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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: Can We Trust the Gospels? by Mark D. Roberts

Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. From academia to pop media, it's trendy to suggest that Christians have gotten the message—and the person—of Jesus horribly wrong.

Enter Mark D. Roberts and his easily accessible book, Can We Trust the Gospels? What began as a blog has turned into what Roberts calls a blook, which is a real word for a blog turned book (who knew?). Without delving into the highly technical arguments of textual criticism, Mark D. Roberts defends the reliability of the Gospels in such a manner that even those with a low view of Scripture should be impressed and perhaps even convinced.

While the book is less than 200 pages in length, Roberts deals with all of the most central challenges to the transmission of the biblical texts. He also addresses many of the more fringe challenges that may not find footing in the academic realm but may gain popularity among the general public (via a novel turned movie about the Gospel of Thomas, for instance). After all, I don't care what academia thinks of an idea as long as Ron Howard can work some explosions and intrigue in.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Recommended: For apologists or anyone who wants to know if we can trust the Bible

This book was a free review copy provided by Crossway Books.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review: Intelligent Design Uncensored by Dembski and Witt

The debate between evolution and intelligent design (ID) can become quite intellectual and academic, quickly passing over the heads of your average reader (including yours truly).

William A. Dembski and Jonathan Witt have done all those interested in the discussion a favor in writing Intelligent Design Uncensored. Perhaps the best aspect of this book is that it doesn't focus on just one aspect of ID. Not only does it cover some of the most compelling arguments (the origin of the universe, the bacterial flagellum motor, etc.), it also addresses the stranglehold of materialism and evolution presupposed into much of academia. And it does so in language that usually won't outpace the reader.

And finally, the last chapter of the book is intended as a "how-to manual for using the investigative tools of intelligent design to reinvigorate our culture by awakening it to the powerful evidence of design in the natural world". They have pointers for aspiring scientists, parents, teachers and the rest of us.

This book is as good an introduction into the ID position as I have read and at just 154 pages it's a perfect loaner that won't intimidate as well.

Rating: Five of five stars

Recommended for: Apologists, the scientifically inclined, anyone looking for an introductory resource for intelligent design

This book was a free review copy provided by InterVarsity Press.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Album Reviews

Since I already posted this over at the other blog I write for (Christians In Context) I figured I would break tradition and share some music recommendations:

The first I purchased this past week while I was on vacation in Boulder, CO (incidentally, vacation is also why I haven't been as consistent on my book reviews, sorry!). Andrew Peterson's Counting Stars quickly became the soundtrack for my Colorado vacation much like his Resurrection Letters, Vol. II did for last year's Colorado vacation. While this album has a lot more to say about Peterson's role as husband and father, there is still plenty of spiritual depth in his lyrics. I can honestly say there is no other songwriter that moves me to tears, goosebumps and a driving passion to be a better Christian than Andrew Peterson. (And a little side note: If you ever get a chance catch his Christmas program on the Behold the Lamb of God tour, you will never see a better gathering of great musicians telling the Nativity story beginning from all the way back in the Old Testament. I promise, it is worth every cent!)

Favorite lyric: "It's so easy to cash in these chips on my shoulder/So easy to loose this old tongue like a tiger/It's easy to let all this bitterness smolder/Just to hide it away like a cigarette lighter/It's easy to curse and to hurt and to hinder/It's easy to not have the heart to remember/That I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God" - Fool With a Fancy Guitar

The second album that forced me to pull out the lyrics and follow along during vacation was John Mark McMillan's The Medicine. Stylistically, I think fans of Samford and Sons will find a lot to like here.

John Mark started making serious waves when David Crowder recorded his song "How He Loves" on his last album. However, if you purchase this album expecting an entire record of worship songs like that, you will probably be disappointed. McMillan writes with depth, honesty and creativity that probably makes most of the songs a little too strange for congregational singing.

However, the one exception is the song "Death In His Grave": "On Friday a thief/On Sunday a king/Laid down in grief/But woke with the keys/of hell on that day/The firstborn of the slain/The man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave"

Honorable mention:

The Outsiders, needtobreathe - Southern rock, a bit of a live feel makes it stand out

The End Is Not the End, House of Heroes - Influences from The Beatles to Green Day, Muse to Weezer, this album has been a year long favorite

Beautiful Things, Gungor - Lyrically and sonically, Gungor sits somewhere between John Mark McMillan and your radio-ready worship music.