Books I Heard and Read in 2021

My blogging has reduced to a trickle. I just don’t have the time like I used to when I began my blog nearly 17 years ago. Occasionally, I become stirred in my spirit over some issue and I can pound out an article in a couple of hours if not less. I can say, however, that even though I am hardly blogging, at least my actual blog is still active. That’s something I suppose.

I did make a commitment (because I have a smidgen of down time during and in between holidays) to catalog the books I either heard in audio format or read. I like to provide recommendations for fellow friends and other readers.

Books I heard

Striking Back – Aaron J Klein. A brief history of the terrorist attacks against Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and how Israel hunted down all the terrorists and wiped them out. The book provides an interesting background to the development of Mossad and Israeli spy craft.

Norco 80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History – Peter Houlahan. The retelling of the worst, poorly conceived bank robbery ever. Attempted by a group of 5 men, two of them former members of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa who had become end-time survivalists. They were heavily armed with machine guns and the pursuit by law enforcement resulted in 30 patrol cars damaged, a police helicopter damaged, numerous houses and businesses damaged, and one officer killed.

Intellectuals and Society – Thomas Sowell. I am hoping to read more Thomas Sowell in the years to come. I prefer listening to audio books; but sadly, our local library system only has this book available in audio. It was an overview of how intellectual, liberal elites think they know better than everyone else how to live their lives and make a society.

The Political Incorrect Guide to American History – Thomas E. Woods. This is a short history of America. Published by the fine folks at the Political Incorrect Guide group who have produced some wonderful titles over the years. The one on the Vietnam War is worth getting, as well. The authors and the books are always described by reviewers as “controversial” which means they are right with their views of historical reality.

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe – Thomas Cahill. A history of Ireland and the unique place of the Irish people, not only in Europe and the US, but throughout the world. They had one of the first libraries that copied and preserved important manuscripts from antiquity. The background to St. Patrick was especially well done and I would recommend the book just for those couple of chapters or so detailing his life and influence.

Books I Read

Leviathan Awakes and Caliban’s War – James S. A. Corey. I have enjoyed watching The Expanse series on Amazon Prime, so I thought I would read the novels, that of course are much better. I was able to work my way through the first two. The author’s name is a pen name for two authors who wrote the series. The stories take place 300 years or so into the future. Humankind has colonized the solar system, but instead of Star Trek ships that go 6 times the speed of light and alien cultures everywhere, it is just people who have normal ships that go fast, but it takes time to get from point A to point B. Mars is an independent planet, no longer associated with Earth, and miner clans colonize the asteroid belt. The tense situations between all the groups explode when an alien molecule is discovered on one of Jupiter’s moons and a mysterious corporation begins to weaponize it.

Holiness Unto the Lord – Allan P. Ross, Leviticus – Mark Rooker, Lectures on Leviticus – Joseph Seiss. I taught through the book of Leviticus with my volunteers this past year and those three books were extremely helpful in my preparation.

The Failure of Natural Theology: A Critical Appraisal of the Philosophical Theology of Thomas Aquinas – Jeffrey Johnson. The book is a bit heady, and readers uninitiated with Aquinas and the issues pertaining to his natural theology may find it a tad daunting; but overall, pastor Johnson does a fantastic job laying out the case against Aquinas’s “baptism” of Aristotle as a filter through which we do theology. The neo-Thomists on social media have been whining about this book for a number of weeks, calling pastor Johnson to repent for writing it, so you know it is worth the time.

The Old in the New: Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament – Michael Vlach. An excellent survey of how the New Testament writers quoted from, and used, the Old Testament in their writings to the church. Vlach works through the major passages like Matthew 2:15, Galatians 3:16, and others that are referenced as proof the NT writers re-wrote or poured new meaning into what the OT writers stated. An excellent resource to have on hand as a rejoinder to Reformed folks who insist the Bible is one big picture book that is read according to types.

The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization – Arthur Herman. I am currently working on writing my various blog articles on apologetics, evangelism, and apologetic methodology, into a book. I have returned to re-reading works I haven’t visited in some years. In my research, I heard a podcast on which one of the hosts mentioned how great this book was. I found it for cheap and began reading through it and it truly is a fantastic work. Herman chronicles the lives and philosophical worldviews of Plato and Aristotle and their lasting impact on western society, especially (and regrettably to a degree) the Christian church all the way up to the Reformation. The book is informative and entertaining to read. If you want to see how Greek philosophy had such an influence on Christian theology, it is worth the time reading.

From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology – Andrew Steinmann. Without a doubt this is the best book I read all year. Not only was it informative and a joy to read, it is an important work for apologetics. The Bible is a historical book. The events recorded within it’s pages really happened in time and space. And because the Bible records real, historical events, the Bible also records time markers by reference to other historical events taking place at the same time those written down in the Bible happened. That is also the importance of genealogical lists found throughout Scripture. Those time markers provide key, chronological dates that establish the historicity of the events in Scripture.

Steinmann works his way from the life of Abraham, establishing key, historical benchmarks that anchor the events in Scripture into history. He works his way forward to Christ and the ministry of Paul that ends in Acts 28. The study he provides on the life of Christ is one of the big reasons to have this book. Though it is a bit pricey (around forty dollars or more), the book is a valuable edition to your library.

Books I Heard or Read in 2020

As the hell year of 2020 closes out, I wanted to post the books I heard and read in 2020.

I’ll begin with the ones I heard (I listened to some Star Wars novels, but I don’t feel the need to highlight them).

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson – S.C Gwynne

A wonderful biography. Because Jackson was a Confederate general (and one of the greatest in all of American history), he is treated by our woke moderns as a racist villain. He was nothing of the sort, even founding the first black Sunday school to teach literacy and biblical theology to the slaves.

