Wednesday, September 28, 2016

War in the Wasteland

by Douglas Bond
273 pages / 2016

"Second Lieutenant C.S. Lewis in the trenches of WWI" – if that doesn't grab you, I don't know what will. War in the Wasteland is a novel about teenage Lewis's time on the front lines of the First World War. At this point in his life, at just 19, Lewis is an atheist, and his hellish surroundings seem to confirm for him that there is no God.

But Lewis isn't the book's main character, and for that I can't help but admire author Douglas Bond's patience. Lewis is most certainly the "star" of the story, but Private Nigel Hopkins serves the role of narrator, and for the first 50 pages of the book we learn about him, his dog Chips, and what his family thought of the war. It's only when Hopkins arrives at the front that he (and we) now get to meet Lewis in his role as one of the company's junior officers.

I'm not going to give too much else away, other than to say that when men are hunkered down in their trenches waiting through another enemy artillery barrage, there is good reason, and plenty of time, to talk about life's most important matters. Bond gives Lewis a fellow junior officer – Second Lieutenant Johnson – who won't let Lewis's atheistic thinking go unchallenged. Their dialogue is imagined - this is a fictionalized account – but Bond pulls the points and counterpoints of their back and forth argument straight out of the books Lewis wrote after he turned from atheism and became one of the best known Christian apologists on the planet.

I enjoyed this book so much that after finishing it, I found it hard to pick up another – I just knew that the next book wasn't going to be nearly as good.

I'll also add that War in the Wasteland comes to a solid and satisfying conclusion, which is a neat trick, consider that Lewis's story of conversion is, at this point, very much incomplete. But Bond ties it all together wonderfully.

I'd recommend this for older teens and adults who have an interest in history, World War I, apologetics, or C.S. Lewis. Bond has crafted something remarkable here.

You can buy War in the Wasteland at here or here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

3 free and challenging pro-life books

There are a lot of pro-life pamphlets available for free online, so I could have filled this page with all sorts of suggested resources. I've limited myself to just these three because my point here isn't to clog up your Kindle, but instead to share with you the very best resources. What follows are three books that could have an immediate impact on you or someone you know.

by Michael Spielman
166 pages / 2013

I've read quite a few pro-life books, and there are a lot of good ones to equip you to speak up for the unborn but I don't know if I've read anything that was more of a challenge and encouragement to just get at it. This is by the founder of the brilliant pro-life website

Americans can get it for Kindle for free here, whereas Canadians will have to pony up 99 cents, and can find it here.

Pro-life apologists deconstruct "immediatist" ideology as presented in the Cunningham 
by various
86 pages / 2015

Among pro-lifers there has been an ongoing debate about how we should be fighting for the unborn legislatively. Can we approach this in a step-wise fashion, or should we be pushing for protection for all children from conception onward?

The step-wise approach involves pursuing legislation that has some chance of passing at this present time. So, for example, whereas in today's political climate there is no way we could get the unborn protected from conception, there is a chance we could get a ban passed on all partial birth abortions. But if we push for such a ban are we abandoning all the unborn children who are left unprotected? If we push for this limit on partial birth abortions aren't we saying it is fine to kill children at earlier stages and by other methods? Aren't we endorsing this evil then?

That's what some people believe, and that's why they oppose an "incremental" (or step-wise) approach to fighting abortion. These abolitionists, or "immediatists" argue that the only moral way to fight this legislatively is to seek legal protection for all the unborn – we need to push for a ban on abortion starting at conception.

I advocate for an incremental position. I believe that if it is possible that some can be saved now through legislative means, we need to save those that we can. We need to protect these some, even as we continue advocating for all unborn children. I would support a ban on partial birth abortion, but would at the same time loudly and publicly explain that my support for this limited ban isn't because I think it is alright to kill children who are younger. I would explain my support is only because this is the best that can be done now – that saving some is better than saving none. I would support a limited ban while at the same time speaking out for the humanity of the unborn from conception onward – I would ensure there was no confusion on that point.

To put it another way, I can push for a step-wise approach - an incremental approach - even as I advocate for protection of the unborn from conception onward. It isn't an either/or dilemma - I can do both.

