In the Arena of the Mind by John Vandegriff

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This volume is a simple and quick read, dealing with the thought life of the believer using Philippians 4:8 as the central passage. Its usefulness lies in the author’s review of the biblical principles and teachings on this most important subject. It does, however, lump together some rather strange bed-fellows: Jay Adams, Larry Crabbe, Bill Hybels and most strangely, Anthony Campolo, who seems to be a favorite of the author and is quoted on numerous occasions.

The book is well illustrated, often with stories that have been making the Christian circuit for a number of years, but probably unfamiliar to most of Vandegriff’s targeted audience. There is considerable use of Scripture, usually well interpreted, then supplemented with practical advice and suggestions worthy of consideration.

In a work in which Jay Adams places his stamp of approval (he writes the foreword), there are some surprising statements and views. For example, he quotes Williams James as saying, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Also the self-esteem fad is supported (p. 161) as well as some favorable comments on psychiatry.

Overall, In the Arena of the Mind could be read with profit if discernment is used in the areas mentioned above.

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