Book Reviews

Luke Wilson | 01st March 2017 | General Articles, Lent | 0 comments
1 March
Mar 1
1st March 2017

This year for Lent I'm following a reading plan which comprises of a collection of extracts from various early church fathers writings. Each day I'm going to write a short overview and any thoughts on the text and link back to the source material so you can also follow along with me too, if you'd like. The overview of each day will probably be posted on the day after. The reading should only take 10-15 minutes of your time, and by day 40, you will have read ten different Fathers: Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great. I'll be reading from the “Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: With Texts”. Design/Text Selection by Jonathan Bennett; Texts Compiled by Chad Toney. Reading plan texts: Source Website: Day one begins with the full text of the Didache. Come and join me on this journey through about 400 years of Church History to get a glimpse into the minds of that great cloud of witnesses that have come before us to defend and uphold the faith! Start your journey: Lent: Day 1 - The Didache Lent: Day 2 - Mathetes to Diognetus, pt. 1 Lent: Day 3 - Mathetes to Diognetus, pt. 2 Lent: Day 4 - Polycarp to the Philippians Lent: Day 5 - Ignatius to the Ephesians Lent: Day 6 - Ignatius to the Magnesians Lent: Day 7 - Ignatius to the Trallians Lent: Day 8 - Ignatius to the Romans Lent: Day 9 - Ignatius to the Philadelphians Lent: Day 10 - Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans Lent: Day 11 - Ignatius to Polycarp Lent: Day 12 - Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 1-11 Lent: Day 13 - Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 12-23 Lent: Day 14 - Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 24-35 Lent: Day 15 - Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 36-47 Lent: Day 16 - Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 48-59 Lent: Day 17 - Justin Martyr: First Apology: Chaps. 60-68 Lent Day 18: Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 1-9 Lent Day 19: Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 10-18 Lent Day 20: Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 19-27 Lent Day 21: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 1-10 Lent Day 22: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 11-20 Lent Day 23: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 21-30 Lent Day 24: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 31-40 Lent Day 25: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 41-50 Lent Day 26: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 51-60 Lent Day 27: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 61-70 Lent Day 28: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 71-80 Lent Day 29: Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 81-94 Lent Day 30: Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XIX Lent Day 31: Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX Lent Day 32: Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXI Lent Day 33: Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII Lent Day 34: Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII Lent Day 35: Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 1-4 Lent Day 36: Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 5-9 Lent Day 37: Leo the Great: Letter XXVIII (called the "Tome") Lent Day 38: Leo the Great: Sermon XXI (On the Nativity Feast I) Lent Day 39: Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI) Lent Day 40: Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII: ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION, II  ...

| 16th April 2015 | Book Film Reviews, TV & Film | 0 comments
16 April
Apr 16
16th April 2015

I know the film has been out for a while now, but I missed seeing it in the cinema and so have only just seen it. I'm sure there's others out there who still haven't watched this and are wondering whether it's worth the time and effort, so here goes: my review of Exodus.  The film begins with Moses later in life living in the Pharaoh's palace as his adopted son along side his half brother. Now I'm not sure if this part was based on any Jewish Midrash or if it was purely artistic license, but either way I thought it was well done to show how Moses' life could well have gone being brought up Egyptian. Apart from some pretty epic looking battle scenes, this is where much of my enjoyment of the film ended. As far as I'm aware, the film wasn't written or produced by Christians or Jews. Nor did I hear or read anything about the film makers consulting Biblical or traditional sources for this, (as did happen with Noah) other than for the obvious storyline – although Bale did read the Torah and some other sources to get into his role as Moses. I do remember reading an interview with Christian Bale (Moses) in which he basically said he didn't believe anything miraculous about the Exodus, so don't go into this film expecting to see a Moses you recognise or can relate back to the Old Testament story you probably know. Moses' character turns out to be quite the opposite of what you may expect and isn't really anything close to a strong leader or confident and bold man of faith. He's a strong and confident Egyptian army general in the beginning and then becomes an argumentative and stubborn man when God tells him of His intentions with the plagues. Definitely not the man who requested his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf which, incidentally, didn't occur in the film. Aaron always seemed to be lurking in the background when Moses spoke with God, afraid to approach. He also couldn't see God, that was something only Moses had the ability to do. Speaking of God, this was another portrayal I initially liked at first, in part at least. God appears throughout this film as a child. I admit, at first I didn't like the depiction. But then when the first miraculous event happened at the simple nod of this apparent child, it made me rethink my view and I saw the portrayal as maybe a clever way to show that God doesn't need to look like some burly old man with muscles and a beard to be seen as strong and powerful. But as the film progressed, each encounter with God made him seem more and more like a petulant child stomping his feet in a strop with the Egyptians. At one point Moses even yells at God saying his plan is no more than just revenge. The film is also peppered with subtle unbelief. Despite showing the Egyptian gods fail to help them against the Hebrew's God, the advisers to the Pharaoh are shown explaining away each miraculous event in some naturalistic way. Even Moses tells God that he disagrees with his plans and methods of dealing with Egypt, saying he'll have no part in it. I will say though, that watching this did make me want to re-read the actual Exodus story again, so maybe some good will come of this film and inspire others to read it for the first time. I could go on, but I think I've said enough. If you're looking for a fairly decent action film, with some nice battles and special effects based loosely on a biblical story, then I'd say go for it. But if you're looking for an accurate portrayal of the Exodus account, you're probably better of giving this a miss.   Rating: 3/5...

