A Snyder’s Soapbox Review of, “This Dangerous Book” by the Greens, Founders of Hobby Lobby.

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I know this review is going to seem negative at times. Please realize this has more to do with my expectations, and subjective bias. I’m a stickler for theology, and evangelism. I also prefer more academic works. If you are like me, you will find this review helpful. If you are a layman and have more of a superficial interest in theology, then this review won’t be that relevant.

This Dangerous Book” has a provocative title, with an implicitly lofty goal which can be inferred from this statement on the cover, “How the Bible has shaped our world and why it still matters today” I had hoped that it would more thoroughly treat the topic of the Bible, and its effects on human history. I was somewhat disappointed. It did not live up to my expectations. I was expecting a much larger, well fleshed out, academic treatment of the topic. This book could have been edited down to be an introduction to a book on the topic instead. It could have also been a brief book on the efforts of the Greens to collect Biblical artifacts for their museum, or the personal experiences of the Greens in regards to their faith. The Greens attempted to do all three in a book that is only a couple hundred pages long. The book didn’t accomplish any of them to my satisfaction.

In my opinion, books that add value to the Christian library must meet some criteria. The main attribute I look for is whether or not the book is Christ/gospel centered. They should also be; evangelistic, exclusive, (exclusivity of Christ) theologically orthodox, intellectually stimulating, educational, reasonable, and well bibliographed/annotated.

This book would only be educational to the laymen. It gives a basic overview of the history of the Bible, and its effects on mankind. The Green’s expressed their desire to present the Bible without any bias. They even had their collection displayed by the Vatican without a note of distinction between Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. I was disappointed with their ecumenism, and their efforts to keep the book, and museum, from being overtly evangelistic. The personal stories of the Greens were encouraging and inspiring at times. The theology of the Greens was not fully expressed. I think this was in an attempt to have a broader audience. Because of their ecumenism, desire to have a wide appeal, and brevity of the treatment of the implied topic, the book fails to meet my requirements for a valuable book.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any value in this book. There are books that many Christians would find interesting, but not necessarily worthy of their personal libraries. Books like these are more for entertainment. They are the types of books you read and then give away. This book falls into that category. As such I can recommend it. If you have some spare time on a weekend, and are not in the mood for something more substantial, this book would fit the bill. The writing is interesting. The personal experiences the Greens write about hold your attention. Their enthusiasm for the Bible is commendable. Just because it isn’t my cup of tea, doesn’t mean it won’t thrill you. That is one of the great things about books. They are as varied as the authors and readers. If you like to write about something, there will be someone who wants to read about it.

What the book gets wrong; it is too ambitious for a book that is approximately 200 pages. It will have limited appeal to academia. It is more of a primer of the topic of the Bible’s affect on history.  For the title it talks too much about the Green’s experiences, and their Bible museum. It doesn’t make a clear gospel presentation. It demonstrates the Green’s flawed approach to ecumenism. It isn’t a book that will be read over and over again, or used for reference. It is a read once, and give away type of book.

What the book gets right; it will appeal to the wide varied masses of folks who profess to be Christian, including cults and groups that aren’t. It is a decent primer for anyone who has given absolutely no thought to how the Bible has shaped human history. New Christians might find it encouraging. Anyone who wants to know more about the founders, and owners of Hobby Lobby will enjoy reading about them.

I was sent an extra copy of this book to give away on my site. If you would like to have this copy, please leave a comment on the page and e-mail me your address so I can send it to you if you are the winner. This give away is only open to people who live in the continental U.S. I will select the winner personally based on my own personal preferences 🙂

Ever Wanted to Ask a Lutheran Some Questions? Now’s Your Chance.

Daniel Landin

Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce you all to Daniel Landin. He is a Pastor of a Lutheran Church. I’ve asked him to participate in some question and answer format interactions for the purpose of learning more about each other’s respective Churches, and theological positions, as well as for his insight into some particularly Lutheran things. Feel free to send me your questions.  I will select a some to ask Daniel in a future article.  Before we get started, Daniel could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up on a small family farm in the awesome little town of Sugar Grove, PA, right on the NY-PA border.

Q. Were you raised in a Christian home?

A. Yes. God has blessed me beyond belief to have been born into a family with a rich Christian heritage. My family on my father’s side immigrated from Sweden in the 1870s and brought with them their huge family Bible which resides in my parents’ dining room to this day. Faith in Jesus Christ has played a huge role in my family’s life and continues to do so.

