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Archive for November, 2014

James White

Christian apologist James White has been a great gift to the church with his scholarly debates on a wide array of issues.  Dr. White has recently given a talk over at New Hyde Park Baptist Church in New York and lectured on the topic of the transmission of the New Testament and the transmission of the Qur’an.

The first clip is best watched 5 minutes into the video.

Watch it to be equipped to witness to Muslims!

[HT]

 

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Lenin Face palm

I didn’t plan to write this three part series on the question “Were Early Christians Communists?”  It was originally in response to someone online and it just kind of happened as I thought about it more I ended up writing more.

I think it would be good to have one posts that links the series.  Here are the links to the three posts:

Were Early Christians Communists? Part 1: Acts 5

Were Early Christians Communists? Part 2: The Semantic of Communism

Were Early Christians Communists? Part 3: Matthew 19:21 and Luke 14:33 in Context

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Bojidar Marinov

This is a debate Michael Jaworski and Bojidar Marinov.  Bojidar Marinov is a Presuppositionalist who use to work with American Vision.

He recently participated in a debate on the question: Must Morality Have A Basis In God?

Below is the video of the debate:

 

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MarineFallujah

Happy Veteran’s Day.

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The Foundation of Communion WIth God Owen

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

I did not know what to expect when I first got this book; I got it because I was curious and wanted to know more about the famous Puritan John Owen.  The book’s main point is that Christians today can benefit from Owens’ writing with his emphasis on a distinctively Trinitarian piety.  In fact the title plays on a quote from Owen that the foundation for Christian worship is the Triune God.  The bulk of the book are selected passages from John Owen’s work that is divided into three sections: 1.) Knowing God as Triune, 2.) Heavenly Mindedness and Apostasy 3.) and Covenant and Church.  My favorite section was section two because it touched on a lot on searching one’s own heart for the motive of worshipping God and it confronts a wrongful heart and false spiritual high that does not rely on God and the Gospel.  Christians must always watch their own heart for false and prideful reasons to worship God especially when it comes to public worship.  For those who are new to John Owen, both the opening chapter titled “The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen” and appendix A, “Reading Owen” are extremely helpful.  I think “Reading Owen” is important enough that it ought to have been the second chapter of the book rather than being an appendix.  This book did make me want to read more of John Owen.

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Reformation Heritage Books through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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These are links gathered between November 1st-7th, 2014:

1.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [9]

2.)Refuting Atheist Bill Nye’s “Undeniabe: Evolution and the Science of Creation” New Book

3.) Obviously: A witty comeback to  Stephen King thumping on organized religion.

4.) Without God, Knowledge of Anything is Just Wishful Thinking

5.)FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 32 Steven Weinberg and Woody Allen and “The Meaningless of All Things” (Feature on artist Luc Tuymans )

Someone’s mirror of our last round up 

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The South Bay Christian Alliance Church has a monthly series on Christian Ethics.  For November they focus on the controversial topic of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

Here is the video:

Christian Ethics: Homosexuality in the eyes of God
Selected Passages
Speaker: Jason Wong

About ten minutes into the video the speaker Jason Wong shared something that made the rest of the message very powerful.  It moved me to tears knowing it.

Don’t underestimate the power of the Gospel.

 

 

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See Part 2

Facepalmorangflipped

In my last post I had to respond to a red-herring attack concerning the meaning of the term Communism, Marxism, Socialism and their relationship to the Russian state.  In this post I will tackle Matthew 19:21 and Luke 14:33 as proof texts that the early Christians were Communists.  These two verses were offered by the same guy who I responded to in the previous post.  After quoting Matthew 19:21 and Luke 14:33 he went on to say:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not proposing Communism, although I can certainly see the social benefits in it… Benefits clearly also seen by the Apostles of Jesus Christ. That part is clear. In fact, it’s beyond clear. It’s there in black and white. What I find utterly fascinating is the lengths you people are going to to navigate around what is written in the bible. Truly fascinating.

While our atheist friend assert that these verses are clearly Communistic, I think an interpretation of these two verses that is in harmony with the immediate context and the context of the book of Matthew and Luke as a whole will not yield support for “Communism.”

Remember our friend’s working definition of Communism hinges on “common property:”

Communism is, at its most basic, a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth.

Let’s take a closer look at Matthew 19:21 and Luke 14:33 and their respective context to see if “Communism” can be extrapolated from these verses.

