Iron Chariots or “Idol” Chariots?

Chariots

The question is: “Why are the biblical authors so interested in the role of chariot divisions? What do chariots represent?”

I have to admit that I was really surprised at how many times the word “chariots” appears in the Bible. I guess it makes sense due to the military focus of many of the books; however, finding “chariots” in the poets, prophets, deutero-canon, and New Testament points to significance far beyond its role as a military weapon.

Chariots: More than Transportation

The chariot was not only a formidable weapon which often led its owners to victory through both intimidation and sheer maneuverability, it was a symbol of power and might, and evolved into more than that over time. When the Israelites (and Judahites) began relying on chariots for victory rather than God, the chariots–for all intents and purposes–became their idols.

Over and over again, we see the mention of chariots and chariot drivers preparing for battle, going to battle, fighting, and either emerging victorious or defeated–and to the winner goes the loser’s spoils including chariots and chariot drivers.

A great article about ancient chariots (as well as the photo above) can be found at
http://www.bible-archaeology.info/chariots.htm.

One’s loss of chariots only served to underscore the sheer devastation of a defeat: “So Jehoahaz was left with an army of not more than fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing” (2 Kings 13:7). Here, the fact that Jehoahaz was left with only ten chariots shines the spotlight on his utter defeat. He might have 10,000 footmen, but since he only has 10 chariots, he’s “like the dust at threshing” (i.e., utterly defeated).

The Biblical writers are quick to point out that Israel’s (or Judah’s) reliance on chariots to win a battle is actually akin to idolatry, and, therefore, should never happen.

The ideal first step in Israelite (and Judahite) preparation for any battle was to seek the Lord’s guidance and follow His instructions. This step often led to strangely effective strategies for victory (e.g., Gideon vs. Midianites and Joshua vs. Canaanites at Jericho). In other words, if a
battle were to be won, it would be won because God took care of it, not because of how many chariots the king had: “Alas for those who go
down to Egypt for help and who rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1). The ‘strange’ strategies coming from a consultation with the Lord insured that after the battle was won, God would receive the glory for the victory and the peoples’ faith would be strengthened. Reliance on man-made objects for victory, on the other hand, would have the opposite result.

If, this first step (consulting God prior to battle) was skipped, it was an affront. Isaiah condemned bragging about military strategy that relied strictly on brains and brawn: “By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, ‘With my many chariots I have gone up to the heights of the mountains…'” (Isaiah 36:9).  Neglecting to consult with the Lord prior to a battle often meant that the fight would be harder and not a guaranteed win, or if it were a win, there would be unforseen negative consequences which could have been easily avoided with the initial consultation. According to the prophets, military strategy should rely on God first…maybe even solely.

The writers of Chronicles are quick to point out that when you–first and foremost–rely on the Lord for victory in a battle, it does not matter
how many chariots the enemy has, the LORD will fight for you, and you will win. “Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with exceedingly many chariots and cavalry? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your own hand” (2 Chron. 16:8).

In addition to relying on the Lord for victory, the prophets reminded the people that it really did not matter who was seated on a throne or how many chariots he had, God was ultimately the one orchestrating events, and He would depose rulers whenever He saw fit. Micah 5:10 and 5:15 says, “‘In that day,’ says the Lord, ‘I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots…I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.”

Haggai 2:20-23 says: “The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: ‘Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother. On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

So, the chariot is more than a weapon. It is a symbol of ultimate power (he who has the most chariots wins), prestige, and glory. It is envied due to its mobility and maneuverability. It is also a problem to the Israelites (and Judahites), if they start to rely more on chariots and their own plans than on God’s provisions and His plans. That behavior is expressly condemned by the prophets.

The Song of Deborah: Princes of Israel vs. Kings of Canaan

Song of Deborah

The “Song of Deborah” is one of the oldest passages in the Bible. It is a poetic war memorial honoring the sole female judge: Deborah. It portrays Israel as a royal family, a group of princes who ally together to defeat the Canaanite King Sisera.