Q. Could you share your testimony with us?

A. I truly cannot remember a time when I did not have faith in and a love for Jesus Christ. As I stated in the previous answer, I was born into a Christian home and was blessed to be raised by two loving Christian parents. I did pray many various “prayers of salvation” during my childhood and adolescent years, so I won’t pinpoint a specific day of conversion on any of those. I believe that I have had faith in Christ from before the time that I have any memories of something different.

I’ve always had a strong interest in the Bible and learning more and more about who God is and how God has interacted with people from the very beginning. My grandfather and great uncle were both the same way and loved discussing various doctrines, theologies, and passages from scripture and I would try my best to interject and converse with them, even when I was around eight or nine years old. I’ve also always had a strong interest in history, so that interest coupled with a love for Christ and the Bible drew me into many times of deep study. My love for Christ and his Word led me to get my college degree in biblical studies and I was blessed to also be able to go through seminary as well.

I did go through a rough time during high school meeting many crises of faith including the death of my grandmother from lung cancer and my own fall into sexual sin with my girlfriend at the time. I dealt with some serious depression because of all the negatives from that year and because I bought into Satan’s lie that, since I had fallen into that specific sin, I had ruined all chances of ever being married to a Godly Christian woman. Due to my depression, which I hid from everyone I knew, I contemplated suicide many times until the day I held a revolver in my hand. By the grace of God, I felt a rush of God’s love at that moment and, whether it was audible or only in my spirit, I heard God saying, “Stop! I love you. You have so much more to live for. Trust in me!” From that point on, I thank God for not only saving me from death and hell, but also saving my life at that point.

There have been many people who have been influential in my life and in my walk of faith. Most important over the past thirteen years has been my wife Stephanie. Her own faith and her love and encouragement have had a large impact on me. A large part of that was experienced the day I confessed my past transgressions and she immediately said, “I forgive you, because Jesus has already forgiven you!” That was an amazing moment for the two of us, but especially for me to experience the love of Christ through her selfless forgiveness. It has been a special thing to live this life of faith with her.

Q. How did you meet your Wife?

A. We met in high school choir of all places! I was a senior and she was a sophomore. We started dating that year and maintained a long-distance relationship during the next three years while she finished high school and did a year of community college before joining me at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Q. How long have you been married?

A. We got married the summer after I graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College in 2009 and we just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week on August 1st. We have been blessed with three boys aged 4, 2, and 1 and we have a fourth waiting for us in heaven.

Q. What changes have you undergone in your faith since your conversion?

A. Quite a few I would say! I grew up in the Evangelical Covenant Church, the denomination my family has been a part of for over a hundred years. One of the main emphases of that denomination is on the supremacy of scripture. We were taught that the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct and to ask the question, “Where is it written?” while working through various issues in life and faith. I went to a Free Methodist college and met people from many different faith traditions and that opened up my view of the church quite a bit. There were many issues I saw as closed issues, but as I read and studied throughout my college and seminary years, I have shifted on some theological issues which now separate me from the church of my childhood and youth. Some of the issues, without delving into the changes at the moment, were on creation, the sacraments, and eschatology. One thing that has never changed, though, is my dependence on Jesus Christ in all things. I’ve clung to Proverbs 3:5-6 from that depressing phase of life in high school even up to this day. My hope is in Jesus Christ!

Q. How long have you been a Pastor?

A. I have been a pastor now for over five years. My first call into pastoral ministry was in the United Methodist Church. I served there for just a few days short of three and a half years and now serve in a Lutheran Church. Looking back on my life and my journey of becoming a pastor, I can say that I would have never chosen the path that God has led me on. I knew that God was calling me to be a pastor from a very young age and had plans to be a pastor in the denomination that I grew up in, but that was not what God had planned for me. I am thankful to be where I am and to know that it is right where the Holy Spirit desires for me to be!

