Review: The Truth of the Cross

The Truth of the Cross
The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book I've read completely on my phone. Not a recommended media, but it was free on Amazon Kindle.

The book itself is highly recommended. Solid truth on the atonement: its need because of our sin and God's justice, its various aspects (debt payment, criminal judgment, ransom payment, curse bearing), and its substitutionary nature (for us).

I have a minor quibble with understanding the merit of Christ in chapter six as Him starting at zero at the beginning of his life and "acquir[ing] merit at the bar of justice." Jesus certainly obeyed His Father actively, but He did this from faith in His Father, and did not have to earn His Father's favor. He already had it, and didn't lose it. His merit (righteousness is better) was in staying faithful.

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Devotional readings for the Easter Season from the CREC

Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches

James Jacques Joseph Tissot - The Ascension - c. 1884-96

Ephesians 1:18-23
… that you may know… the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Good Friday in art

File:Brooklyn Museum - What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix) - James Tissot.jpg
James Tissot What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (1886-94)

Rembrandt, The Three Crosses, 1653

File:Peter Paul Rubens - Christ on the Cross between the Two Thieves - WGA20235.jpg
Peter Paul Rubens - Christ on the Cross between the Two Thieves - 1619-20


Review: Losing Our Virtue

Losing Our Virtue
Losing Our Virtue by David F. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Wells contends that postmodern life is hollowing out our spiritual and moral inner life. Like a pumpkin with all the insides scooped out, and nothing left but a hollow and haunting smile, so we are reduced to self-made identity and meaning, in a world that rejects objective morality and meaning.

Such a world leads to emotional detachment, individualism that isolates, a life of the paltry devoid of godly passion. Such a world replaces guilt with shame: the fear is what others will think of us, not what God thinks. Such a world replaces character with personality: outward charisma matters more than inner virtue. We reinvent ourselves and have such “aggressive self-regard” because we believe in nothing outside of ourselves on which to plant our feet firmly.

Wells points to the psychologists and advertisers. Society looks to them most for healing, which reveals the problem. We think our feelings and our image are paramount. They are broken, and fixing them will solve it. But the problem goes much deeper than this. The church needs to point to the nagging presence of evil and sin in the world. Instead she is often caught up with the therapeutic and advertising culture herself.

Losing our Virtue is the third in a trilogy on this subject. I read the first two about 10 years ago in seminary and they deeply influenced me. Wells is so right in his diagnosis. Reading this third I found myself a bit more frustrated. Same incisive diagnosis, but what is the prognosis? He states in the last few pages that it is not complex, but the simple Gospel. We must believe that God is there, and recover a “moral seriousness” so that we repent. This is true, but it seems that more is missing. How do we live in a morally vacuous world with the Spirit’s new life pulsating in our breast, without allowing that vibrancy to be quenched?

Do we not need a living connection with other believers in the church, hearing the Word preached and receiving the sacraments? Do we not need to listen to our forefathers in the faith who have thought and lived more deeply in the Spirit and in the Word than we? Won’t a priority on these things drive out some of the more flashy yet petty things of life?

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Review: The Swiss Family Robinson

The Swiss Family Robinson
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A wholesome tale of taking dominion of God's good creation. I had never read this before, or seen the movie. You have to love nature to love this book. The long description of the animals and their building projects got a little tedious.

I read it out loud to the children, and when father got to monologuing about some obscure creature, they would say, "knows everything" with a roll of their eyes. But we could stick with it because something interesting would always happen within the next 2-3 paragraphs.

The story gives positive examples of industry, enterprise, resourcefulness and perseverance. It isn't too preachy - just a page at the end that lays it out. Not very literary, but there it is:

"Observe how blessed are the results of patient continuance in well-doing, what benefits arise from the thoughtful application of knowledge and science, and how good and pleasant a thing it is when brethren dwell together in unity, under the eye of parental love." - (pg 441)

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Review: To Have and to Hold: A Tale of Providence and Perseverance in Colonial Jamestown

To Have and to Hold: A Tale of Providence and Perseverance in Colonial Jamestown
To Have and to Hold: A Tale of Providence and Perseverance in Colonial Jamestown by Mary Johnston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Written 100 years ago as a work of historical fiction, Mary Johnston's book has been "enhanced and edited to reflect the providential hand of God in history and to honor His name."

That kind of thing doesn't usually float my boat, as a literary and historical purist. But I gave it a shot, and it was worth the time.

There were plenty plot twists and surprises to achieve decent "grip," keeping me turning pages. The window into Indian life, and the politics of Jamestown after its survival was more assured, were most insightful, historically. The main plot theme of the marriage keys off the historical reality of a "shipment" to Jamestown of ladies to help the colony thrive. It does well to show there were bad guys and good guys on both Indian and English sides.

Solid, good reading for 12-15 year olds. I almost gave it to my 11 year old daughter, and still might, but there are a few scenes of cruelty.

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