The battle is recounted in such a way as to make it memorable and easily transmitted from generation to generation. It is jam-packed with important information about the battle including locations, allies, and “suspects.” These suspects comprise a list of Israelites who did not join the battle which leaves their loyalty in question moving forward.

The battle takes place in the Valley of Jezreel at Taanach near the waters of Megiddo (presumably the Kishon River). The Canaanite Kings are defeated by the “princes” of Israel. Although the monarchy had not yet been established, the volunteer villagers of Israel’s contributing tribes were presented as princes. From whence is their royalty derived? This is not clear. One can infer that the royal bloodline is more spiritual than familial: these are the children of YHWH. What is clear is that they were following the LORD (YHWH) and that their willingness to fight the battle alongside of Deborah and Barak gave them the honorary status of princes.

Image courtesy of http://www.israel-a-history-of.com


The Jordan River seems to not only divide the terrain, but it also seems to divide loyalty and obligation. Of the tribes and warriors mentioned in the song, none of those who fought were from east of the Jordan. The tribes which are praised for their sending volunteers to fight with Deborah were ALL from west of the Jordan.

Song of Deborah

Together, the volunteer army under the leadership of one amazing Ephriamite woman—and in large part due to the cunning actions of a singular Kenite woman—defeats the Canaanite King Sisera. The LORD needed their help to defeat the mighty, and those who did not come to their assistance are cursed. 

It’s an interesting look at pre-monarchical Israel. The song definitely does not portray a unified country, but rather a group of tribes from west of the Jordan River banding together to defeat a common enemy. The tribes from the east of the Jordan are cursed for not showing up when their fellow countrymen (and women) needed them.

This song would be sung from one generation to another ensuring future generations would know those whom they could trust and those about whom they should think twice prior to forming any treaties or alliances.

How Hitler Sculpted the German National Identity Post-Defeat

Hitler Defeated

This article assumes that the Old Testament was compiled after the fall of the Northern Kingdom, with the bulk of its composition taking place after the fall of the Southern Kingdom.

The purpose of this article is to answer the question whether or not it is possible to duplicate the process of sculpting national identity through a complete redaction and reinterpretation of one’s history on the heels of a traumatic defeat. Would this redaction be successful? Or was the biblical redaction simply an anomaly?

In this answer, I will make the case that it can be duplicated—and, more than likely, is currently being duplicated—even in our modern society.

Let’s begin by reflecting on our recent history and one of the world’s most famous tyrants: Adolf Hitler. Hitler was a disgruntled art student from Austria. Rejected from serving in the Austrian forces due to his failing the physical exam, and desperate to fight in the Great War, Hitler volunteered—and was granted permission—to fight for the Bavarian (pro-German) army. During his service as a message runner on the Western Front, Hitler was part of major historical battles including the “Massacre of the Innocents” at Ypres, and the Battle of the Somme. He was injured twice (once due to artillery; once due to chemical weapons) and decorated for bravery twice.

While recovering from his mustard gas injury (which had temporarily blinded him), Hitler learned the news of Germany’s defeat. This was devastating news to the injured soldier, and it was during his recovery time he made a plan. He said, “When I was confined to bed, the idea came to me that I would liberate Germany, that I would make it great. I knew immediately that it would be realized” (Langer, p. 37). After his recovery, he went on to work out his plan which was published in his two-volume manifesto, Mein Kampf, which became like a “bible” to the Nazis.

The punishment invoked on the Germans, thanks to the Treaty of Versailles, was more than they could handle. Their money was worth nothing: some used it as wallpaper, while others burned it to stay warm. Their territory was dramatically decreased, their forces decimated, and their troops were forced out of the Rhineland. Bankrupt, humiliated, and desperate for a new sense of national identity, the German people were easily manipulated by a charismatic young leader who had a plan, offered new hope, and more than anything else, redefined what it meant to be German.

Space will not allow for the documentation of the conditions that made Hitler’s ascension to the highest position in the German government possible or his multitudinous accomplishments while in power; however, I would like to make a few.