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution – Nathaniel Philbrick

Philbrick is a brilliant historian on the American colonial and Revolutionary eras. Excellent overview of the events and people leading up to the Revolutionary War and the drama surrounding Arnold’s betrayal. I would also recommend Philbrick’s history on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. Great Christian history even though it is not specifically written as such.

Foundation – Issac Asimov
Dune – Frank Herbert

Both of these books are getting a film treatment this next year. All the fanfare around them gushes how both books are brilliant empire building epics that inspired George Lucas and other film makers. I had never read Foundation, but it was one of the most boring stories I have listened to. I almost gave up on it. The scientists are the heroes who use their SCIENCE! to predict the future and put the Scientists! all in power when the idiot dummies who run the empires in the galaxy collapse upon themselves.

Dune, on the other hand, was fantastic. I had started reading the book when I was a kid, but it didn’t interest me. I became familiar with the 1984 movie version and the 2000 SciFi channel version. I liked the TV version over the movie version. At any rate, Frank Herbert did a much greater job of writing an empire building story with memorable characters and dialogue than Asimov.

Now to the books I read.

First, the ebooks.

Disloyal Opposition – Julie Kelly. A biography of sorts on the NeverTrump movement. It was entertaining to say the least.

Cynical Theories – Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay. A book written by two secular unbelievers on the destructive ideas put forth by the current trends of critical race theories and other postmodern nonsense.

A Testimony of Jesus Christ – Tony Garland. An outstanding commentary on the book of Revelation. Over 1000 pages (I’m still reading). The commentary is available in various formats for free on the internet. I bought the Logos version so it can be searchable.

Now to physical books.

Note the photo. Beginning from the top.

The Absurdity of Unbelief and Expository Apologetics are both apologetics oriented books. Presuppositional and Scriptural, as apologetic methodology should be. Picked them up at G3.

He Died For Me explores the extent of the atonement in various Calvinistic expressions. I thought it laid out the discussion rather well. Another G3 find.

Creation Unfolding is written by my old seminary friend from Australia, Ken Coulson. He has since obtained a doctorate in geology. I left a fuller review at Amazon HERE.

Before the Throne is a lay level study on the holiness of God and how we as believers should be shaped by God’s holiness. It’s a good book to utilize in small group Bible studies.

God Doesn’t Whisper, written by my friend Jim Osman, is a book dismantling the disastrous idea that God speaks to Christians through personal signs, omens, murmurings, and unintelligible impressions that a believer then has to decode in some fashion or he will miss out on God’s will. Highly recommended!

History of Christian Thought is the second volume in Justo Gonzalez’s major work on Church History. The 2nd volume covers the middle ages up until the Reformation.

The remainder of my book stack I plan to read this next year. Or in the case of a few, finish them.

1 & 2 Thessalonians. My friend Cameron has started the personal project of reading through all of John MacArthur’s NT commentaries. He told me, “You know, we listen to his preaching every week, attended TMS, and work for GTY and I have never just read his commentary work.” The same with me. The only ones I have read through have been Galatians and 2 Timothy, because I taught those books. So I took up his habit. Cameron began with Matthew and is currently in the Gospel of Luke. I thought I would begin with some of his smaller works first.

Holiness – JC Ryle. I read big portions of this book decades ago and loved it. Ryle set me thinking correctly about sanctification. I was planning on preaching on the topic of holiness with my volunteers this past year, but then stupid COVID lockdowns happened.

What About Evil? This is Scott Christensen’s magnum opus on the problem of evil and how Christians should have a biblical response. Well researched and written. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

The Genesis Account is a commentary on Genesis 1-11. Sarfati, who has become a distant friend of mine on social media, provides a detailed, apologetic work that presents Genesis as legitimate history. Thoroughly exegetical, dealing with all the major views naysayers use to dismiss this foundational book.

A History of Christian Thought Volume 3. Justo Gonzalez’s third and final volume in his historical survey of Christian doctrine. Look forward to starting it.

Royal Deceptions: Exposing the KJVO Conspiracies Against God’s Word

Over 15 years ago I began blogging at Blogger. My primary purpose for blogging was to have an outlet for articulating what I was learning theologically and apologetically. One of my earliest series of articles was on the topic of King James Onlyism. As a new believer, I was sucked into believing the polemics of various advocates like David Cloud and Gail Riplinger. I morphed into becoming a belligerent KJV Onylist who pestered everyone with my newly acquired dogma. I thought I had a pure, God-fearing, Bible-loving belief in God’s revelation and I wanted to tell everybody about it. I wasn’t allowing any spiritually corrupt, fake Christian tell me my Bible had errors in it and that I needed to read a modern “perversion!” Then, in God’s grace and with the means of solid men pouring their lives into mine, I saw the foolishness of my KJVO convictions. I abandoned them and embraced the truth of how God transmitted and preserved His written revelation.

Reflecting on my decade or so as a KJVO “true” believer, I put together a number of articles engaging the apologetic talking points of KJV onlyism. I gained for myself a lot of notoriety with those dozen or so articles. KJV proponents swarmed to my blog wanting to refute me, and their ridiculous responses only provided me more material for my blog. What really blessed my heart, however, were the individuals who contacted me privately, expressing how they were helpful in drawing them out of hardcore independent, Fundamentalist legalism concerning the doctrine of Scripture. I was grateful for those testimonies and that God used me as a means for encouraging those brothers and sisters.

Eventually, I journeyed from Blogger to the WordPress platform and updated and reposted those articles for a wider audience. Over a year and half or more ago, a friend of mine asked if I had anything in print on KJV onlyism. He particularly wanted something simple and basic. An older lady had contacted him and wanted a response to a KJVO book she had received from Chick tracts publications. Most of the material I knew in print was excellent, but maybe disheartening for someone who isn’t familiar with all the terminology within textual criticism and translation circles.

