Before You Leave
For College, Career, and Eternity
Questions We Rarely Talk About—But All Ask
Exploring five big questions, Todd draws on historical research, trusted teachers, and the Bible to help us think through the answers—and how those answers should be shaping our lives.
Whether you are headed to college, starting your first job, or just reflecting on life, Before You Leave was written to help you understand and discuss challenging and essential questions of faith.
Dr. Todd von Helms has nearly two decades of insight gained through working with teenagers, college students, and clergy as an ordained minister, college professor, church consultant, research assistant, interviewer, chaplain and headmaster. He has degrees from the University of Texas, Dallas Baptist University, Southwestern Seminary, Southern Seminary, Duke University and Southern Methodist University. Today, Todd is a Senior Fellow at The King’s College in New York City, Presidential Scholar of Christianity and Culture at Dallas Baptist University, and a Senior Fellow for the Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.
Todd Von Helms
The Bible is the best selling book in the world year after year. It remains the most referenced and criticized book as well. If the Bible is inspired by Almighty God, why have most Christians never read it cover to cover, or made it part of their daily lives? This chapter looks at the nature of the Bible, particularly when and how it was formed, the most common objections, and why it remains so influential.
Atheists are not unreasonable, they are just arguing from a different starting point. Fundamentally, everyone believes in something when it comes to religion. Atheists believe there is no god. This chapter explores reasons why some people do not believe in God.
Because most people are interested in the supernatural, this chapter explores the spiritual realm, particularly angels, demons, the difference between bad and evil, and the differences between Hollywood and biblical portrayals of the devil. The Bible describes Satan as both a roaring lion and an angel of light. Which label is correct? If such a creature really exists, how might this affect one’s approach to daily life?
Like the devil, the concept of hell has been shaped more by the arts and entertainment industry than what the Bible and tradition have taught. If hell is a real place where a person can spend eternity, this topic also must be taken seriously.
Recent national surveys revealed that the majority of people pray, including some atheists. This chapter explores the nature of prayer, including why and how people pray, and what impact prayer can have on one’s life and future.
This book provides a very direct engagement of what are some of the most challenging topics and ideas that many of us have never dealt with in a deep and meaningful way. It is rich, practical, and powerful.
The chapter on the Bible is extremely well-written, concise (for a huge topic), expertly organized, and persuasive. I will use it as a guide for myself.
Given his exceptional credentials and vast experience, I cannot think of anyone better suited to help address the myriad challenges facing today’s youth and college students.
From years of experience working with students and young people, Todd von Helms offers a much-needed book for those raised in the church who have never had the opportunity to address the hard and inevitable questions put to our faith. I am grateful for his irenic spirit and conversational tone, while still facing head on the more academic-like questions in a down-to-earth kind of way.
Dr. von Helms has the gift of taking difficult topics and making them understandable in a way that transforms one’s thinking. This book will have a cross generational appeal and be an excellent resource for those in academia and the Church.
This thoughtful book gives wisdom for parents, Catholic and Protestant alike, who are seeking to help their children form a strong, intellectual foundation for their walk with Jesus. It is also a clear, helpful guide to students navigating how to be witnesses to their faith in an increasingly secularized culture.
I commend this book to you because I think it will help you to explore the essential questions that we are all asking, both inside the church, and outside the church.
The scope and breadth of this book is an amazing resource for you to address questions about the Bible, prayer, the supernatural realm, and what science reveals about the place of God in the universe.
This book is so valuable because it challenges us to decide how to think and talk about biblical topics most people don't talk about--death, hell, evil, and the devil. I am looking forward to the rich conversations that will result from my students and teenagers reading this book.
Before You Leave is a powerful appeal to Christian high school students who are headed to college. Von Helms encourages them to stand strong in the Christian faith, embrace the full span of the Bible’s teaching, and to be witnesses for Christ in one of the most difficult arenas in American life—the university. Highly recommended.