First, Hitler began by redacting and revising the written history of the Great
War by presenting those who signed the Armistice as traitors.

The stab-in-the-back myth (Dolchstoßlegende) is the notion, widely believed in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the
republicans who overthrew the monarchy. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the ‘November Criminals.’ The myth was widespread, and upon seizing power, they wrote the legend into their official history.” (Wikipedia, “Stab-in-the-back myth”)

By rewriting history, Hitler kindled the flames of anti-semitism and reignited a sense of national pride and hope for a better future.

Second, Hitler believed that the key to Germany’s future laid with its youngest members of society.  

In Hitler’s Germany, education would be the key that ensured that he had ‘the youth’ of Germany. Hitler’s view on education was that it served a sole purpose – to ensure that a child was loyal to the Nazi state to ensure that the Third Reich lasted for 1000 years.” (HistoryLearningSite.com)

The first book a German child would read upon entering Kindergarten was a
primer—the cover of which was extremely antisemitic. The title of the book is,
Trust No Fox on His Green Health, and No Jew on His Oath.

fuchs1_1_.jpg
Image source: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/fuchs.htm

Hitler worked very hard to make sure the children were trained to be physically fit, to detest Jews, and to have a very ingrained sense of national pride.

Third, although Hitler was the mastermind of his “empire,” he could not have achieved what he did without the help of his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Together Hitler and Goebbels used every means possible to spread their doctrine of Aryan supremacy and anti-Semitism. He organized book burnings, boycotts, and pogroms. Each of these, in its own way, contributed to the sense of a national identity as “other” and “special” and “superior” to others.

Censorship, propaganda, revised history, community events—Hitler (with the help of Goebbels) used all of these tactics to sway hundreds of thousands of Germans to see the world as he saw it, seek his approval for their actions, and follow his leadership. Hitler even rewrote the Bible!

Now that we have reflected on some of Hitler’s accomplishments, I would like to suggest that—even in these modern times with the internet at our fingertips—this same ability to create a sense of national identity after utter defeat by redacting and revising written history exists today, although a society’s instant access to information makes it much more difficult to do this on a national level. But it can be done.

Countries under tyrannical rule are the most vulnerable. Current possibilities include the people of North Korea under Kim Jong Un, the people of Russia under Vladimir Putin, and honestly, some of it is even happening here in America right now under the current leadership. Although the United States has not “lost” a war recently, some might argue that 9/11 generated the same reactionary behavior and identity crisis that a loss would have created–history is being rewritten, freedoms are being withdrawn, and in some cases, even the news is being filtered.

When a people who were previously united with a loose sense of self become utterly defeated, there is a great need for reinterpretation of past events, reflection on the current situation, and re-envisioning of the future. What the Biblical writers were able to accomplish for the Jewish people is truly incredible and, one could argue, supernaturally inspired. It will never be duplicated, because it happened at the perfect time and under specific circumstances in history. It will definitely be imitated whenever there is utter defeat.

CITED SOURCES:

“Adolf Hitler and Education”. HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2012. Web. 

Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report. New York: Basic Books, 1943.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Stab-in-the-back myth’, Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopedia,
13 June 2014, 20:17 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stab-in-the-back_myth&oldid=612808911> [accessed 3 July 2014]

Book Review: “Abandoned Faith” by McFarland & Jimenez

Abandoned Faith

Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez

Over the past few years, I’ve been heartbroken to observe the turning away from faith by a few of my nieces and nephews. Although they were raised in Christian homes and stem from a strong faith heritage (my father has been a full-time pastor since 1966), they have, for all intents and purposes, rejected God. How does something like this happen? Why would a young man or woman—who was raised by Christian parents and grandparents; who was taught about God from a young age; who “invited Jesus into his/her heart” early in life; who knows how to pray; who has served when asked—turn his or her heart away from God and towards a worldview in total opposition to Him?

