JRF's #43 - Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff by Stephen Altrogge

This book by a Sovereign Grace pastor is like having a motivational speaker in paper form.  It's not incredibly deep, and the content is not overly original, but what is said is said enthusiastically, optimistically, helpfully, and clearly.  Altrogge reminds his readers that part of being created in the image of God is that we all have the ability to create and that this ability is given to us in order to bring praise to God, not ourselves.  Since worship is the motivation, we can be free from the hindrance of fearing what people think of our creativity.  And as we continue to be faithful in flexing our creative muscles, we will often improve the quality and efficiency of our creations.

Altrogge also confronts other excuses we often give for not starting or finishing creative projects, like laziness, doubt, and business, showing from Scripture why those are not legitimate reasons for neglecting and failing to foster what talents and passions God has given us.

As someone who struggles with all of these excuses, and as someone who firmly believes that Christians need to once again be a meaningful voice - if not the dominant, trailblazing force - in culturally important sectors such as art, exploration, and literature, this book was a great little reminder and motivator.


Ron’s #29: Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcy


I love Nancy Pearcey and will read everything she writes. Last year, Total Truth was one of my top picks, and I think that Saving Leonardo will be one of my picks for this year as well.

We are reading and discussing this book in Apologia, and it is a perfect work to use on worldviews. Pearcey is clear, interesting, and smarter than you are! Saving Leonardo expands on/clarifies/details her two-story model of truth that she discussed in Total Truth. She shows how a variety of worldviews fragment truth into two parts: facts and values. The lower story, facts, is the “real” truth (“Science is ultimate authority”), while the values part is relegated to the less meaningful, less truthful top half (“That’s fine for you to believe, but…”). This division is contrary to the Christian worldview of a unified truth, with facts and values all the weight of its “truthiness.” Jesus Christ rose from the dead in history, AND He offers hope and eternal life for those who believe. The Christian worldview is unified in its view of personhood: the body AND the person is all human, contrary to pro-abortion views that the body may be present but it is not a person yet. The Christian worldview is unified in sexuality, stating that our gender and our physical body are one; one informs the other. Some on the extreme today would state that you can be whatever gender you like regardless who you are physically equipped with. If I want to act as a woman, great! These are divided truth splits, and therefore not truth at all.

Saving Leonardo also offers a crash course in art history, an area that is lacking from my education. I appreciated reading about worldviews and how they are reflected in a variety of art, both classic and modern works. Just for the art history overview, this book is worth its price.

This is a weighty book, both in content and in gravitational pull. It is worth your effort to spend time with Nancy Pearcey.


I want to offer the questions I wrote for our group discussion on chapters 1-5. If you are interested in the questions for the remainder of the book, please ask.

  1. Why is knowledge of worldviews important to you as a Christian? What are some key areas that the biblical worldview is antithetical to the worldviews of our society? Do you agree with Pearcey that “people are hungry for alternatives to the dominant secular worldviews” (22)?
  2. Before understanding the rest of the book, we must discuss the two-story concept of truth, a major premise of this work.  How is this is a good model to understand prevailing worldviews? (26)
  3. Explain the method that Kunkle uses to discuss objective versus subjective truth  (29-31). How could this add to our conversations with others ?
  4. Josh McDowell states that he noticed a change on university campuses in how students challenge his claims for Christianity. They used to say, “Prove it…Give me some evidence.” Now, they respond with, “What right do you have to say that?” What does this change say about the audiences and culture? (31)
  5. How would you respond to the challenge stated regarding Christian missionaries?  “Why don’t you Christians respect other people’s beliefs and cultural traditions? Why do you think yours are superior? You have practiced cultural genocide, wiping out entire cultures in your imperialistic ambition to remake everyone in your own image” (33). What are some underlying worldview ideas in these objections?
  6. How does the fact/value split apply to discussions on abortion, homosexuality, and gender? (Chapter 3)
  7. What did you find new and/or unique in the discussions of art and worldview in chapter 4?
  8. Kant’s dualism split nature (facts) and freedom (ideals). Pearcey shows that this leads to Bible stories becoming merely object lessons for us, even if they are not true. This split leads to the “two opposing streams” in philosophy (96). Discuss what we know about these two.
  9. What are the worldview differences in the three representations of the assassinations of the monks? (108-110).
  10. Using one of the many pieces in this chapter, show how worldviews are connected to art.
  11. Pearcey reminds us that “Christians should speak out on moral issues not because they feel ‘offended’ or because their ‘cherished beliefs’ are threatened, but because they have compassion for those who are trapped by destructive ideas. Their motivation should be that they are compelled by the love of Christ (2 Cor 5:14)” (68).  How well does this describe you? How can you improve in this area?



Ron’s #4: Word Pictures by Brian Godawa (208 pages)

A subtitle can say much about a book: “Knowing God through Story and Imagination.” Word Pictures is written by the screenwriter of the movie, To End All Wars. Mark gave me the recommendation for the movie, and I really enjoyed it. I then heard Godawa on a recent edition of the Stand to Reason podcast, and I was eager to hear more about how a Hollywood writer and director explores the theme of story and the Gospel.

This book was a fun look at how art is used in the Bible to communicate eternal truths. Godawa addresses the difference between word versus image, and how since the Reformation the leaning is toward word and logic over image and beauty, a fact that he finds incongruent with the Bible. He plea is for readers to embrace the idea that God cares about art and aesthetics, and not just giving doctrine. Story and image, he says, are both important to God. While I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure I agree entirely with the premise. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). I do think that beauty is important, but I get nervous when I see the conclusions that people make, such as having someone up front painting as the sermon is given, as though it is a spirit medium channeling some new, colorful revelation. That becomes too carnival-like, like those guys in every European city who want to sketch my caricature.

The two strongest chapters in the book, and ones worth revisiting, are “Literal versus Literary” and “Subversion.” The first addresses some who are too focused on literal interpretation even when it is not intended to be read as such. This “literalism” produces a weaker view of the Bible (here is where Dispensationalists go wrong). The second chapter is how to subvert culture to address Biblical concepts, much like how Paul reinterpreted his milieu to address Mars Hill in Acts 17. Both chapters offer the clearest points of Godwin’s treatise.

The weakest area of the book deals with image itself. He chose to use different fonts for each chapter, along with silly, clip art throughout. These images—both in font and picture—detract from the word and cheapens it. This unfortunately proves the exact opposite point that he set out to illustrate in the beginning.

If you are interested in this topic, start out by renting To End All Wars to see how word and image can work quite effectively together.