Book Reviews 2019
September 15, 20192019 / Book ReviewsFrancis Schaeffer has long been one of my most favorite authors. As I make my way through his books, I am always astounded at the wisdom of this man and his continued legacy, in both Christianity and the wider world. Two constants in his books are 1) the emphasis on worldview, and 2) utilizing art to demonstrate the lessons of worldview. I was surprised to find this book, then, which combines the two together into one volume. While it is short, it asks the necessary question: how should Christians, with a Christian worldview, see art? The first lesson that Schaeffer presents is that art communicates worldview. He says that even those who create art for “art’s sake” do not neglect this true fact; behind every work lies a worldview, whether the artist is cognizant of that fact or not. This is true of the human forms, for example, of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The humans there are anatomically correct, to a fault, which demonstrates the emphasis of that era (the Enlightenment) on a new understanding of reason and science. It is also true of the nihilism (the lack of belief in anything consequential in human existence) of Martin Heidegger. All art conveys worldivew. This second lesson is that there is a Christian perspective to art; in other words, there is a Christian worldview that can be present in art. Schaeffer spends most of the first half explaining why Christians should not denigrate art because the Bible presents the usefulness of it. For example, there are blue pomegranates on the robes of the priests of Israel. There are no blue pomegranates in nature; and yet, they are present not for practical reasons but for the esthetic. Further, the Song of Solomon is poetry and can be understood as a beautiful piece of literature. The Bible supports art, and therefore the Christian should be able to appreciate it. Third, Schaeffer spends the second half of the book understanding the Christian role in doing just that: appreciating and understanding art. He uses 11 miniature lessons to explain this. Here are some highlights: Schaeffer speaks about the three different levels of art and worldview: 1) art created through a Christian worldview (the best it understands the whole person ); 2) art through whom the artist believes he see’s through the Christian worldview and yet does not (e.g., Thomas Kinkade painted Christian themes and yet died due to alcoholism); 3) art created without the Christian worldview. In another section, Schaeffer speaks on art and change. Since art changes throughout the years (it is not static like doctrine), Christians should understand and appreciate the medium through which the time supports. For example, the ancient Israelites did not watch movies or television. And yet, just because we can enjoy art through these mediums does not mean we shouldn’t because our ancient predecessors didn’t. In a more controversial analogy, this is often debated in church about worship. Should we only sing psalms and hymns in worship? Schaeffer would argue (and I would agree) that we should adopt the styles of the time in regards to music and art. This is a short overview of this short book. But I believe it is even more critical to understand art and how to interpret it today than in previous times. Pick up this book. [...]
October 4, 20192019 / Book ReviewsI have had to read several books on hermeneutical approach. This one was not significantly different than the others: read the text, read the text, read the text, and make good decisions taking into consideration the socio-economic, cultural, and religious background the text was grounded in. Sounds simple right? Well it’s pretty complicated. Here are somethings that Doriani does different than other hermeneutic texts I’ve read: Every hermeneutic wants the reader to understand that context is key. Doriani is no different. However, he does utilize a slightly different method for understand this which is spelled out in the mnemonic device, “CAPTOR.” That is, Context, Analysis, Problems, Themes, Obligations, and Reflection. To me, some of these seem really forced and others are absolutely necessary. At its essence, this scheme is what most hermeneutic texts revolve around but it’s package in this unique way. One thing that I thought really benefited me from other texts I’ve read on this subject is wrapping your mind around the fact that you cannot simply allow a text to read the way you think it should read. In other word, context, context, context. I felt like Doriani did some of that, but there was not as much emphasis as I thought there might be in my own experience. There are other minor points, but I want to get down to this: I think there are better texts out there on this subject to help prepare both the layman and the scholar for interpreting a passage of Scripture. Doriani’s text is fine in its own right, I just prefer the texts I’ve already written. Perhaps to those who haven’t studied this at all this method would be appealing. For that reason, 4/5. [...]
October 9, 20192019What does it mean to be a human? Is the Bible God’s word, or was it contrived and made up by man? What is the meaning of life? How do I know the truth? Who or what is God? These are big questions. These are the kinds of questions Vaughan Roberts attempts to answer in his book, “Life’s Big Questions: Six Major Themes Traced Through the Bible.” The subtitle tells you everything you need to know: that he will be examining six major themes in the entire Bible. I took a Hermeneutics class for seminary and this was required reading. I thought it was really appropriate for that class because you need to get a bird’s eye view of the Bible sometimes. We can forget when we are in the trenches of looking at one particular passage of Scripture or one particular book of Scripture that there is an entire battlefield to survey that is equally important. It is helpful to take a step back and know what the Bible is all about. So what are the six major themes? They are: The King; the Divine Image of man; God’s marriage; wealth and possessions; the Holy Spirit; and God’s plan for the world. In each one of these themes, Roberts dives deep into the entire Bible to answer a specific series of questions. For example, in the chapter on the king, Roberts makes clear that God is the king over the entire universe and we know this because the Bible tells us it from Genesis to Revelation. That is an incontrovertible fact about the character and nature of God from His revealed word to us. And in reality, I believe that this is a function of God that is oftentimes misrepresented in American Evangelicalism today. There is not a high view of God’s Kingship in our culture today and our understanding of the New Testament suffers because of it (Jesus inaugurating the Kingdom of God in particular). There are other meaningful chapters as well: the chapter on the Holy Spirit and the plan for the world both come to mind. What I would say about this book is that it would be great for a small group study. There are included small group questions and I could see how beneficial those would be in a pared down group of committed individuals. Any Christian can be benefitted from this book, however. Pick up a copy and let me know what you think. 5/5   [...]

Here is a master list of all the books I read this year:

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet is Fire (2019)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2019)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2019)

The Bible and Art

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Tartine Bread (Artisan Bread Cookbook, Best Bread Recipes, Sourdough Book)

Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible

The Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World

Life’s Big Questions: Six Major Themes Traced Through The Bible

Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

The Wheel of Time: The Great Hunt

The Wheel of Time: The Dragon Reborn

The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been

George Muller, 1805-1898: Delighted in God

Out of the Salt Shaker

The Wheel of Time: The Shadow Rising

The Wheel of Time: The Fires of Heaven

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon

American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea

To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson

A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home

The Purity Principle

Praying the Bible

Pilgrim’s Progress

Star Wars: Master and Apprentice

Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction

James Bond: Casino Royal

James Bond: Moonraker

Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

Leonardo and the Last Supper

Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage

Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza

Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World

Rules of Engagement

Who Chose the Gospels?: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy

James Bond: From Russia with Love

James Bond: Goldfinger

Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels

Learn New Testament Greek

Sphere

One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (2019)

Nutrition Made Clear

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances (2019)

Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason

The Singularity Trap

Stark Trek: The Antares Maelstrom

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

When Trouble Shows Up: Seeing God’s Love in Hardship

California: A History

A Little History of the World

Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts

The Supremacy of God in Preaching

China in World History

History of India: Captivating History

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead

Skyward: Skyward (2019)

The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (2019)

Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know

Warbreaker

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne: Alloy of Law

Old Testament History

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne: Shadows of Self

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne: The Bands of Mourning

Star Trek: Collateral Damage

Paul: In Fresh Perspective

Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection

The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses

George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father

Star Wars: Resistance Reborn

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Critical Perspectives on the Past)

Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ

Skyward: Starsight

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2019)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2019)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2019)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2019)

The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian Between Two Cultures

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2019)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2019)

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