Allen Raynor Weblog: “Recommended Reading from Summer 2019”
(Sept. 25, 2019)
Over the summer months, I have been privileged to read some great books that I want to share with you and encourage you to read for yourself if you get the opportunity. These are given in no particular order.
There are a growing number of atheists in our country. Engaging with them can often be difficult. Where do you start? What item(s) might potentially be the most impactful. How do you prepare? These questions and more are covered in David Robertson’s great book titled Engaging with Atheists: Understanding their World; Sharing the Good News. Many believers are fearful of engaging with those with a different worldview. One finds there are a lot of misconceptions atheists have about Christians, the Bible, church, and even history. Sharing with them may be a long process over time, but there can be tremendous victory in some cases. Even men like C. S. Lewis, Alistair McGrath, and Antony Flew moved from atheism to theism because of evidence they simply could not deny.
Satan is a master as working under cover. However, the evidence of his work is all around, yet he somehow gets people to go so far as to even doubt his existence. He is the adversary of every believer and we must take him seriously if we are ever going to have victory over him. I found Joel R. Beeke’s book Fighting Satan: Knowing His Weaknesses, Strategies, and Defeat very helpful. Beeke is one of my favorite authors. He is doctrinally sound and approaches it from a strong Scriptural standpoint. We must realize how Satan fights and what we need to do to fight back and quit being fooled.
One of the more eye-opening books I have read in a while is the carefully researched and well-presented book by Dennis Kirkland called Mormons and Muslims: A Case of Matching Fingerprints. There are an astonishing number of similarities between these two religions beginning with their origins and continuing with major doctrines and practices. There are numerous similarities that may not be seen by those not particularly familiar with both religions. Both view Jesus much the same way, as well as the afterlife, society, sex, polygamy, and many other practices in similar terms. Kirkland gives and explains what he refers to as 25 sets of matching fingerprints. This book is an enlightening read!
There are many books available on the subject of Heaven. Most all that I have read are good for various reasons. Some explore related issues that other books do not. Some are short, concise, and to the point in answering questions, others are in depth and provide a great deal of facts and information. Others, such as Paul R. Williamson’s book Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions take a more scholarly, historical approach. I was sort of expecting this book to tell me that much of what I thought I knew was wrong, but it actually did just the opposite. He traces belief and understanding of the afterlife through the Old Testament, the intertestamental period, and through the various writers of the New Testament. He also does a very good job of explaining the difference between the present “Heaven” and the “Eternal State” of the New Heavens and New Earth. It is very well thought out and very thorough.
Jack Graham’s book Angels: Who They Are, What They Do, and Why It Matters was interesting and helpful on the subject of angels. Angels are busy doing God’s work all the time and we seldom give them any thought, but it is fascinating to consider how they work to carry out God’s eternal plans. If you would like to know more about angels, this is a great read!
I found Maurice S. Rawlings’s book To Hell and Back: Life After Death – Startling New Evidence very interesting and compelling. Rawlings explores claims of near death experiences, out of body experiences, some things related to the occult, the new age, issues related to a biblical view of hell and issues related to a biblical view of Heaven. The book is thought provoking and hard to put down once you begin reading.
Chip Ingram’s book Culture Shock: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Divisive Issues is enjoyable, encouraging, and compelling in the same manner as other Ingram books I have read. This book accompanies a video curriculum I taught through over the summer on Wednesday Evenings in the church I pastor. Ingram offers genuine, heart-felt teaching and insight about how believers can respond lovingly and without compromising truth to issues such as God’s design for sexuality, the environment, abortion, politics, and addresses the issue of “truth” itself and shows how standards once in place are no longer in place and how society has changed dramatically because of it.
I hope you are able to read at least a few of these great books in the weeks and months ahead!
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor