Merry Christmas!! (2021 Edition)

hope

 

 

The Fall

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:22-24

 

The Prophecy

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

 

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

 

His Birth

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

 

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-25

 

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew 2:1-15

 

His Death

14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19: 14-28

 

His Resurrection

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Mark 16:1-8

 

His Ascension

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-12

 

The End

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5

 

His Call

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:16-17

 

So a Merry Christmas to you all!

 

The Secret of Father Brown (Father Brown #4) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Secret of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #4
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 218
Words: 63K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

  • “The Secret of Father Brown” (framing story)
  • “The Mirror of the Magistrate”
  • “The Man with Two Beards”
  • “The Song of the Flying Fish”
  • “The Actor and the Alibi”
  • “The Vanishing of Vaudrey”
  • “The Worst Crime in the World”
  • “The Red Moon of Meru”
  • “The Chief Mourner of Marne”
  • “The Secret of Flambeau” (framing story)
My Thoughts:

Wikipedia totally let me down for this book. While it has had synopses for the previous book collections of short stories, there was no entry for this compilation. Makes me wonder how the people there can sleep easy at night, knowing they abandoned me in my hour of need. Not only that, they also let down every single one of you who is reading this. You expected a snapshot of the stories contained in this book and what do you get? Just a lousy TOC. My goodness, I hope you are properly outraged at this disturbing display of laziness and lack of hard work. I know I am!

Shame, shame, shame.

As I noted in my “CR&Q: The Secret of Father Brown” post, this book felt like it encapsulated the essence of Father Brown and what Chesterton was trying to convey through him. While Chesterton and I disagree on some things, maybe even big things (he was a staunch Roman Catholic and I’m a 7th Day Adventist), our views on God certainly do align. And not just on God the Father but the entire Trinity, which is how it should be.

Therefore as I was reading these stories, instead of viewing them as a mystery story, or a story about Justice Here and Now (which is one of the issues Chesterton and I differ on), I viewed them through the lense of knowing people as individuals and not as a class or type. As is written in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Once someone realizes their proper place before God and what Christ’s sacrifice has truly done, how they interact and view the rest of humanity is going to change. But the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is absolutely essential. If I just take the first part, that we are all sinners and cannot live up to the perfect standard that God has requires (it’s not an arbitrary line He drew in the sand, it is part of His very character), then chances are that I’ll either start enslaving other humans, because why not, they’re scum destined for hell so why not start hell a little early for them, OR I’ll become an arrogant asshat thinking how much better I am than them (ie, the Pharisee who prayed and thanked God that he wasn’t like “that” tax collector next to him). But once I realize the universe shattering revelation of Christ’s sacrifice, every person I meet has to be treated like the object of God’s love and sacrifice, because they are.

Christians can spend their entire lives learning this lesson and letting the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) imprint it on their hearts and minds. Some of us do better than others. But this collection of stories reminded me, again, that Christ didn’t die just for me, but for every single individual person in the entire world, past, present and future. It is humbling and encouraging all at the same time.

The fact that this book got me thinking along these lines is why it got 4stars. It was better than some of the so-called devotionals I’ve read in the past.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Currently Reading & Quote: The Secret of Father Brown

This is a very long multi-paragraph quote so I’m going to place it after I’ve said my piece instead of before as per the normal. This quote really seems to encapsulate Father Brown. It is very personal and shows how Father Brown views humanity in the same way that God does. Not as a collective lump to be categorized and labeled into groups, but as individuals and people to be known and loved. I guess I think this section is relevant is because it expresses how the Creator of the Universe itself feels about me and about you. Until we have a proper understanding of how God views us, we are going to have some seriously twisted views of God Himself. There are a lot of implications from that that carry over into how we act and feel in real life, but that’s getting a bit off topic.

So without further ado, here’s the passage:

The interviewing instinct awoke, tactful but tense. If he did try to draw Father Brown, as if he were a tooth, it was done with the most dexterous and painless American dentistry.

