Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Books Report

Wittenberg Encounter

I am in the process of creating the cover for my new book, which I'm going to call Wittenberg Encounter. It will have a drawing of Wittenberg with Heinrich and Rebekah walking through its streets, created by yours truly. When that is complete, I hope to send the text and all of the files to be processed for Kindle. Look for an announcement soon!

Other reading

I just finished reading the book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. It is excellent and I heartedly recommend it.  Nabeel is a very smart Muslim man whose father was an officer in the United States Navy. The family lived in Scotland and then Norfolk, Virginia, where he went to high school and then college at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, where he was pursuing a medical degree. The first hundred pages or so are very informative about his family’s observance in their particular branch of Islam (they were very devout). The next hundred pages goes through Nabeel’s interaction with American students, including some Christians. One in particular became his best friend. There are many discussions that take place between them and each one brought up issues to which Nabeel responded. There are certain tenants in Islam that are taught as truth, which Nabeel found as suspect when he dug down below the surface. He did so by exhaustively reading sources that he had often heard about. In many cases he saw that he had not been taught the whole truth and he eventually realized he could no longer go along with it. This brought him to the very painful decision to tell his family that he now believed that Christianity was the answer, not Islam. He went through a very tough time since this decision strained all of his family relationships.  He eventually began working in various Christian ministries in addition to attaining his medical degree. The following is a quote from

“He has participated in many moderated public debates in America, Europe, and Asia. His focus is on the foundations of the Christian faith and the early teachings of Islam. He’s a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MBA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, and an MA from Duke University in Religion.”


I am about half done with another book: The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem by Colin Nicholl.  The hardcover book is a beautifully crafted volume, and I highly recommend it.  Here is a common reaction from another reviewer: “I am simply in awe of this book. It is a blockbuster and absolutely astonishing triumph of interdisciplinary scholarship so rarely seen and so tremendously illuminating as to merit bright comparison with the very celestial phenomenon it describes.” (Eric Metaxas. New York Times)

 The gist of the book is that the Star of Bethlehem was really a comet. It interacted with the constellations Virgo and Hydra (Greek)/Draconis (Babylon) to put on a celestial spectacle that caught the attention of the Wise Men (Magi) in Babylon. The comet persisted over many weeks and months allowing the Magi to travel to Israel and ultimately Bethlehem where it took the form of a scepter and was a virtual arrow pointing at the building where Jesus was born. In many ways, the Great Christ Comet is like the book I’ve mentioned before: The Star that Astonished the World by Ernest Martin. Colin Nicholl acknowledges that book, but feels it relies too much for its timing on the dates around Herod the Great’s death and uses a conjunction of planets to form the star.

But such a conjunction, he contends, is not significant enough to cause the Magi to leave Babylon. Only an impressive comet could do that. But they both give a lot of attention to the verses in Revelation 12 that speak of the great sign in heaven:
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”
To many, the book of Revelation is hard to understand with its complex symbolism. In these verses, the Great Christ Comet does a masterful job of showing that these verses are describing what the heavens looked like during the time when Jesus was born (and the weeks leading up to it). In the celestial drama, the comet, which takes on many forms as it goes through its orbits, is shaped like a baby in the womb of Virgo. It then descends in the birth canal of Virgo until it is born into the constellation below it (Hydra) which is the dragon in 12:3-5. Many of the prominent stars and constellations have names that are known throughout the world. The constellation below Virgo, Hydra, was known as Draconis / ‘Serpent’ in Babylon. Satan, who is the dragon, is waiting to destroy the child, who is Jesus the Messiah.

Are you surprised that the Bible would use the heavenly realm to tell the Gospel story? It sounds too much like astrology. But God made the stars and the fact that He can weave all of history through the movement of the stars and the timing of the celestial objects is His business and we should marvel at His methods.

Both the Great Christ Comet and the Star That Astonished the World put the actual date of Jesus’ birth in the September time-frame; they only differ in the year. For Ernest Martin, the time is 9/11/ 3 BC, which was the Jewish festival of Rosh HaShanah. In the Great Christ Comet, the date is September 20, 6 BC. I need to verify if that date fell exactly on a Jewish Festival. In either case, the Fall Festival timeframe is when Jesus was born. It is yet another example of why the church should recognize the Festivals and at least give them respect in its teaching. December 25 was a replacement for the pagan holiday Saturnalias made by the Catholic Church and has no basis in scripture. And that brings us back to Martin Luther who promulgated that belief. With that, I’ll end this post. Happy Chanukkah!

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