Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

God Remembers A Study of Zechariah Charles Feinberg

This book is a good commentary that I used as a devotional through the Prophetic book of Zechariah.  The title plays on the meaning of the name Zechariah which in the Hebrew means “God remembers.” This is an appropriate title for a commentary on the book of Zechariah since God has not forgotten His people.  God Remembers is the first book-length work that I read from the author and I totally enjoyed it.  Having tasted this book as a sort of “first fruit,” I plan to read other works by Charles Feinberg in the near future.  I can see why Charles Feinberg was a popular Old Testament professor.  The book of Zechariah has a lot of Messianic prophecies and I really appreciated this commentary pointing them out.  It has good details and insights that I didn’t see from an initial reading of Zechariah.  There are also wonderful exegetical nuggets in the book for Bible expositors and teachers as well.  My favorite part of the book was the discussion on Zechariah chapters twelve and thirteen in which Christ’s second coming is anticipated.  Towards the end of the book the author also had a short list titling each chapter of Zechariah and how it points towards Christ.  I definitely recommend this book.

Read Full Post »

447091This is a brief introduction to the philosopher of Martin Heidegger both in terms of his thought and also the man himself. I turned to this work because of a desire to start somewhere in learning more about Heiddeger. This is the first philosopher that I didn’t know much about beforehand that I read about from the Philosophers in 90 minutes series. My experience with this series in the past didn’t really impress me. In the end I couldn’t resist a brief synopsis of Heidegger which is why I turned to this book. It did serve the purpose of introducing Heidegger’s life story and the basics of his ideas. The author also did a good job giving a feel of who Heidegger was. Any biography about Heidegger wouldn’t be able to avoid the topic of his relationship with the Nazis. The book’s portrait of him is more sympathetic and having started reading this book at the tail end of me finishing a book on Hitler’s philosophers, I would say the book’s view of Heidegger’s collaboration with the Nazis isn’t necessarily an accurate one. Heidegger was much more passionate about his beliefs with Nazi ideology than most people think; for instance he sided with the Nazis early on before he had to be forced to conform. Heidegger’s early entrance into the Nazi party as a famous philosopher actually helped gave credibility to the Nazis. Also the book mention that Heidegger saw the brilliance of Hannah Arendt but critical biographies on Arendt suggests that Heidegger’s praise of Arendt was more sensual than for philosophical prowess. Even after Arendt has establish her own reputation of a philosopher Heidegger still have a hard time with giving Arendt her proper due. In the end, I must say this is one of the better works in this series.

Read Full Post »

Hitler's Philosophers

 

I’m glad that Yale Press published this.  When I first saw this book I knew I had to read it for two reasons:  As someone who enjoys intellectual history, this book will no doubt touch on the ideas and philosophy that influenced Hitler (or to be more charitable, it would point out the ideological capitals Hitler used to persuade people to his policies).  Secondly, we see an increase in the last fifteen years of historical works addressing the question of how did a mad man managed to lead a civilized people towards barbaric policies with the focus of the complicity of various institution, from the Pope, the church, scientists, social sciences and the universities.  In the same vein, this works show the intersection of philosophy/philosophers with Hitler/Nazism.  The book definitely fulfilled the initial reasons for why I wanted to read the book.

The author divided the book into two parts. The first section focused on Hitler and philosophy, and on the philosophers who collaborated with the Nazi’s ideological vision.  The second section concentrated on German philosophers that the Nazi opposed.  It is a big endeavor the author pursued since each section of the book can easily be the focus of a book-length treatment.

Chapter one was a mini-ideological biography of Hitler and what philosophers he liked and who and what influenced him.  I appreciated the chapter’s focus of the early years of Hitler before political opportunism seasoned his rhetoric and when he was passionately frank about what he believed during the lowest point of his life in a German prison.  The author worked through materials not only from Hitler’s writing and speech (he tend to brag about his intellectual prowess) but also sources from early supporters and friends.  I think chapter one definitely establishes the Nietzsche influence in Hitler’s worldview.  Chapter one also indirectly contributes to the debate of whether Hitler was a Christian or not, and what degree he was a Christian if he was one.  If one understands Hitler’s philosophy its very hard-pressed to see how his atheistic Nietzschean beliefs is compatible with Christian theism.