The truth is, most parents try to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. Unfortunately, many of these children (now adults) still turn away from Christianity.” (p. 6)

In their timely book, Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez explain what is going on, examine the root causes of this modern phenomenon, and offer valuable advice for parents, grandparents, and other adults who are deeply concerned about the choices their children and grandchildren (and nieces and nephews) are making which will affect their lives both now and eternally. While there is no official definition of the age range of millennials at this time, most demographers place their birth between the early-1980s and the mid-1990s with some extending it through the early 2000s.1

Based on well-documented research about the millennial generation and years of personal experience working with this age group, the authors present an excellent overview of what makes millennials tick, how they view the world, what it is they are seeking, and how to help them become rooted in Christ. Their insights are extremely valuable and relevant; their solutions, doable.

Following the model Jesus set forth in Matthew 7:3-5, the authors challenge their readers to first “take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words, with compassion and boldness, they encourage their readers to first look at their own spiritual lives before that of their children.

Unfortunately, many of the problems millennials deal with stem from their parents…whatever the case—if we are going to see major turnaround among millennials, they need to see a change first in moms and dads.” (page 9)

One by one, the authors gently peel back the layers of parenting in order to reveal that many Christians are in unspeakable pain because of the decisions their adult children have made. They are paralyzed by fear and doubt as they suffer under waves of regret regarding their parenting blunders. By encouraging the reader to let go of “fear-driven” parenting and focus instead on “faith-driven” parenting, McFarland and Jimenez challenge moms and dads to lean into their unique and influential roles in the lives of their adult children:

You are God’s stewards. You represent Him and have been given the authority and responsibility to serve and to demonstrate His love graciously.” (page 19)

We must remember that as parents, we have a LIFELONG role in shaping our children’s perception of God and what it means to be a Christian—this doesn’t stop when they turn eighteen.

Once we’ve looked within, confessed our sins, and gotten our own lives right with the Lord, we are in a better position to understand what is going on with our children. Out of the seven key reasons for faith abandonment common among millennial Christians, the first reason will probably come as a surprise to some of my readers, but it’s true.

Many millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) who claim to be Christian never had a true conversion to begin with.” (page 27)

“But wait!” you exclaim…

  • “He was active in the youth group!”
  • “She went on missions trips!”
  • “They went to church camp every summer!”
  • “He went to a Christian school!”

Activity does NOT not equal relationship. What they have discovered is that young adults who lack deep, relational roots in the faith will fall away when confronted with questions they are unprepared to answer. Remember the parable of the sower. Not everything that sprouts thrives.

Not everything that sprouts thrives ~ Laura Zielke #abandonedfaith @jasonpjimenez @alexmcfarland Click To Tweet

The book is organized into four key sections:

  1. What Went Wrong?
    Offering both hope and explanation, this section focuses on the roles of society, parents, and the church in the lives of millennials.
    .
  2. Forces Shaping Our Sons and Daughters
    This section paints an excellent picture of who millennials are, what drives them, and how much we need them in our lives and organizations.
    .
  3. Steps to Mend and Move Forward 
    With practical tips for helping to sustain and/or rebuild parent/adult-child relationships, this section will help the parent (or boss) understand how to relate to young adults.
    .
  4. Winning Back Your Millennial Child
    Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Practical tools include a prayer map for your millennial as well as instructions for building a foundation of biblical truth.
  • Appendix: When There Is a Failure to Launch
    This bonus section gives step-by-step instructions to help parents help their millennials move out on their own and enjoy a life of independence. 

Hope for MillennialsWhether or not they have walked away from the faith, if you have millennial children or grandchildren (or maybe they are post-millennial, like mine), you will benefit from reading Abandoned Faith. By the time you finish it, not only will you have a better understanding of millennials in general, you’ll also have a more clear picture of the millennial(s) in your own life. You will have more insight into the ways we, as parents, have exacerbated the problem and how we might contribute to the solution. Abandoned Faith will help you become more transparent with your kids about your own faith journey, struggles, and victories. This type of authenticity strengthens the parent-child bond and could potentially help your child come to (or return to) a fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

McFarland and Jimenez remind us that God has not given up on this generation, and neither should we. The LORD continues to reach out in love to ALL who call on His Name.