They were sitting in a sort of partly unroofed outer court of the house, such as often forms the entrance to Spanish houses. It was dusk turning to dark; and as all that mountain air sharpens suddenly after sunset, a small stove stood on the flagstones, glowing with red eyes like a goblin, and painting a red pattern on the pavement; but scarcely a ray of it reached the lower bricks of the great bare, brown brick wall that went soaring up above them into the deep blue night. Flambeau’s big broad-shouldered figure and great moustaches, like sabres, could be traced dimly in the twilight, as he moved about, drawing dark wine from a great cask and handing it round. In his shadow, the priest looked very shrunken and small, as if huddled over the stove; but the American visitor leaned forward elegantly with his elbow on his knee and his fine pointed features in the full light; his eyes shone with inquisitive intelligence.

“I can assure you, sir,” he was saying, “we consider your achievement in the matter of the Moonshine Murder the most remarkable triumph in the history of detective science.”

Father Brown murmured something; some might have imagined that the murmur was a little like a moan.

“We are well acquainted,” went on the stranger firmly, “with the alleged achievements of Dupin and others; and with those of Lecoq, Sherlock Holmes, Nicholas Carter, and other imaginative incarnations of the craft. But we observe there is in many ways, a marked difference between your own method of approach and that of these other thinkers, whether fictitious or actual. Some have spec’lated, sir, as to whether the difference of method may perhaps involve rather the absence of method.”

Father Brown was silent; then he started a little, almost as if he had been nodding over the stove, and said: “I beg your pardon. Yes. . .. Absence of method. . . . Absence of mind, too, I’m afraid.”

“I should say of strictly tabulated scientific method,” went on the inquirer. “Edgar Poe throws off several little essays in a conversational form, explaining Dupin’s method, with its fine links of logic. Dr. Watson had to listen to some pretty exact expositions of Holmes’s method with its observation of material details. But nobody seems to have got on to any full account of your method, Father Brown, and I was informed you declined the offer to give a series of lectures in the States on the matter.”

“Yes,” said the priest, frowning at the stove; “I declined.”

“Your refusal gave rise to a remarkable lot of interesting talk,” remarked Chace. “I may say that some of our people are saying your science can’t be expounded, because it’s something more than just natural science. They say your secret’s not to be divulged, as being occult in its character.”

“Being what?” asked Father Brown, rather sharply.

“Why, kind of esoteric,” replied the other. “I can tell you, people got considerably worked up about Gallup’s murder, and Stein’s murder, and then old man Merton’s murder, and now Judge Gwynne’s murder, and a double murder by Dalmon, who was well known in the States. And there were you, on the spot every time, slap in the middle of it; telling everybody how it was done and never telling anybody how you knew. So some people got to think you knew without looking, so to speak. And Carlotta Brownson gave a lecture on Thought-Forms with illustrations from these cases of yours. The Second Sight Sisterhood of Indianapolis — —”

Father Brown, was still staring at the stove; then he said quite loud yet as if hardly aware that anyone heard him: “Oh, I say. This will never do.”

“I don’t exactly know how it’s to be helped,” said Mr. Chace humorously. “The Second Sight Sisterhood want a lot of holding down. The only way I can think of stopping it is for you to tell us the secret after all.”

Father Brown groaned. He put his head on his hands and remained a moment, as if full of a silent convulsion of thought. Then he lifted his head and said in a dull voice:

“Very well. I must tell the secret.”

His eyes rolled darkly over the whole darkling scene, from the red eyes of the little stove to the stark expanse of the ancient wall, over which were standing out, more and more brightly, the strong stars of the south.

“The secret is,” he said; and then stopped as if unable to go on. Then he began again and said:

“You see, it was I who killed all those people.”

“What?” repeated the other, in a small voice out of a vast silence.

“You see, I had murdered them all myself,” explained Father Brown patiently. “So, of course, I knew how it was done.”

Grandison Chace had risen to his great height like a man lifted to the ceiling by a sort of slow explosion. Staring down at the other he repeated his incredulous question.

“I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully,” went on Father Brown, “I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done, and in what style or state of mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was.”

