If you are looking for an informative and stimulating Christian book this one is instructive, thought provoking and practical. Janet Parshall is a columnist, author and radio host. In Buyer Beware she begins by taking us back to the 1600’s and John Bunyan’s classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress. She borrows Bunyan’s Vanity Fair imagery to launch into discussions about our present public square; “Vanity Fair” was and still is a rough place. Surely Christian and Faithful would have preferred the gentle countryside that lay not far beyond the fair. After all, who really wants to go into all that messy stuff — the shouting, the stealing, the lying, the sexual promiscuity, the turning of Truth on its head?
So let’s go visit Vanity Fair together. We’ll visit the booths and see for ourselves what is being bought and sold. Come and study the counterfeit goods being offered in the public square today so that you can better know how to offer the countervailing gift of truth. (Pages, 19 and 21).
Parshall transitions to the Old Testament Jeremiah showing parallels of our present evil times and our decadent culture to Jeremiahs day. As Jeremiah had an extremely difficult time confronting his contemporaries and their sin so will we. The author takes up the life of Augustine and looks at the way that he viewed the culture through the use of two biblical passages and the model of two kingdoms. As she looks at the present market place of ideas prevalent today she discusses the role of evangelism. With all the social justice programs clamoring for the church’s attention evangelism is becoming a neglected pursuit.
Parshall looks at the national debt and materialism fueled by credit cards and deep debt and she doubles back to Jeremiah. She again creatively parallels our culture and the market place of ideas in Babylon in the times of Jeremiah.
Ever relevant, Parshall hits on the housing/real estate crisis in our country and uses it as another launching pad to uniquely discuss the biblical concept of hospitality (using our homes to minister to others), the need to find out just who our neighbors are and using the above as a means of personal growth and an opportunity for service. She has an interesting application for the concept of gardens in Scripture using the Garden of Eden and the gardens that captives in Babylon would plant. Then there are two helpful and informative chapters on marriage instituted by God Himself in Genesis.
She is quick to show how the secular press and entertainment shows distort the primacy of marriage. She affirms:
Marriage was not a concept created by government. It wasn’t an idea thought up by Hollywood writers or by romance novelists. It began in the heart and mind of God, even before sin came into the world.” (Page 72)
She goes on to map out numerous statistics in regard to the state of families and marriages today. It is really frightening to hear about the millions of new STD infections every year as well as stats on premarital sex and teen pregnancies. She looks at numbers concerning rise of cohabitation and the increase in divorces. It certainly sows dramatically that God’s ideas are better and that; “God is always right.” (Page 77). Sadly people are looking for grounds for divorce not grounds for marriage as Parshall notes.
Parshall digs deeply into the issue of abortion making an interesting parallel to the ancient Mayans. The statistics she produces are shocking especially for those claiming to be “born again” yet willing to kill their unborn child (or children). Teens are 18% of the abortion total. She spends some time looking at Planned Parenthood and their role in the abortion Holocaust. She makes a comparison with Nazi Germany. There is also interesting information on the abortion issue and a comparison with the slavery debates in the nineteenth century. Slaves had no rights
as persons and were viewed as not being fully human. Parshall elaborates more fully and in more detail.
Parshall does not worry about political correctness or side step it as she dares to wade into the tumultuous homosexual debate (Chapters 12-13) and the debate over same sex rights and the gay demands for legislation to protest any kind life style and makes these perverted practices not only protected but accepted as a favored class. This is difficult ground to tread but Parshall confronts the pick and choose approach to the Bible put forth by homosexual sympathizers (Pages 10-11). She then covers pertinent Old and New Testament passages that condemn homosexual practices, support marriage and moral living. That Jesus never spoke about homosexuality is no big gun and Parshall says it is a very weak argument from silence. There are many other sins Jesus did not mention by name since those sins were universally recognized as such. She might have added that Jesus at every juncture affirmed and upheld the Old Testament law which had much to say about all forms of immorality and evil specifically condemning homosexual practices.
Parshall introduces readers to men who made a great impact on their societies, William Wiberforce, James McPherson, William Booth. George Muller, and others. These men made a great spiritual impact on their culture.
The book then shifts to current day movers and shakers that are spawning errors, heresies and junk food doctrines. Parshall appeals to Jeremiah and his words in Chapter 29 and his flaying of false prophets, Parshall calls the modern heretics, “Voices of Deception” (Page 155). Her Hall of Shame (my term) includes Bruce Bawer, Robert funk of the Jesus Seminar, John Shelby Spong. She takes them on by interacting with their positions. Also in the line up are Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, radical feminism and Oprah Winfrey, (for a book length treatment of Winfrey’s life, career and strange views see Stephen Mansfield, Where Has Oprah Taken Us, Thomas Nelson Publishers,2011).
Are there any negatives at all in Parshall’s book? Sadly there is one that got by her editors and one would hope it will be corrected in future editions. For all Parshall’s discernment it is regrettable that there is a small discernment gap as the book favorably quotes Watchman Nee (Pages 162-163). I believe that Parshall just does not know and has probably done little or no serious research into Nee. Research shows Nee to be an elitist mystic and a neo Gnostic with parts of his writings and views being clearly heretical. He has a completely personal and subjective hermeneutic. Myths around Nee have been exposed as nothing but hagiography . For the information and documentation on Nee contact Personal Freedom Outreach, PO Box, 26062, St. Louis, Missouri, 63136, Ministry phone 314 -921 -9800 for cost and shipping.
Apart from that Parshall prepares us to understand and enter into the marketplace of ideas with tools and dialogue ideas.