Q. How long have you been a Lutheran Pastor?

A. I have been a Lutheran Pastor for a year and seven months so far!

Call No Man Father, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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In the Easter Orthodox Church’s pamphlet titled, “Call No Man Father” written by Fr.(Father) J. Richard Ballew, and published by Conciliar Press, the author presents a straw man argument to easily dispute. He claims that Protestants believe that we don’t call anyone Father because we don’t think any man should be recognized as our, “spiritual father.” Here is what he wrote …“They, of course, are interpreting “father” in this Scripture to mean, “spiritual father.” Therefore, they refuse to call their clergymen “father,” preferring instead such titles as “pastor,” “reverend,” or perhaps even “brother.”…

He misrepresented our position either unintentionally erring, or intentionally lying. I don’t know, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he simply erred. Protestants don’t call their preaching elders, “Father” because we don’t have an authoritative titular role for leaders, or teachers in the Church. This is what is being condemned in Matthew 23:8-10. This is explained by the context of what Christ had said. Matthew 23:1-12, (NASB)

1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6“They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11“But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

As you can plainly see from the context provided, Jesus is explaining how the Pharisees had wrongly taken for themselves titles and positions of authority, while sinfully using them to hypocritically burden everyone else with rules. Jesus was instructing His followers to not recognize men like the Pharisees of the Jews as their authority, but instead to recognize God as the authority. Within the Church there are no authorities other than what God has revealed in His word. We don’t hold traditions of having a man called a Father as the head of our local Church body.

The Eastern Orthodox has conflated their preaching elders (πρεσβύτερος presbuteros) with a position of authority. They say they are calling the preaching elder of a church, “father” as a term of affection, but in practice it isn’t that way. Their practice demonstrates that they are doing that which Christ in scripture forbids. On the other hand, Protestants do have all kinds of elders in our body. We have men who preach, teach, evangelize, and administrate to name a few. There is not one that is more important than the other. We can even have more than one preaching elder in any one given local Church. Some teach and preach, others serve by administrating church affairs. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (NASB)

24whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

We also recognize that sometimes men are thought of as someone’s father in the faith, as a man who was their personal friend and helper. Paul is mentioned as being Timothy’s father in that sense. Timothy learned from Paul. In a sense he could be considered his spiritual father, not in a mystical way, but simply in the role of a mentor in the faith, the man who preached and taught the gospel of Christ to you. 1 Timothy 1:2 (NASB)

2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The other types of elders are all under the same conditions. None of them are to be regarded as holding a position of authority over us in the same fashion the Pharisees did over the Jews.

Then Ballew goes into a self-refuting argument about traditions of the Rabbis and how they added their own ideas to them, of course the Eastern Orthodox aren’t guilty of that lol. I would find it quite laughable if it weren’t so sad to see so many people locked into a works righteousness religion akin to Roman Catholicism.

He did get some things right. In regards to the Rabbis exalting themselves and abusing their authority, he rightly condemns that and agrees with Christ.

In the end he uses the word father instead of elder. He still affirms in practice the wrong use of the word and has attributed it to a position of authority that is not warranted by scripture.  The bottom line is the same as my last article on the Eastern Orthodox Church.  They have a low view of scripture and a misplaced submission to their traditions.

Let’s take a closer look at the tradition of using icons, especially by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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I attended my Son-in-law’s baptism in to the Eastern Orthodox Church. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was aware that they utilized icons, and relied heavily on extra-biblical traditions in the practice of their faith. If we are honest, very many Churches practice traditions that are not in the Bible. They aren’t necessarily wrong, but they are also not necessarily right. I am not a member of the E.O.C. I had some questions about some of the traditions I witnessed. I asked around, and everyone was quite eager to answer my questions. They were pleasant, and friendly. I had a nice time talking with several of the folks after the baptism and first communion. I also took some free booklets home with me for further reading.

One of the booklets I took was titled, “No Graven Image” by Jack Sparks, Ph.D. I figured that this would be geared towards a person who was not familiar with their traditions and should give at least a rudimentary explanation of their tradition of using icons. I was correct. Although I didn’t find any of the explanations very compelling.

A painted picture, of a Biblical scene, for people to appreciate, is different than bowing to, kneeling in front of, praying to/through, or kissing a picture, as if you are doing it to the person depicted. Christian themed art is not the same as venerated icons. I am not willing to say that every person in the E.O.C. views and understands icons the same. I am also not willing to say that all of them are idolaters. I am willing to say that I don’t agree with the blurring of lines that comes along with calling it, honoring, or veneration.

I want to make it simple. If you believe that you can pray to a dead person to have them pray for you, you are wrong. Christ is our intercessor. We pray to Him. We don’t need a Priest. The office of Priest is also fulfilled by Christ. Of course, that is a topic for another discussion. If you kiss the picture of Jesus, while thinking and feeling like you are kissing the real Jesus, you are wrong. I also don’t agree with their use of Mary icons. I didn’t get a booklet for that. I did ask about it though. They esteem Mary in excess. Not like the Roman Catholic’s do, but still more than I believe they should. If you think that looking at an artistic rendering of Jesus, is going to help you have a deeper experience of faith, I would posit that perhaps you don’t have a high enough view of scripture.