Chace gradually released a sort of broken sigh.

“You frightened me all right,” he said. “For the minute I really did think you meant you were the murderer. Just for the minute I kind of saw it splashed over all the papers in the States: ‘Saintly Sleuth Exposed as Killer: Hundred Crimes of Father Brown.’ Why, of course, if it’s just a figure of speech and means you tried to reconstruct the psychogy—”

Father Brown rapped sharply on the stove with the short pipe he was about to fill; one of his very rare spasms of annoyance contracted his face.

“No, no, no,” he said, almost angrily; “I don’t mean just a figure of speech. This is what comes of trying to talk about deep things. . . . What’s the good of words . . .? If you try to talk about a truth that’s merely moral, people always think it’s merely metaphorical. A real live man with two legs once said to me: ‘I only believe in the Holy Ghost in a spiritual sense.’ Naturally, I said: ‘In what other sense could you believe it?’ And then he thought I meant he needn’t believe in anything except evolution, or ethical fellowship, or some bilge. . . . I mean that I really did see myself, and my real self, committing the murders. I didn’t actually kill the men by material means; but that’s not the point. Any brick or bit of machinery might have killed them by material means. I mean that I thought and thought about how a man might come to be like that, until I realized that I really was like that, in everything except actual final consent to the action. It was once suggested to me by a friend of mine, as a sort of religious exercise. I believe he got it from Pope Leo XIII, who was always rather a hero of mine.”

“I’m afraid,” said the American, in tones that were still doubtful, and keeping his eye on the priest rather as if he were a wild animal, “that you’d have to explain a lot to me before I knew what you were talking about. The science of detection — —”

Father Brown snapped his fingers with the same animated annoyance. “That’s it,” he cried; “that’s just where we part company. Science is a grand thing when you can get it; in its real sense one of the grandest words in the world. But what do these men mean, nine times out of ten, when they use it nowadays? When they say detection is a science? When they say criminology is a science? They mean getting outside a man and studying him as if he were a gigantic insect: in what they would call a dry impartial light, in what I should call a dead and dehumanized light. They mean getting a long way off him, as if he were a distant prehistoric monster; staring at the shape of his ‘criminal skull’ as if it were a sort of eerie growth, like the horn on a rhinoceros’s nose. When the scientist talks about a type, he never means himself, but always his neighbour; probably his poorer neighbour. I don’t deny the dry light may sometimes do good; though in one sense it’s the very reverse of science. So far from being knowledge, it’s actually suppression of what we know. It’s treating a friend as a stranger, and pretending that something familiar is really remote and mysterious. It’s like saying that a man has a proboscis between the eyes, or that he falls down in a fit of insensibility once every twenty-four hours. Well, what you call ‘the secret’ is exactly the opposite. I don’t try to get outside the man. I try to get inside the murderer. . . . Indeed it’s much more than that, don’t you see? I am inside a man. I am always inside a man, moving his arms and legs; but I wait till I know I am inside a murderer, thinking his thoughts, wrestling with his passions; till I have bent myself into the posture of his hunched and peering hatred; till I see the world with his bloodshot and squinting eyes, looking between the blinkers of his half-witted concentration; looking up the short and sharp perspective of a straight road to a pool of blood. Till I am really a murderer.”

New Evidence That Demands A Verdict ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: New Evidence That Demands A Verdict
Series: ———-
Authors: Josh McDowell
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction, Christian Apologetics
Pages: 800
Words: 400K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Forward

Preface

User’s Guide

Explanation of General Format

Acknowledgments

He Changed My Life

Introduction

PART ONE: THE CASE FOR THE BIBLE

1. The Uniqueness of the Bible

An intelligent person seeking truth would certainly read and consider a book that has the historical qualifications of the Bible. Unique qualifications that set the Scriptures apart from every other book ever written.

2. How We Got the Bible

Materials used. Bible divisions. Why just thirty-nine Old Testament books and twenty-seven New Testament books? What about the Apocrypha? Why not other books?

