To simply call Dave Richardson Jr.’s new book, “Transparent,” an apologetics book would be an easy way to ignore what is underneath the surface of its powerful new look at why you believe the way you do.
Everyone makes assumptions.
“Those assumptions are the things that drive us and control us every day,” Richardson told me. “It’s like an autopilot in our head.”
I interviewed Richardson during the International Christian Retail Show. He was there to promote his book, “Transparent: How to See Through the Powerful Assumptions That Control You.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Portland, a master’s degree in theological studies from the International School of Theology and a MTh. in applied theology from the University of Oxford. He worked with Campus Crusade for Christ (or Cru) for 30 years, spending most of his time with professors.
The premise of “Transparent” came about from Richardson’s 20 years’ work with university and college professors, helping them connect faith with what they do. He researched how people come to faith and why some abandon it. He said that many Christians’ assumptions are not biblical.
While God is big in many people’s lives and they may have a good prayer life, the average person rarely asks, “How does God inform what you do at work?”
“They couldn’t tell you,” he said. “How does God make a difference in your work? Because He actually gives you knowledge about what you do.”
He recalled attending a conference about 15 years ago in which the late philosopher Dallas Willard was speaking to professors. Willard asked them who the smartest person was in their fields. He said if it was anyone other than Jesus Christ, they had named the wrong person.
“If Jesus does not contribute to knowledge in your field, then why does He contribute knowledge in your personal life?”
Christian professors go to class and teach the same way that atheists do, even at Christian universities, Richardson said.
Richardson is challenging assumptions at numerous levels, beyond the book.
He said he is starting up a new foundation, The Assumptions Institute. According to its website (theassumptionsinstitute.org), it “is at the forefront of helping families and churches reduce the number of Christian youth leaving their faith. Understanding assumptions can help us change people’s lives.” One of his tools is an app that helps parents walk through assumptions with their kids. Say the parent and child are watching a movie. The parent can take the app and in a few steps walk through the movie’s assumptions with the child.
Why is that important? Research shows that 60 percent to 75 percent of children raised within the church or a ministry will leave in their 20s, and very few will return, Richardson said.
“I know why it happens and I know when it happens and it’s not in the university and it’s not in the high school,” he said. “It starts in the kindergarten. And it starts with the basic assumptions we teach our young kids. And it’s really the church that pushes the kids out the door. And they don’t even realize what’s going on.”
The app (Critical Assumptions Test) is made for everyone, not just parents, but also for professors. Parents can use the app to prepare their children for the day they go off to university or career.
“When the world comes at them with all these wild crazy things, they’ll be able to discern quickly whether it’s true or whether it’s not so they’ll accept it or reject it and how that all relates back to their faith in Christ,” he said.
The book is available on Amazon. It will be available from major book stores Aug. 16.Richardson said the app is available on Google Play and soon will be on iTunes.
Richardson has three websites for more information:
— Jason Reynolds