Friday, June 20, 2014

"Begin" by Ken Ham: A Review

As a pastor, I am constantly trying to put good resources into people's hands.  Interestingly, even as a pastor in the so-called Bible Belt, biblical illiteracy is pretty serious. Most new believers are clueless as to what is in the Bible, what its all about, and how to read it.  Thus I was excited to read the new book by Master Books Begin:  A Journey Through Scriptures For Seekers and New Believers (ESV).

The book itself is simple. It has a basic introduction by Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham and is then followed by sections of Scripture from the English Standard Version. These sections include much of Genesis, John, Romans, and other important portions of Scripture  The idea is the help the reader get the "guts" of Scripture and to understand its basic story and how it presents the gospel. Throughout the book, the editors offer simple introductions to certain sections to help the reader to understand what they are about to read.

For these reasons, I highly recommend this book, but there are a couple of areas of critique that are worth mentioning.  First, I'm not sure Ken Ham is the best voice for this important project.  Ham permeates the book with his obsession with creationism and the age of the earth. I agree with much that Ham argues and have found him and his Answers in Genesis helpful (I grew up a short distance from the Creation Museum) but the work is bookended with youth earth creationism.  I understand raising the issue when introducing Genesis 1-11, but chapters 3-11 are virtually ignored because of the time dedicated to young earth creationism.

Furthermore, the conclusion that seeks to offer "Ten Basics to Boldly Proclaim a Biblical Worldview" is dominated by creationism.  Nine of the ten points regard creation.  Number 10 is about the gospel.  Frankly, a biblical worldview is dominated by the gospel. Part of that gospel story is Creation and the image of man, but is more than just creationism.

So would I recommend this book to new believers and visitors?  Maybe.  Depending on their background and understanding of some of these issues.  Even then I would encourage them to skip the introduction and much of the conclusion emphasizing the Scriptural portions available.  I love that Genesis, John, and Romans are emphasized but there is frankly too much surrounding it that is unfortunate. 

This book was given to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.
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