A Book Review
By Dr. Gayle Woods
I have great admiration for Josh McDowell, the author of “The Last Christian Generation.” I have read a number of his books. I have heard him speak. He is a tremendous scholar and a great apologist. The many books that he has authored such as, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” “More Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” “Beyond Belief to Conviction,” “The New Tolerance,” “The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers,” “More than a Carpenter,” etc. are consistently among the top titles of books on the subject of Apologetics. For over 25 years he has provoked the world to think about incidents surrounding the events of the life of Christ that can’t be explained by mere coincidence.
My interest was piqued when I first read the title to this volume. I thumbed through the book. My eyes grazed over the promising table of contents. When I was convinced that Josh McDowell would be talking about the post-modern generation I did not hesitate to purchase the book.
I was not disappointed as I read the first six chapters. Dr. McDowell spoke of the shocking reality that the Christian church is losing a generation of people. The PEERS test (Politics, Economics, Education, Religion and Social Issues) administered by the Nehemiah Institute in Lexington, Kentucky tested 20,000 students in 1,000 schools. They discovered that 85% of youth from Christian homes who attend public schools do not embrace a biblical worldview. What is even more alarming is that those attending Christian schools scored only slightly higher than their counterparts. (p. 14)
After this heart stopping look at reality, Josh went on to speak about specific problems that the church and Christian parents have overlooked. He discussed young people’s distorted view of Christianity. Sixty-five percent of our young people are not sure how to tell which religion is true. (p. 34) It gets worse. Sixty-five percent of our young people do not believe that Satan is real, and sixty-eight percent believe that the Holy Spirit is only an influence for good. (p. 38) The author then continued to pile up the evidence as he described our young people’s distorted view of truth. “They have adopted the view that moral truth is not true for them until they choose to believe it. They believe that the act of believing makes things true.” (p. 42) McDowell then described the young persons distortion of reality as being directly connected to its pragmatic value. He stated that 72% of our young people believe that “you can tell if something is morally/ethically right for you by whether or not it works in your life.” (p. 52) With this backdrop in place, Josh painted a picture of the young person’s distorted view of the church. He said that to them, the “church is boring,” it “is non-stop activity,” it certainly “isn’t the biggest influence in my (their) life or my (their) spiritual development,” it just “seems like…a series of events…,” and “it won’t help me (them) grapple with the real issues of…” their lives. (p. 58-63)
Christian leaders were asked to identify ten critical life issues if our young people are going to become “healthy and mature relationally, morally and spiritually.”
THE TOP 5 PRIORITY ISSUES
1. That my kids experience a transformed life in Christ (chosen by 84% of all surveyed).
2. That they know why they believe what they believe (chosen by 41% of all surveyed).
3. That they develop healthy relationships (chosen by 35% of all surveyed).
4. That they learn to resist ungodly influences (chosen by 23% of all surveyed).
5. That they discover how to make right choices (chosen by 18% of all surveyed).” (p. 64)
Over two thousand youth workers were then asked to identify the top five challenges facing them.
THE TOP 5 CHALLENGES
1. Developing passionate followers of Christ.
2. Making Christ and Scripture real and relevant to kids.
3. Getting kids to know-and live-the truth.
4. Helping kids combat ungodly influences.
5. Ministering intergenerationally. (p. 65)
In my opinion, to this point the information was fascinating. After that, however, I forced myself to complete the book. The author spoke of changing our educational model by revealing the God of redemption, relationships and restoration. As I read, I kept hoping that he would reveal something that wasn’t totally obvious. I accept the fact that his observations and conclusions are correct. It was presented in such an abstract, theological manner, however, that I fear it left many hopeful readers who were looking for a game plan, completely discouraged.
Josh McDowell’s final consideration has some redeeming value. He makes the case for the need to move from program-driven to process-driven ministry. This is something that we should pause to consider.
Is the book worth buying? Absolutely. Is the book worth reading? Yes. I would suggest that you give thorough attention to the first eighty-eight pages, and pages 153 – 178. I would then suggest that you scan the remainder of the book.
Dr. I.C. Holland is attributed to stating that if you get one idea from a book, it is worth the price of $12.99. You will get your money’s worth.
Josh McDowell and David H. Bellis, The Last Christian Generation, 2006. Green Key Books, Holiday, Florida, ISBN: 1932587667.