Book review: Manhunt
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Manhunt The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer Publisher: Harper Perennial Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I began reading Manhunt on the Monday morning of a long weekend. By the end of the day I had accomplished none of the chores and errands I had hoped to scratch off my list, but instead found myself 350 pages into this book. I eventually pried myself away long enough to get some sleep and then promptly finished it up the next morning. Though I am a lover of history, rarely has my attention been held as long and as rapt as with this work of non-fiction. The details of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination are popular knowledge. John Wilkes Booth, a southern actor who was enraged by the northern victories and the surrender of the Confederate States of America, crept up behind the President while he was watching a play at Ford’s Theater. After fatally shooting Lincoln in the head, Booth leaped to the stage (breaking his leg in the process), gave a cry of triumph, and disappeared into the night. For twelve days he was the most wanted man in America and the nation’s eyes were turned upon multitudes of…

Book review: Now, That’s A Good Question
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Now, That’s A Good Question Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes There exists a surprisingly popular series of books entitled Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. These books are a compendium of quotes, short stories, trivia and jokes that are each just a few lines or paragraphs in length. The book was designed to appeal to the bathroom reader – one who likes to read whilst he is sitting upon the throne, so to speak. I affectionately call Now, That’s A Good Question, R.C.’s Big Bathroom Reader. The cover features R.C. sitting (thankfully) in an armchair and displays one of the worst jobs of removing the background from a photo I have ever seen. His hair is cut in almost straight lines and looks completely unnatural on the cream-colored background. Actually, the cover looks like it may have been someone’s high school project. But I digress. Now, That’s A Good Question is a wonderful book. The back cover poses the question, "If you had the opportunity to quiz one of today’s foremost theologians, what would you ask?" That is the thrust of this book. Through the 1980’s, R.C. hosted a radio program unimaginatively titled Ask…

Book review: Flags of Our Fathers
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Flags of Our Fathers Publisher: Bantam Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes War is terrible. It’s an understatement, I know, and something that is almost too obvious to bother saying. Yet the horrors of war can only really be understood, it seems, by those who have been involved in them. In the annals of warfare, few battles have been more brutal than the battle of Iwo Jima. Those who survived this battle were changed forever. James Bradley’s father was one of those survivors. But he was more. He was one of the six men who have been immortalized in what quickly became the world’s most famous and most reproduced photograph. The image of six men raising a flag over Iwo Jima became a national symbol and a rallying point during what was a long and costly war. The six men who raised this flag were lauded as heroes, but the three who walked off the island were reluctant to accept this fame. John Bradley, James’ father, went on to live a long and productive life, but never spoke of the battle. Though his actions in the battle earned him a Navy Cross, he never considered himself a…

Book review: Mayflower
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Mayflower A Story of Courage, Community, and War Publisher: Viking Adult Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes The decision that I would read Mayflower, a book that has made its way nearly to the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers, took only as long as was necessary for me to understand that it dealt with the Puritan pilgrims who arrived on the shores of American in 1620. Though the story of the arrival and early struggles of this group of immigrants is now the stuff of legend, I know surprisingly little about these people. Because this story has entered the realm of legend, it is difficult to know where reality ends and mere fantasy begins. Nathaniel Philbrick, who was awarded the National Book Award for his previous title, In the Heart of the Sea, believes that the oft-told tale of the first Thanksgiving, celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians, does not do justice to the history of Plymouth Colony. "Instead of an inspiring tableau of tranquil cooperation, the Pilgrims’ first half-century in America was more of a passion play in which vibrant, tragic, self-serving and heroic figures struggled to preserve a precarious peace."…

Book review: Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest Publisher: Discovery House Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I have to admit: Only a few years ago I was quite convinced that Oswald Chambers simply could not be worth reading. I had first heard of the man through the context of a sudden rush of interest that seemed to be spearheaded by the Christian music industry. Several Christian artists banded together to record an album and the devotional classic My Utmost For His Highest was packaged with it. I assumed, somewhat unfairly, that if he garnered this amount of interest from Christian musicians there must be something wrong with him. I am ashamed to admit this today. In the last few years I have come to develop an appreciation for the life and ministry of Oswald Chambers. I still know only very little about the man but have come to see an almost prophetic aspect to his writing. Much of what he wrote almost 100 years ago seems as relevant today as it was then. There were some strange and even unbiblical aspects to his ministry, but what…