3. Is the New Testament Historically Reliable?

The tests applied to all ancient literature to determine reliability. How does the New Testament compare? Archaeological finds confirming the New Testament.

4. Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable?

Bibliographical test. Internal evidence test. Archaeological evidence demonstrating the trustworthiness of the Old Testament.

PART TWO: THE CASE FOR JESUS

5. Jesus, A Man of History

Documented sources of extrabiblical historical references to Jesus of Nazareth.

6. If Jesus Wasn’t God, He Deserves an Oscar

The character of Christ and His claims to deity, with emphasis on secular and Jewish sources.

7. Significance of Deity: The Trilemma–Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?

If the New Testament records about Jesus are historically accurate, there remain only three logical choices concerning His identity.

8. Support of Deity: Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

Illustrations of the probabilities that all prophecies could be fulfilled in one man, in response to the critic who says, “It is all just a coincidence.” Emphasis on Jewish sources to answer the accusation, “That’s the way you Christians look at them, but what about the Jews?”

9. Support of Deity: The Resurrection–Hoax or History?

This heavily documented section of evidence for Christ’s resurrection refutes theories set forth to disclaim this miracle.

10. Support of Deity: The Great Proposition

The “if…then” argument applied to Christ: “If God became man, then what would He be like?” Quotations and observations of great Christians and non-Christians about the person, character, life, and death of Jesus of Nazareth, and His impact on the world for two thousand years.

PART THREE: THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST CHRISTIANITY

Section I. Introduction

This section deals with inspiration of the Bible, anti-supernaturalism, and archaeology. All three topics relate to the documentary hypothesis and form criticism. There they are treated at the beginning rather than under each of the following two sections.

11. Is the Bible from God?

Part 1 presents the case that the Bible is historically accurate. Here the case is made that the Bible is trustworthy in that it is inspired by a perfect God.

12. The Presupposition of Anti-supernaturalism

A presentation of the presuppositions of both documentarians and form critics. Often the alleged objective historical conclusions are molded by a subjective worldview.

Section II. Documentary Hypothesis

The discipline of literary criticism applied to the Pentateuch is examined along with evidence for Mosaic authorship.

14. Introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis

What is the documentary hypothesis? What are the JEDP documents?

15. Introduction to Biblical Criticism

Biblical criticism defined and the different critical schools explained.

16. Introduction to the Pentateuch

The purpose and importance of the first five biblical books.

17. Development of the Documentary Hypothesis

A description of the various documentary theories and their modern revisions.

18. Ground Rules

The ancient oriental environment provides various principles to apply to the Old Testament.

19. Documentary Presuppositions

An investigation of the four basic documentary assumptions: (1) The priority of source analysis over archaeology; (2) a natural view of Israel’s religion and history; (3) the theory that there was no writing in Israel at Moses’ time; and (4) the legendary view of the patriarchal narratives.

20. Consequences of Radical High Criticism

A discussion of the results of Israel’s history being viewed as unhistorical, fraudulent, and naturalistic.

21. Evidence for Mosaic Authorship

The internal and external testimony for Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch.

22. The Phenomenon of Divine Names

The various uses of the divine names (Elohim, Yahweh, and others) are put in perspective.

23. The Repetition of Accounts and Alleged Contradictions

Certain stories in the Pentateuch are said to be repeated, and others to have contradictory details.

24. Incongruities

The writing in the third person and the record of Moses’ death are factors said to be incongruous with Mosaic authorship.

25. Internal Diversity

A discussion of the assumed difference of subject matter, style and diction.

26. Conclusion to the Documentary Hypothesis

Section III. Biblical Criticism and the New Testament

Basic tenets of form criticism examined. Practical answers to basic assumptions and conclusions. The modern quest for the historical Jesus.

27. Introduction to New Testament Form Criticism

Form criticism is defined and its purpose and proponents discussed.

28. Historical Skepticism

The reliability of the record of the historical Jesus is examined.

29. Jesus Under Fire

An examination of the historical quests for Jesus and their culmination in the Jesus Seminar.

