Books I Heard or Read in 2012

Every year I love to recap the books I either read or heard on audio. Previous years can be  located under my articles page under Various Reviews.

First, I’ll note the ones I heard via audio.

Unbroken: A WW2 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand.  Probably the best book I heard this year. The truly amazing story of Louie Zamperini who was an up-and-coming track star in the 1930s who very well could have set the world record for the mile run if it weren’t for the stupid Nazis and imperial Japanese ruining everything by starting a world war.

Louie became a bombardier for the Army Air Force and in May of 1943, while on a routine mission, his bomber experienced mechanical failure and crashed into the Pacific. He, the pilot, and another man, were left adrift for nearly 40 plus days in open water. Louie and the pilot survived, and once they made land fall, they were in the hands of the Japanese imperial army and they became prisoners of war.

Remarkably, and this is only due to God’s grace, Louie and his pilot friend survived the two, long years of torturous encampment and horrific abuse by the prison guards, especially the camp commander who everyone called “the Bird.” Back home, after the war, Louie’s life was a shambles because like a lot of post-war veterans, he couldn’t adjust to civilian life and he became an alcoholic and abusive to his wife. He was invited to hear Billy Graham speak in 1949 at his Los Angeles crusade and after one of the services, Louie went forward and became a new man in Christ.

Hillenbrand does a great job telling this story and the narrator of the audio edition makes her research come to life. In fact, at the point of the story when the American POWs were for certain liberated after the dropping of the two A-bombs, I could sense the emotion in the reader’s voice to the point I thought he was going to start crying.

One of the neat things about this book is that I know people who know Louie, who still lives in the LA area.

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul – John Barry This audio book was wearying. It is extremely well done as far as research goes and Barry goes into great depth providing us the background to English law, the whole issue between church and state, and the significance of what it was the Puritans were attempting to accomplish here in America.  I would encourage Christians to read it (or hear it) because what happened in Puritan Colonial America is essential for us understanding Christianity in America today.  The book definitely broadened my understanding of pre-Revolutionary America and gave me a better context of who Roger Williams was and his importance in founding his colony at Providence.

I say the book is wearying because the reader was boring and slow. Too many.  long pauses. between sentences.  I’d have to start. and stop listening to it. but finally finished.  just in time.  to file this review.

The Tyranny of Cliches – Jonah Goldberg Goldberg is swiftly becoming one of my favorite secular conservative commentators and writers. His first book on Liberal Fascism was outstanding. I wrote about it on my 2010 yearly review. With this book, Goldberg takes on many of the cliches we hear in our modern culture like “Violence never solves anything,” “Ideology,” “Social justice,” “Power Corrupts” “I’d rather let ten guilty men go free, than execute one innocent man” and gives them a good debunking.  What I truly appreciated about this audio version is that he did the reading. So he put the emphasis in the right place as he read along, and that made his material so enjoyable to hear.

Five Vince Flynn novels – “Kill Shot,” “Transfer of Power,” “Act of Treason,” “Protect and Defend,” and “Extreme Measures.” They are the on-going story of black ops CIA special agent, Mitch Rapp, who dispatches with terrorists in a blink of an eye.

Regular Print Edition Books

George Whitfield, Vol 2 – Arnold Dallimore I read the first volume to Dallimore’s magnum opus on the life of evangelist, George Whitfield, maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I finally decided this year that I would dig into the second volume.

The book begins with the theological Calvinist/Arminian drama between Whitfield’s and John Wesley’s relationship and works it way through his ministries in the American colonies and England, his marriage, his ministry among the English wealthy, and eventually his death. Dallimore masterfully weaves together the details of Whitfield’s life in a highly readable form that never gets boring.

