A short selection of books reviewed in the Ulster Bulwark magazine

“THE RISE OF PAGANISM” - Jonathan Skinner

(Evangelical Press 2006, large P/B 240pp £8.95)

 

Our nation has virtually rejected its Biblical roots, and modern man would have us believe that he is too sophisticated for religion of any sort. But, deep down, men and women are spiritual beings who possess an innate desire to worship someone or something. So, as Christianity is swept aside, people are turning to false religions, cults and paganism. Ancient superstitions, practices and beliefs which were banished for thousands of years under the light of God’s Word, have resurfaced in our day. While we are not to dwell too much upon evil, it is vital that Christian soldiers engaged in a spiritual war understand their enemy. And that enemy can often be extremely subtle. We therefore welcome this important book by a Baptist pastor in Bath, which examines the resurgence, power and nature of paganism and the occult. A timely and very relevant publication. Editor

 

"THE CROSS" - Peter Jeffrey

(Evangelical Press 2007, P/B 112pp £6.95)

Faced with the evil so aptly described in the book reviewed above, where better to go than to the cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This little book explains the relevance and centrality of the cross, and the importance of the doctrine of the atonement - a doctrine which has come under sustained attack even by some within the professing church. As the author says, “modern man… sees God’s love as a sort of benevolence which has no other purpose than our happiness”, but God is holy and must punish sin. Christ’s death on the cross was therefore an atoning sacrifice. On the cross, Jesus faced, and appeased, the wrath of God on our behalf. In brief compass, the author examines the cross in the Old and New Testaments, and he also shows how the message of the Cross must be proclaimed today.      Editor

 

"THE SUFFERING LETTERS OF C H SPURGEON”

(Wakeman Trust 2007 p/b 155pp £6.95

 

Anything by Charles Spurgeon is worth reading, and this is no exception. Indeed, this book, which is annotated by Hannah Wyncoll, is especially worth reading, for it reveals new aspects of Spurgeon’s personality and spirituality, and provides us with an intimate portrait of the great man as a suffering pastor. The letters in this book, many of which have never been published before, were written by Spurgeon during times of illness. It is not perhaps that well known that he was greatly afflicted for twenty-four years (from 1867 when he was 33) by regular periods of serious illness, and these letters give us fresh insights into his attitude to such suffering. As well as the letters (which span 1867-1892) there are. As well as the letters (which span 1867-1892) there are notes on his ministry which set the letters in context. The book also contains sermonettes written during times of sickness and 16 pages of colour facsimiles of original letters. We cannot recommend this book too highly.     Editor

 

MORE THAN A CARPENTER Josh McDowell

(Kingsway, small p/b, 160pp 5.99)

 

Although we might have some reservations about Josh McDowell's books, they do make a valuable contribution to Christian apologetics (ie the defence and promotion of Biblical truth). His "More Than A Carpenter" was a best-seller when first published in 1979, and we welcome this new edition which is particularly timely in light of the Da Vinci Code novel and film which have generated fresh interest in the claims of Jesus Christ. In the first chapter, My Story, McDowell explains how his own open dismissal of Christianity led his university friends to challenge him to make an intellectual examination of the claims of Christ as presented in the Bible. As he read extensively, he quickly became convinced that, far from helping him to refute the Bible, his research pointed conclusively in the opposite direction. In the concluding chapter of the book, we learn that his investigative research also led to his own conversion. The book deals with some foundational issues in a way which is thorough but readable, and it not only reminds us of our wonderful Saviour and the way of salvation, but provides us with much useful material in discussion with non-Christians, especially those who have been influenced by the Da Vinci Code. It would be a good book to give to non-Christians. A variety of Bible versions is used, mainly the New Living Translation.

Editor

 

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT ANGELS Roger Ellsworth

(Evangelical Press 2006, p/b, 112pp 4.95)

 

There is a television advert for the new Volkswagen Polo, where everyone is depicted as having a guardian angel, who is needed all the time, that is, until you step into your very safe Polo! This is just one of many examples of the world's interest in the biblical topic of angels. Indeed, angels are mentioned 273 times in all of Scripture. Should we therefore be happy that the world takes an avid interest in such a biblical topic? Roger Ellsworth argues that an interest in a biblical topic such as angels is of no use unless we are biblical about the topic. He therefore has written this short book in the "What the Bible has to say about…" series. The book is extremely easy to read, with very short chapters, each starting with a few scripture passages, on which the chapter is based. Ellsworth discusses topics such as Lucifer, the fallen angel; the Cherubim; Gabriel the archangel, to name but a few. The book focuses on the characteristics of the angels and on their past and present functions. It also goes further, in looking at the God who made the angels, and at Jesus, the one whom the angels worship. This book has Scripture at its core, and together with short easy to read chapters, it makes an excellent devotional tool. Furthermore, as Christians, it is useful in educating us in a topic that is interesting to the world, something we could use in day to day witnessing.

Mark Thompson

 

PORTRAITS OF FAITH Joel Beeke

(Bryntirion Press p/b 104pp 4.95)

 

This little book is made up of four talks given by the author, to young people, at the Evangelical Movement of Wales Conference in 2003.  In introducing the work, Geoff Thomas writes that as a result of the talks, doubts were resolved,questions were answered, clarity was given in areas where hitherto there had been confusion. Grand claims, and yet in discussing Adam and Eve, the Shunammite woman, the Canaaninte woman and Caleb, new insights are indeed found while encouragement and direction is given for the Christian life today. The book is easily read and understood. It gives us example of the true nature of faith and how this impacts our daily lives. I have been blessed by the messages, as has my wife, as has my eldest daughter - we have all read the book. We heartily recommend it.

George Dawson

 

BLOODY MARY'S MARTYRS Jasper Ridley

(Constable & Robinson Ltd 2002 p/b 246pp £7.99)

 

Jasper Ridley, who died in July 2004, was a barrister turned author. Broadly left-wing in his sympathies, he believed he was a descendant of Nicholas Ridley who was the subject of his first book, which was then followed by Thomas Cranmer (1962), John Knox (1968) and Mary Tudor (1973). He returned to this period in later life with the publication of Bloody Mary's Martyrs in 2001. Ridley writes from a secular perspective and we would not necessarily agree with everything he says, including his intriguing comments about Ulster in the first paragraph. That said, this is an excellent book, and it is clear that the author has considerable sympathy for the martyrs, and is moved by their faith, testimonies and sufferings. Mary was crowned Queen in 1553 and, in just five years, in her determination to reverse the Protestant Reformation in England, she burned some three hundred men and women at the stake. Ridley's account is written in a very readable style and is difficult to put down. Be warned, however, that he pulls no punches in his vivid descriptions of the tortures and painful deaths endured by Mary's victims. While Ridley undoubtedly draws some of his material from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs (what book on the subject doesn't?), it would be wrong to argue, as some have done, that it is a mere distillation of Foxe. Obtain a copy of Ridley's book if you can (most bookshops and public libraries will have copies). You will be thrilled, moved and challenged, but certainly not disappointed.

Editor