Chapter two looked at the historic philosophers and philosophies that Hitler invoked in his ideology.  For those familiar with philosophy the main idea of these philosophers are nothing new.  What is interesting and new to many is the thread of anti-Semitism among these philosophers, some of them who are important canons of Western philosophy.  The author is nuance in describing how these philosophers are not “Nazis” and many of these philosophers would probably be surprised with how someone like Hitler would invoke their name and thoughts.  I do think that these philosophers do project a trajectory that Hitler later borrowed and build his own philosophy upon.

Chapters three through five focused on the collaborators with Hitler’s Germany, with chapter three being specifically about the Nazi figures who controlled academia and German philosophy while chapter four and five look at the specific example of philosopher of jurisprudence Carl Schmitt and existentialist Martin Heidegger respectively.  Most interesting of this section is the author’s argument that Heidegger was more than an opportunists but one who embraced Hitler’s Nazi’s ideology wholeheartedly.  I think the author presented an excellent case.

Chapters six through nine focuses on philosophers the Nazis opposed.  We read of the tragic story of the Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin who committed suicide when he was unable to flee from the Nazis and the exile of Theodor Adorno.  The best known of the philosophers in this section is Hannah Arendt, a Jewish woman who managed to escape from the Nazis.  In juxtaposition to Arendt is the story of Kurt Huber who as a philosopher spoke out against Nazi beliefs in the classroom and involved with the White Rose resistance movement that led to his execution.  Here is a heroic philosophical martyr who dared to oppose the Nazis.  The author laments of how Huber is little known today because of his resistance to the Nazis.

 

What I learned

This book re-affirmed to me the maxim that ideas have consequences.  Though it is a bit tangent from the book, there is no political systems that are philosophically neutral: there is some kind of worldview driving one’s political theory and at minimum we can say some philosophers will be willing mercenaries for political agendas in order to advance their academic careers, their school of thoughts, etc (Kuhn’s theory of the structure for scientific revolution is applicable in evaluating social sciences and the humanities as well).

From this book I learned of the composer Richard Wagner and his influence upon Nietzsche.   From there the book also show how Nietzsche’s idea shape other influential members of the Nazi party.

Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned was Heidegger’s adulterous affair with Hannah Arendt.  In one of history’s incredibly ironic moments, we see this famous philosopher whom the Nazis earned great intellectual credibility with him on their side, being caught up with a Jewish woman.   One sees how personal affair can shape one’s philosophy in the instance of Hannah Arendt beliefs in the war and after.

 

What I want to look up more on

I love looking through the endnotes and the bibliography of the book for it provides a treasure trove of references for further studies.  It is a wonderful way to acquaint oneself with the primary sources and scholarly secondary sources.

This book also made me realize I need to study more of certain philosophers.  Martin Heidegger is someone that I want to look up more beyond the few selected readings from my days in undergraduate.  I have always heard the name Schopenhauer but don’t really know what he believes.

 

Drawback

I wished the book would have adopted Chicago style format since it was rather annoying for me as someone who reads all the endnotes to turn from the page I’m reading to the end notes and then again to the bibliography.  I don’t find this kind of format being conducive to readers’ attention to the sources (why give citation anyways when your format discourage its use?).

 

Conclusion

Excellent work.  I wholeheartedly recommend it and I think those acquainted with philosophy would get the most out of it.

Read Full Post »

19 Gifts of the Spirit

 

I am sure that I am not the first to notice the irony of how today’s discussion about spiritual gifts provoke much debate and division over the “sign gifts” when the Bible teaches that all spiritual gifts are for the edification and the unity of the Church as a whole.  Not that I’m against these discussions and debates—one must study the issue biblically and come away with some kind of conviction while intelligently disagreeing with the other side.  But for some, the only spiritual gifts they know (or think they know) are tongues, prophecy and healing.  If you want to understand spiritual gifts beyond the debate of whether or not sign gifts are for today, here is a practical book that you might find beneficial.

