Book Review - Christians in the Crossfire

This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1996, Volume 13, Number 1, pages 122-123. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Book Review - Christians in the Crossfire: Guarding Your Mind Against Manipulation and Self-Deception

Mark McCann & James Foster

Barclay Press, Newberg, OR, 1990, 175 pages.

This book, as its title reveals, was written by Christians for Christians. By Christians is meant fundamentalist Christians, but not uncritical Christians. The book regards Christians as standing in a "crossfire" between "a world of secular extremists" and "the strange world of Christian extremists." The world of secular extremists includes the anti-Christian secular humanists, the New Age movement, and occultism. The world of Christian extremists consists mostly of "paranoid" Christians espousing "conspiracy theories and apocalyptic themes." The goal of the book is to serve as a guide to lead readers "to become Christian critical thinkers." Terms used are carefully defined, both in the text and in a glossary at the end of the book.

The book states that "both humanists and Christians have strayed from the truth" by "creating extreme arguments" that are "built on faulty logic." Extremists in both camps “go to unreasonable lengths to support or protect their beliefs." Accurate and well-chosen examples are provided to illustrate this point. Readers are exhorted to evaluate all teaching critically, whether from within or outside Christianity. Both accurate and inaccurate incoming information may be enhanced by the use of "vivid anecdotes and experiences" in communication. Excellent illustrative examples of this are included. A person can work to avoid these various "mental ambushes" by "looking for other explanations" and “taking a historical perspective." This pattern of clearly describing the pitfalls that can be built into the creation and communication of false and/or misleading information, and then the offering of ways of critically detecting and avoiding their influence is consistent throughout the book. There is widespread, purposeful use of these pitfalls by cults in their systems of imposing mind control.

I highly recommend this book for two reasons. Though this was not its intention, the book teaches us how to identify pitfalls in communication that cults utilize often. As each pitfall is described, ways of combating and/or avoiding it are provided. So, the book is a good teaching guide for the cult awareness network. Second, I would encourage non-Christians (as well as Christians) to read this book. I believe that unbiased non-Christians would gain a new respect for that large group of Christian thinkers represented by the authors.

Christina M. Lemieux, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Kutztown University

Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1996