Matthew 19:21

Matthew 19:21 states:

 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be [j]complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

In this passage did Jesus implemented “a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth”?  I would say that if we read this verse in context the answer is no.

First off, a closer look at Matthew 19:21 even apart from further context reveal that the verse does not support “a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth.”  Note the words “go and sell your possessions and give to the poor.”  When you “sell your possessions” these things are no longer yours, but now they have become someone else’s private property; that is, it is no longer something you possess in common with another.  Also, can we really say that one has given to the poor when that same individual still own what he has given?  A better verb for that would be “share,” but that does not appear in verse 21.  If Matthew 19:21 really implemented “Communism” as our friend has defined it, we expect the verse to say the following:

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be [j]complete, go and SHARE your possessions as COMMON PROPETY and SHARE OWNERSHIP with the poor, and you will have COMMON treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.

Of course, the verse doesn’t say that.

Secondly, we must dig deeper into the context: Who was Jesus addressing?  We need to know who the referent is that Jesus said these words to in order to answer the question, “Is this a norm that Jesus prescribe for all believers for all time?”  I would say it is not for everybody for all time; rather it is addressed specifically towards one individual in a unique situation.  In the context, Jesus was addressing the rich young ruler who has a problem of self-righteousness (more on that below).  Exegetically, the imperative “give” in the Greek is δος and is in the aorist tense.  I would argue that it is functioning as an ingressive aorist with the idea of a momentary or single act in view.  I think this verb ought to be taken this way in light of the fact that the verb is second person singular in form.  This is significant in that Jesus was only telling this one individual to do this even though there were other disciples around to hear Jesus (cf. vv.23-28) and he didn’t used the second person plural form of the verb.   Even after the rich young ruler left, Jesus never commanded the rest of the hearers to do the same.  If this command is really for all people in order to go to heaven which is the subject of the matter at hand, one should expect Jesus to re-issue this command for all to obey.  An interlocuter might reply by saying Peter himself confessed in verse 27 that “Behold, we have left everything and followed You,” which is an indication that Jesus has already implemented “Communism” among His disciples and this should be normative for all dispensations.  But towards the end of Jesus’ ministry He revealed that the reason why He commanded them to minister by leaving everything behind is to demonstrate that God is faithful and does provide:

35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.”  (Luke 22:35)

This is just for a season and not something normative for all time because in the next verse Jesus reinstated the disciples’ right to bring along their private possession in ministry when He said the following:

36 And He said to them,“But now, [e]whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and[f]whoever has no sword is to sell his [g]coat and buy one.

Note that verse 36 indicate that Jesus never made the disciples give away everything since his words above indicate they still have it, although they did not have it with them when they went about ministering during those early years of ministry.  Temporarily not carrying one’ possession around for a season is not the same thing as Communism!

Thirdly, what was Jesus trying to accomplish when he said these words to the young man?  I don’t have the time to do a full exposition but if you want to see what the passage is about you can see my outline of the Marcan parallel to this periscope in Mark 10:17-31 to get an idea.

According to verse 16 a man came up to Jesus with the question, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”  Jesus’ response is recorded in verse 17-19.  When Jesus brought out the laws of God (v.18-19) the man foolishly responded, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (v.20).  Of course, no one is perfect and sinless in keeping the law.  Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler really unmasks the self-righteousness of this man by going after his sin of being attached to his worldly possessions.  Verse 22 makes it very clear why the man left Jesus grieving: “for he was one who owned much property.”  We must not neglect the original intent of Jesus’ command for this specific situation.  Jesus is not telling everyone to go sell their possessions!

Fourthly, just because Jesus told someone in a certain specific context to forfeit every material possession does not necessarily make Jesus a Communist.  Think of a judge in a non-Communist state who fines a criminal that essentially require the state or the victim to possess everything he owns before he goes off to jail.  Does that necessarily make the judge a Communist just because in some instances the judge ordered someone to give up their property?  Of course not, because the rationale for the judge’s decision does not rest on any assumption of “a socio-economic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth.”  We can’t force the text to say that Jesus is a Communist in the same way we can’t say a judge is a Communist when he execute the task of taking away someone’s private property.  In both instances, the reason for the command to give away one’s possession has nothing to do with any socio-economic theory for the goal of achieving “common property.”

Exegetically, communism cannot be extrapolated from Matthew 19:21.