I don’t much about the author beforehand but he appears not to be a Charismatic/Pentecostal and is more of a Cessasionist.  Nevertheless Charismatics will benefit from this book also.  He covers nineteen spiritual gifts (the title of the book gives that away) in which he explains what the gifts are, examples of such gifts practiced in the Bible or in church history and also some word of what the practical application of the gifts looks like.  The book is geared towards Christians understanding and identifying their spiritual gifts (the author even devoted one whole chapter towards the end of the book of how to identify one’s spiritual gifts).  He breaks down these spiritual gifts into three main categories which the book addresses in the following order:  speaking, serving and sign.  I thought it was wise of the author to present them in that order, with the speaking being foundational for the rest since it involves communicating the Word of God.  Also, it puts the most controversial last, which avoid instantly turning off any hyper-sensitive continuationists.  I think for the most part, most continuationists would agree and find the bulk of the author’s exposition on the speaking and serving gifts non-controversial.

I enjoyed reading the book for my own edification.  Given past experience of hearing people teach on this subject (some can be so quick to jump to the application of spiritual gifts without understanding what it means first) I was pleasantly surprised at how the author handled Bible verses in an informed manner that gave justice to the text.  I also recommended this book to a brother in my church who was working on a lesson outline on spiritual gifts as part of a larger church membership class.  This book was just the right fit, being biblical, non-technical, and practical.

Read Full Post »

10784076

It is a small book on the controversial topic of church discipline. The strength of this book is that it is clear, direct and Biblical. Both Pastors and church members will benefit from reading it. The author begins with startling statistics of the large percentage of Pastors and church leaders who confess of neglecting the practice of church discipline. As the rest of the book demonstrates, the Bible is not vague on church discipline, which is described and prescribed in the Bible. I appreciate how early in the book the author stated the main objective of church discipline is restoration and not punishment. I also appreciate how the book deals with the major objection against church discipline, with the charge that we are not to judge others. The apologist within me is quick to point out the self-defeating nature of such an objection, but the author takes the more pastoral route in his response by showing from Scriptural data of when it is right and proper to judge, and when it is not right to judge. Again, this is very helpful. While some of the book’s interaction with the Biblical author can be gain from other books that touches on church discipline (typically within volumes on ecclesiology), I found this book to be uniquely helpful with its discussion on the parameter of sins that leads to church discipline, what the biblical evidence of repentance looks like and the need for forgiveness in the restoration process. For those who are unfamiliar with what the Bible has to say about church discipline, this should be the first stop.

Read Full Post »

20388086

 

Vern Poythress is quite the Renaissance man; or more appropriately I should say he’s quite the Reformation man. With degrees in Mathematics from Cal Tech and Harvard balanced with a theological degree in apologetics from Westminster and also New Testament studies at Oxford, Poythress over the years have shown himself to be quite a capable scholar when it comes to discussion of various disciplines from the Christian Worldview.  When I learned that the editors for the “Christian Answers to Hard Questions” series has selected Poythress to write in defense of the historicity of Adam, I was quite delighted.  The debate on the historicity of Adam has been a source of contention the last few years in Evangelical circles and survey of the literature reveal that it involves the discipline of biology, Old Testament studies and Ancient Near East studies.  Given the inter-disciplinary nature of the debate, Poythress’ ability to navigate through inter-relationship of disciplines would be helpful (for an introduction to Poythress’ view on the relationship of disciplines, see his book Symphonic Theology).