30. Conclusion to Form Criticism

A look at the contribution and limitations of the form critical approach.

31. Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism

by C. S. Lewis

PART FOUR: TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Personal Note from the Author

32. The Nature of Truth

33. The Knowability of Truth

34. Answering Postmodernism

35. Answering Skepticism

36. Answering Agnosticism

37. Answering Mysticism

38. Certainty vs. Certitude

39. Defending Miracles

40. Is History Knowable?

Bibliography

Biographical Sketches of Selected Authors

Author Index

Subject Index

The Four Spiritual Laws

My Thoughts:

This version of “Evidences” was published in 1999 and consisted of McDowell’s previous Evidences I & II with updates for a changing culture. Since this version there has been another version, updated by McDowell and his son Sean as our culture continues to change and the questions asked are different from even 20 years ago.

I read this mainly for the first part about whether we can trust the Bible or not. I feel that Part 2 and Part 3 flow from that answer and so am not nearly as concerned about that. The final and fourth part is for people who sit up at night worrying about whether there is a God and the consequences of deciding either way. Somebody needs to address those, but I’m not concerned with them.

McDowell himself recommends not reading this straight through but simply choosing an area that interests you or that you have questions about and diving in. This is setup in the way a scholarly paper would be, with main points and then sub-points drillling down so a chapter might look like 1, A, A1,A2,B,B1, 2,A, A1, A1a etc. Because of this, there is a lot of repetition as many of the same answers apply to different questions and challenges.

I started reading this in October of last year and used this for my work read. I’d read 5 or 10 minutes a day at work and have finally wrapped this up. The final part was hard for me to get through because it wasn’t what I was looking into, but as I knew that going in, it wasn’t a frustrating experience.

Thinking about this, I’d recommend it to Christians who feel a need to bolster their knowledge about how what they believe is based on more than Airy Fairy Nonsense. For non-Christians, I’d say it would help someone who is genuinely seeking an answer to “What is Truth?”. McDowell does address the fact that there are a lot of people who are asking questions but who either don’t want a genuine answer or who simply want what they already think confirmed. You can’t MAKE someone believe something, no matter how much evidence is presented to them.

Overall, this was a very strengthening read for me, a shot in the old arm, as it were. I am sure I will be revisiting various parts of this book as the years pass.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Wisdom of Father Brown (Father Brown #2) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Wisdom of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #2
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 268
Words: 73K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

“The Absence of Mr Glass”, McClure’s Magazine, November 1912.

“The Paradise of Thieves”, McClure’s Magazine, March 1913.

“The Duel of Dr Hirsch”

“The Man in the Passage”, McClure’s Magazine, April 1913.

“The Mistake of the Machine”

“The Head of Caesar”, The Pall Mall Magazine, June 1913.

“The Purple Wig”, The Pall Mall Magazine, May 1913.

“The Perishing of the Pendragons”, The Pall Mall Magazine, June 1914.

“The God of the Gongs”

“The Salad of Colonel Cray”

“The Strange Crime of John Boulnois”, McClure’s Magazine, February 1913.

“The Fairy Tale of Father Brown”

My Thoughts:

Another fine collection of short stories where Father Brown at least makes an appearance. I know I said it in the first book but to call these “mysteries” is rather misleading. At least in the sense of a detective sussing out the facts and figuring it out. Father Brown just kind of makes pronouncements based on what he thinks about the fallen nature of humanity and goes from there.

I feel like my schedule of alternating these with books by the Bronte sisters is working out well. If I were to read the Father Brown books too close together I suspect I’d get annoyed. While Chesterton and I both share the Christian Faith, his way of viewing the world, expressed through the character of Father Brown are very different. Personally, I’d box Father Brown’s ears and tell him to stop being so clueless. But since he’s not real and Chesterton is dead, that simply isn’t an option. Probably just as well as Chesterton could roll over me like a steamship both physically and mentally. Unless I got him with a surprise kidney punch first 😉

