Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Defund Benny Hinn

In the past couple of weeks, a lot of people have been rightly disgusted over videos of people working for the abortion provider Planned Parenthood talking about how they sell the body parts of pre-born babies they have murdered. Calls have rightly been made for the US government to stop giving money to this organization, though the idea has so far been put on hold because those who govern us are little better than the PP butchers.

Having little control of how much tax money PP gets, perhaps we in the church should focus on a similar problem in our own midst. There are those among us who, like PP, do unspeakable things for the sake of enriching themselves. No, they don't physically murder babies. What they do is, in many ways, even worse, because they preach false gospels. They promise people physical healings and monetary wealth while downplaying or even ignoring the need they have to be made clean from their sins by Christ. The Jesus they preach is more interested in things like life-change and giving you your best life now and fulfilling all of your dreams then in saving your from God's judgment.

They preach all kinds of lunacy and wackiness, claiming the Holy Spirit told them things that aren't to be found in the Bible, and even contradict things taught in the Bible.

The good thing about this plan is that you don't have to rely on the cowards in Congress to do it for you. Your yourself can defund these people. You can decide to not send them money, or to not buy their books and CDs, or to not attend their conferences and concerts.

I could name a lot of people whom the church should defund—Creflo Dollar, Richard Roberts, Joyce Meyer, Kat Kerr, or places like Bethel Redding, or media like GodTV or TBN—and if you want to begin defunding them on your own, I will heartily approve. But for now, let's focus on one target. He's on ly one among many, but he's quite a big one.

We should Defund Benny Hinn.

Just as with the PP controversy, there are videos of Hinn saying things that are so completely unbiblical that it's a shame to the church that this man is still considered a minister in the church. Here are some examples...

Defund Benny Hinn. It's easy (you literally have to do nothing), it's free (the idea is to not send him money), and it'll do the world and the church a lot of good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WITITB? available for free

My latest venture in writing is up and can be downloaded for free for a few days.

"WITITB?" simply stands for the question "Where is that in the Bible?" It's a question I've asked many times in reading and listening to some of what passes today for Christian teaching.

In the biblical book of Acts, the believers at the city of Berea were commended for checking in the Scriptures to verify that what the Apostle Paul was teaching them was true. This book is an attempt on my part to follow the example of the Bereans, to put this question to some things that are being taught by a few different Christian leaders.

This book, then, is a critical look at what some in the church are teaching. As such, an equally critical mindset is expected of anyone who cares to read it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

thoughts concerning the Supreme Court's attempts to redefine morality

I would guess that most of you have heard about the Supreme Court's decision to somehow find gay marriage in the Constitution. Much like the so-called Constitutional right to kill children who have not yet been born, one has to wear special glasses to find this new so-called right, I guess. But, be that as it may, here we are. Hardly a day for rejoicing, when evil is call good and celebrated.