This book allowed me as a parent not to be afraid to talk about difficult topics and walk alongside my teenagers. I’m so glad I had this book as a tool to guide me along in the journey as a mom, wife, and Christian in the workforce.
The cultural current of secularism in the West is strong and pervasive. As a result, a significant percentage of American Christians have been swept away by it, leading to an emaciated form of faith that bears little resemblance to Jesus’s teachings about what it means to be one of his followers. What may a person do? If you are a new believer or an older one who never grew out of spiritual infancy, Todd von Helms extends his hand to help you get up and get in the game. This book is a sort of primer that helps you navigate through some of the major discussions that challenge faith encountered by today’s believer. Moreover, von Helms provides direction to help you climb to greater heights in your relationship with God.
Todd von Helms has done a great service to the church. By thoughtfully engaging common questions about the faith that most young people encounter as they move into adult life—and doing so from a standpoint informed by the Bible and historical theology—he has given her a resource by which she might take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. I highly recommend this book to parents, youth groups, students heading off to college, and Christian schools.
Todd has a tremendous knack of writing clearly and in a way that draws you into the conversation. He respects your intellect, and takes you into the resources of scripture, divine revelation, and deep religious experience. This book should be drawn on to help people develop the intellectual, spiritual, and moral resources needed not just to survive, but to flourish.
I’ve watched Todd von Helms engage students for many years. It’s remarkable. Few authors have both academic credibility and the ability to engage students. There is no one more suited to write a book like this. While this book is a challenge to skeptics and affirming for believers, it should be essentially reading for all students before they leave for college and their respective vocations.
We can no longer expect to send our sons and daughters from Sunday school to college without a serious jolt to their faith. They’re leaving home unequipped to answer a barrage of modern challenges to beliefs they’ve held dear, but haven’t held deep. Now there's an accessible book that will help young Christians gain a firmer grasp of what and why they believe.
I meet a lot of high school and college students who profess to be Christians but have never actually read through the Bible. They confess little knowledge of the Bible and don't know how to answer basic questions about the faith. Some of these students attend church youth groups or to go Christian schools. As a pastor, and as one who often speaks to students, I have longed for a book to give to students, parents, teachers, and youth leaders. I want to see a generation of disciple-makers, but before we unleash these students as young disciple-makers, they must be trained in the essentials of the faith. My good friend Todd von Helms has provided a much needed resource for all who share this kind of burden. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
This book addresses the primary classical apologetical questions and gives the reader ample understanding of some very important issues including how we got the Bible, challenges from atheists, understanding evil, the devil and hell, and practicing the spiritual discipline of prayer. My favorite component of the book is the introduction of the reader to seemingly countless great men and women of the faith as examples throughout the book – some more common like C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, but many more lesser known saints of the faith whom the reader will find equally engaging. When readers are finished with this book they will have a solid foundation for the fundamental Christian faith and be ready to engage in meaningful and persuasive dialogue with others on important spiritual issues.
This book should be essential reading for college students, parents of college students, and for all of those involved in Christian higher education. Dr. von Helms is a wise and seasoned guide who skillfully navigates the morass of intellectual challenges to faith faced by the current generation of college students, leading the reader to ponder anew both the soundness and the beauty of historic Christianity. Highly recommended!
Here is a book that was sorely needed! Too many Christians, especially teenagers, are turning away from Christianity because they have unresolved doubts about God and His Word. The church and the Christian academy have too often shied away from addressing these uncertainties, but Todd von Helms has not. He has taken the offensive position and produced a book that provides sound and satisfying solutions to the most pressing theological questions of our day. Through it all, readers of Before You Leave will be equipped and encouraged to know, trust, and proclaim the God who created them for his glory. May the Lord bless everyone who reads it!
“Todd has created a great read, especially for high school and college students, for whom a better knowledge of religion in general and Christianity in particular are more important than ever. This book is good for those who do believe, those who don’t believe, and for those who are not sure whether or what to believe. It is thought provoking for anyone regardless of age.”
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Dr. Todd Von Helms
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