Judges. I taught through the book of Judges and Ruth with my volunteers this year.  Two commentaries that were an immense help with my teaching prep was Daniel Block’s commentary from the NAC series, Judges and Ruth and Leon Wood’s The Distressing Days of the Judges.  Wood’s work is a bit dated than Block’s, but both supplemented each other well and if anyone is planing a study through Judges, I would exhort you to get them both.  Wood’s book is out of print, though findable at Amazon or ABE’s books.  The only available “new” edition is the over-priced, cheap paperback put out by Wipf&Stock Publishers.

The Bible, Natural Theology, and Natural Law: Conflict or Compromise? – Robert Morey Robert Morey’s editorially flawed evaluation of natural law and theology. See my fuller review HERE.

Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Cliff McManis Currently the best book any Christian can get on the subject of apologetic methodology and theology. See my full review HERE. (Ignore the nit-picking young Reformed bloggers hating on it)

The Harry Potter Bible Study – Jared Moore A misguided attempt by a real nice pastor to make the Harry Potter stories “redeemable” and relevant for Christian evangelism. See my full review HERE.

Old Earth Creationism on Trial – Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle An Answers in Genesis publication dealing with the problems of old earth creationism.  Special emphasis hits upon the theological and textual difficulties old earth proponents have when attempting to accommodate deep time views of the secular world.

The two authors take a court trial approach to laying out their case by which they present a prosecution and defense and then a cross-examination of the evidence.  It’s a brief introduction to the differences between the old earth view and the young earth view, one that many of the young, on-line apologists from the Christian Apologetic Alliance ought to read so as to avoid the pitfalls of strawman arguments against young earth creationism.

Though it is a good introduction to the subject, and available for free on the internet, I personally prefer Jonathan Sarfati’s much more in-depth critic of Hugh Ross’s old earth apologetics called Refuting Compromise.  I reviewed it HERE.

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32 thoughts on “Books I Heard or Read in 2012

  1. Ok I’ve been looking for a good spy/assassin set of novels to read I’m going to trust your judgment here and pick up the first two of the Vince Flynn books.

  2. Thanks Fred,
    Both ‘Old Earth Creationism on Trial’ and ‘Refuting Compromise’ are excellent books. I have also found Andrew Snelling’s two-volume ‘Earth’s Catastrophic Past’ to be an in-depth look at the geological implications of the Biblical accounts of creation and the Flood in favor of a recent, mature, and relatively (thousands not billions) young age for the earth and cosmos. A much longer, and more technical read, but well worth the effort.

  3. Just note that there is language and an occasional sex scene. Similar to Clancy novels if you are familiar with them. I didn’t want you to have an inaccurate vision of my “judgment” seeing that you invoked it and all. BTW, I wouldn’t necessarily start with the first two, as in chronological sequence. In fact, I would recommend starting with Transfer of Power, about Iranian terrorists taking over the White House and then maybe going back and reading the back story to Rapp’s beginnings in the first two.

  4. I agree. And I think that is due to a lack of a good editor. It is also regrettable, because Morey can have some good stuff to say. I appreciated his overview of Job, for instance, and his breakdown of the natural theology that is prevalent among classic apologists.

  5. Fred, I thought Unbroken was an amazing book as well. The ability he had to extend forgiveness to his persecutors can only be explained by the gospel. I felt such anger in my own heart as I read of his torture and realized that true forgiveness can only be a supernatural work of God as He causes me to view sin in light of the gospel.

    Dallimore’s set is also a wonderful read.

  6. Old Earth? Young Earth? Does it make a difference in our salvation? There is actually evidence of a very old earth. The so-called “Gap” theiory is true. I am a fan, or student if you prefer, of Ethelbert Bullinger and his Companion Bible. And also what God says in Jeremiah about searching out the old paths where is the good way and walk therein.
    The gap has evidence of being taught in the early church and even ancient Jewish writings.

    I am NOT an evolutionist and absolutely despise it so I am not coming from this in a evoultionary way.

