Category Archives: Theology

A Shot of Faith to the Head by Stokes

Our culture is dominated by challengers to faith in Christianity and God and reasoned voices in response seem to be silent. How is a Christian supposed to answer non-believing critics that don’t even speak their same language? Apologetics is about defending the faith, not about evangelizing atheists. Enter philosophy.

A Shot of Faith to the Head
By Mitch Stokes, PhD
Thomas Nelson
April 2012

While it seems like Christians have no response – if you simply rely on the secular media – in reality, which is to say the marketplace of ideas, Christians not only have a response but the right response. Stokes takes one step then another in a devastating deconstruction of philosophical evidentialism (the idea that a belief must be supported by evidential facts to be rational), which atheists and philosophical non-believers try to use to show faith in God is irrational.

A test: do you know how to disprove the claim that faith in God is irrational? And no, you can’t appeal to the Bible or your faith to prove your faith. Just using logic and philosophy, which are the languages of the “cranky atheist.” If not, then this book is definitely for you. As it was for me.

Too often we Christians are bombarded with so-called facts about of faith and how it is blind and not rational, therefore not for intelligent or thinking people. Atheists even call themselves “free thinkers” to bring home the point. We MUST learn to defend our beliefs using the language that the atheists use and not fall back to “I just do” arguments.

Our faith is perfectly rational and the most logical of all worldviews. We just need to be reminded why. Stokes does a great job of breaking this down for us. Highly recommended.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Has God Spoken? by Hank Hanegraaff

Seldom has a more timely book come across my desk at a more opportune time as this one did!

Has God Spoken?
Proof of the Bible’s Divine Inspiration
by Hank Hanegraaff
Thomas Nelson
August 2011

One thing that Hanegraaff does that can turn some off on his radio show is that he sometimes speaks over the head of his callers. A failure at times to lower his vocabulary to the level of his audience. I’m sure he has his reasons, but whatever the reason this book doesn’t suffer with the same issues. It is easy to read, easy to digest, easy to understand and easy to remember.

Hanegraaff is renowned for the memorization techniques employed in his writings and this book likewise was written in a way that makes it easier to remember the arguments in favor of the “Bible being divine rather than human in origen.” Even phrases like that one (taken directly from the author,) are drilled into the reader in Hanegraaff’s repetitive writing style so that any read will retain more from this book than most.

The book covers manuscript evidence, textual criticism, reading the Bible as literature, Archaeology and more and it does it very well. In fact on several occasions I wondered what Old and New Testament 101 would have been like with these topics rather than the sometimes bland introductions and overviews we got in Bible school! Not only is this more interesting, but in this day when the Bible is under constant attack this book may be more relevant that a debate on the author of Hebrews or the textual criticism of the Pentateuch.

Which brings me to the only flaw into the book: not enough direct answers to critics of the Bible. I know that’s not the point of the project but that’s a book we need just as much. Many times Hanegraaff shows the failure by critics like Dr. Bart Ehrman but I’d like to see a book of rebuttals. Maybe Hanegraaff can work on that for his next project.

This is a timely, engrossing and well written overview of why the Bible is trustworthy and can be legitimately viewed as the direct revelation of God without blind faith or avoiding tough questions. Very highly recommended.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on Christianity, Zombies, and anything else he wants to.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane

Not everyone has an opportunity to go to seminary but every Christian should learn to study the Word. Andy Deane’s book fills that gap. Deane gives no less than 40 methods of studying the Bible with illustrations and diagrams showing how he moved from a verse or passage to an application.

Learn to Study the Bible
by Andy Deane
April 2009

I have had an opportunity to study Biblical exegesis at the university level and can say that this book is a more concise and helpful tool than many of the convoluted texts I was made to purchase and read. I thoroughly enjoyed his direct approach to the studies. You want to find out what Jesus would really do? How about you use the Twenty Jesus Questions section or the 5 Ps method where you can quickly understand and apply what Jesus said and how we are to use that information in decision making today.

Bottom line: this is an impressive book! Deane takes readers step by step through learning to faithfully exegete Scripture at their own pace. This is the next best thing to a seminary or university degree. It is practical Biblical studies and I recommend it highly for all believers.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on Christianity, Zombies, and anything else he wants to.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Love Wins by Rob Bell

I am not a Rob Bell fanboy; however, I do have a generally positive opinion of the little exposure I’ve had to his ministry. When Love Wins was first being reviewed and its author was being held up in many quarters as satan’s chief apostle my first instinct was ignore it. (There are only so many books one can read.) Finally, the clamor reached so close to home that I had to give in and read it for myself. I don’t like to let third parties do my thinking for me.