Luke 14:33

Luke 14:33 states

So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Again the question before us is this: Did Jesus in this verse implemented “a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth”?  I would say no for the following reasons:

First off, in order for this verse to teach communism we would expect the verse to say something about “common property.”  But the verse says nothing about that.

Secondly, note the phrase in this verse “give up all his own possessions.”  Can we really say that one has given “up all his own possessions” when he possesses it still as shared wealth?  Given that the verse does not teach shared community wealth and that shared wealth is a part of the definition of communism, I would say this verse does not teach Communism.

Thirdly, while this verse does teach that a prerequisite for being a disciples of Jesus is that one “give up all his own possessions,” it is important to ask whether Jesus here tells us to give all one’s possession into “a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth.”  If it does, then the passage would be practicing Communism; if it doesn’t, then obviously we cannot use Luke 14:33 as a proof text for Communism.  Again looking at Luke 14:33 there is an absence of any discussion of a group sharing common wealth.  This absence is also in the rest of the periscope (Luke 14:25-33).

Fourthly, the context strongly suggests that Luke 14:33 require a disciple to “give up all his own possessions” to JESUS and not to a community that shares common property.  Giving everything to Jesus is not Communism!  Note the context of Luke 14:25-33 is about counting the cost of the hard requirement in becoming a disciple of Jesus (“hating one’s own life,” “carrying his own cross,” etc).  All this suffering of course is for Jesus’ sake, which the context suggests very strongly given the repetition of the phrase “come after Me” twice in this passage (v.25, 27) and the repetition of “be my disciple” three times in this passage (v.26, 27, 33).  It’s in this contextual flow that when Jesus teaches a disciple “give up all his own possessions” it is to Jesus Himself and not to a communist group.

Fifthly, it does not logically follow that giving everything to Jesus means that Jesus is a Communist.  In Christian theology, it means that He is Lord over all area of one’s life!  Practically, what belongings that a Christian think he or she has in reality belongs to the Lord and we are stewards of it until we are judged for our stewardship when we appear before Him.

Sixthly, it also does not logically follow that giving everything to Jesus means that Jesus is against private property per se in order to support group common property.  In the same chapter of Luke 14 Jesus presupposes the right of private property and make no claims that private property ought to be communal.  For instance Jesus said to the Pharisees in verse 5, “Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?”  Note he didn’t say ” a son or an ox that you think is yours but isn’t since it belongs to the group.”  Anyone who thinks Jesus is a Communist and against private property ought to go the Greek text of Luke 14 and count how many singular genitive of possessions that appear in the Parable of the Guests (Luke 14:7-15) and the Parable of the Dinner (Luke 14:16-24).

Exegetically, communism cannot be extrapolated from Matthew 19:21.

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See Part 1

Lenin Face palm

Recall that the first post in this series was originally a comment I made on a friend’s blog responding to an nonbeliever who tries to argue that the early Christians were Communists. The same nonbeliever replied back to my friend concerning the content of my original comment/post.   Here I will only have time to respond to his first paragraph.  I have reproduced the entirety of the first paragraph below:

That doesn’t say anything. Your friend, like you, has made a colossal (although I’m starting to think quite deliberate) mistake in confusing the 20th Century Russian experiment with Communism and the Communism practiced by the Apostles of Jesus and their converts. As I have repeatedly said: Communism is, at its most basic, a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth. A Jewish Kibbutz is Communist. David Koresh’s Christian commune was Communist. Plato wrote about Communist societies in The Republic. Communism predates Jesus by hundreds, if not thousands of years. Just because you can’t think ”Communism” without immediately envisaging Marx is your failing, not mine.

As readers may see, the reply focuses more on the issue of the meaning of Communism rather than the exegetical issues of Acts 2-5.  Of all the things that I said that he could have interacted with he decides to focus on one sentence in which I said “I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”

Let’s take a closer look.

1.) “That doesn’t say anything.”

Response: This sentence is merely a wave of the hand in dismissing the actual observation of the context of the book of Acts in our first post.  Anyone can assert, “That doesn’t say anything,” but it is another thing to demonstrate it.  I wished he would have proved it contextually from within the book of Acts that what I was saying was nothing (which the guy failed to do).

2.) “Your friend, like you, has made a colossal (although I’m starting to think quite deliberate) mistake in confusing the 20th Century Russian experiment with Communism and the Communism practiced by the Apostles of Jesus and their converts.”

