Book Review: “Let No One Despise You” by Tony Beard

***DISCLAIMER – I RECEIVED A FREE PDF COPY FOR REVIEW***

Tony Beard is on Twitter. I was able to obtain a PDF copy of his book Let No One Despise You: Emerging Christians in a Post-Christian Society (released May 12, 2020) after offering to review it. For my review, I list the book’s pros and cons. But first, I explain the book’s structure.

STRUCTURE

Beard gives the idea for his book as shown in the preface (p. ix):

What follows is an adaptation of the talk I gave at that young adult retreat in February of 2016. The scope is simple:

– Youth is not an obstacle to Christ.

– The world is an enemy of God.

– The best way to live in the world is to love.

Those ideas make up this book’s three sections.

Is this book for young Christians or for those who work with young Christians? Both. My intention is to speak directly to young adults through this book, but hopefully it can be fruitful for those ministering to this age group as well.

I hope my words positively impact at least a few young people. The format of the book is encouragement, a dose of reality, and more encouragement. May our eyes always be open to the disappointment of the world, and may our hearts always be filled with the hope of Holy Spirit and long for the kingdom to come.

It was Beard’s best friend and wife who asked Beard to speak at a young adult group’s annual winter retreat in upstate Pennsylvania. Beard clearly identifies his audience as both young adults and those who minister to that age group. He does legitimately give three sections in this book. The titles are somewhat similar to the ideas as shown (title in parenthesis):

  1. Youth Is Not An Obstacle To Christ (Let No One Despise You)
  2. The World is an Enemy of God (You Will Be Hated)
  3. The Best Way To Live in the World is to Love (Love Them Anyway)

Five, six, and four chapters, respectively, make up the book’s three parts.

PROS

I found a few pros in this book. First, it is obvious Beard put in much research. In the bibliography, I counted about 104 cited sources (pp. 135-140). That is not a small number of sources by any means. Nobody just walks into 104 sources to cite in a book overnight. I recognized one of them with Machen’s Christianity & Liberalism. I’ll comment more on these sources later in the review.

Second, I appreciate the amount of Scripture Beard used. I could not find a single chapter that did not have some Scripture. This is a good thing. I’ll comment more about his Scripture usage later in this book.

Finally, I found some good pieces of information throughout the book. For example, Beard lists some interesting information in the third chapter. Consider these quotes:

…the need for a college degree has increased to absurd levels. A 2013 Washington Post article by Catherine Rampell says, “The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.”14 Rampell shares a story of a Georgia law firm that requires its receptionists, administrative assistants, file clerks, and “even the office ‘runner’”—who gets paid $10 an hour—to have a bachelor’s degree. Twenty, 15, even 10 years ago this would seem ridiculous, but welcome to the world of “degree inflation.” 

It’s not going to get better soon. A report from Georgetown Public Policy Institute notes that in 1973, 16 percent of all jobs required at least a bachelor’s degree. That number increased to 29 percent in 1992 and to 32 percent in 2010. The report anticipates a rate of 35 percent by 2020. This means over one-third of the entire working population will need at least a bachelor’s degree to find a job in 2020.15 

Yet earning that bachelor’s degree has never been more costly. Including tuition, fees, room, and board, and adjusting for inflation (using 2015 dollars), a public four-year institution averaged $2,387 a year during the 1975–76 school year. By 1985–86 it increased only slightly, to $2,918. By 1995–96 it surged to $4,845, and then up to $6,708 in 2005–06. More recently (2015–16) it averaged $9,410. In 1996 it would have cost $17,596 to obtain a bachelor’s degree from a four-year public institution. In 2016 it cost $37,640. That’s an extra 20 grand for the same degree!16 Even after adjusting for inflation, the cost of tuition at a four-year public institution rose on average 3.1 percent a year from 2008 to 2018.17 

p. 22

That is certainly some interesting information. As interesting as that was, I found the following quote to be more interesting (as well as eye-opening):

The study found that Millennials “had a stress level of 5.4 out of 10.” To put that in context, “The researchers generally considered a stress level of 3.6 to be healthy.” It was also noted that this statistic counters the overall decrease in stress levels across all older age groups. The same study also predictably reported higher levels of depression among Millennials. As a whole, this generation which should just be hitting its prime with their lives ahead of them, are anxious and depressed. 

