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BOOK REVIEW – Against the Flow, Part 1

April 15, 2018

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” by Simeon Solomon (1863) (PD-Art, Old-100)

Acclaimed Oxford University Professor, John Lennox, has written another book with significance for Christians confronting the modern world.  Against the Flow – The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism is an analysis of the biblical Book of Daniel.  Lennox finds striking parallels between the Prophet Daniel’s time and our own.

Lennox examines the Book of Daniel systematically, addressing the faithfulness of Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego), young boys forcibly transported from their homeland during the Babylonian Captivity; Nebuchadnezzar’s dream; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; the madness of Nebuchadnezzar; Belshazzar’s feast; Daniel in the lion’s den; and Daniel’s own prophetic visions [1].

In the process, Lennox discusses a variety of other topics including the flawed nature of man, the Kingdom of God, the perils of various forms of government, and the deification of man.

The Flawed Nature of Mankind

“History teaches a consistent lesson:  there is something obviously wrong with human nature…’A great and prolonged police strike, the existence of a revolutionary situation…and the exhilaration of conquest in an enemy country are likely to show up the seamy side of human nature amongst people who, cushioned and guided by the influences of normal social life, have hitherto presented a respectable figure to the world’ ” (pp. 125-126).

-Against the Flow by John Lennox

The author begins from the premise that mankind is flawed, as Christian theology teaches and history amply demonstrates.

“…[U]nrecognized flaws in human nature such as pride, cupidity, and self-centeredness can produce a dangerous self-righteousness that convinces people they are one hundred per cent right, and others similarly wrong…Christendom itself has been guilty at times of such self-righteousness, [as] when it tortured and burned heretics in a supposed effort to ‘save’ their souls.  But that attitude has also characterized…political movements, such as Nazism and Marxism, with their vast toll on human life” (pp.126-127).

-Against the Flow by John Lennox

John Lennox does not exempt Christians from this assessment of the flawed nature of mankind.  In fact, he warns Christians not to become self-righteous.

“There is a deep flaw in human nature, but humans still perversely insist on placing their faith in it…[T]he only satisfactory answer to man’s flaw is God’s supernatural power…” (pp. 128, 132).

-Against the Flow by John Lennox

John Lennox drives home the point that human beings persist in their error, that pride leads them to judge God by human standards.

The author explores how the failure to believe in God actually corrupts reason, as reflected – among other things – by degenerate imagery in art and entertainment.

The Kingdom of God

“…[W]e are not to think of the kingdom of God…as a new member of the sequence [of world empires] to be added on at the end.  In particular it is not a final stage of world government, reached by advancing human experience and wisdom…Yet throughout history it has been all too common for people professing Christianity to think that the system of government that happened to be in power…in their era was nothing less than the kingdom of God on earth” (p. 115-116).

-Against the Flow by John Lennox

John Lennox gives the Holy Roman Empire and western liberal democracy, as examples of the temptation to confuse a prevailing government with the Kingdom of God.  The latter, of course, has particular bearing for us.

The author compares absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, democracy, and totalitarianism.  In so doing, he confirms that atheism in the form of communism has been responsible for more carnage than all religiously motivated conflicts.

The Deification of Man

“Even though there is a drive to relativize absolutes, men and women cannot live without them.  So they eventually take something of relative value and absolutize it.  That is, they regard it as the core value that determines their attitude to everything else.  From time immemorial the obvious candidates have been the state, power, wealth, and sex” (p.137).

-Against the Flow by John Lennox

Lennox warns that mankind is not advancing toward some exalted evolutionary ideal.

Like modern industrialized nations, Babylon was searching for its identity in cutting edge scientific and technologic advancements.  The kingdom fell when God’s patience with its blasphemy and immorality reached an end.

We ignore the lesson at our peril.

[1]  The Babylonian Captivity was the 70 year period in Jewish history during which the temple of Solomon was destroyed, and captives from the Kingdom of Judah were taken to Babylon.  The Kingdom of Israel had already been taken into captivity by Assyria in 722 BC.  After the fall of Babylon, Cyrus the Great of Persia formally permitted Judean captives to return home in 539 BC.  Biblical accounts of the Babylonian Captivity can be found in the Books of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Daniel.  The return of the captives to Jerusalem is recorded in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

The end times prophecies contained in the Book of Daniel will be addressed next week, in Part 2


From → Christian, Faith, Religion

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this Anna, and especially look forward to part 2 that deals with the prophecies of Daniel. Your statement about how our pride leads us to judge God by human standards very succinctly sums up the worldview of most of humanity.

    The world sees God as a genie in a bottle, available to anyone should you need a miracle, a financial gift, a new car or boat, or anything else we would derive pleasure from. Should none of those things appear after we have rubbed the magic Biblical lamp, God must be blamed, ridiculed, and cursed for the audacity to fail us in our time of want.

    This mindset of course is nothing new, as both caretakers of Eden came to the conclusion that God does not know what’s best for us after all. For all of our advanced knowledge, I’m afraid it is all for naught because when it comes down to what really matters, we are stuck at the starting gate.

    Have a great day!

    • I’m so glad you liked the post, Ron. I always value your judgment. Sadly, as you say, mankind has not progressed since Daniel’s time or Eden.

      I highly recommend the book. I am far from an expert on biblical prophecy, so I wanted to deepen my understanding. Lennox writes in such a clear manner that difficult material is easy to grasp.

      • I might just buy this book for myself after reading next weeks review. I just checked and I’m about two dollars short in my Apple acct to buy the book so by next week I should be able to scrape together so,e funds to purchase it 🙂

      • Sounds good. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the review Anna!
    Against The Flow, sounds like a great book.. I await Part 2 !
    Throughout the Bible we see the rewards of following God, not man..

    3 John:2 🙂

    • Sadly, many Christians today expect to receive those rewards in material form in this life.

      • No eye has seen, no ear had heard what the Lord has in store for those who love Him 🙂

  3. Keith permalink

    This is an insightful review that I really enjoyed reading. Give me a follow on my atheist blog at to support me for free!

    • Thank you for stopping by.

      • Keith permalink

        It’s my pleasure. Although I feel pure sympathy and sadness when I read of your past abuse.

      • You are very kind.

      • Keith permalink

        But it’s also my duty to show compassion and sympathy to others.

      • That is certainly an honorable attitude! I might even say Christian (Col. 3:12). 🙂 Of course, the pain of the abuse drove me to atheism. For years, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen that there is no God. I now deeply regret the time spent away from Him.

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