“The Adam Quest” by Tim Stafford (a book review)

Can a highly educated scientist be a non-compromising Bible-believing Christian? How would such a person balance and integrate his or her Christian beliefs in light of scientific discoveries and widely accepted scientific theories, especially those involving human origins? In “The Adam Quest,” the author, Tim Stafford provides us with “mini” auto-biographies of 11 scientists who are ardent Christian believers who have struggled with these questions.

Specifically, Stafford has allowed this group of scientists to tell their own stories about their childhoods, religious backgrounds, schooling, and vocations. Moreover, each of the 11 scientists tells his or her story about how they came about their understanding of human origins. The stories are grouped into three categories related to beliefs about human origins. These three categories include: young earth creationists, intelligent design creationists, and evolutionary creationists. For clarity, the book starts with the stories of three young earth creationists, and then moves on to those who hold to intelligent design, and then finishes with the scientists who are described as evolutionary creationists.

Although this book is about distinguished scientists, and describes their views of human origins, it is not a technical book with a lot of scientific jargon. The book does not include detailed arguments or debate regarding the three understandings of human origins. Although some of this is in the book, the main focus is not to provide a comprehensive understanding of the beliefs of young earth creationists vs. intelligent design creationists vs. evolutionary creationists. In other words, this is not the kind of book someone would read to clarify their own views on the topic. Instead, the book provides the personal side of each scientist, which gives some understanding as to the experiences and emphasis behind the view of each individual’s belief system.

The main theme that comes across in the book is that Christians do not have to all agree on the issue of human origins or in their interpretation of the Genesis story of mankind. It is clear from reading the book that each of these scientists is a committed, Bible-believing Christian, many of whom have a strong desire to share their faith in an evangelical manner. Despite the conflicting views or interpretations of the Genesis creation story, the common Christian faith held by this group of scientists is striking and uplifting. These men and women stood their ground for Christ, despite the difficulties it caused them professionally and sometimes personally. They are an admirable group indeed.

***I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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“Strange Fire” by John MacArthur

How does the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in the church today? Do all of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, and the offices of apostle and prophet, continue to the present day? Is the gift of tongues a heavenly language of believers? When did the phenomenon of being “slain in the Spirit” begin, as practiced by Charismatic churches? Can all Christians expect dramatic healing and great wealth and comfort as long as they have enough faith? If Christians give more money to the church, will they be blessed to a greater extent?

In Strange Fire, John MacArthur takes on these issues and more. He makes the case that the practices among the Charismatic churches and by individuals who preach a prosperity gospel are not consistent with the works of the Holy Spirit. MacArthur carefully goes through the history of both of these Christian groups and explains how they began and how their messages and practices may actually dishonor the Holy Spirit.

MacArthur emphatically makes the case that there has been a cessation of the miraculous gifts of the early church, as well as the offices of apostle and prophet (as understood in Charismatic churches). Moreover, he states that there is great danger in believing or acting upon a belief that these gifts still exist because it suggests that there are new revelations that are extra-Biblical.

MacArthur strongly defends the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) against the error that seeps into the church when “new revelations” or “new prophecies” are presented through new apostles and new prophets. He argues that the false revelations and prophecies, as pronounced by well-known Charismatic or prosperity gospel preachers on television, have diminished the reputation of Christianity and the church, and grieve the Holy Spirit.

If you are a Christian who is not involved in a Charismatic or prosperity gospel church, you may have had only a vague idea as to the beliefs and practices of these groups. Or, perhaps you were curious about them, but did not know whether their beliefs and practices were Biblical. Strange Fire contains a plethora of Scriptural references used by MacArthur to support his contentions about the dangers of these beliefs and practices. If you are a Charismatic Christian or a proponent of the prosperity gospel, this book may anger you. However, it may also provide insight into the more extreme variants of these practices.

****I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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“Samson” by Shawn Hoffman (a book review)

Books about the horrors of the Holocaust are difficult to read because most of us cannot fathom the depth of evil they portray. “Samson” by Shawn Hoffman tells the story of Jewish men who were forced to box for the entertainment of Nazi officers. The winner received extra food. The loser went to the gas chamber.

The story is told through Samson Abrams and his family, each of whom is an amalgamation of different real people and real events that took place in the concentration camps. In March 1941, Samson, a Jewish champion boxer, is living in Poland during the occupation by Nazi Germany. He happens upon a young Jewish boy who is being brutalized by two Nazi officers. Despite the danger, Samson is unable to walk away without helping the boy. The officers are badly beaten by Samson. However, the victory for Samson is short lived as he and the boy are hunted down, and Samson’s family and the boy are taken to Auschwitz.

The evils of Auschwitz are well known, but become achingly real when placed in the context of Samson and his family, including his parents, his children, and his siblings. Samson was kept alive in Auschwitz because of his boxing skills, which resulted in Nazi officers being able to make money by betting on Samson despite the fact that the odds were against him. However, each boxing win enraged Dr. Josef Mengele who devised demonic, harrowing tortures to inflict on Samson in the form of physical pain as well as unspeakable cruelty to his family members.

Despite the dark topic of the book, there is also inspiration in the form of many accounts of heroic actions by Samson and others, including a Catholic priest who befriends Samson. In addition, the story of renewed faith in God is woven throughout the book. The difficult question of how God could allow such horror to occur is dealt with through the narrative of the Jewish people, who maintain their rituals despite the danger, as well as the priest who explains sacrificial love and ultimately demonstrates this love.