Like other works in the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series, this is a short book.  The short length forces its contributors to be concise.  Poythress did a masterful job of engaging the reader.  I enjoyed and learned the most from his evaluation of the claim that man and Chimpanzees share 99% of the same DNA. He spends a considerable length addressing this issue.  Poythress’ footnotes demonstrate that he is informed and up to date with the latest peer review articles on genetic studies and I appreciate the caliber of his sources behind his effort to debunk the claim that Chimpanzees and man are 99% alike genetically.  It turns out that the data has been manipulated and some of the genetic materials that are not similar between man and Chimps have been eliminated from the percentage count.  I also appreciated the discussion of what one’s interpretative grid of the percentage means.  One sees here how Cornelius Van Til and Thomas Kuhn influenced Poythress on the importance of one’s philosophy of science that plays a role of how one understands the evidences.

I did not disagree with the conclusion or the arguments presented in the book.  However, the book could be improved in two ways.  First, it would have helped to let his readers know what his conclusion is in the beginning of the book rather than the end.  Secondly, I think Poythress shouldn’t have begun the book with a lengthy discussion about the genetics similarities between man and chimps.  Towards the end of the book Poythress noted that the discussion of the historicity of Adam takes place in various disciplines—theology, biology and Biblical studies.  I think it would have been helpful to put this in the beginning of the book as preparation for the genetics discussion.  Overall the book is more theological rather than exegetical but I wouldn’t dismiss it for being so since it paves the way for the Biblical data to speak on the question of the historicity of Adam.  In fact, I would recommend those who want to start understanding the debate to begin with this book first, followed by Zondervan’s recent Four Views on the Historicity of Adam.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Read Full Post »

Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

 

A very thorough biography of this famous German pastor, theologian and conspirator to assassinate Adolph Hitler.  The author Eric Metaxas must have spent years researching for this book, especially with how thick the book is (coming at 600 pages).  I appreciated the work going into Bonhoeffer’s background of his mother and father’s upbringing which shaped the way they parented him and forged the kind of man Dietrich Bonhoeffer would later become.  His father was scientifically inclined and would contribute to Dietrich’s analytical side while his mother’s strong Christian faith and background that include pastors and theologians in her lineage would keep Dietrich attune to his spiritual heritage of Christianity.  The author did a good job of giving us a portrait of the man while also exploring his thoughts—a feat that I appreciate.  The book’s angle on Bonhoeffer the theologian and the “spy” against the Nazi regime gives the reader a very helpful window into Bonhoeffer’s theological mind in justifying his involvement with the resistance in plotting the assassination of Hitler.  One also get the sense that as the book progresses one also discover how Bonhoeffer also grew as a person, a theologian and also a Christian.  The book did a good job situating the historical development of the Nazi rise to power and also the political landscape that shaped Bonhoeffer’s later life in Germany.  In fact, I thought the author did such a good job that when I read other works on Christians during Nazi Germany I was able to use what I learn in this book to help illuminate and give a more thorough picture of what’s going on in the other two books.  Bonhoeffer was indeed among the most interesting theologian of the twentieth century and his experience with so many countries while also being a leader of the Confessional church inside Nazi Germany put him at a whole different level beyond mere academic contribution.  A must read.

Read Full Post »

The Historical Adam Barrick

 

For the last few years the historicity of Adam has been a topic of controversy and debate within Evangelical academia.  It comes at no surprise that Zondervan would come out with a book in their Counterpoint series addressing this topic.  Four views are given a hearing in this book represented by Denis O. Lamoureux (Evolutionary Creation View that denies the historical Adam), John Walton (Archetypal Creation View), C. John Collins (Old Earth Creation View), and William D. Barrick (Young Earth Creation View).

Normally I’m cautious about these Four Views book either because I feel better contributors could have been selected or space limitation didn’t allow justice for the complex subject at hand.  With these expectations I must say I thought the book did a better job than I expected.  I’m happy to see some improvements over the years with this genre. The four scholars selected are highly qualified representative of their respective views.  In previous works the format feature the chapters by each school followed by the responses by the other schools; I appreciated that this work also feature a rejoinder to the other schools’ responses, a plus in my opinion in seeing what a counter-rebuttal looks like.  I also appreciated the editors’ decision to have two pastoral reflections that discussed what the implication of the discussion of the historicity of Adam means practically for the Christian (although I must say it seems Gregory Boyd’s essay ended up being more on why Christians should welcome those who deny the historical Adam as brothers and sisters in the faith even in our disagreements).  The two contributors selected for this part were excellent:  Both Gregory Boyd and Philip Ryken are well known for being pastor-scholars.  I thought the pastoral reflection also made their contribution to the discussion of which view one should take on the historical Adam question, and these two essays must not be overlooked or dismiss because its pastoral in nature; in particular I had in mind how Ryken’s essay laid out what an historical or non-historical Adam means theologically for the Christian experience and Gospel witness.