So, what now?
Take these thoughts for what they are worth, I'm putting them out there for consideration. No doubt, others have and will give their opinions and thoughts.
Separation of God and country
For a while, we've accepted a couple of curious ideas —the notion of the separation of church and state along with the notion of a mixing of God and country. I can listen to AFR and hear this in their motto “faith, family, freedom”, I have been to churches which have the country's flag almost as prominently shown as the cross, I can hear and read the non-stop cacophony of calls revival revival revival because that is the only hope for our country and we need to attend the next big conference or rally or stadium event and show people how serious we are and we need to cry out to God for revival and so on and so forth.
Maybe it's time to stop trying to dress God up in the American flag.
Is patriotism and love of country wrong? I don't think so. One can read the biblical book of Romans and see Paul's love and concern for his kinsmen, even as they were rejecting him and his message. One can read the gospels and see Jesus' concern and heartbreak over Israel, even as He was pronouncing judgment on them for rejecting Him.
But love isn't blind. Israel was (and is) a people with a covenant from God, but while Paul lamented his kinsmen's blindness, he also saw that he had another set of kinsmen. He called those who believed in Jesus Christ, who had repented of their sins, his brothers and sisters.
Let me give another example. The family is a good thing, something God created, and is one thing being attacked by this attempt to create a new morality. But Jesus also said that those who follow Him are to hate their father and mother and even their own lives, and said that for those who follow Him that their enemies will be those of their households.
This is a difficult way to think. We'd rather have a simple dichotomy, “This is good here, that over there is evil”, but we are given a more difficult way of thinking, “Love of country and family is good, but that country and family can become your enemies if you follow Christ”.
I'm a citizen of the US, and that's fine as far as it goes. But for Christians, our ultimate citizenship is in Heaven. The bond I have through Christ with the Christians in various prisons across the world, with those being persecuted in various ways, is far stronger and more eternal than the bond I have with anyone claiming only national citizenship.
There are no white hats
To employ this way of thinking in a more negative way, it's become plain that both side of the aisle, politically and religiously, are simply wrong.
It's easy to see how the people on the left are wrong. What evils do they not condone and celebrate? The murders we call abortion and assisted suicide, the various kinds of sexual perversions, government theft and corruption and greed and control.
But it's when I have looked to the right, thinking I'm with the “good guys”, the white hats, that I've seen that they really aren't all that good. I may agree with many of the things they stand for, but...
When I look at the religious right, I see much the same kinds of lust for power as I see on the left. I see compromise, even in regards to the basic Christian beliefs. For political reason (and perhaps other reasons, too), Franklin Graham stopped referring to Mormonism as a cult. I can look at the speakers for the Values Voters Summit, and see a Mormon, a few Roman Catholics, and someone with connections to the New Apostolic Reformation. The leaders of the religious right are people like Peter Wagner, a man who is a partner with the worst of the worst in regards to false prophets, false teachers, fake healers.
If you don't know the word “dominionism” and the ideas behind it, get acquainted with it. To put it simply, Wagner and those with him want power. They think they have a divine command and even right to run the world, to take over what they call the spheres of society, that they must do those things before Christ will return for His mature warrior-bride.

Now, don't think that dominionism is only a religious right thing. Though he may not use the word dominionism, Brian McLaren is just as set on remaking the world into his own image as Peter Wagner is. But my main concern for the moment with the supposed “good guys”, the ones trying to sport the white hats. But when I look at Wagner and has cronies, I see their hats are just as black as those of people on the left.
I'm not a prophet, and not going to pretend to be one, but I'm going to make a non-prophetic prediction, one that I have a small hope will be wrong but I'm pretty sure is going to happen, because it's already happened to some degree, for example with Graham's compromises concerning Mormonism. I predict that many in the NAR will continue to drift to the left, and will even embrace this new morality. They will dress their compromises up in pietistic rhetoric, they will find sad stories they can use to make themselves appear compassionate, they will end in devouring those who stand against them.
In other words, when power and wealth are your goals, then compromises will find their needed excuses. The NAR is already built on lies and distortions, they have no solid ground to anchor themselves to anything.
Broadly speaking, the Bible tells us these kinds of things will happen
Contrary to the rhetoric coming from the dominionists, the Bible tells us that the world will become a darker and more evil place in these end times. Evil men will grow worse and worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. The times will be perilous for those with faith in Christ. False messiahs and saviors will rise, and many will be deceived by them.
Mankind doesn't want to change, unless it is that it wants to dive more and more into sin. And it will continue to the demand that the Church accept its sins, approve of its perversions, check off on what it wants. The world will demand that the church become its friend, and if the church doesn't, well, the church will have to pay.
And the US church has not helped itself. It has fed the people in its pews and stadium seating a steady died of theological fluff, promising people their best lives now if they follow the prescribed rituals and say the correct positive words, promising a life of fulfillment and adventure if people make prayer circles and tell the sun to stand still and be audacious and other such things. People in churches think they are lions when they are merely lambs, and not even God's lambs, only meat for the world's grinders. Pastors who pose as tough guys will topple like houses of cards, and their people will follow them.
We are being disillusioned. Let us rejoice in that, and repent of believing the earlier illusions. The US is not Heaven, it is not God's Kingdom. I have a greater kinship with many of the people whose sufferings are told on the Voice of the Martyr's website then I do with many politically conservative and liberal politicians and activists.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

book review—Forever Ruined for the Ordinary by Joy Dawson

basically completely unbiblical

I simply have a hard time believing anyone takes the teachings and methods in this book seriously. How can anyone with an ounce of discernment think this author is teaching them anything biblical in this book?