  7. It does make a matter with how one reads the Bible and honors God. To search out the old paths and good ways and walk therein would make a person take seriously this debate.
    The gap theory has many problems, the least of which is the complete lack of grammatical and syntactical support in the Hebrew text. Genesis 1:1,2 is one clause that cannot be separated with a gap existing between them.
    What may help your cause is to go read the book. It’s free on line. Then come back and explain how the authors are wrong.

  8. You mean I have to believe in a Young Earth to honor God? How do you get that? God is my Savior and my Lord. He has saved my soul from hell, I don’t have to conform to a YE story to honor Him. I have ENOUGH to honor Him for.

    I AM serious about this debate. Like I said, I have no use for the theory of Evolution or ANY facets of science that downplays God but it is no wonder that science laughs at Christians that believe in a YE. I look at the limitless expanse of the universe that is STILL expanding and am in awe of my God that is STILL creating, as He has done for countless ages. As the Psalmist says

    Psalm 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

    Psalm 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

    Who are WE to limit God to a ten thousand year old universe and earth?

    The Gap theory has biblical status.

    Genesis 1:2 says the earth was without form and void. In other woirds, in ruin. Isaiah 45:18 says it wasn’t. Which is it?

  9. Barry,
    I would say, in addition to Fred’s comments above, that the most important aspect in honoring God is to believe what He said; to believe what His written revelation actually conveys. This written revelation from God ‘does’ indeed convey and teach a relatively (thousands of years, not billions) year age for the earth and cosmos.

    Who are WE to contradict God’s written Word? Who are WE to contradict our Lord Himself’s understanding of the beginning of man in relation to the age of the earth (Mark 10:6, 13:19-20, Luke 11: 50-51).

    In addition, the Gap Theory was first proposed by Thomas Chalmers in 1814, thinking he could make room for the vast amount of time which the nascent secular geologists of his time were demanding. A review of the history of how ‘deep time’ came into being is both fascinating and illuminating. It was, is, and will remain an accommodationist position in discord with the belief of the majority of Christianity through that period, in six literal days and a recent and mature age for the earth.

    You might find of interest the book by Weston Fields, Unformed and Unfilled, Master Books, 1976, or the many articles on websites such as http://www.creation.com, and http://www.answersingenesis.org. Just type ‘Gap Theory’ into the Search box.

  10. Steve,

    I would first ask you why wasn’t I given a response to my question? I asked if the earth was “Without form and void,” in Genesis 1:2, why wasn’t it “Without form and void” in Isaiah 45:18 where God said, “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.” So here we see He did NOT create it in vain but that is exactly what it was in Genesis 1:2.

    And as for your statement that Thomas Chalmers first proposed the Gap Theory. That is not exactly true.

    Some of the early church fathers accepted this view and based some of their doctrines on it. You can read more here..http://www.custance.org/Library/WFANDV/chap1.html

    And the Word of God DOES tell of a Old Earth. A VERY Old Earth. Jeremiah 4:23-28 tells of an old earth that God destroyed in eons past.

    Nascent secular geologists have nothing to do with it.

  11. Barry,
    I take it that you have read Westen Fields’s vigorous and comprehensive critique of the gap theory? http://www.amazon.com/Unformed-Unfilled-Critique-Gap-Theory/dp/0890514232

    You’re assume that tohuvabohu.which is unfortunately translated in the KJV as “without form and void” means ruined. That phrase does not mean that at all, but that it is unformed and empty. When God says in Isaiah that He created the world to be filled, He meant just that. It was unformed and empty, not ruined. It had to be shaped and filled by HIs creation, which is exactly what He did the 6 days of creation.

    In a previous comment you write,
    it is no wonder that science laughs at Christians that believe in a YE.

    Well. I expect the world to laugh at Christians. Jesus promised as much. They also laugh at the idea a 3 day dead corpse rose to life. Why would they not believe in a miraculous created world in the space of 6 ordinary days?

    You further write,
    I look at the limitless expanse of the universe that is STILL expanding and am in awe of my God that is STILL creating, as He has done for countless ages.