I was moved to putting something into print, but didn’t really know where to start. I began pulling together my primary articles from my blog and re-editing them into what I thought could be a pdf file of some sort. Then I had a few other friends suggest using Amazon’s free book service. I looked into it, and for what I wanted to provide, they offered a simple (and free) way of getting my material into the hands of folks interested in the topic.

My friend, Jim Osman, who pastors Kootenai Community Church in Idaho, was extremely helpful with formatting my Word document into a book manuscript. Pastor Jim has some excellent books on spiritual warfare and evaluating the “hearing the voice of God” false doctrine so entrenched in modern evangelicalism, so check those out. Josh Comstock put together the brilliant cover art for my book and helped me brainstorm book titles that eventually became Royal Deceptions.

Those interested in the book or Kindle edition can find it here, Royal Deceptions: Exposing the King James Only Conspiracies Against God’s Word.

The online version of these articles have already been removed, so for any readers who may have benefited from sharing them in the past, I thank you, and please considering directing others to my book. It would be deeply appreciated.

Books I Heard and Read in 2019

I haven’t posted a yearly book overview in a couple of years because of life and stuff. But I have some time this week and thought I would recommend some good reads (and listens) for folks.

Books I Heard

Jayber Crow – My wife attended a classical education conference this past summer and a lecturer in one of the seminars insisted that the members of the audience read this book. My wife got the physical book; I downloaded the audio version on Overdrive.

While it was well written, the story is weird. It’s about a guy who lives in rural Kentucky. He loses his parents as a young child, is raised by relatives, who then die when he is a young teen. He then is taken to a religious orphanage. Shortly before attending college, he essentially becomes an atheist skeptic, sets out on his own to make his way in the world. He comes back to the community where he originally lived and opens a barber shop. The book is his narration of the lives of the various characters in the community over 80 years. The story takes a strange turn when he falls in love with a woman in a bad marriage and becomes something of a stalker.

The author, Wendell Berry, has a number of books retelling the lives of people in rural Kentucky. People rave about him being this fantastic writer, but his books are his outlet to share his moonbat environmentalist musings. He’s practically a sophisticated, American Hillbilly version of Greta Thunberg.

Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality – I have been wanting to dive into Thomas Sowell for sometime. Sadly, there isn’t much of any good pickings at my local library in either print or audio format. I was able to secure this short book. It was quite excellent, though dated (originally written in 1984). I hope I can find more of his material.

Justice on Trial – This book was a riveting retelling of the Justice Kavanaugh hearings and the leftist insanity that surrounded his nomination to the Supreme Court. The two authors, Mollie Hemmingway and Carrie Serverino, provide detailed interviews with various individuals involved with the hearings as they develop the timeline from Kavanaugh’s days as a clerk with Justice Kennedy, to his nomination by Trump, and the bizarro circus of senate hearings manufactured by the leftist Democrats. That there were well-know Christian personalities who defended his accusers as credible is embarrassing in light of the truth presented in this book.

Heir to the Empire – This was my only fictional book I read or heard this year. The first in a Star Wars trilogy written by Timothy Zahn. Takes place five years after the fall of the Empire. Main characters, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the others all involved in various adventures with a story arc that involves a new villain, Admiral Thrawn, who commands what is left of the broken up imperials. The audio was well done; like a radio drama. The fellow who did the main narration captured the voices of the characters really well. It is a tragedy these books were not developed into movies.

Books I Read

So here’s the stack of books I read this year:

For the sake of time, I am not linking these to Amazon. I will highlight each one and trust the readers can locate them on their own.

Starting at the top,

Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem – F. LaGard Smith. I began this book in late 2018 and finished early 2019. It is probably the best book I have read in recent years that utterly debunks the working thesis of Darwinian evolution. If the starting pair of organisms cannot sexually reproduce, thus spreading their genetic material into the next generation, evolution of life cannot happen. Smith lays out his case with methodical devastation.

A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism – Matt Waymeyer. Matt was a former Presbyterian baby baptizer. This short work is an excellent engagement of all the arguments for the baptism of infants and his response to them.

No Quick Fix – Andrew Naselli. A brief overview of so-called higher life/Keswick theology and the doctrinal harm it has brought to the church. I would highly recommend this book for folks to read. It does a lot with explaining the reasons behind many dopey views of salvation and sanctification Christians have. Naselli has a much larger, expanded work on this topic available in electronic format on Logos if you are a user.

Long Before Luther – Nathan Busenitz. Survey of the doctrine of justification by faith alone from the beginnings of church history. Nathan shows how Christians held to pretty much the same articulation of justification by faith alone that Luther and the reformers taught.

None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God – Matthew Barrett. A treatment of the major attributes of God like incomprehensibility, aseity, impassibility, and the omni attributes. Excellent devotional study for small groups or personally.

John Owen: Prince of Puritans – Andrew Thomson. A brief biography of John Owen. Short and concise, covering his life and ministry and all his major works. I appreciated the context of why Owen wrote what he wrote in the main printed works still available today from Banner of Truth.

How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity – Rodney Stark. I recommend anything Stark writes. All of his material tackles the bogus narratives put forth by atheists against religion and the lefty historians against western society. This book is an easy read that outlines the development of Western culture and why it succeeded and thrived, while other cultures failed. Have your teenagers read this to help detox their thinking from all of the Howard Zinn nonsense that will bombard them.

The History of God’s Remarkable Providences in Colonial New England – Increase Mather. I have been immersed over the last year or more in the life of Cotton Mather and his father, Increase. They were a major influence directing the flow of colonial America and setting the stage for the Great Awakening and eventually the Revolutionary War. I didn’t read this book in it’s entirety, just selected chapters. Both the Mathers collected unusual stories about what they perceived as God’s remarkable providence. Things like sea deliverances, the appearance of apparitions, and thunderstorms.

