Book Reviews 2023

Book Reviews 2023

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I have read less than I would have liked this year due to the hours I have been putting in. Nevertheless, I wanted to review four of the titles I found time to read in 2023 that you might enjoy. 

Analog Christian – by Jay Kim (41 notes, 178 pages)

Atheism on Trial – by Mark Lanier (55 notes, 202 pages)

Confronting Christianity – by Rebecca Mclaughlin (76 notes, 226 pages) 

Irreversible Damage – by Abigail Shrier (60 notes, 231 pages)

Son of Hamas – by Mosab Hassan Yousef (Audible)

Devotion – by Adam Makos (Audible)

The reference to notes is my note-taking system when I read a book. The more notes I made, the more impactful, relevant, apologetic, or valuable I found the contents. Of course, the size of the book would also make a difference, so I have listed the number of pages. I enjoyed the two Audible books and would recommend them both. 

Analog Christian

This was published in 2022 by Jay Kim, a pastor in Silicon Valley. 

Kim wrestles with the dangers most Christians are unaware of concerning the technology we are surrounded by daily. Engineered to keep us swiping, social media is all-consuming. Inherent in the algorithms are pitfalls that often outweigh the benefits. 

Frances Haugen, a Facebook insider who became a whistleblower, wrote concerning the algorithm, its “engagement-based formula helps sensational content, such as posts that feature rage, hate or misinformation, travel far and wide.”1 Kim explains comparison and contempt are tools used by the enemy and are inherent in social media.

Before my divorce, I would celebrate the joy and love I felt for my wife on social media. On more than one anniversary, I’ve posted pictures of my wife and how many years we have attained. Bragging rights. After the divorce, social media became a punch in the gut. Every anniversary others posted celebrating their 20th, 25th, 30th, etc., would pour salt in the wound. It never occurred to me my posts would/could have done the same to someone else. 

Of course, we should celebrate successful marriages, but the inherent poison of comparison on Social Media is destructive and can be malignant. Kim writes about a time when he and his wife struggled with infertility, “Every pregnancy announcement, be it from a friend or acquaintance, felt like a punch in the stomach. I was unable to genuinely celebrate anything with anyone. All I could do was compare their good fortune to our anguish.”2

Temperature of Hate

Psychologists talk about hot-hate and cool-hate. Hot hate is something we are all familiar with. We have all experienced moments where someone does something blatantly rude, and our tempers flair. Crimes of passion and road rage, not brought under control, are examples of hot-hate.

But another kind of hate, cool-hate, is common in social media and circles of gossip among friends. Based on contempt and disgust, Kim explains people use sarcasm, dismissal, and mockery. It can be, and often is, more damaging than hot-hate. Just ask the family whose child committed suicide because of bullying. 

Kim writes, “The apps we use are actually using us. We are not so much the customers as the products. Each search and click provides valuable dates to companies constantly searching for ways to effectively commodify our attention and, more slyly, our addiction. A never-ending loop of comparison, which eventually breeds contempt.”3 Philippians 4:7

I highly recommend Analog Christian to any family concerned about social media, screen time, and how much time their still-at-home teens their phones.

Atheism On Trial

This was published in 2022 by Mark Lanier, a successful trial lawyer in Houston, Texas, and featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and American Lawyer. 

Lanier looks at the rationality of atheism and its coherence in the world as we understand it. He writes, “I am compelled to find answers to big questions that harmonize. I expect consistency. Consistency is the bedrock of logic, science, and sound thinking. I must have consistency.” 4

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a woman who did not believe in God. She reasoned the complexity and immensity of the universe was beyond what any ‘god’ could create, but manage in any sense of the word. 

Of course, she had put God in a box; her mind, and arguably this is true for all of us, cannot truly fathom who God is and what He is capable of. 

