About This Blog

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Welcome to College" (Jonathan Morrow)

TITLE: Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey
AUTHOR: Jonathan Morrow
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publishers, 2017, (416 pages).

Entering college for the first time is probably one of the most exciting time for young people. It could also be one of the most challenging and stressful periods. For Christians, there is another challenge: How to keep, let alone grow one's faith? The college environment is a place where many worldviews clash in a climate where there are more questions than answers. If untested, the unsuspecting believer might be unprepared for the onslaught of perspectives that threaten to derail their beliefs. What if there is a guide to help college bound kids prepare themselves? This is where this book comes in. There is no need to fear the challenges that are to come. Even in the midst of the many intellectual assaults, adequately trained believers would not just survive but thrive in the hostile filled secular environments. The author gives three initial pieces of wisdom to kickstart the discussion:
  1. We are not alone
  2. With freedom comes responsibility
  3. Don't take ourselves too seriously

Morrow exhorts us not to be afraid to proclaim the truth according to the Christian worldview. He provides a theological overview of the basics of the Christian faith. With these tips, the author launches into the book that covers a wide variety of topics. Theologically, he describes who God is and the differences between our convictions, our persuasions, and our opinions. He describes faith as a way we actively trust God. He looks at the sources of knowledge and gives a balanced approach between skepticism and certainty. Faith is not about abandoning but accelerating our search for knowledge. He tackles the postmodern challenges of secularism, atheism, and relativism. He spends some time going through the basics about the Bible and why it is trustworthy. Some challenging apologetics questions include:
  • What are the arguments for the existence of God?
  • Do all roads lead to the same God?
  • What about the problem of evil and suffering?
  • What about the Gnostic gospels?
  • How about science and faith? Are they compatible?
  • What about the questions on the origin of the world?
  • ...
The other half of the book tackles topics about evangelism, knowing oneself, health, financial management, dating, sex, digital culture, homosexuality, and so on. Each chapter follows a similar format. It begins with some introductory quotes from the Bible and popular quotes to prepare readers for what is to come. He shares a brief illustration or personal story followed by concise description of the issue. He then gives us some questions to ponder about critically. At the end of the chapter, he crafts a summary of the main ideas which can also be used as a quick reference for people wanting to refresh what they have read. A brief bibliography is attached at the end of each chapter. The appendices are full of meaty material for readers to use too. There are devotional readings; comparison of Christian vs secular colleges; resources for philosophy; and discussion questions. The latter is a great resource for discussion groups, which is particularly helpful for those of us who do not wish to spend more money on another book. Remember that many students do live on a tight budget.

So What?
Let me give three thoughts about this book. First, the book is designed with apologetics as a key purpose. Based on the author's interactions with many students, this is probably the single biggest need among believers to give a ready answer to the tough questions surrounding their faith. There are ample description of issues as well as ready answers to give to skeptics, doubters, and even fellow believers. By describing the issue with many examples, students would find this book an excellent resource to help them craft an intelligent response to issues they might encounter from time to time. Second, it is a comprehensive guide and handbook for the believer's own spiritual life. I am amazed at how much material the author is able to cram into a slightly over 400 pages. Thankfully, the table of contents describe the issues clearly to be used as a quick reference. There is a chapter on spiritual formation which I thought is refreshing. Students face lots of academic pressure to perform and this could tempt students to skip their devotional time with God. We need to avoid the temptation of studies or education becoming an idol. Many modern educational institutions do not teach the most important thing: Values. It is in following Jesus where we will gain a deeper understanding of what true education really means. Education must prepare one for life, not cramming information into minds. Other areas of spirituality include discovering God's will personally; being disciplined about money; and even dealing with sudden loss. Third, this is a very practical guide which can be immediately applied into the life of the student. It is one of the best one-volume books about Christian Living for the Student's Soul. I remember my undergraduate days where I too grapple with many of the issues highlighted in the book, but lack an intelligent response due to lack of theological training or knowledge about the subject. I had to depend on advisers, friends, and staff workers with various parachurch organizations. I wish I had this resource then.

All in all, I am quite happy to recommend this book to students, student ministry workers, parents of college students, and anyone seeking to mentor another student.

Jonathan Morrow has authored several books including Questioning the Bible and Think Christianly. He is adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University and Director of cultural engagement at Impact 360 Institute. He can be reached online at jonathanmorrow.org.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Kregel Publishers without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment