Book Review

No God But One: Book Review

(Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of this book for review.)

One thing that struck me as I read this book was the compassion and profound insight simply stated. The whole discussion of the book is framed as one would expect to occur between friends who care deeply about each other. Since much of the book reflects the conclusion of faith that Nabeel Qureshi came to as a result of an ongoing dialogue with his debate partner, it should not surprise the reader that the format is somewhat similar to a debate where a question and counter question is posed in each of the dialogues on various topics related to Islam, such as the difference between Islamic law (Sharia) and the grace of God found in the Gospel of Christ.

While this may sound old hat to someone who grew up in the church, when a person discovers that the reality that God is love and all of the diverse implications of this, whether in the arena of theology proper (including the meaning of the trinity and how the doctrine of the trinity is the way of describing God that most honors the Creator) or in the area of an understanding of violence in the history of Islam and the Christian Church (When did Christians start fighting wars? years after they were first called Christians and the empire was converted en masse.)

It becomes very clear through the reading of this book that not only does Nabeel have a clear knowledge of the basic issues related to Islam and Christianity, their similarities and differences, but he also loves both Muslims and Christians. Even though some Muslims may misunderstand the motives for why a truth seeker would embrace Jesus and the church and even though some who grew up with Christian traditions may question whether this is truly possible, Nabeel manifests an irenic spirit throughout, and confesses that he has not always behaved as the best example of Christianity after having chosen to identify with the Lord Jesus.

People need to hear these sorts of questions: questions that are centered not so much on the historic truths of the Gospel, and the verifiable & life transforming factual truths of the crucifixion, the resurrection and Jesus’ claim to deity; rather Questions that are centered on the sincerity and depth of our understanding & obedience to those truths.

Are we willing to seek to truly understand the truth?
Are we willing to suffer for what is true?
How much are we willing to suffer?

The good news is a life and death issue. The Gospel cost Jesus’ His life and frees us from our deadness. When we see the extreme love of God, we will be awakened to delight in our Creator, as a maiden delights in her groom when she realizes that not only is He a noble person, but that he truly does delight in her.

May you be awakened to the First, the Ultimate, the Supreme Love of the Author of Life.

#NoGodButOne

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My Companions

They patiently wait to be read while sitting on wood, under the back seat of a car, or at a friend’s house. They stay just where I put ’em and remind me of things. They don’t bite, hit, spit, jump out at me, or run away. I can bend their backs and mark them up so that I can hear their words better.

I’ve heard them in English, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, and learned a little from some in Indonesian, German, French, Arabic and Russian. I’ve even burnt a few (heretics mostly), but they never complained. I buy them eagerly and house them at home, but I do not sell my companions quickly. I may need their words of wisdom one day. I’d rather give them away.

I learned to stay inside with them when it rains; they become rotten and distorted if I leave them outside too long. A few are colored or international or even multidimensional, but most are black and white and from America. Yet, those from here have taken me farthest: to solar systems light years away, to natives in Irian Jaya, to ancient China, and to the squalor of New York City. I’ve explored the beginnings of the universe with them and their contents have enabled me to grow in a new life.

I’ve seen my insides in them and some tell me what’s on my mind, but I don’t mind. When I’m finished with one I may give it to a friend or to schools. I have many companions, but my favorite ones all say the same thing: Jesus loves you.

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God’s Power, Jesus’ Faith, and World Mission: A study in Romans

Steve Mosher does an excellent job looking not only at the structure of Romans and the sources of Romans but and the significance of Romans for today when related to its original purpose: to ensure that the mission of Paul would continue beyond his journey to Jerusalem.

His exegesis is sound, and even when I felt his application was going to far, I couldn’t help but face the deepening conviction that my feelings were based more on my own shortcomings and on the present history of the local church than on the vision Paul originally had in mind under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Mosher has a big heart, a broad vision, a clear perception of history, a profound love, and a keen and balanced interpretive skill.

He does here what I have long wanted to do: integrate biblical teaching on the Gospel with a particular to the American Church enumerating where she has succeeded and fallen short in making disciples of all nations according to the pattern established in the first century. Mosher preaches to the choir in a way that should leave the choir crying out on a new minor note, like a minor prophet calling forth the sins of his people.