Richard Dawkins has the same line of thinking in his best-selling book, The God Delusion. Lanier writes, “With all due respect to Richard Dawkins’s brain power, that is not proof there is not God. If the average human brain is a full three pounds of grey matter, and I give Dawkins a brain and a half, still even four and a half pounds of neural and glial cells surely cannot be the standard for determining the makeup of the mind of God.”5

Can an insect, or even a dog or horse, conceive of man building the Golden Gate Bridge or flying from LA to New York? 1 Corinthians 2:9 Romans 11:34

Justice and Fairness

Steven Fry, a graduate of Cambridge and an outspoken atheist, was asked what he would say if he came face to face with God. Fry replied, “I’d say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?’ That’s what I would say.”6

What Fry and others need to recognize or accept is the hardwired concept of fairness, justice, and morality. How did this idea come about from natural selection? It didn’t. Lanier asks the same thing, “So where do the concepts come from? If there is a Judeo-Christian God, the answer is easy. If there isn’t, one is hard-pressed to find a source beyond the fascinating electrical synapses of human sacks of chemicals.”7

Lanier points out that the notion of justice and fairness is essential to Fry, but “Consider how this came to be. Should one believe that people have developed a keen sense of justice and fairness through natural selection? That somehow individuals benefit from fair treatment, and that humanity found it comes only if we ensure fairness to society? Perhaps, but that’s a stretch of post hoc analysis.”6 

He explains humans don’t want fairness; people want what they want, not what is best for their neighbors. The world doesn’t have a society where the redistribution of wealth comes from the heart of the people, and it never will. Jeremiah 17:9

Confronting Christianity

This was published in 2019 and written by Rebecca Mclaughlin, who holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature from Cambridge and a theology degree from Oak Hill College. She is also a former vice president of content at the Veritas Forum. 

When it comes to apologetics I have read William Lane Craig, Nancy Pearcey, Doug Powell, Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, Frank Turek, John Lennox, R.C. Sproul, Johnathan Morrow, Abdu Murray, J.P. Moreland, Greg Koukl, Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, Josh and Sean McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Copan and a dozen others who would be considered the heavy hitters in Christian apologetics. All of their books, lectures, and debates have bolstered my faith, but none of their books would I describe as beautifully written. Rebecca Mclaughlin has done just that. Weaving personal experience and exposing vulnerable struggles within herself, she is empathetic to the battles many have. 

At the same time, she addresses many of the hard questions Christians may face when having discussions with unbelievers. She gracefully acknowledges the shortcomings of Christians in the past and the harm they have done in the name of Jesus. Mclaughlin then removes the layers of counterarguments without using hyperbole and other inflammatory language, and lays the facts on the table for all to see. 

Violent Buddhists?

Concerning religion and violence, she acknowledges the Crusades, as has William Lane Craig and other Christian apologists, though liberal historians have greatly exaggerated the numbers. And few have any doubt about the violence and blood on the hands of martyrs in the name of Islam. However, are there other examples? 

In 2018, the New York Times ran an op-ed titled, “Why Are We Surprised When Buddhists Are Violent?” Mclaughlin explains, “The article cites Sri Lanka’s civil war…fueled by ‘specifically Buddhist nationalism’; violence in modern Thailand; violence within the Dalai Lam’s own sect; and a growing body of scholarly literature on the martial complicity of Buddhist institutions in World War II era with Japanese nationalism.”8 Mclaughlin explains it is not that Buddhism is inherently violent, but as a religion, it is not free of blood-stained hands; no religion is. 

Some of you may have seen the 2016 Martin Scorsese film Silence. Tens of thousands of Christians in the 1700s were executed in horrific ways at the hands of the Shinto-Buddhist government. When we think of the Shinto Shrine, pictures of serene monks meditating, incense softly trailing in the air, and lush green foliage come to mind. 

Yet, Christianity and Islam seem to be the center of the target and the examples the media draws attention to. 

Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist majority Myanmar have experienced terrible violence at the hands of Buddhist soldiers. Nicholas Kristof writes, “‘Ethnic cleansing’ and even ‘genocide’ are antiseptic and abstract terms. What they mean in the flesh is a soldier grabbing a crying baby girl named Suhaifa by the leg and flinging her into a bonfire.”9

Religion is a Tool

Mao Tse-tung said, “Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.” Religion has been and will continue to be used as a tool to further the agenda of politicians/dictators whose goal is control and power. 