“I want to make it crystal clear that we should never just open the Bible randomly, and casually put our finger on a verse, and automatically go and do whatever it says. What if we did that and read that Judas hanged himself (see Matthew 27: 5), then repeated the action, and landed upon the verse which says “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 37)?” (Kindle Locations 551-553). Yet what she recommends is not really any better. Many of the stories she relates about herself and others involve taking biblical verses and even phrases out of context, and pretending that they have a meaning that they don't have. She relates telling a young man to marry a certain woman because of a phrase in II Kings 14. a phrase that in context was used in a mocking way. She relates a time a woman got her pastor to pay for a friend to attend a conference based solely on the fact that she opened her Bible and found her pastor's name in Ezekial 27:15, without regard to the context of that verse.

She calls this “quickening”. Another reviewer compares it to the Magic 8-Ball toy, which I think is more accurate. The Bible nowhere teaches or encourages such a haphazard and trite way of reading and understanding the Bible. Worse, I think this is a kind of fortune-telling, and simply because it involves using the Bible doesn't make it any better; if anything, it makes it worse, because it trivializes the Word of God. Instead of encouraging people to a serious study of biblical teachings, this encourages them to simply open up the Bible and scan the pages until something “pops out!”, or to think they are getting random biblical verses in their minds and then try to shoehorn what that verse says into some kind of personal message for them and their situations.

This book is all law, all legalism. You have to do things her way, you have to do all of the steps she tells you to do, you have to follow all of her principles, and if you fail at even one point, well, you may get some bad messages from demons, you may act presumptuously, you may get kidnapped, or you may end up not being able to speak at all. But the steps and principles she's made up are not anywhere found in the Bible. No epistle teaches that, if the people in the churches want to get messages from God, then they need to silence their own voices, rebuke demons, then sit around quietly until God finally decides to give them some kind of unclear message or out-of-context scriptural passage.

“Unconditional obedience is the key to a successful Christian life. Think about that!” (Kindle Locations 1546-1547). There may be some truth there, but it's only at best half of the truth. Because none of us are completely or unconditionally obedient. There is little hint in such a mindset that one would join Paul in lamenting “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall save me from this body of death”, or in agreeing with him that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief”.

If the misuse of biblical passages isn't enough of a bad sign for you, here's a pretty plain one—she recounts in this book a time this “god” who speaks to her in feelings and impressions wanted her to do something in support of something Benny Hinn was doing. Hinn is a known false prophet, a fake healer, a prosperity gospel shill who has enriched himself with false promises and false words he claims are from God, he has even preached that we are “little gods”. The God of the Bible would not tell someone to do anything in support of such a false minister.

But I do think that there might be a few people who could be grateful for this book, those who work at putting together conferences and scheduling speakers for them, because this author would likely be a nightmare for them to deal with or to trust.

As someone who was in YWAM for a few years, I'm very glad to be away from this kind of feelings-based way of trying to figure out God's will. Sadly, I was one of those people who took these kinds of teachings seriously, trying to look inside myself and interpret my feelings to see what God might be trying to say to me through them. Perhaps it goes without saying, but it was incredibly unhelpful and very untrustworthy. Reading a book like this now, I can see how unbiblical this author's teachings are.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

movie review: Mad Max: Fury Road

my impressions from the preview were right

I'd seen previews to the recent Mad Max movie, and hadn't been impressed with what I'd seen. Then the movie came out, and I saw good things being said and written about it, so I decided to take the risk, and see it.

Overall, I think my impressions from the previews was closer to the mark, at least in my opinion.

I can say that a lot of effort was made to make it interesting and entertaining. The movie is basically a long car chase set in two parts, with lots of strange-looking vehicles, lots of strange-looking people, a main bad guy who looked like a Predator gone to seed, and rather more eye candy than I was comfortable with. Perhaps one big reason I didn't like was all this strangeness, or grotesqueness.

But for all of the action, the explosions, the flame-throwing guitar, the porcupine-line cars, the biker gang of old ladies, I found the whole thing rather boring. Even the budding romance between the rogue warboy and the runaway wife only added a small bit of heart to the dystopian road trip.

We knew who the bad guys were because they were bloated and deformed. We knew who the good girls were because they were young and beautiful. I will give some props to Hardy as he plays Max as an atypical movie hero, someone who came rather closing to living up the word "mad".

But the closest the movie comes to having a heart is when one of the bad guys laments the death of his unborn brother.

In the end, I was glad when this movie was over, and have no plans to see it again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

book review--The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves

good account of one way the church is going wrong

For several years, I was kind of on the edge of a lot of the things this author writes about, going to some of the types of churches he mentions such as Vineyard churches, and being a member of a missions organization that while claiming to be nondenominational was still very much Charismatic and taught things like taking our cities for God and spiritual warfare that involved activities like rebuking and binding Satan and claiming territory and resources.

