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The Last Christian on Earth: Uncover the Enemy's Plot to Undermine the Church

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The “gravedigger thesis” can be put simply: The Christian faith contributed decisively to the rise of the modern world, but has been undermined decisively by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith has become its own gravedigger. In the 25 years since philosopher and social critic Os Guinness first published The Gravedigger Files, much has happened: the f The “gravedigger thesis” can be put simply: The Christian faith contributed decisively to the rise of the modern world, but has been undermined decisively by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith has become its own gravedigger. In the 25 years since philosopher and social critic Os Guinness first published The Gravedigger Files, much has happened: the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of the computer age, the re emergence of China and India, the rise of Islamic terrorism, and the worldwide revitalization and politicization of religion. But the central mystery of Dr. Guinness’s “spy novel”—inspired by his affection for John le Carré thrillers—remains unsolved: Can Christians regain the full integrity of faith in Christ while fully and properly engaged in the advanced modern world? This new edition of The Last Christian on Earth, which includes previously unpublished “top-secret memos,” is Dr. Guinness’s parable about the future of the Christian church in the West. Written in the grand tradition of le Carré, Fleming and Clancy, this thriller pays homage to the genre while transcending it—because the real-life ending has yet to be written!


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The “gravedigger thesis” can be put simply: The Christian faith contributed decisively to the rise of the modern world, but has been undermined decisively by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith has become its own gravedigger. In the 25 years since philosopher and social critic Os Guinness first published The Gravedigger Files, much has happened: the f The “gravedigger thesis” can be put simply: The Christian faith contributed decisively to the rise of the modern world, but has been undermined decisively by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith has become its own gravedigger. In the 25 years since philosopher and social critic Os Guinness first published The Gravedigger Files, much has happened: the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of the computer age, the re emergence of China and India, the rise of Islamic terrorism, and the worldwide revitalization and politicization of religion. But the central mystery of Dr. Guinness’s “spy novel”—inspired by his affection for John le Carré thrillers—remains unsolved: Can Christians regain the full integrity of faith in Christ while fully and properly engaged in the advanced modern world? This new edition of The Last Christian on Earth, which includes previously unpublished “top-secret memos,” is Dr. Guinness’s parable about the future of the Christian church in the West. Written in the grand tradition of le Carré, Fleming and Clancy, this thriller pays homage to the genre while transcending it—because the real-life ending has yet to be written!

30 review for The Last Christian on Earth: Uncover the Enemy's Plot to Undermine the Church

