Sunday, June 20, 2010

So Many Books to Read and So Little Time!

It’s time for an overview of what I’ve just read and what I’m currently reading. I’ll include a brief review of each.
In the last month or so, I finished reading:
1948 by Benny Morris
1948 is the year that I was born which providentially is the same for Israel. Perhaps this is a small reason why I am drawn to study Israel. “Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” Isaiah 66:8 
The book 1948 is a detailed account of the politics, players, and conflicts that shaped the geography and destinies of Israel and the Middle East. It changed my understanding of the events and made me more sympathetic to the parties who have suffered because of it. I just watched the movie, a Woman Called Golda, which relates the life of Golda Meir; in it she makes a radio address to offer peace to the Arabs on the eve of their statehood. Of course, the response of the surrounding nations of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq was to wage war against Israel. What I was not quite aware of though, is that once the Arabs showed their true intent (drive the Jews into the sea), the Jews implemented a “clear them out” mentality as well. While they were seriously outnumbered in personnel and equipment, the young Jewish state systematically leveraged their skill and resources to turn the tide of the battle. Their goal became to empty whole regions of their Arab populations so there would be less trouble after the war. In the ensuing UN arranged cease fires, the Jews improved their strength and position to exit stronger each time. But world opinion put a damper on their actions, just as it would do in later years and wars. Had they been able to effect their greater plans, the West Bank would probably be a secure part of Israel to this day. As it turned out, the ground was laid for perpetual conflict with the Palestinians and Muslim nations. Perhaps that is because Bible prophecy was built into the current events. 
The Law and the New Testament by Frank Thielman
I had mentioned before that this book raised my ire, for it reeks of replacement theology. My copy is covered with highlighting and notes and now that I am done with it, my goal is to write a critique of its errors. 
The Betrayal by Douglas Bond
This has an interesting, albiet contrived, storyline. John Calvin accepts the request of a man who offers to be his personal servant. As Calvin’s schooling, writing, and teaching catapult him to the increasingly dangerous ranks of the budding reformed movement in France, we overhear through this servant the conversations and the events that forced Calvin to find refuge in Switzerland. This book lays bare the corrupt and vicious practices of the French nobility and the Catholic Church in Europe. I was repulsed by the inhumanity of the French elite that burned the innocent at street squares as a prelude to the wholesale slaughter of the Huguenots that occurred a few years later. The Reformation was accomplished at a great price, and I have immense respect for the people who sacrificed so much, including Luther.
I’m currently in the process of reading:
Martin Luther by Edwin P. Booth
I got this book many years ago and just took it off the shelf for another read (I’m half way through).
1967 by by Tom Segev
Unlike 1948, the first third of this book is devoted to setting the societal stage for the conflict in 1967. Israel was going through an identity crisis, much as was the rest of the youth in the world during this hippie generation time. While I could relate conceptually to the 1948 tie in, I really remember 1967. I was attending an intra-service Air Intelligence school in Denver, Colorado when the war began and ended some 6 days later. It would be a few more years before I was involved with trouble in the Middle East - but more on that when I finish the book.
The Year of Living Like Jesus by Ed Dobson
This is an interesting book, with a somewhat whimsical tone. Its lighthearted approach is tempered by the fact that Ed (the former pastor of Calvary Baptist in Grand Rapids) has ALS disease. Nonetheless, Ed’s self imposed task is to live like Jesus for a year. In between the daily disciplines of implementing the scriptures as literally as possible and talking with rabbis, he also threw in several strictures of Roman Catholicism (this was somewhat puzzling to me). 
The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Our small group is reading this and I’ve found it very insightful. I recently read Tim’s book called The Prodigal God, which is an excellent treatment of the Parable of the Pridigal Son. The Reason for God reminds me a little of Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live? - which is a good segue into:
Christianity is Jewish by Edith Schaeffer (wife of Francis Schaeffer)
When I was in college, the coolest name in Christian apologetics was Francis Schaeffer. He and his wife moved from their Presbyterian pastorate in St. Louis to the mountains of Switzerland and founded a community called L’Abri. Students went to hang out in their chalets and listened to this goateed intellectual man in knickers teach about Christianity from a philosophical point of view. 
His wife Edith was a prolific writer too. Here is a quote from the opening pages of her book Christianity is Jewish:(I will no doubt have more to say in future posts)
Edith was talking with a Jewish family in their home in St. Louis about the Day of Atonement and they were very impressed with her demeanor. I’ll pick it up from there: “As he came to the end of his tale of remembrance of those past years, and then brought his own thoughts up to date, I thanked him with really deep appreciation for having taken the time and care to tell me so completely what I had wanted to know. Then suddenly his daughter asked, “Please, would you tell me what makes your attitude so different from most Gentiles I have met? You are so warm and I feel a love for us in your attitude. What is it that makes you love us? I can feel it... and I want to know why.”
I took a deep breath as I hesitated to answer, and then said, “If you really want to know, if you aren’t asking  for a superficial answer but the real one, I would need to take a long time in answering. I would need to give a bird’s eye view of the Bible."
[Edith does not provide the content of this overview, but it took a long time and she paused to make sure they wanted her to continue (and they did)] 
"When I finished, and the heavenly city had been described, and the whole story had come to its climax, the old Austrian Jew sighed a deep sigh, and turning his head to look up at his daughter said, “Daughter, have you ever heard anything so beautiful?” “No, Father, I never have.” Then the father turned his head to look down at me. “For thirty years I have been a dentist in this city. For thirty years I have had Gentile patients. Why has no one ever told me all this before?”
On the next page, Edith recounts a similar conversation in L’Abri with a Jewish journalist:
“And so I began to tell the bird’s eye view of the Bible once more, by way of explanation. “This is going to be a full answer,” I cautioned him. “It may take all afternoon. But if you really want to know (what it is that the Schaeffers believe), it would be foolish for me to give you a superficial replay.”
Two hours later he sighed, as my voice stopped at the obvious end of the tale. “And what do you call this religion? he asked... It sounds like a Jewish religion to me.”
“Yes, “ I replied firmly, “Christianity is Jewish.” I went on to say that I felt the twisted, warped idea that Christians should be anti-semitic was a horrible travesty on truth. Christianity is meant to be Jewish. That is what it is all about. Christians ought to love Jews."
[Dennis: I heartily agree!]
The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan 
It's about the Sabbath; more later.

Breaking the Jewish Code by Perry Stone
This has the promise of being a decent introductory book to the Torah and the Jewishness of Jesus. I'm half done with it.
And finally, in perusing my bookshelves, I came across the tattered copy of 
Luther’s Small Catechism that I got in 1962. I will quote from this as needed. 

1 comment:

  1. Dad, you should write a review of the Thielman book on Amazon.