The author of this book does a good job of comparing what he was being taught to what the Bible says, and finding the things being taught to not be taught in the Bible. It is a sad testimony about churches that far too many of them don't do the same. The author points out some of the lame excuses church leaders' use to allow unbiblical activities and spiritual manifestation to be practiced in their churches.

One of the best things this author does is to point out what is really behind these practices—elitism. These bizarre manifestation like drunk in the spirit and acting like animals are all dressed up in pride—this is the next big move of God, this is cutting-edge stuff, this puts you ahead of the average church-goer. And going further, if you accept what is being taught and attend the conferences and school and stuff like that, then you'll walk in miracles all the time, you'll become the head and not the foot, you'll be a part of the Elijah or Joshua Generation or Joel's Army or become a super-apostle or some other thing meant to play to your pride.

This book is well worth reading. I can recommend it very highly

Friday, May 1, 2015

book review: Bringing Heaven to Earth by Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment

dominionism from the left

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Trying to give a fair evaluation to this book has been rather tricky. There were some things in it that seemed ok, but my overall impression was that the book was rather iffy, even trite.

For one thing, Scripture is used in a haphazard fashion. “When Jesus spoke about hell, He referred to the town dump right outside Jerusalem”, p. 60. So, in the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, the rich man died and ended up in the town dump? On pages 34-35, they tried to draw a parallel between Jesus' temptation in the wilderness and His baptism and Israel's time in the wilderness and then crossing the Jordan into The Promised Land, but they get the events of Jesus' life backwards—in Matthew 3 and 4, Jesus is first baptized, then He goes into the wilderness. “You might be convince that you're a sheep, and you might find out it's better to be a goat.”, p. 68. Umm...goats are those who will be taken from God's presence. I'm pretty sure it's never better to be a goat.

On pp. 105-107, in writing about the book of Galatians, the authors sum up the concerns Paul expressed in the book in this way, “...we can make a mess out of God's gift of life”. This is, at the best way to try to read it, a trite way of summing up how the Galatian Christians were adding their own works to try to earn salvation, and coming close to falling into apostasy. “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, or in the community that wears His name. Fred Phelps is just as forgiven as are those who rejoiced when he died”. This is definitely playing fast and loose with Paul's statement in Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” I see no reason to think that Phelps was in Christ Jesus, and thus wasn't condemned. This statement by these authors seems to hint that they hold a universalist view.

Following a similar path I remember when reading some of the books by Emergents, these guys have littered their book with deconstructive “What if...?” questions. Their trite “Jesus party” mentality is, frankly, offensive. The way they continually slam the church because of bad press is so thin as to be laughable, especially since the accusations are clearly false.

This book isn't a complete waste, but it does a poor job of teaching Scripture, and honestly comes off more as a piece of propaganda then as a work of theology. It's seem like their trying to entice people in with all kinds of sweet thing while covering over or explaining away the bad things, like the statement about hell that I referred to earlier in this review. In the end, it's all law, and all their own law—do you hang out with people who are like yourself? Well, that's just bad. Do you care about the truth of the biblical accounts? That's not important. To put it simply, they are “Deeds, not creeds” types.

Finally, there is simply the dominionist note of this book. “We are to steward God's world and to exercise loving dominion over creation”. I've read books by dominionists who are on the conservative side of social, political, and thoelogical things, and it's not the first time I've noticed those on the left having similar ambitions. It's always amazing how much those on either side can make of the request in Jesus' prayer that “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. But what else does all of this talk about making earth into heaven, about earth being the womb of heaven, about heaven not being far away, mean except that it's our job to make earth like heaven? From the left or from the right, it's all dominionism, and I want nothing to do with either of them. Man's attempts to make a paradise on earth cannot but fail, and badly, no matter how much you dress it up in christian-like rags.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

book review—Wandering Stars by Keith Gibson

very informative

A few years ago, a church decided to have a circus perform during one of their services. The sad part isn't so much that this happened, but that far too much of the church has become a circus in its own right.

This book gives the reader a good view of one aspect of the unfunny circus that is the church today, with numerous examples of the unbiblical things taught by those who call themselves apostles and prophets, the inaccurate prophecies the so-called prophets have given, and the ways these people who call themselves apostles and prophets try to cover up their bad teachings and keep anyone from keeping them accountable.

