dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


Look That Way ----->

I've finally carried out some long-planned improvements to my sidebar. (Notice I didn't say that I've finished. I'll no doubt keep tinkering.) In the process, I've learned more about working with HTML--just don't ask me to code anything from scratch. Hopefully the changes make the blog more navigable and generally more reader friendly. Let me know what you think.



Book Review: The Case for Christ

After seeing how long my last review grew, I realized it is of no benefit to go into great detail if the length of the review becomes prohibitive. Therefore, I have decided to try a briefer review. Don't hold your breath. (It won't be that short.)

I don't mean to sound cynical, but I'm often skeptical of Christian books that become quite popular. The best books don't usually make it to the shelves of the local Wal-Mart. For that matter, the best books are often not even those on the front displays at the local Christian bookstore. For one reason or another, I had figured The Case for Christ might be in this category.

Nonetheless, since I'd been looking for good apologetic resources, The Case for Christ intrigued me, and I decided to read it a couple of months ago. I found reading it to be enjoyable--and, more importantly, informative. I'll count this as a lesson learned in not judging a book it's primacy on the store bookshelf.

Lee Strobel, a former legal editor with the Chicago Tribune, traveled the country, interviewing thirteen expert Bible scholars over dozens of major question sceptics have regarding the accuracy and reliability of the Gospel as it is presented in the New Testament. The scholars--men such as Dr. Craig Blomberg, Dr. Bruce Metzger, and Dr. J.I. Packer--answered questions ranging from the historical reliability of the Four Gospels and the surety of their accurate preservation to how the Jesus we read about in the new testament fulfills the attributes of God.

I could go on listing the rest of the scholars and the questions posed to them, but rather than bore you with a complete table of contents, I will assure you that each chapter is both relevant and reaffirming of the Sciptures. While providing substantial evidence showing how the Biblical account stands up to scholarly scrutiny, Strobel affirms that, ultimately, one who believes in Christ must not only give intellectual assent, but must also place his faith in Jesus Christ.

At the end of each one of the interviews, after asking the expert's professional opinions regarding his expertise, Strobel asked how the evidence had personally affected the scholar's life. The responses demonstrated that these are men who do not view the truth with scholarly aloofness. Though brief, this short section of each chapter exemplified how the truth transforms not only minds, but hearts and lives as well.

Why read The Case for Christ? While being able to provide scholarly answers to all of the questions regarding the historicity of the Biblical account is not necessary for faith, it can and does strengthen our faith. We must not demand to be able to prove the New Testament according to human reason, yet we need not close our eyes or plug our ears when questions regarding the reliability of Scripture arise. If we are confident that God has given us the truth in the Bible, then we need not fear to research it historically. In so doing, we can become freshly amazed at God's goodness in providing and preserving the Scriptures, and we can be better prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.

Rating: Recommended




Book Review: The Knowledge of the Holy

"Whatever comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." With these words, A.W. Tozer begins his call for a people who think rightly about God--letting their view of God be shaped neither by the world nor by personal preference, but by the truth that God has revealed about Himself in the Scriptures.

While I have endeavored to provide a short summary of the book, I have included multiple direct quotations. The reasons for this are two-fold: first, because Tozer's words are far superior to my attempts at a paraphrase; second, so that you could have a taste of the insight he gives.

Reading this book encouraged me substantially in prayer. Going back to The Quest men's conference in January, the biggest thing that stood out to me from the session on prayer was the emphasis on praying by praising God for who He is, and by meditating on certain of His attributes. The Knowledge of the Holy is essentially a series of meditations on God's attributes: His self-existence, self-sufficiency, eternity, omniscience, justice, and mercy, just to name a few. I found that reading a chapter would then bring focus to my prayers. After reading the chapter on, for instance, His self-existence, my heart was all the more filled with awe inclined toward worship of the Uncreated One.

