Compact Guide to World Religions, The
by Dean Halverson
Working with Bill Jack is a lot like working with an elephant. Most the time, elephants are slow-moving and seem fairly mild-manneredóbut itís best not to be in their path when theyíre aggravated.
Recently I found myself in the path of a rampaging Bill when he discovered that I recommend Dean Halversonís excellent book The Compact Guide to World Religions as one of Worldview Academyís top ten works for understanding worldviews. Was Bill upset because the book was poorly researched or unclear? Not at all. Bill will be the first to tell you that it is a terrific book, accurately describing false worldviews and consistently contrasting them with the Christian worldview.
Why, then, was I in danger of being mangled and left for dead? Because one of Halversonís contributors made the fatal mistake of including, in his bibliography, a book by Hugh Ross.
For those of you who know Bill, I need say no more. For those who donít, letís leave it at this: Bill views Ross the same way elephants view lions.
And I agree. Christians shouldnít read Rossís books (unless it is in the interest of debunking his arguments). Christians certainly shouldnít be recommending that non-Christians read Ross. Ross has done a great deal of damage to the historical Christian position, and his epistemology is awful. The less notice taken of Rossís work, the better.
What I tried to explain to Bill was that Ross didnít write The Compact Guide to World Religions. He didnít contribute to it, he didnít proof-read it, and as far as I know he has never read it. One contributor made one questionable inclusion in his bibliographyóend of story.
As for the rest of the book: youíll love it. The Compact Guide is divided into chapters that each deal with a different worldview, including Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. The writing is generally strong and always direct. More importantly, the contributors demonstrate genuine concern for reaching out to people trapped in these bankrupt worldviews. Evangelism is strongly emphasized.
Such a work cannot touch all the bases, but it certainly focuses on the right areas. Instead of bogging down in minutia, The Compact Guide highlights the key distinctives of rival worldviews: the places where Islam, for example, differs significantly from Christianity. This comparison is then encapsulated in helpful charts that in turn can be used as teaching tools for leading students in discussions about various non-Christian worldviews.
The bottom line, simply, is that this is a reference work that you canít afford to ignore. Just donít let Bill see you reading it.
-by Jeff Baldwin