Book review: Lady Jane Grey
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Lady Jane Grey The Nine Day Queen of England Publisher: Evangelical Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes "Kneeling down on the hard wooden scaffold, Jane turned to Feckenham who stood by her. ‘Shall I say this psalm?’ she faltered. Overcome with emotion, the priest who had tried so hard to save Jane from this moment, could scarcely reply. After a moment’s pause, he simply said, ‘Yea.’ Jane then began to repeat Psalm 51 in English, David’s great prayer of contrition…A deep silence rested over the sad scene, nothing could be heard except for the quiet sobbing of her lady attendants. Hardened soliders who had witnessed brutality many times before stood without moving…Bracing her body to receive the impact of the blow, Lady Jane called out in a clear voice, ‘Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With a stroke, swift, sharp and terrible, Jane’s short life was ended" (page 200-201). So ended the life of a bright light in a particularly dark and strange period of English history. In a time when the Catholic powers were trying to exterminate the new Reformed teaching, the two potential rulers who seemed most likely to increase the Protestant…

Book review: Hedges
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Hedges Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It Publisher: Crossway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes In the past couple of years I have read several books written for men to address the issue of sexual purity. I have found these books useful to varying degrees. The solutions that authors suggest to deal with this issue – which, as far as I know, is common to all men – vary greatly. Some books forbid men to engage in even a single look at an attractive woman to whom a man is not married. Some books teach a process of "bouncing" the eyes whereby men learn to avert their gaze from any feminine beauty other than the one to whom they are married. Some teach what is little more than the repetition of mantras – a Bible verse a man can repeat when he sees an attractive woman. Hedges, by Jerry Jenkins, does not fit any of those categories. Jenkins, best known as half of the writing team which brought the world the Left Behind series, is a gifted writer. His book is fun, easy-to-read and will connect with the average man. The book is premised on Paul’s…

Book review: Stop Dating The Church
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Stop Dating The Church Fall in Love with the Family of God Publisher: Multnomah Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Josh Harris is all grown up. The man who brought us I Kissed Dating Goodbye when he was just twenty-one, and who is best known for bringing courtship to a whole new generation, is now senior pastor of a large and growing church and no longer speaks at conferences. Stop Dating The Church is his first book targetted at an audience wider than merely teens and parents of teens. Harris believes that many, and perhaps even the majority of Christians, have a fear of committment to the church. Rather than committing to a local body of believers, most Christians "date the church," refusing to commit to a long-term relationship. He says, "This is my third book on relationships, but it’s unlike any of my previous books…this book is about how you should relate to the family of God" (page 12). In Failing to commit to the church, we cheat ourselves, we cheat our church community and we cheat the world. Over the next six chapters, Harris explains the beauty of the church, our need for the…

Book review: Every Man’s Battle
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Every Man’s Battle Every Man’s Guide to Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time Publisher: WaterBrook Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Every Man’s Battle is the first book I have read in my adult life on the topic of sexual purity. In my teen years I was given books on the topic and I read, enjoyed and learned from them. However, this is the first book I have read on the subject as a married adult. Because I have not done a lot of reading on the subject I am unsure if Every Man’s Battle is a great book that presents ways of escaping a life of sexual temptation, or if it is a book that is deeply and irrevocably flawed. As I read this book, I found it both interesting and inspiring. Every man can, at least to some extent, identify with the authors as they describe their struggles with sexual temptation. I appreciated their honesty and their desire to speak about topics that many books would avoid. They speak about real, significant sin. Unusually for our culture, they never tried to blame their problems on their parents, their upbringing or…

Book review: Baptism
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Baptism The Believer’s First Obedience Publisher: Kregel Publications Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Authors and editors know how difficult crafting an effective subtitle can be. Often it’s more difficult than selecting the title itself. Larry Dyer’s subtitle for his little volume on baptism is among the best I’ve seen: The Believer’s First Obedience. It is succinct, accurate, and suggests the trajectory the book is going to take. True to his subtitle, Dyer does indeed portray baptism as the next sequential action following repentance, lining up theologically with Peter, Paul, and Christ himself. A convinced credobaptist (an adherent to the doctrine of believer’s baptism), Dyer does not attribute any magical salvific quality to baptism itself, but teaches that baptism immediately follows repentance as the normative sequence of entry into the Church of Christ. Baptism does not convey salvation, but denotes obedience to apostolic teaching. The title of the first chapter is “What Is Baptism?” and explores five types of baptism in Scripture: 1) John the Baptizer’s water baptism of repentance for sin 2) Christian water baptism via immersion 3) Jesus’ baptism, which was His suffering on the cross 4) Jesus’ baptism of believers with the Holy Spirit…