Wednesday, February 26, 2014

get it while it's free!!!

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

I did a review of this book a few months ago, and it's one I recommend very highly. I don't know how long the Kindle version will be available for free, but at the moment it is. Again, very highly recommended!

Note: I think the time when it's being offered for free has now passed. But I still recommend getting it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

book review--Life Outside the Matrix by Venetia Carpenter

freeloader theology

In his book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Michael Horton wrote "So much of what I am calling "Christless Christianity" is not profound enough to constitute heresy...the message of American Christianity has simply become trivial, sentimental, affirming, and irrelevant." This book, "Like Outside the Matrix", perfectly fits that category. Although a few statements do indicate some aberrant beliefs, overall the book is so shallow and silly, it's difficult to imagine people taking it seriously. But, given the state of the church nowadays, the profane is often called profound.

The basic premise of the book is this, "Jesus was actually asking me to quit my full-time job, sit in prayer before Him for extended hours, journal what He was showing me, and trust Him for all my provision." (Kindle Locations 152-153). And what was one way she was taken care of? "As I began to do this I was led to food and household provision through friends who actually provided me with these things free of charge!" (Kindle Locations 187-188).

What reasons would I have to doubt that she got those instructions from Jesus? Take a look at II Thessalonians 3:6-12, and see if that passages in any way recommends this kind of freeloader non-activity. If anything, it is very much against it. "6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us." Paul in this context even gives the command, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat".

This author's statement that Jesus told her to quit her job and do nothing to earn her living is directly against Paul's statements and example, and I'll take Paul over this author any day. This woman received no such command from Jesus.

This author tries to convince the reader that they need to see into something she called "the supernatural realm". This is something the Bible says nothing about , she must simply attempt to insert it into a few verses. "The more I pondered this verse (Hebrews 11:6), I came to realize that the supernatural realm is really our birthright as believers." (Kindle Location 170). A look at the verse, and it's context, has nothing to do with any supernatural realm.

And the trite and shallow nature of this book is also evident in how Jesus is written about. Jesus becomes a car lot owner who wants to put you in a sweet ride, a metaphor for provision. Jesus is the partner who's waiting to give you those provisions if you look into the realm of the spirit. "Our partnership with Him calls things into being on this earth even though our physical eyes can't see them right away." (Kindle Locations 360-361), even though the Bible never says that we are able to call things into being. This is simply Word of Faith nonsense.

I got an e-book copy of this book when Destiny Image offered it for a free, and that may well be the only good thing about this book. I'd hate to think that the money I worked long and hard for would end up going to someone promoting this kind of freeloading theology.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

book review—Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black

good story, but remember that it is fiction, not theology

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

I want to deal with this book from two angles, story and theology.

Story—It has an interesting premise, that the results of an experiment causes the hero of the story to see things that no one else can see, and how this young man acts and reacts to the things he's seeing that no one else can see. The story keeps up a fairly good pace, and kept my interest.

A bit on the down side, while the main characters were likeable, they were not always all that believable. While many of Drew's actions made sense, I still got the impression that things became too The Matrix-like with his super-fast reaction times and how he came to use them. Perhaps because we see things mostly from Drew's eyes (it's not a first-person story, but still told from his perspective), Sydney sometimes comes off as too perfect, always doing the right things for all the right reasons.

The “invaders” are an interesting take on the whole angels and demons thing, if one keeps in mind that it is only the author's speculations. One good thing the author did was to factor in Drew's and Berg's ignorance about things spiritual and religious, so for them the “invaders” are not angels, but other kinds of beings.

Theology—Spiritual warfare is a big thing in a lot of churches and movements, and the teachings about it can be rather bizarre. While I'm trying to keep in mind that this is a work of speculative fiction, there are some aspects of what happens in this story concerning the spiritual warfare that happens in it that did cause me to wonder.

For example, why were the evil invaders (demons) unable to follow Drew when he took a boat out on the water? And why did it seem like even a good invader (angel) was hurt when rain fell on him? Maybe it was only a device for the story, but it's an odd one. Following that logic, one would think that a submarine would be completely demon- and angel-free. I don't recall any such thing being taught in the Bible, either.

In another part, the story's main battle towards the end, the good invaders (angels) are empowered when Sydney seems to be praying. This is a fairly popular teaching in some circles, that our prayers empower angels or free them to do things or keep them employed, but even the author, in the study guide at the end of the book, notes that the Bible doesn't teach that this is how prayer works.

So, on the one hand, I enjoyed the book as a story. It was a quick read, and kept my interest. Perhaps that is how it should be read, as speculative fiction, as simply a fairly good Christian sci-fi thriller. But one should be wary of reading it as an example of spiritual warfare, or as a glimpse into how angels and demons fight each other.