A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

If you’re like me, you appreciate learning about and living by the wisdom of others. Many Christians, past and present, serve as examples for us. One such thinker is also one of my favorite writers and journalists, Dr. Marvin Olasky. His articles, especially his book lists, in World Magazine always draw my attention. A couple of years ago he even highlighted my book God among Sages.

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Olasky (born 1950) was educated at Yale University and the University of Michigan. He is the editor-in-chief of World magazine and is the distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College. Olasky is the author of more than twenty books including The Tragedy of American Compassion (1992) and World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life (2017). He is a convert to Christianity from atheistic Communism.

In an interview with the Gospel Coalition,1 Olasky was asked the following question: “What are you learning about life and following Jesus?” The quotes below are his answers. I include my own analysis of Olasky’s responses.

#1 On the Essence of the Gospel

  • “God saves sinners.”

Olasky’s quote here comes from evangelical theologian J. I. Packer and reflects what Packer calls “one-point Calvinism.” Whether one is theologically Reformed or not, this pithy statement that Olasky relays reflects the summarized core of Christianity’s soteriological message. God redeems sinful people through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Salvation is a gift of grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

#2 On the Sovereignty of God

  • “God’s in charge, we are not.”

God as the sovereign Creator and Lord is providentially in control of all things. Olasky’s concise expression likely reflects a Christian’s common experience of thinking they are in charge of their lives—the so-called “masters of our own fate.” But suffering quickly reminds believers that God alone is in charge. The biblical doctrine of God’s sovereignty can be a great comfort to people who face difficulties of all types.

#3 On the Christian Influence on Culture

  • “Be salt, not sugar or vinegar.”

Followers of Christ are called by their Lord to be salt and light to the culture in which they live. Salt is a preservative and can keep meat from spoiling. So believers can help to preserve culture from moral and spiritual decay. Olasky contrasts salt with sugar and vinegar. Christians can err by being too sweet (accommodating) and too bitter (confrontational) in relating the gospel to people and culture. Being moral salt and spiritual light is the believer’s goal.

#4 On Depicting the World

  • “Practice biblical objectivity.”

Olasky’s trade is journalism. In his critical vocation “biblical objectivity” refers to working to depict the world as it is in reality. The Christian definition of truth is that which corresponds to reality. Olasky thinks today’s conventional journalistic objectivity shows a tendency to favor blind secular materialism or, on the other hand, an acceptance of relativistic subjectivities. In an age plagued by fake news, we need more truth-seeking Christians in journalism.

#5 On Facing Death

  • “Apart from Jesus, we fear death and annihilation.”

In the secular worldview of atheistic naturalism, humans are mere mortal creatures stalked by death. On naturalism, people will die, die soon, die alone, and will remain dead forever. Physical death then brings the end of life and conscious existence. Yet the hope of the gospel is that Jesus Christ has conquered death through his historic and glorious bodily resurrection. That seminal event birthed the church and offers today’s believers courage and hope in the face of death.

Marvin Olasky is a theologically conservative Presbyterian (PCA) and his writings have influenced conservative politics in the twenty-first century. His diligence has provided all of us with plenty of Wednesday Wisdom.

Reflections: Your Turn

Are there writers and journalists that you follow? Who are they and what did they teach you? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes
  1. Ivan Mesa, “On My Shelf: Life and Books with Marvin Olasky,” The Gospel Coalition (website), February 16, 2016,
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/on-my-shelf-life-and-books-with-marvin-olasky/.

 

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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