Generation Z (those born in 1997 through the mid-2010s19) is not fairing any better. Business Insider summarized a 2019 Pew Research Center study noting, “The number of US teens ages 12 to 17 who said they experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017 increased by 59 percent since 2007. That’s a total of 3.2 million teens, or 13 percent of the entire cohort.”20 Additionally, teen girls are “three times as likely as teen boys to deal with depression.” We’re talking about back-to-back generations of increased depression. 

A new study from JAMA Pediatrics suggests this issue isn’t about to resolve itself or fade away. CNN explains, “Spending too much time scrolling through social media and watching more television has been linked with symptoms of depression in young people.”21 Moreover, “For every additional hour young people spend on social media or watching television, the severity of depressive symptoms they experience goes up.” It’s no secret our world is becoming more digital with much of today’s social interaction existing through screens, be it social media or texting. Today’s young adults are depressed, and their preferred use of communication is making it worse. 

pp. 23-24

I used to be on social media quite a bit. I also used to watch a lot of television (specifically sports). I know quite a few folk who watch a lot of television. Since cutting down significantly on social media (even going completely without it from November 2018 through March 2020) and even television, my mood has been aided a little bit. It’s not perfect and it never will be, for I sin daily and I sin much (and I always will). However, decreasing the intake on both those things helps.

CONS

While Beard’s book has some pros, I was way more distracted by the cons.

First, the spelling and grammar in this book were a major distraction. If I find a one-off spelling error here or there, I won’t really make mention of it unless I’m making a point. However, this book has many spelling and grammar errors. Moreover, even quoted Bible verses have spelling errors (and that should not happen, if you ask me). I won’t give examples because I don’t wish to embarrass Beard. Heck, I even messaged him to see if maybe the PDF copy alone was the problem child. It is not. Unfortunately, the spelling and grammar was a major distraction as I was reading this book.

Second, I found the discernment in this book to be a mixed bag. I do believe Beard has some discernment, for he does take time to biblically refute Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn and (unofficially since she is not verbatim cited) Paula White (pp. 87-90). He quoted them to refute them. However, he quoted some other people that he did not refute. These people include David Platt, Russell Moore, Jackie Hill Perry, John Piper, Francis Chan, Mark Dever and Kyle Idleman. While I suppose I can’t quibble much with the Dever citation since his being found as a Democrat was a recent development (and Idleman is just a mixed bag), Piper, Platt and Chan have been absolute hirelings for a while. Perry is one that nobody should be listening to in light of her endorsements of heretics (and I’ll just leave it at that). Finally, Russell Moore is a wolf. While not everything they say is false, Beard could have exercised much more discernment in who he cited. He has some discernment (which is better than none), but he needs more.

Finally, I found some statements that I’ll call “one-off troublesomes.” I know, it’a silly term. They’re basically one-off statements that I found troublesome (hence, one-off troublesomes). One came as it pertains to a biblical text (multiple occurrences). The other came as it pertains to a discussion on essential/non-essential issues.

The biblical text in question is Matthew 7:15-17. Here are the quotes I list. You should be able to spot something:

It’s kind of like showing up to church . . . some Sundays. Or giving money in the collection plate . . . when you have a few bucks on you. Or praying before meals . . . when the pastor is visiting. By no means am I saying church attendance, tithing, and prayer get to you heaven; that’s been accomplished through by grace through faith. But we are told that we will recognize a Christ-follower by their fruit (Matt 7:16), and worshipping God in community, living sacrificially, and spending time in prayer are all reasonable indicators of a genuine faith. 

p. 50

In Matthew 7, quoted above, Jesus explains that we will know false teachers by their fruit. That’s obviously true, but it does not mean it’s easy. 

p. 85

Jesus himself said that you will know a Christian by his or her fruit (Matt 7:16). Now, we do not exchange a basket of fruit with God in order to purchase salvation. 

p. 92

See the inconsistency? Perhaps one can file this under the bad grammar section I mentioned earlier (expanding said section to include syntax). Beard gets it right on page 85. Because I thought he handled Scripture rather decently throughout this book, I believe that this lapse was due to grammar/syntax more than ability to handle Scripture (although I could be wrong).