Nazis changed scripture and published bibles to make Jesus a blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan. Hitler announced, “I can imagine Christ as nothing other than blond and blue eyes, the devil however only with a Jewish grimace.”10 

Mclaughlin rightly points out human goodness is not innate, and the Bible makes that clear from Genesis to Revelation. “We are not naturally good people who behave badly only if we have been deprived of the proper upbringing, education, or circumstances. Rather, we are innately sinful, veering toward selfishness like a car with a misaligned steering wheel.”11 

“Staked at the heart of Christianity is a symbol of extreme violence – the brutal, torturous, state-sponsored execution of an innocent man. Christians believe that this execution was orchestrated by God himself. Some argue from this that Christianity glorifies violence. But the meaning of the cross is precisely the opposite. Violence is the use of power by the strong to hurt the weak. At the cross, the most powerful man who ever lived submitted to the most brutal death ever died, to save the powerless. Christianity does not glorify violence. It humiliates it.”12 

Irreversible Damage

Abigail Shrier writes, “This is a story Americans need to hear. Whether or not you have an adolescent daughter, whether or not your child has fallen for this transgender craze, America has become fertile ground for this mass enthusiasm for reasons that have everything to do with our cultural frailty: parents are undermined; experts are over-relied upon; dissenters in science and medicine are intimidated; free speech truckles under renewed attack… and the desire to escape a dominant identity encourages individuals to take cover in victim groups.13

Having raised three daughters and entering the phase of life where I am inclined to mention the joys of grandchildren to strangers, this book hits a home run for those who have serious concerns about the transgender storm and gender-affirming contagion that has overwhelmed our culture. 

Girls Becoming Boys

There is no doubt a generation of youth has drunk the Kool-aid and been taught and bullied into believing double mastectomies and puberty blockers are steps girls can take to become men. 

Parents and grandparents should be aware and informed about what is being taught at their child’s school. “The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and GLSEN (formally the “Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network”) supply curriculum materials. Their members are routinely brought into schools to lecture students on sexual orientation and gender.”14

If you attend school in a progressive urban city, LA, San Francisco, or New York come to mind. All you need to view is the school district calendar. Pride month? No, it is now a pride year parade, and you better get in line, or you can expect to be ostracized by staff and peers. 

The LGBTQ Calendar

October begins with “Coming Out Day,” followed by “International Pronouns Day,” and “LGBTQ History Month”. In November, we find “Transgender Awareness Week” and “Transgender Day of Remembrance,” March is “Transgender Visibility Month,” and April adds “Day of Silence/Day of Action.” May is “Harvey Milk Day,” and June is “Pride Month.”15

Any educator worth their weight in salt should proactively address any form of bullying. This includes students who identify as LGBTQ or transgender, but the pendulum has swung far and wide of any sensibility or reasonableness. 

A better remedy would be to teach all classmates kindness, understanding, compassion, and decency, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or religion. What is a shame is that many students lack those kinds of characteristics, something generally taught at home, but now educators have to spend time reinforcing those virtuous behaviors.

After 25 years of teaching and dealing with parents, the old saying “the apple does not fall far from the tree” holds true. Some never get it; tragically, their children seem to be one train wreck after another, yet it is the teacher’s fault. 

The States Solution

Parents are blind to the fact they have acquiesced the raising of their children to the current culture. What is streaming on the big screen? What do they follow on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter/X? They have unhindered access to smartphones, which suck away their time and bleach their brains. 

And the state’s solution? Affirm everything the child feels. Can you imagine a school board mandating everyone wear a pagri (Hindu head wrap), or a panung sash across their torso? Then, they affirm their religion is true and accurate because some Hindu students were teased. 

Shrier points out that ‘bullying’ is used as an excuse to indoctrinate youth on gender ideology, and those who are questioning their gender or adopt one of the nearly one hundred labels on the new gender spectrum must be affirmed. The National Education Association (NEA) warns, “The consequences of not affirming a child’s gender identity can be severe, and it can interfere with their ability to develop and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.”16

Obviously, many parents disagree with this conclusion and are standing up and speaking out to teachers, principals, and school boards. Unfortunately, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) considers it a violation of students’ rights if parents interfere with a student’s gender choices. If a student changes their pronouns from his to hers, the parents have no say, nor are they informed. 

Shrier ends her book with some advice for parents. 

Don’t get your kid a smartphone. Nearly every novel problem teenagers face traces itself back to 2007 and the introduction of Steve Jobs’s iPhone. In fact, the explosion in self-harm can be so precisely pinpointed to the introduction of this one device that researchers have little doubt that it is the cause.17
Don’t relinquish your authority as the parent.
Don’t support gender ideology in your child’s education.
Reintroduce privacy into the home.
Consider big steps to separate your daughter from harm.
Stop pathologizing girlhood.
Don’t be afraid to admit: It’s wonderful to be a girl.