Response: First off, how could I make this alleged “colossal mistake” of “confusing the 20th Century Russian experiment with Communism and the Communism practiced by the Apostles of Jesus and their converts” when I didn’t even mention anything in my original comment and post about anything pertaining to “20th Century Russian” Communism?  Secondly, the only way I can see him making this fallacious reasoning is if he read into my phrase “a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”  But then he would have to err by thinking that “Marxist = 20th Century Russian experiment.”  This is incorrect since one can be a Marxist and not subscribe to the particulars of Leninism, or Stalin’s version of Communism.  Or one can be a totally non-Russian Marxist by being a Maoist, etc.  Thirdly, I did not “deliberately confused” “20th Century Russian experiment” with what the Apostles of Jesus practiced.  Again, I couldn’t have committed a deliberate confusion when I wasn’t even talking about “20th Century Russian experiment.”  I hope our guest would not flirt with the logical fallacy of appeal to motive.

3.) “As I have repeatedly said: Communism is, at its most basic, a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth.”

Response: First off, what he defined as Communism technically sounds more like socialism.  I quote the Encyclopedia of Britannica:

Socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members.

Of course part of Communism include a Socialist vision.  In fact, I would say Communism is a form of Socialism.  Note the Encyclopedia of Britannica’s entry on Communism:

Communism, the political and economic doctrine that aims to replace private property and a profit-based economy with public ownership and communal control of at least the major means of production (e.g., mines, mills, and factories) and the natural resources of a society. Communism is thus a form of socialism—a higher and more advanced form, according to its advocates. Exactly how Communism differs from socialism has long been a matter of debate, but the distinction rests largely on the communists’ adherence to the revolutionary socialism of Karl Marx.

Note from the above that the distinction between Communism and Socialism “rests largely on the communists’ adherence to the revolutionary socialism of Karl Marx.”  According to the regular and common use of the term “Communism,” it is associated with the socialism of Karl Marx.  Thus our guest is incorrect when he asserts “Just because you can’t think ”Communism” without immediately envisaging Marx is your failing, not mine.”

4.) “A Jewish Kibbutz is Communist. David Koresh’s Christian commune was Communist. Plato wrote about Communist societies in The Republic.”

Response: First off, there is an incorrect definition of Communism that I have noted earlier in point 3.  Secondly, even if all those referents were Communists (in the traditional meaning of the term, or applying our guest’s incorrect usage of the term), what does that have to do with being an actual rebuttal towards the contextual argument I’ve offered that Acts 2-5 are not normative for Christians to be socialists/Communists then or now?

5.) “Communism predates Jesus by hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Response: Again, there is an incorrect definition of communism that I have noted earlier in point 3.  For argument sake, even if Communism predates Jesus what does this have to do with the contextual argument I’ve offered that Acts 2-5 are not normative for Christians to be socialists/Communists then or now?

6.) “Just because you can’t think ”Communism”without immediately envisaging Marx is your failing, not mine.

Response: I’ve pretty much answered this criticism up to this point.  I must add a reminder of the bigger picture of what is going on.  Our guest spent an entire paragraph lambasting my one sentence: “I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”  He apparently thinks the problem is my lack of an imagination to distinguish between Communism and Marxism but I don’t think that is the real issue at hand.  The real issue at hand is whether there is room for me to say that his interpretation is “a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”  Gregory Paul is someone who advocate a Marxist interpretation of Acts 5.  In a news opinion piece, Paul apparently thinks that Acts 5 teaches a “terror-enforced-Communism imposed by a God who thinks that Christians who fail to join the collective are worthy of death.”  Paul also comments on the relationship between Acts 2-5 and Marx: “Now folks, that’s outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx – who likely got the general idea from the gospels.”  Now of course I do not believe Gregory Paul’s interpretation since I’ve written a rebuttal against a Marxist interpretation of Acts 2-5.  Here I am merely noting that the Marxists interpretation is exactly the interpretation advanced by our nonbelieving friend.

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THe Gospel Focus of Spurgeon

This book is part of a series by Ligonier Ministries called “A Long Line of Godly Men Profile.”  I’ve enjoyed other books in this series and this one also live up to my expectation.  The author Steve Lawson himself is an excellent Reformed preacher which makes the book insightful since this is a biography of a preacher by a preacher.  In the beginning of the book Lawson made an interesting point of the line of godly men in the Reformed tradition: “If John Calvin was the greatest theologian of the church, Jonathan Edwards the greatest philosopher, and George Whitefield the greatest evangelist, Spurgeon surely ranks as its greatest preacher” (1).  Spurgeon is often called today “the Prince of Preachers,” who faithfully preached the Gospel with much power of the Holy Spirit for nearly four decades.