Since Matthew 7 is an awesome passage, I’d like to take a look at it. It is Matthew 7:1-29 (NKJV). I highlight verses 15-16:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with whatjudgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Matthew 7:1-29 (NKJV)

Beard was in the ballpark on his reference of Matthew 7 on page 85 (it’s actually false prophets, not false teachers, hence my “ballpark” term). He was not in the ballpark on pages 50 and 92. Again, the reason I attribute this error to grammar/syntax rather than Scripture-handling is because I thought he did a decent job handling Scripture in this book. He’s certainly better than, say, an obvious false teacher like Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer or Jen Wilkin.

Speaking of those three individuals, that brings me to my second “one-off troublesome” of Beard’s I’d like to discuss. Consider this quote:

It is also important to understand there are different types of disagreements we may have in the church. I have heard a distinction described as closed-hand issues versus open-hand issues. The closed-hand issues we need to be firm on: things like Jesus being the only way to heaven, Jesus existing as fully God and fully man, and salvation by grace through faith. Disagreement on these topics are deal-breakers and we cannot accept unorthodoxy in these areas.

However, other important, but less clear disagreements may arise and we must hold those matters in an open hand. These may be issues that cause us to worship differently or in different congregations, but they should not result in any accusations of heresy. I would place the predestination–free will debate in this category. Christians (legally) drinking alcohol in moderation is another one. As is the method and timing of baptism. Even the complementarian-egalitarian debate is a non-essential issue. If we hold on tight to the more important matters, then these lesser ones do not require disunity.

I completely disagree with Beard on the complementarian/egalitarian debate. It is an essential issue in terms of ecclesiology (not salvation). As it pertains to ecclesiology, God’s Word forbids women pastors. Women pastors make for bad and defiant ecclesiology (1 Timothy 2:9-3:13 and 1 Corinthians 14; Pastor Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio also offers insight from his review on Jory Micah, someone who doesn’t believe women are to be kept silent in the church). When consulting the text of 1 Timothy 2:9-15, pay attention to the fact that the very next chapter goes right into the qualifications of a pastor. How can a woman be a husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2)? Finally, consider the following two paragraphs from GotQuestions.org’s article on women pastors (said article being the first hyperlink in this paragraph):

Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, and helping/serving. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18–20Acts 1:81 Peter 3:15).

God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are to take a less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3–5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them.

Women definitely play a vital role in ministry. However, being pastors goes beyond the role given to them in Scripture. In October 2020, I wrote a review on an important book by David Cloud called The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement: The History and Error. Consider this excerpt:

Cloud also does an excellent job in refuting the false doctrine of women preachers (pp. 313-318). He appeals to the standard texts of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (in addition to others) in his refutation (p. 315). He also notes that there were no female priests in the Old Testament, no female rulers chosen by God over Israel during the kingdom, no female writers of the Bible, no female apostles and no female pastors in the early churches (p. 316). He also refutes pro-women-preacher arguments regarding Deborah, the daughters of Philip, and the Acts 2:18 text that states the handmaidens will prophesy (p. 318). Finally, he gives eight reasons for why the restrictions on women preachers was not limited to the first century (pp. 316-318):

First, Paul’s letter to Corinth, in which he spoke of women being in subjection to men, was for all Christians, not just those in Corinth (“with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours,” 1 Cor. 1:2). It is clear that Paul’s instructions were not intended merely for some peculiar situation at Corinth.

Second, Paul said that his instructions in 1 Corinthians 14 are the commandments of the Lord (v. 37). As such, they must be obeyed by all Christians and by every church. These were not Paul’s own opinions and prejudices. And one of these commandments was this: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (1 Cor. 14:34).

Third, the apostle said that the instructions of 1 Corinthians 14 are a test of spirituality. (1 Cor. 14:37). Those who reject the teaching of 1 Corinthians 14 concerning a woman’s role in the church prove that they are unspiritual.

Fourth, 1 Timothy, which contains the rule that the woman cannot teach nor usurp authority over the man, was written to teach the proper order for churches in general. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

Fifth, the things contained in 1 Timothy are to be kept until Jesus returns (1 Tim. 6:13-14).

