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December 22, 2001
Column #1060

''HOW NOW SHALL WE LIVE?''

     Do you know someone who gets angry with TV shows treating believers as bumbling idiots, who is sickened by the sea of pornography, illegitimacy, divorce, and venality in government?

     That person would love an epic book, ''How Now Shall We Live?'' by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey. It's the most comprehensive, richly researched and powerfully written book I've ever read to equip readers to expose false views of culture and to transform it. It is manual on how to be an activist, building a society that reflects biblical principles.

     Chuck Colson, a former aide to Nixon, went to prison for a Watergate crime and emerged to create Prison Fellowship that inspired 50,000 people to volunteer time with prisoners. He writes a column for Christianity Today and offers a daily radio commentary, Breakpoint. Colson won the $1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1993 for extraordinary leadership in advancing humanity's understanding of God.

     Nancy Pearcey has been co-author of the column and executive editor of Breakpoint which applies biblical principles to current moral issues.

     The world measures history from the birth of Jesus, but few Christians feel good about a culture in which promiscuity seems to escalate annually, disintegrating our families. America has exported this poison to the world, generating enemies and terrorists.

     What's needed, say the authors, is to show the world that Christianity ''is more than private belief, more than personal salvation.'' Rather it is a comprehensive worldview to answer profound questions: ''Where did we come from and who are we (creation)? What has gone wrong with the world (sin)? What can we do to fix it (redemption)?

     Jesus said, ''I am the way and the truth and the life.'' Christians believe He is the Alpha and the Omega, the origin and end of all things, but most of us have not brought that worldview into our work, community or government. Even institutions created to glorify God and train clergy such as Harvard and Duke, are apologists for a secular world view. 

     Colson and Pearcey identify enemies of a transcendent worldview: moral relativism in which every principle is reduced to a personal preference; pragmatism which says what works best is right, that there are no objective standards of truth; and naturalism which considers only this life while Christians see that today's choices have eternal  consequences.

     The book gives ammunition to fight those perspectives, and a winsome, effective strategy. When critics argue that Christians want to restrict the liberty of others, Colson notes the martyrs who brought down the Soviet Union, were mostly clergy who gave freedom to millions. 

     To answer the late Carl Sagan's charge that nature is ''all that is or ever was or ever will be,'' the authors cite evidence the world was (ital) designed (close ital) to support life. For example, if the earth were even slightly closer to the sun, all its water would boil away; or if slightly further away, water would freeze and landscape would be desert.

     To counter Darwin's theory that all living structures evolved in gradual steps, the writers cite evidence of the fossil record, in which different species, such as bats, suddenly appear fully formed eons ago, and are virtually identical to modern bats. Christians must become articulate on such issues. ''As long as Darwinism reigns in our schools and elite culture, the Christian worldview will be considered the madwoman in the attic - irrational and unbelievable,'' they write.

     Christians believe human life bears the divine stamp and is sacred. But a ''culture of death'' has surfaced, argues John Paul II, that attempts to justify everything from abortion to euthanasia. This naturalism rejects biblical morality and accepts any sexual coupling, plus cloning, of course.

     America's Christian founders recognized the fallen nature of mankind in creating a government with checks and balances in Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, each with limited powers. By contrast, Muslim countries are run by dictators 

     Finally, the book spotlights people living their faith, transforming the culture, demonstrating the vitality of a Christian worldview:

     Quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada finds joy in bringing dignity to the handicapped.

     AME Pastor Jerry McNeely twice weekly goes to a grim Chicago elementary school to teach science after school, motivating hundreds of kids to science careers.

     Martha Williamson is a Hollywood producer who persuaded CBS to allow her to create a show in which angels persuade people to do what God wants, in ''Touched by an Angel.''

     ''How Now Shall We Live?'' motivated Michael Craven, a corporate CEO, to take a pay cut to direct a Dallas Center for Decency to fight for a Christian worldview of Sexuality. 

     A perfect Christmas gift that could involve others with a $6 Study Guide (703 478-0100). 

Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.

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