Saving the Reformation – W. Robert Godfrey. A history and overview of the Canons of Dort. I appreciate the work Godfrey put into this book, but in all honesty, it was a brutally boring read. I had to muscle my way through it. I like the historical background information, and the first appendix that provides a new look at Arminius and his theology and motivation, was interesting. This is one of those kind of books you keep around for research purposes.

Witchcraft at Salem – Chadwick Hansen. I picked this book up years ago at Archives from the back room where they had all of their deep discounted books kept separate from their main collection. I was happy to get it for 5 bucks. It sat on my shelf since 1999. What is that? 20 years!? Recently, I picked it up to add to my reading rotation because of my interest in Cotton Mather, he being associated with the Salem witch trials. The book is an engaging read, thoroughly debunking the bogus traditional narrative of mass hysteria and the like.

Destroyer of the gods – Larry Hurtado. This was a gift from a previous Christmas. I heard the author interviewed on various “apologetic” podcasts, like Stand to Reason. People gushed about how this book is a “must read” for Christians doing apologetics. I thought the book was an okay read. His primary thesis is showing the uniqueness of the Christian faith contrasted with the Roman religions and culture of the first and second centuries, and what made Christianity special and why it thrived in spite of persecution and other external pressures. I thought the author was a bit too higher critical with his convictions. For instance, he doesn’t believe Paul wrote the books assigned to him, etc. I would recommend people picking up Michael Kruger’s book, Christianity at the Crossroads, that covers the same ideas, but he actually believes the Bible is true.

A History of Christian Thought, Volume 1 – Justo Gonzalez. One of the last awesome finds I was blessed to pick up from Archive books before they permanently closed their doors was Gonzalez’s three volume work on historical theology. I remember my church history prof on the first day of my first class in seminary insisting everyone purchase these volumes. Fifty bucks for a beggarly seminary student was like 50,000 dollars, so I was never able to obtain them. My seminary prof was correct: these books are well done. Gonzalez provides historical background to the various theological controversies, as well as biographical sketches of major theologians of the church. I appreciate the information he provides for the secular philosophies Christian apologists had to engage and why. This volume really provides a well rounded understanding of the early centuries of the Christian church. Looking forward to cracking the second and third volumes in the new year. I believe the three volumes have been combined into one large print edition.

Books I Heard or Read in 2017

My annual book review list for the year 2017.

Books I Heard

In The Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette – Hampton Sides

A wonderfully written narrative detailing the first attempt to cross the Arctic Sea. At the time, it was believed that the Arctic was a vast ocean surrounded by ice. Once a ship punches through the ice, the crew could sail across the North Pole, punch through the ice again, and emerge on the other side of the world. That of course was a wildly disastrous theory that led to the Jeannette and its crew trapped in the Polar Ice Cap for two years. They were eventually forced to abandon ship as it was crushed to pieces.

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime – Val McDermid

A history of forensic science and how it has helped solve crimes. A bit ghoulish with some details, but this was one of the better books I heard this year.

The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace – H.W. Brands

As a southerner, I was born believing that U.S. Grant was an awful man who took state rights away from the South. Brands’s biography dispelled that myth for me. I finished this book loving the guy and actually thankful for his presidency after the Civil War. The first two-thirds of the book recounting Grant’s early life and military career during the war was riveting. Once he became president, the narrative got a bit boring at spots, but the author moved the story along at a good pace. He exposed me to a lot of forgotten history that was rarely covered in school. We can only wish we had more men like Grant today. I also look forward to exploring more of Brands’s history. He was an excellent writer.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign – Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

Out of all the books I heard this year, Shattered was the most delightful. Primarily because I knew the ending and it would be an emotionally thrilling one. The two authors interviewed many individuals involved behind the scenes at Hillary’s campaign. They provide a month by month narrative moving us through Hillary’s announcement to run for president in 2015 to her meltdown on election day, 2016. They also border on turning the book into a hagiography as they gloss over Hillary’s corruption and criminal activities, and paint her opponents, particularly Trump, as sinister and conniving men wishing to deny this wonderful woman her rightful place as president. What was really revealing was the flagrant elitism of Hillary and her cronies who believed they deserved to win this election and that Americans were merely tricked by fake news and Russian meddling to vote for Trump. It is symphonic levels of delusions of grandeur.

Christianity and Liberalism – J. Gresham Machen

This is Machen’s classic, undeniable work demonstrating that Liberal Christianity is a false religion that has manufactured a god of their own making and has nothing whatsoever to do with biblical Christianity.

Why The Reformation Still Matters Michael Reeves and Tim Chester

Just finished this a week before Christmas. A well-written overview of the key men who ignited the Reformation. The authors cover what the five solas were all about and why they still very much matter for us some 500 years after the Reformation.

Books I read

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – JD Vance

The autobiography of a young man raised in Kentucky and Ohio among a white trash, hillbilly culture. Spurred on to accomplish greater things by his crass grandmother who was one of the only stable persons in his life, Vance moved forward by joining the Marines, attending Ohio State, and eventually graduating from Harvard law school. The book hit close to home for me, because every dysfunctional family member and neighbor he describes mirrors pretty much a number of folks I knew in my rural, Arkansas town.

Do not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion – Justin Peters

Justin’s short book explores why manipulating young children to be baptized at a young age is ultimately disastrous. My longer review of the book can be found HERE.

What About Freewill? Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty – Scott Christensen

As I have been telling people for a while now, this is probably the best book on the topic of freewill currently in print. Easy to read, well written, and addressing all of the necessary topics related to the subject. A lengthier review can be found HERE.

Wesley and the People Called Methodists  – Richard Heitzenrater

A friend of mine — who is the only high, supralapsarian Calvinist I know who graduated from a Wesleyan college — recommended this book to me. It is written from a Wesley-friendly perspective. The author is also more honest with his evaluation of Wesley’s troubling personal and theological foibles. It provides a fuller picture of the man than what is usually found among other evangelical historians attempting to make him an admirable counterpart to Whitefield.

