Burgess has a gift for writing instructive stories that help the reader better understand their own motivations and desires. His characters are all flBurgess has a gift for writing instructive stories that help the reader better understand their own motivations and desires. His characters are all flawed in ways that we all are, and so when he writes of their foibles, he helps us understand our own.
These are good stories for young readers, or, in my case, listeners, as I read these out loud to my kids. They love them, and I admire Burgess's cleverness....more
This is a pleasant read that my kids really enjoyed. It is a simple story that will amuse your kids, while instructing them in common sense, courtesy,This is a pleasant read that my kids really enjoyed. It is a simple story that will amuse your kids, while instructing them in common sense, courtesy, and humility.
I've read a number of Voddie Baucham's books, always enjoying them, but always finding them to be too basic, and a little too thin on content. Don't gI've read a number of Voddie Baucham's books, always enjoying them, but always finding them to be too basic, and a little too thin on content. Don't get me wrong, they serve a need in the church, but I was slow to pick this title up for this reason, having already read fairly widely in presuppositional apologetics. I thought, what could he write that wouldn't be retreading ground that others haven't already done better than Baucham could do?
Well, I stand corrected, and quite amazed. This is a GREAT book. This is precisely the book the contemporary church has needed for many years. "Expository Apologetics" should be studied in every church in America.
The book begins with the basics--introducing apologetics, and Baucham's approach to apologetics, and why he calls it "expository apologetics." He defines it as, "First, it is about being biblical. We answer objections with the power of the Word. Second, it is about being easy to remember. If we can’t remember this simplicity, we won’t use it in our everyday encounters. Third, it is about being conversational. We must be able to share truth in a manner that is natural, reasonable, and winsome."
He has some very insightful things to say, which in a way, make the task of apologetics easier than most might think. For example, he writes, "...the gospel, by its very nature, is limited and limiting." What he means, is that there is no new revelation--we have it all in the Bible, and that is what we must defend. We don't need to defend what every Christian past or present has said or done. We don't need to defend the beliefs of all churches. We need only know God's Word and hold firm to it, using it as our authority and articulating what it says.
Baucham doesn't get into the technicalities of presuppositional apologetics, and he's even forthright in his admiration for John Frame, and quotes Van Til. But most readers will not recognize these things, nor do they need to. It is there for further study, and for those, like me, who want to know more about his apologetic method.
He's very clear about the importance of presuppositions--the things that people believe, and control the way they interpret everything. He writes, "We stand before people who have been bombarded every day of their lives by philosophies of life that contradict Christianity. When they open their Bibles, they are rarely aware of how many presuppositions they bring to the encounter, let alone how contradictory they are. They need someone willing to vindicate a Christian philosophy of life."
Baucham is at his best, taking a big idea (presuppositional apologetics) and showing the average Christian why apologetics is important even to them, what they need to know, and how to do it. Baucham's approach is very practical and winsome. He's clear that apologetics is for all Christians, but that doesn't mean everything you might think it means. Parents are apologists and must be ready "to give an answer" to their children. This is as good a book as parents will find on how to do this.
In some of the best sections of the book, he lays to rest some of the myths of apologetics. For example, many use apologetics to make Christians seem like nice, normal people, trying to win their sympathy, if not win them to Christ. But Baucham straight up says, "...apologetics is not a tool to make people like or accept us." We ought not "believe that if we just make the right argument, refute the right falsehood, and set forth the right set of facts, then people will bow the knee and surrender to Christ—or at least lay down their weapons and leave us alone...the opposite is actually more likely. Instead of being a tool that alleviates the tension between us and the world, apologetics is often a tool that heightens that tension."
He later writes:
"Apologetics is ultimately an expression of our willingness to suffer rather than compromise. It is the explanation for our suffering, both in terms of why we suffer and how we suffer. Apologetics is our answer to those at whose hands we suffer as well as those who witness our suffering. Apologetics says to a watching world, “We have been captured by something so profound that we are willing not only to be considered fools, but to suffer as such.”"
At its root, expository apologetics is about getting to the gospel with people. Baucham writes, "our goal is to engage in discussion, not debate. We are helping people see the holes in their reasoning while at the same time demonstrating the coherence in our own."
