Book Review – Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority (19/4)

Throughout the years, the bible has constantly been under attack. Yet, as a christian I firmly believed that the bible can be defended. Likewise, so does Jonathan Morrow. In this book, Morrow tackles 11 questions that are commonly raised against the bible.

Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's AuthorityMorrow first encourages skeptics (and especially christians) to be open about their struggles in believing the christian faith. Rather than sweeping things under the rug, Morrow is open to these struggles and wants to help these christians through their struggles.

Within the book, he tackles these issues by first explaining what are the doubts or questions these issues are raising. Next, he moves on to answers these questions. Morrow covers these questions in depth, that not only helps the readers to have enough knowledge to answer the questions, but also to be able to interact with existing literature on the topic.

For example, in the 2nd chapter it talks about the question to find the historical Jesus. Morrow gives an overview of the first, second and third quest of finding the historical Jesus. Next, talking on the issue of multiple attestation, he introduce the readers about the two source hypothesis of the synoptic gospels. Following which, Morrow shows the readers even the minimal Jesus, as proposed by the Jesus Seminar scholars, showed that Jesus was not merely a religious teacher. Lastly, he showed the readers that there were also external attestation to Jesus being the Christ. Phew! Certainly a christian who reads this will surely grow in depth!

At the end of each chapter, Morrow has also very helpfully summarised the main points of his argument, and also gives some conversation tips for those who interact with non-christians who raises issue. Lastly, he provides additional materials that the reader can read up on to tackle the issue in greater depth.

What a christian will get out of reading this book is really a deeper conviction in the God of Word, and a greater confidence in the Bible. May this book help the new generation of christian learn to defend the Bible with even more zeal in a hostile environment. Recommended for those in college or high school. You will find answers to your questions on the bible here.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you are interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review – Prepare (Living Your Faith In An Increasingly Hostile Culture) (4/3)

Is Christianity under attack? Yes and No. Yes it is starting to be attacked, but no, much of the western world has not face the same level of persecution that our fellow brother and sisters in other parts of the world has.

PrepareCrucially, there is a need to be prepared to be ready to suffer. As such, J. Paul Nyquist has written a book that calls christians to be ready to suffer, perhaps in the near future.

Nyguist first sets the picture for the reader. He shows how the society has slowly changed and now, the society is no longer friendly for christians to live out their faith, in fact, it has slowly but surely turn hostile towards those who wishes to live according to what the bible says.

Having listed down the changes that led to what is happening today. Nyguist then shows the readers that the comfortable lives that christians enjoyed in the west is not what should be expected as normal.

In fact, Nyguist then lists 5 characteristics that christians should be familiar about. First, he tells the readers that persecution is the norm, not the exception. Next, persecution is blessed, not a cursed from God. Third, christians has long been exposed in the society rather than the specially protected group. Fourth, what we should response in these situation should be compassion towards our enemies, not outburst of angry. Lastly, there is a reward that awaits for those who suffer, God has not and will not forget His people despite what is happening.

Having reminded his readers the basic truths of christianity, Nyguist then gives the readers hope that we can have when we are suffering. First, he points the readers to God, the source of our help and hope. Next, he shows us what is happening to our fellow christians in Pakistan, how despite their suffering, people are turning to Christ. Lastly, he brings us with a deep longing for a supernatural work of God – Revival. He reminds us that God can, and might work in a supernatural way, causing many hearts to turn towards Him. With that, he leaves some advice on how Christians can handle persecution should it ever comes to us in the near future.

I found that this book has very helpfully reminded today’s christian by highlights points that many of us might have conveniently forgotten. We are to expect persecution, it has come on many of our brothers and sisters, and it may found unto soon too. We should be prepared for that. I also found the advice by Nyguist to be very well-balanced, he does not push to either extreme and tells the readers that at times we might have to suffer for it, yet at times we can defend ourselves form it.

This book is really suitable for any Christian who would want to be reminded what Jesus means when he says that following him means taking up our cross to follow him. I enjoyed reading this book, and recommend that you read it too.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles (20/2)

The Bible seems rather silent on what happened to the apostles and how they died. Granted that the focus of the bible is not on the apostles, but on Christ. Sometimes we wonder what actually happened to the apostles? Where did they go? How did they die? And how can we know?