The Doctrine of the Word of God – John Frame

Frame’s marvelous doctrinal study on Scripture. All of his works were on sale for 25 bucks at ShepCon this past year. If they are again this year, I’m picking up his Doctrine on the Christian Life to complete my set.

The Life and Times of Cotton Mather – Kenneth Silverman

Phil Johnson and Mike Abendroth recommended this older biography on Mather. I was able to secure a used hardback copy in excellent condition. Silverman, to my knowledge, is not a Christian, but he handles Mather with respect. At the same time, he does not gloss over Mather’s eccentricities. The section detailing the Salem witch trials and Mather’s continuationist sympathies is alone worth the price of the book.

The Benedict Arnold Option – J.D. Hall

I understand that J.D. is a polarizing figure; but that aside, he has written a necessary critique of Rod Dreher’s retreatist philosophy that has taken root among the evangelical intellectuals. The Benedict Option philosophy is to academy elitists what they think Trumpism is to blue collar, red state evangelicals.

Navigating Genesis – Hugh Ross

This is Hugh Ross’s classic manifesto presenting old earth, progressive creationism. If one wishes to know the basic apologetic approach of Ross and his supporters, it is the book where one should begin. I wrote a series of critiques that can be found HERE.

Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys: 7 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son Dennis Rainey

Dennis Rainey, host of Family Life Today, has put together a small, helpful book addressing the need for parents to direct teenage boys in assessing the character of young ladies. He draws his material from the book of Proverbs as he answers important questions in discipling young men.

I am currently working my way through Michael Kruger’s newest book on second century Christianity entitled, Christianity at the Crossroads. I plan a fuller review later after I finish it. As always, Kruger has written a needful work. Also, I am thoroughly enjoying Michael Vlach’s book, And He Shall Reign Forever, that is a study on the kingdom of God. It is an excellent entry on the topic of God’s sovereignty and His eternal kingdom.

Reviewing Navigating Genesis

My short series of articles reviewing Hugh Ross’s book, Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey through Genesis 1-11. Evaluating various areas of his deep-time, old earth creationist apologetic that has become the default view of creation and origins among various ministries and popular, online social media apologists.

[1] Introduction to the Series

[2] Ross’s Personal Journey

[3] Evaluating the Reasons People Resist Scripture and the Faith

[4] The Creation Week

[5] How Far the Fall

[6] Noah’s Flood: Global or Local?

 

Book Review – Do Not Hinder Them

I had the opportunity to review Justin Peters new book addressing childhood conversions, Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion.

The book is brief, only 100 plus pages or so, but it is a concise, withering analysis as to why youth are leaving church and drifting away from the Christian faith.

The so-called youth experts on social media want us to believe it is because Christian kids lack the training in the basic apologetics to answer skeptics they will encounter at college. Or perhaps they don’t feel connected to church. In reality, as Peters’s explains, it is because kids have been led to pray a prayer of confession at an early age, and then rushed through the waters of baptism. Often times, the baptism of kids is for the purpose of bolstering numbers for the local church so they in turn can report those figures to the denominational headquarters.

The result is a kid who never really understood the Gospel message, who then prays a rehearsed prayer of confession given to him by his parents and youth pastor, and him becoming essentially a false convert. When he leaves home, he leaves the Christian faith because he never had genuine faith to begin with.

I would highly recommend parents, youth directors, and pastors to read this book and ponder the study Peters provides within it’s pages. My full review can be found over at the Bible Thumping Wingnut page,

Do Not Hinder Them – A Review

Books I Heard or Read in 2016

libraryMy yearly review of all the books I either heard on audio or read via print or ebook. Reviews for previous years can be located HERE.

Audio Books I Heard

The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – Michael Morrell

Morrell is the former deputy director of the CIA. The book tells his life story of how he was recruited into the CIA, how he worked his way up through the ranks to eventually become the daily CIA briefer for George W. Bush. The book really picks up when he gives his eye-witness recounting of the events of 9/11 and the decade long manhunt for Bin Laden that ended in his eventual killing. That section of his book was fascinating. Where I thought the book began to go off the rails is the latter portion. There he attempts to defend Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s incompetent handling of the Benghazi attacks.

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle the Set Them Free – Hector Tobar

This book tells the story about the San Jose mine collapse in August 2010 down in Chile. I remember being riveted to the news when it was discovered the men were still alive and the subsequent attempt to rescue them. The author does a great job of detailing the individual lives of each of the 33 miners. In fact, it was so detailed that the flow of the story got bogged down a bit with the human interest angle. He even goes into the personal background of all the Chilean government officials and special operators who led the rescue efforts. It wasn’t until the 8th hour of listening that I finally got to the rescuers breaking through to the miners and the book focusing on keeping the miners alive and getting them out.

The Wright Brothers – David McCullough

This book started out a bit slow. The first disk was a dry, biographical sketch introducing us to Orville and Wilbur, their sister, and parents. I suppose it was necessary to set the story up. But once I made it past that section, the book picks up pace as McCullough recounts the experimentation the brothers went through to build a working glider, then an engine propelled glider, and their eventual triumph becoming the first men to ever successfully fly a working airplane.

Normal Books I Read

I actually read more books this year than I heard.

History of Western Philosophy and Theology – John Frame

An outstanding and well done overview of the key philosophers and theologians, beginning with the ancient Greeks and moving through to early Christian apologists, Medieval theologians, the major Reformers, Renaissance philosophers, Enlightenment era skeptics, and modern era philosophers like Bertrand Russell. Frame provides a brief biographical sketch of all the thinkers, what it was they taught, and offers a biblical critique. I’d highly recommend this book as a solid reference work. I was thankful I picked this up the first of the year when P&R publishers was offering it on sale through Westminster books.

