Tag: book review

Tolle Lege: “The Physics of Heaven” and “The Story of The Cosmos”

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I’ve been working my way through these 2 science-y sounding books.  One is an inspiring scientific examination of the physical properties of the heavens and the other is a New Age fairytale.  Both claim the church needs to take something back from the world.  One claims that thing is the arts and sciences.  The other claims that thing is sorcery.   I want to talk about the former first. 

The Story of the Cosmos” is a fantastic compilation of beautifully written essays on astronomy and the glories of God as declared by the heavens.  The editor is the host of one of my favorite podcasts, “Good Heavens,” Daniel Ray, and the book reads much like their show (which I reviewed here).  Both the book and the show are casually conversational, scientifically informed, theologically sound, witty, eclectic, awe-inspiring, nerdy, and poetic all at the same time.  Each chapter is stand-alone and they cover a variety of topics such as how the glory of God is revealed in the cosmos, how that creative glory is also expressed through art and literature, and how the intricacies of the created cosmos point to the existence of a Creator. 

You don’t have to be a Phd to enjoy this book.  It’s completely digestible for the laymen interested in astronomy.  If a non-scientifically minded philosophy major like myself can grasp its key concepts, anyone can.  And if you’re still not convinced that it wouldn’t be over your head, just get it for the pictures.  The photos are numerous and stunning and will keep you thumbing through the book just to gaze at the glossies.  “The Story of The Cosmos” is definitely a book to be savored and shared.  Check out the fantastic youtube trailer by clicking here!

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Share it!

 

And then there’s the latter: an heretical New Age fairy tale called “The Physics of Heaven” put out by a number of influential leaders of Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding California, with contributions by “Apostle” Bill himself, his wife Pastor Beni, “Prophet” Kris Valletton and infamous guests like Bob Jones.  Folks, if you’ve heard about any of the questionable practices attributed to this signs and wonders movement, and wondered if they could possibly true, this book will not only confirm your worst fears, it will magnify them a thousand-fold.  And if you’re wondering how or why so many people can possibly buy into these lies just look at the kinds of things they are promised if they do.  Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve learned from this book so far:

  1. If you are a seer, you can join a Holy Spirit think tank and emerge with new perspectives never before pondered (from the forward by Kris Valletton, Prophet of Bethel Church)
  2. You can be transformed by the new sound which will be released from heaven.  If you receive and embrace the new insights and revelations about sound you can finally become the child of God creation has been waiting for (pgs 2,3).
  3. You can literally move mountains because you have the zero-point field within you and around you which is sustained by an underlying sea of quantum light (pgs 5-7).
  4. You can do even greater works than Jesus including living longer.  You should live to at least 70 or 80.  If a child gets cancer you can tell that cancer to leave because children are not meant to die early (p8).
  5. According to Bob Jones, some people are given special shields or badges with the number 341 on them which authorizes them to do healings, holy confiscations, prayer, petitioning, teaching and ushering in prosperity —which will be transferred from one group to another (pgs 21,22).
  6. You can smell God’s breathe.  And it smells like apples (p23).
  7. Vibrations are open portals to heaven.  You can find 300 in the Old Testament and 28 in the New Testament (p24). 
  8. Your genetics are the same as God’s were and you can change your DNA through the new sound that is coming in our praise (p25).
  9. You can reclaim or recover realms of anointing, mantles, revelation, mysteries, insights and realms of God that were left by the dead (pgs 30,31).
  10. You can reclaim the following practices which have been stolen from the church by the New Age movement:  spirit guides, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyances, and clairaudience and more (p 49).
  11. Through the mysteries of sound, color, light, vibrations, and energy, you can carry energy that has the force or power to empower others to do things like move deeper into God or take trips to heaven (p 53).
  12. You can sense the unseen and unheard through vibrational frequencies found in nature such as crystals and essential oils (p 62).