I highly recommend Abandoned Faith to anyone in a parental or work relationship with millennials. My hope is that pastors, ministers, young adult workers, grandparents of millennials, and anyone else interested in reaching this generation for the Lord will make an investment in this book and read it from cover to cover. By understanding ways the church has failed this generation, readers will be empowered to change course and make necessary changes before it’s too late.

1 Wikipedia contributors, “Millennials,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Millennials&oldid=773009995(accessed April 1, 2017).


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The Coming Apostasy

Book Review: The Coming Apostasy

The Coming Apostasy: Exposing the Sabotage of Christianity from Within by Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley

Every once in a while, something comes along that stops you in your tracks—all surrounding noise fades to a quiet stillness; the sardined space in your mind quickly expands to include long-forgotten memories; and you are immediately transported to that place from whence you came. The Coming Apostasy did that to me.

Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste // Cumberland County Museum & Archives, Amherst, Nova Scotia Canada

The book opens with a brief sketch of the “ghost ship” Mary Celeste and the mysterious disappearance of the family and crew which sailed her in 1872. The battered and abandoned vessel provides a convenient analogy to describe the church adrift in the midst of moral and spiritual crises. With vivid apocalyptic imagery, rich symbolism, and a cacophony of current headlines, the authors begin to build their case that we are in the last (final) days of this world. An an impassioned voice sounds the warning siren and cries: “It’s almost here! Are you ready?” 

Suddenly, I am six years old again, and various scenes from the movie A Thief in the Night flash furiously in my mind: There’s a woman searching for her family—they are gone, but she was left behind. It was a dream. There’s a little girl standing by the stove in the kitchen—the burner is on, and the contents of a saucepan are boiling, but her mother is nowhere to be found—she assumes she’s been left behind. As she screams in terror, her mother rushes into the room, and together they pray so when the Rapture occurs, she won’t be left behind. It was a dream, but then it wasn’t. The woman runs to a church to find it empty except for the pastor—the congregation is gone, but he was left behind.

Thief in the Night
Stillshot from the kitchen scene (A Thief in the Night)

Fast forward five years. I’m eleven years old, and the same gal from the first movie is starring in the sequel. She’s still not accepted Jesus into her heart, but for some reason, she is also refusing “the mark” which is now required to buy and sell anything. Near the end of the movie, she witnesses a friend’s beheading on the guillotine. The crime? Refusing the mark. And now, the chorus of Larry Norman’s hit single “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” is stuck in a loop on the jukebox of my mind.

I was raised with a “pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, dispensationalist, rapture-oriented” perspective. I cut my teeth on Tim LaHaye’s end times teachings years before he and Jerry Jenkins ever wrote their bestselling “Left Behind” series. And the movie A Thief in the Night had me so freaked out as a child that—for months after I saw it—whenever I found myself unexpectedly alone, I replayed the girl-by-the-stove scene in my head and wondered if I’d been left behind. (I’m not kidding.) It took lots of re-assurances of salvation and mini-theology lessons before I finally let that fear go.

The Coming ApostasyNeedless to say, when I decided to preview the new book The Coming Apostasy, it was a conscious decision to revisit my theological heritage and compare it to what I know to be true. I’m not a little girl anymore. I’ve had formal theological training and spent the last three decades studying and teaching the Bible. I was anxious to compare the current teachings of these authors to the Scriptures and “pop end-times culture” in order to answer a nagging question: Has anything changed in the last 40 years with regards to end times teaching? Because at this point in my life, I’ve survived at least three or four “second comings,” Y2K, numerous “blood moons,” and one “Mayan Apocalypse.” I was hopeful they were not setting yet another date for Doom’s Day!

In other words, I was slightly skeptical—especially after the authors set the stage for their thesis by recounting a number horrific current events including everything from the exponential rise in human trafficking across the globe to the blatant barbarism of ISIS and the incessant threats from Iran’s leadership to annihilate Israel.