The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters – Sinclair Ferguson

I heard Ferguson lecture on this topic a number of years ago, so I was glad to see his material written up into book format. The topic of the extent of law-keeping and Christian liberty has always been a struggle for believers to work through. Ferguson frames his study around the events of the Marrow Controversy that took place in Scotland in the early 1700s. The controversy is still relevant for us today as Christians need to have a working understanding of Christ’s liberty and how the law of God should shape our faith given to us freely by grace.

17 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be on September 22nd, 2017 – No Man Knoweth

Title and author is fairly straight forward what this book is about. See my fuller review HERE.

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating – Daniel Anderson, with his daughter Jacquelyn Anderson

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. The primary focus of the two authors is to help teen girls specifically navigate the perils of teen dating and how if they do it stupidly, their choices will wreck their futures. The book was a big disappointment as I explain in a fuller review HERE.

Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare – Jim Osman

Pastor Jim Osman works through all the false teaching on spiritual warfare from charismatics and provides a thorough rebuttal. He evaluates the concepts of praying hedges, binding the devil, and generational curses, while at the same time presenting a biblical perspective on how Christians should think about spiritual warfare. See my fuller review HERE.

Evangelical White Lies – Mike Abendroth

My good pal Mike has written a splendid little book that addresses a number of bad teachings that have appeared throughout the years in evangelical churches. The book is short, to the point, and would even be a worthy of a men’s Bible study. See my fuller review HERE.

One of the cool things about Logos, or any Bible software program I would imagine, is the app gives me access to my Logos library on my tablet and phone. It is kind of neat to be standing in line waiting to board the Matterhorn at Disney Land and being able to search all my commentaries on the pastorals. Maybe folks have been aware of this wonderful tech for years, but I just discovered that beautiful feature and it is like aliens have landed. My entire reading habits have been expanded and transformed. Along with reading the commentaries I have for 2 Timothy when I prepare my sermons for my volunteers, I have been reading other books in my library.

Heretics for Armchair Theologians – Justo and Catherine Gonzalez

A brief study on all the main heresies that have popped up ever since the first century to trouble the church. He covers Marcion, Montanism, Donatists, Pelagius, and Arianism to name a few. I would recommend this as a handy introductory work for new Christians who have never been exposed to church history.

The Expectant Prophet: Habakkuk Simply Explained – John Currid

I have the Welwyn Commentary series on Logos and they have published some short, but well written commentaries on a number of OT books. I found that they have a large collection of the minor prophets. My goal is to read through the titles covering the minor prophets because my knowledge of those books is lacking. I like Currid’s work, so I started with Habakkuk, which I found to be an encouraging devotional study of that short little book. I plan to do Zephaniah next.

I am currently reading three books that I was unable to finish before the years end, so they will be on the 2017 book review post next year. I have liked them so much I did want to briefly mention them.

First is Matt Waymeyer’s, Amillennialism and the Age to Come: A Premillennial Critique of the Two-Age Model. It is his dissertation work from TMS and is an excellent treatment critiquing the most recent of Amillennial authors like Sam Storms, Kim Riddlebarger, and NCT advocate, Dean Davis. He not only offers a rebuttal to amillennial arguments against premillennialism, but his primary focus is to show clearly the biblical teaching of an intermediary, earthly kingdom.

Next is Richard Heitzenrater’s biographical study on John Wesley, Wesley and the People Called Methodists. I have a friend who graduated from a Wesleyan college and he recommended it because it is one of the better biographies that is not ashamed to mention Wesley’s theological errors and other personal foibles.  I am not a fan of Wesley and I believe his false doctrines he promulgated during his life, and that were picked up by his ardent followers, are the seed of a lot of theological ills in the modern church.

Next is Jason Lisle’s book, Understanding Genesis: How to Analysis, Interpret, and Defend Scripture. The book talks about reading Genesis, but the bulk of Lisle’s study deals with the hermeneutics of reading Scripture and applying what you read. I would highly recommend this book for both new and seasoned believers. We can never get enough teaching about studying the Bible accurately and correctly.

Reviewing Navigating Genesis [2]

 

creationChapter 1 – Personal Journey

Summary

I have taken up reviewing Hugh Ross’s book, Navigating Genesis. My introductory post explaining my reasoning can be found HERE.

Ross opens up his book recounting his personal journey as a young man putting the Bible to his rigorous scientific testing. As an apologist, he encounters many people these days who complain that the Bible is an ancient book full of scientific nonsense and blatant contradictions. When he asks folks for examples of that scientific nonsense, many of them cite Genesis 1-11.

Ross, however, sees their rejection of Genesis as an opportunity, because “the scientific discoveries of the past few decades…present some of the most persuasive evidences ever assembled for the supernatural authorship, accuracy, and authority of the Bible,” [9]. He goes on to explain how Genesis can withstand rigorous scientific and biblical testing, and because of that those first 11 chapters of Genesis present some of the most persuasive evidence of the divine authority of the Bible.

He tells how when he was a young man, his singular passion was science. He was particularly drawn to astronomy and he specifically believed the big bang model of cosmology was the best model ever conceived that fits the observational data, [11]. That led him further to be convinced that the big bang model implied that a creator existed.

When he turned his attention to studying the world’s religions, the one religious book that stood out above all the others as a reasonable explanation of that scientific data was the Bible. The “scientific method was clearly evident in Genesis chapter 1 as in a modern research paper,” [12]. After reading the entire Bible he failed to discover anything within its pages that could be label as a verifiable error. Once his study was completed, and he saw that the Bible lined up with everything he knew scientifically, he gave his life to Christ as his savior. The book, Navigating Genesis, is his attempt to navigate the record of Genesis with his reading audience, while answering challenges raised by skeptics, both inside and outside the church.