There are three types of books you can learn from: books that encourage you, books that inform you, and books that challenge you. If you don’t read books challenging your status quo, you are simply building a room without doors and windows. 

It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it. – Johann von Goethe

Book Reviews 2023 by James Glazier is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

  1. Kim, Jay. “Kindness and Goodness Instead of Hostility.” Analog Christian, IVP, 2022, pg. 85 []
  2. Kim, Jay. “Kindness and Goodness Instead of Hostility.” Analog Christian, IVP, 2022, pg. 33 []
  3. Kim, Jay. “Kindness and Goodness Instead of Hostility.” Analog Christian, IVP, 2022, pg. 8 []
  4. Lanier, Mark, W. “Opening Statment.” Atheism On Trial, IVP 2022, pg.12 []
  5. Lanier, Mark, W. “Opening Statment.” Atheism On Trial, IVP 2022, pg.29 []
  6. Lanier, Mark, W. “Opening Statment.” Atheism On Trial, IVP 2022, pg.85 [] []
  7. Lanier, Mark, W. “Opening Statment.” Atheism On Trial, IVP 2022, pg.87 []
  8. Mclaughlin, Rebecca. “Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?” Crossway, 2019, pg. 80 []
  9. Kristof, Nicholas. “Is This Genocide?” New York Times, 15 December 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/15/opinion/sunday/genocide-myanmar-rohingya-bangladesh.html 6 Dec. 2023 []
  10. Mclaughlin, Rebecca. “Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?” Crossway, 2019, pg. 83 []
  11. Mclaughlin, Rebecca. “Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?” Crossway, 2019, pg. 92 []
  12. Mclaughlin, Rebecca. “Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?” Crossway, 2019, pg. 93 []
  13. Shrier, Abigail. “Introduction.” Irreversible Damage-The transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Regnery, 2020, pg xxix []
  14. Shrier, Abigail. “Introduction.” Irreversible Damage-The transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Regnery, 2020, pg 64 []
  15. Shrier, Abigail. “Introduction.” Irreversible Damage-The transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Regnery, 2020, pg 69 []
  16. Shrier, Abigail. “Introduction.” Irreversible Damage-The transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Regnery, 2020, pg 71 []
  17. Shrier, Abigail. “Introduction.” Irreversible Damage-The transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Regnery, 2020, pg 212 []
No Strength or Beauty

No Strength or Beauty

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Sorry Not Sorry

That is how many words the Trans Resistance Network took to say they were sorry, not sorry, for what took place in Nashville this past week. 

Have you read their Tweet

The first tragedy today is the loss of life of three children and adults. We extend our deepest sympathies and heartfelt prayers to those families dealing with the loss of loved ones. There is nothing we can offer that will comfort the hurt, or ease the sorrow. We mourn with you.“((Trans Resistance Network. [@ResistanceTrans]. “Media Statement on the School Shooting in Nashville, TN.” Twitter, 27 March 2023, https://twitter.com/MrAndyNgo/status/1640746882640011264))

That was 51 words of empty sympathy. I say empty because the Trans Resistance Network then spends 300 words blaming, justifying, excusing, and accusing the rest of us of this tragedy. Please read it for yourself. 

Look At Us

They state the shooter had “…no other effective way to be seen than to lash out by taking the life of others,…“((Trans Resistance Network. [@ResistanceTrans]. “Media Statement on the School Shooting in Nashville, TN.” Twitter, 27 March 2023, https://twitter.com/MrAndyNgo/status/1640746882640011264))

No other effective way to be seen? How completely and utterly absurd! Google “How to celebrate LGBTQ” (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer), and you come up with 35 million hits! Admittedly I did not go through them all, but I am sure there are several thousand good ideas on how to celebrate the LGBTQ community. 

What is the month of June? Lots of significate things took place in June. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, D-Day when the Allied forces landed in Normandy, and Tiananmen Square protests, to name a few, but most significant, it is PRIDE Month. The LGBTQ community gets the whole month. This is usually when you see lots of rainbow flags and businesses promoting and celebrating the LGBTQ community. Target is one example, spotlighting designers, entrepreneurs, and Target team members. 