The Christian worldview is coherent, rational, and truthful. Only the Christian worldview is those things. Again, this is presuppositional apologetics 101, but Baucham presents it for the layman, not for the amateur philosopher.
Baucham writes, "We can assume that all people, unless they are arguing from a biblical worldview/perspective, will have holes in their logic. We assume this because “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Moreover, we know that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Therefore, the fool who believes there is no God (Prov. 14:1; 53:1) or claims to be wise apart from God (Rom. 1:22), will always be amiss in his assessment of the way things are. And if we listen long enough, and carefully enough, we will hear it."
Where is the average Christian hearing that today? Are they hearing that? I doubt it. But this is one of the most important things Christians need to hear. They need to hear it not to Lord it over the unbeliever, but to boldly face down a culture that is constantly telling Christians they are intellectual Neanderthals, behind the times, antiquated, provincial, etc.
There is a chapter on what apologists need to know--mainly the Bible, but creeds and catechisms are critical distillations of orthodox Christian belief that will aid the apologist immensely. There is a chapter on the 10 Commandments and how to use the law to show the unbeliever their own reliance upon God's law in their own morality. The last three chapters of the book are excellent practical guides on how to do expository apologetics.
And the appendix, is a sermon, from Leviticus, demonstrating Baucham's technique to use the Bible in expository apologetics that is outstanding.
This is likely the most important book of the year for Christians to read and study. I can't recommend it highly enough. Since reading Greg Bahnsen's "Van Til" I've been looking for the best introduction to presuppositional apologetics, and this is most definitely THE book. There are great books available for those that want to move on from this one, but I firmly believe that most readers already familiar with Bahnsen, Frame, and Van Til will find material here that will prove to be of great value....more
This is a beautiful novel about a terrible thing. O'Brien is a skilled writer, whose life was scarred by the brutality and senseless violence of VietnThis is a beautiful novel about a terrible thing. O'Brien is a skilled writer, whose life was scarred by the brutality and senseless violence of Vietnam. Vietnam has rightly earned the distinction of having tarnished the moral standing of America, and for good reason. It was a wicked war from its inception to its close, led by men of ill repute and questionable motives.
One of the most beautiful, haunting, and sorrowful chapters that I've ever read, is early in this book, where O'Brien recounts his experience of the draft. It is a morally complicated decision, and he knows the right thing to do is the most difficult thing--the thing everyone believes he should do, but only because that is what the government and the culture have called him to do. But it is the wrong thing, and he is too ashamed of failing to meet the expectations of his family, his friends, his government, and the broader culture to actually do the right thing.
The powerful propaganda that always accompanies war is rarely understood during the war, but it propels a nation toward irrationality, violence, and shame. That power is so strong that it utterly compromises people from being able to do the right thing in the very situation where it is most needed. What would have happened had an entire generation of men said, "No, we will not fight your war. You may jail us, you may even kill us, but we will not commit murder in your name?"
What a terrifying, wasteful thing was the draft. It destroyed the lives and souls of so many young men--men who were not spiritually or mentally prepared to make the decisions that confronted them. Those that survived, were never the same, nor were they the kind of men they might have otherwise been.
The book is far more than that one chapter, however. It is a somewhat rambling memoir of Vietnam and the men who fought the war. It is a story of killing, dying, fear, regret, anger and mania. The book covers a wide range of settings and people.
But the book is mostly about the power of stories. It is a beautiful, elegiac work deserving of its reputation....more
"The Bounds of Love" is being labeled an introduction to theonomy, which is true, but not completely accurate. Much of the book IS an introduction, bu"The Bounds of Love" is being labeled an introduction to theonomy, which is true, but not completely accurate. Much of the book IS an introduction, but there are a few key chapters in this book that actually advance theonomy in ways that I've not seen in any other book.
None of the theonomic writers have ever been able to argue very convincingly about what Mosaic laws are still binding today and the reason why. McDurmon tackles this question head on in this work, and does so in a convincing fashion.
McDurmon uses the principle of "cherem" which is Hebrew for "devote" or "destroy" to show how many of the Mosaic laws that deal with capital punishment especially, follow the "cherem" principle that was part and parcel of the idea of keeping Israel pure from evil. He follows Johannes Piscator, who is a bit obscure to most moderns, but he was influential in America as late as the American Revolution.