Review

With this introductory recounting of his personal faith journey, Ross announces that he will build the argument in his book upon a number of what are clearly faulty premises. Let me highlight a few important ones that will direct the trajectory of my forthcoming reviews.

To begin, he is going to treat the book of Genesis, a book that is a historical record of God’s creation and the events of the early earth that lead up to the call of Abraham, as if it is a scientific research paper. He writes, “As a scientist I would say these events beg to be tested,” [9]. But how exactly does one scientifically test events recorded in a historical document? Ross believes those events are a record of the past, but unless he has access to a special Delorean, he cannot possibly scientifically test them. All he can do, and what he will do throughout his book, is force upon the historical record of Scripture modern presuppositions from secular science he unquestionably accepts as valid. That is not doing science; that’s gaming the facts.

Additionally, he attempts to distinguish his scientific test for the events recorded in Genesis from miraculous events like the Virgin Birth and Jesus turning water into wine. He seems to think that the miraculous, divine interventions recorded in Genesis like the creation week, Noah’s flood, and the confusion of languages at Babel, are scientifically testable, but the resurrection of Lazarus is not. He assumes that verifying the miracle of creation according to the various scientific disciplines, will somehow verify those other miracles.

Yet all of those events, the creation, Noah’s flood, Christ feeding the 5,000, and His bodily resurrection, are all equally miraculous. For some reason, Ross believes we can scrutinize the miracles recorded in Genesis because they apparently fall into the realm of the scientific disciplines, whereas the other recorded miracles do not. (Why wouldn’t a Resurrection fall into the realm of medical science, for instance). What he fails to inform the reader is that he will evaluate those Genesis events according to the various presuppositions of secular science and the conclusions of secular science tend to deny the miraculous and explain it away.

Ross also notes three biblical tests he believes are important to his presentation. How exactly those biblical tests come together with the scientific tests just mentioned is not really explained. The reader is expected to roll with the disconnect.

First he notes what he calls the Berean test taken from Acts 17:11. Like the noble Bereans (who were unbelievers, by the way), who tested all the claims made by Paul about Jesus, all the biblical passages that parallel and overlap Genesis 1-11 must cohere with what ALL of Scripture teaches. That raises the question as to whether or not when those biblical passages contradict the scrutiny of the so-called scientific disciplines used to evaluate the events of Genesis, what gives way? The biblical testimony or the scientific discipline evaluating that testimony?

If Scripture cannot be broken as Ross asserts, can the scientific discipline in conflict with the point of Scripture be broken? He writes, “…understandings of Genesis 1-11 that contradict any other part of the Bible must be rejected,” [10]. But does that apply to any of the scientific disciplines?

Next is the spirit test that the apostle John writes of in his first epistle. Christians are to “test the spirits” to see if whether they come form God. But lots of the scientific scrutiny comes from “spirits” that are hostile and opposed to God. In fact, a number of modern practitioners of the scientific disciplines do not care for God at all. If they are religious, they tend toward synchronizing Darwinian evolution with what religious faith they may have to produce some weird, unbiblical theistic evolutionary hybrid. There certainly is a spirit behind such overt hostility to God.

Thirdly is the biblical language test. Ross writes, “A precise understanding of the text is crucial for interpreting the scientific and historical details as well as the theological context,” [10]. He goes on to explain that a precise understanding includes knowledge of the original language, the grammar, and its usage in various passages.

The problem, however, is that as one works his way through his book, nothing indicates that he has a working grasp of the original languages or the grammar. He is dependent upon secondary sources, which is understandable, because many writers and theologians may not have a full, working knowledge of the original languages. But his dependence, as I noted in my first review, relies almost exclusively upon the Theological Workbook of the OT. In fact, his appendix B, which is a breakdown of all the important Hebrew words in Genesis 1 is taken solely from the TWOT.

While I would certainly agree that the TWOT is a fine reference work, if you are an apologist who is writing a book length treatment advocating your unique apologetic of creation and the book of Genesis, and insisting to your readers you alone have the correct understanding of the text, it would behoove you to expand your sources beyond just one resource, albeit a good one. Moreover, the TWOT is limited in its scope in that it doesn’t cover grammatical and syntactical matter of the Hebrew texts under consideration. A number of Ross’s assertion about how the original language should be understood doesn’t even take into mind those grammatical and syntactical nuances.

And then one final, faulty premise is Ross’s “Nature is a 67th book of the Bible” argument. Ross, and the RTB apologists, believe that nature is a unique revelation all unto its own that is self-sufficient and self-authenticating. In one of his earliest books that sets forth his apologetic, Creation and Time, Ross writes that,

“the Bible teaches a dual, reliably consistent revelation. God has revealed Himself through the words of the Bible and the facts of nature…So, God’s revelation is not limited exclusively to the Bible’s words. The facts of nature may be likened to a sixty-seventh book of the Bible. Just as we rightfully expect interpretations of Isaiah to be consistent with those of Mark, so too we can expect interpretations of the facts of nature to be consistent with the message of Genesis and the rest of the canon.” [Creation and Time, 56-57]

He states that he is NOT putting nature on equal footing with the authority of the Scripture, but he does just that when he assigns nature, or better, secular interpretations of nature, the authority to correct and/or re-interpret Scripture so that it conforms to the scientific consensus.

Richard Mayhue takes apart Ross’s 67th book presupposition with a withering analysis in the book, Coming to Grips with Genesis, pages 105-129. He points out a number of flaws with Ross’s overreach with general revelation, but the one that is particularly problematic is that it presents an open canon. In other words, rather than the biblical canon closing at the writing of Revelation, it suggests the canon is still very much open and incomplete as new, and yet to be discovered, scientific discoveries present the possibility of reshaping our understanding of Genesis and creation.