Jack Sparks argues that as Christians attempt to emulate Jesus, or Paul that they should also use icons to help them. I disagree. Sparks says, “When Orthodox Christians honor an icon of one of the saints by bowing before it, they are intent upon the godly example of that saint and upon following that example.” I don’t see any value in what he asserts. I think we should derive our knowledge of their character and behavior from scripture. We know of them from scripture. It is their character and behavior we emulate. We don’t use icons for that. We use the word of God.

There was no direct Biblical support provided to justify the tradition of icons. The scriptural support cited as evidence in the booklet had little to nothing to do with the topic of idolatry or in justifying the Eastern Orthodox position. Sparks also cited works of some early Christians as historical support for their traditions. I can always do the, “My church father can beat up your church father thing” but that would be counterproductive. Just because they did it in the past doesn’t mean we should still be doing it. I can understand how in a time before mass circulation of printed books, how they would rely more on pictures to tell a story. I get it, but it is not the same. It has taken on a ritual of its own. It has become idolatry, even if it didn’t start out that way. There are some within the E.O.C. who don’t use the icons in an idolatrous manner, but I think that it is a detriment to the faith. I think it is a tradition that needs to go away. We have the fullness of God’s word, given by progressive revelation over the years. It is the most printed book in the world. It is widely available in many languages, even for free from different ministries. We should be reading it, and regarding the content therein, as much higher and better than pictures.

The booklet compares people’s misplaced respect of Pastors, or the Bible, to the Eastern Orthodox treatment of icons. Just because people do something doesn’t make it Biblical. I don’t think people should venerate the Bible, but rather the contents of it. It contains the word of God. I don’t agree with respecting Pastors over any other brother. We don’t even have the title in the Church I attend. We have Elders. They are not held in any higher regard than anyone else. They are servants.

I realize many of the folks in the E.O.C. are probably very Bible literate and do in fact esteem the word of God highly. When I say that they don’t have a high enough view of scripture it is in comparison to their desire to experience their faith in some other manner. It is as if there is something they feel is missing from the practice of their faith. They find something about the traditions of the E.O.C. fulfilling. I think if God’s word were more to them, they wouldn’t have the desire to feel their faith. I could be completely wrong here. This is just my opinion.

Why do Calvinists Evangelize?

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  1.  God commands it in His word. Mark 16:15 (NASB) 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
  2.  He ordains the ends and the means.
  3.  At that moment in time, it is not apparent to us who is among the elect.  If we share the gospel with a person who is among the elect, but it is not their due time to be regenerated, then they will reject the gospel.  If it is their time, they will respond with repentance and faith, that are also granted by God.  If we share the gospel with a person who is not among the elect, no matter when in their life they hear it, they will never respond with true repentance and faith.  Even a person who is not among the elect could affirm the gospel intellectually, but never be truly converted.

If people would look into the history of modern evangelism, they would see that many of the memorable evangelists have been Calvinists.

Calvinist Evangelists

  1.   The Apostle Paul 🙂
  2.   George Whitefield
  3.   David Brainerd
  4.   William Carey
  5.   Charles Spurgeon
  6.   C.T. Studd
  7.   Jonathan Edwards
  8.   Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones
  9.   Francis Schaeffer
  10.   Francis Chan

Just to name a few.  Oh, and before you get all persnickety and claim that some of the people on the list were Pastors, or theologians, remember they also evangelized.  Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  While we are at it, we all are sinners.  We have broken God’s laws and are guilty.  Repent from your sins.  Turn from them and obey God’s word.  Believe on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He atoned for your sin.  Don’t put your faith in your own efforts or works to save you.  You can never satisfy the requirements of God’s righteousness, but Jesus did.  His righteousness can be credited to you if you will repent and trust in Him.

Martin Bucer, on Ecumenism.

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Bucer wrote extensively on ecumenism and what the differences are between good/right ecumenism and bad/wrong ecumenism.  Ecumenism is, the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian churches.

