Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bell Mountain

by Lee Duigon
267 pages / 2010

Jack and Ellayne are on a mission from God: they are going to ring the bell that King Ozais built on the top of Bell Mountain. But there are a few things in the way:
  1. They’re just kids who don’t know anything about mountain climbing, traveling through the woods or living off the land.
  2. They’re not sure there really is a bell on the top of Bell Mountain – no one alive has ever seen the bell.
  3. A talented assassin has been sent to stop them.
  4. They think the end of the world might happen when they ring it.
It’s quite the mission, and quite the opening for this, the first book in author Lee Duigon six-going-on-seven book series, (with plans for at least eight). The setting seems to be a Medieval one: travel is conducted by horse and oxen, people live in walled cities and villages, and they fight with swords and spears. But when Jack and Ellayne meet a little squirrel-sized chirping man-creature named Wyyt it becomes clear this is not our world. Here Man once had the power to fly through the skies, but no longer – something happened long ago that left behind destroyed cities, and set technology back a thousand years. In this post-apocalyptic world the national “church, or Temple has become so corrupt that no one reads the “Old Books” anymore but instead only the Temple’s interpretation of the Old Books is shared (if this makes you think of the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church, I’d agree that the author’s Reformed bonafides are showing). As the author puts it, people have forgotten how to listen to God. They don’t even know how to pray – that’s something the priests do for them. Now God is going to use two little children to rectify the situation.

This is definitely a children’s story. The heroes are children, the tension level is appropriate for ten and up – lots of peril but nothing nightmare inducing – and the plot, while nicely layered is simple enough for children to follow. But, like the Narnia series, there is a depth behind the books that will make them enjoyable for adults as well. And Lee Duigon is simply good at what he does. I knew from the get go this was a quest story, but I was always eager to find out what was going to happen next. I quickly worked my way through all six, and I know I will enjoy reading them again with my daughters in a few years. 

The only way to purchase this series in Canada seems to be via the Chalcedon Foundation website store ( The Chalcedon Foundation is Reformed, as is our readership, but they are also Christian Reconstructionists, which most in our readership are not. It might be worth noting, then, that anyone who objects to Christian Reconstructionism would not find that a reason to object to anything in these books – it doesn’t come up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Guide to Dinosaurs

by the Institute for Creation Research
2014 / 118 pages

I've reviewed 5 dinosaur books, all of them from a creationist perspective, and all of them fantastic. They have their particular strengths, and this would be the best of the bunch for anyone who wanted to learn it all.

This is the biggest book of the bunch, with the broadest breadth of topics it covers, as well as the greatest degree of depth on specific dinosaur kinds. This is still a layman's book - a beginner's text - but there is an awful lot to explore here.

Some of the topics covered include:
  • The history of dinosaur discovery (including who the first dinosaur fossil hunters were, their rivalries, and the first dinosaurs they discovered)
  • Dinosaur soft tissue finds
  • How dinosaurs are dated
  • The bird to dinosaur evolutionary theory
  • Tips on how best to approach a visit to a dinosaur exhibit in a secular museum
  • Dinosaurs in the Bible
  • How dinosaurs could have fit on the Ark
  • A sample inside page
  • Near-modern encounters with dragons (ie. Dinosaurs).

The last half of the book is devoted to two pages spreads on particular dinosaurs or dinosaur suborders. We’re told how big each kind is, how they were discovered, any controversies or creationist insights that might be specific to them.

So if an adult or teen was fascinated by dinosaurs and was going to pick just one book they probably get this one: its large pages offer and treasure chest of information. It is a very good guide produced by the trusted guides at the Institute for Creation Research.

You can get your copy at

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism

by Phillip E. Johnson
192 pages / 2000

Phillip Johnson taps into his expertise as a former Supreme Court law clerk and law professor to take Darwinism before the court of logic and consistency. His book unmasks the frequent claim that Darwinism and related evolutionary philosophies are the neutral approaches to finding scientific truth, and shows instead that secular scientists are philosophically committed to naturalism - the exclusion of the possibility of any intelligence being the cause of the origin of life.