The uproar is understandable. Bell has a habit of asking hard questions. He also has a tendency to not provide definitive answers to the hard questions he asks. And when those questions concern the issues of heaven and hell and the possibility of universal salvation…well, the sacrificial fat is clearly sizzling on the altar.

It is hard to pin down Bell’s position and I am strangely OK with that. I suspect the reason is because these are some very complex questions and the Bible is somewhat lacking in absolute clarity. Where the Bible is lacking in absolute clarity we extrapolate dogma at our own risk. Honestly, when it comes to eternal things I think the Bible gives us the best picture we can possibly process from our finite frame of reference. Sometimes that picture seems confusing because things that seem exclusive of each other in this world can actually be essential to each other in the various dimensions of eternity. (What sense does it make in this world to die in order to live?)

Do heaven and hell exist? Of course they do, and Bell would be one of the first to assert their reality. He does have a little different take on what, and when, heaven and hell are but he certainly doesn’t deny their existence. Far from making them smaller and less meaningful he actually makes them bigger and more meaningful. I think there is room for disagreement among true believers on this topic especially since none of us have ever really been to either place. I actually find Bell’s concept of heaven to be challenging and somewhat more exciting than big mansions and streets of gold.

The real problem most Evangelical believers will have with this book concerns the question of universalism. Is everyone going to be saved? Can a person find redemption after this life? My inclination on both of these questions is to say, “No.” However, “No” does give rise to some legitimately serious questions and both positions can be argued from scripture with some powerful verses backing up each camp.

At this point I feel compelled to point out that Bell’s position on universalism is essentially identical to the one held by C. S. Lewis. Having read almost everything by Lewis my thoughts had already turned to The Great Divorce and The Last Battle as well as various quotes from his lectures. I was not at all surprised when Lewis was cited in the end notes. Both Bell and Lewis seem to essentially hold the position that God is going to save everyone He can. They both believe that a person can go to hell but they have to really want to go there. That assertion is not as strange as it may sound. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a fantastical story but it shines a big bright light on human nature.

Am I comfortable with the notion that if everyone is going to be saved, or can be saved after this life, then strenuous efforts need not be made to bring people to Christ in this life (and the sooner the better)? Not at all, and that is not what I hear Bell saying. Am I comfortable with allowing God the right to do what He wants however He wants and would I be thrilled if everyone did get in to heaven? You bet. Do I know exactly what God is going to do about all of this? No, but I trust Him.

This is a short book and Bell doesn’t even try to tie up all the loose ends. (I would be quite interested in hearing his take on the “second death”.) What he does do is open a conversation that the vast majority of Christians who have ever lived would be comfortable having. It is only in the Western (mostly North American) church and over the last two to three hundred years that these issues have been considered resolved and beyond discussion. Hopefully once the journalistic hype and reactionary hysteria have died down this little book can make a positive contribution to the advancement of God’s kingdom. Frankly, after all the hate and vitriol in the current Evangelical dialogue I’m quite ready to see love win.

Ronnie Meek is is a guy who likes to share good reads with other people and warn them about boring or bad stuff. His personal blog is It’s In There Somewhere where he is currently blogging through the New Testament.

Does God Exist? from Focus on the Family

Normally at we books for review from publishers but occasionally they will send us a DVD set to check out. This is one of those times. Tyndale and Focus on the Family launched a new line of DVD training / seminars for college age viewers focused on answering questions about the fundamentals of the Christian faith and in an effort to build a deeper and more trustworthy faith. This is volume one in that series.

Does God Exist?
Building the Scientific Case
by Focus on the Family

Dr. Stephen Meyer, of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is a Cambridge University trained doctor of history and philosophy of science, is the main speaker and the video is filmed on a set created to look like and function as a classroom. His teaching style is to question ideas and share philosophies with the students and allow interaction and conclusions to come by way of conversation. The viewers learn by watching the natural progression of thought.

Meyer focuses on topics having to do with science, something that Christians aren’t always as open to as they should be, like, the Big Bang, DNA, and what he calls the “moral necessity of theism.” Obviously all these topics are from the Christian perspective and while Meyer is most likely a fundamentalist he doesn’t focus on inter-Christian divisive issues like young earth creationism or local flood and the like. As such, Meyer does a better job of staying on topic and educating instead of inciting as so many Christian’s who speak on this topic do. The set comes with two DVDs and a 60+ page full color booklet that can be used to follow along with the teaching.