I chose this cover from the Librarything collection because it perfectly represents Father Brown. I think it is from the tv show (of which I’ve heard nothing good) and man did they choose someone just as Chesterton described. A brown shapeless potato. And that actor is the most potato’y that I’ve ever seen. Kudo’s to him for being such a potato! And the short story format is just like a baked potato too. Just enough to keep you full and happy but not so much that you become a glutton.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 128
Words: 35K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories consisting of:

MINISTERING ANGELS

SCREWTAPE PROPOSES A TOAST

THE SHODDY LANDS

THE MAN BORN BLIND

My Thoughts:

Man, Lewis could write some really WEIRD stuff. As peculiar as it may sound, a demon proposing a toast and going off about the general blandness of evil in the world was the most normal of these stories. The Man Born Blind almost reminded me of a Roald Dahl story with it’s twisted ending.

I am glad I read these and I think the points Lewis was trying to get across WERE conveyed but man, I just didn’t expect that level of weirdness from him.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A Sabbath Letter

The following is an email that I received last night. I don’t know that it will be of any interest to any of you. Mrs B and I both grew up keeping the Sabbath and it has been a balm and source of comfort and delight to us over the years. This email is just a reminder that others find it a delight and joy too.

If you are hurting right now, if you are tired (of your job, your life, of everything), if you are worn out, if you are confused and don’t know where to turn or what to do or if you are seeking something greater than what you have, then turn to Jesus Christ, the fulfillment and embodiment of the Sabbath. He is knocking at the door of your heart today.

Sitting here with my grandson on my lap, the words of a song came floating into my soul, a song often sung on Sabbath evenings. It’s No. 210 in Warrior Songs, written by Rose Tiedeman: “The Sabbath Steals Upon Us.” The words I especially liked were in verse two: “Dear holy day, when God, our Heavenly Father gathers so close His children to His heart….”

Isn’t it wonderful that God describes Himself as a Father?  In the godly norm, fathers are the strength and defense of the Christian home, and it often falls to their lot to gather the family together for prayer or devotion or simply to organize a little clean-up detail out in the yard. At best, the father establishes a special relationship with each of the children, such that each one has his or her own kind of love that’s unique, and each feels at home with him.

And so with our heavenly Father: now and then we feel a special need for security, and He has provided that for each of us in our own individual need. No two of us knows our Father the same way; and conversely, He knows each of us uniquely. That’s a wonderful truth to return to as often as we need it.

“The Name of Jehovah is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe,” says the Proverb (18:10). That’s one picture, and thank God for it! But I love the idea of running to my Father’s lap and finding safety there, too. The Bible doesn’t actually say that, but it does reveal what the opposite would look like. The returned exiles heard it in Jerusalem, straight from their governor, Nehemiah, when he gave them a characteristically vigorous object lesson: “Also I shook out my lap, and said, ‘So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied.’ And all the assembly said, ‘Amen,’ and praised Jehovah. (Nehemiah 5:13).

To be shaken out of God’s lap would be a disaster, wouldn’t it? No matter what happened with my grandson, I wouldn’t be inclined to shake him off and onto the floor! (Well, hardly ever….) And we need not ever fear this from our Father who is in Heaven. He is a God of love, and He cares for His children beyond anything an earthly father (or grandfather) could demonstrate.

It occurs to me that perhaps we all need this, right now, in the midst of political and cultural upheavals the like of which we’ve never seen before. Sometimes we could almost get frantic, wondering what’s coming next. But as someone shared in our Friday meeting this morning at Fairwood, there are two constants that we need never lose sight of: God is Good. And God is Sovereign. Now let’s add a couple more: God ordained the Sabbath, with all its blessings. And God’s lap is always open for His children! Putting all these together, we have a wonderful prospect: there’s a good God, who sovereignly ordained a Day of Rest and saw to it that the Seventh Day would be restored as that Day, and finally He has provided Himself a place of refuge. In fact, He is that place of refuge.

So this evening, or whenever you read this, how about turning off the news, turning our back on the ‘cares of this life,’ turning off our overactive imaginations, and just climb up into that unshaken and unshakable LAP, reveling in that Refuge. His arms are open to us. Why wait?