I imagine not many will change their views from reading this book and yet I would say this book is still important and worth buying because it provide a concise summary of each perspective’s argument.  Never had I read a book in Zondervan’s Counterpoint series in which the contributors footnoted their own work as much as they did in this volume but I appreciated this as helpful for those who want to do further research.  One can’t really blame the contributors for footnoting themselves so much since this is a much more complicated subject than most topics in this series since there is immediate question of Adam’s existence and also the undercurrent of one’s understanding of the role of modern science/evolution in interpreting the Genesis 1-3 that formulate one’s conclusion to the Adam question.  Really, this book had only one contributor (Lamoureux) who denied the historical Adam while the other three believed in a historical Adam; and yet all three who agreed on Adam didn’t arrive to their conclusion by the same method necessarily given their divergent view of the role of extra-biblical data (Modern cosmology, science, evolution, Ancient Near East studies) in interpreting Genesis 1-3.

Dr. Barrick has one of the most exegetically rich chapters in the book, and readers will appreciate his grammatical and syntactical observation brought out from Genesis 1-2.  The contributor with the strongest scientific background is Lamoureux but appeared to be the most exegetically weak, where in the responses the other three contributors harped on him for his take on the Hebrew word Raqia and his misleading translation of this term as “firmament.”

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Read Full Post »

Christ or Hitler Pastor Wilhelm Busch

 

Recently I have been reading several books about Hitler’s Germany concentrating on the church and philosophy during that dark era.  Reading this book gave me a new appreciation of what the German Confessional (non-Nazi) church must have went through.  This book is an autobiography of a German Confessional church pastor name Wilhelm Busch who lived from 1897 to 1966.  Most people might know about Bonhoeffer a prominent leader of the ConfessionalChurch but I wonder about what the average pastor resisting the Nazis infiltration of the church were like.  This book is a wonderful window into one such pastor whose ministry to youths clashed with the Nazis vision for young people to be under the control of the Hitler Youth with their ideology.  Technically, Wilhelm Busch never published an autobiography but the translator, Christian Puritz was able to compile enough autobiographical information from Busch’s writings and teaching to make this into a book.  The stories of what Pastor Busch has to endure as a faithful witness to the Gospel is encouraging and will no doubt inspire courage for Christians today to stand for what is true.  There were times when I was reading the book that made me imagined what seems unimaginable today:  spying from the Gestapo, harassment from the Hitler Youth, police looking the other way when Christians are harassed, imprisonments, shut downs, etc.  It was a reminder for myself that there is no guarantee that Christian ministry will enjoy the relative calm and rights granted in the United States currently.  With the way the title of the book is phrased, I was surprised that it took over half the book before one finally start seeing any mention of the Nazis.  However, I did appreciate the autobiographical account of Busch before Hitler’s rise to power; as a Pastor I got to gain a little insight of what the Lord was doing and how He used a young pastor working with the coal miners and eventually the youth.  Those involved with ministry will find his stories to be encouraging.  Also the account of World War One and his conversion was somewhat gut wrenching to a Marine veteran such as myself.  Throughout the book one also sees the loss Busch has experienced around him, with the death of his sons in World War two in the Eastern Front and also the suffering of the poor or true Christians under the Nazi regime.  I recommend this autobiography for the encouragement of Christian souls.