Meyer and Focus on the Family do an admiral job working through the issue of whether or not science supports the possibility of a god. My only concern is that I felt like I was in a classroom in college where I had to take notes but couldn’t ask questions. To resolve this concern, the information and conversation would be great as a starting point in a small group or classroom. This would allow for conversation and digestion of the information instead of just having it handed to you.

Does God Exists? is a very well made and intellectually honest DVD set with a well respected and educated facilitator that Christians who are interested in how to reconcile science with religion should pick up and then work with a group to watch. I highly recommend it as a group discussion vehicle or small group curriculum.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on current events and Christianity.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

5 Minute Apologetics by Ron Rhodes

Ron Rhodes takes 365 most asked questions and provides concise, Biblically grounded answers that are easy to understand and (if used as intended) to memorize. Each day has a topical question, a couple hundred word response, then a Pearl of Wisdom – a take-away focused on why the day’s apologetic devotion was important.

5 Minute Apologetics
by Ron Rhodes
Harvest House

Ron Rhodes is president of Reasoning from the Scriptures, a conservative apologetics and prophecy/ end times ministry, so it should come as no surprise that this book takes a staunchly conservative view of the scriptures when giving answers to some of the most asked questions by skeptics and seekers. Sometimes, a more conservative, literal interpretation than I find to be helpful in witnessing to my friends who are skeptics.

For instance, the sections on Creationism include Day 157: The Days of Genesis 1 where Rhodes makes his belief in the six “literal solar days” the focus of the devotion spending the vast majority of the page on it at the expense of other legitimate options on how to interpret the word we call “day.” On Day 162: Young-Earth Creationism he says of the creation story in Genesis, “No marks of poetry or saga or myth are evident.” This is something I believe most interpreters would disagree with him on. Genesis 1 is very likely written as a poem. Rhodes maintains these views while at the same time stating that “Nature and Science do not conflict. Rather, science… and theology… sometimes conflict. (Day 111: Nature and the Bible)” It would seem that the more logical view in light of that quote (and empirical evidence) that he should have been more generous in showing different orthodox positions within Christianity instead of choosing to focus on only one side in an internal debate.

Another devotion that seem to be focused more on internal disputes than on witnessing to unbelievers is Day 263: Speaking in Tongues, which seems to encourage an intra-Christian debate and includes a straw-man argument about whether or not speaking in tongues is required for salvation – something that almost all Pentecostal groups would say they do not believe.

These criticisms aside the vast majority of the 365 devotions are great apologetic starting points and the concise devotions that take more like 2 minutes instead of 5 are perfectly bite sized for most people. This book is an excellent resource for those who are interested in being able to answer the call of the Bible and Hank Hanegraaff, of the Bible Answer Man, where Ron Rhodes is a guest often:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on current events and Christianity.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

If God, Why Evil? by Norman L. Geisler

The problem of evil is perhaps the most difficult question the Christian must face. If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there suffering in the world. Geisler’s book will answer the above questions and give you a clear understanding why there is evil and suffering in the world. God does not permit evil. Evil is the work of the devil and people who have free choices.

If God, Why Evil?
by Norman L. Geisler, PhD
Bethany House
February 2011

The book goes into detail – giving us a clear picture of why there is evil in the world.. The sections are broken down as follows:

Three Views of Evil: Pantheism affirms God and denies evil, Atheism affirms evil and denies God, Theism affirms both God and evil.

The Nature of Evil: If evil is real, and if it is opposed to good, then both good and evil must have existed forever.

The Origin of Evil: God did not create any evil thing. He created only good things, and evil is a privation or corruption of a good thing.

The Persistence of Evil: God is all powerful – He could destroy evil, but this would destroy freedom – this would be incompatible with God’s love.

The Purpose of Evil: God is all-good and has a good purpose for everything. There is a purpose for evil.

The Avoid-ability of Evil: Evil is necessary to achieve a greater good. Evil can be avoided – people have the freedom to sin or not to sin.

The Problem of Physical Evil: The solution to the problem of moral evil is based on free will. The problem of evil is real for human beings, and the problem of physical evil is acutely real.

Miracles and Evil: God could perform miracles and stop all evil. Nothing is impossible for God – only what is actually impossible is beyond supernatural intervention. Again – free will.

The Problem of Eternal Evil (Hell): Hell is real. Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will certainly go to Hell – the everlasting fire – for eternity.

What About Those Who Have Never Heard? The reality is there is no one without revelation from God. The light of nature shines through to all. If you seek God – He will get the message to you.