According to authors Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley, we are on a trajectory towards the climax of world history and our velocity has been accelerated. These are the end times. The last days. The time is now upon us when God and His followers are rejected, ridiculed, and relegated to the sidelines of society. It’s a perilous period of time immediately preceding what many expect to be the second coming of Christ—when Jesus stops knocking at the door (Rev. 3:20) and instead busts it down, and everyone on earth will mourn for Him (Rev. 1:7). And then, judgment.

Has anything changed in the last 40 years?

Over the past forty years, the world around us has dramatically changed, and the church has matured in its understanding of end times. We know God has a plan, and He is working it. We know it’s not our job to guess when Jesus will return or attempt to accelerate the timeline (as if we could do anything to affect God’s perfect timing). We know our job is to share the gospel message (Matt. 28:18-20) and protect ourselves from deception and false teaching in these last days (Col. 2:8).

I LOVED The Coming Apostasy*. The authors have a high view of Scripture and repeatedly steer Believers back to Bible basics. They plead with their readers to avoid tampering with the time-tested teachings of the Bible in order to placate modern masses; to stand for what is right, even when the world says we are wrong; to maintain an attitude of humility; and to put what we’ve learned into practice.

When we pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake or when we fail to apply what God’s Word reveals to us, we are setting ourselves up to become proud and bloated…The Word of God always leads us to the person of God. It’s never an end unto itself. Truth comes from God to us in order that we may respond accordingly and live that truth back to God” (pp. 52-53).

They also warn us to be very, very careful with interpretation: “Sincerity is no substitute for biblical integrity” (pg. 59).  I couldn’t agree more. 

Without a clear understanding of Scripture and a constant calibration of our hearts and minds to God’s Word, the truth in us can fade and even morph to accommodate our feelings or the changing times” (pp. 59-60).

Kinley and Hitchcock are committed to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God—authoritative for every issue in our lives. What the Bible says we should do, we do. What it says we should avoid, we avoid. Period. “God’s Word is our source for detecting and rejecting apostasy” (pg. 114). It’s important to note that when they are referring to God’s Word, they are referring to the proper interpretation of it. And I’d like to clarify something that is mentioned in passing in the book, but could have used a bit more attention: biblical hermeneutics. 

The authors at Theopedia.com define hermeneutics as “the science of interpreting what an author has written.” They continue: 

In Christian theology, hermeneutics focuses specifically on constructing and discovering the appropriate rules for interpreting the Bible. These methods and principles, however, are often drawn from outside of scripture in historical, literary or other fields. It inevitably involves exegesis, which is the act of interpreting or explaining the meaning of scripture. The goal in applying the principles of hermeneutics is to ‘rightly handle the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15), striving to accurately discern the meaning of the text.” “Hermeneutics,” Theopedia

In other words, there exist guidelines and standards for proper biblical interpretation, and it is when these rules are either ignored or twisted that we end up with false doctrine in the church. The authors of The Coming Apostasy are frustrated with “professing Christians” (especially famous ones like Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, and Jen Hatmaker) who—in their opinion—have “decided to fit in rather than stand out” in society. The authors contend that this “moral freefall” is only possible because of unbiblical compromises and improper interpretation of clear passages.

There’s just one problem…

** It is at this point that I have to insert a caveat: I HATED the premise of Chapter 7.
In fact, I disagree so much with their decision to focus on one particular sin
that I’m writing a separate review specifically for Chapter 7 (click here to read it). **

Chapter 8 is entitled “Will the Real Jesus Stand up?”—I loved this chapter! In it, Kinley and Hitchcock present three popular “Christ caricatures” including: Hipster Jesus, Equality Jesus, and Patriotic Jesus. Each easily recognizable caricature captures a particular part of Jesus’ personality and ministry methodology, but none of them is complete on its own. And none of them bear much resemblance to the complete picture of the Savior as recorded in the Bible.