This is a very important and informative book. Far too many people in the church today are being deceived, and books like this are there to help people see the deceptions. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

book review—Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black

interesting, but not completely buying what he's teaching

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
I'll deal with this book like I did the first, as a story as regarding it's theology.
Story—First, don't come into this book expecting a typical sequel to the first book in the series. I give the author some credit for doing something a bit different, perhaps even risky. And I'll give him more credit for doing it fairly well, story-wise.
A lot happens in this story, and it held my interest. The main character gets developed pretty well, as the reader sees him in various historical and modern-day situations.
Theology—This is a bit tricky, because the author adds some speculative things that, if read wrongly, could come off as theological. To that end, the Reader's Guide was helpful for understanding what the author inserted on his own.
On the good side, the story focused on faith in Christ. Even for a “good” man like Drew, the main hero of the first story who appears in this one too, there is no salvation apart from faith in Christ, no matter what good works he's trying to do. Along with there, there are things concerning abortion and sexuality that are biblically sound.
The author does engage in the kind of ego-boosting us-center rhetoric that is all too common today. “God sees the potential in all of us...”, he writes in the Reader's Guide. But biblically, we know that “none are righteous” and “all our works of righteousness are as filthy rags”.
If there is one thing that honked me off a little theologically, it's when he tries to throw in the need to “hear God's whispers”. Even the angels in this story have to try to hear them, for some reason. I realize this is a popular teaching, but I've yet to come on anyone who can truly show me where the Bible tells us that God speaks to us via a quiet inner voice. And this author doesn't give any biblical support for the notion, either.
Conclusion—It's an interesting read. I wish I could be a little more enthusiastic in my support for it, but I simply can't ignore some of the things the story teaches that are a bit off, like the God-whispers stuff. But there is enough good that I'd give a recommendation.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

En Passant available for free

En Passant

This book is available for free for a few days, for Kindle readers.

book review--Divine Applause by Jeff Anderson

say hello to the new legalism

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

I suppose a lot of people are familiar with the old legalism, the “Christians don't drink or chew, and don't hang out with folks who do” type. This kind of legalism was grim and dour, looking askance upon fun and entertainment. Rock music was evil, movies were evil, dancing was evil, TV was the devil's tool box, and so on.

The new legalism is different. It comes with a smile, offering all kinds of good things. The god of the new legalism isn't looking to strike you down if you slip up; rather, he's just eager and waiting to drop all kinds of blessings on you if you'll just get your act together. That's the god of Divine Applause.

The god that Anderson writes about in this book is a god whose attention you have to get, and Anderson tells you how. If you give money, God notices. If you fast, God starts paying attention. If you pray, God's ears perk up.

But though the new legalism wears a very different face from the old one, it is still legalism. How much should you give? Well, maybe tithing isn't enough for you to get God's attention. “Honest study suggests there is no biblical giving measurement that applies to everyone. In fact, it's possible that your 10 percent, or even beyond, may not please God...We learn from Jesus's applause of the generous widow at the Temple that God measures our gifts according to how much our gift costs us. He measures it according to our unique sacrifice.” So, how do you know if you giving is pleasing to God? “If your decision to give 5 percent of you income (or 1 percent or even one dollar) causes your heart to beat faster and your hands to sweat, then that healthy tension can make your gift matter both to you and to God.” Of course, he doesn't show where racing hearts and sweating palms are taught in the Bible as a basis for giving.

Much of the rest of the book is along those same lines, basically him taking a few biblical passages and making stuff up about them, trying to read between the lines, so to speak. Gideon had only a few hundred people to fight with because he asked God a few times to verify what He'd said to him? That's not taught in the Bible. All the backstory about Abraham's unnamed servant sent to find a wife for Isaac? None of that is in the Bible. This author is far more interested in his own vain imaginations then in teaching sound bibilical theology

“When even good, holy, and proper things become confused with the gospel, it is only a matter of time before we end up with Christless Christianity: a story about us instead of a story about the Triune God that sweeps us into the unfolding drama.” Michael Horton. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (p. 109). Anderson tries to deal with good, holy, and proper things—giving is good, prayer is good, fasting is good. But he does so in a way that makes the story about me. “What did Jesus mean when He told the adulterous woman to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11 KJV). He must have believed in something greater for her life. And when He preached to the crowds, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), He had something greater in mind for them too.”