Oh dear, I really wanted to get in one more but that would be number 13 and I’ve heard that’s an unlucky number. It produces all kinds of bad vibrations (whatever those are), so I better stop and pick up with number 14 next time.  That’s right folks.  There’s more.  I’m only a third of the way through the book 😦  But just in case you’ve heard enough and have no interest in reading another post on the subject you can just take my advice regarding “The Physics of Heaven” and shred it.

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Shred it.

Devo 21

“It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens.”  Jeremiah 51:15

The Aramaic translation of Genesis 1:1 reads,  “From the beginning with wisdom the Lord created and finished the heavens and the earth.”

The inclusion of wisdom’s presence at the time of creation is repeated several times in scripture.  Job hints at it in chapter 28.  He searches all over creation as a miner plumbs the depths of the earth for treasure but to no avail.  Until he considers the source of wisdom itself.  “God understands the way to it, and He knows its place.”  How so?  Because when He weighed the wind and measured the waters God saw wisdom, declared wisdom, established wisdom and searched it out (Job 28:23-27).  

So how can man attain this wisdom?  Is it by studying creation itself?  Only insomuch as one begins with God and a proper fear of Him.  Job concludes in verse 28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”  

Proverbs picks up on this same theme in chapter 3 verse 7 with the admonishment to “Be not wise in your own eyes; but fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”  First fear, then wisdom.  Verses 19,20 continue on the wisdom at creation riff, 

“The Lord by wisdom, founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens; by His knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”

Proverbs 8:12,13 further clarifies what the fear of the Lord is.  “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.  The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.”

Wow!  I never thought of the fear of the Lord in quite those terms before!  But it goes right along with the earlier Proverbs and Job passages, doesn’t it?  Do you seek wisdom?  Then fear God.  How? Hate evil and turn from it.  That’s the first step, and it’s a necessary one.

I want to quote one more long section of Proverbs 8 and then make a drastic departure from the usual form and function of these devos by way of application.  Verse 22 takes us back to the wisdom of God being present at the time of creation,

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old.  Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.  When there were no depths I was brought forth…” And Wisdom goes on describing her presence at each point of creation, the dry land, the plants., etc…

“…When He established the heavens, I was there;  when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above…”  Until finally, the culmination of all God’s creative activity, a living thing made in His own image.  Wisdom was there, too, “beside Him like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

How amazing is that!  Wisdom rejoices to see God’s world inhabited, populated by image bearers.  Wisdom delights in the offspring of those image bearers, the children of man.  

And then Wisdom takes on a somber tone, “And now, O sons, listen to me…”. Do want to be wise and blessed and obtain favor from the Lord?  Then keep wisdom’s ways, hear instruction, do not neglect to listen, to watch and wait, “For whoever finds me finds LIFE,” but all who hate me love DEATH.

This passage shed an entirely new light on two recent readings of mine.  The first was the book on Christian Education by Ted Newell I did a review of last week, which you can click here to read, and the second is an article on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act which last week was voted down by 44 of our 47 Democrat Senators. Please take the time to read this important article by clicking here.

The connection of wisdom, and knowledge, and understanding to education is obvious.  But what does the wisdom of God in creation have to do with abortion?  And what do they all of these have to do with each other?

Let’s start with education.  IF the purpose of education is to impart wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and I acknowledge for many that is not the goal, but IF it is, then the beginning of, or foundation for, that education has to be the fear of the Lord.  According to the passages we’ve looked at today, the fear of the Lord is, or at the very least must include, a hatred of and turning away of evil.  Any truly Christian education has to build up from that foundation.  

Now, how does abortion tie into all that?  Proverbs 8:31 says that the wisdom of God delights in children, babies made in His image, and verse 35 promises that whoever finds wisdom will find life there.  But in the next verse we’re warned that those who fail to find the wisdom of God not only injure themselves but those who hate the wisdom of God actually love death.  

