Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Shattering The Silence:

Revelations Of The Sexual Abuse Of Boys

And What To Do About It

A Review of

Cecil Murphey When a Man You Love was Abused (Grand Rapids. MI: Kregel, 2010)
256 pp ISBN 978-0-8254-3353-5

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

In spite of his track record as a veteran author -- over 100 books, several of them best sellers -- "Cec" Murphey had a very difficult time getting his latest book published. This is not actually surprising when you consider that it deals with such an explosive subject -- the sexual abuse of boys.

It also is not suprising that Murphey would be concerned about this horrendous subject: he himself was a victim of sexual abuse when he was a boy -- a fact he brings to light in this book. He thereby sets an example for what he encourages other male sexual abuse victims to do -- admit it and seek help! Part I of his book presents information on the abuse which has been occurring, the devastating effects it has on the victims, and the need for healing. Part II is particulary addressed to women wishing to help a man they love who is suffering from having been molested as a child.

There are two caveats which need to be stated here. First, the author does not "pull any punches", so that some of the material will be very difficult to read for some. For example, one thing he discusses is cases in which mothers have sexually abused their sons! The second caveat is that, although Part II is specifically addressed to women, much of the advice given there is useful for anyone -- man or woman -- wishing to help a man find healing from molestation. This book should be read by everyone -- male and female -- not just by women. The wording of the title should be altered to reflect that fact. Also, in this regard, it is noteworthy that the general remarks section, Part I, is much longer (160 pp), than the remarks specifically directed to women, Part II (only 89 pages).

I stole the first line of my title of this review from the blog Cec established to discuss this subject: Shattering The Silence. The blog address is Anyone interested in this subject -- either reading about it or contributing to it -- is welcome to visit this blog, and, if interested, share his thoughts. Anyone having suffered from this horrific sin is encouraged to share with others anything which may be helpful in gaining a better understanding of this matter and how to gain healing from it.


Dysfunctionality -- Texas Size !

The Final Book of the Defiance Trilogy

A review of

Mary DeMuth Life in Defiance (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010)
356 pp $14.99 ISBN 978-0-310-27838-2

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

A lof of things have changed during my lifetime, but one thing I think is still the same: the boast by Texans that they have the biggest of everything. Well, now, they could make a good case for producing the novel with the most dysfunctionality in it by pointing to the book under review here! The story is set in a rural Texas town and is authored by Texan Mary DeMuth who has been honing her authorial skills in portraying dysfunctionality to the max in her Defiance, Texas trilogy.

It would appear that the title of the final volume, Life in Defiance, has a double meaning. This is noted by one of the characters who says that the town should not call itself Defiance, since this appears to mean "defiance of God". Rather, it should change its name to "Compliance", meaning compliance with God". At any rate, it is clear that the reason for the dysfunctionality is defiance of the will of God. In short, life in defiance of God leads to dysfunctionality,which can only be overcome by beginning to life a life in compliance with God.

The trilogy opens with the portayal of the beautiful relationship between two young people -- Jed Pepper and Daisy Chance -- and the tragedy of Daisy's disappearance and murder. Volume two focusses on the dysfunctionality of Daisy's mother, Emory Chance, and the beginning of her redemption by God using several very unlikely persons! The final volume focusses on Jed's mother, Ouisie Pepper. God's work is also seen here but the conclusion is not like that which is found in most christian fiction. I can't say any more than that without giving away the story.

Any reader who may be overwhelmed at times with the disgusting lives being portrayed would do well to keep in mind this observation made by Chuck Colson: "Mary DeMuth has a true gift for showing how God's light can penetrate even the darkest of situations."

If you are looking for well written christian fiction which is both realistic in depicting the horrors to which sin can lead as well as the power of God to rescue the perpetrator, then Mary DeMuth's Defiance trilogy should be put onto your list.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The Value Of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age
by Forrest W. Schultz
From writers such as Cornelius Van Til, Francis Schaeffer, and R. J. Rushdoony we learn of the presuppositions and consequences of Humanism and how antithetical they are to Christianity and we learn how the Christian influence upon Western Culture has been more and more supplanted by Humanistic thought and practice. What is actually involved in this is very detailed and enormously complex, which it has to be due to the enormous complexity of God and of man and of the relationship between God and man. The amount of detail provided by these three writers and other similar scholars varies but usually there is of necessity a certain amount of simplification that is necessary for a normal sized book. For anyone who wishes a more detailed discussion of some of the particulars, I would suggest reading Charles Taylor's 800 page magnum opus, A Secular Age. It is useful in clarifying exactly what some of the terms mean, such as disenchantment and secularization, and in avoiding some of the simplistic notions of the historical dynamics. I am not inclined at this time to write a summary or review of the book -- that would be very time consuming if done properly. I would encourage you to read it for the reasons noted but you should be advised that it has its own special style and that it does not have the kind of polemical force found in writers such as the three noted above. Its purpose is not to refute or denounce or deplore humanism, but to better understand it. It also aims to produce a better understanding of Christianity.
Taylor's book was published in 2007 by Harvard University Press.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


A Look at Bryan Litfin's Debut Novel The Sword

A Review of

Brian M. Litfin The Sword (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010)
$15.99 413 pp ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-0925-4 ISBN-10: 1-4335-0925-3

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

Bryan Litfin is a theologian/church-historian who has just had his first novel published -- The Sword, which constitutes volume I of his Chiveis trilogy. The story clearly fits into the broad category of "speculative fiction", but to classify it any further is problematic. It can be regarded as science fiction in terms of background -- almost the entire population of the world is wiped out by the combination of a super-deadly new virus and advanced nuclear weaponry. The few survivors create a new civilization resembling that of the medieval period, which provides the ambience for the story, which is somewhat similar to an Arthurian fantasy, e.g. the sword referred to in the title is similar in some respects to Excalibur. BUT, there is a big difference because the disenchantment of the world, which was produced by modernity, continues into the days of Chiveis. Although the people re-created medieval structures, they did not re-create an enchanted cosmos.

