Thoughts of a Living Christian

Musings of an amateur theologian and hopeful writer

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Aaron’s 7 Book Suggestions

Trying to find a good book to read? Let me recommend 7; 2 fiction, 5 non-fiction.

Why 7? The Bible likes that number…so so do I!

Fiction:

1. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. This is probably my favourite non-fiction. The story follows Tom, a man with a dream to build a grand cathedral, and Prior Philip a devout monk who is horrified by the corruption and greed of so many others professing Christianity. The book was BBC’s #33 in the “Big Read top 100” in 2003, was selected for Oprah’s book club in 2007 and voted the third favourite book in Germany, after Lord of the Rings and the Bible. A long read, but well worth it.

2. “Magician” by Raymond E. Feist. Feist has written so many books set in the fantasy world of Midkemia, “Magician” being the first of the Riftwar saga. The story follows Pug, an orphan apprenticed to a magician, whose world is invaded by aliens. Pug’s journey takes him all over Midkemia and even to the alien world of Kelewan as bit by bit his power increases. The story was BBC’s #89 in the “Big Read top 100” in 2003. Feist has an incredible imagination and an amazing story-telling gift. A fantastic fantasy!

Non-Fiction

3. “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” by John Piper. Piper helpfully discusses the importance of joy, arguing that our pursuit of joy and God’s pursuit of glory are the exact same pursuit. It is impossible to separate our pursuit of joy from God’s pursuit of spreading the Gospel and bringing glory to his name. In order to love, to do mission, to pray, to be happily married, basically in order to do anything properly as a Christian, we must pursue our joy. I don’t agree with every conclusion Piper makes and I think his readings of the limited scripture he uses is fairly basic, but his discussion is helpful!

4. “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey. Yancey has a unique writing style, which takes the reader on a journey with the author. He poses questions first, then spends the next few chapters seeking to answer them. In this book, he seeks to find out who the real Jesus was, rather than the clean, immacutely groomed, white Jesus holding a lamb with barely any emotion. The conclusion Yancey come to are suprising, and he isn’t afraid to ask of himself some tough questions as to how he would have reacted to Jesus, had he been in the Pharisee’s position all those years ago. This book is a simple read, but reveals a whole new level of humanity to Jesus, painting him to be an even more amazing man than we may have realized.

5. “Seven Days that Divide the World” by John Lennox. This book discusses the “science v religion” argument, focussing on the issues surrounding a literal reading of Genesis, looking at the theories of evolution, 7-day creation, etc. concluding that the argument is not “science v religion” or “evolution v creation,” but is in fact simply between naturalism and theism (i.e. whether there is a God or not). He argues evolution should not be an issue that scares Christians, for it cannot disprove God, nor does it contradict the Bible. A good introduction for some very important arguments in contemporary society.

6. “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies” by David Bentley Hart. There is an extended review of this book on this blog that I wrote for my theol degree, which I suggest you read. It’s an excellent book, dispelling many inflated myths about particular historical events commonly used by Atheists against Christianity, such as the crusades, Galileo and others. Hart’s passion is evident and this book is very well source and a helpful resource in understanding popular Atheistic arguments.

7. I am currently reading – and enjoying – a book by Alister McGrath, “The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World.” The history of Atheism itself is particularly interesting to me, and McGrath tracks the rise of the New Atheist movement from the French Revolution, influencing the likes of Karl Marx and eventually Richard Dawkins. As you can probably tell, I enjoy apologetics, and though I’m halfway through this book, I can already recommend it!

Hopefully one day I can recommend my own book….and maybe someone else will be recommending mine too!!

Poverty and God?

Observe the following:

Here are my thoughts:

The reason for poverty is not caused by God. Extreme poverty was caused by humans. Humans are the ones who pillage and exploit; greed is what causes this extreme unbalance. Why does God allow it? Well I think he asks that exact question of us: why do we allow it? We have enough food in first-world countries to feed to the rest of the world and live happy and healthy lives, but instead we have obesity problems. What we throw away is more than what most people in the world could dream of. The problem is not why does God allow it, but why do WE allow it?!
But God helps solve the problems we create for ourselves. A Christian missionary named Robert Pierce from America experienced this poverty first hand, in 1947 when he travelled to China and Korea. He came back with a great desire to fix this, and he began World Vision. This one Christian man began a company which would become a company that pours billions of dollars into poverty-stricken communities and countries. Just one man. Imagine if the entire world decided to fix the problem!
Christian beliefs cannot be the cause of these issues, for Jesus himself said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40). Jesus commands us to be the solution to the problems humans have created. He tells us to feed the poor, help those who have suffered from wars and terrorism, bring justice to those who have suffered from injustice, because doing so is like looking after Jesus himself. And he tells us he is with us as we spread these Christian values (Matt 28:18-20). He helps us fix these problems, just as he helped Robert Pierce – one man who established a multi-billion dollar charity organization.
We ask, “God, why do you allow this suffering?” Jesus aks, “Humans, why do you allow this suffering? I gave you everything you need to fix the problem and I’m offering to help…and you sit there and let people starve. You let me starve.” There have been many things comitted in the name of the Christian God which have been horrific, but that is not Christian. Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us, to love our neighbour more than ourselves, to spread love and grace, to forgive, to carry forward and to love justice and to hate injustice. Anything contrary to this is disobedience, and is thus, not Christianity.

But the values of Christianity are absolutely stooped in love and it would be impossible to argue Christianity is bad for the world.

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