I commend this work with its clear writing, adequate footnotes, and extensive bibliography.

http://www.amazon.com/Power-Jesus-Faith-World-Mission/dp/0836190319

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Triune Reflection

Explaining the Trinity to Muslims

Explaining the Trinity to Muslims: A Personal Reflection on the Biblical Teaching in Light of the Theological Criteria of Islam. by Carlos Madrigal.

This book is the best I’ve read so far in summarizing Christian teaching on both the Trinity and the Incarnation from a Biblical perspective with a view to communicating with Muslims. It introduces the Trinity using key Islamic terms in Arabic. Analogies abound. There are a few diagrams to illustrate the points. Jesus is honored, Muslim concerns are respected. Heresies are refuted. Creeds are anticipated. A glossary has key terms and the Arabic alphabet with transliteration.

What is most appreciated is that this is kept practical: if God is triune, we are able to communicate with Him and be loved by Him and receive revelation from Him and call Him Father by the Spirit in the name of the Son. This is not merely a dogmatic imposition, be an elucidation of what the biblical texts actually say. References are plenty.

I plan to share this book with friends

 
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Physiognomy and the Divine Dignity of the Different

The short guy no longer gets the short end of the stick when he leaves the tree and hosts the Lord of hosts.

In “Body and Character in Luke and Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity” (Baker: 2006), Mikeal C. Parsons describes the Greek practice of physiognomy and similarities to physiognomy in Judaica and Christian writings and then addresses several instances of physiognomic abnormality in Luke-Acts along with a proposition that Luke sought to displace the prejudice of the prevailing culture.

Physiognomy is the practice of stereotyping the character of people based on the animal they resemble, the race/culture they are from, or the physical features they have. For example, a person who looks like a lion would be brave and noble while a fox is cunning and tricky. A person who is from Corinth is immoral and an Ethiopian cannot change their color. A broadshouldered man is brave while a short man is greedy.

The chapters in order examine:

Soul & Body react on each other: Body & Character in Greek & Roman Literature

The Movement of the body is the voice of the soul: Body & Character in Early Jewish & Christian Literature.

Your eye is the Lamp of the Body: Luke and the Body-Soul relationship.

Ought Not This Daughter of Abraham Be Set Free? Getting the story of the Bent Woman Straight (includes an excusus on the number 18 and Jesus as typical of the Life of God.

Short in Stature, Son of Abraham: The height of hospitality in the story of Zacchaeus.

His feet and ankles were made strong: signs of character in the man lame from birth.

What is to prevent me? Ambiguity, Acceptance, and the Ethiopian Eunuch. This includes a section on the purpose of Luke: to educate readers to look at those shaped differently different than the world looks at them. Luke has a redeeming purpose.

After an Epilogue dedicated to the author’s father (to whom the book is dedicated), the appendix consists of illustrations of physiognomy and its undermining in the schoolbook of Libanius.

The book is a quick and engaging read that looks at the Scriptures from a different perspective. I found it refreshing to see how the Lord redeems. While Zacchaeus was not made tall physically, his hospitality welcomed the Lord of Hosts and so entered him into the Lord’s army of saints who was generous, contrary to the short-taxcollector stereotype.  First he runs along, aping his way ahead, climbs into a tree and watches. Jesus humanizes the scene by calling Zacchaeus by name and going to his house. Jesus the Jew stays in the home of a servant of Rome. So the world is turned upside down and the tree is returned to its former purpose: shade for gathering the saints together to hear the message God sent Abraham: redemption for all.

A similar reversal from hopelessness to confidence takes place with the Ethiopian Eunuch, makde acceptable in Christ, as Isaiah’s suffering servant songs are explained and followed up by baptized. The shade of skin does not change, but joy and light fill his heart and eyes as he can now perceive what the Scripture is talking about: salvation in Jesus.

If you are willing to engage a serious book on the Bible, this one is an excellent resource that gives fresh perspective on those with physical problems. It is hopeful and reveals the dynamic and miraculous nature of salvation.

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