Category Archives: Theology

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

It is not uncommon to have a crisis of faith.  It is, however, uncommon for the person having the crisis to be the founding pastor of a mega-church.  It is even more uncommon for that crisis of faith to occur as you are delivering a Sunday morning sermon.  Chase Falson is just that man having just that crisis.  His uncle, a Franciscan priest invites him to Italy to learn more about Saint Francis of Assisi and his teachings.  Chase balks a first.  What can a Catholic saint really teach him about his faith as an evangelical pastor?  After some persuasion, he agrees to take the journey with his uncle.  What follows is the story of two men: one, a progressive minister whose works happened more than 800 years ago and the other, a modern-day minister attempting to find a new way to love Christ.   Ian Morgan Cron takes us on Chase’s journey to learn more about Francis and what kind of impact his life and teachings can have on ours.
If you have ever suffered or are suffering with a “crisis of faith,” this novel is great.  It’s not about finding your faith, only you can do that.  It’s about learning a different way to love Christ and to interact with Him.  I read this novel from the point of view of taking it at face value.  I am in no way a theologian, and I cannot tell you the first thing about the Biblical relevance of Cron’s novel.
What I can tell you is that Cron presents the life of Francis to the world in a manner that inspires readers to try to be better people.  Cron details how Francis left behind his charmed life to submit himself to poverty for Christ’s sake.  From a realistic point, it is unlikely that many would be inspired to eliminate all of their worldly goods in favor of poverty for Christ.  But maybe, just maybe we will all be inspired to cut back all of our wants to help serve the needs of those around us. We will realize that we don’t need to purchase everything on our never ending lists of wants and will put some of those purchases on the back burner in favor of helping someone else.
In regards to the arts, as a singer, I don’t see anything wrong with using the gifts that God has bestowed upon you for his glory.  It’s important to use the gifts given to honor Him.  Why shouldn’t that include singing, painting, sculpting, music, etc?  
Overally, I really enjoyed Cron’s novel.  I walked away wanting to know more about the path that Chase would take at the end, which is probably the only down side I can find.  But, if a book can leave me thinking about what happens after the ending, I am guaranteed to read it again. (Which, as previously noted, is the mark of how much I have truly enjoyed a book).
This book was provided free of charge as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. No payment was provided in return for this review. 

Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah

Dr. David Jeremiah says that the angel craze “peaked in the 90s” (p14) so the question of why this book was written is a justified one; there must be a pressing reason to release another book on the subject. What I found was that there really isn’t a pressing need other than the author’s desire to publish his opinion for a new generation. This is not to say that this is a bad thing. Many times a topic may have been done before, and even better, but a new generation may read this newer version and be introduced for the first time to the topic. Angels is a book like that.

I found the book most helpful when I considered it a resource rather than a standard non-fiction treatise. Chapters like, “Showing Us How to Worship,” “The Angels and Us: How Much Alike,” and “What Angels Are” are great resources for those with questions or putting together a sermon or study. The chapters are Biblically based with scripture and also references to some of the previous works on the subject.

The book is an easy to read, interesting study of angels for a new generation. I recommend it to those who have an interest in angels either for themselves or for someone that they know that may have unorthodox notions.


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

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

Israel Under Fire by John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung

John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung come together to create “Israel Under Fire: The Prophetic Chain of Events That Threatens the Middle East,” a book that promises to explain the Biblical predictions concerning the current events in Israel, how what happens in Israel affects the rest of the world, and answers the age old question, “Will there ever be peace in the Middle East.” To come to these answers Ankerberg and DeYoung interview – on location in Israel and the Middle East – many of the policy makers and experts who would be close to the situation, such as, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel and Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of the Knesset in Israel.

Ankerberg and DeYoung are less authors than interviewers for much of the book (and interviewees, as I will explain.) The authors claim that the book will answer questions and give a Biblical basis for the current events in Israel. To accomplish these goals the authors provide a brief history how the modern state of Israel came to be and what exactly is currently happening in Israel. On these points, I found that the authors were successful. Unfortunately, this was only one part of the book.

In the second part of the book, the authors interview current world leaders and here is where I feel the book goes awry. I had two issues here. First, the authors advertise on the back cover that they interview Adnan Husseini, Yasser Arafat’s cousin and Palestinian Authority spokesman. While, it is true, it is a little misleading as he is one of three world leaders advertised yet he appears in only one very short section with only a couple of questions, while the others leaders, Jewish pundits exclusively, are interviewed extensively. This is far from balanced coverage.

Second, the authors didn’t just interview pundits they agreed with – they also interviewed each other. I understand that the authors may be experts in a field but their opinions should be bolstered by other expert’s opinions, statistics, reports and the like. Author’s opinions should not be proved by their own opinions. The issue of lack of documentation and proof isn’t just relegated to their opinions in interviews. Unfortunately, the authors take comments and opinions from pundits they agree with for granted, moving right past controversial quotes that cry out for data that reinforces the opinion. The only reference in the book to an outside source (other than the Bible) is on page 156 (of 174).