When I read the statistics about the products of our current forms of Christian education turning their backs on the doctrine of creation and thus, the very wisdom of God, and at the same time embracing the so called “right” to murder the most defenseless of God’s image bearers, not just in the womb, but now fully emerged, I read a failure to impart in the next generation the fear of the Lord.

The God who in His own power and by His own wisdom stretched out the heavens is INDEED a God to be feared!

Tolle Lege: Education: A Student’s Guide by Ted Newell

Given the fact that the average evangelical upbringing in America potentially includes access to Protestant day-schools, private Christian schools, home-schools, Sunday schools, youth groups, para-church organizations, Christian colleges, seminaries, church camps, along with every conceivable form of on-line resources, can someone please answer the question why only 40% of American youth continue in the faith when they leave home? And how did those who remain in the faith shift so far from the historical tenants of the apostles creed to the “moralistic, therapeutic deism” so prevalent in today’s churches (16)?

Theories abound, but Ted Newell in his book Education: A Student’s Guide (Crossway, 2019) suggests that the shift is owing to a competing flood of dissonant educational paradigms. Evangelicals today need to take a much broader approach to Christian education and reclaim our intellectual tradition (14).  Newell traces that tradition from Jesus own education, through the Christian education in Hellenistic city-states,  the medieval cloister schools, and on into the modern era.

As the daughter-in-law of a public and a Christian school teacher, the wife of a Christian school teacher and a homeschooling mother of 5, I was more than enthralled on this journey through the hows, lows, highs and “whys” of Christian education.  My own education was through the public school and state university system and reading how it had evolved through the ages brought to light the competing paradigms between the sacred and the secular.  What was even more illuminating was Newell’s analysis of the evolution of Christian education, its curricula, and especially its setting.

The Hellenistic setting of oikos and ekklesia was presented as “situating the knowledge where it was to be used (54).”  In other words, “Learning the faith in a household was done in a context where the knowledge was immediately applied (50).”  In sharp contrast, American youth are experiencing full-time (via the advent of hand-held devices) exposure to conflicting stories. This coupled with “the withering of settings for acting out the Christian story means that Christian knowledge is increasingly “unsituated.” It lacks a relevant setting for its use (56).” Consider the following link Newell makes between this unsituated learning and the statistical crises of my opening paragraph:

“Unsituated learning is a significant issue for present-day, church -related learning. The weakening of contexts where biblical knowledge matters may help explain declines in Bible reading and Bible knowledge. Families that practice the faith and teach it in the home remain the primary site of faith learning. Renewed Christian education must show the urgent cultural relevance of God’s Word (51).”

Newell concludes this third chapter with the following observation:

“The earliest churches prevailed over their severe competition. Their deliberate alienation from the wider culture placed significant weight on family and church formation in faith. Contradictory voices and stories were kept away. Christians maintained the faith in high tension with their society. In some places and periods, the sacrifice of lives was graphic illustration for their nonconformity (56).”

The rest of the book shows the shift from this biblically focused, deeply contextual learning environment to the modern-era public school and university system which seeks to educate all students, including Christian ones, “in secular knowledge for secular aims (75).”  Even with the myriad of supplemental Christian add-ons, what seems to be lacking most is context.  THIS is the post-modern dilemma.  Our current age-segregated church structure so removes our youth from the actual context of church life that a New Testament overflowing with Ecclesiastical rhetoric has no meaning.  And how is one to learn anything from the Bible of the Father and Son, Christ and His Bride, or the privilege of being an adopted heir into an Eternal household of faith, if the oikos has lost all its edifying influence?

While Newell’s book is quite heavy on history and the development of educational philosophy, I still found much to apply to our own way of “doing school.”  Teachers, administrators, pastors and parents could all benefit from a close examination of why, how, and especially in what context we are educating our youth.  It cannot be stressed enough what’s eternally at stake.

Education

(Even though I received this book gratis from the publisher, I am not required to give it a positive review)