    God is “still creating”? So your take on what it says in Genesis 2:1-4 that all of God’s work was finished and He rested on the 7th day means what exactly?

    Continuing, you write,
    Some of the early church fathers accepted this view and based some of their doctrines on it. You can read more here..http://www.custance.org/Library/WFANDV/chap1.html

    I glanced over that document and I wasn’t too impressed with his documentation. He pulls references from various sources that are vague and would help if the citation was placed in a better context. In fact, it appears as if the author is “reading” into those texts what he wants them to say, which is a gap theory between verse 1 and 2 of Genesis 1, and again, the Hebrew grammar doesn’t allow such a thing.

    Additionally, he offers citations from Babylonian and Assyrian texts. As far as I am concerned, those don’t really count when we are trying to determine what a biblical text is saying to us.

    What may be helpful for your case and our benefit is if you pull together some ancient citations and present them here with the references so either I or any other commenter can go and check them out. Online sources would be good, but I have access to a theological library if they aren’t on the internet.

    Finally, you write,
    And the Word of God DOES tell of a Old Earth. A VERY Old Earth. Jeremiah 4:23-28 tells of an old earth that God destroyed in eons past.

    That passage is NOT talking about the destruction of a pre-Adamic world. It is a prophecy that at the time of its giving is telling of future judgment that is coming upon Israel. It was fulfilled when the Babylonians took the nation into exile in 586 BC. Read those verses in the context of Jeremiah’s entire prophecy that is related in chapter 4. In other words, begin at 4:5 and read forward. Claiming this is a passage about a pre-Adamic world is eisogesis, not exegesis.

  12. Fivepointer,

    Let me start by referringyou to an excellent book that shows the ancient historicity f the Gap Truth.
    http://www.amazon.com/Gap-Not-Theory-Jack-Langford/dp/1465399488/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356839051&sr=1-1&keywords=gap+theory

    You tell me I incorrectly assume what “tohuvabohu” means but do not give me a counter definition except that it means unformed and empty, which is EXACTLY what I said it means. I mean, what does “unformed and empty” mean to you? To me it means “without form and void.” Look at those two terms closely. I take it that you are saying the earth was empty of life and unfomed as far as,,,maybe geography goes? No formations of anything? No mountains or oceans or great land expanses?

    And are you sure the KJV ONLY has it interpreted as “ruined?” Many commentaries I read have it translated that way, in one form or another. Either ruined, confusion, chaos, etc, etc, etc. Why would God, a PERFECT and righteous Being create anything in a mess? He didn’t.

    And you are right, the world DOES laugh at Christians. One reason being some consider the earth to be only 6,000 years old.

    And why wouldn’t God stil be creating? He IS a Creator. And THIS world isn’t at it’s finished state yet. He destroyed Noahs world and created another one, didn’t He? The Word said it was destroyed. Or did THIS one evolve?

    And let me say that I believe the literal six day creation. I have no problem with it. That seems to be something I am not being noted on. But, there WAS an ancient past before that. And it is gaining in popularity. Not to satisfy the atheists geologist and atheists and secularists of the world. It is gaining in popularity because it IS God’s Truth.

    Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

  13. And you are right, the world DOES laugh at Christians. One reason being some consider the earth to be only 6,000 years old.

    On the other hand, the world never laughs at Christians for believing in the Resurrection. Right?

  14. Of couse the world laughs at Christians for believing in the resurrection. The world laughs at Christians for being Christians. I really don’t care what the world laughs at us for.
    The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the miracles that Christ performed are taken on faith and the world does not have faith.
    But the world DOES take note of scientific fact and it IS a scientific fact the earth is an Old Earth billions of years old. That is something that does NOT have to be taken on faith because it can be proven.

    Just because one believes in an old earth does NOT mean that one believes in evolution or secular geologists and archaeologists opinions.