That's the basic position of the various (and notable) incrementalists who have joined together to write Abolition of Reason. This is a one-sided perspective – everyone here is an incrementalist – and they don't pull any punches as they seek to highlight the problems with the abolitionist position. They are addressing specifically the Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) group, and its clear that some of the exchanges between AHA and them have been nasty. Some of that frustration spills over in this book too, which is why, while there is light to be found here, there is also some heat. Still, the authors are trying not to caricature their pro-life opponents – they are trying to be fair – so while this is certain to raise the blood pressure of anyone holding to an abolitionist position, I do still think it would be a helpful read. It would be a helpful read for all pro-lifers.

To download a pdf click here.

Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?
by Randy Alcorn
211 pages / 2011

The title asks an important question, and at 211 pages it offers a careful and comprehensive answer. This is a must read for any Christian couples considering the use of chemical contraceptives. Randy Alcorn is careful not to be more certain than the facts warrant, but he lays out a strong case that there is reason to believe that in some cases it might.

To download a pdf click here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God and Government - Biblical Principles for Today: An Introduction and Resource

by Cornelis Van Dam
330 pages / 2014

Like perhaps some of our readers, I am already involved in politics, and I know other Christians who are far more involved than I am. However, any Christian who wants to be involved in politics, or any politician who wants to understand Christians involved in politics, needs to read this book. Cornelis Van Dam makes clear the two great foundations for politics (particularly in Canada) - Christianity and humanism - and the nature of the conflict between them. Then he makes clear how Christian principles can function in a world dominated by humanistic ideals.

Christians and humanists have very different views of the origin and task of government, the relationship of church and state, and the concepts of human rights and toleration - but, as Van Dam shows from both Biblical and historical evidence, the Christian understandings of these concepts leads to both greater stability and freedom for society.

That same general form of looking at the fruit of the two worldviews leads to enlightening discussions of the differences an approach guided by the Bible could make in areas like the abortion and euthanasia debates, the issue of capital punishment, the need for traditional marriage, the balance of productive work and necessary weekly rest, the stewardship of creation, and immigration policy. By this point in my reading, my renewed commitment to see Biblical values reaffirmed in our politics had me primed for the last section - "Working for Change," which first describes the Biblical reasons for getting involved in the government of the country, and ends with a look at the many excellent organizations that are doing just that.

The study questions and bibliography at the end make this an excellent resource for starting some political activism of your own, with both insightful Biblical application and plenty of  written and online works, as well as the groups mentioned above, to help you (and me) and like-minded Christians to get going (or to keep going, only with a little better grounding in basic principles).

The only regret I have in reviewing this excellent overview of the rationale and strategies for Christian involvement in (especially Canadian) politics is that I waited too long to read it. The edition I read is from 2011, but there is now, esteemed review reader, a slightly longer updated 2014 edition available for Kindle. You can find both versions at here and at here but while the Kindle version is a reasonable price there, I can see that the print editions are getting a bit expensive there. So a cheaper alternative is to go to the ARPA Canada book section at this link where you can find information on how to get a print edition for a donation of $10.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Made in Heaven

Man's Indiscriminate Stealing of God's Amazing Design
by Ray Comfort
78 pages / 2012

This picture book isn’t a children’s book – we gave it to my mother-in-law for her birthday – but it is certainly a book children will love. Here we find 32 instances of where mankind has built better machines and structure by trying to imitate (as best as we can) the wondrous design we find in God’s creation.

We learn about how the front ends of trains have been shaped like Kingfisher beaks to reduce shock waves, how intermittent window wipers were inspired by blinking eyes, and how Velcro came about when an engineer noticed just how many burrs were sticking to him and his dog.

The author wants us to consider just how amazingly intricate creation really is. If the world’s smartest engineers and scientists are looking to nature to figure out how to build better machines, then isn’t that good evidence that the world around us didn’t come about by fortunate happenstance? Just consider the ant…
"Each of the 20,000 different types of ants have a nervous system that contains its multifaceted, tiny, but brilliant brain. Each one has a heart that is a long tube that pumps a special type of blood through its body, as well as an intricate muscle system that works the claws and legs.... The tiny ant screamed of the genius of Almighty God."
Comfort makes his point with fun writing and pages and pages of absolutely gorgeous pictures. He concludes with a 3-page gospel presentation, encouraging readers to ask God for forgiveness and to read the Bible regularly. We might wish that he also encouraged readers to attend a good church, but if we’re giving this to anyone (and it could be used as an amazing evangelistic “tract” of sorts) then we can always do the inviting, telling them about our church.

In addition to its potential as an outreach tool, this would make a wonderful gift for anyone – man, woman, or child – interested in the marvelous way God has designed creatures, both big and small.

You can pick up a copy at here or here.