Though each chapter in The Knowledge of the Holy focuses on one of God's attributes, the book is more than a collection of meditations. Tozer emphasises how our knowledge of certain of God's attributes can help us to gain a fuller understanding of others of His attributes. For instance, he shares these thoughts in his chapter on the love of God: "From God's other attributes we may learn much about his love. We can know, for instance, that because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea before which we kneel in joyful silence and from which the loftiest eloquence retreats confused and abashed."

Woven through Tozer's meditations was one theme which particularly impacted me: the transcendence of God. As Tozer explains, The Knowledge of the Holy is an attempt to answer the question "What is God like?" Yet he is quick to acknowledge that "[God] is not exactly like anything or anybody." The Bible uses words that are familiar to us, that we might be able to understand the truth about God, but that does not mean that we can fully comprehend it. It uses automorphisms, as when it describes God as loving or wrathful. Love and wrath are seen in humans, but we cannot understand God's love or wrath as the same (but on a larger scale) as what we see in humans. Nor is God the most powerful being in the sense that He is merely more powerful than the next most powerful being. I love these words, which Tozer writes in the chapter specifically devoted to the topic of God's transcendence: "We must not think of God as highest in an ascending order of beings, starting with the single cell and going on up from the fish to the bird to the animal to man to angel to cherub to God. This would be to grant God eminence, even pre-eminence, but that is not enough; we must grant Him transcendence in the fullest meaning of that word. Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above the archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself."

Other key ideas, which I will not expound upon in the interest of brevity, include some of the following.

On attributes such as God's justice and His goodness: God's attributes are not opposing forces within God. He doesn't need to suspend one attribute to exercise another, for no attribute of His can be in conflict with another.

On the topic of the justice of God: God is just, and always acts justly. But it is not as though there is a moral law which exists apart from Him, under which He must submit Himself.

On how certain of God's attributes assist us in our understanding of others as well (in this example, His immutability): "One who can suffer any slightest degree of change is neither self-existent, self-sufficient, nor eternal, and so is not God."

The book is full of such thoughts, but it is neither possible for me to include all of them here, nor is it my purpose to do so. (If, by this point, you are not wanting on reading the book yourself, adding more quotes would make no difference.)

I found the large majority of The Knowledge of the Holy to be insightful. In the final chapter, on God's sovereignty, Tozer tries to be (in my opinion) too tidy with the mystery of divine sovereignty and man's responsibility. Tozer admits that his thoughts on the topic "may prove deficient" to those who find themselves more in agreement with either Jacobus Arminius or John Calvin. Tozer postulates that that God sovereignly decreed that man should make his own choices. "When [man] chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it." In my mind, this conflicts with his statement in his earlier chapter on God's omniscience, where he said that "God has never learned and cannot learn," for how could an all-knowing God not know which choice would be made, and how could an all-knowing and all-powerful God know the future without foreordaining it? That, however, is another topic. Though disappointed with this chapter, I do not think that one should discard the book because of it.

Perhaps hearing the title The Knowledge of the Holy causes you to say, "Oh yes, I'm told that it is a good book. It's one of those 'classics' that will forever be on my reading list." Or maybe you can't even claim that degree of familiarity: "Is that one of those books about God? I think I've heard it." Whatever the thoughts are that ran through your head after seeing the words "Book Review: The Knowledge of the Holy" above this post, I'm here to urge you to get the book off of your reading list. . . and into your hands.

Rating: Highly Recommended





(A souvenir from The University of Akron's student appreciation day.)



Great Books CD Series

Christian analysis of literary classics. This new series sounds fantastic. And the first book is one of my favorites, even though I know I missed a lot of its significance (or perhaps it's because I know I missed a lot--great books tend to make me realize I need to re-read them before I finish reading the first time). Are there any other fans of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce?



September's Quote to Ponder

"Life is to be lived at the level where the norm becomes meaningful in the light of eternal values, rather than interpreting eternal values according to what is normal for us."
--Ravi Zacharias, Light in the Shadow of Jihad