books* read in 2021

Just a bit delayed in posted this, but the start of the year has been a bit busy. So without wanting to prolong things any more, here’s the reading list for 2021 (which was not as full as I had planned; but hey, there’s always this year):

Books (and booklets):

  • Edwin Lutzer, The Da Vinci Deception (2004)
  • Robert Ludlum, The Icarus Agenda (1988)
  • Christopher Wordsworth, Mormonism and England. A Sermon (1867)
  • Robert Ludlum, The Road to Gandolfo (1975)
  • Hugh Ross, Matter of Days: Resolving the Creation Controversy (2015)
  • Edwin Abbott, Cambridge Sermons, Preached before the University (1875)
  • Gordon Fee & Mark Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth (2007)
  • C.W. Naylor, The Millennium (1906)
  • Tacitus, On Germany (trans. T. Gordon, 1910)
  • Joseph Tracy, The Three Last Things: The Resurrection of the Body, the Day of Judgment, and Final Retribution (1839)
  • James Carmichael, The Errors of the Plymouth Brethren (1888)
  • George Barry, The Inspiration and Authority of Holy Scripture. A Study in the Literature of the First Five Centuries (1919)
  • Alexander Campbell, Delusions. An Analysis of the Book of Mormon (1832)
  • Tom Clancy, Clear and Present Danger (1989)
  • Eric van Lustbader, The Bourne Objective (2010)
  • Jeremy T. Runnells, The CES Letter. My Search for Answers to My Mormon Doubts (2013)
  • Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins (2002)1
  • Eric van Lustbader, The Bourne Dominion (2011)
  • Clive Cussler, Arctic Drift (2008)
  • Dick Couch & George Galdorisi, Into the Fire (Tom Clancy’s Opt Center series) (2015)
  • Keith Mathison, Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing God’s People? (1997)2
  • Paul Garrison, The Janson Option (2014)
  • Gary DeMar, Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction (2009)
  • Eric van Lustbader, The Bourne Objective (2012)
  • Charles Shook, Cumorah Revisited, or “The Book of Mormon” and the Claims of Mormons Re-examined from the Viewpoint of American Archaeology and Ethnology (1910)3
  • Robert Speer, The Second Coming of Christ (1903)
  • Henry D. Moore, An Argument for the Second Personal Coming of Jesus the Christ (1872)
  • William E. Cox, An Examination of Dispensationalism (1963)
  • David Currie, Rapture: The End-times Error that Leaves the Bible Behind (2004)4
  • Eric van Lustbader, The Bourne Retribution (2013)
  • Robert Mounce, What Are We Waiting For? A Commentary on Revelation (1992)
  • Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, & Philip Nation, Transformational Discipleship (2012)
  • Anthony Hoekema, Jehovah’s Witnesses (1985, repr.)
  • Thomas Brightman, A Most Comfortable Exposition of the Last and Most Difficult Part of the Prophecie of Daniel (1635)
  • Jacob Abbott, Cyrus the Great (1904)

Articles, essays, etc.:

_______________________________

1 This was something of a heart-breaking read. I say that because, even after all the evidence that Palmer finds and explains, which, when considered objectively, is damning to the LDS narrative, he ends the book still holding onto his LDS faith. More troubling is that, in several places, he tries to explain away the evidence so that Joseph Smith doesn’t come off as the bad guy or the one who is (in fact) a false prophet.

2 This was an otherwise delightful read—especially its critique of Dispensationalism’s hermeneutic in general and its eschatology in particular—but it becomes frustrating when comparing Dispensationalism’s doctrine of salvation with that of Reformed theology. At that point the book takes on a “Here’s where Reformed Theology is the greatest, most authoritative, and—let’s face it—more exactly scriptural teaching there is” type feel. While that’s frustrating enough, Mathison does not help his case by strawmanning what (some) Dispensationalists say (i.e., the three or four he interacts with). Several times in this portion of the book, I found myself defending Chafer, Walvoord, and Ryrie (which I normally do not do, because I utterly disagree with their baseless hermeneutic and eschatology), and I had to do this because Mathison repeatedly (and on a couple of occasions it looked like he intentionally) misconstrued what they said so that he could make his point to win the argument.

3 This was a long slog, for sure, but one that adequately (and rightly) bores massive holes in the dam of LDS claims about their sacred text being divinely inspired and revealed, which they think are proven by the accurate historicity it conveys throughout its pages. But Shook ably shows that there’s not one shred of validating evidence or proof to anything that Mormonism holds as accurate or historical. And Shook does all of this in a time not long after Mormonism’s origins and fairly recently gained-popularity.

4 This was a book that began with a lot of promise and meaningful criticism of Dispensational theology—especially as it relates to the book of Revelation. And in general, it makes a decent case for how to read Revelation in a more historically, culturally, and theologically sensitive manner; though, it does have some flaws (not only because it’s ultimately guesswork about a biblical book that’s often elusive, but also because the method chosen is quite preterist [though not always in an informed way]). But these otherwise good features of the book are quickly eclipsed by a collection of painfully bad arguments, double-standards, strawmen, mishandling of sources, neglect of a understanding of basic history, dramatic claims for the sake of appealing to a particular position, and the overwhelming droning of: “My recent swimming of the Tiber” (i.e., moving from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism) “has been the best experience ever, and I now know more about how to understand Scripture and the Faith, and everyone outside of the Catholic Church is wrong and needs my help.” And this is not helped by the constant pitting of Catholics against everyone else (in both overt and subtle ways throughout the book—especially the last three-fourths of it), to the point that (in the context of eschatology) if one is not Catholic, then they must be a Protestant rapturist, because that’s the only other alternative within Christianity. The only thing that kept me from quitting the book early on was the humor I found in Currie’s bungling of the sources he obviously venerates or of the history he so clearly icons (to use a Catholic term that avoids the sting of the word, “idolizes”). On multiple occasions, I had to make marginal notes to the effect of: “You do realize this source isn’t saying what you think it’s saying, right?,” or “You need to go back and re-read the history, because you’ve obviously misread it the first time.” (And this even applies to biblical quotations, too—and that on a number of pages). Or the times when he frequently highlights what scholars are (or scholarship is) now saying, to which it can easily be said: “Dude, that stuff has been around for a long time; you need to get up to speed and realize your newfound insights were found way back in olden days. This is not new stuff.”

5 This is an exercise in allowing one’s presuppositions and loyalties to a system of belief to determine the outcome of the reading and interpretation of Scripture.

6 A consideration definitely worth far more consideration than some in the comment section gave it (or in this case, refused to give it)—primarily because it upsets their presuppositions and loyalties to a system of belief that determines how they read and interpret Scripture.

7 In general, this is an interesting read and it does raise some notable points that ought to be revealed and addressed in healthier ways. However, I disagree with its easy and convenient one-to-one characterizations in a few places, as well as a few passing uncritical (not to mention double-standard-esque) type assertions—to the point that it all began to sound like it was coming out of a certain (inexplicably) popular and required playbook for corporate life.

8 Well worth the read. And deserves re-reading. Several times.

9 Saturated with logical and categorical flaws, misdirection, faulty characterizations, double-standards, and the absence of any real biblical foundation for what’s argued. The only up-side is: it gives a decent picture of what people on that side of the spectrum think (and how), along with the kinds of issues they raise (or even enjoy throwing at those who are different from them).

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