If that is not enough, visit the Library of Congress. You will find lots of resources there. On their PRIDE Month page, they write, “Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world.”((Library of Congress, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month.” Library of Congress, Congress.Gov, N.D. https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/))

It’s Never Enough

The Trans Resistance Network continues, “We do know that life for transgender people is very difficult, and made more difficult in the preceding months by a virtual avalanche of anti-trans legislation, and public callouts by Right Wing personalities and political figures for nothing less than the genocidal eradication of trans people from society.“((Trans Resistance Network. [@ResistanceTrans]. “Media Statement on the School Shooting in Nashville, TN.” Twitter, 27 March 2023, https://twitter.com/MrAndyNgo/status/1640746882640011264))

No doubt their lives are difficult, but I have not seen an ‘avalanche’ of anti-trans legislation, public callouts, and political figures calling for the genocide of trans people from society. Talk about hyper-sensitive and hyperbolic language! Are you kidding me? People can lose their job if they misgender someone!

Think about it. In some states, California, for example, it is illegal to counsel someone against gender-affirming surgery. Physicians can lose their licenses for even suggesting it. 

The only rhetoric that comes close to this was a Facebook post by a leftist professor Dr. Steven Shaviro who wrote, “Although I do not advocate violating federal and state criminal codes, I think it is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, or transphobic speaker than it is to shout them down.“((Silverstein, Joe. “College professor suspended after saying it would be ‘far more admirable to kill’ racist speaker than protest.” Fox News, foxnews.com, 28 March 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/media/college-professor-suspended-far-more-admirable-kill-racist-speaker-protest)) I bet you did not hear about that on CNN. Here you have someone on the left calling for the murder of, what they call a ‘transphobic speaker,’ or anyone that speaks out against puberty blockers or breast removal for teens, and the only consequence is they are put on leave, with pay. The media, academia, and Department of Justice double standard is as bright as the noonday sun. 

No Strength Or Beauty

They end the Tweet with, “It is a testament to the inner strength and beauty of transgender people, that, despite the overwhelming odds of homelessness, job discrimination, and constant anti-trans bigotry and violence, so many of us continue to persevere, survive, and even thrive. We will not be eradicated or erased.“((Trans Resistance Network. [@ResistanceTrans]. “Media Statement on the School Shooting in Nashville, TN.” Twitter, 27 March 2023, https://twitter.com/MrAndyNgo/status/1640746882640011264))

It is probably not the best time to talk about beauty, strength, surviving, and thriving when someone who identified with your community murdered three children and three adults. There were six victims and one murderer, not seven as you would imply. 

You wrote one brief paragraph feigning remorse and then followed with six paragraphs pointing the finger, defending, and rationalizing why this murderer did what they did. Pathetic. 

It does not matter what your sex is, what your gender identity is, or your sexual orientation; when you take the lives of innocents, especially children, you cannot excuse that kind of violence, ever. People that take those kinds of actions are cowards. You don’t see them walking into police stations and start shooting. 

This transgender activist group is planning aTrans Day of Vengeancerally outside the U.S. Supreme Court today, Saturday, April 1st, 2023. The organizers claim they are not inciting violence, but you would think they would have the sense to title their rally a bit differently. But, after reading their Tweet, I am not surprised. Are you? 

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No Strength or Beauty by James William Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Everyone Wants a Piece of Jesus

Everyone Wants a Piece of Jesus

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In 2001 Yann Martel published the book Life of Pi, which became a hit film in 2012. One of the themes in the book claims all religions are true and it is enough to love God. 

At the movie’s beginning, we are introduced to a kind-hearted young man named Piscine Molitor Patel, or (Pi), the son of a zoo-keeper. As a young man, Pi earnestly seeks truth, looks for the good in all things, and decides to become a Christian, Krishna, and Muslim. 

One day, when walking in town with his parents, they run into Pi’s Christian priest, his Muslim imam, and his Hindu pandit. An awkward to say the least, as each in turn claims Pi is a devoted Christian, Muslim, and Hindu follower. Finally, they demand he choose one religion. Pi in his wisdom which surpasses his teachers, says, “Bapu Gandi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God.”1

Fast forward, and we find Pi with his family on a cargo ship heading to Canada, but in a storm, the ship sinks, and Pi is stranded in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra, and a tiger named Richard Parker. Pi and Richard Parker survive on the open sea for seven months until they float to Mexico, where the tiger runs off into the jungle. 

When Pi is rescued, officials interview him on what happened to the ship. An accounting has to be made, and the owners of the ship who have lost a fortune want to know what took place and why the ship was lost. 