But the adulterous woman could no more keep from sinning than she could keep from breathing, perhaps even less so. The people who heard Jesus say that weren't suppose to think that they could be perfect by their own efforts—many of them were already trying to do that by their own efforts, by keeping the law, by living in legalism. The law isn't meant to inspire us to a form of bootstrap theology, but to help us see how sinful our sins are.

Romans 3“21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over  n former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” One of the big things the law is suppose to do is show us how much we need the Gospel of Christ dying for our sins, to show us how lost we are without Christ's sacrifice.

In the end, this book is simply another in a sad and sadly growing collection of ego-boosting works of me-centered theology. God is there to make my life an adventure, give meaning to my life, make me a superstar, but I have do everything right so that God can do that for me. God is relegated to being a supporting player in the grand and glorious story of me. Few things could be less Christian.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

book available for free for a few days

More to the Story is available on Kindle for free for a few days.

It's a short work, basically three brief writings centered around some scriptural passages. They aren't meant to be satirical or sardonic, though a few sacred cows may be singed a little bit in them.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

the falsest of dichotomies

Every now and again, I'll read something that at least seems to hint at some kind of divide between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament.

To my experience, it's rarely plainly stated in such terms. The language is usually more weaselly. It might, for example, involve statement about how Jesus is the true revelation of God, and how we have to interpret the Bible, especially the Old Testament, through Jesus.

Of course, that does make sense. But then, the Jesus they try to set up turns out to be not much like the Jesus found in the New Testament.

For example, I've come on a few who try to question the existence of Hell using such an argument. Apparent, the fact the Jesus spoke of Hell as a very real place doesn't factor into their interpretations.

This kind of thing is often used by those who are theologically liberal.

For example, they will attempt to put a kind of separation between the God of the Old Testament, who often told people to go to war and told Israel to conquer to the Promised Land, and Jesus in the New Testament, who told people to love their enemies, bless those who curse you, and so on. They try to portray Jesus as being in favor of their pet forms of nonviolent resistance.

But the truth is this--Jesus never disapproved of anything the Father said or did in the Old Testament, and the Father never disapproved of anything the Son said or did in the New Testament. As Jesus Himself plainly stated, "I an the Father are One", and "Before Abraham was, I am". To put it another way, the God who told Yeshua (Joshua) to cross the Jordon and conquer the Promised Land is the same Yeshua (Jesus) who told us to love our enemies. There are not cross-purposes, there is no split between the two, there is not disagreement in the Godhead. Jesus did not attempts some kind Occupy Heaven stunt.

The same Jesus who spoke about loving enemies also told his disciples to sell a cloak to buy a sword. The same Jesus who spoke about loving enemies was the one who called His enemies hypocrites, blind guides, and said their father was the devil. Start getting your mind around these apparent (though not real) contradictions before trying to make the Godhead a family squabble.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

book review—Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

large as life fairy tale

Fracturing fairy tales has become common in modern-day story telling. It seems like TV shows and movie where spins and twists are put on fairy tale and folklore stories are pretty frequently put out. Of course, one gets a steady diet of that from Disney, but they are far from the only practitioners.

“Heartless” is, in many ways, another modern take on fairy tales, but one that is different from some of the others I've come on, and one that I like rather a lot.

A lot of the expected elements are in it. There are princes and princesses, strange places where strange things can happen, dragons and warriors, heroes and villains. There is love and loss, heroism and cowardice, selfishness and sacrifice.

But maybe the big difference between this fairy tale and the classic kind, a difference that I think may make “Heartless” more suited to a more grown-up reader than the kiddie version of fairy tales popular nowadays, is that most of the people in it are not larger than life. With a couple of exceptions, they are not paragons of virtue, nor are they dripping in evil and villainy.

Una is not the stereotypical fairy tale princess, Felix is not prince charming, and Leo is not a knight in shining armor. They are, in a sense, only as large as life. They act like how we act, they do the things we do, they act selfishly and rashly, they make shallow decisions, and they hurt those around them in profound ways. They aren't the stereotypical sympathetic characters, they are in fact rather frustrating. Just like we are.

One of the biggest parallels I saw between this story and Christianity is this—Una is loved by the fairy prince even when she treats him badly and as an enemy. This was a reminder to me of how “God showed us His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

Overall, this is a work of creative and imagination, as well as well thought out and fairly sound in it's allegorical representations of Christianity. I can recommend it very strongly.