  15. I really don’t care what the world laughs at us for.

    Unless it’s for believing in YE. Which is frankly silly on your part. Is it a purported scientific fact that dead people don’t rise from the dead? That a baby isn’t conceived without a father? Of course. So why aren’t you up in arms about Christians who confess those beliefs? How are those beliefs any less embarrassing for Christianity than belief in YE?

    But the world DOES take note of scientific fact and it IS a scientific fact the earth is an Old Earth billions of years old. That is something that does NOT have to be taken on faith because it can be proven.

    That’s an assertion masquerading as an argument. Try again.

  16. Barry,
    Most old earth positions are de facto evolutionary positions or some sort of progressive type creation positions, for each and every one of them must explain the biodiversity of life in the fossil record in accordance with the vast geological ages. The gap theory happens to be a somewhat unique accommodationist position in that one can believe that all of the biodiversity on earth today was the restoration in six days some thousands of years ago (wherever you want to put Adam on the historical timeline), yet all the fossils in the ground are from the ‘Lucifer Flood’ of millions of years ago and do not bear any genetic relationship with the biodiversity of life today. A sort of have your cake and eat it too type theology. The entire exegetical lynchpin is a few verses in the first chapter of Genesis, and maybe one in Isaiah, both which have been exegeted incorrectly to support the theory. The fact that the gap theory has been largely set aside in favor of the framework view, analogical-day view, temple-view or day-age view is evidence to the paucity of its exegetical considerations.

    I suppose you can continue to pound your theory Barry, with limited success here on Fred’s blog, or you can reevaluate your position in light of the overwhelming historical evidence for the six twenty-four hour recent and mature position.

  17. A YE isn’t so much an embarassment as it’s downright silly to believe in such a thing,

    Salvation is an issue that absolutely defines the Christian experience. The Virgin Birth, the death, burial and ressurrection of Jesus Christ are the cornerstones of Christianity and cannot be argued if you claim to be a Christian. That is what I take on faith and it will never be shaken. THAT is why I don’t care if the world laughs at me.

    What I can’t seem to get through to the YE crowd is that science, ultimately is not an enemy in this. The psedo-science of evolution has NOTHING to do with whether the earth is old or not since evolution is false. Have you ever thought that by telling a dyed in the wool evolutionist/atheist that yes, you agree with them in certain points about an old eath that he MIGHT look at you in a different light and at least MAYBE be open about discussions about other biblical matters? Maybe to the point of planting a seed that God will be able to use to save their soul? Like the APostle Paul said, He became all things to all men in order to win some to Christ. Paraphrasing here of course.

    It would not be lying since the bible DOES support an old earth and the doctrine is at least a couple of thousand years old.

  18. Well Steve, I DO believe in the literal six day creation. I DO believe in the first chapter of Genesis, the Creation Chapter happened EXACTLY as God said it did. But, I do NOT believe man co-existed with dinosaurs. That is ridiculous. If so, they would have been described in Genesis.

    But, for you to say that one has to believe in evolution to believe in an Old Earth is just not true. I absolutley DETEST any sort of evolution so I will not allow you to hang that banner on me.

    The exegitical lynchpin is Genesis 1:1 In the BEGINNING…

    When was the absolute BEGINNING? The bible does not say. Oh, it gives the beginning of the Adamic creation and it is very well somewhere between 6-10,00 years ago but this PLANET is far older.

    One question God asked of Job,,where were YOU when I..Implying ancient activities of God eons before Job came along. Where was Job when the morning stars sang for joy at the creation?

    Where were YOU Steve? You may be able to count the years of THIS Age, but you, nor I nor ANYONE but God knows the true age of the earth.

  19. What I can’t seem to get through to the YE crowd is that science, ultimately is not an enemy in this.

    Could it be, Barry, that the difficulty you’re having is because many of us have looked at all sides of this issue, indeed the scientific side is the most troubling, and found it severely wanting?

  20. A YE isn’t so much an embarassment as it’s downright silly to believe in such a thing,

    Once again, an assertion isn’t an argument.

