How I came to it: See below …
Here’s how I came to it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it came to me.
Recently in our Sunday school class a friend gave me a book. I knew her to be a commited reader of quality authors and I therefore was grateful for her thoughtfulness and generosity.
After I had read the first three pages I knew the other books I was reading would have to wait until I read this one straight through; and that’s what I did–I read it straight through.
Connections to today: Begg is an evangelical pastor in the Reformed biblical tradition. He has many enviable gifts. But I think one of his noticeable gifts is connecting ideas/patterns. For example, he takes slices of life from contemporary life and connects them to the headlines in the days of biblical history.
Brave by Faith is a walk through the Old Testament book of Daniel and the exile of some famous Jewish exiles by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar. But much more important than that is how the God of the Bible, the only true God, is bigger than political leaders, bigger than Nebuchadnezzars, bigger than contemporary temples of worship, bigger than Hollywood’s degeneracy, bigger than social media, bigger than the idol of politics, bigger than the panics of the day–the Wuhan virus, Tony Fauci’s latest pronouncements of doom, AOC’s latest tweets and selfies, Kamala Harris’ latest embarrassments, or of how most American politicians cannot wait to defend Ukraine’s borders but are determined to throw America’s wide open to cartels, fentanyl, and terror.
How does that connect to today? Simple: Pagans are in charge–humanly speaking. The West is post-Christian. The Bible Belt of America’s South is an artifact now. Most folks in Georgia are no more familiar with Scripture than someone from Vermont or from Colorado. Metaphors and stories that once were common knowledge are lost to most contemporary Americans. If one were to mention Solomonic wisdom and how to settle an argument by dividing the baby in order to discern who is lying, most folks would have no clue what you were talking about. The Bible still sells a lot of copies but seems to be seldom read, understood, and applied. All that to say, the West is decidedly post-Christian. This is one way, among many, Begg excels. He connects trends of today to what happened when similar trends occurred in history and how God reigns through it all.
Begg quotes Tim Keller, certainly no conservative thinker. Even Keller admits the West’s state of being post-Christian and overtly pagan and that pressure is being applied to any who will count the costs of standing on Scripture:
We are entering a new era in which there is not only no social benefit to being Christian, but an actual social cost. In many places, culture is becoming increasingly hostile toward faith, and beliefs in God, truth, sin, and the afterlife are disappearing in more and more people. Now, culture is producing people for whom Christianity is not only offensive, but incomprehensible (12).
Perhaps my favorite sentence:
I have several passages underlined in the copy of Begg’s book my friend from Sunday school gave me, but this sentence (okay, two sentences) is perhaps my favorite:
To paraphrase the twentieth-century writer G.K. Chesterton, when people cease to believe in the God of the Daniel’s fathers–the God who has revealed himself in Scripture–they do not believe in nothing; no, they believe in just about anything. And the only God whom the culture will not, cannot, put up with is with this God who says and shows that he is the one true God (39-40).
Who should read this?
- The Christian who needs to be reminded that times have been dark in the past, that times may continue to be spiritually dark, but that God is bigger than the darkness. There are thousands that have not bowed the knee to Baal.
- The unbeliever who senses that the moral wheels have been ripped off the train and that the cliffs are too close.
- The person who is on the fence, who is open to considering facts and following the evidence and will adjust his/her life to follow the truth.
Takeaway: If you feel viscerally that spiritual warfare is a real thing, not just a theological bromide, you, too, will appreciate Begg’s book. If you need some encouragement to stand firm in the spiritual battles you’re in, Begg’s book will likely buoy you. If you know of one who might benefit from re-learning that God is bigger than the contemporary panics, I commend this book to you. Thank you, L., for the book. It’s now all marked up, underlined, and tabbed. Grateful for your thoughtfulness and for the gift of Begg’s reminder that God is still king and that his judgment is real.