Thanks to the overwhelming secularization in society, we’re beginning to see a dramatic drop in the most basic biblical knowledge about Jesus…But among those in America with a rudimentary knowledge of Christ, many have rejected long-held beliefs about the Son of God, favoring instead a re-imagined version of Him. To them, He’s due for an upgrade—Jesus 2.0, and new and improved Christ for a new generation” (pg. 139).

The authors are spot-on theologically when they say, “The portrait of Jesus that Scripture paints cannot be improved upon” (pg. 144). Amen, and amen. “By detaching ourselves from Scripture’s Jesus, we not only end up with the wrong Jesus, but we also short-circuit the very power of the gospel” (pp. 144-145). Can you imagine? May it never be!

One thing we know for certain: the end is coming. God has a plan, and He’s been moving it forward since the beginning of time. His redemption is available to everyone who calls upon His Name. There is forgiveness available to everyone. Every. One. We have all sinned and fallen short of what could have been (Rom. 3:23). And yet, while we were still living in our sinful state—according to our own whims and desires; never giving God a second thought (or third thought); never darkening the door of a church building or even owning a Bible—God became a man and made a way where there was no way. And that way is still available to everyone today. It always will be. (Click here to learn more about this.)

How Should We Then Live?

Having made their case for these being the “last days” and some in the church capitulating to current cultural expectations, The Coming Apostasy concludes with a four-point answer to the question, “How should we then live?”

  1. Remember ~ We need to remember that we were warned about false teachers and false teachings nearly 2,000 years ago, and the fact that they exist should be no surprise.
    .
  2. Remain ~ We must commit ourselves to spiritual growth through prayer, Bible study, obedience, and anticipation of His return.
    .
  3. Reach Out ~ We should reach out with compassion and mercy to those who have been deceived by false teachers while guarding our own hearts with truth so we don’t fall into the same trap.
    .
  4. Rest ~ We can rest knowing that our eternal destiny is with Him.

The book ends with a clear, concise, biblical presentation of the gospel message and an invitation to the reader to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because, when it all comes down, the goal for any Christian is to save as many as we can from eternal separation from the Lord. Though we are living in the end times, we are not alone…and we know how the story ends. 

* I highly recommend The Coming Apostasy to everyone (especially pastors and Bible study leaders) with this caution: BEWARE of Chapter 7. In it, the authors select one sin and focus on it and neglect numerous others which are also clearly prohibited in Scripture. I was mortified at their labeling homosexual behavior as the “watershed of apostasy” in the church. Although the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is wrong, nowhere in Scripture is any one sin singled out as “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” with regards to end times (or any other time for that matter). In fact, Scripture is very clear about what God hates and what sins will be rampant in the last days:

These six things the Lord hates,
…..Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
…..A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
…..A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
…..A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.”
Proverbs 6:16-19

AND

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  2 Timothy 3:1-5

Therefore, when you read Chapter 7, do so with the understanding that the authors have chosen to focus on ONE clearly condemned sin and to ignore others which are also clearly condemned, have been around just as long, and are actually more prevalent in the church than homosexuality.

Because I truly enjoyed The Coming Apostasy, I cannot not recommend it. However, I also cannot recommend it wholeheartedly without addressing the problems in Chapter 7; therefore, I am writing a completely separate review of Chapter 7 which you can read HERE.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How We Got Our Bible

This week, we enjoyed a wonderful presentation by class member David Pikett. He explained how the Bible was transmitted down through the ages with a focus on English translations, as well as some information on canonization.

How We Got Our Bible

Translation and Canonization

* Recorded: LIVE. This audio has been edited for class member privacy, time, and content.

One of the questions asked during the lesson was about which translation the Anglicans use(d). According to AnglicansOnline.org:

The original Anglican Bible was the so-called King James Bible, the Authorised Version. It exists in the original, and also as several modern revised versions. The Jerusalem Bible and the New English Bible are more recent translations.

PowerPoint 

Timeline of Bible Translations

Bible Translation Timeline

Additional Sites for Further Research:

—————————————————————————————————————-

Banner and social media image credit:
Photo of the Gutenberg Bible at the Library of Congress Š 2014 John Zielke.