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

Where to Buy:

Read Full Post »

amazon-reviews

Nearly two months ago over at Triablogue Jason Engwer  wrote a post titled “Christians Should Be Posting More At Amazon” in which Jason explains why he will be more involved in book reviewing on Amazon as a Conservative Christian.  The last paragraph is worth quoting:

I’ve commented before about how Christians, political conservatives, and others with similar views need to be more active online. Amazon is another illustration of that need. It’s something I neglected for a long time. Late last year, I decided to become more active in posting reviews and comments at Amazon. I hope other Christians and others who hold similar views will do the same. I’m not just referring to posting positive comments about books we agree with. In some ways, it’s even more important that we be active in reviewing and commenting on what we disagree with.

And in the comment section I think Jason makes a good point that for those of us who blog should take into account of posting reviews on Amazon:

People are often concerned about building an audience for something like a blog or Twitter account, and most of us never get many readers in that sort of context. But Amazon provides us with a free platform that already has a large audience. And Amazon is surely used by many people in academia, politics, and other contexts where we’d want to be influential. In terms of both quantity and quality of influence, there’s a lot of potential.

Another way Christians can contribute in their influence is following certain Christian reviewers who are helpful and voting when there’s a good review you appreciate.  It seems that when one posts a critical review on a controversial books you always have those who are trolling to automatically down vote another perspective.

As a result of that posts I’ve been thinking about posting our book reviews there on Amazon and want to encourage other Christians to do the same as a Christian influence upon people’s perspective of what they take in in terms of book reading.

Here’s my profile page.

I’m a late starter in this area and book reviews I post here will also appear on Amazon.  Double the presence with the same review.

I’ll also begin the slow process of putting up older reviews I have onto Amazon as well.  As of right now we have 112 reviews and I plan by mid-April to posts up 270 plus book reviews on there.

I also know that some of the readers on here have already been doing this for years now or some are just getting started.  If you already have a presence on Amazon what is the link to your profile page?

Read Full Post »

The Vatican Diaries A Behind-the-Scenes Look

 

This book provides a unique view into the Vatican with the politics and personalities of Roman Catholic upper hierarchy.  This book was written by a veteran correspondent of the Vatican Press Corps with decades of experience covering the Pope and Roman Catholicism.  One doesn’t have to be Catholic to appreciate this book since enemies and Catholics alike will get to see a fairly balanced look of the Vatican behind the pomp and the ceremony.  The author discusses how some people see the Vatican as a well oiled machine capable of complicated conspiracies but the reality is that the Vatican is like any other bureaucracy with its politics, inefficiencies, mismanagement and information leaks—which the author as a journalist is able to exploit.  But these leaks don’t just serve the advantage of the journalists—sometimes leaks are intentionally given to journalists for the benefit of certain factions within the Vatican against competing sides, etc.  The author doesn’t airbrush the accounts given.

I imagine most readers will have the same curiosity of what the book has to say concerning the Catholic sex abuse scandal.  The darkest moment of the book is the chapter discussing the leader of the Catholic order Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel. The Legion of Christ is a popular order and highly successful in a day and age where many traditional order is dwindling in numbers, eroding financial support and their schools and seminaries closing.  Marcial Maciel has had many former Legion members accused them of being sexually abused by him and yet he remained the leader of the order until his death.  The Legion’s code of secrecy is rather unusual even among Catholic order and certain American archdioceses has forbidden the legion’s activity and support in their area of responsibilities.  It wasn’t until the leak of the unusual circumstance of Maciel’s death with the presence of a woman who fathered his children and Maciel rejection of the last rite that finally forced the Legion into a corner of not being able to cover up the reality of the evil deeds of their founder as a womanizer and pedophilia.  Again this is the darkest chapter of the book and to hear the campaign by the Legion to knowingly lie to the public and target victims is heartbreaking.  Added to this is to read of the politics in the Vatican in favor of the order makes one quite cynical at the injustice.  However the book has also revealed how Pope Benedict has been more willing than John Paul II in condemning the priests’ own rank to police their own rather than just blame the media for blowing things out of proportion.  A later chapter on sex and the Vatican reveals more heinous deeds and I thought the author does good job writing about it without making it sounding like a juicy gossip column.  Other parts of the books reveal his sympathies with the Catholic Church and one gets the sense he is trying to write as truthfully as possible.

