Monthly Archives: February 2015

Bonhoeffer Abridged by Eric Metaxas

_140_245_Book.1383.cover

Having heard much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was excited to get this book by Eric Metaxas and start reading it. After getting it, it took me a few days before starting to read it but as soon as I did, I couldn’t put it down, finishing the book in only 3 days. You might think 3 days is kind of slow but for me, it is fast. In Bonhoeffer Abridged, Eric Metaxas does a great job of painting a clear picture of this pastor and theologian as well as what inspired him to be the man he was.

The reader is drawn in and taken on a journey through the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You learn about his family life and childhood and on to his life as a student and eventually a teacher and pastor. The life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is inspiring and motivating. His love for God and theology as well as his love for other people is revealed throughout this small glimpse into the life of one of the great thinkers in Christian history. This is not an all-encompassing biography of Bonhoeffer as you can perceive from the title, but a brief overview or summary of the more important parts of his life, the parts that truly reveal who he was. What is truly captivating about this book is the glance at what life was like for many Germans as Adolf Hitler was coming to power and throughout his reign through World War II. One amazing part of this book is the revelation of how Dietrich was involved in a plot to end Hitler’s reign by assassinating him to regain control of Germany from the Nazis. Throughout the book you get to read some of Bonhoeffer’s own words and thoughts as well as those who knew him well. “The man who died was engaged to be married. He was a pastor and a theologian. And he was executed for his role in the plot to assassinate Hitler. This is his story.” (p. xii) His is a story worth reading.

Bonhoeffer Abridged is definitely worth your time. Eric Metaxas does a splendid job of writing and sharing just exactly who this man was and why you should know him. I can definitely say after reading this book I am already looking forward to reading some of Dietrich’s own writing and getting to know this German man who was a theologian and a pastor.

“The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one’s bread; on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing. People should at least understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian.” (p. 33)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 


Not a Chance: A Review

Not-a-Chance

Can faith in God and science coexist? Does one contradict the other? Many opponents of Christianity attempt to use science to show that a god does not and cannot exist. Along with this, many believe that the supernatural does not exist. They believe people see or experience an illusion or a figment of their imagination, but nothing actually supernatural. Opponents of believing in God often claim that “chance” plays an integral part in the world. This is where Not a Chance makes its plea. Here is a brief synopsis of the book from the back cover:

Despite claiming unbelief in God or any higher power that may have designed or created the world, modern scientists often write and speak of chance as some kind of being or force that can actually cause things to happen.

In this book, Sproul and Mathison “call the scientific world to employ logic and clarity in their discourse, to leave the word chance as an abstract concept to describe mathematical possibilities rather than an ontological entity that can cause change.” How do they accomplish this? They accomplish their goal by presenting compelling and logical arguments that demand to be answered. Not a Chance touches on everything from chaos to reason, magic, contradictions, quantum physics and logic. This book is a great read for someone wanting to stretch their brain and learn more about how God and science cannot just coexist, but actually strengthen an individual’s faith.

Here are a couple quotes from the book:

“Chance is their magic wand to make not only rabbits but entire universes appear out of nothing” (p. 24).

“However, even in our wildest dreams, chance, which is nothing, cannot do something” (p. 24).

“Chance itself has no influence on the outcome of either the coin toss or the subsequent game” (p. 37).

“I do not allow for uncaused effects because uncaused effects represent a contradiction in terms” (p. 58).

“To be free of causality is to be free of logic, and license is given for making nonsense statements with impunity” (p. 61).

One of my favorite quotes from this book is this one: “For something to come from nothing it must, in effect, create itself” (p. 26). The authors respond to this statement with this thought: “For something to create itself it must be before it is. This is impossible” (p. 26). Everyone will agree that this is in fact impossible. And that is why a book like this is so important for Christians to read as it will educate us all with how to respond to arguments against the existence of a supreme being, God Himself.

There is much more that I could cover from this book in this review but let me bring this to a conclusion and share the conclusion as the authors wrote it:

Gravity is not nothing. Space is not nothing. A multiverse is not nothing. Scientists may be able to show mathematically consistent ways in which the existence of any of these somethings could lead to other somethings. But what are the odds that something can come from absolutely nothing? There is not a chance. (p. 223)

How could something come from absolutely nothing? That is a huge question that unfortunately science has never nor will ever be able to answer. Why? Because when science tries to make something out of nothing, in their very experiments they are using something. So they are not reproducing and reenacting the very beginning of the universe they claim to be trying to prove.

