Book Review: “Debating for God…” by Richard J. Cherok

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you live in the Southeastern United States and are a member of the Church of Christ, the main publishers you know are probably Apologetics Press and Focus Press. Both are fine organizations indeed. However, sometimes I wonder what are people in the Church of Christ reading west of Arkansas? In an effort to find out, I contacted Abilene Christian University/ACU Press and looked at their online catalog. They were kind enough to send me some of their publications to read and review. I urge all of my readers to check out their catalog, especially those of you interested in Christian education.

The first book I have read from them is entitled Debating for God; Alexander Campbell’s Challenge to Skepticism in Antebellum America. Written by Richard J. Cherok, this well crafted narrative is expertly written.  I really enjoyed this book and despite its sub 200 page count, this book challenged me in both its subject matter and the thoughts put forth.

When I think of Alexander Campbell, like many, I think of a man who railed against denominationalism and pleaded for a return to New Testament Christianity and unity. This book delves into another cause that Campbell championed. That cause was the fight against the skeptics of Christianity.  Campbell’s role as an apologist in the Antebellum period is very understated in history today.

This book reveals Campbell’s well perceived worries that Deism, was just as dangerous, although less logical, an opponent for Christians than atheism. Campbell, arguing against men who believed in God but not Christ, gave all Christians a blueprint of how to defend our faith. I would love to write about the details more but it is laid out expertly in the book.

The book gives us detail about not only Campbell and his writings and speeches, but also provides valuable information and detail about the skeptics that Campbell took on in his defense of Christianity.  Cherok’s work here not only shows his challenges against men such as Robert Owen and Kentucky Senator Humphrey Marshall, but if you read between the lines, Campbell is also challenging the theological beliefs of men such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  There is much to be learned from the details and skill of Campbell laid out in this book.

I recommend that all buy this book.  I personally intend to read this book again. Even if you are not a believer in Campbell’s teachings about New Testament Christianity, this book would serve as a powerful tool for any person who is looking for advise, encouragement, or motivation to begin defending the Christian faith. Buy this book.

Find this book at ACU Press here at this link.
Note that the book reviewed was a free copy provided by ACU Press.  No solicitation for a positive review was made in exchange for the copy received.

…This He Set Aside…(Col. 2:14)

•March 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Early last month, The Mirror reported that archaeologists had recently uncovered a Roman nail from the first or second century.  They reported that the relic was found on the island Ilheu de Pontinha, off of Medeira, Portugal.  Found in a fort believed occupied by the Knight’s Templar (yes, the same guys from the Da Vinci Code), the nail is regarded to be of much importance.  History tells us that the Knight’s Templar believed it important to seek and secure relics of Christ and this nail only confirms the fact that the Templar did carry out that task.  There is of course no way of knowing if the nail is one that was actually driven through the wrists/hands of Christ but in reading the article linked, there is evidence that would suggest that many people, for some reason, found this nail to be something to investigate.

This is not the nail found in the article, just a replica.

Reading this article though caused me to stop and reflect.  I realize that perhaps I don’t often realize the full scope of the sacrifice that Christ made.  Sure, it is good to in my own prayers and in public speaking to proclaim Christ crucified, but stopping to visualize and think about the total sacrifice may be something I don’t do enough. 

The article reports that the nail found was approximately four inches in length.  If you work with nails much, that length would be a 60d in stores.  In a story I recall not long ago, a construction worker misfired a nail gun and ended up with a four-inch nail in his head (pictured).  In the picture it should give you some idea of  how long a four-inch nail is and how capable it would be of driving through a wrist in order to pin that wrist to a plank.  Keep in mind that the nails used would not have been as thin or smooth as the ones we use today. 

four-inch nail in man's head

 Perhaps I don’t think often enough about how a thick nail, being hammered with the full strength of another man, would shatter the 8 bones located in the human wrist.  The pain would have been immense.  According to WebMD, when a wrist is broken the break can extend into the wrist joint and in some cases, the bones will break through the skin.  I flinch just at the thought of a full grown man pounding away at a nail that is aimed at my skin.

Not only did this painful ordeal happen once, it happened to Christ twice, once in each wrist.  That is not to mention the nails driven through his feet.  All of this, for me.  This was done because Christ, being fully aware of my inability to earn my salvation, loved me enough to sacrifice Himself.  For me, Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be sacrificed so that I could have atonement for my sins against God.  This is a level of love that my very mind wonders about and that causes my knees to tremble.   

Colossians 2 serves record of Paul’s Spirit inspired proclamation that all of humanity was dead in their sins.  Dead until Jesus, the Son of God, made us alive together with Him by cancelling the debt and legal demands our sins have made us worthy of.  This Jesus set aside, nailing it to the cross. 

If you are reading this and have not experienced the saving power that comes with faith in not only a sacrificed, but a living Savior, then please consider putting your faith in Christ.  He is the only way to salvation.  He is the only source of hope.  By allowing nails to be plunged into the flesh He put on for mankind, He did every work necessary to save you.  All He asks is that you believe and allow your sins to be washed away by the waters of baptism. 