God’s revelation is then not settled and fixed as the historic, Bible-believing church teaches, but is still in flux as modern science allegedly discovers new understandings of origins. Such a position leads one precariously close to heresy.

May I Exhort You, Dear Christian, to Invest in a Well Made Bible?

bibleI remember, after the Lord saved me, receiving my first official Bible as a brand new Christian. Sure, I had a stubby, little gift KJV Bible my mom bought me when I was in 6th grade after I completed my confirmation classes at my old United Methodist Church, but receiving a new Bible after I came to know the Lord was extra special.

It was a Ryrie Study Bible (I still have it), black, genuine leather in the King James. It is filled with my hand written notes and yellow marker hi-lights I made on verses as I began to fully understand biblical truth for the first time. I am sure readers may be familiar with what I am talking about because you probably have the same kind of Bible somewhere in your house.

A couple of years later, my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I requested a KJV super wide margin Bible.  At the time, those Bibles were packaged in cheap, bonded leather, (the new versions come in Moroccan leather), but it was thin and carried nicely in my hand. The interior was awesome with the massive wide margins where I wrote copious study notes (and lots of KJVO apologetic stuff). That Bible looked sweet at first. It even had Authorized Version 1611 on the spine (though it was a 1769 text). However, within a few years of use, the edges began rubbing off and the backing starting coming loose. The bonded leather was slowly deteriorating and it started to look ugly. I still have that Bible as well.

By 1997, I was in California attending seminary and working at Grace to You. That was the year the John MacArthur study Bible, in the NKJV, was published. I secured a copy of it in a nice leather version, but within a few years, it too began to look worn. Later, I was able to get the ESV MacArthur study Bible, as well as find a slightly damaged NASB edition I rescued from a give-away bin. The Crossway ESV edition of the MSB is fantastic, by the way. Excellent craftsmanship for a mass produced Bible.

I have pretty much used those two Mac Study Bibles as my primary reading/studying/carrying to church Bibles for the last 5 years or so. Recently, I began taking up only the NASB edition and reading it. I like the translation of the NASB, even though the ESV is the go-to translation these days. Yet once again, that Bible is showing the signs of wearing out with use. It is only a matter of maybe a year before it begins to fall apart, too.

My first thought was to mail it into a place that specialized in rebinding old books and Bibles, like ACE Book Binding, to put on a new cover. They did my wife’s first edition MacArthur Study Bible, and they did a tremendous job. They even have a large selection of colored leathers and orange appeals to me.

Then, in the last year or so, I heard Mike Abendroth mention on his podcast about him getting a really good Bible from Evangelical Bibles. He said it was a handcrafted NASB Schuyler Quentel edition. I texted him for the details and he sent me the links. I was immediately overcome with awe of those Bibles. The 220 buck asking price, however, was steep. I fluctuated between weighing spending the money to do the rebinding on the old Bible, which would had been a bit cheaper, against adding an extra 50 dollars or so and getting a new Schulyer.  I finally landed on the Schuyler.  I began to save my money by selling off commentaries and books in my library that I now had on Logos. It took me a number of months, but I was finally able to secure one, and it is absolutely gorgeous.

As one can tell by the picture at the top, I picked up the firebrick red version. Everybody I know carries a black, tan, or burgundy leather Bible, so I wanted one that stood out. As soon as I unpacked it and breathed in that new Bible smell that came wafting up from the box, I knew I had a thing of elegance in my possession. Picking it up, I can just feel the quality in my hands: supple, natural grain goat leather, the stitching around the edges and the spine, the way it lays open on the table, it is a piece of art in Bible making.

While the exterior of the Bible is breath-taking, it is the interior that is truly amazing.

When I was weighing my options between getting my old MSB rebound and spending a bit more to purchase a Schuyler, I was telling an acquaintance of my choices. He told me that most folks only consider the exterior of a Bible, what it looks like and whether or not it is covered in a good leather. Rarely do folks think about the interior of the Bible, what kind of paper its printed on and the way the text looks and is laid out on the page.

We just so happened to be standing in the church’s book store when we were discussing Bibles and the guy grabs a cheap edition off the shelf and opened it up. He held a single page against the light of the store. “A Bible printed on cheap paper will have what are like little pin pricks all over the page, like this one here.” Sure enough, I saw the little pin pricks on the page. He went on to explain that the bulk of mass produced Bibles that folks pick up in their local bookstores are printed on that low quality paper. A really good Bible paper will not have any of those pricks or maybe just a few here and there on a page.

The first thing I did when I unpacked my new Bible was to hold a page up to the light. There wasn’t a prick one anywhere to be found.

But even more wonderful is the way the page actually looks.

biblepageThe font is 11 point, and the letters crisp and bold and easily read without my reading glasses. Also, each chapter is a red number matching the exterior color of the Bible itself. And it is not a “Words of Christ” red letter edition, another feature I insisted upon.

And the one fun perk is the edge of the Bible. If you close the Bible and look at the paper edge, there is the standard gold tinting. Once you open it and fan the pages, the edges turn firebrick red.

edgeI cannot be more thrilled with this Bible. I actually get excited anticipating studying the Scripture. That is why I would encourage all believers to consider making a worthy investment in a good, well-made Bible. Evangelical Bibles have more than just this version, though I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Check out their page and look over their ESVs, KJVs, and the NKJVs. There are a number of excellent choices.

Men and women have bled and died to preserve God’s Word for us. We hear it preached every Sunday, and we are supposed to do our daily reading from one. While I am grateful for the mass production of relatively inexpensive Bibles of all shapes and sizes and editions because God’s Word is spread far and wide, if we really maintain a high view of Scripture, why not get a really good one that is worthy of the God who gave us His Word? It may take saving a little every couple of weeks from a year’s worth of paychecks, but I think it would only serve to elevate your love for God and Scripture.