Free Book: The Bible in America by Steve Green and Todd Hillard

Here’s a free e-book (pdf format*):  The Bible in America.  It’s by Steve Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby.  The book is an informative account of how the Bible has been venerated and used throughout American history – but especially in the beginning.  I haven’t finished reading it, but have valued and enjoyed what I have read so far.

Downloading it will get you on Green’s mailing list for his latest project The Museum of the Bible, but’s that’s probably not all bad.  It is being established in Washington D.C. and should make a great place for families, as well as Bible scholars, to visit.  Green has become a major collector of ancient Bible manuscripts and his work is stimulating much interest.

I don’t know how long the free offer for this book will last.  It currently sells for $20 in hardcover on Amazon.

*Since the book is in pdf format, you will be able to read it either with your e-book reader or, if you don’t have one, from your computer’s browser.

“Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Someone gave me a CD audio version of Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.  It follows their books Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln.  Listening to this book reminds me of how I felt after I watched Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ, a film noted for its dramatically graphic portrayal of Jesus’ suffering from beating, scourging, and crucifixion.  I was glad that I had seen this movie because it helped me to better appreciate just how awful was the brutality to which Jesus had subjected Himself, but I simultaneously hoped fervently that I would never see it again, because once was enough.  Similarly, O’Reilly and Dugard, through their precise and extended prose, helped me once again to think extensively about just how terrible was that final day of Jesus’ life…but, please, someone tell me I do not have to listen to this description again.  Lord, help me to remember forever what You endured so that I will have no need to refer back to Messrs’ Gibson, O’Reilly, and Dugard.

When you read the four Gospels, it is possible to wonder why the apostles spent so much more time describing the crucifixion of Christ than they did His resurrection.  I have to conclude that impressed as they were by the resurrection, they were even more impressed with how He handled the crucifixion.  After all, it’s one thing to be the beneficiary of a miracle, but it’s quite another to bear up under excruciating and utterly-undeserved suffering – without complaint – hour after never-ending hour, minute after infinite minute.  It’s one thing to know that He died for our sins; it’s so much more to know that He did so with such extravagant generosity of spirit in the face of such cruel hostility.

Book Review: Memory, Tradition, and Text edited by Kirk and Thatcher

Opening excerpt of the book review by Brian LePort:

Message of the Book:

This volume applies the findings of memory studies—specifically social or group memory—to the field of biblical studies. In an effort to get past the black-and-white, either/or of form critical studies—where an event either happened as it is narrated or it is considered to be an invention of early Christianity—these authors ask if we might better understand the formation of Christian traditions if we examine the layering evolved when a group begins to “remember” events together, giving these events meaning, which in turn provides identity and a functioning social framework for the group.

The book is Memory, Tradition, Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity edited by Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher (Semeia Studies; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005).

via Book Review: Memory, Tradition, and Text edited by Kirk and Thatcher | NEAR EMMAUS.

Rejecting God’s Word Leads to an Unsatisfying Prayer Life

If you believe a book like this…

…you will end up with a prayer life like this:

Thom Stark wrote the book depicted above – The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (And Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It) – a book which I reviewed extensively here.  In this book, Thom disparages the idea that the Bible is God’s word.  My review champions the idea that the Bible is His word because it was written by prophets and apostles that He Himself commissioned.

Thom is also a filmmaker.  He wrote and directed the film short depicted above, which is titled Who Art in Heaven.  Since God Thom rejects the idea that God has spoken to us clearly in the Bible, it’s understandable that his film would portray a man disillusioned by God’s “silence.”  Of course, God is not silent, but if you reject the idea that the Bible is His word you’ve effectively “silenced” him, which is what Thom has done.  I don’t think he understands that the frustration of the film’s protagonist is self-induced.  Nor do I think that Thom understands that his book will lead anyone who believes it to the kind of prayer life described by the film short – a person who cries out to God but never hears anything in return.

As Jesus said, “To him who has shall more be given, but to him who does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him”  (Luke 8:18).  That is, if Thom would accept the Bible and what it has to say, he would receive even more communication from God when he prays.  Since, however, Thom rejects the Bible as the word of God, he loses he what he thinks he has – which is the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9-13.

Because Thom will not believe that God spoke through the prophet and apostles, he cannot muster the faith that God can speak directly to him.  Only when Thom is able to say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:33-35), will he be able to experience the flow of the Holy Spirit (who speaks for God) in his own heart.

I’ve reached out to Thom to appeal to him about the error of his book and the damage it causes, but he thinks I am the one who is off base.

Take heed from Jeremiah’s warning:

“The wise men are put to shame,
They are dismayed and caught;
Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD,
And what kind of wisdom do they have?  (Jeremiah 8:9 NASB)

The Real Problem with the Fox News’ Lauren Green’s Interview of Reza Aslan

If you haven’t heard of the brouhaha, it is described here:  Video: Fox News’ Lauren Green asks Reza Aslan why Muslim would be interested in Jesus.

I had written about this briefly a few days ago.

The real problem with that interview was that the interviewer buried the lead. The point was not that Aslan did wrong either by writing a book about Jesus or by promoting it. Rather, the point was that the mainstream media had been interviewing him without sufficiently disclosing his current Muslim and erstwhile Evangelical background. There is nothing newsworthy about a Musilm writing a book against the divinity of Jesus just as there would be nothing newsworthy about a Christian writing a book in favor of it. By downplaying Aslan’s Muslim orientation, the mainstream media made it look as if this book represented some new historical perspective on Jesus, when in fact this perspective, according to William Lane Craig, is at least as old as Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus, published in 1906.

The interviewer wrongly placed the blame for the media’s anti-evangelical bias on the author. Of course, he, too, has an anti-Evangelical bias, but he was upfront about his – disclosing it in the beginning of his book.

[These comments originally appeared as an answer this question on Quora.]

A Child, a Teacher, and a Surgeon Describe Heaven

Excerpt:

In three recent books, three very different people who ay they went to have and back describe their experiences.

Those three books are:

Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again by Crystal McVea

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander (more on this here and here).

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo, as told to him by Colton Burpo

A Child, a Teacher, and a Surgeon Describe Heaven from Parade magazine.