Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Against the Flow

Against the Flow
By John Lennox
Monarch Books, 2015


A wide-ranging discussion of the place of Christianity in the public square . . .

Daniel's story is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power. It tells of four young men, born in the tiny state of Judah around 500 b.c., and captured by Nebuchadnezzar, emperor of Babylon. Daniel describes how they eventually rose to senior positions of administration.

Daniel and his friends did not simply maintain their private devotion to God; they maintained a high-profile witness in a pluralistic society antagonistic to their faith. Their story carries a powerful message for us today. Society tolerates the practice of Christianity in private and in church services, but increasingly it deprecates public witness. If Daniel and his compatriots were with us today they would be in the vanguard of public debate.

This is a lucid and erudite examination of the life of Daniel from a leading expert on faith and science. In his first biblical work, Dr. Lennox provides a unique perspective on both Western society and biblical exegesis that will make Against the Flow an instant classic encouraging Christians to speak out in our modern Babylon.

My thoughts

"Babylon is the ancient version of our secular society."

Against the Flow is a book that combines theology, apologetics, and Christian living - and I simply cannot state how powerful a book this is! Most people are familiar with the fiery furnace and lions' den stories, but not until reading Dr. Lennox's compelling book did I realize how relevant the book of Daniel is for us today.

Just like the young Daniel, we live in a pluralistic, tolerant society that is becoming increasingly antagonistic to the Christian faith. Rather than becoming paralyzed by the move toward political correctness, there is much to be learned from the pages of Daniel, and Dr. Lennox has done an incredible job in this book that informs, challenges and inspires.

Against the Flow explores the book of Daniel from theological, historical and cultural aspects. While it's not light reading, Dr. Lennox writes in a style that is easy to understand and I often found it hard to put down. There is a wealth of valuable insight - these thoughts about tolerance, for instance . . .

Tolerance asserts the right to have convictions, to make judgments about right and wrong, which differ from those of others. Tolerance does not demand that we accept the opinions, beliefs, and lifestyles of others, but only that we learn to live without forcing them to line up with us. . . . The new tolerance, however, is completely different. It seizes on the idea of offence and holds that I must not ever offend anyone else by expressing disapproval of any aspect of his or her behaviour or ideas. . . . To put it another way: the old tolerance accepted the existence of other views while disagreeing with them; the new tolerance insists on accepting the views themselves and not merely their existence.

In the introduction, Dr. Lennox writes about Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:  "Daniel's story is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power in the full glare of public life. . . . In this book we shall try to learn something about what it was that gave that ancient foursome the strength and conviction to be prepared, often at great risk, to swim against the flow in their society and give unequivocal, courageous public expression to what they believed."

Litfuse Publicity put together a wonderful interview with Dr. Lennox that is very eye-opening and informative. Against the Flow has a powerful message and I highly recommend it.

John Lennox is a fascinating teacher. Here is one of several teaching videos that are available on YouTube:

John C. Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College. He lectures on Faith and Science for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is author of a number of books on the relations of science, religion and ethics. He and his wife, Sally, live near Oxford.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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