If you are already a Christian, stop and think for a moment about what your faith is in.  Jesus is alive despite the nails and death that man awarded His ministry with.  Are you taking full advantage of the Lord’s Supper each week to recall the life that was given for you?  Are you living your life humbly in service to a Lord who would do such?  Are you proudly and without hesitation or fear sharing the source of your hope with others?  Are you living you recognizing your daily sins and living a life of repentance?  Start today.

Pay Your Dollars to Dollar or Be Shot

•March 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hey Creflo.  What does the Bible say about “lovers of money?”

It appears that Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey had it right.  Is this art imitating life, or is Creflo’s life imitating art?  Regardless, how do people get fooled by the kind of things in the next video?

Dutch Sheets Discerned Proper

•March 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Chris Roseborough of did a great job in July of last year of taking time to properly discern some of Dutch Sheets teaching.  Dutch Sheets, who frequently visits and panders from the Ramp in Hamilton, AL is known linked with many of the absolute worse members of modern day Christianity.  Take time to listen to how to properly discern what this joker and those like Dutch Sheets are saying.  Thanks for Chris for making this available.

Todd Bentley Rebuked in Public

•February 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The video below is from a recent appearance Todd Bentley made at Morningstar Church.  There were men there who boldly and publicly rebuked Todd for his false teaching, false prophecy, lies, and adulterous marriage.  This took much courage and what is sad is that the people in attendance do not care about the truth the rebukers are speaking. 

I’d like to make one last point about this video.  Notice that it is MEN who are doing the rebuking.  Where are more men like these who will stand up for the truth of God’s word and begin crying out for the repentance from all those like Bentley? 

Force Majeure

•February 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

One of my favorite terms I studied while in law school was the contract clause known as the force majeure.  This clause in the Latin literally means “greater force” but is known primarily as the Act of God clause.  The purpose of this clause in contracts is to eliminate liability of a party should some unforeseen or uncontrollable act take place that would eliminate the fulfillment of one parties obligation in the contract.  This clause normally covers things that we would call natural disasters but can include things such as wars or the involvement of third party shortcomings.  The force majeure clause provides pardon of fulfilling a contract due to the unnatural intervention of some third party. 

One thing that I always find amazing though is that many times when these acts of God or natural disasters occur, many Christians don’t look at the event as an excuse to stop acting or not fulfill their obligations (I hesitate to use that word).  To many in the Christian community, force majeure is a call to action.  I think about the Christian response to such recent events as Hurrican Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, or the tsunami that devastated Thailand.  I know personally many people who offered money, time, or service* in order to relieve the pain and suffering that these natural disasters brought with them.  That is not to say that only Christians respond in such challenging times.  Just as I know Christians who helped in these relief efforts in the name of Christ, I know atheists who helped as well in the name of human rights and goodness. 

I have long felt that when one of the most devastating unnatural disasters to hit the United States of America occurred though, many Christians dropped the ball.  After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York City, Washington D.C., and PA occurred the Christian community was faced with a nation looking to them for guidance.  Those who lived through these events can easily recall the resounding thud as the knees of our country dropped in prayer and seeking for a God that could provide understanding for the pain our country felt.  At a time when the whole country was crying out for God, there was a response from many Christians that was not beneficial though.  When the whole nation was looking for God, the American church took a “come to us” approach rather than going out to them.  There was talk of church attendance sky-rocketing as many citizens went to their neighborhood churches hoping to find the answer of why 9/11 had happened. 

So why did it not stick?  Why did the main evangelical churches fail to remain flourishing?  My theory is that people did not remain in those churches because they were not hearing the gospel from the leaders of those churches.  The pastors and preachers in many of these churches were all so involved in teaching moralism, legalism, or trying to be relevant that when people were literally being called out to hear the gospel, they did not hear it.  In some churches there were sermons trying to explain the fundamentals of the Islamic faith (how dare we teach the first word of Islam from our pulpits) and making pleas that “not all Muslims are that way.”  In other churches there were sermons based on pop-psychology lessons of coping with the grief felt because of the attacks.  Where were the sermons that stated that 9/11 happened because all of mankind is sinful and that the death, fear, dread, and hopelessness is nothing more than birthpains as those who believe in Christ are birthed into a new life?  Where were they?  Few and far between is where they were.

The result:  look at today’s American Christain landscape.  When a nation looked to the churches of this country for Jesus, they did not always find Him.  Instead, through man-ordained grief and counseling ministries, it was thought prudent to just “accept them as they are,” and not work to convince people of the truth that is found in scripture.  Talk of Christ being the only way to righteousness was scaled back as was apologetics.  Rather than quickly dismissing thoughts and talks of doubt regarding matters of scriptural authority, a much wider “what does it mean to you” attitude was taken on in Bible study.  This “spirit” of openness not only led to people not fully understanding the might and power of Christ, but also has led to what we are seeing more than ever now, a belief in some interconnected, multi-faith world in which one faith is just as valid as the other. 