Pi shares the story of the animals in the lifeboat and how they survived, but the officials say that is complete nonsense. Pi then offers another version. He recounts the story, but this time the hyena is the ship’s cook, the orangutan is Pi’s mom, the zebra is a crew member, and Pi is the tiger. 

Pi explains the cook cut off the injured leg of the zebra and used the meat to catch fish. In time the cook kills his mother, and Pi, in turn, kills the cook. Pi ends the story with a choice for the interrogators; they are to choose which story they prefer. Pi points out it is irrelevant; they can’t prove one story over the other. The facts of either account can’t be proven, so it does not matter which they one choose. 

The officials choose the story with the animals, and Pi responds, “Thank you. And so it goes with God.”2

The point Martel makes is that, like the two stories that Pi told, it is with religion. No religion has the whole truth, and all are subject to various interpretations and conflicting stories. 

In today’s culture, religious claims are not truth claims, but cultural or preferred flavors and subjective (opinion) claims. In fact, making the claim that your religion is the correct religion is considered intolerant and unloving. However, Paul Gould points out in his book, Cultural Apologetics, “It does not follow that disagreement entails intolerance. We [as Christians] should tolerate-show love and respect to people, not ideas.”3

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, many on the left demand we show respect for their ideas and beliefs. Beliefs such as the right to choose an abortion must be not only tolerated but respected. Yet, I have no respect for that worldview and find it contemptible. Yet I understand and believe those people who hold such views should be respected and loved. Christian philosopher Peter Kreft wrote, “We ought to be egalitarian with people and elitist with ideas.4

Truth claims, by nature, are exclusive. For example, as I write this, it is raining outside my window. That is a truth claim, which correspond to reality and the world as we understand it. Truth claims hold a belief, thought, or statement that harmonizes with reality. 

If I tell my Jr high students 1/2 is an equivalent ratio to 25/50, that is either true or not; there is no in-between. It is not true some of the time or most of the time, nor is it possibly true or potentially true; it is true all of the time. Christians claim that Jesus is divine, but Muslims say Jesus was not divine, both can’t be correct, and both can’t be true. 

((Gould, Paul. “Addressing Barriers.” Cultural Apologetics, 2019, Zondervan, 2019, pg 194″))

In recent years as the gender identity storm has ravaged our cultural landscape, decisions about sexual orientation or gender identity are based entirely on feelings. There is no denying individuals struggle with gender identity, but gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and surgery, were decided on feelings, not facts. Only in the last couple of years have some begun to acknowledge the devastation this has caused a generation. 

Nancy Pearcy pointed out in her book Total Truth the struggle C.S. Lewis had when he abandoned his childhood faith for atheism. Lewis wanted the truth, “He became desperate to find a truth that satisfied the whole person, including his longing for meaning and beauty.”5

The turning point for Lewis came from the most tenacious atheist he knew, who shared how the Gospel accounts were surprisingly good. That is to say, they seemed plausible, possibly true. “All that stuff of mythology about the Dying God. Rum Thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.”((Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy, Harcourt Brace, 1955, pg 170)) Pearcy explains, “There is no division into contradictory, opposing levels of truth-therefore no division in a person’s inner life either. Christianity fulfills both our reason and our spiritual yearnings.”((Pearcy, Nancy. “Keeping Religion in its Place.” Total Truth, Crossway Books, 2005, pg 121))

Ask yourself if the world we live in is an illusion. Or is it a product of chance, an accident that happened over millions or billions of years? Was God just a human invention, or is there a higher power somehow involved with this theatre we call reality? Who is right in their view of the world and reality, Jesus, George Carlin, or Oprah Winfrey? What you decide matters considerably and will determine how you will live your life. 

When you look at two little white pills, both the same size, color, and weight in grams, you can tell yourself they are basically the same. So on the surface, it really wouldn’t matter which one you choose, but if one was aspirin and the other arsenic, which one you choose will matter greatly. So choose wisely; all religions can’t be true. 