These chapters, along with McDurmon's chapter on what a theonomic society would look like make the book well worth buying and reading. The book is very short, and a quick read, but there are things in this book that are new and compelling--particularly for those unfamiliar with theonomy.
This is definitely the best introduction to theonomy that I've encountered, as McDurmon makes a compelling case, and counters many of the most common objections to theonomy.
My only real criticism of the book is that it was sent to the printers before a good editor. There are more typos in this short book than are acceptable. It is an unfortunate marring of an otherwise excellent work....more
The Wise Man's Fear is nearly as good as the first volume. It succeeds in almost every way by building on the story but expanding the scope of it farThe Wise Man's Fear is nearly as good as the first volume. It succeeds in almost every way by building on the story but expanding the scope of it far beyond the reaches of Tarbean and the University. It also expands upon the character of Kvothe and others. This is simple an outstanding book--not just a success as a fantasy novel, but as a work of art.
The book does lose some momentum toward the end, but as Kvothe moves on from a two month hiatus, the book picks up again.
The problem with reading a series that isn't yet finished, is that now I have to wait who knows how long to see the series finished with the third of the series. ...more
The premise of this book is almost hard to believe--an adventurer is commissioned to find the long-missing, presumed dead, explorer/missionary David LThe premise of this book is almost hard to believe--an adventurer is commissioned to find the long-missing, presumed dead, explorer/missionary David Livingstone, somewhere in the interior of Central Africa. The payoff, unfortunately, is a bit mixed.
The books is very thorough and very detailed--both of which make the book much longer than most readers would care to read. Were the book half the length, it would have made it much easier and much more engaging.
But there are truly great and worthwhile portions of the book, which portray the sense of adventure, the times, and the relationships between Europeans and Africans during the middle of the 19th century.
It is easy to take for granted the culture manifestations of Christianity and how it has changed the world. But this book shows us what Africa looked like before it was colonized and at least moderately Christianized. What we see is a tribal paganism interacting with traveling Arab traders, with small numbers of European explorers penetrating deep into the interior.
Pagan Africa was a place blessed with abundant natural resources, but cursed by a worldview devoid of Trinitarian theism. Travelers were forced to carry thousands of yards of cloth and beads to bribe tribal chiefs in order to pass through their lands. Chiefs would threaten travelers with violence, and were practically robber gangs.
Oddly enough, once the tribute was settled between tribe and caravan, the two groups could interact as friends, burying the proverbial hatchet, and give gifts in return. But the negotiations could take hours and negotiators would often lie to the traveler, thinking they were able to finalize all negotiations while traveling a district.
But the tribal chieftans were hardly the only people-problem travelers would encounter. Their own caravans would be plagued by desertion, theft, laziness, and cowardice. The pagan Africans, were of course unconverted spiritually, but also culturally. The cultural transformation brought upon the pagan nations changed the behavior of people by giving them incentive to act more honestly, work more industriously, seek rewards rather than take by theft, and so on.
As I've said, the book is long, and plagued by many long sections describing watersheds and the speculative headwaters of the Nile. These would have likely been of interest to many readers in the 19th century, but I would be surprised if many modern readers would be so interested.
All in all, the book is a good book that gives an historical account of an interesting time period. I can't recommend it to all, but there are many that will enjoy it....more
I gave this book an honest chance. It was a gift from my parents, to our family, thinking we would enjoy reading it as a family. I tried, and read theI gave this book an honest chance. It was a gift from my parents, to our family, thinking we would enjoy reading it as a family. I tried, and read the first few chapters with my kids, but I simply couldn't keep going. Our family loves to read books aloud together, but that time is precious. How many books can I really expect to read out loud to my kids before they are done with that phase of life?
When you go from "The Chronicles of Narnia" to "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims" the bar is set pretty high, and Rush simply doesn't make the cut. As I said, I didn't make it very far, but my criticisms are such that the book was simply disqualified without needing to even go any further.
First, the entire premise of a talking, time-traveling horse, with an historian substitute teacher as a keeper is not one I could in good conscience read to my kids. It is appallingly bad. Not only that, but it isn't even leveraged in a consistent way. If they can travel in time, why would it matter how long they're gone? But on the first journey with students, one girl can't go because her grandpa is waiting for her. Yet they can spend an hour "in history" and be gone five minutes. It just doesn't work, and reading this to my kids just feels like telling them about the Easter Bunny or something. I couldn't do it.
Second, the mechanics of time-traveling with the horse, Liberty--its ability to speak, become invisible, etc. just takes up too much of the book. They talk way too much about it, spend too much time talking about the modern day--all in ways that are so much like television dialog that I found myself skipping things. I want my kids to read books and become literate, not sub-literate. I read books to my kids to keep them away from television, not reinforce the illiterate vocabulary that today's youth use. If you're going to write a book ostensibly about the pilgrims, write about the pilgrims, not your preposterous setup to a preposterous premise of a book idea.
Third, I would rather my kids learn to love real history, not because of a preposterous narrative device like the ridiculous ruse of Rush Limbaugh's alter ego with a time-traveling horse. This book turns history into pop-history. Reading history through the lens of celebrity.
I put the book aside, telling my kids maybe they could read it on their own when they're older. I picked up "Leepike Ridge" by N.D. Wilson and found relief. After putting the kids to bed, I decided I'd give Rush another chance--on my own this time. But I couldn't do it. I could say more negative things about the book, but all that really needs to said, is that I'm not willing to make this one of the 75 or so books I will read this year. I just can't do it. Life is too short.
I can't recommend this book to anyone, or for any reason. It is simply one of the worst books I've picked up in years. Sorry, I tried....more
This is a manifesto for a biblical perspective on wealth, economics, labor, dominion, and law. It is also one of the best books you'll read on any ofThis is a manifesto for a biblical perspective on wealth, economics, labor, dominion, and law. It is also one of the best books you'll read on any of those topics. That this was originally penned as a response to Ronald Sider's book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger has likely pigeon-holed this book in ways that have limited its influence and appeal.
Having read Chilton's works on eschatology and loved them, even I was reluctant to pick this up. But oh, how mistaken I was. This is a marvelous book that should be mandatory reading at all seminaries.
Chilton's arguments absolutely demolish Sider's and the fact that his book is still in print shows that this book has missed too many readers, or the bias of those unwilling to actually interact with the Bible on the subject. In fact, that is one of the marvelous things in this book--Chilton sees why so many ignore him, and others that have written books along the same lines. The problem is that too many people just write off what the Bible actually says about economics. They argue it is largely silent on the matter, and then just ignore its teachings, come up with their own that are in the "spirit" of the Bible, and voila--man is wiser than God!
There are even those that acknowledge that the Bible does speak to these matters, but argue we shouldn't impose the Bible's teachings on them on the world! He calls out Michael Novak specifically and says:
"Novak goes on to tell us that ‘Christian symbols [i.e., standards] ought not to be placed in the center of a pluralistic society. They must not be, out of reverence for the transcendent which others approach in other ways.’ Yes, but what about the fact that Christianity happens to be true? Where did Novak’s ‘ought not’ and ‘must not’ come from? Says who? How can any Christian have reverence for some ‘transcendent’ something-or-other (i.e., a false god) ‘which others approach in other ways’? ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,’ the Lord thundered from Sinai (Exodous 20:2). Let’s face facts, comrades: God just doesn’t like pluralism. He certainly did not encourage reverence for the ‘transcendent’ golden calf (Exodus 32), or the ‘transcendent’ gods of the Caananites (Deuteronomy 7:1-5; 12:1-3; 13:1-18; 17:2-7); in fact, what the Caananites called transcendent, god called abomination (Deuteronomy 18:9-13)."
This is essentially the bargain that we have made. Christians have conceded ground in the public square to secularists who have convinced us that we live in a pluralistic society. What we didn't consider is that a pluralistic society is an idolatrous society--having abandoned God's standards for those of the masses. This tradeoff is at the heart of the failure of Christians to be salt and light in western nations. We have rejected God's laws for man's, and now we are unable to consider what God has called us to. We have hardened our hearts and persist in our unbelief by denying that the Bible (and God!) have anything to say about all civil and economic matters.
I regret I don't have time to fully engage with the book, but I commend it to all readers. It is one of the best....more
Our family really enjoyed reading this together as part of our family worship. The readings are all short, to the point, well-written, and understandaOur family really enjoyed reading this together as part of our family worship. The readings are all short, to the point, well-written, and understandable for young children. Highly recommended!...more