Other chapters of interests include how Pope Benedict was selected and the Roman Catholic battle with the break away group of Society of Saint Pius the Tenth.  I thought it would have been wonderful to have also seen something about the Vatican’s relationship or view of Opus Dei.  From what I understand the book was published earlier than scheduled and I wished the author could have written about the reason why Pope Benedict stepped down and the selection of this current Pope.

The book does have its lighter moments such as the fascinating stories about how journalists with the Vatican Press Corps cover the stories about the Vatican including the irony of being a journalist in the Vatican knowing less what’s going on at times than those watching TV about a Vatican coverage.  The best of the chapters on the lighter side of the Vatican was the one on Father Reginald Foster and his funny personality.  Foster was interviewed by Bill Maher in Religulous as a straight talking Priest.

Not much theology is in this book but for a Protestant like me who is concerned about the teachings of Roman Catholicism and love Roman Catholics, this book broaden my understanding of the Vatican’s ecclesiastical dynamic.  Its journalistic style makes it accessible for non-Catholics although some specific terminology would be unavoidable.

Read Full Post »

Pre-Engagement Five Questions to Ask Yourselves

 

This is a great resource for the biblical counselor and those who are involved in a relationship whether engaged or about to be engaged.  Like other booklet in this series, this work doesn’t disappoint; it’s beautiful to see a work that has brevity, communicate simply and biblically while being tremendously helpful.  The author David Powlison is a wonderful biblical counselor who in this work asks a lot of great questions for those who are thinking about marriage.  While the subtitle of the book is “5 questions to Ask Yourselves,” really it’s a booklet of many questions (I lost track of how many), all of which are under five larger and more general questions.  I appreciate the author’s use of questions which makes it an ideal book to warm up discussions between couples and also offer something the Nouthetic counselor to work with.  It’s not just the questions that are good but also some of the practical tidbits the author gives.  For instance, I really appreciated the author’s point of answering the question of whom to look for counsel concerning the relationship and the decision of marriage.  Specifically, after saying that one should invite parental insight he acknowledges that strained parental-child relationship exists but that this should be a great opportunity “to seek to heal the breach,” something that is helpful in tying up loose ends of the past before going into a new marriage with unresolved baggage (26).  I started reading this book as a Pastor looking for good materials to go over with those who we are going over pre-marital counseling with and I not only recommend it, I am going to be using it.

Read Full Post »

The Road to Serfdom

 

This is a classic political economical work that I finally got around to reading.  What made the book interesting even before I read the work is the story of its author, Friedrich von Hayek.  Hayek was at one time a prominent academic defender of socialism in his home country who later became an outspoken critic against socialism, communism and fascism.  An Austrian who experienced firsthand the rise of socialism and fascism in his own country, this book has a prophetic tone directed towards its English readers.  Hayek wrote this book from 1940 to 1943 during the height of World War Two to warn the English against adopting the same ideologies of the fascists they were fighting against; apparently fascists ideas have made inroads among some British elites.  Interestingly enough, the book’s prophetic flavor remains relevant today with its warning against statist economic policies.

Many things could be said about the content of this book.  A lengthy review would be impractical so what follows are some of the highlights.  One thing I appreciated from the book is Hayek’s discussion of planned economies.  “Planned economies” is truly a misnomer.  Hayek makes it clear that he’s not against planned economies per se, for instance in the case of individuals making rational economic decisions for themselves;  rather he is against the type of planned economies made by the government that comes with force from the rule of law.  His chapter on the relationship of planned economies and totalitarianism tells us one chief reason why government planned economies is bad.  I also appreciated the book’s discussion of Nazism’s socialistic roots which challenges the modern myths today that the Nazis were truly conservatives and right wingers in their values.  Readers who want to see the arguments further developed that the Nazis were socialists and left-leaning should consult the book Liberal Fascism, a wonderful work I read simultaneously with this book.  I also enjoyed Hayek’s last chapter which dealt with the suggestion offered by some that a global controlled economies is a great economic goal but Hayek argues that if planned economies can’t take off at the level of the state what makes one think it will work at a larger scale?  It will only make matters worst.  Great book!