He starts his discussion of the non-neutrality of today's science by going a little further back to tell the true story of how "Philip Wentworth Goes to Harvard" and loses his faith; at least that is how secularists portray the effect of the supposedly rational search for truth in university. Wentworth's own biography shows, however, just how well primed he was to leave his faith behind before he ever got to higher education - a reality paralleled today by the students whose nominal Christian upbringing and secular education in public school means that neither they nor their parents ever really gave Christian faith a chance.

Johnson continues his argument by asking whether "...Natural Law & Chance [can] Create Genetic Information." Of course, the answer is that that has never been observed, so Darwinists use less logical methods to defend their theory, leading to Johnson's next question - "Can Science Be Defended by Authoritarian Methods" as was attempted by legal maneuvers in Kansas? Next Johnson asks, "Does Theology Provide Any Knowledge?" - a skeptical question posed not by scientists but by secular philosophers, who should know better, since skepticism about the possibility of knowledge is itself a claim of knowledge. A similar question - "Is the Thinking, Choosing Self an Illusion?" - often posed by Darwinists also undercuts scientific research itself, something made clear by C. S. Lewis as well.

Then Johnson dispenses with attacks on scientific naturalism - the assertion that scientifically observable reality is all there is - to start making the case that the universe shows the signs of intelligent design. He links the intelligent design behind creation with Christianity with his question "What If We Start with the WORD?" He ends by noting that the twentieth century has been a time of "Technological Optimism & Literary Despair" because naturalism can improve our lives in many practical ways, but it cuts us off from meaning in our increasingly wealthy and comfortable Western culture.

While there is plenty of room for discussion of how we should unite reason and faith (as in the debate between evidentialist and presuppositional apologetics), Johnson's book reminds us that reason is not the enemy of faith, and that faith (Christian or secular) is always operating whenever reason looks - or claims to look - for truth.

If you want to read this examination of the religious nature of science - both secular and Christian - and the hope offered by Christian assumptions in science, go to this link at

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Titus 2:1 Award

Ryan Smith, over at One Christian Dad has presented Really Good Reads with one of his annual Titus 2:1 Awards for doctrinally sound blogs. That's a fun way to start the year - thank-you Ryan.

And with this honor comes the responsibility of answering a few questions, and nominating another such blog. This blog is a team effort, with contributions from four Dykstras, but these answers will be from just one of us - Jon. And without further delay, to the questions:

A. If you could have dinner with any historical Christian figure, who would it be and why?
I could never use this as one of those questions they ask to help you retrieve forgotten passwords because I'd answer it differently every time. My answer for today is, Piet Jongeling, who is probably better known by his pen name, Piet Prins.

B. What 1 burning question would you ask?
I'd want to know how he did it all. This man was a giant: a journalist with a weekly column, a politician who was at times the leader of his party, and the author of 60 children's books including two series that are among my favorites: Scout, and Wambu (both of which will be reviewed here some time soon). And he was doing it all at the same time. He was faithful, insightful, and unbelievably prolific, so I'd want to know, from morning to evening, how he structured his day, his reading, and his writing.

C. Where and what would you eat?
It isn't fresh herring, but I'm thinking a good Dutchman would be able to appreciate sushi, particularly great quality sushi that is affordable, and made in a restaurant that closes on Sundays. So I'd bounce that off him, and if he was up for it I would take him to WasaBee in Bellingham.

D.  What was the last Bible verse you read?
The last verse was actually Titus 2:1, which reads, "You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine." I've taken note of the winners of this award in the past, but never actually looked up the text. As a recipient I thought now would be a good time to check what it said.

As for the blog I'd nominate, some of the ones that spring to mind have already been nominated like Dr. Bredenhof's, or made mention of, like Tim Challies'. Another favorite hasn't been mentioned but would not be regarded as doctrinally sound by some, and I don't want to offer up a controversial nominee. So I'll go with one that is just as good, and who may be a tad controversial, but is much less so - I nominate Jay Adams.