    What I can’t seem to get through to the YE crowd…

    If you’re genuinely interested in “get[ting] through to the YE crowd,” stop sounding like a shill for BioLogos.

    Have you ever thought that by telling a dyed in the wool evolutionist/atheist that yes, you agree with them in certain points about an old eath that he MIGHT look at you in a different light and at least MAYBE be open about discussions about other biblical matters?

    You are seriously in need of reading this post, and also this post. Your motivation couldn’t be more misguided, no matter how sincere it is.

  21. I’m really having no difficulty. None of you so far have said anything about the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ, no matter how old or young the earth is. And He believed in an old earth too.

    And again, science has NOTHING to do with how old the earth is, nothing. Even you can admit that there have been scientific discoveries that have benefited mankind,,not evolution though. So, why can’t they be right on the age of the earth? No evolution involved. All those fossils? Extinct animals trhat GOD created, not evolved into some other species.

    That is where evolution is lacking.

  22. Did you know YE creationist have done the most harm in the younger generation and have caused them to leave their church? Facts are facts.

    Now, I have been civil. I notice arrogance and a little vitriol creeping into you posts. Believe me, I can do that too but I would rasther not.

  23. And may I suggest you read “The Gap Is Not A Theosry” by Jack W. Langford. Very informative of Gods Word on the subject of the Gap and the old earth. It just is NOT plausible for a Young Earth creation.

    Acually, the gap destroys the evolution theory.

    And by the way, did you answer me when I asked you when was the BEGINNING of Genesis 1:1?

  24. Barry,
    I’m not sure Langford’s book would tell me anything I don’t already know about the Gap Theory. I’ve studied it quite extensively. It’s basic exegetical principles are not hard to follow. I’ve found them unconvincing. Fred has enumerated several of them above.

    And by the way, did you answer me when I asked you when was the BEGINNING of Genesis 1:1?

    I take it you think this question is a ‘gotcha’ question? Have you studied the YEC position to see what the proponents of Biblical creation have to say about it? If you have, you probably wouldn’t ask me this question. Please go read the plethora of literature out there on how YEC’s come up with a 6000-10000 year old earth and cosmos from Scripture. I’ve referenced several websites where you can easily find this information. Once you do, I think your questions will be more specific in nature. You’re beating a dead horse here Barry. Blessings to you brother, but since your mind is made up and there is plenty of information to dispel the Gap Theory attempt at accommodation, I will not continue further with you. You can certainly have the last word.

  25. First off, I never said that Genesis 1:1 was NOT the absolute beginning of all things. BUT, it is NOT the first day of the last 6,000 years or so.

    Now, in verse 2, there was darkness. Was darkness the FIRST thing God spoke into existence on the first day? Or, was it LIGHT?

    Genesis 1:3-5

    3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

    4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

    5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

    Verse 2 says DARKNESS covered the face of the deep. NOT light.
    Genesis 1:2

    2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    So, v.2 shows there was a earth ALREADY in existence. It was covered in darkness and ruin, no light mentioned. In verse THREE God spoke light into existence.

    v.3-5 CLEARLY shows the First Day of the Adamic creation, NOT the Universal beginning.

    Verse Three starts with “And God said” then carries through verse 5 ending in, “And the evening and the morning was the first day.”

    So now we can compare the worldwide DARKNESS of verse 2 to the Light of the first 24 hour day in verse three.

    Enough for now but will be continued.

  26. I only see a web-blog here that only wants conformity to a theory that is easily dismantled.

    “When was the beginning?” is not a gotcha question or a dead horse. It is a question that cannot be answered. Only God knows how old this universe is.

    And I have also referenced sites that refute your assertions but of course, you reject them. Admittedly, as I reject the YE dodge.

    Langfords book goes into detail, something you must not be familiar with. He completely rebuts the YE theory very well.

    To think this earth is only six thousand years old is,,,well, infantile.

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