Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm

Posted by Bambi

I have had my eye on Simonetta Carr’s Church History books for children, for quite some time.  Pricey, they are.  So when Cross Focused Reviews offered a free copy for a review, I jumped on the opportunity.

I believe one of the missing disciplines in the lives of Christians is the study of church history.  Studying church history produces in us a humility as we read of our Christian forefathers who served Jesus unto death.  It puts our own meager efforts in perspective when we read of martyrs, willing to give all.

Also, church history can help us see our error.  If we don’t read of the errors in the history of the church, we are doomed to repeat them.  Old heresies can creep up again and again and it helps to have a knowledge of them. Therefore, we have quite a few church history resources on our shelves here at home.  But aside from a few mediocre biographies, I just haven’t been able to find much for the 7-10 range to cut their teeth on.

Simonetta Carr’s Anselm of Canterbury delivered.  While the information can be dry, the story of Anselm is presented in an engaging way for younger students of church history.  Also, the illustrations are particularly beautiful.

Have you ever heard of Anselm?  I hadn’t either, but I have long been impressed enough with Carr’s collection of titles, to know that I should know who he is. <blush>

Anselm was a great theologian and deep thinker,  who lived during the time between Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. That is, the 12th century.  Therefore, Anselm lived in a world quite different from ours. In Anselm of Canterbury, the big questions before Anselm, and therefore what Carr presents to young readers are, “Why did God have to become man? If God can do anything, couldn’t He have saved His people some other way?” With clarity and simplicity, Simonetta Carr presents Anselm’s Biblical answer to this question in a way that children can easily comprehend, without over-simplifying the concept.

Carr is certainly a gifted author, and the words of truth come off the page in an easy-going manner, not coming across as “preachy.”

While Carr’s books are said to be written to children as young as seven, I found that Anselm was way over my (almost) seven-year-old’s head.  Sarah Grace, who is eight, had more understanding, but honestly… it took some effort on her part.  However, by age 9-11 I think just about any kid would enjoy and benefit from the book, taking away knowledge they didn’t previously have.  In my opinion, the book is a great length for narrations if you are of the Charlotte Mason persuasion 😉

I would really love to add the rest of Carr’s titles to our shelves:

John Calvin

Augustine of Hippo

John Owen

Athanasius

Lady Jane Grey

I think Anselm of Canterbury is an excellent childhood introduction to the life of this great thinker.  You can purchase the book at one of our favorite book stores: Monergism Books.

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American Phoenix

americanphoenix

Posted by Shelbi

American Phoenix, by Jane Hampton Cook, is—in a nutshell—a biography of John Quincy Adams (pre-presidency) and his wife Louisa, a history of the War of 1812, and a good look into an early-1800’s Europe being terrorized by Napoleon Bonaparte. The book is rather long (512 pages), very well written, and both enjoyable and educating. I didn’t know much about the War of 1812, so I was surprised to learn that it really can be seen as America’s second war for independence from England.

The thing I liked most about the book, though, was its study into the life of Louisa Adams. Her strong patriotism and love for her country, coupled with devotion to her husband, led her to leave her home and two children for six years (1809-1815) in order to accompany her husband to Russia, where they together represented the Republican United States in a monarch/dictator-run Europe. As America struggled to be recognized as an independent nation by the rest of the world, the Adamses worked tirelessly on the other side of the world to promote that end. Their fascinating encounters with European royalty and interesting brushes with Napoleon often took place in the midst of personal tragedy (Louisa Adams gave birth to a daughter in Russia, who died 13 months later) and extreme anxiety about their children and family in America, who lived in some of the very cities attacked by the British. Their quest to see their beloved country achieve honor, dignity, respect, and recognition from the other nations of the world was ultimately successful. Speaking of America, Louisa Adams wrote in her diary, “I trust in God that the day of retribution is not far off and that glory which yet awaits us will far, far outweigh the disgrace which has hitherto attended us.” A godly Christian woman, she penned these words a few years before her death:

“And when it is His will that I lay me down to sleep; that sleep, from which we wake no more in this world; may I die in my Savior Jesus Christ; in the fullest hope of those divine promises, which lead the purified soul to heaven forevermore.”

The book runs a little lengthy, and I did think that the same amount of information could have been condensed into a smaller space. That issue aside, American Phoenix is a wonderful re-telling of important American history that should not be forgotten.

 

Seven Men

7 men

Posted by Shelbi

I think it’s a little strange that this is the second book I’ve reviewed on this blog that contains the words “Seven Men” in the title (read about Seven Men who Rule the World from the Grave here), but I was so excited to hear that Eric Metaxas had written another book that I couldn’t resist the chance to receive a free copy from Booksneeze, in exchange for a review on our blog.