Although the book is based on true stories and accounts, and includes real events and well known Nazi officers, the story itself is fast paced and reads like a novel. It is difficult to read, but at the same time, hard to put down. Despite being in a camp of unrelenting cruelty and suffering daily despair, Samson Abrams was able to bring hope and dignity to his people….and at the same time, renew his faith in God.

***I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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“Dateline Jerusalem” by Chris Mitchell (a book review)

Jerusalem: Past, present, and future. Prophetic, historic, present-day, futuristic. “Dateline Jerusalem” tells the whole story. As a CBN news correspondent, the author, Chris Mitchell, has first hand knowledge of the turmoil in Jerusalem and throughout the Middle East. In “Dateline Jerusalem,” Mitchell provides eye-witness accounts of present day conflicts.

However, this book contains much more. Mitchell provides information about the present day leaders in the most volatile countries of the Middle East. He also provides a concise and easy to follow history of the land of Israel, including the division of land after the fall of Ottoman Empire, and the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The most important aspect of the book is how Mitchell weaves Bible prophecy into the entire story. He brings into clear view how Bible prophecy has been fulfilled by the creation of the State of Israel, how prophecy continues to be fulfilled by the return of the Jews to Zion, and how this will ultimately lead to the culmination of all prophecy in the return of Jesus.

“Dateline Jerusalem” contains a lot of information, but it is well organized and on point. It does not get bogged down in minute details with endless names and places. In other words, it is a good summary and overview of the past, present, and future of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. This book is not a for a well-versed historian, but works well for your average person looking for basic information in an easily understandable and integrated format.

***I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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“Jesus on Every Page” by David Murray (a book review)

Get out your Bible…you will need it when reading “Jesus on Every Page” by David Murray.  The author notes that many preachers limit their sermons to the New Testament because they prefer to focus on Jesus.  However, Murray explains that Jesus is present throughout the entire Old Testament.  He carefully takes the reader through creation, Old Testament characters, Old Testament appearances, the law, the historical books, the prophets, types, the covenants,  proverbs, psalms, and even the Song of Solomon, to show how Jesus is present in all parts of the Old Testament.

At first, I was of the opinoin that the book made many good points, but was somewhat shallow in that each topic was not fully developed.   This seemed like a good book for new Christians to make the connection between the forms, the prophecies, and types of the old Testament and how they reflected Jesus and were ultimately fulfilled by him. But, I felt that the book did not go deep enough into each topic to make the case. 

However, I then noticed that the subtitle of the book was “10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. ”  So, I concluded that the author was giving an overview of the topic, rather than an indepth study.  Nonetheless, after reading a few chapters, I realized that the book could actually have all of the depth that the reader wants, depending on the effort put forth by the reader.  This is because the author cites many scriptural examples of his arguments that Jesus is in the Old Testament, but instead of walking you through every scripture, he includes the specific reference in endnotes.  

Therefore, the book is best read as a Bible study, by reading the points made, but at the same time digging through the Bible to read each scripture provided to test whether the author provides satisfactory evidence to back up his contentions.  This is much more time intensive than just reading the book, or quickly referring to the references.  In addition, the book contains some specific study questions at the end of the book that provide further references, discussion, and study.

The author was successful in guiding the reader to a knowledge of how Jesus may be found in the Old Testament, and the great importance and satisfaction in studying the Old Testament as a means to a greater understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and his roles as savior, high priest, prophet, and fulfiller of the Law.  I think this is one of those books that despite its deceptive simplicity,  may result in an ongoing deeper understanding of the Bible as one recalls the points made by the author well after the book has been read. 

***I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The boys

Rusty and Tanner taking it easy after a productive Pet Visitation day!

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“Unveiling Grace” by Lynn K. Wilder (a book review)

This book is first and foremost a testimony of the author’s experience into Mormonism, her many decades within the Mormon faith, and her ultimate exit from Mormonism as she discovered biblical Christianity. She tells of her enthusiasm for the Mormon faith community, as well as how she and her husband faithfully and conscientiously brought up their children in the Mormon faith. Nonetheless, when faced with the truth contained in the New Testament, she and her family ultimately gave up the false works-based teachings of the Mormon church for the truth of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The book is very well written, organized, and engaging. The author carefully explains Mormon doctrines, as needed, to explain her situation. She also provides a glossary with more detailed information regarding Mormon terminology. Moreover, as “Part Three” of the book demonstrates, her grasp of true biblical concepts of grace, atonement, and the person of Jesus Christ is solidly Christian.

The author had been a faithful Mormon for decades, and her conversion to biblical Christianity was not a whim. She and her family studied and prayed and let the Holy Spirit lead them to the truth. This came at a great cost in that they had to leave the Mormon community that they knew and loved. They also had to make great financial sacrifices when leaving the Mormon faith…not to mention having to admit that they were wrong about their faith which they had boldly professed for much of their adult life.

This book will clearly anger many individuals of the Mormon faith. However, the author does not come across as angry or in any way retaliatory with regards to the Mormon community. In fact, she repeatedly commends the hard work, kindness, and dedication of the Mormon people. However, she makes a simple request of those in the Mormon community….read the New Testament. My impression is that the author felt that she had no choice but to write this book. Her testimony rings true.

***I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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