I love my Father, don’t you?

Amen, and Amen—

The Exorcist (The Exorcist #1) ★★☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Exorcist
Series: The Exorcist #1
Author: William Blatty
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
Pages: 282
Words: 101K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and is studying ancient relics. After discovering a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Assyrian demon), a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which, unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa.

Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil is living with her famous mother, actress Chris MacNeil, who is in Georgetown filming a movie. As Chris finishes her work on the film, Regan begins to become inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances in their rented house, for which Chris attempts to find rational explanations, Regan begins to rapidly undergo disturbing psychological and physical changes: she refuses to eat or sleep, becomes withdrawn and frenetic, and increasingly aggressive and violent. Chris initially mistakes Regan’s behavior as a result of repressed anger over her parents’ divorce and absent father.

After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan’s mother, an atheist, turns to a local Jesuit priest for help as Regan’s personality becomes increasingly disturbed. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession. After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child.

The bishop with whom he consults does not believe Karras is qualified to perform the rites, and appoints the experienced Merrin—who has recently returned to the United States—to perform the exorcism, although he does allow the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests both physically and spiritually. When Merrin, who had previously suffered cardiac arrhythmia, dies during the process, completion of the exorcism ultimately falls upon Father Karras. When he demands that the demonic spirit inhabit him instead of the innocent Regan, the demon seizes the opportunity to possess the priest. Karras heroically surrenders his own life in exchange for Regan’s by jumping out of her bedroom window and falling to his death, regaining his faith in God as his last rites are read.

My Thoughts:

I think this book would have been much easier to read as fictional horror if I didn’t believe that demons are real, that possessions are real or that exorcisms are real. That being said, Blatty is no Christian. He grew up catholic and this story deeply reflects that but he was what you’d call a “nominal” catholic. A “nominal” X is someone who likes to say he is X but only believes or practices select bits of X while criticizing and trying to change every other bit of X. It is kind of like saying you love pizza and then only eating the cheese and throwing the rest away.

My main issues with this book weren’t about the demon possession or the nature of evil. Unfortunately, it was all with the nature of God. The older priest, Merrin, believes that God is an Omega Point (from what I understand that is extremely similar to the hindu idea of Nirvana, where everyone becomes part of one gigantic thingamajig and loses their individuality). That is extremely problematic for me as it denies what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible as a personal God. It also makes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection meaningless as we’re all going to reach perfection naturally on our own through evolution.

My other issue is that Jesus, as God, is barely mentioned. In the Bible, in the New Testament, the disciples of Jesus and then later others, cast out demons in Jesus name. They didn’t use complicated rituals and perform mystical ceremonies. The name of Jesus has power for those who believe in Him. It really felt like the author believed in the power of evil and demons but wasn’t quite so sure about the power of God.

With these issues in mind, I think this is going to be the first and last book by Blatty that I read. There’s a sequel to this called Legion that I had on my TBR but that’s not going to happen now.

On a final note, ouija boards are dangerous. They open the user up to the supernatural and unfortunately, only the evil side of that. Don’t play around with them folks, they are not a game.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Innocence of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #1
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 269
Words: 78K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

“The Blue Cross”, The Story-Teller, September 1910; first published as “Valentin Follows a Curious Trail”, The Saturday Evening Post, 23 July 1910

“The Secret Garden”, The Story-Teller, October 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Sep 3, 1910

“The Queer Feet”, The Story-Teller, November 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 1, 1910)

“The Flying Stars”, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1911.

“The Invisible Man”, The Saturday Evening Post, 28 January 1911. (Cassell’s Magazine, Feb 1911)

The Honour of Israel Gow (as “The Strange Justice”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 March 1911.

“The Wrong Shape”, The Saturday Evening Post, 10 December 1910.

“The Sins of Prince Saradine”, The Saturday Evening Post, 22 April 1911.

The Hammer of God (as “The Bolt from the Blue”, The Saturday Evening Post, 5 November 1910.