It should not be confused with the ecumenical movement which is very different.  The ecumenical movement attempts to bind groups together that affirm a different gospel and different primary articles of faith. http://www.gotquestions.org/ecumenism-ecumenical.html

Much like Bucer indicates, all people at one time in their lives, were material heretics, not yet privy to the error they believed, but through God’s grace, longsuffering, and patience we can trust that He will sanctify us out of it into conformity with the truth.  When a brother believes something that is in error we bear with them, in patience and grace, lovingly correcting them from God’s word.  Our hope is that the individual will move from material heresy to orthodoxy, rather than proving to be a formal heretic.  Once someone is a formal heretic, we can pray for their conversion.  God may use Satan to sift the material heretic, but the formal heretic, if he persists unto the grave, will suffer in Hell with Satan.  By no means are we to call all men, “brother” who claim to be our brothers.  Neither are we to include groups who have a different gospel, or worship a different god than the true God.  This would make them appear to be legitimate to those in the laity, or general public.

 

Todd Friel’s, “Judge Not” is an Ambitious Book that Attempts to Assess the Maladies of the Modern Church in America.

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It is a daunting undertaking.  One I was apprehensive about.  I was doubtful that the problems could be covered in a book that is only 320 pages long.  Overall, Todd’s book accomplishes what it was intended to do.  In an effort to promote what I deem a necessary work, I would strongly encourage all Christians to purchase and read this book.  However, I don’t want to spoil any of the, “Ah-ha!” “Amen!” or “Ouch!” moments.  This means that I won’t reveal all of my favorite quotes.  The full title of the book is, “Judge Not, How A Lack Of Discernment Led To Drunken Pastors, Peanut Butter Armpits, & The Fall Of A Nation.”  The title is no misrepresentation to act as a hook.  It is a hook, don’t get me wrong.  It is just very true and disturbing.  The astonishing authenticity of it is the hook.

 For those tens and tens of loyal listeners, Todd needs no introduction, but for the rest of the world, Todd Friel is the host of the Christian radio program, “Wretched Radio.”  He is also the host of, “Wretched TV” on NRB network.  Todd and the guys over at Wretched, put out quality programs, Biblically addressing issues and trends, that concern us as Christians.  Todd’s previous book, “Jesus Unmasked” detailed, and highlighted Christ through the entire Bible.  I was curious about his latest book, because his previous one was so good.  Even though it was a hard act to follow, he can be happy with his latest book.  It was quite different from his previous one.

We look around and wonder how we got here.  As a kid, I was raised in a home without Church.  My parents were both former Roman Catholics.  Mom is Italian.  Her family was traditionally Roman Catholic.  My Dad’s family is German, and very Roman Catholic as well.  Both of my parents deserted the religion of their families for different reasons.  My Mom left because her family deserted her, and disowned her because she was a child of mixed blood.  Her Dad was Lithuanian, NOT Italian!  My Mother was also enjoying the freedom of the 60’s.  My Father left Roman Catholicism after reading the Bible for himself.  They decided to raise us without formal religion and to allow us to figure it out for ourselves.  I grew up thinking that all of the people who went to a Church were Christians.  I had now idea how wrong I was.  Whenever I was invited to a Church for Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Mormon Talks, SDA, Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, or Mass, I thought they were all Christians.  I was so confused by the variances and disparities I witnessed.  From the 60’s on  to present day, Churches in America have done little to help people like me who were lost.

With chapter headings like, “Happy Clappy Church, Twisting Scripture, Messed-up Messianic Movements, and Gospel Off-centeredness” Todd takes aim at pretty much all of the problems with the modern Church in America.  Many of the things he brings forward have been concerns of mine for years.  Some of the things were new to me.  I had no idea some of those things were going on.  If you are like me and have been keenly aware that something is wrong, and perhaps you weren’t quite able to put your finger on it then this is the book for you.

Here is the Table of Contents,
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contents2
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We’ve probably all been to a, “Happy Clappy” Church.  They are the ones that solely focus on God’s love.  They are generally pretty seeker sensitive and rely on entertaining the masses.  Many of us have friends or family in the Messianic movement and have concerns.  Todd echoes these concerns and talks frankly about the problems within the movement.  Todd also shines light on the New Apostolic Movement.  Very troubling things are coming out of it.  It also is being accepted as orthodox by many well meaning Christians.

This book was a quick read.  It usually takes me quite a while to read a theology book, but with Todd’s sense of humor and direct approach, I was able to read it pretty quick.  If you have read some religious books and found them to be dry or slow, you won’t have this problem here.  Todd’s writing is engaging and intelligent.  Get this book and read it.  After you are done, you’ll be able to think of at least a few people you know who will need to read it as well.  I really enjoyed it and it helped me gain some needed perspective on the state of the Church, the gospel, evangelism, and what I can do to help.  You can purchase your copy from Wretched’s store, or Amazon

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