The Test by Dean Davis

Davis, Dean.  The Test: A Seeker’s Journey to the Meaning of Life. Enumclaw: Pleasant Word, 2010.  588 pp.  $28.99.  Purchase at Amazon for $22.03 or less.

Introduction

Dean Davis was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a degree in Philosophy. Being a child of the 60’s, he plunged into the counterculture, practicing a wide variety of Eastern religions, especially Zen Buddhism. Then, in 1974, in the midst of a deep personal crisis, the God of the Bible graciously stepped in, turning a seeker into a finder, and an orphan into a beloved son, all through a life-changing revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Since then, Dean has followed the Lord down many roads, serving as a pastor, teaching elder, Sunday School director (with his wife, Linda), Christian bookstore manager, pro-life leader, and substitute school teacher. In recent years, he has greatly enjoyed working as the Director of Come Let Us Reason, a Bible teaching ministry specializing in Worldview Studies and Apologetics. He and his wife, Linda, currently reside in Santa Rosa, California.

In a very real sense, The Test is Dean’s life work. This book expounds the great themes that have filled his thoughts and engaged his heart for decades. It distills the materials offered in his seminars. It displays and defends what he believes to be the one true worldview. It exalts the One who gave us that worldview, and the One who dwells so luminously at its very center. It interacts fairly, criticially, and respectfully with competing worldviews. And it fulfills Dean’s longstanding desire to speak of these things to his own generation, a generation that he loves and longs to see revelling in the Light of Life.

Summary

At 588 pages, The Test is no joke.  It is divided into four major parts all seeking to answer the question “Is life a test?”  The book concludes with some eight appendices that are extremely helpful.  The first part of the book consists of 3 chapters and takes a general look at life from a few different philosophical perspectives.  Davis offers a discussion on the heavenly hope of nature and the conscience.

The second section looks at a search for the Teacher.  Again, he looks at various worldviews as he tries to logically whittle down the many available answers to the question which Teacher is correct?  In the five chapters comprising this section, Dean moves from a general search to taking a second look at the one Teacher that best answers all of the questions.

The third part offers what the Teacher answers as regards the questions of life.  Here, we learn what the ultimate reality is as well as the origins of everything.  He then seeks to answer what happened and why it happened and what we can do about all that took place that separated us from the goodness of the Teacher.  This section is the meat of the book as it has over 200 pages and some nine chapters.  The final chapter of this section answers the tough question of how we can find trustworthy answers to the questions of life.

The final part offers a solid gospel presentation in answering how we can pass the test we call life.  The appendices that follow are great introductions to topics such as the unity of the Bible, the Biblical worldview and comparisons of other philosophical and religious worldviews.

Review

Apologetics was my first love when it came to Christian reading.  I have a number of quality apologetics resources in my library.  The best I have read thus far is Geisler’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  I mention that book because The Test now ranks number 2 in my apologetics section.  Each book has a different emphasis.  The Test offers a critical and unbiased (though I am sure bias could be charged) look at the various worldviews from which one has to choose.  Davis systematically shows how the other worldviews are corrupt not only in their premise but in their answers as well.

With over 50 pages of end notes (I hate end notes!), Davis has researched his subject material and has offered the evidence for his claims.  Dean does a remarkable job of remaining unbiased and understanding as he meticulously guides the reader along on their journey.  At no point does he force feed anything to the reader.  Rather, he enables them to see the illogical nature and incompatibility of all other worldviews with themselves.  If your worldview is inconsistent with itself, then it is not a tenable worldview to hold. In the end, Davis shows how the Christian Worldview is the only worldview that one can hold both logically and consistently.

Recommendation

We must always be careful when reading works of apologetics lest we believe we can argue someone into the Kingdom of God.  That being said, The Test is a remarkable work in that it gently, yet persuasively (that happens when you have truth on your side!) guides the philosophical mind seeking for truth to the only Truth that matters–salvation in Christ alone.  I enjoyed the deep philosophical aspect of this work while remaining impressed with how Dean wrote in such a manner that one does not need a degree in philosophy to understand.  The Test would make an excellent resource for the high school graduate as well as the college student as that is the general time frame in which one seeks these answers.  Aside from schooling, I commend The Test to all believers and unbelievers alike.  Answers are there to be found and Dean Davis will be your guide.

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