This biography is not just about time and dates in Spurgeon’s life but a biography of his theology.  After the first chapter on Spurgeon’s life and legacy, the rest of the chapters was on how his theology drove Spurgeon’s ministry.  I especially appreciated the chapter on Sovereign grace in Spurgeon’s preaching and also the chapter on Spurgeon’s evangelistic fervor.

I learned several things from the book about Spurgeon’s life that I did not know previously.  For instance, I did not know Spurgeon did not have any formal theological training, having not attended any seminary or degrees yet he was quite theologically astute.  Before reading the book I knew Spurgeon was a ferocious reader and I now further appreciate Spurgeon’s tenacity in self-education!  I saw as application for preachers today is to continuously grow in one’s theology and not just resort to thinking one need not grow just because of one’s “success” in ministry or because of a theological degree one has attained in the past.

I’ve also learned that Spurgeon founded the Pastor’s College at the age of twenty two, which is all the more remarkable given his lack of formal theological education.  The book also mentioned how for the first fifteen years of the school Spurgeon himself covered the cost of the school by the sales of his weekly sermon.  There is something encouraging to see a man who is so committed to training up godly and biblical pastors that he puts his own money and time into it.

I was also much encouraged by Spurgeon’s example when I learned how often Spurgeon preached during the week.  Lawson stated in the book that Spurgeon preached as much as ten times during the week.  My favorite quote from Spurgeon in the book is the following: “We find ourselves able to preach ten or twelve times a week, and we find we are the stronger for it…‘Oh,’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’…That is the kind of work that will kill no man.  It is preaching to sleepy congregations that kill good ministers” (14).

I recommend this book for all Christians, given how Spurgeon is so widely read still today.  I especially recommend this book for Pastors to be rekindled as a preacher to have a Gospel focus like Spurgeon.  Sometimes historical theology can be quite edifying when we want examples of godly men and virtues of guys who are closer to us than those who are far removed from our time.  The author did a good job balancing honoring Spurgeon while not idolizing him, and Lawson is able to do this in the book by looking at Spurgeon’s theology, which points us towards Jesus, the Gospel and the Bible.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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ananiasandsapphirabiblestory1

There was some discussion on a friend’s blog responding to a nonbeliever’s assertion that Acts 5 demonstrate that the early Christians were Communists.  Acts 5:1-16 is the passage concerning Ananias and Sapphira.

I’ve reproduced my comment here with slight editorial change:

I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.  Specifically, the Apostle Peter in verse four affirmed the right of private property when he asked Ananias: “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not [b]under your control?”

I would also add that the communal passages such as the one you mentioned here in Acts 5 and also Acts 2:44-45 must also be interpreted in the light of the larger flow of the book of Acts.
We must remember that Acts 1:8 is the “controlling” verse for the direction of the book of Acts. Acts 1:8 is the command Jesus gave the disciples: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Note there is an emphasis by Jesus that the Gospel is to go outward that comport with Matthew 28:19-20 (what is commonly called the Great Commission).
It seems in light of Acts 1:8 that this gathering of an internal community sharing things in common is not the thing that Jesus or Acts want to stress as normative for the Christian, but it ought to be one of reaching out. In fact it took God bringing a persecution in Acts 8:1-5 that the Acts 1:8 plan gets unfolded (I think my interpretation is justified, note the echoes of Acts 1:8 in Acts 8:1-5 with the term “Jerusalem,” “Judea” and especially the multiple reference to “Samaria.” This point must not be missed).
Acts 8 onwards is more closer to us in terms of the Christian church era and I think Acts 2-7 with the believers gathering together fits in a specific context of Redemptive History in that it was the early Post-Pentecost age when believers from around the world was still getting to know the Gospel more deeply before eventually going back “home” to all the different parts of the Roman empire (see Acts 2 again) and beyond.

I think to pull these passages as supporting Communism does not take into account the immediate context within Acts 5 nor does it take into account the context of the uniqueness of the event in Redemptive History.  In other words, the case for communism from Acts 2 and 5 fail.

In my next post on Wednesday I will address the issue of the term communism, Marxism and the Soviet State.