Eric Metaxas is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace. I don’t think that Seven Men really lived up to the other two books, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The seven men written about in this book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles W. Colson. The introduction on manhood, while being a little watered down, was also good. Since the book is copyright 2013, it’s recent enough that the author was able to use the July 2012 Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the behavior of some of the men involved as an example.

Here are a few excerpts from the book:

George Washington (my favorite chapter):

“More than 200 years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men…There was a consensus at the time, since confirmed for all time, that no one else could have performed these elemental tasks as well, and perhaps that no one could have performed them at all.” (pg. 28)

Eric Liddell:

“Why does the world still remember and love Eric Liddell today, when other athletes from his era have been long forgotten? Lord Sands, an Edinburgh civil leader, put his finger on the answer during a dinner honoring Eric after the 1924 Olympic Games. It was not because Eric was the fastest runner in the world that the guests were gathered there that evening, he said. Instead, “it is because this young man put his whole career as a runner in the balance, and deemed it as small dust, compared to remaining true to his principles.” (pg. 86)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Bonhoeffer shared the fate of innumerable Jews who had recently been killed as he had been…But it seems clear that for Bonhoeffer, giving his life for the Jews was an honor. The God of the Jews had called him to give his life for the Jews. Bonhoeffer really believed that obeying God–even unto death–was the only way to live…In his famous book The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” ” (pg. 112)

Although each of the men in the book are presented as committed Christians (I’m still not sure about the chapter on the pope), vague phrases like “remaining true to his principles” and “surrendering himself to a Higher Purpose” are used more often than not. The chapter on Pope John Paul II extolls mostly his attempts at moral reform, rather than any preaching of the gospel he might have done. Disappointingly, he praises Charles Colson highly for his Evangelicals and Catholics Together program (ECT), the purpose of which was the “reconciliation of theological differences between the two groups”.

However, even though Seven Men was not as good as (and more politically correct than) Bonhoeffer or Amazing Grace (both of which were very theologically sound), I would still recommend it for anyone who is interested in any or all of these godly men of the past.

Twelve Extraordinary Women

twelvewomenPosted by Savannah

John MacArthur’s Twelve Extraordinary Women is a sequel to his book Twelve Ordinary Men. In his first book, he studied the lives of Jesus’ twelve disciples, dedicating a chapter to each. In Twelve Extraordinary Women, he chose twelve women who were critical in the story of redemption.  Some of the women he chose you would expect to find in such a book, such as Eve, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Sarah the wife of Abraham.  Others, like Rahab the harlot, Anna the prophetess, or Lydia, the woman who opened her home to Paul, are surprisingly present.  Even though some of these women seem insignificant, many of them risked their lives, or at least their reputations for the sake of the gospel.  I’ve decided to share what I learned about my favorite woman in this book, Anna. She was one  of the more “insignificant” ones, so I found her more interesting, and learned a lot.

Anna is mentioned once in the whole Bible, and then there are only three verses that talk about her. The passage from Luke 2 reads:

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher.  She was of great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

The fact that Anna was a prophetess does not mean that she could predict the future.  It doesn’t even mean that she received special revelation from God.   Prophetess simply means that Anna was a woman who faithfully proclaimed the Word of God to everyone; all the time. Any preacher, or any person at all could be called a prophet if they continually spoke the Word of God like Anna did.  The text also mentions that Anna “did not depart from the temple”.  Perhaps the temple officials had given Anna one of the small chambers in the temple, that were used occasionally by priests when they saw her faithfulness and devotion.   Whatever the case might have been,  the text seems to literally mean that Anna lived in the temple grounds. She also had been a widow for many, many years.  Apparently she had been living in the temple for a long time fasting and praying.  What could Anna have been praying about?  She no doubt prayed about many things, but perhaps one of her main subjects of her prayer was for the soon coming of the Messiah. In verse 38 of Luke 2 Anna comes along just as Simeon is pronouncing a blessing on Christ and His parents.  She “gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem”.  Anna’s prayers immediately turned to thanksgiving to God for answering her, and she spoke of Christ to everyone.  Anna’s passion for the Lord and her love for Him is something we all should aspire to.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the extraordinary women of the Bible.

 

World War I & World War II {The Rest of the Story}

WWIbook

Posted by Shelbi

I first picked up a Richard Maybury book four months ago, when I finally got around to reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, which has been on our shelf for years. (Read my review of that one here.) I have now read 6 of his books, and think I can officially say that he is one of my all-time favorite authors.

After reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, I went on to read the two sequels, The Money Mystery and The Clipper Ship Strategy. All three of these principally deal with economics. (The Clipper Ship Strategy, which deals with practical ways for anyone (but especially businesses) to survive and thrive in a government-controlled economy, was my favorite of the economics trilogy. Though I’m not a businessman (obviously), it was one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read.) The fourth book I read was Whatever Happened to Justice?, a look at different governments and legal systems.

Last week I finished World War I: The Rest of the Story and How It Affects You Today. This week I finished World War II: The Rest of the Story and How It Affects You Today.

My perspective on the Spanish-American War (1898), the U.S. conquest of the Philippines, the Great White Fleet, Theodore Roosevelt, WWI, WWII, America, Britain, Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, the Truman Doctrine, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, September 11, 2001, and the present-day War on Terror–in short, my entire perspective on American history and American government (and alot of other things)– has been completely changed.

“The U.S. Government and Hollywood tend to see things in terms of good guys versus bad guys.

The Hollywood view of the World Wars…is not truth. It is not even a half-truth. It is a deception.

Neither World War was a straightforward battle between good and evil. Both were much more complicated, and good vs. evil had little to do with either of them.”             – World War I: The Rest of the Story

Written from a non-statist viewpoint, these books challenge the common ideas that the two World Wars were battles between good and evil, that America had to intervene in both to “save the world” from depraved dictators who wanted to conquer the earth, and that World War II is the ultimate justification for American intervention in every corner of the globe today. The author shows how every war America has been involved in since the beginning of the 20th century can be traced back to the Spanish-American war of 1898, when the U.S. Government first meddled in a quarrel not their own.

The Axis’ side of the story is honestly and fairly portrayed in both books, and really gets you thinking. For example, the official version of World War II history says that the Japanese woke up one morning in December 1941 and decided to attack the United States, just for the sheer fun of it, and because they were more inherently evil than most other nations. (Incidentally, this is also the official explanation for the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.) Japan in 1941 was a primitive nation of fishermen, very unlike the highly developed Japan of today. In 1941 no one stopped to ask why this extremely underdeveloped country would attempt to take on the world’s biggest superpower, just like in Sept. 2001 no one thought to ask, “Why do these people hate us?” This book provides answers to both questions.

WWIIbook

Though primarily focused on the World Wars, these books go alot deeper and alot farther than most. The reasons, the economics, and the global politics of both wars are examined in-depth, as are the decades that both preceded and followed them. I recommend these highly to anyone who doesn’t wish to swallow the government’s explanation of its own actions without first taking a look at what the facts suggest. Remember, history is written by the victors.

Seven Men Who Rule The World From The Grave

7menbook

Posted by Shelbi

Seven Men Who Rule The World From The Grave (by Dave Breese, 1990) examines in detail the lives of seven men who permanently altered their own societies and who continue to exert untold influence on the world today.

  • Charles Darwin, born in England in 1809, gave us the theory of evolution.

“What Darwin formulated came to be seen as a plausible new understanding of man and nature important enough to be thought the work of a genius and the beginning of a new epoch in world history… This intellectual revlution has caused man to reinterpret his past, rethink his present, and revise his anticipations for the future. Darwin is seen as giving the world a comprehension of itself so unlike the view held in the past that, in a sense, he restarted history. Darwin’s influence continues to be pervasive today, and he holds a leading rank among those men who rule the world from the grave.” (pg. 25)

  • Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, was born in Germany in 1818, and he produced “the greatest degree of social, physical, and moral ruin the world has ever known”— Communism.

“Yes, it could be argued that the world-changing effect of the life and philosophy of Karl Marx is a measurable thing, and by that measure he has been one of the greatest influences of history. That simple measure testifies that the philosophy of Karl Marx and the political structure that grew from his work has conquered and presently controls one-third of the population of the world. For most of the era following WWII, Communism has been the form of political ideology and consequent government in iron control over the lives and fortunes of one-and-a-half billion people.” (pg. 58)

  • Julius Wellhausen, born in Germany in 1844, developed what is now called “higher criticism” of the Bible.

“Wellhausen’s scholarship became an important contribution to liberalism as it sought to demythologize the Bible by taking God and spiritual things out of it. Through this means, Wellhausen opened the door for subsequent scholars to expand the base of liberalism and add to it their own interpretations of biblical truth. Wellhausen, having stolen from Christianity its reason for being, continues to rule from his grave.” (pg. 95, 103)

  • Sigmund Freud, born in Austria in 1856, not only predicted but called for the sexual revolution that came to fruition in the 1960’s.