The book is an interesting-thought-provoking- concise and thorough book. Dr. Geisler carefully answers tough questions, using step-by-step explanations and compelling examples. The comforting news for believers is that WE CAN REST ASSURED THAT GOD IS BOTH LOVING AND ALL-POWERFUL.

Recommended for those who want straight answers to Why There is Evil and What Causes Evil. God does not cause evil – the devil and our free will does.

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Bible As Improv by Ron Mortoia

God’s Word is timeless. But some of the Bible’s ancient teachings seem to have little relevance to modern life. Picking and choosing which passages apply today and which are outdated can be confusing, even overwhelming. God’s Word applies to yesterday, tomorrow, for eternity – in ancient time, modern time, forever.

The Bible as Improv
by Ron Mortoia

Ron, like most of us, was introduced to the Bible and God at an early age by his parents, Sunday school teacher and/or Pastor. The doctrine they believed is what we/he believed. However, Ron ‘s upbringing is a little different than most of us. A Presbyterian mom and a Catholic father raised him. Two very different doctrines. Like most of us, Ron didn’t think too much about the saving grace of God or his word although he had attended some Bible Studies with his mother. Ron played baseball and early this one summer day he broke his ankle sliding into base. This, of course, grounded him for the entire summer. With really nothing to do Ron began to study the Bible and other books he could acquire, He started a Bible Study in high school with his friends, picking and choosing certain passages from the Scriptures to discuss – not really understanding what they were reading they were confused. One of his friends wanted a tattoo, but his mother said no. The group went to Scripture to see if it is ok with God to have a Tattoo. Leviticus 19:28 states – “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoos marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” So no tattoo – did this really apply today? I purposely brought out the story about the tattoo for a reason. This is the way most of us think today. God’s Word only applies to what we want it to apply to – we pick and chose particular Scripture passages and apply them to our life style.

The Bible as Improv is written in three parts:
Part 1: My Journey with the Scripture Script: The Good, the Bad. And the Inconsistent
Part 2: My Theological Journey: Reading the Script with Fresh Eyes
Part 3: Improv-ing the Script. Learning to Riff in Community

We have a tendency to read God’s Word through outdated lenses. We need to change our glasses – get new clear lenses. The Scriptures are like a play. The Bible, like all scripts, has a narrative logic, a message being communicated in the whole. Part of our job is to wrestle with and reflect on what we as a community of Jesus-followers think the script says. We need conversation. – a read through to get the feel of the whole story. Like any great drama, the biblical script is complex and layered.

The Bible as Improv is a great, eye opening, stimulating book. Read the book and I guarantee that when you again study God’s Word it will be as if it is your very first time. You will see through bright, clear new lenses and you will see the whole story. God’s Word is timeless and eternal – it pertains to us today as it did to God’s people hundred of year ago.

Ron Martoia is an excellent writer, speaker and theologian. Highly recommended.

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Homosexuality and the Christian by Mark A. Yarhouse, PsyD

Homosexuality is one of the most controversial topics of our day, and we all need clear, biblical answers that are grounded in love and compassion. We must always keep in mind the real, hurting people – Christians and nonbelievers alike – who struggle with the issue. Dr. Yarhouse carefully separates “same-sex attraction” from “gay identify.”

Homosexuality and the Christian:
A Guide for Parents, Pastors and Friends

by Mark A. Yarhouse, PsyD
Bethany House
September 2010

What does God really think about homosexuality? He loves them regardless of sexual orientation and wants a relationship with them But, we must take a broad look at how God’s Word deals with sexuality as a whole. A Christian’s understanding of sex is best understood through the four stages of redemptive history in the Bible.

    The Fall

When considering homosexuality and Christian tradition, we need to acknowledge there are a lot of different beliefs represented within the Christian faith. People who experience same-sex attraction or have a homosexuality orientation may or may not engage in same-sex behavior. Sexual identity is how you label yourself by your sexual preferences. Common sexual identity labels include straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual. When talking about homosexuality, one needs to make a three-tier distinction between attraction, orientation, and identity.

    First tier is same-sex attraction
    Second tier is homosexual orientation
    Third tier is gay identity

This is a must read book for anyone who wants guidance about homosexuality, including its relevance to Christians and the church. Whether Christian, nonbeliever or atheist, one must show tolerance, love and compassion for those struggling with his or her sexual orientation. God loves us all – He makes no distinction regarding your sexual preferences.

Highly recommended.

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Lord’s Prayer by Dr. R. T. Kendall

WOW! What an amazing. thought provoking book – an eye opener. The Lord’s Prayer – no prayer is better known – or misunderstood – than the prayer Jesus taught His disciples. The Sermon on the Mount.

