Monday, November 07, 2016

Book Review: One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd

Introduction

One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot's Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview is Jason B. Ladd's story.  Ladd's story begins at a moment of tragedy in his life.  It is at this moment that he realizes that while he may be prepared to defend his country, he is ill-equipped to lead his wife and children. So begins his greatest mission of all: a mission to find the truth.

Layout of the Book

One of the Few's 297 pages are separated into 3 parts.  As Ladd explains, "Part I offers a look into my childhood as a military dependent, and chronicles my journey as a spiritual seeker...Part II explains the importance of having a worldview capable of filtering out false teachings, harmful doctrines, and all the trappings of a sinful world...Part III uses my background in peace, war, and defense to help you prepare for spiritual warfare as I discuss searching for peace and struggling with doubt before, during, and after my decision to follow Christ." [p. ii-iv]

Strengths of the Book

This reader greatly appreciated how the author not only offered rational reasons and evidence for the Christian worldview, but he also dealt with how to live as a Christian after deciding to follow Jesus Christ.  Not only will the Christian be better equipped to defend their faith after reading this work, but they will also be furnished with some of the tools they will need to live a life pleasing to God. Ladd covers topics such as marriage, parenting, and addiction from the perspective of someone who has seen firsthand the harmful effects that false beliefs and self-destructive lifestyles can have on one's life. Furthermore, he is not afraid to address topics that some in the church today shy away from including homosexuality, drunkenness, and pornography.

Ladd also does a great job weaving his arguments and points throughout his own personal story.  His journey is an intimate one that admirably conveys the struggles a soldier, husband, father, and follower of Christ faces.

The author also effectively uses questions to challenge the reader to consider the ramifications of their own worldview.  For example, when discussing the power of pre-suppositions, he writes:

"...it is hard to see the truth when your mind is covered by a veil of assumptions.  If you are a seeker, then ask yourself why you believe what you currently believe.  Is it because of tradition?  Culture?  Pragmatism?  If not, then how have you come to your conclusions?  Do not navigate through the forests of philosophy with your mind covered.  Remove the assumptions so you can think clearly. Once you plot a course to discover truth, you will be on the right track." [p. 53]

This type of self-reflection is encouraged throughout the book.  This reviewer was pleased to see this because it is my conviction that many people arrive at their worldview not based upon rational argument and sound thinking, but by subjective feelings and experiences.

Arguments Dealt with in the Book

Ladd's own search began with questions he struggled with regarding ultimate meaning and purpose. He writes:

"Can there be true meaning and significance in our lives now if there is no ultimate, objective meaning and existence after death?  If our species is just a cosmic blip of evolved energy and matter, then will it matter what we were when our energy runs out?  Human beings are either very special or very deluded." [p. i]

This reader also greatly appreciated how Ladd dealt with contrary views of God and the existence of other religions.  How does one know which one is true?  The author calls upon the work of seasoned apologist, author and speaker Ravi Zacharias, to argue that a true worldview will be logically consistent, empirically adequate, and experientially relevant.  I was also glad to see that Ladd not only interacted with the world's major religions throughout his work, but he also engages with cults such as Christian Science, Ron L. Hubbard's Scientology, and Charles Taze Russell's Jehovah's Witnesses.

Most fascinating for this reader was Ladd's wrestling with what it means to take a life in battle from a Christian perspective.  He writes:

"When a life is taken, whether by accident or intention, we should give pause and consider the circumstance, meaning, and eternal significance involved.  We should think about the difference between killing, murder, capital punishment, and all out war.  I carry the burden of recognizing these distinctions and wish for perfect justice and mercy in every case.  We should be students of history and study man's propensity to wage war.  We should strive to find the best ways to create a lasting peace.  We should love our fellow man, and we should pray for our enemies...military personnel must act under the tension of man's responsibility and God's sovereignty.  I am confident that if we put our faith in Him and study His Word, it will become easier to seek and accept responsibility in accordance with His will." [p. 107]

Interestingly, the author found naturalism to be wholly inadequate to explain what he experienced on the battlefield:

"If human beings are simply an accidental collocation of atoms that is dancing to its DNA, what happens to our humanness when our DNA is spread to the winds?  If what the naturalist believes is true-that we are not special, that we just happen to be-then we are not more special when our atoms are co-located than when they are not.  On naturalism, being human has no intrinsic value.  There would be no difference between killing and murder because the concept of innocence and guilt are dissolved by the universal acid of relativism." [p. Ibid.]

Other arguments and topics dealt with in the book include:
  • The Problem of Evil
  • Christian caricatures 
  • The notion that faith is "blind"
  • What about those who die without having heard the gospel?
  • The nature of God
Who Would Benefit from this Book?

Ladd himself explains who would most benefit from his work:

"While this book will connect strongly with parents, it will benefit a wide group of readers.  It will help the student struggling to make sense of the world.  It will encourage men on a mission to find their faith and women desiring to share their convictions.  It will help seekers exploring the concept of faith and Christians struggling with doubt.  It will help older Christians understand the new generation of skeptics and the youth to understand the faithfulness of their elders.  It will help anyone tired of floating through life without direction, purpose, or hope." [p. ii]

Conclusion

Jason Ladd's One of the Few is an engaging read that encourages readers to think seriously about their own worldview and how they have come to hold it.  Further, this work successfully argues for the coherence of the Christian Worldview while logically and respectfully pointing out the problems and incoherence of others.

Those in the military, veterans, and military buffs will especially enjoy Ladd's vivid stories about his experiences during training and wartime.

I recommend this book to those desiring to understand their own worldview better and to those wanting to better understand what it means to be a Christian.

You can order your copy here.  

We also encourage you to check out our interview with Jason here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Many thanks to Jason Ladd for the review copy.  Also, thank you for your service to our country!


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