Want a book that will cause you to think deeply? Have you been looking for a book on God and science? Then Not a Chance is a book that you will enjoy. Written by author and theologian R.C. Sproul, this book will challenge your cognition. If you are just looking for light reading, keep looking as this book will leave you with a headache.

Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Baker Books in return for a review of the book.

 


Does Theology make you sleepy?

sleepy03

Is this your response when you hear the word “doctrine” or “theology”? If so, you are not alone. Unfortunately today, in many churches, theology is looked at as unnecessary, or outdated or even tedious. People who profess to be followers of Christ do not even attempt to bother with theology. This is sad but also alarming because how can we claim to know God through Christ Jesus without in some ways seeking to understand theology and along with that, doctrine? I do not understand how it is possible but that is the state of the church today. In many cases, you start a study on theology and you would hardly find enough people worth turning the lights on for. On the other side, start a study on the book of Revelation and you will pack the church out. Everyone is interested in what will happen in the future, but not everyone is interested in knowing God. Many people are interested in understanding what benefits knowing God will have for their life, but not many are interested in simply knowing God. We are like kids at Christmas time, extremely interested in the gifts to be opened but not so much anything else.

Many people could care less what theology and doctrine mean to their lives. They do not want to take the time to truly understand how theology and doctrine relate to every aspect of their lives. Incorrect doctrine and theology has ruined churches and Christians throughout history. Many people in the past have done things in the name of Christianity that if they had simply taken the time to the knowledge and study of Theology, they would have seen their error. To this day, there are people who hate Christianity due to the barbaric acts done in its name.

So what do we do? How do we combat this? How do we bring about a change in this mindset in this day and age? We need to teach theology and doctrine to our churches. We need to help the people in our care understand how theology plays into their lives Monday through Saturday. We cannot simply remain on the surface, we have to go deep. But we have to do it in a way that draws them in, not pushes them away. To do that, we have to be leaders who are first students. It is hard to teach something that someone does not first have an understanding and it is hard to get other people to want to know something that we have not taken the time to study and know as well.

That is where this book comes in. Edited by Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel, Exploring Christian Theology is written “as guidebooks for a church, that overall, is starving for the very doctrine it has too long avoided” (p. 9). This is the first of 3 volumes and they “will offer introductions, overviews, and reviews of key orthodox, protestant, evangelical tenets without belaboring details or broiling up debates” (p. 9). These books are written for the purpose of helping people who may not have read much theology to be able to understand key concepts and ideas of Christian thought.

To be a Christian, it is not simply enough to know about God. A Christian should want to personally and intimately know God. Too many people who claim to be Christians only know about God, but they do not know God. That would be like claiming to be married without actually having a wedding and changing your lives to live together with your bride. It would be similar to being in a relationship with someone you have never met. Yet many people do that. They claim God loves them and knows them and that is all there is. “I know there is a God, and hopefully when I get to the end of my life, I will have done enough good to go to heaven.” Yes, it is true God knows us and loves us. It is true God sent Jesus to die for all of us. But it takes more than knowing about that, it takes personally knowing God and seeking Him with your life. The Bible says that even the demons believe there is a God, and they shudder because of it (James 2:19). So we are to be students of God seeking to know Him more and more as we live our lives.

This volume focuses on two aspects of theology: God’s Revelation, Scripture and Truth as well as the Trinity. These are not simple ideas to grasp or understand fully but this book presents the topics in a manner that will help the average Christian reader or lay person understand the importance of knowing these topics and how they relate to our relationship with God. One of my favorite parts of the book came after the topic was explained. Included on each topic are chapters that cover the topic in history, facts to never forget, dangers to avoid, principles to put into practice, voices from the past (this is simply thoughts on the topics from Christian thinkers of the past) and finally other recommendations for further study and reading on the topic.

If you are looking for a simple book to broaden your understanding of theology and doctrine, give this book a chance. I love how the book introduces the topic, goes into an explanation and then helps the reader understand the topic through the various means mentioned. It is a simple but effective presentation that would be beneficial for any Christian to deepen their understanding of God as well as whet their appetite for more.

Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for a review of the book.