This attitude and failure to teach the gospel of Christ alone fueled a growth and is redefining the American church as you read this.  The smaller, non-denominational churches before 9/11 were not only rarely seen or heard from, they were hard to find.  However, if you look across the Christian landscape today what you will find on television, in bookstores, and all over the internet is the new American Christianity.  This was just not the case before 9/11.  9/11 not only killed thousands of Americans, it may very well kill American Christianity (i.e., the terrorists main goal).  With leaders such as Brian McLaren enjoying phenomenal success with his new book A New Kind of Christian the churches that have founded and been part of making America what it is dwindle away, seeing lower and lower attendance.  Fewer and fewer preachers and teachers are willing to stand up and say “THIS IS THE WAY, THE ONLY WAY.”  The Bible is now looked upon to be translated as what one feels it says at that very moment rather than translating in the grammatical-historical sense.  That way is considered too rigid and does not always show an open embrace of love and compassion in the world’s eyes.

At a time when the whole country was looking for God, the churches in America let them down.  People were told to find their own God and make whatever you find in the Bible “work for you.”  The church, the kingdom, the “keeper” of the words of Christ gave license to people to go and find whatever their itching ears needed to hear to feel better about not only 9/11, but their entire sin filled life.  As if the church were being led by cowardly lions unwilling to boldly and loudly proclaim their beliefs, men stood in pulpits unwilling to state what every Christian should know.  Because of the sins of Adam and the sins of our own, every person must taste the sting of death.  We get no say on when it comes.  For those who died as Christians on that horrible day, it should have been a time of rejoicing for they were set free of a body of flesh and decay.  What many in the church were afraid of was to state that the people who died on that day who had not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior lived outside of the covenant Christ established with man.  This covenant promises that when your life ends, you will meet eternity and judgment.  As Christians though, we have the ultimate force majeure written into this contract.

The covenant that God established with man was to love Him with all of your heart, mind, and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.  If your aim is to please Him then this is what you must do – all the time.  Sadly, no man prior to or since Christ has ever met this standard while here on Earth.  To agree to the terms of this contract is to agree to keep the entire law of God (Gal. 5:3).  Therefore, the contract that God set up for man was not one that man could keep.  Enter the ultimate force majeureGod sent the ultimate clause for man to this Earth.  God’s contract was follow my law precisely or perish but due to his own act, an act of God, we are set free from that contract.  Because Jesus came to this Earth and lived a sinless and blameless life only to be murdered by the hands of man, we are set free from that contract with God and allowed to live in His grace.  Because of Christ, our obligation to live perfectly is no more.  This force majeure allows us to break free from the old covenant and reside in the peace and hope that is found in the new covenant (Heb. 9:15) set forth by Christ. 

Sadly, just as Jude 4 promises, many have taken this hope and corrupted it.  Ignoring the passages that tell of only one way, only one truth, this clause has been skewed and taken advantage of all in the name of worldliness and love.  That being said, let those of us who believe in the truth set forth in scripture and the authority that teaching the word alone gives, stand up.  The force majeure has set us free from fear of this world.  Let us never again be looked upon as the church that sat idly by in response to horrible events as synagogues of Satan (Rev. 3:9) popped up around our nation worshipping not Christ alone, but self, youth, moralism, and other Gods.  Just as 9/11 sent men to their knees to find God, there will be other calamities that beseech us.  Let us next time not look at these times as a moment to open the doors and greet as fellow grieving Americans, but rather a time to more boldly than ever proclaim the gospel, Christ crucified for the repentance of sins, their sins, our sins, your sins, my sins.  As long as this Earth stands, acts of God, both natural and unnatural will occur.  My hope is that next time, rather than being relevant to what the world wants to hear, we accept the challenge to teach what God wants them to hear.  He allowed this nation to be shaken to it’s knees for a reason.  Who out there truly believes it was to spark a revolution within Christianity that allows people to place all gods on the same level as our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus and to make the holy scripture a book not meant to be taken literally?  Perhaps next time we will be more faithful.

*I found it to be pleasurable to be part of the Kingsville Church of Christ family when it provided food, counsel, and gospel to the Katrina refugees that were sent to our local community college.

Pilgrim’s Map of the Day

•February 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been busy in other ventures lately and not had time to post much on this blog.  I hope that you all will enjoy catching up with me on things around the internet that catch my eye.

Book Review: “A Century Turns, New Hopes, New Fears” by William Bennett

•February 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I just recently finished reading William J. Bennett’s book “A Century Turns, New Hopes, New Fears.” Inside the pages of this book the reader is afforded a very interesting and largely unbiased look at the past 20 years of American history from the eyes of a man who was intimately involved in that history. Beginning with the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency Bennett guides the reader through the policies, scandals, triumphs, and failures that shaped American history from 1988 to 2008. From the initiation of America’s failing war on drugs to how the Internet and technology has changed the American political process, Bennett gives an inside view of what and who shaped the moments in the past 20 years that have shaped into 21st century America.

I found this book to very captivating. Bennett’s style is an easy one in which no motive to gain or lose is apparent. His mostly non-partisan presentation of the facts in this book is very refreshing. This book was a stroll down memory lane for me as being a person in my early 30’s I was just becoming fully aware of the world around where this historical account begins. If you are interested in the American political process you would be hard pressed to find a book with more researched and documented book than this one. I would recommend that all read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”