Tag Archives: Apologetics

JRF

JRF’s #2 – The Lamb and the Fuhrer by Ravi Zacharias

I often listen to master apologist Ravi Zacharias’ podcast and have been meaning to read a book by him. This short book, with an interesting title and concept seemed like a good place to start. I’m not so sure.

The concept of the book (and “Great Conversations” series) is simple but intriguing – “what would the conversation between Jesus and Hitler be like at the Final Judgement?

While there were great apologetical points made during the conversation a few things bothered me:

1. Zacharias’ Arminian perspective is evident in some places, and in my view diminish the glory of God. For example in a section where Hitler asks Jesus why He didn’t just make people love Him, Jesus responds, “It’s not enough to command love; it must be wooed” (p.81). Is this to imply that, among other things, that if someone does not fall in love with Christ, it is because Christ is an incompetent wooer? This seems to contradict Scriptures like John 10:14-18, John 6:37 and many others that speak of the sovereign, gracious, irresistible call of the Shepherd to His sheep. If Jesus had never made me love Him, I wouldn’t.

2. For some reason Bonhoeffer shows up as sort of a prosecutor. This was interesting but unnecessary. He is given some of the best lines.

3. There is just something that feels trite about Jesus arguing with Hitler. Maybe I’m way off but I can’t imagine Hitler (or anyone not reconciled to Christ) being able to keep his underwear clean, let alone verbally contending with, the risen, glorified Christ sitting on His throne of judgement.

I still admire and will continue to learn from Ravi Zacharias and his ministry. But I don’t think I will be recommending this book to many people.

ron

Ron’s #25: A Mind for God by James Emery White

A Mind for God by James Emery White is a book that I wished I could write. It makes a solid case for the active life of the Christian mind. Christians are often (and sometimes fairly) caricatured as backwoods simpletons who eschew logical thought in exchange for the ease of lazy faith. White describes the need for Christians to crave to develop our minds for the glory of Christ. We ought to seek to deeply understand our faith, our culture, our world. Living passively, whether a Christian or non-believer, is a wasted life.

The first step to engage our minds is simply to read. White makes a passionate plea to read often and read broadly. He tells an interesting story about a family trip to Disney World when, during a calm period between visits to the park, his family sat in the lobby reading books for an hour or so. A passerby commented that she wishes her family would do this ritual. His solution is simply to create the habit of reading. How often do we carve out time to intentionally read? I think of all the distractions and responsibilities that vie for my attention which take away my reading time. I need to heed White’s advice to make reading a priority in my life over television, the Internet, and other trifles. My favorite chapter in this book is titled, “The Library as Armory.” This puts reading and books in their proper perspective in our lives. Too often, we arm ourselves with pop-culture foolishness, and those weapons will never win a war. Reading hard books provides the proper training needed to interact with our culture today.

Another aspect of this book that I appreciated is the chapter titled, “Sacred Thinking.” In it, he describes the art of self-reflection between what we read and other areas of our life. It is incorrect to think that our thinking is compartmentalized. What we watch on television, what we read for pleasure, what we discuss over coffee, and what we hear in the Sunday sermon are not distinct areas of study. Do we allow ourselves time to contemplate how these areas fit together or how they are incongruent? This self-reflection is important in all circles, Christian or non-Christian. It’s an aspect that I want my students to do in a variety of readings in class, and I should do it with what I read as well.

The appendices are worth the price of the book alone. White offers three book lists to begin our quest toward a mind for God. The first list is “Ten to Start,” books that offer a basic overview to reading and to the Christian faith. Adler, Lewis, Packer, etc. The next is called “Twenty-Five Books Toward a Christian Worldview.” The third is “Entering the Great Conversation,” a compendium of great books that offer a broad education in world literature. These three provide readers of all levels to begin their diet of important texts to develop their minds for God.

I recommended many of the books on this list, but A Mind for God is really one of the best for an introduction to the importance of reading, learning, and thinking. If you are like me, you’ll appreciate the reminder to read and think more.

 

ron

Ron’s #21: Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis

This is C.S. Lewis’s autobiography on his journey from atheism to theism to Christianity. What more do I need to say to get you to read this book?

I loved this book, but it was not as easy a read as I thought it would be. Lewis is immersed in authors and poems that I’ve never heard of, and he assumes the reader is following along nicely. He name-drops more than a D-list celebrity at the Green Room club on Hollywood Boulevard. While the reader need not know all the poems referenced, it would help understand Lewis’s train of thought better. At the very least, one would need to understand Romanticism to a beginning degree to follow along.

Throughout his school life, Lewis continues to search for Joy (his capitalization) that connects to something in our hearts for something bigger. This Joy turned to be our heart’s longing for its Creator.

Here are a few excerpts that show the power of Lewis to turn a phrase:

“All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still “about to be.”

“Joy is not a substitute for sex; sex is very often a substitute for Joy. I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy.”

“The horror of the Christian universe was that it had no door marked Exit.”

“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere…God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

ron

Ron’s #14-20 (I’m back…sort of)

In my third year of reading a book a week, I stumbled. As we adopted our second son in May, I decided that I couldn’t keep up with the reading and writing that this project demands. I’m still reading as much as I can, but it is not as much as I used to or would like. For you who have two or more children, please assure me that I’ll read again!

I’m behind, but I’m still trying. Here is a wrap-up of the books I’ve read but have not reviewed. I hope to give longer reviews on upcoming books.

#14: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

This was my first time reading this classic. Here is John’s review from this site.

#15: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I read this again as I taught through it a second time this year. A wonderful novel with lots to discuss. Here is my former review.

#16: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

I read this Puritan classic as a devotional in the morning. A needed reminder for me to be content in all things.

#17: A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

Read Mark’s excellent review here. I agree that this was one of my best reads so far this year. It’s a must-read.

#18: A Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf

Abortion is not a merely topic over which political parties divide; it is murdering the innocent. The church cannot sit and do nothing about this. Klusendorf outlines important topics to use to think and discuss this pivotal issue. Here is Mark’s review.

#19: The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips

Check out my friend Dave Steele’s review of this book about God’s call to manhood.

#20: Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson

A great overview of how the Gospel must wake us up from our slumber. We must go beyond merely walking an aisle and coasting throughout our Christian life. If you are like me, chances are you could use this book.

mark

Mark’s #24 – A Mind For God by James Emery White (2006)

In August, we’ll be discussing this book during our monthly Apologia discussion group at The Harbor.  In preparation, I read this short book ahead of time, and was greatly encouraged in doing so.  A couple of years ago, Ron read and reviewed this book on this website (his review is better and more in-depth)

Like other books we’ve read and discussed for Apologia, this book raises an alarm at the lack of critical thinking in our culture in general and in the church specifically.  The author puts forth a short, but effective treatise for the Christian to recapture the life of the mind and live out a Christian worldview for the glory of God.  In addition, he encourages believers to engage their minds as they engage the culture at large in meaningful ways as Christians point the culture to Christ the King.  To do this, we are encouraged to enter the great conversation of the ages through consistent and critical reading.  He challenges the reader to be intentional about what they read and when they read.

If you’re in Okinawa, we have some copies available at The Harbor ($10) if you would like to join us for our discussion of this book on August 29th.

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