In the third section of the book, the authors attempt to tie current events with Biblical prophecy. I would expect that anyone, after reading this book, even someone who has no experience with Biblical prophecy or current events, would be able to walk away understanding the “prophetic chain of events that threaten the Middle East.” What I found in this section, though, was confusion. To explain a complicated book like Revelation, I would expect we would start at the beginning and work our way through the (purported) time line from start to finish. I would expect that current events would be tied in to the timeline to show how the events fit into the puzzle. I would expect that the authors would show how these events work together to fulfill prophecy. Unfortunately, Ankerberg and DeYoung did not make a convincing connection for me.

While I did find the first section of the book interesting, this book left me unsatisfied in my search for connections between current events and Biblical prophecy. Revelation itself is already difficult to understand and I found the authors didn’t accomplish their goal of making it accessible and understood by the reader.

As much as I would have liked to, I cannot recommend this book to anyone but Bible prophecy buffs.


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

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

The Search to Belong by Joseph R. Myers

I think I have a new rule. Never buy a book from someone who describes themselves as any of the following: thinker, multipreneur, interventionist or futurist. This new rule has nothing to do with whether or not I enjoyed this book. It’s based more on the fact that even now I really dislike seeing these terms on the cover of the book. I dislike people making up new words that they take seriously! What about titles that are – well should be – prerequisites of writing a book? “Oh, you’re a thinker? Well, I better buy your book!” Glad that’s finally off my chest!

The Search to Belong by “futurist” Joseph R. Myers is “a practical guide for pastors and church leaders who struggle building community that values belonging over believing” according to the back title. Sarcasm aside, Meyers does bring some helpful information to the reader that does what he promises.

Myers does a very good job of explaining his opinions about the four types of belonging (public, social, personal, and intimate.) I was impressed by his argument that it’s OK for people in the church to stay in the public or social spaces; we don’t need to, and shouldn’t try to, push people towards intimacy.

While reading the book I couldn’t help but compare my own church, Springhouse Worship & Arts Center, with the principles that Myers was commenting on. Did Springhouse push people towards uncomfortable belonging spaces? Does Springhouse have a “front porch?”

My main complaint with the book was how dry it was. There were parts that weren’t interesting and were a challenge to get through. It picks up by the end and I do believe it is worthwhile to read.


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

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

Called to Worship by Vernon M. Whaley

Called to Worship: the Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call by Vernon M. Whaley is billed as answering the question “Is how we worship Biblical?” by moving methodically through the Bible to examine how others have responded historically. While I was very excited to get a copy of this book and after slogging through the first half of the book it (for the most part) lived up to my expectations. The book reads like a survey of the Old and New Testaments with Whaley’s Principles of Worship (summaries at the end of each chapter,) connecting the Biblical stories to the Principles that he wants the readers to take away. These Principles do a good job of reminding the reader the worship is how we act in response to interaction with God.

The only complaint I have with the book is that I felt that Whaley sometimes forced the Biblical story to fit his Principle and many times the text didn’t support his conclusions. (See ch. 10 Elijah for the most obvious example.)

While Whaley doesn’t specifically list out or call out the ways we should or should not worship, readers leave with an excellent overview of how believers have historically worshiped through the Bible.


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

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

The Gospel According to Science Fiction by Gabriel McKee

Gabriel McKee sets out to explore how science fiction views theological issues, such as the nature of God, creation, souls, sin, and the afterlife, through how these have been portrayed in science fiction novels, television and film. Through the book the author uses his depth of science fiction knowledge to illustrate the connections that he has found between science fiction and religion. McKee uses illustrations from mainstream science fiction, like Battlestar Galactica (2003), Star Trek, Star Wars, the Matrix and the Twilight Zone, as well as science fiction that hardcore students of the genre will appreciate, like, Bova, Bradbury, Dick, Herbert, Heinlein, Silverberg and Vonnegut.

From the moment that I started reading McKee had me hooked. Admittedly, I am a big science fiction fan. Not just film either. My good friend Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, and science fiction author and reviewer, made certain of this by providing a gift of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964, which opened my eyes to the progress that science fiction has made through the years and also to the way that science fiction speaks to the zeitgeist.

Today, we are inundated by science fiction focused on the end of the world because we are worried about it. I am convinced that a student of history could read the science fiction of the day and get a better understanding of the concerns of the generation that they study than by using university history texts.

In the same way that science fiction is focused on the same things that all people are, it is only natural that we find science fiction to be preoccupied with religion. What more important question can there be than, “Is there a God?” Followed closely behind by, “If so what or who is it?” These are the starting points of any human’s quest to find purpose. “Why am I here?” “How do I live?” or even, “Am I real?”

McKee’s book is an enjoyable lesson in the history of science fiction that deals with religion. Fans of science fiction and people of faith will undoubtably enjoy this book immensly as I did.


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

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