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex Strohschein

    This is a highly readable popular-level book that explores how the Christian Church, while a pillar of progress and culture in the West, has ultimately been undermined by the modernity it initially created (the "gravedigger hypothesis"). Os Guinness devotes particular attention to the "sociology of knowledge," a field of thought and analysis often neglected by evangelicals (it seems more ink is spilled on Christianity's relationship with "hard" science, rather than social science). Guinness is l This is a highly readable popular-level book that explores how the Christian Church, while a pillar of progress and culture in the West, has ultimately been undermined by the modernity it initially created (the "gravedigger hypothesis"). Os Guinness devotes particular attention to the "sociology of knowledge," a field of thought and analysis often neglected by evangelicals (it seems more ink is spilled on Christianity's relationship with "hard" science, rather than social science). Guinness is liberal with the quips and I believe his analysis is largely on target. The book loses a star because of the "espionage" format. I find it tacky. But the larger criticism I have of this book is that precisely BECAUSE of it's format, it's hard to distinguish Guinness' own thought from that of the memorandum-writer, who is a high level operative of the Devil. The operative's tone is blustering and snide but one wonders if Guinness himself didn't delight at all in excoriating those segments of the Western Church he disagrees with. Some of the criticism I found too heavy-handed. Guinness is astute in pointing out that often people reject Christianity and Christian orthodoxy not because they think the claims logically false but because the claims "feel" false. Postmodern apologetics involves not just logic, but emotion and story as well (the Cross is the greatest story of redemption and Jesus satisfies the longing of every heart). But then Guinness doesn't take into account these "heart motives" when making his critique. His critiques come across as too cerebral. So when he lambastes modern worship or evangelicalism's use of marketing schemes, he doesn't have the charity or the understanding that these modern methods speak to people in a way that relates to their world right now (this is not to necessarily DEFEND the Western Church's appropriation of these methods, but I found Guinness to be silent on this). In general, it seems as if Guinness uninhibitedly criticizes the Church without taking into account the context of local churches, pastoral care and evangelism. Also, the appendix added in the back of the book felt awkwardly tacked on and seemed more like a teaser for "The Global Public Square" than a contribution to the rest of the book. And I think Guinness is a little simplistic with his discussion of is essentially "principled pluralism." Evangelicals claim the public square should be open to religious expression, but I have never seen these thinkers explain how Christians are to interact with other individuals whose core convictions are driven by a non-Christian faith (i.e. should Christians support Sikhs who want to take kirpans to school? Or what about the West's value of feminism and the practice in conservative Islam of women wearing niqabs?).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    As soon as it mentions the screw tape letters, I knew I would not like the style of writing. Some points are interesting, but majorly a forceful read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    It took me a while to figure out if the concept behind this book is clever or just cheesy. In the forward Guinness credits John le Carré's "depictions of the grey world of intelligence" as his inspiration and being a fan of le Carré myself, I took a sympathetic position. It does make for an interesting way of presenting a mountain of otherwise pure sociological facts and theories. Having grown up in a Christian family in a secular world I'm familiar with the lamenting of decreasing influence of It took me a while to figure out if the concept behind this book is clever or just cheesy. In the forward Guinness credits John le Carré's "depictions of the grey world of intelligence" as his inspiration and being a fan of le Carré myself, I took a sympathetic position. It does make for an interesting way of presenting a mountain of otherwise pure sociological facts and theories. Having grown up in a Christian family in a secular world I'm familiar with the lamenting of decreasing influence of Christianity on culture. For that reason it is interesting to read a detailed explanation of where and how the church has gone wrong. The Gravedigger Thesis is an intriguing idea, that Christianity is what created the climate that allowed for the rise of growing pluralization, rationalization and secularity that now threatens to overwhelm it. Guinness packs a lot of information into this short book. I enjoyed the way it forces the reader to step back and examine culture from an outsider perspective. An equal part critique of culture and the modern church, Guinness provides an insightful glimpse at Christian faith in its modern context and how it has gone wrong and how it could right.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I began reading this book, and then switched to skim it. As much as I enjoy Mr. Guinness' work, this particular writing style was uncomfortable for me to read. I began reading this book, and then switched to skim it. As much as I enjoy Mr. Guinness' work, this particular writing style was uncomfortable for me to read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    This was a very good book although the format will turn some readers off. It really ought to be read far more than it is, especially by pastors and Christian educators. I hope to summarize/review it in the future...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott Kennedy

    Very interesting read. Started off well, I felt it petered out as it went along.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy & Bob Beasley

    Sharper Than A Razor Blade In the mode of CS Lewis’s “Screwtape”, Guinness slices into the postmodern American evangelical Church with wit and clarity. Where are we going and why, and how do we get back on track? God is sovereign and He’s seen all this before, yet in different times and different ways.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Raffi

    The reason I gave this three stars is that the language of the author and the sentence structuring is too complicated. What complicates further is the third-person character through whose voice the author sometimes speaks. The subject matter is quite important and the author is very qualified. I've heard his messages much clearer and this book did cut through for me. The reason I gave this three stars is that the language of the author and the sentence structuring is too complicated. What complicates further is the third-person character through whose voice the author sometimes speaks. The subject matter is quite important and the author is very qualified. I've heard his messages much clearer and this book did cut through for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mano Chil

    Always a pleasure to pick Os’s mind.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ben Howard

    CREATIVE BOOK BUT DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Frank Peters

    This is a book that is filled with useful and though provoking ideas and statements. While I really like, and respect the author, this book was not pleasant reading. The very nature of the book was a series of warnings and was rightly so, highly negative in tone. Such a tone was completely justified, given the insight provided. However, the book did relatively little to provide help or encouragement regarding how we can make a difference, and not get sucked into the dangers portrayed. My favouri This is a book that is filled with useful and though provoking ideas and statements. While I really like, and respect the author, this book was not pleasant reading. The very nature of the book was a series of warnings and was rightly so, highly negative in tone. Such a tone was completely justified, given the insight provided. However, the book did relatively little to provide help or encouragement regarding how we can make a difference, and not get sucked into the dangers portrayed. My favourite part of the book was the appendix: An Evangelical Manifesto.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    "The Last Christian..." is a new (2010) version of the earlier 'The Gravedigger Files" (1983). The book is written in a manner which will remind some of Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters." This works to allow the presentation of the author's thesis while avoiding what might otherwise amount to didactic overload. This was a good move on the author's part and serves well his intent to identify and explain various aspects of the cultural subversion of the Church in the West. I found most of the presen "The Last Christian..." is a new (2010) version of the earlier 'The Gravedigger Files" (1983). The book is written in a manner which will remind some of Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters." This works to allow the presentation of the author's thesis while avoiding what might otherwise amount to didactic overload. This was a good move on the author's part and serves well his intent to identify and explain various aspects of the cultural subversion of the Church in the West. I found most of the presentation to be spot on. There has been quite a bit of change on the Christian landscape over the 32 years since the original version much of which would seem to make the author a prophet and certainly justify this new version which itself points to yet more change as we move into the future. The book left me thinking about why European evangelicals are so much more sensitive (read: open) to issues and concerns of social justice than are their American brothers (and sisters)?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Ligon

