Book review: Amusing Ourselves to Death
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Amusing Ourselves to Death Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Publisher: Penguin Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes It seems unlikely that a book labeled "Current Affairs" could have a shelf life of more than a few years. It seems preposterous that a book dealing with television and referring to Dallas and Dynasty could have anything to see twenty two years after being published. Yet Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, now in it’s "20th Anniversary Edition" continues to be read and studied and to hold influence. Even today it is used as required reading in many high school and college level courses. Though written by a man who made no claim to Christianity, few modern books written by an unbeliever have been more widely read and quoted by Christians. It truly is a remarkable little book. Postman had that rarely quality of being able to see behind a fad, behind what was late and great. He saw the significance of the rise of the image and the fall of the word, the rise of amusement and the decline of discourse. He saw that television would soon saturate every area of our lives and taint…

Book review: Wild at Heart
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Wild at Heart Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No A few months ago I mentioned on this site that I was reading John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart and intended to write a review of it. After reading the book I elected not to write a review at that time. The book was so full of error and absolutely ridiculous nonsense that I just didn’t have the heart to document it all. Honestly, I was frustrated and discouraged to see that a book like Wild at Heart could make it to the top of the Christian best-seller’s lists. Garry Gilley of Southern View Chapel and Think on These Things Ministries has released a two-part review of it and does an excellent job of writing about the multitude of errors. Looking back on the copious notes I took during my reading I am glad to say that he and I picked up on many of the same things. I am going to discuss some of the more glaring errors in the book. Some of the greatest concerns are: Open Theism – Though Eldredge denies he is an…

Book review: An Inconvenient Truth
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

An Inconvenient Truth Publisher: Rodale Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No There is a great deal of controversy surrounding global warming. Some insist that it is a terrifying and imminent concern that portends worldwide disaster. Others scoff at the notion, accusing those who spread such dire predictions of using global warming as part of a larger, sinister agenda. Al Gore considers global warming to be an inconvenient truth and a pending planetary emergency. In his political career he was an advocate of measures to deal with this and other environmental crises, and in his post-political career he has accelerated these warnings. An Inconvenient Truth, an immediate New York Times bestseller, and the film that was released at around the same time, are his attempt to take this message to the masses. An Inconvenient Truth is an oversize paperback book which contains predominantly photographs. "It was Tipper who first suggested that I put together a new kind of book with pictures and graphics to make the whole message easier to follow, combining many elements of all the new original material I have compiled over the last few years… My hope is that those who read the book…

Book review: Mere Humanity
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Mere Humanity G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, And J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition Publisher: Broadman and Holman Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes In the past few years, the fictional writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have been turned into blockbuster movies.  Riding the wave of enthusiasm over these 20th century literary giants, Christian publishers have poured forth a steady stream of books that examine these men. Who were they and what do we make of their theology?  Donald T. Williams new book Mere Humanity is one such book, but it truly stands out from the crowd.  Mere Humanity examines the doctrine of anthropology (the study of humanity), as set forth in the writings of Lewis, Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. Williams is the director of the School of Arts and Sciences at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. He wrote Mere Humanity to help answer two basic questions – What is man? What is the purpose of this life on earth?  He admits that his book does not provide a complete systematic theological treatment of the subject. However, it does aid us in recovering biblical anthropology from the enemies at hand. And who…

Book review: Convergence
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Convergence Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist Publisher: Enjoying God Ministries Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No "There’s no escaping the fact that a serious, and occasionally vitriolic, breach exists between Word-based evangelical cessationists and their more experientially oriented charismatic cousins." It is true, of course, that there is a breach between cessationists, those who believe that the more spectacular of the spiritual gifts (prophecy, tongues, etc) have ceased, and charismatics, who do not. In recent days we have seen the beginnings of the healing of that breach between those who hold similar beliefs on the most important doctrines of the faith. It was no small matter when John MacArthur, author of Charismatic Chaos, invited C.J. Mahaney to preach from his pulpit. Similarly, it was an important step when the heads of several major ministries announced the upcoming Together for the Gospel conference. Sam Storms, the President of Enjoying God Ministries, is a pastor and teacher who identifies himself as both a charismatic and a Calvinist. The recently released Convergence is his attempt to bring some closure to this breach. The main premise of the book, as we might expect, is that on the whole Calvinists tend…

Book review: Praying Backwards
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Praying Backwards Transform Your Prayer Life By Beginning In Jesus’ Name Publisher: Baker Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Not too long ago I began to pray that God would teach me to pray. A bit of an odd request, is it not? Obviously I already knew something about prayer if I was praying about it in the first place, but my concern was that despite my prayer habits, which are sometimes good and sometimes bad, I have often felt that I just don’t really understand what prayer is all about. When I pray I’ve often wondered just what the point is. I’ve often wished that I was better at praying and that maybe God would answer a few more of my prayers if I just learned to pray like a Spurgeon or another great preacher of days gone by whose words to God can still stir hearts even today. I believe God answered my prayer through Bryan Chapell and his book Praying Backwards. For many Christians, and especially those who were raised in households that emphasized prayer, the words "in Jesus name, amen!" are prayer mainstays. They close prayer and for most of us mean…

Book review: Heaven and Hell
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Heaven and Hell Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Publisher: Banner of Truth Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Some books receive titles that are a little bit mysterious, only hinting at what the book contains. There are others that just give it all away in the title. Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell pretty well says it all. Edward Donnelly simply turns to Scripture to see what God says about these important doctrines of heaven and hell. Heaven is a popular subject at the moment. Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven has over 300,000 copies in print and there are another 200,000 Heaven-related products in print with it. I’m quite sure that he would have sold fewer than 3,000 had the book been titled Hell. Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven has sold millions of copies and has been on the New York Times list of bestsellers for months now. For obvious reasons, hell is a less popular topic. Bill Wiese’s 23 Minutes in Hell has barely made a splash. We would far rather ponder heaven than hell. And for good reason. But in this book Donnelly dedicates equal time to both subjects. The first…

Book review: The Church on the Other Side
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Church on the Other Side Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No What is the future of the church going to look like? The culture is shifting, and there are new influences impacting the church. The movements provide reason for optimism, but also for caution. We have to remember that there are redeemable things about every culture, which help in the work of the kingdom, but there are also things about every culture which are contrary to the gospel. What is the culture of the next generation going to look like, and to what should we be hopeful and cautious? Brian McLaren has a very optimistic answer to these questions in the book The Church on the Other Side (formerly entitled Reinventing Your Church, released in 1998). He views movements within the culture as perfect jumping-off points to help revamp the church and make it better. He sees postmodernism as a chance for purifying the stagnant modern culture. He points out some obstacles which may hamper churches from attaining this goal. He claims that the churches which will be successful will understand the culture, be involved in it, and accept it for what it is….

Book review: Love Your God with All Your Mind
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Love Your God with All Your Mind The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I have never read beyond the first sentence of Mark Noll’s book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. The first sentence was so perfect, so cutting, so convicting, that I felt the rest of the book could only be a let-down. "The scandal of the Evangelical mind," he writes,"is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." It is the perfect opening to a book. I do wonder how the book ends, so at some point I will have to read it. In the meantime, though, I decided to read a book by a man who, I’m sure, would agree with Noll’s thesis. Love Your God With All Your Mind, by J.P. Moreland, is subtitled "The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul." "Judged by the Scriptures, church history, and common sense, it is clear that something has gone desperately wrong with our modern understanding of the value of reason and intellectual development for individual discipleship and corporate church life." I could not agree more. The Christian…