” More than a great reductionist, Freud can certainly be called one of the great deceivers, confusing millions as to the nature of man and the nature of God… What debillitation, what fatigue, what depression, what premature death has [the sexual revolution] produced in our society? No one will ever be able to estimate. What careers have been blasted, what potential melted into nothing, what great accomplishments never achieved because of our generation’s incredibly nonsensical preoccupation with that never-to-be-achieved will-o’-the-wisp, that ever-unfulfilled pseudo-promise of sexual fulfillment?” (pg. 143, 144)

  • John Dewey, born in Vermont in 1859, did more than any other person to make government education in America what it is today.

“In the sense of history, the facts of this man’s life are relatively unexciting. He did not appear as a Promethean personality, he did not fight in a great war, and he held no high political office. But alas, he was a notable contender in the battle that matters–the battle of ideas. He was one of the prime movers in the struggle for the minds of men…. he refashioned the educational system in America, and in the process, he redefined almost everything.” (pg.155)

  • John Maynard Keynes, born in England in 1883, changed the face of the world by giving us Keynesian economics.

“Keynesian economics preaches the doctrine that the government is the final resource. It can answer every problem; it can create something out of nothing, namely, prosperity. What can this mean except that the government is God? The government is God! That is Keynesian economics.” (pg. 196)

  • Soren Kierkegaard, born in Denmark in 1813, famously remarked “I conceive it as my task to create difficulties everywhere.”

“The liberal establishment, not willing to return to the Bible as the Word of God, went looking for a new message, a new theology…What to do? was the question. In what shall we now believe? Into this vacuum stepped Soren Kierkegaard. He gave the world what philosophers call existentialism. He gave the church what theologians call neoorthodoxy. It is as though this man and his views emerged from an unseen direction and gained a foothold in the minds of men so quickly they had no opportunity to resist.”(pg. 210)

This book is a wonderful study not only in history but in worldview. The beliefs of each of these men and how they have been accepted into the world and the church are gone over in detail. The author does a wonderful job of describing how, after initially being rejected, each of these philosophies came to be ingrained into nearly every culture in the world. This was a very enlightening book for me and really helped me get a better understanding of the battle that’s raging for the minds and ultimately the souls of men.

Sketches From Church History

sketches

Posted by Kevin

I love church history. In March of 2010, as I inspected the book table at the Generations With Vision Family Economics Conference in Castle Rock, Colorado, I came across what I knew would prove to be a great tool to teach my family about our Christian heritage – S.M. Houghton’s Sketches From Church History: An Illustrated Account of 20 Centuries of Christ’s Power (Banner of Truth, 1980). The book is what it claims to be – a ‘sketch’ of church history. For example, the life and work of one of my favorite reformers, John Knox, is covered in just a few pages, whereas larger church history works may have several pages or even a chapter devoted to his life. Certainly there are whole books that detail his work to reform his native Scotland, but let me get back to the ‘sketch’. The book’s 250 pages are divided up nicely into 50 chapters of roughly 2 – 5 pages each. Perfect. I think it a great resource for fathers to use in walking their families through an introduction to church history. If you are constantly looking for tools to use in your family’s discipleship as I am, and you have a desire to educate your family in church history, I think you will find the book to be of great value. (Sketches, along with its accompanying Student Workbook by Rebecca Frawley, can be purchased from Monergism Books.)

Let me give you a taste for what you’ll read. Referring to one of the major turning points in the history of the Church (indeed of the world), the year 311 when Constantine rose to power in the Empire and signaled the end of the centuries long, severe persecution of the Church, Houghton writes:

Was it a change for the better? Yes, and No! Persecutions ended, for the Emperor
now became a defender of the Christian faith… Churches were built for Christian
worship, and bishops and preachers received liberal salaries from the State. The
Christian Sunday was recognized as a day of rest on which ordinary work was
forbidden and even Christian soldiers were permitted to attend the services. All
this was certainly a great blessing for the people of God; it was a great calm
after a severe and prolonged storm. But with toleration came danger. It now
became on honor and a distinction to be a Christian. The best positions in the
State and community were given to them. The Christians became leaders
everywhere. It was only natural that many pagans turned to Christianity, not
because their hearts were converted to the living God, but to gain position and
promotion. Jesus would have said to them, ‘Ye seek Me because ye did eat of the
loaves’ (John 6:26); that is to say, to seek earthly gain. ‘Woe unto you when
all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26) ran another word of warning. Most
certainly worldly men were undesirable members of the Church.
And how the outward appearance of the Church changed! If peace came to the Church, so too
did worldliness…Quality was sacrificed to quantity. The fire of persecution had
kept the Church pure; toleration resulted in the introduction of elements which
boded ill for the future. (pgs. 20-21)