  1. Martel, Yann. “Chapter 23.” Life of Pi, A Harvest Book, 2003, pg. 66 []
  2. Martel, Yann. “Chapter 23.” Life of Pi, A Harvest Book, 2003, pg. 69 []
  3. Gould, Paul. “Addressing Barriers.” Cultural Apologetics, 2019, Zondervan, 2019, pg 194″ []
  4. Kreeft, Peter. San Francisco, The Snakebit Letters, Ignatius, 1998, pg 94 []
  5. Pearcy, Nancy. “Keeping Religion in its Place.” Total Truth, Crossway Books, 2005, pg 120 []

A Rescue

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay

Have you ever had a life-changing event? Beat cancer? Stroke? Loss of a parent? Loss of a child, or having had to endure your child’s suffering? A war veteran? Heart attack? Broken heart? Divorce? Survive an accident that is nothing short of a miracle? Seen an accident firsthand that not everyone survived? I can relate to several of those, and maybe you can too.

Some events like those described above change us for several months. They give us a different perspective or greater appreciation for what we have and those close to us. We realize things could be much worse and are thankful for the health of our family and friends.

Some events change us for years. A different perspective, greater appreciation, yes, but some events give us a greater understanding that life is finite; some might call it an epiphany. We tend to love a little further, hold a little longer, encourage and sacrifice a little more. The small stuff is not such a big deal, and we easily extend grace to those around us. 

Then we have the events that change us for life. Sure, we have a greater understanding that life is fleeting and love those around us more, often extending grace, but you also realize the significance of forgiveness. You come to understand that forgiveness is the change we experience that goes beyond a change within. The change is so consuming, so occupying, you want to help others understand, help them see and experience what you have. Acts 4:13, Acts 13:46-48

God’s kingdom is nothing like our world. The world looks at our successes; God looks at our sacrifices. The world tells us to be in the spotlight; God tells us to step to the back of the line and put others before ourselves. Bob Goff wrote, “Love was never meant to be transactional. It doesn’t give to get. It doesn’t create spreadsheets to analyze how well it’s working. It doesn’t track how much Love you put in and measure it against how much Love you got back.”1 God’s kingdom tells us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31 The world tells us we deserve it! We have the right to, we are entitled to, and should reward ourselves. In other words, we deserve the best life now as Joel Osteen puts it. 

Sometimes the greatest sacrifice we can make is forgiving someone who has hurt us; Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 23:34 or asking them to forgive us for hurting them. I chatted with a friend not long ago who shared her experience of asking her ex-husband for forgiveness for divorcing him (and having good reasons for doing so). His first response to her was no, he could not forgive her, but then he said he understood why she left him. For her, this was a necessary step for her own healing. In other stories I have heard, this action would be unrealistic, unwise, or unnecessary. 

Nevertheless, forgiveness is vital to the health and well-being of individuals. “…practicing forgiveness can alleviate feelings of anger, avoidance and vengeful-ness that lead to negative consequences in one’s emotional and physical health as well as relationships.”2 People need to be able to forgive themselves and forgive others. Jesus’ final words were about forgiveness. 

What would you want your last words to be? Accusation, condemnation, guilt, or Love, forgiveness, and understanding? Someone said that holding a grudge (unforgiveness) is simply cultivating anger. Forgiveness allows us to move on without anger or contempt or seeking revenge. 

God wants us to be with Him, but to do that requires our being forgiven. Some call it the free gift of salvation that Christ offers. Lately, I have been looking at it more like a rescue than a gift. The whole reason Jesus came was to give us an out, and I know that almost sounds demeaning, like an ace up your sleeve; but Christianity, unlike any other religion, offers the gift, the rescue, whatever you want to call, it without works. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, you name it, works are required. Look for yourself, and you will see that with any other religion, you have to sign on the dotted line and work for your assurance. 

God forgives and offers that through His Son Jesus. You simply have to decide if you want to, or need to be forgiven. If you are honest with yourself, you need to be forgiven, we all do. It is not a scale (like a teeter-totter) where your good outweighs your bad. If you want Jesus to step on the scale, you can’t add enough bad to lower your end; He takes it all. It is a rescue. 

Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free. – Stormie Omartian

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. – Confucius on revenge.

Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. – Corrie Ten Boom


A Rescue by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Goff, Bob. “Love Doesn’t Have A Return On Investment.” Live In Grace, Walk In Love. Nelson Books, 2019, pg. 68 []
  2. Ryan P. Brown, Vengeance is mine: Narcissism, vengeance, and the tendency to forgive, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 38, Issue 6, 2004, Pages 576-584 []
Burning in Hell

Burning in Hell

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Image by Jeroným Pelikovský from Pixabay

We know that we feel physical feelings through electrical impulses that send information to our brains through our nervous system. Once we die, we no longer feel pain due to the lack of a physical nervous system and, oh yeah, a brain. How could we ‘feel’ the excruciating flames of hell for eternity? Does God make you feel this torment for all eternity out of pure malice because you wouldn’t worship him?

