Thursday, March 17, 2011

"The Christian Lover": A Book Review

The book is too brief.  There, you have my only criticism of "The Christian Lover:  The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers" by Michael A. G. Haykin and Victoria J. Haykin.  The work is only 100 pages and may easily be read during a relaxing afternoon.

I own several works by Dr. Haykin and have enjoyed everything this Christian historian has written.  Furthermore, it has been my privilege to hear him deliver conference presentations on various lessons from history and have never been disappointed.  This book continues that perfect streak.

The Haykins present 12 chapters, each chapter covering a Christian couple from history.  The chapter opens with a brief biographical sketch of the parties, setting the stage for what follows.  And what follows the biography are one or more letters written between the two parties (usually husband and wife).  These letters reveal the love life between them, presenting a wonderful picture of their humanity and what Christian marriage is about.

The 12 couples include Protestant Reformers Luther and Calvin, 19th century Baptists Judson and Broadus, as well as 20th century Christian heroes, Lloyd-Jones and Moltke.  Some of the letters express feelings during periods of separation, some during times of loss, and one pending the end of life.  In each one, the reader catches a glimpse of the true humanity of the author and the deep level of love the parties have for one another.

A couple of examples will suffice to reveal the wealth contained in these letters.

"Martin Luther to the holy lady, full of worries, Mrs. Katharina, doctor, the lady of Zolsdorf, at Wittenberg, my gracious, dear mistress of the house.  Grace and peace in Christ!  Most holy Mrs. Doctor!  I thank you very kindly for your great worry which robs you of sleep."

Helmuth Moltke writing to his wife Freya from prison less than two weeks before his execution at the hands of the Nazis:  "Without you I would have accepted love. ... But without you, my dear, I would not have "had" love.  I should not think of saying that I love you; that would be quite false.  Rather you are the one part of me, which would be lacking if I was alone. ... It is only in our union--you and I--that we form a complete human being. ... And that is why, my dear, I am quite certain that you will never lose me on this, my dear.  I am quite certain that you will never lose me on this earth--no, not for a moment."

The book is excellent and I VERY highly recommend it. 

BUT, I wish it was a bit longer!

Monday, March 7, 2011

"How to Study the Bible": A Book Report

I read this brief book (144 pages) by Pastor John MacArthur to help believers in studying their Bible in only a few hours.  Typical of any MacArthur work, it is well written, easy to read, and full of good information.  The only complaint I have with the work is the title.  "How" to study the Bible is not the exclusive content of the book, in fact, the book title is also one of the four chapter titles, occupying a mere 36 pages of the entire book.  So, if you pick up this book expecting to receive 144 pages describing how to study the Bible, you will be disappointed.

The other three chapters lay the foundation for studying Scripture.  They discuss the nature of Scripture, the importance of Scripture, and the use of Scripture in one's life.  Also, there is a chapter which explains who can study the Bible.  All of this is good information but really does not contribute much to the discussion on "HOW" to study the Bible.

Nevertheless, it is a MacArthur work and it is well done.  I would recommend the book to anyone wanting more information on the nature and use of the Scripture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine": A Book Review

I must confess I anxiously awaited the arrival of this book.  It was on my "gift wish list" for a couple of years.  Finally it arrived this past Christmas, a gift from some of my family. 

After plodding my way through its brief 118 pages, I have no idea why I was so excited to read it.  The authors, Alister E. McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, take well known atheist Richard Dawkins to task on his denial of the existence of God and his mockery of religion.  As they note:

"Every one of Dawkins's misrepresentations and overstatements can be challenged and corrected."

Sure they can.  But these authors do so in such a cumbersome way, it is difficult to follow their argument and make it through the book, at least it was for me.  They seem to jump from point A to point B without explaining the path they took, leaving the reader (i.e., ME) confused. 

Another problem I have with the text is how they show possession.  Perhaps this is acceptable in today's world of literature but it sure isn't how I was taught to write a possessive.  If I want to show something belonging to Mr. Dawkins, I write Dawkins', NOT Dawkins's (see quote above).  Maybe this is a minor thing, but everytime I read Dawkins's I wanted to scream!

Also there were moments when I wondered from where the authors learned orthodox Christianity.  For example, on page 86 they write:

"Yes--contrary to what Dawkins assumes, orthodox Christianity understands Jesus to have been fully human and not omniscient."

Well, the Bible teaches Jesus was God in the flesh so certainly His divine nature was omniscient!  I will concede that his human nature was not but the authors need to be a bit more careful when sharing orthodox Christianity's understanding on the person of Christ.

As you can tell, I was disappointed in the book.  Maybe I had my hopes on what I would learn from reading this work set too high.  But I really can not recommend this book to anyone UNLESS they really do believe Richard Dawkins is correct.  In that case, the book may have some value.