set forth some suggestions for parents and students in how to prepare for life at a Christian school that may not be fully Christian. I thought they were great suggestions and I found their questions to ask a great place to start, but, again, isn’t this what good parents already do?  I know my father visited every college I was applying to and met with professors and administrators while I was meeting with people , making sure that the decision I made was one he could support (one of my professors always joked that my dad was the first parent to ever “interview” him before sending his child there!)  I know my parents are great parents and I’m very blessed to have them, but I also have other friends whose parents were (and are) just as involved in their lives, preparing them for the world.  The fact the authors have to make the suggestions they do is more a sad state on parenting in the church than it is the state of the colleges themselves.  Shoot, even if not for the noble purpose of watching out for their kids, why wouldn’t parents take significant time investigating and studying where they are going to spend more money than just about any place else – maybe even their home?!

If you have children getting ready for college this book may be worth your time to read, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it.  The study results confirm what we already know about the state of higher education: that it is generally liberal and that just by slapping the word “Christian” on something one doesn’t ensure it aligns with true Christianity (or the parent’s beliefs, for that matter).

Overall, I’ll give it 1.5/5 stars – the only reason it’s not lower is I try to reserve my lowest ratings for those books that are just down right theologically false.  For the record, I did receive a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.


Book Review: Church Diversity by Scott Williams

I’ve read and reviewed a good number of books this year and this one is certainly one of the best.  Scott Williams holds no punches in the sharing the sad reality most churches – and the American Church at large – struggle with: we are still a segregated community.

The book starts by reminding us of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement, “We must face the sad fact that at the eleven o’clock hour on Sunday morning when we stand to sing, we stand in the most segregated hour in America.”  Williams begins with this statement and then travels forward almost 50 years to paint the reality that while business, government, and education have adjusted to change the reality of segregation the church has remained largely silent.  And, white people, before you get defensive, I’ll let you know that Williams is just as critical of his own race as he is of ours.

The first chapter is spent laying the ground work and giving some history regarding Williams himself.  One of the statements that hit me square in the face was this one:

“Let me share a little more of my personal story and testimony.  I have not always been a pastor, and I have not always been a part of these game-changing movements that I’m referring to.  As a matter of fact, I spent 11 years, 44 days, and 8 hours of my adult life in the prison system.  It was as crazy as you can imagine: 8×10 cell, razor wire, bad food, pent up anger…PRISON.  Relax, I was actually a warden in the prison system.  Why does a brother always have to be in the prison system?  Unfortunately, some people did not even make it to this sentence as they said to themselves, ‘I’m not reading a book from a convict.’  For everyone else, the curious nature of human beings propelled you to read on.  Thanks for doing so.” (p30)

Throughout the rest of the book Williams lays down the reality facing us today, addresses it as the problem (sin) it is, shares stories of both success and failure as churches have addressed this issue, and lays out an outline for churches to begin working towards diversity.

If you allow it to, this book will convict, challenge, and motivate you for change.  I’m going to share one other statement from the book, this one actually quoting Pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow from San Francisco, California:

“If I had to choose one struggle, it would be around the issues of ‘color-blindness’ that many well-meaning people have.  The ‘I don’t see you as [insert ethnic group here]’ perspective, while noble, does two things that are not helpful.  One, it assumes that one’s race is something that the person wants someone to see beyond and, two, too often the ‘beyond’ we are striving for is simply a generic ‘white’ culture that, in the end, perpetuates a ‘lesser than’ understanding of people of color.” (p137)

For the record, Williams does not attack or condemn the church (either white or another racial distinction) as consciously creating a segregated institution.  He never suggests this is a direct sin of commission where people have said, “You stay away because you are [insert ethnic group]”  What he does do is come right out and say that this is a problem in the church and it needs to be addressed – whether it has been created by sins of commission OR sins of omission, whether it has been created and perpetuated by whites or any other ethnic group (I keep referring to whites because I am white).

The only criticism of the book I have is that it limits its focus to racial diversity and does not directly address issues such as worship style, age, or even income diversity.  To be fair, Williams gives a passing mention of these other areas early on in the book, but I wish more time would have been spent addressing them as well.  But over all this book hit the nail on the head in addressing the elephant in the room.  Now it’s just time for church leaders to step up and join Williams in addressing this great sin the church has perpetuated.

This book gets a solid 5/5 stars – put it on your must read list!   Please note, a complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an open and honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.

Book Review: The Fight of Our Lives by William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn

Perhaps it was the fact that I read this book shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden, but I just couldn’t get in to it.  While I am definitely on the conservative side of the political spectrum, I found this book to be just laborious to wade through.  It’s not necessarily that I disagreed with everything that was being said, it’s just that it was not very interesting to read.  The book serves in many ways as an expose on liberal policies in regards to the War on Terror, but I can’t say it contained anything I hadn’t read or heard about before (if not in specifics at least in generalities).  It was overly predictable in its content.  Beginning to read it shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden very well could have tainted my view of it, since they spent a good deal of time talking about him and in my mind I was thinking, “This is outdated since the man is dead.”  I’ll give it 1.5/5 stars over all.

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255