Every so often a book comes along which forces the reader to come to terms with how mediums such as print, lecture, and music have become satanically influenced. Such books leave one saying, “I had no idea” and asking questions such as “How did that happen?” One such book is Pastor Kevin Swanson’s “Apostate; The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West”. Swanson writes of a battle. Methodically, he shows how western civilization’s foundations have shifted from that of certain definitive Christian values towards a godless, self-satisfying, and humanistic value system. Swanson’s book shines a spotlight on the men that he believes are at least partly responsible for the demise and downfall of the Christian west. In his own words, Swanson describes the battle through the following description. “The crux of the worldview conflict which has ravaged the culture and entered the foyer of the Christian church in the third millennium A.D. is the denial of God’s right to be God, and the usurpation of that right by man. In a word, it is a life and death struggle over sovereignty. Who will be sovereign—man or God?”
It is important to understand the point of view from which Apostate was written. Swanson refers to the men who “destroyed the Christian West” as apostates. An apostate is defined as a person who forsakes or departs from their religion, principles, or cause. Swanson’s book deals with the religious departure of these men. Swanson’s approaches these men and their departure from the perspective that these men possessed a Christian upbringing and point of view that they later walked away from. Swanson, throughout his book, refers to these men as Nephilim, a reference to the tribe of pre-diluvian men who come from the ungodly union of the sons of God and daughters of men referenced in Genesis 6. He says of the Nephilim, “These were men with tremendous character, but with an evil twist. The strength of a godly heritage was used for foul ends.” As the book unfolds, this statement takes on a prophetic importance. Swanson describes the process of Western civilization’s devolution that in essence becomes the outline for his book. He says that intellectual philosophers developed humanistic ideas that were revolutionary to their time period and began make them a part of their own lives. Swanson then goes on to say that the great writers and authors pulled these revolutionary humanistic ideas into their literary works which in turn were taught in classrooms from high schools to major universities. He writes, “there is no better way to radicalize nations with new ideas that by infiltrating the educational systems.” The final step in this process is today’s mass media propagating the revolutionary humanistic philosophies. Again, Swanson writes, “much of present day perspectives and attitudes, culture, media, family life, and education are rooted in the destructive ideologies of the 18th and 19th centuries”.
In part one, Swanson defines gives his definition of apostasy. He also explains the terminology that will use throughout the book. He defines terms such as epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and truth. He introduces the reader to the Philosophical Nephilim and reveals their humanistic contributions. These men are Thomas Aquinas (Forming the Humanist Synthesis), Rene Descartes (Forming the Humanist Philosopher), John Locke (Forming the Humanist Theologian), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Forming the Humanist Society), Jeremy Bentham (Forming the Humanist Ethic), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Forming the Humanist Person), Karl Marx (Forming the Humanist Political State), Charles Darwin (Forming the Humanist Scientist), Friedrich Nietzsche (Forming the Humanist Psychology), John Dewey (Forming the Humanist Education), and Jean-Paul Sartre (Forming the Humanist Culture). In part two, Literary Nephilim, Swanson gives the reader a look into the lives of the “great” writers and their works to show how the revolutionary humanistic ideas made their way into the classrooms. He writes of William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck. I must admit that I had read these authors and their major works before coming to Christ and had thought nothing of their humanistic and at times atheistic viewpoints. After reading Apostate, it is clear, as well, as disappointing to see their departure from the Christian faith. In the final part, Swanson looks at how mass media has given a powerful voice and relevance to humanistic thinking. He speaks of the cultural Nephilim as being, for example, Madonna, Eminem, the Beatles, Marilyn Manson, Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, Lady Gaga, Mick Jaggar, and John Lennon as just as a few who are beating the humanist drum today in front of an ever-increasing audience of impressionable minds.
Apostate is a powerfully-written and eye-opening work. Swanson has made a way for the reader to connect the dots between the philosophers of antiquity and the major problems our world faces today as a result of their humanistic leaning and teachings. Unless we fully understand where we have come from a society we will never be able to right the ship or moral collapse. Swanson’s book also highlights man’s total depravity and natural proclivity for self-satisfaction and self-elevation. He highlights man’s need for a Savior and for the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit on our lives. He also brings to the surface the need for our faith to be our own, not our parent’s and not our pastor’s. There is an underlying challenge to pursue Christ above all else. Powerful. Sobering. Insightful. Apostate is well researched and incredibly timely. Without a doubt this book should be a must read for all church leadership and seminary students. Swanson sums up the West’s attitude in the midst of this shift toward humanistic thought when he says, “they play their video games while Rome burns.” I enthusiastically recommend.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from CrossFocused Reviews as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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