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Note: For the next few weeks on Sunday we will feature a review of books outside of theology, philosophy and apologetics.  Each review of a non-Christian book will also have a section titled, “What’s in it for the Christian?” The Generals American Military Command from World War II to TodayPurchase: Amazon

This book is a wonderful study on generalship in the United States Army from World War two to the present with Iraq and Afghanistan.  The author has written in the past about the military before, most notably about the Marine Corps boot camp.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much the author Thomas Ricks has grown in his understanding of the military since his first book on the military in 1997.

The thesis that the author argues for in the book is that the Marshall concept of Generalship worked in World War Two.  To be more specific, the concept is on how the Army manages General, and how under the old Marshall system it was expected that generals would be relieved and fire in order for the system to work and battles to be won.  Under the Marshall system, relief from command wasn’t necessarily the end of one’s military career like how it is understood today; generals were moved to other command since sometimes those who were not effective in combat command but were better leaders in other area of the Army (logistics, training, etc).  The Marshall’s way of managing generals was very effective but since World War two the book argues that the US Army has deviated from this concept.  Today generals are never relieved by the military itself (though there are political removals such as the infamous case of Douglas MacArthur by President Truman).  The book argues that as a result of the neglect of the Marshall system this has led to a crop of many poor generals who negatively affected the outcome of operations, battles and entire wars, not to mention the waste of lives and money.  What’s worst is that there are often no repercussions for generals who failed; in the modern military a private who lost his rifle will face more punishment than a general who lost a war.

Students of military history would love the author’s discussion about how General Eisenhower balanced the various charismatic generals during World War two such as General Patton, British General Montgomery and General Bradley.  The book also surveyed the Generals in the Korean War as the first war that failed to implement the Marshall system and how various Generals blundered but were not relieved.  This would continue on into the Vietnam War where it was even more pronounced with General Westmoreland and other lesser known generals.  The book also surveyed the more recent Iraq War and I agree with the author that the beginning of Iraq the military had some pretty bad generals (personally, General Sanchez comes to mind).  The book even covered the Iraq War right up to the surge (the author focuses on the surge in two other books after this volume) with General David Petraeus and notes how long it took before the right generals were in place leading the war effort was also the same duration that the US military took to win World War two in the Marshall system.

While it was not the main focus of the book, I did appreciate the author’s contrast between the Army’s handling of general officers versus that of the Navy and the Marines.  The Navy holds their officers to higher accountability and how they regularly relieve officers for ships that hit ground and get stuck.  Unfortunately, the author said that the sample size for the Marine Corps was too small, but Ricks does note how the Marine generals led their Division out of Chosin Reservoir as a combat effective unit while an adjacent Army unit with poor leadership ended up being hammered.  Ricks also talked about how during the Iraq War the Marine General Mattis who commanded the first Marine Division relieved a regimental commander of the first Marines for going to slow during the invasion and that this became international news.  However, during world war two such an event was frequent occurrence and not even worthy of being international news since it was assume the goal of victory was more important than allowing commanders to save face.

This is an excellent book for civilians and military like.  I think those in military should read this book, whether officers or enlisted so one can get the bigger picture.  In summary, the book presents a strong case to modify the maxim that “Amateurs study strategies, professionals study logistics;” we may add, “The Army leadership must study management of personnel.”

What’s in it for the Christian: A big theme in the book is accountability.  Christians have stressed the importance of accountability, given our fallen nature.  Accountability is something that is needed even outside of the military—and especially in the ministry, which is concerned with matters of eternity.  The author notes how different officers have different abilities, and just because one might not be able to lead in combat command that does not mean they are not useful for the military elsewhere.  Christians who are familiar with the Bible’s teaching of spiritual gifts—that we all have different gifts though it is different from each person to person.  As a Christian, this book was also insightful concerning human nature and the art of balancing different personalities in a group or a church that one leads—it has challenged me to appreciate how being a team player is a virtue.

UPDATE: If you are interested in more books like this check out our post, .

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Here are the round ups of Presuppositional apologetics’ links from October 22nd-31st, 2014.

1.) The Value of Systematic Theology for Defending the Faith

2.) Bubble-wrapped atheism

3.) “Undeniable Evidence: Divine Creation and The Impossibility of Godless Evolution” Aims to Defeat Bill Nye’s “Undeniable”

4.) Gabriel Fluhrer review of “What’s Your Worldview?”

5.) Dissertation on PDF: “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology”

Last installment of Presuppositional Apologetics’ links Round Up

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