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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Providing a Biblical Blueprint for Generation Next

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

World renowned youth evangelist Josh McDowell has sold more than 54 million books in a career that has spanned more than 50 years.  Of the 77 books he has authored or co-authored, Josh says his latest, “The Unshakable Truth”, is perhaps his most important work.

Co-authored with his son, Sean McDowell, “The Unshakable Truth” is a sprawling 500 page handbook designed to help Christians understand what they believe and why.  In it, the father and son writing team unpack 12 biblical truths that define the core of the Christian belief system.

CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Josh to discuss the single most important truth in a Christian’s life, the single largest piece of evidence to prove Christ’s existence, and how you can live out your relational image of God.

This is such an extensive book that I imagine a wealth of this material comes from your 50 years in evangelical ministry.  What was the inspiration for writing this?

The inspiration was seeing how our young people are walking away from the faith. A lot of this is because of their parents. Because of the churches. They don't know truth about the most basics of Christianity. Even deacons and elders don't know them. I saw if we didn't get back to the foundation, it didn't matter how much we prayed, we will lose a number of generations. When we did a scientific study on 1,500 youth pastors, we found out the three greatest priorities and needs are, one, it is to help kids see a transformed life. Second, it is to know why they believe. They said they don't know why.  And third, to experience truth in every area of their life. That's exactly what this book is based on, and so I thought we better get back to the early Church and find out.

“The Unshakable Truth” is structured as a handbook.  Was this your intention to craft it in such a manner?

Well, initially it wasn’t. But my publisher said, “Josh, this is not a book; it’s a movement.” And then we’re going into partnership with Harvest (Harvest House Pubishers), and we’re going to create a lot of stuff around it. I just wish a pastor would take it for one year, take the 12 sections, each one’s written on the four weeks, and preach each one of those one week for one year. And you say, well yeah, but what about Christmas? Take the section on the incarnation, put it in December. What about the resurrection? Put it at Easter.

I’m not a pastor, but as I’m reading through this, I said to myself that every pastor needs to have this on his shelf.

And preach it!

You write that there are 12 unshakable truths. If you could key in on just a few, which ones do you feel are the most important?

One of the most critical is the atonement. Why did Jesus have to die? In an article not long ago, a very well known figure in the emerging church was telling how this fellow came to him and said, “Why did Jesus have to die?” He said he couldn’t answer it.

And the thing is, you can have all the prayer and everything you want, but if we’re missing “why did Jesus have to die”, the atonement, what do we have? See, here’s one of the problems. How come a loving God would allow anyone to go to Hell?  I’ve never had anyone answer that question. How can the Holy God allow anyone into His presence? No one’s ever asked me that.

Not one Christian, non-Christian, anyone. Well, if I went into a room of a 100 people and asked for whom did Jesus die, somebody would just say ‘for me’. For who else? For everyone. For who else? The elect. For who else? The whole world. For who else? No stop. That’s heresy, because why did Jesus have to die? Yes, for us, but for God the Father. And if you don’t understand He had to die for God the Father to propitiate Romans 3, the very holy, just righteous nature of God, then all your theology is going to be wrong.

In your estimation, what is the single greatest piece of evidence for God’s existence? This seems to be a central theme of your book.

I would say the resurrection. See, most people argue from God to Christ. I argue from Christ to God. If God did command, what would it be like? Well, there’s one event in all of history that shows the power over death, and if God is, then He would have power over death.  Plus, it’s what the New Testament emphasizes in one truth. If Christ be not raised from the dead then what about the atonement, if you get Christ, everything else? It’s just what faith is worthless.  Plus the resurrection is one of two or three areas that I knew if I couldn’t feel it, my case was won.

In your book, you write, “The problem of sin in the world isn’t a sociological, economic, or intellectual problem. It’s a spiritual or a heart problem.” Why do you say that?

Because what we normally look at economically, socially, and everything else is a symptom of the root cause. And the root cause is separation from God, which is caused by sin. And it’s a spiritual condition. If it comes in economic, I mean, everything. The things that persuaded me about Christianity, I studied economic theory. And before I ever knew anything about Christ or anything, I knew there was something wrong with man. It wasn’t different economic systems, Marxism, capitalism, socialism, whatever. All those involve one thing: man. There’s a problem with man. I couldn’t figure it out, until, as I was researching, I studied John 3, “Except a man be born again.” And I thought, “Ah, that’s the problem.” It’s the very nature of man, not the social condition of man. Well, I think that’s what the Bible brings out. But it’s interesting.  I came to that conclusion before I ever studied the scripture. I came to that conclusion economically.

We have 500 pages to cover in this interview and I apologize if I am jumping around. How do you live out your relational image of God? How do you do that? I know a lot of people struggle with this concept.

First, you’ve got to know what the image of God is. First, you’ve got to know what truth is. This is why Jesus said you should know the truth. You have to know, you’re commanded to love one another, to not lie. You first have to know that. Second, you have to understand, this is where Bill Bright of Campus Crusade helped me. When I was a student, he sat down, and I have a whole chapter on it. In fact, I quote Bill in here for three pages, on how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. You cannot live the Christian life apart from the indwelling presence of the power of the Holy Spirit. And then you have to understand that all truth is to be given, to be lived out in relationships. All truth is relational from Genesis to Revelation. And so then I only have to ask myself, how should this affect my love for Christ, my love for my wife, my children, my neighbor, Campus Crusade, who I worked with, the church, the pastor, the lost.

Would you say that this is the most important book you’ve ever written?

It’s pretty hard to say that when you’ve written Evidence That Demands a Verdict, which has shaped almost every single leader in the world. And More Than a Carpenter.   That has just shaped some of these people’s concepts. But I think apologetically those are my two best. Theologically, this is by far, because it takes everything I do in apologetics and put it in the context of beliefs, what you should believe and then how to experience it.

After people read this book, share this book, use it in Bible studies, what do you want people to get out of this? What do you want them to take away that will hopefully resonate in their hearts?

My prayer to God is they’ll find a refreshed love for Christ and will be authentic.  Chris, if we don’t get moms and dads, adults, who are truly authentic in their relationship with Jesus, kids will walk away, no matter if they believe it’s true. You see, for you and me, with our concept on truth, which is more modernism, is if it’s true, it will work. You see hypocrisy, say, “Well, a pastor wasn’t living the truth.” For kids, it’s the exact opposite. If it works, it is true. So they’ll look at a pastor in sexual immorality and say it’s not true. What? What the pastor teaches. Why? It doesn’t work. And when the kids will see mom and dad involved in church, but don’t see the reality of that at home, it’s very hard to get that kid to really follow Christ, because to them it’s not true. Why? It doesn’t work.

 
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