Book Review: The Grace Awakening by Charles R. Swindoll (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Grace Awakening: Believing in Grace Is One Thing. Living It Is Another by Charles R. Swindoll

Four Stars

“[The] moralizing and legalizing of the Gospel of God’s grace is a dull heresy peddled to disappointed people who are angry because they have not received what they had no reason to expect.” Richard J. Neuhaus

A rousing call to replace the Pharisee-ism of modern Christianity with the freely-given grace of God. Easy to read and understand.

“Love that goes up is worship; Love that goes outward is affection; Love that stoops is grace.” Donald Barnhouse

Filled with short, pithy thoughts to break our religious bonds and free us to love God and our neighbor.

“[Jesus] is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought … into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.” C. S. Lewis

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Book Review: The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

Three Stars

“Our marks of piety can actually be evidence of our impiety.”

Disappointing for a supposed classic of theology. Expected better from R. C. Sproul. An important topic for Christians. Even given Sproul’s well-known Calvinist orientation, his writings betray poor scholarship and bias. Good discussion of meanings of original texts, such as the same word being translated as truly and pray.

“The justice of God is always and ever an expression of His holy character.”

His theological gaffs are funny. He reports Romans 8 “renew the mind” means “nothing more and nothing less than education.” He tells us “we are called to strive with all our might to produce this fruit [of the Spirit].” Strive? He reports to “make decision” to be born again is a “delusion.”

“Don’t ever ask God for justice–you might get it.”

The above errors can be excused as partisan politics (yes, theologians do it), but his attempt to discredit Arminian theology by labeling it semi-Pelagian is disingenuous. Masking the Arminian versus Calvinist dichotomy under different labels does nothing for Sproul’s credibility.

“If man is not made for God, why is he only happy in God? If man is made for God, why is he so opposed to God?” Blaise Pascal

Despite all that this text has many good thoughts and arguments.

“Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he will escape it.” Jonathan Edwards

Book Review: Hosting the Presence by Bill Johnson (Four Stars)

Book Review: Hosting the Presence: Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda by Bill Johnson

Four Stars

“Someone who celebrates before the answer … is someone who is about to experience the answer. Faith looks ahead and lives accordingly.”

An excellent resource for Christian living. Johnson challenges believers to new levels of surrender and relationship with God.

“Light drives away darkness without a fight. I can’t afford to live in reaction to darkness. If I do, darkness has a role in setting the agenda for my life. The devil is not worthy of such influence, even in the negative. Jesus lived in response to the father. I must learn to do the same.”

Well presented. Logical and forceful. The second half lacked the punch of the first. It’s as if he ran out of message before he had filled the page goal but kept writing.

“So much of the increased favor we get from God is really according to what we’ve done with the favor we already have.”

Book Review: The End of Christianity by William B. Dembski (Three Stars)

Book Review: The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World by William B. Dembski

Three Stars out of Five

“God’s dealings with nature parallel his dealings with humanity.”

Interesting. Entertaining. But not compelling.

Dembski deconstructs many historic and current theodicies (reconciliations of God’s goodness and the existence of evil) and creates his own, pivoting on the retroactive tainting of creation by human disobedience, AKA The Fall. He takes on both classic and neo-atheists, young and old-earth creationists, and even classical philosophy. He’s better at disassembling than building.

Of course, the Judeao-Christian God could act retroactively. “God doesn’t live in time. He invented time for us,” said Gerri Dickens. And the redemption bought at the cross is explicitly applicable to those who died before Jesus, but possible doesn’t mean necessary and sufficient. Like all logical arguments for or against the existence of God, Dembski’s fails.

Dembski like many others in this debate equates “evil” with all disasters. I’m not so sure. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and the like are bad. They are destructive and deadly. But are they evil? I’m not sure. To me Continue reading