    This is a very thought provoking book. Its layout is similar to "The Screwtape Laters" in that it consists of a series of memos written from an anti-Christian perspective, and thus is designed to give Christians a glimpse into Satan's strategies. I took a ton of notes from this book. The first chapter states the book's basic premise: that as the church has embraced the modern world, it has destroyed itself. Following chapters analyze the processes of rationalization, secularization, privitizatio This is a very thought provoking book. Its layout is similar to "The Screwtape Laters" in that it consists of a series of memos written from an anti-Christian perspective, and thus is designed to give Christians a glimpse into Satan's strategies. I took a ton of notes from this book. The first chapter states the book's basic premise: that as the church has embraced the modern world, it has destroyed itself. Following chapters analyze the processes of rationalization, secularization, privitization, pluralization, and consumerism, among other things. Os Guinness also spends time dealing with the inherent dangers of both conservatism and liberalism. Overall, this book provides an excellent bird's eye view of the changes that have been rampant in Christianity and culture over the past couple of centuries. Even if you disagree with Guinness on a particular subject, he will make you think! This book is definitely a worthwhile read for every Christian.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric Lazarian

    Not surprised that I loved this one, since the earlier "version" of the work: "The Gravedigger Files" was also an old favorite. It's written along the style lines of C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" but Guinness looks at big picture issues as well as issues on the level of the individual and he deals with believers and non-believers alike of all stripes. If you enjoy L'Abri lectures or if you like to look at the consequences of ideas and their varied applications to real-world situations in c Not surprised that I loved this one, since the earlier "version" of the work: "The Gravedigger Files" was also an old favorite. It's written along the style lines of C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" but Guinness looks at big picture issues as well as issues on the level of the individual and he deals with believers and non-believers alike of all stripes. If you enjoy L'Abri lectures or if you like to look at the consequences of ideas and their varied applications to real-world situations in contemporary life and in history you will enjoy this work. If you read it as fiction alone, you might not enjoy it all that much. The story is one of ideas not of people or plot lines. The characters are only developed enough to allow the analyses to move forward. Lewis' fiction is better for those who want their fiction more well-rounded and more complete.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian Meadows

    This book was a somewhat difficult read for me. The complexity of writing from the viewpoint of the enemies of Christianity as well as some unfamiliar terminology that I had to learn as I went slowed down the reading. The book, though, was worthwhile as the process opened up new perspectives on the state of the church and the pitfalls that threaten her.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    Finding this hard to read. Quite abstract and a bit too hard to hold it all together. I'm sure there is a message in here but I'm getting lost in the double negative delivery - being the methods the enemy is using to destroy the church. Will persist to see if I can get through it. Finding this hard to read. Quite abstract and a bit too hard to hold it all together. I'm sure there is a message in here but I'm getting lost in the double negative delivery - being the methods the enemy is using to destroy the church. Will persist to see if I can get through it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael D'Offay

    This is written in the tradition of the Screwtape letters by CS Lewis. Very perceptive and dark look at the state of the current western church. Was challenged to rethink my understanding of what it means as a Christian to engage in the world while not succumbing to worldliness.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stinger

    Shockingly realistic . . . unveiled popular culture and conservative Christianity for me, a conservative Christian.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Harris

    Amazing, amazing book. It is a modern day Screw Tape Letter. I highly recommend this book!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh Sieders

    An interesting way to speak on a higher level, rather than specific critiques, about the church in America.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tony denBok

    http://marshilltop.blogspot.ca/2012/0... http://marshilltop.blogspot.ca/2012/0...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Iversenandrew

    Really thought provoking. I think this is a healthy critique for most aspects of modern Christianity and witness.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raphael A.

    A must-read book

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Wolfe

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ronald

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  27. 5 out of 5

    Valentina

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric Hoffler

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Moss

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jay Bonnell

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