The Lord’s Prayer
by Dr. R. T. Kendall
March 2010

We all know the Lord’s Prayer – can recite it from memory. Learned the prayer as a youngster – even recited it in school and in church. This was all before someone decided that it is not fashionable to recite the prayer in school or church. It is a prayer we all know, but do we understand its meaning and do we pray the prayer from the heart or just recite the words?

R.T. Kendall’s book breaks down each line of the prayer and tells us what Jesus was conveying to His disciples when He taught them to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore perfectly worded. It is good to pray the Lord’s Prayer in private and in public, but we must pray the prayer from the heart and truly mean the words we are saying. We should return the prayer to school and churches, – it is never out of fashion to praise and worship God – our Heavenly Father.

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we must first acknowledge who God is – we must give him praise and glory – He is God almighty!

God is our father – mine – yours . He is every one’s father – the believer and the nonbeliever – and He resides in heaven. Our Father invites intimacy with God – and in heaven points to His supreme majesty.

This is the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer – a petition that God will be put in his rightful place by our worship – to seek God’s face. When we pray from our heart demonstrates we are truly in our place when we approach God. We acknowledge that God is supreme – there is no other name above God’s – His name is to be exalted above all other gods – He is Yahweh – He is the Great I Am.

Second petition: We are asking God to actualize – let us experience – what Jesus has been talking about up to then in the Sermon on the Mount. The Kingdom of God takes place in our heart. The Kingdom of God is simply the realm of God’s domain.

Third petition: We pray for God’s will – not our will. God has a will of His own and he wants us to participate in it. Read the Bible if you want to know the will of God. There is no rebellion in heaven – everyone is doing God’s will. When we pray the above we are acknowledging God – focusing on God – giving Him praise and glory.

Fourth petition: We now change from your to us our our – me. This suggest we are part of a wider body of believers – a part of God’s family. our daily bread is anything we require to survive in the world – food, clothing, housing, finances, etc. We are petitioning God to provide all our physical, natural needs. We are acknowledging our daily dependence on God our Father.

Fifth petition: This is a plea and a declaration. We are asking God to forgive our sins and we are declaring that we will forgive those who have sinned against us. This is is so easy to say, but so hard to do. This is the most important part of the Lord’s Prayer. If we forgive those that sin against us – then our Heavenly Father will forgive us. This is not a prayer for salvation – nor a sinner’s prayer. The Lord’s prayer is a believer’s prayer – a covenant with God (an agreement).

Sixth petition: The unnecessary pitfall – our spiritual state. This is the petition most difficult to understand. God does not tempt us – we are tempted by our own desires. We will be tempted, but we should not act on these temptations. Temptation is what God allows to test us, and yet it comes completely from within. We pray that we will not fall into a situation greater than we are able to cope with.

Final petition: Daily deliverance – daily plea to be spared an unnecessary pitfall. We are acknowledging that evil is present – we face it every day. We must pray for daily deliverance until the day comes when we are finally delivered by witnessing Satan’s total and final defeat. Satan is the reason for evil. He is the father of all liars – he has come to kill, steal and destroy. He is the explanation for all our troubles.

There is some doubt whether this final phase at the end of the Lord’s Prayer was in the original Greek New Testament – and for that matter in Jesus’ teaching (He spoke in Aramaic). It is thought that some in the church chose and added this benediction to close the prayer and the words were incorporated in later manuscripts. The words are absolutely true even if Jesus did not say them. The origin of this praise goes back to King David when he praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly.

  • The Kingdom – God is our true King
  • The Power – refers to the Holy Spirit
  • The Glory – do not forget to give God the credit for what He does – for what he has done.

The above is what I gleamed from reading the book – the Lord’s Prayer. Yes I know the words to the prayer, but do I really understand the prayer? The answer is definitely a big NO! It did give me a better insight to the prayer and possibly Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. When I pray the prayer, I will endeavor to pray it from my heart and not just recite the words. I also encourage everyone to add this prayer to their daily devotional and to pray the prayer in church and school. We might have to fight to get it reinstated in church and school – but our success will be pleasing to God.

Buy a copy for your self and one for a friend. Read it multiple times – you will not only find a new model for prayer, but will experience a revolutionary way to draw closer to your heavenly Father. The prayer will transform you.

R. T. Kendall has made the Lord’s Prayer reachable, touchable and doable. That is the genius of this book, for the Lord’s Prayer must be done, not simply recited. Highly recommend.

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.