Book Reviews for the Glory of God?
Friday, October 17, 2008–Book Reviews were never my favorite thing in high school, college or seminary. I don’t think I had to do many in college, and only 1 or 2 in seminary it seems. In talking with the students at SWBTS today, it seems they have to do more book reviews, especially the doctoral students. When I taught for one semester at a private school I had students write one book review, and I think I got more out of it than the students!
Being almost a half-century old now, I am beginning to see that 1) I don’t have much time left on this world so anything I read had better be good and I ought to make it count; 2) A lot that I have read in my past was worthless; 3) A lot that I read deserves to be re-read; 4) but, I need to read with a goal of not just enjoying it for the moment, but of seeking to understand what I read in light of Scripture and see if there is any application for my life, the church, or society I can make from what I read.
I began these book reviews back in August with Ender’s Game, a Sci-Fi book that had won the Hugo and which I never read. It was worth the read, for sure! But why did I begin with SF? Due to some personal junk I have gone through in the past 2-3 years, I was almost unable to read- emotionally. I needed to get back but was struggling, so I went back in time to when I was a kid and started reading in a genre that I was familiar with, that was easy for me due to my high level of interest, and that I needed to “redeem”. SF is a very important genre of literature that many in society ignore. But I have found it to be very deep as the SF community seriously considers where we are as a culture and projects that forward to what might be. They want to project their worldviews onto society in the future as well as tell a good story and have fun. When you look at what the authors of SF wrote in the 30’s-70’s and then look at our society today, you will realize how close they were to some real trends.
One of the things that modern Christendom fails to do, it seems to me, is to look forward and catch a glimpse of potential theological and philosophical problems that are coming at us and then prepare the church ahead of time. My experience as a pastor taught me that a lot of Christians not only cannot or will not prepare for the changes in the future, they cannot or will not even adapt to the changes that are slapping them in the face right now. Then there are those “Christians” who jettison the historic faith in an effort to become relevant. That is most irritating.
I want to examine my culture in light of the Scripture and bring the historic, biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ to bear on my culture and to look as far forward as is possible to see how the Gospel can face the future should the Lord tarry. I do believe in a literal second coming of Jesus who will judge the living and the dead. That may occur in a few months, or a few centuries. I was raised in a church tradition that believed in the pre-millennial rapture of the Church before the Great Tribulation. I now believe the Church may indeed go through the Great Tribulation.
This blog is not specializing in any one thing. I write about theology, the Bible, the Church, guns, hunting, the Army, cooking, current events and books that interest me. All of life needs to be lived for the glory of God and looked at critically from the Scriptures.
So what is the plan for this Book Review section of Mark12ministries? I will move my reading into some political sci-fi now by looking at some classic dystopias. My next read will be Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” followed by Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and George Orwell’s “1984”. This will continue the SF theme but focus it a bit more on The State. Why? We are in a critical time in America. With the convergence of the Financial Crisis and the Presidential election we are at a turning point. Sen. Obama is an outright socialist (as are most of the demoncrats in government today) and Se. McCain is a somewhat liberal Republican, an almost socialist. I am astounded by the willingness of America to surrender liberty for some supposed economic stability.
Following these classics I may go back to some more normal SF or I may actually move into the political and economic realm full force. I need to re-read Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and some others. Clearly we are entering a dark time in America and the Church needs to be well equipped to face the difficult days ahead. Liberty is always tenuous and requires eternal vigilence.
I hope to add some history books to this series as well as some other literary classics. And I may even go into some religious books or theology. I will very likely do some movie reviews soon too, because movies are the major medium in our culture today in that more people watch movies than read books.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’; 
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
And here is a must read article from Christianity Today about Science Fiction and Spirituality: