Posts from the “Books” Category

New Book—The Gates of Hell: Confessing Christ in a Hostile World

Posted on February 2nd, 2018

The Praesidium of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (Synod President and Vice-Presidents) collaborated on a book centered around Christ’s promise to His Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against her. The Gates of Hell: Confessing Christ in a Hostile World contains the sermons and essays of the Praesidium from the 2016 LCMS Convention, plus new chapters on the religion of sex (Scott Murray), Luther and the two kingdoms (Matthew Harrison), the status of the church in western society (John Wohlrabe), defying the devil in international mission work (Daniel Preus), the table of the Lord (Christopher Esget), the urgency of preaching (Nabil Nour), and defending against the gates of hell (Herbert Mueller). As general editor Scott Murray observes in the introduction, our outlook as the…

Best Books of 2017

Posted on January 9th, 2018

Here are the top five books from my 2017 reading: The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (Rod Dreher) – started April 11, 2017; finished May 12, 2017 Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization (Os Guinness) – started March 17, 2017; finished March 27, 2017 Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries [reread] (Werner Elert) – started December 2016; finished December 26, 2017 Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (Timothy Keller) – started March 7, 2017; finished March 17, 2017 The Meaning of Marriage (Timothy Keller) – started July 21, 2017; finished August 25, 2017 In 2017, I read 30 books, listed here in reverse chronological order of completion: Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the…

Best Books of 2016

Posted on January 2nd, 2017

In 2016 I read twenty-seven books (far less than what I’d hoped). Here are my top five new reads in 2016: The Devil’s Pleasure Palace (Michael Walsh) Christianity and Liberalism (J. Gresham Machen) Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky) The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (Bernard Lewis) The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Albert Mohler)   Honorable Mention: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Lawrence Wright) Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service (Arthur Just)   Here’s the entire list, in reverse order of completion: Order to Kill (Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills) – started November 2016; finished December 2016 Warriors of the Storm (Bernard Cornwell) – started November 2016; finished December 2016 Crazy Busy (Kevin DeYoung – started November 2016;…

2015 Reading Recap

Posted on January 21st, 2016

In 2015 I finished 41 books. That’s eleven less than my goal of one book per week; hopefully 2016 will be more successful. My top five new books (i.e., new to me, not necessarily recently published) were: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas) Barchester Towers (Anthony Trollope) A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537) (Holsten Fagerberg) The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Nicholas Carr) Life Together (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) Honorable mention: Surprised by Hope (N.T. Wright) The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) My biggest disappointment was Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man. Many have raved about it, and C.S. Lewis once said it was the book that most influenced his theology. I perhaps need to reread it this year and see if my…

It seems almost a miracle

Posted on May 14th, 2014

The rise of complex life forms in our universe cannot be explained by Darwinism. Thomas Nagel summarizes this problem in his book Mind and Cosmos: No viable account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and information-rich as a self-reproducing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA, or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment. Recognition of the problem is not limited to the defenders of intelligent design. (p123) Inability to seriously consider theism leads some scientists to suggest incredible theories like “directed panspermia”: Although scientists continue to seek a purely chemical explanation of the origin of life, there are also card-carrying scientific naturalists like Francis Crick who say that it seems…

Materialism and Morality

Posted on April 1st, 2014

The New-Darwinian materialist, if he is consistent, must deny the existence of objective moral truth, or at least that it can be known: One can intelligibly hold that moral realism is implausible because evolutionary theory is the best current explanation of our faculties, and an evolutionary account cannot be given of how we would be able to discover judgment-independent moral truth, if there were such a thing. Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos:Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (p. 75). Oxford University Press.

The limits of science

Posted on February 27th, 2014

Science has not been able to answer the basic questions about the existence of mind and consciousness. Thus while it can help us make sense of our physical surroundings and manipulate them, it cannot explain to us our origins. The existence of consciousness is both one of the most familiar and one of the most astounding things about the world. No conception of the natural order that does not reveal it as something to be expected can aspire even to the outline of completeness. And if physical science, whatever it may have to say about the origin of life, leaves us necessarily in the dark about consciousness, that shows that it cannot provide the basic form of intelligibility for this world. There must be…

False confidence of the Darwinists

Posted on February 14th, 2014

Darwinists and others who believe in a purely material origin of the universe purport to argue from “science.” Rarely is any scientific evidence actually offered; eventually, the entire thesis will collapse when people start examining the arguments. Thomas Nagel, himself an atheist, finds the materialist argument on the origins of the universe to be just another kind of fundamentalism: It is not enough to say, “Something had to happen, so why not this?” I find the confidence among the scientific establishment that the whole scenario will yield to a purely chemical explanation hard to understand, except as a manifestation of an axiomatic commitment to reductive materialism. Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos:Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (p. 49). Oxford University…

Condemned to Utilitarianism?

Posted on January 15th, 2014

This nearly century-old work could have been written yesterday. It is amazingly depressing in its analysis and at the same time hopeful, all of which are in this terrific paragraph: The condition of mankind is such that one may well ask what it is that made the men of past generations so great and the men of the present generation so small. In the midst of all the material achievements of modern life, one may well ask the question whether in gaining the whole world we have not lost our own soul. Are we forever condemned to live the sordid life of utilitarianism? Or is there some lost secret which if rediscovered will restore to mankind something of the glories of the past? Such…

Materialism vs Theism

Posted on January 14th, 2014

I think this is an excellent one-sentence snapshot to get the difference between these two world views: It is the most straightforward way of reversing the materialist order of explanation, which explains mind as a consequence of physical law; instead, theism makes physical law a consequence of mind. Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos:Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (p. 21). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. Thus: Materialism makes physical laws generate mind. Theism sees Mind as the creator of physical laws.