The New Covenant by Bob Emery (Book Review)

The New Covenant

The New Covenant is a collection of three historical novels by Bob Emery which were originally published separately. In this volume they are labeled as parts titled “The Messenger,” “The Message,” and “The Marriage: The Final Revelation.” All three feature the Apostle John as the main character.

Part I follows John and Timothy as they tour Jerusalem and discuss the life and times of Jesus. Part II dramatizes the writing of the books of the New Testament by John and the other apostles. And in Part III, John spends an evening discussing the book of Revelation with a group of believers.

These are very unusual novels. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but they’re not what one would typically expect.

Is God Pleased about the Death of His Saints?

Gravestone

There’s a certain verse that gets quoted at just about every Christian funeral. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. I usually hear it in the King James Version, which goes like this:

Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15, KJV)

What are we to make of this? Does God enjoy seeing his followers die?

A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd (Book Review)

A Farewell to Mars

There was a time when Brian Zahnd prayed war prayers, asking God to bless America’s militarism. He, like so many other American Evangelicals, had a picture of God that was much more akin to Mars, the god of war, than to Jesus, “that preacher of peace.” But Brian has repented of his nationalistic idolatry, and he invites us to do the same.

This book was of interest to me, as I too have recently become convinced that Jesus taught a gospel peace and nonviolence. We simply cannot fulfill his command to love our enemies if we kill them. A Farewell to Mars promises to chronicle Brian’s “own journey from war crier to peacemaker” as he “reintroduces us to the gospel of Peace.”

Having now read it, I’m simultaneously delighted and disappointed. Delighted because I enjoyed every page—and disappointed because the book failed to do what it promised. This is a fantastic book; it simply is not the book that was advertised.

What Did Jesus Think of the Revolution?

Revolution

More than two centuries ago, the founding fathers of this country signed a statement known as the Declaration of Independence. This document officialized the American colonies’ break from Great Britain. The colonists believed they were justified in this action—along with the bloody conflict itself—due to an increase in taxes without sufficient representation. In fact, many of them were convinced that God was on their side in the war for independence from their oppressors. Let the revolution begin!

A similar situation existed two millennia ago. Much like the colonists under British rule, the Jews were under the oppressive rule of Rome. However, Israel was not a rightful colony of Rome; their land had been taken by force. Like the colonists, the Jews faced heavy taxation, but they also faced constant abuse, and their whole way of life was being destroyed. They couldn’t do anything without the interference of Rome. Caesar even considered himself to be god—the ultimate blasphemy against Yahweh.

Surely, they were justified in their desire to break from Rome. Surely, God was on their side.

Sound Doctrine, Heresy, and Theological Divisions

Persecution

The blogosphere has been buzzing recently with charges of heresy. But what is heresy? Is it a question of one’s theology? And is that theology something worth dividing over? I addressed these questions in a chapter for the upcoming book, What We’re For, edited by Eric Carpenter and scheduled to be published through Redeeming Press this Fall. What follows is an excerpt from my chapter, adapted with permission for this blog post.


When believers separate over theology, it is usually because one or both sides think the other’s theology is so badly wrong that they cannot remain in fellowship. As justification for this divisive behavior, they often appeal to verses that talk about “sound doctrine” or “heresy.” Of course, both groups pridefully imagine that they are protectors of sound doctrine but that the other group promotes heresy. This approach has caused the majority of schisms and persecutions throughout church history. It also reveals a misunderstanding of both sound doctrine and heresy as spoken of in the Bible.