Read Full Post »

Liberal Fascism Goldberg

Most people misunderstand what fascism really is.  The stock response usually has something to do with Hitler and Nazi Germany (which they were).  While the Nazis were fascists, it does not follow therefore that fascism is the same thing as Nazism, since Nazi ideology wouldn’t make sense in defining Italian fascism under Mussolini.  This book argues the thesis that Left-leaning progressives have a lot more in common with fascism and that what fascism is creeping into the West in the form and imagery of contemporary “liberalism.”  This book is part history and part political commentary of today’s politics and makes for a fascinating read.  As a result of this book I want to explore the history of Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy, since the book argues that Mussolini was a lot more brighter than we give credit to him today since we see him as nothing more than a mere stooge for Hitler.  This book also makes me want to study more deeper the history of the rise of the Nazis since this book explores the question of how exactly did an evil government under Hitler ever achieved the power it had when there were many ordinary citizens in Germany.  How Mussolini and Hitler rose to power should be a cautionary tale of today’s rise of power of the Federal Government.  The author does a good job arguing that the Left’s caricature of Hitler and Mussolini as far right extremists is not accurate at all but they belong more appropriately with the Left with their socialism and Statism.  I also enjoyed the book for its discussion of Fascist economics; the author makes an excellent observation of how government regulation of business paradoxically brings in more business intrusion into government via lobbyists.  The explosive growth of lobby industry in WashingtonD.C. is a good example of that.  Can we blame the business if they are out to protect their interests when every regulation for an industry will impact them?  The unintended consequence of this is that big businesses in their industry have advantage for these regulations so as to kill smaller competitors with more regulations and need for more employees (and specialists such as lawyers, accountants, etc) to follow through with the regulation.  What you end up producing is a fascist-like relationship of government and businesses.  The irony of government intruding in business is that it brings every business interests into the affair of politics, either to go against a competitor or defend against a competitor.  There are so many other things that are insightful; one just has to read the book instead of a mere review.

Read Full Post »

What is Regeneration

This is a good short work on the doctrine of regeneration.  At first I wasn’t sure why the beginning of the book focused on the difference between the Gospel call versus effectual call.  The author demonstrated how the Reformed distinction of Gospel versus effectual call avoids the contradiction between the Bible’s description of resistible and irresistible calling and the case was quite compelling.  This led the author to observe that in both instances, the Gospel is present and that it’s not merely the presentation of the Gospel that lead someone to salvation; here the doctrine of regeneration enters the picture to explain why certain individuals do come to salvation.

The book gave a good definition of regeneration in a long and nuance paragraph.  In short, regeneration is “the work of the Holy Spirit to unite the elect sinner to Christ by breathing new life into that dead and depraved sinner…”  It’s important to define our terms in theology since the actual Greek word regeneration is palingenesia and is used only twice in the New Testament in Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5.  As the book pointed out, it’s only in Titus 3:5 that we see the more narrow and technical sense of regeneration being used.  But as any mature believer who have wrestled with the Trinity knows, deriving theology from the Bible is more than searching for certain theological terminology used in the Bible; one must ask whether the concept is communicated in the Scriptures using other motifs and terminology.  The rest of the book provides an excellent survey and study of the passages used to establish the doctrine of regeneration.  The book looks at Old Testament passages as well as the New Testament.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Old Testament references in support of regeneration.  I appreciated the author’s note of the grammar of the verses he examined to prove his point such as the use of the passive voice indicating that regeneration is the work of God and not of us.

This short work is an adaptation from the author’s longer work titled Salvation by Grace.  I suppose if one wants a deeper treatment on the topic of regeneration and effectual calling they can read this other work.  However I would say that there is still a place for the shorter work, especially for new believers, discipleship or devotionals that serve as a quick reminder for the believer.  I recommend this booklet.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 603 other followers