Monthly Archives: July 2011

My 52 Books #10 “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Upon completion of a summer semester of school, God has blessed me with a son!  Andrew Stephen Bartol was born last Sunday @ 11:42am and is an absolute joy to our lives!  Lisa’s in the healing process and the in-laws are in town!  Life here is good 🙂

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” is a revolutionary work that has impacted me tremendously.  Do you ever get a quote that just strikes your heart?  A single sentence that makes you want to dwell on it for a long period of time?  This book offers all of that in abundance.  And not only a single sentence here or there, but entire paragraphs that just expound on the Scriptures and pierce the heart.  It truly is “grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”

It’s about understanding the glue that ties the community of the church together.  The gospel is the center, the core focus, of how communal life with the church is even possible.  There are great warnings about straying from this, but also great encouragements as to how this can last with His power.  It is a great tool for avoiding division.

His Lutheran bent is very blatant, which is probably my only drawback.  A number of “should’s” and “oughts” on secondary matters that do not need to be there.  But if taken as suggestions I think it would help many (but not all).  His passivism also shines through a little bit, but knowing where he ended up theologically at the time of his attempting to kill Hitler should give an indicator that he would probably edit that out in a future copy, had he not been executed by the Nazi regime.  Maybe.

Life together under the Word of God, as our great authority, and prayer is what guides us as a community to the very heart of God.

His take on morning devotions was also very convicting.  There are numerous examples, throughout the Scriptures, of giving our morning thoughts and prayers to God by godly men.  And while it is not a prescription for doing this as law, it does describe the great benefits of being with God before the days begins.  “At the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him whom our whole life belongs.  ‘Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’ (Eph. 5:14)”

Overall, if anyone were looking for a book that encapsulates what Christian community should look like, this is one of the first books I would offer.  It is probably one of those books that gets better with each time it is read.


My 52 Books #9 “God and Evolution” edited by Jay Richards

I had to take a week off recently, as there was a lot of pressure with finals week and the anticipation of having a new baby on the way!  Summer classes are officially done, and we are just days away from having a little boy or girl (we decided to wait).  In light of the final paper on Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design, I decided to read a few books on the subject that were very beneficial.  We had a secular textbook (one of the last chapters is titled, “the Fact of Evolution.”), and alongside the other articles and books that support that view I felt that I had a good balance of the two arguments.

How do you gain purpose from a purposeless structure?  How does intelligence come from an unintelligent source?  If you unpack these questions in the numerous arenas of evolution, you will wind up finding a vast number of holes in the arguments that those propagating both theistic evolution and neo-Darwinian evolution affirm.  In this book, Jay Richards, of The Discovery Institute, compiles a series of articles by various authors from three major Judeo-Christian religions to clear up the fog that many tend to create when caught up in a discussion about this subject.

In my opinion, the Protestant section handled the best evidence for Intelligent design, while the Catholics and Jews seemed to focus more on their religious tradition’s views on the subject, at the same time trying to show their people how intelligent design makes more sense to their own system of beliefs (which it does).  That was probably my only complaint with the book (The Pope’s ideas hold little weight to Biblical Christianity, let alone the scientific community).
Otherwise it was a well thought out and very thorough representation and defense of Intelligent Design to both the neo-Darwninian and theistic evolutionists.

The deeper we dive into molecular biology and the more we gain information concerning this world within the world, the harder it is becoming to defend the concept that we simply evolved over the course of billions of years from the spontaneous generation of a single cell.  The idea of “Junk DNA” is quickly becoming obsolete and the bacterial flagellum (look it up, it’s fascinating!) demands a look at the idea of a designer.  The question of how complexity and information came from non-complexity and non-information for the formation of the first cell is one of the giant holes in the evolutionary argument, which is, in this case, a matter of science fiction rather than real science, since there is no evidence to substantiate such a claim.

The other major problem lies with those who seek to reconcile theistic evolution with God.  Usually an attempt to reconcile all of the corruption in the world (though some to just remain neutral and passive in ignorance), theistic evolutionist’s will attempt to pass it off from God to leaving it up to evolution to build His creation for Him.  This offers no fix to the problem of evil, as that simply “passes the buck”, and makes it look like God is a Charles Manson figure who never killed anyone, but let evolution do his dirty work, as it is a brutal system built upon death to achieve a greater species (at least that’s how the theory goes, though each successful mutation is a loss of genetic information).

 “If God has delegated his creative activity to the functional equivalent of the Gnostic Demiurge, then he has merely passed the buck.  There is no payoff in this scenario unless God fails to know or control the future.  In that case, God may be less implicated in the natural evil described in the Darwinian narrative, but he is no longer providentially guiding his creation in any rational sense.” (pg 303)

This subject is not something that can just be passed aside as non-issue, since it affects the way we see God, ourselves, and how we live.  In the midst of all the supposed chaos in the media and in our schools, this is one subject that will not be a luxury to remain neutral on in our coming future.

My 52 Books #8 “Who made God? Searching for a theory of Everything” by Edgar Andrews

If you have been looking for a book that dives heavily into both the scientific and theological realm, this is what you’ve been looking for.  Dr. Andrews sets out not primarily to address the immediate attacks from the new atheists of today (though he does that), but to explore a hypothesis of the God of the Bible, using the methods of science and reason.  There was about 10% of the details that I did not understand (Quantum Mechanics is WAY over my head), but in each case he was clear as to his point, and even breaks it down for the every day man, so that it is understandable.

He addresses common mistakes that scientists have made concerning the presuppositions of a purely naturalistic universe and zeros in on the false dichotomy between religion and science (seems like science has been hijacked by a non-scientific worldview).  The issue of origins is put to the test in great detail, and all of the major questions of how we came to be are addressed.  It was either God or turtles (inside joke for an infinite regress).

The initial question of the book is quickly put to rest, because the question within the question must be asked in order for “who made God?” to make any sense.  That question being, “who is God?”.  If God, for the sake of His hypothesis, can be known as the uncreated Creator, then the original question turns into, “who created the uncreated one?”, which is a nonsense question, since the answer is found within itself.  Now that doesn’t necessarily prove the existence of God (he travels great lengths toward that in the rest of the book), but it does put to rest a presuppositional question that many believe is the dagger to the theist’s heart.

Not only is this man an expert in his field, but he is also a great communicator.  What could be a dry and drawn out book is instead easily accessible and sometimes funny.  The best part about this book, to me, was found in the fact that his progression in the second half deals in every way with the progression of my current science class.  Dealing with cellular biology and DNA just fascinates me.  He then shows the ridiculousness of having information (i.e. the information stored in DNA) come from non information through the series of evolution by natural selection.  But all the while being fair toward each side of the argument by representing them well.  Simply put, I have not found a better book on this subject that is as technical and to the point, as well as having such an easy flow for the reader.

If you have a scientifically driven friend or relative who is skeptical about Jesus, this would be a great starting point for him/her.