| 05th April 2014 | Book Film Reviews, Hell | 0 comments
5 April
Apr 5
5th April 2014

Book review on Rob Bell's “Love Wins” (originally written March 2013) This book was quite openly condemned by some prominent Christian leaders when the book was first announced back around Spring 2011, mainly mainly accusing Bell of being a universalist and denying the existence of hell. Lots of leaders formed opinions about the book and thus lots and laypeople took on various opinions as their own without much insight or research. The problem was that these leaders hadn't even READ the book! It wasn't released yet at the time. They decided their opinions based on the blurb and promo video which posed provocative questions about the doctrine of hell. The book starts up asking lots of questions concerning salvation and how are you “attain” it and the consequences if you don't – while the same time pointing out the flaws in modern theology and general beliefs held by many in the Church today. He then presents a lot more question to get you thinking and quotes Jesus' words, and a few other scriptures, which leads to more questions. Therein lies the purpose of this book – not for Rob to push you to believe what he does, but to get you to question and really think about the things we say we believe. Bell then moves on to heaven. Unless you've really studied the Bible on Heaven, this chapter will likely smash a lot of cultural ideas you hold without you really realising it – the same can be said about the the chapter after which deals with hell. Prepare for an eye-opener, and a lot of "Gospel Truth" that has somehow got lost, changed, misrepresented and mixed up in Medieval tradition and imagery over the last few centuries. Anyone who is aware of the controversy that was/is surrounding this book and who heard that that Rob Bell "doesn't believe in hell" can rest assured that this isn't the case. To quote the book, Bell writes: "There is a hell now, and there is a hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously." (pg. 79) It's not only that he believes in hell "later" (i.e. after death), but also that because of our freedom of will in this life we can, and do, create hell on earth through our actions and sins. Likewise, we can also create heaven on earth in the same way. This is what Jesus referred to when he prayed "Your will be done on earth as in heaven" – bringing the kingdom of God to the here and now. The book then continues on from what is explained in these chapters to explore the rest of our theology and doctrines on salvation, the cross and the hereafter, often taking our contemporary doctrines (which aren't always as scripturally based as we may think) to their sometimes extreme logical conclusions; which often shows up the absurdities in them that we can overlook. The book ends by examining the Good News, explaining that "it's better" than we first imagine; that God has done so much more through Jesus on the cross than we can comprehend at times – God's reconciliation is, literally, awesome and that ultimately, one way or another, love wins. Whatever your thoughts or opinions on Rob Bell, whatever your beliefs about heaven, hell and everything in between, I highly recommend this book. Go in without an agenda – read it with an open mind and a willingness to learn and let the Spirit guide you. You may not come out agreeing with everything written, but if you at least question and think about your views on hell and who goes there and, more importantly, why you think that – then I believe this book has served purpose. Five stars – Well-written, easy to read and a thought-provoking book that everyone who takes Jesus' Gospel seriously should read at least once, even if they think they'll disagree....