“The Eye of Apollo”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 February 1911.

“The Sign of the Broken Sword”, The Saturday Evening Post, 7 January 1911.

“The Three Tools of Death”, The Saturday Evening Post, 24 June 1911.

My Thoughts:

While this series is categorized as a mystery, it’s not Sherlock or Wimsey or even Wolfe. Father Brown doesn’t go around looking at a thread caught on a bush and extrapolate the life story of the perp and then reveal him to the authorities. No, Father Brown studies the nature of fallen humanity, discovers the culprit and tries to get them to do the right thing, whether repentance or turning themselves in.

Chesterton was a converted Catholic and as such, Father Brown is pretty strong on his catholic doctrine. At the same time, it really didn’t come across as Chesterton trying to preach or convert his readers. He was trying to tell a great story first and for me, it worked.

The main thing that worked best for me though was the short story aspect. Chesterton wrote each story for a magazine back in the day and then had them collected later. I didn’t have to power through a whole novel and I could stop between stories without losing anything. I appreciate that simplicity and lack of tangled complexity that a lot of modern books seem to deliberately aim for.

One interesting aspect that stood out to me was that in several of the stories the villain of the piece took poison rather than face public justice. That happened in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey books too and I wonder if it was a “sensibility of the times” thing? I don’t think of the bad guys of today taking poison but either fighting or flight’ing or of readers caring one way or the other. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if it happens in any more stories.

A good addition to my reading rotation. Since I am also reading several other mystery series, I am going to be switch hitting the Complete Works of Chesterton with the Complete Works of the Sisters’ Bronte. That way I don’t Mystery myself out 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Crusade (Saint Tommy, NYPD #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Crusade
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #5
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 171
Words: 53.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Still working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal.

With the help of a local german police officer, a jewish rabbi with the secret of the golem at his fingertips and a group of bavarian special forces armed with paintball guns filled with holy water, it’s up to Tommy to put a stop to the rite that will raise Asmodeous the demon. Unfortunately, Tommy doesn’t get there in time and a hell gate is opened. This allows Jade, the succubus who ran the sex trafficking ring to gain incredible amounts of power and become a low level demon herself. She and Tommy duke it out, Tommy wins and they find Asmodeous trapped within a circle. The battle exorcist from the previous book is left to deal with him.

Tommy adopts one of the girls rescued from the sex ring and it turns out she has some sort of psychic powers. With his wife just having given birth to his own biological daughter, Tommy’s family is growing by leaps and bounds,

My Thoughts:

I think the first thing I need to say is that this book doesn’t shy away from some very tough subjects. Sex trafficking is not only happening in Africa or the Middle East or South America. It is happening here in the United States and in all of Europe as well. It is pervasive and evil and Finn doesn’t sugar coat it. He’s not graphic nor describing the horrors in detail, but one woman is raped to death off page as an object lesson to the other prisoners. With that said, lets talk about the more pleasant aspects of the book.

Tommy gets to fight nazi vampire muslim terrorists. No joke. Vampires, unfortunately, play a very small part. They simply crumble to dust when touched by Saint Tommy. The author does go into speculation about pre-history, much as he did in the previous book about the stone and vampires are grouped into that era of lore. There are some seriously cool fight scenes but that leads into the one thing that made me knock half a star off the rating.

Finn is constantly making pop-culture references throughout this book. It was apropos and funny but those things have a very limited shelf life and I don’t like them in the books I read. I find it cheapens them. Most of it was John Wick related this time. I love the movie John Wick and got it all, but in several years, even if the movie has cult status sticking power, people simply aren’t going to know what Finn is referencing. Then there was the golem mecha vs the dragon succubi and I had to roll my eyes at that fight. It was just to over the top for my taste.

I’ve got one more book available to me in this series then I have to decide if I want to continue or not. Finn is up to book 8 and from the reviews I’ve seen he does have an end game plan, but it won’t be for several books after 8. Upon reflection it would seem that my best option is to stop after book 6 and let him finish the series. Good thing I had this little conversation with myself!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.