This is the 16th question of 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer.

Literary devices are used by writers to help them convey a message. As you read the Bible or any other work, you will come across two types of literary devices. One is unavoidable, the other is optional. Literary elements are considered inescapable. They include setting, characters, mood, and theme. Literary techniques, on the other hand, are optional and help the writer express meaning to the reader. Literary techniques include metaphor, simile, alliteration, and hyperbole, all of which may allow the reader a greater understanding of the message the writer wishes to convey.

The Bible is made up of 66 different books with 40 authors contributing their writing styles over a period of 1500 years. It should come as no surprise when an author is expressing the consequences of hell, life after death, and an immaterial realm, that he would employ the use of metaphors and other literary techniques to convey a meaning that would be difficult to grasp.

Got Questions responded, “The variety and symbolic nature of descriptors do not lessen hell, however—just the opposite, in fact. Their combined effect describes a hell that is worse than death, darker than darkness, and deeper than any abyss. Hell is a place with more wailing and gnashing of teeth than any single descriptor could ever portray. Its symbolic descriptors bring us to a place beyond the limits of our language—to a place far worse than we could ever imagine.”1

Where does the Bible say we will “feel the excruciating flames of hell for eternity”? That was the first question that came to mind when I read #16 in his list of 50 questions Christians Can’t Answer. Well, it doesn’t. There are several passages that imply that and I list a few below.

Mark 9:43, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.” (NIV)

Revelation 14:11, “And the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” (NIV)

Revelation 20:10, And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. (NIV)

Matthew 18:9, And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (NIV)

Matthew 25:41, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (NIV)

How we end up ‘feeling’ hell is debatable. Taking the literary techniques expressed by the authors as literal meaning is silly, and to imply that would be absurd.

You will not find popular media or Hollywood implying we have a soul or any kind of immaterial realm after death, at least not in any kind of Christian religious sense of the word. A Time magazine article, which was advocating stem cell research stated, “These [embryos] are microscopic groupings of a few differentiated cells. There is nothing human about them, except potential, [or] if you choose to believe it, a soul.”2 Another example J.P. Moreland gave in his book The Soul, was from a popular T.V. show The Walking Dead. Moreland wrote, “In the first season’s final episode, a scientist shows a group of ordinary people a video of the inside workings of a live human brain. It looks like a complex web of wires and nodes, with a multitude of flashing lights traveling to and fro. He then declares matter-of-factly that all of the electrical activity that they see is actually the real you. When those ‘lights’ go off, you cease to exist.”3

As for the second part of the question “Does God make you feel this torment for all eternity out of pure malice because you wouldn’t worship him?” There are a couple of things to consider.

First, God does not make anyone enter hell. Everyone is given a choice, and He will not force anyone to live in His presence.

Secondly, scripture makes it clear what will happen to those to sin and do not accept the gift of salvation.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. (NIV)

Ezekiel 18:4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die. (NIV)

Ezekiel 18:20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. (NIV)

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 5:24 Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (NIV)

John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (NIV)

As you read these verses and many others you clearly see there are two options. Two fates. Two choices. Life and death. Life for those who accept the gift God has to offer, and death for those who don’t. John 3:16 made it quite clear some will have eternal life, others will perish. These verses say nothing about living in some kind of eternal torture or punishment.

Some may quote Revelation 20:10 as a pushback on eternal punishment. “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The Greek word forever is ‘aion’ which does not necessarily mean unending. It can be an unspecified period of time, and our word eon (a geologic period of time) comes from that Greek word aion.

In 1Cor 2:6 “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” Paul uses the same Greek word for age and you can see it does not mean an unending period of time. (NIV)

These questions, and others you may encounter, presuppose a world view that embeds a conclusion before you can even respond. They are often one-sided and uncharitable toward the person being asked the question, but if you sit down and give them some thought, you will find most can be easily responded to.

Sources:
1. Houdmann, Michael S. “Is hell literally a place of fire and brimstone?” Got Questions. Gotquestions.org, n.d. Web. 15 October 2016.
2. Moreland, J.P. The Soul. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014. Print.
3. Ibid.

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Burning in Hell by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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