Books read in October 2008 (5)
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
But thanks to his famous son, Don, Tom Carson's sweetness is not wasted on the desert air of Quebec. Tom laboured there as an ordinary pastor with no extraordinary gifts save for perseverance and faithfulness. It was a hard place for a Protestant from the 40s onward. Tom seemed to eventually burn out from full time ministry. He exhibited extraordinary grace when wronged by the leading man among Canadian Baptists. He knew the grace of the doctrines as well as the doctrines of grace. He exhibited beautiful love and care for his wife during her years of deterioration into dementia before her death. A moving tribute to a saintly father.
2. The Ultimate Book of Jewish Jokes by David Minkoff
An excellent source for good jokes, most of which were new to me. Some are not necessarily Jewish. Some I had heard in a Christian version. But they are good stuff and will give you many laughs as well as an improved understanding of Jewish life.
3. Zion's Christian Soldiers?: The Bible, Israel and the Church by Stephen Sizer
Sizer has produced an excellent primer on understanding God's purposes for his people according to a covenantal understanding of Scripture. We are bombarded by the Christian Zionists who think that Scripture foretells the establishment of the present state of Israel and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Sizer tells us that the New Testament has no teaching about a return to the land. God's promises centre on Christ and his gospel going out into all the world. The church, uniting Jews and gentiles in one new people is now the Israel of God. He knows such a stance will be unjustly accused of anti-Semitism but he is in favour of the State of Israel existing and being able to live in peace with secure borders. He is no anti-Semite but a man concerned for peace in Jerusalem and justice for all. He views Zionism as inimical to the peace of the Middle East. He gives a biblical critique of the dispensational hermeneutic which sadly leads many Christians to support political Israel whether it is right or wrong in its policies. I note two minor omissions. There is no reference to the ultra-orthodox Lubavitch Jews who are not Zionists, nor is there any subject index.
4. Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure by John Piper
Piper has written a superb short book on sanctification which should be required reading for all Christians who wish to grow in grace. He shows how unbelief is at the root of sin. He deals with eight specific sins. You will find some are more applicable to you than others. For me the most helpful chapters were on anxiety and despondency. Piper writes as an experienced pastor, a man who has battled with these sins himself and can help others in the battle. His emphasis is on avoiding sin by faith in future grace according to God's promises. A sanctified life is offered than holds more pleasures than sin pretends to give. Piper is a modern Puritan for he teaches practical theology as did those giants of four centuries past. I now want to read Future Grace, the larger work from which this book comes.
5. Drinking With Calvin and Luther!: A History of Alcohol in the Church by Jim West
The world drinks to forget but Christians drink to remember. So we are told in this life affirming book. Jim West, teaches how Christians have traditionally and biblically enjoyed alcohol in moderation while condemning the sin of drunkenness. This book is enriched by much humour but sometimes one finds it difficult to know if some of the anecdotes have any real historical basis. The book also has a brief guide to good beer and wine, though this is very much from a USA perspective. I did though spot one mistake. Thomas More was Lord Chancellor of England, not Archbishop of Canterbury. One thing not recounted is how some of the well known names among English brewers were those of evangelical Christians who encouraged the working man to drink wholesome beer not the deadly gin which caused so much damage in the 18th Century.