This is dramatically shown in the actions of the Chiveis priests, who do not DO magic or believe in magic, but actually use explosives to cause catastrophes which they attribute to the supernatural activity of their god (Astrebril), thus indicating that the story, at least in this respect, is not really a fantasy. Because the populace is duped into thinking supernatural acts of a god have occurred, the story can be considered a fantasy in that sense, but not in terms of what really is happening. In fact, it could even be considered as science fiction -- for that age -- because at that time the knowledge of explosives had been lost and was known only to the priests who read about them in what to them were "ancient" documents. There are lots of adventures but it is not actually an adventure story, and there is some Romance but it is not a Romance novel.

One thing which can definitely be said about the novel is that it is a spiritual warfare story. Cheveis was founded under the inspiration of Satan by wicked rulers who are strongly opposed to God and who keep it a secret that many of the "ancients" believed in God and who become enraged when one of the heroes, Teofil, discovers a Bible, which leads to the formation of a small christian circle who meet surreptitiously. And the spiritual warfare is also found within this circle as well because two of the members begin propounding ideas similar to gnosticism, which was a very great danger in the early church and one which is well known to the author, who is an authority in patristics.

The story is full of fast-paced action, interesting characters, and intriguing concepts, and the unexpected. It has a dramatic ending which resolves what looked like an impossible situation and has the reader anxious to read the next volume to see what will happen next. The language and story is explicitly Christian, and the actions contain many illustrations of spiritual principles. The Lost Genre Guild regards The Sword as Christian speculative fiction, and has posted a brief notice of the book on its blog. Litfin has created a website for the book

Sunday, May 09, 2010


by Forrest W. Schultz
I have paid tribute here several times to the very helpful thought of Dr. Thomas Sowell, several of whose books and articles I have read. (I would have read them all if there were more hours in a day!) One black man who was recommended to me a long time ago as a great man and great thinker by my mentor at that time on things black (a godly and intelligent black pastor and Bible college professor and singer in Philly) was Walter Williams, who had come to my attention via learning of his book Black and Conservative. This friend, Ben Johnson, said he personally knew Williams and regarded him highly. I regret to have to say that, unfortunately, I never did get around to reading Williams -- I always have more books on my list to read than there is time available!!
But I do want to pay tribute to Williams, so I shall do so by means of this statement Williams made when he was 74 years of age --my source is the Christian World View email discussion group. If you have read Sowell, you will note the similarity -- he points out things which are going on which are horrible and little noted. Here it is:

Having recently reached 74 years of age, if one were to ask me what's my greatest disappointment in life, a top contender would surely be the level of misunderstanding, perhaps contempt, that black Americans have for the principles of personal liberty and their abiding faith in government. Contempt or misunderstanding of the principles of personal liberty and faith in government by no means make blacks unique among Americans, but the unique history of black Americans should make us, above all other Americans, most suspicious of any encroachment on personal liberty and most distrustful of government. Let's look at it.
The most serious injustices suffered by blacks came at the hands of government, at different levels, failure to protect personal liberty. Slavery was only the most egregious example of that failure. Congress and the courts supported the injustice of slavery through the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision. After emancipation, there were government-enforced Jim Crow laws denying blacks basic liberties and court decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson that reinforced and gave sanction to private acts that abridged black people's liberties.

The heroic civil rights movement, culminating with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, put an end to the grossest abuses of personal liberties, but government evolved into a subtler enemy. Visit any major city and one would find that the overwhelmingly law-abiding members of the black community are living in constant fear of robbery, assault and murder. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. homicides are committed by blacks, 49 percent of homicide victims are black and 93 percent of them were murdered by fellow blacks. The level of crime in black communities is the result of government's failure to perform its most basic function, namely the protection of its citizens. The level of criminal activity not only puts residents in physical jeopardy but represents a heavy tax on people least able to bear it. That tax is paid in the forms of higher prices for goods and services and fewer shopping opportunities because supermarkets and other large retailers are reluctant to bear the costs of doing business in high-crime areas. This government failure has the full effect of a law prohibiting economic development in many black communities.
Then there's the grossly fraudulent education delivered by the government schools that serve most black communities. The average black high school senior has a sixth- or seventh-grade achievement level and most of those who manage to graduate have what's no less than a fraudulent diploma, one that certifies a 12th-grade level of achievement when in fact the youngster might not have half that. If the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to sabotage black academic excellence, he could not find a more effective means to do so than the government school system in most cities.

Tragically, most Americans, including black people whose ancestors have suffered from gross injustices of slavery, think it quite proper for government to forcibly use one person to serve the purposes of another. That's precisely what income redistribution is: the practice of forcibly taking the fruits of one person's labor for the benefit of another. That's also what theft is and the practice differs from slavery only in degree but not kind.

What about blacks who cherish liberty and limited government and joined in the tea party movement, or blacks who are members of organizations such as the Lincoln Institute, Frederick Douglass Foundation and Project 21? They've been maligned as Oreos, Uncle Toms and traitors to their race. To make such a charge borders on stupidity, possibly racism. After all, when President Reagan disagreed with Tip O'Neill, did either charge the other with being a traitor to his race? Then why is it deemed traitorous when one black disagrees with another, unless you think that all blacks must think alike?

I hope it's misunderstanding, rather than contempt, that explains black hostility toward the principles of liberty.

Walter Williams