Sixth, in giving the instructions about women in the church, the Holy Spirit referred to the original order of creation — Adam was created first, then Eve (1 Tim. 2:13-14). The man was created to lead and the woman was created as his helper. Since the order of creation has not changed and since it does not change in any culture or century, we know that the instructions about the woman’s role in the church still apply to us today.

Seventh, Paul referred to the fall to support his teaching on the Christian woman’s subjection to the man (1 Tim. 2:14). Again, this shows that the apostle’s teaching about the woman transcends any one culture or time.

Eighth, Paul referred to human nature to support his teaching regarding women (“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression,” 1 Tim. 2:14). The woman has a different makeup than the man. She was designed for a different role in life — that of a wife and mother. Her emotional, psychological, and rational makeup is geared perfectly for this, but she was not designed for leadership. In the Garden of Eden, the devil deceived her. Adam also sinned, but he was not deceived. Eve allowed herself to be thrust into a position of decision-making she was not supposed to occupy. It is no coincidence that women have been responsible for starting many of the false Christian movements and have played key roles in Spiritism, new age, mind science Colts, Seventh-day Adventism, and such. Human nature has not changed and neither has God’s restrictions against women preachers.

In concluding the section on the refutation of women preachers, Cloud makes the very important point that to “say that the woman’s ministry is restricted is not to say that women are not valuable for the ministry of Jesus Christ” (p. 318). Cloud appeals to Philippians 4:3 and four of the first five verses of Romans 16 in his statement (p. 318). Finally, he states, “Women are exceedingly valuable in the Lord’s ministry, but He has placed some restrictions upon their service” (p. 318). The eight aforementioned reasons clearly outline those restrictions.

If you’re still not convinced that women pastors are not biblical, consider the dumpster fire that is the awful sermons by women pastors (or at the very least, women who have preached at a pulpit on a Sunday) over the last decade. These women (who are in flagrant rebellion to God’s Word) include but are not limited to:

I’m sure I missed some names in that seemingly exhaustive list, but I’m sure you get the idea. God’s Word forbids women pastors, and I don’t believe any of those women above have repented and received forgiveness for their flagrant rebellion to God’s Word (pray that they do). The complementarian/egalitarian debate is an essential issue as it pertains to ecclesiology. An ecclesiology that is in flagrant rebellion to God’s Word is a bad tree, and bad trees do not produce good fruit.

I know I went long-winded on the refutation of women pastors. I should state very clearly that nowhere in his book does Beard endorse women pastors. I hope he does not. I also hope that maybe he changes his mind on the importance of the complementarian/egalitarian debate. A biblical ecclesiology is very important. I think people over the last decade or so have seen what can happen with a bad ecclesiology via the unbiblical concept of vision-casting. The information I provided hopefully will help Beard think about the complementarian/egalitarian debate a little more.

CONCLUSION

Tony Beard was kind enough to give me a PDF copy of his book, so I don’t want to be too harsh in my closing remarks (assuming I haven’t been harsh enough already). I must admit that bad spelling/grammar does distract me greatly when I read. Moreover, I found some other things of concern in this book. Nevertheless, I think he is on to some things in other areas. While I may not use his book as a reference for my future posts (not every book I review does get referenced, though), I would be more than happy to offer my editorial, proofreading and other skills as a service for any future book he may do.

While I find it hard to recommend his book given what I found, reading it certainly isn’t a waste of time. If you’re gonna read it, read it with discernment like you would any other book. Pray for him as he continues to both write and help others in their walk with Christ. May the LORD bless him and keep him. May the LORD be gracious to him and give him peace.

Published by Clint Adams

My name is Clinton Adams. I am a born-again Christian. I used to have the blog "faithcontenderblog.wordpress.com." After taking it down, I have since rebooted as "The Earnest Layman" as I earnestly contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). I also promote sound Christian doctrine and rebuke that which contradicts it (Titus 1:9). I mainly do book reviews. However, I also do other types of posts (normally extensive). Should you request a certain topic, I will most definitely consider it. :) If you ever have questions or comments on anything you read here, feel free to comment with your feedback on any of my posts. You can also email me at earnestlayman@outlook.com. If you really like what you read here, you can always follow my blog. Thank you so much for reading!

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