After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the ApostlesAs christians, you often hear how Peter was crucified upside down, or how Paul was beheaded. But where do we get this information? Since neither of these are recorded in the bible. Furthermore why are there differing tales on the lives and ends of the various disciples? Bryan Litfin aims to answers such questions in this book.

Litfin first shows where he gets his information from, he introduces the historical sources where all the information comes from and explains some of the terms used in the book. Next Litfin moves on to the various individuals he wishes to elaborate on.

I found the chapter on Matthew slightly daunting for an new believer, I felt that too much space was given to the dating of when the gospel of Matthew was written, than on what happened to his life. Having said that, Litfin goes a good job of sifting through all the historical sources, highlighting what he thinks are more reliable than others and why. He shows the readers the difficulties one faces when dealing with differing stories, and the complexities involved in weighting the different viewpoints. Included in every chapter is a short  report card which summaries which points are historically viable, and which are not.

This would be a good companion to Foxe’s Book of Martyr, this book helps to distills the facts from the tales and shows you why. However, I found the sub-title quite misleading, since it was “Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles”, one would not expect to find Mary there. Granted that Litfin added her as she played a major role in early chrisitanity, but I guess a better worded subtitle would be less misleading. Overall, a readable book for anyone who interested to learn about the lives of the apostles or disciples, or wish to be acquainted with the earliest christian sources.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Loving my (LGBT) Neighbor (7/10)

With the deluge of homosexuals “coming out” combined with the ferocious publicity and offence from the LGBT community, I’m sure most readers would at least know or are acquaintances with at least one or a few of them. The pressing question most faithful Christians wants answered is how do we love these neighbours of ours? We neither want to dilute God’s clear truths written in the bible about this topic, nor do we want to be seemed as unloving, bigoted or intolerance as the social media portrays us to be. So what can we do?

Loving my (LGBT) NeighborThe first thing we could do, would be to buy and read this book. I must say when I first saw this book, I greeted it with much skepticism as I found it hard for myself to hold on to God’s teaching and be very loving to the LGBT community, but as I read, I found that this book would really help us christians on this topic.

Within this book, Glenn Stanton, the director for Family Formation of Focus on the Family gives christians a well grounded teaching on what marriage is, how for us chrisitans to love our LGBT family, friends, church mates or colleagues.

First, Stanton very helpfully explained the term LGBT, along with the various connotations that goes along with it, such as queer, questioning, intersex, and ally, to help readers be aware of what these terms mean (or do not mean), and also the nuances between some of them.

Then Stanton moves to an elaborate definition of marriage which forms the backbone of the whole argument of what we as christians can or cannot do. Stanton also very perspective help the readers see that in some situation, christians are often presented with false choices, situation or scenarios that presents to us choices that are both equally bad, an example that was shown within the book was along the lines of “Either accept all of me, even my personal convictions, or we can’t be friends.”

Next, Stanton moves on oh how we can deal with different situations in our lives and how the biblical principles works out in a day-to-day context. Stanton then move to discuss about situations most would face in 3 areas, friends, homes, society. This is where the book really excels, because Christians hold on the biblical meaning of marriage as Stanton explains in the first part of the book, Christians are able to navigate through the many dilemmas that are presented to us using this undervalued institution. Many a times, Stanton shows us, the way to approach any of such situation is to ask, “Does what it entails violated any of God’s teaching of marriage?”. For example, one of the question raised within the book of whether we as christian can attend an same-sex wedding, or can we bless the same-sex marriages of your very own son/daughter.

However, Stanton is not always consistent with this approach, on one section, he says that it is not right for them to allow same-sex partners to have adoption parities on their centre, but it is ok for them to provide the venue for the birthdays of the children of same-sex parents (pg. 185), again on page 189, he says that it is not ok for service provides (e.g bakery) to provide cakes for same-sex marriages, but it is fine if it’s an anniversary. I see no big differences between the 2 situations as the birthdays and anniversaries, commemorates exactly what the christians support, namely, the definition of what is a family, or what is a suitable environment for a child to grow in.

Please do not be turn off by the two issue I raised, this area is sorely missed by books that have come out in the past and Stanton does provide many much-needed help in this area. So I do encourage any christian who wants to grow in knowing how we can love our LGBT in a practical and biblical manner to read this book. I predict that this book would be the go-to book in the near future for most christians dealing with this topic.

Rating: 4.5/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.