Friday, November 21, 2014

Samuel Rutherford -Bitsized Biography by Richard Hannula

I did not know much about Samuel Rutherford before reading this 'bite-sized'  biography by Richard Hannula.  I associated his name with the song "The Sands of Time are Sinking" and thought that he was the author.  The content of the song made me desire to know more about Mr. Rutherford. It turns out that the song was written by Anne Ross Cousin, but it was inspired by Mr. Rutherford's writings and sayings, so my curiosity stayed. Samuel Rutherford was a Scottish pastor who lived in the 1600s who underwent persecution along with other Christians under the reigns of Charles the I and II.   He was married twice(his first wife died) and had nine children altogether, only one survived him.  One of the things I admired about God's working in him was his deep love for his congregation, even when banished from them he was concerned with their welfare, and kept up a correspondence with them to keep encouraging them in their lives as Christians. 

Though very focused upon the life that we will have with Christ "beyond the veil", Mr. Rutherford seemed to morph the worldly kingdoms/governments of this life set up by man(Christian or not)with the Eternal Kingdom that Christ will set up Himself.  And the author seemed to agree to some extent as he mentions at one point that Rutherford, "unwisely linked the cause of the covenanter army with the cause of Christ".  Rutherford and his colleagues seemed intent upon having all of the Scottish people governed not just physically, but spiritually as well, even to the point of coercion, "Rutherford urged Parliament to impose the true Christian faith in a unified national church…".  He appears to have defended 'Christian armies', fighting for their rights when a King uses His power wrongly.  Ironically, in his defense of Covenanter resistance to King Charles he compared the King to Nero, the same wicked Caesar who was probably in power when the Apostle Paul wrote, "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."(Rom 13:1 NASB)  Paul did not call for the Christians to raise up an army in defense of the faith, nor did any of the Apostles when there was persecution from the government or from religious leaders.  Also, another problem I had, and this is going to sound really odd, Mr. Rutherford seemed so focused upon Christ that God the Son almost seems to eclipse God the Father in his eyes.  But that might just be because of the quotes that were selected for this book.  

All in all this was a nice look at the life of Rutherford, and, as with all biographies of Christians, it makes one amazed and comforted by the amazing grace of God in using such flawed instruments as mankind. The book is quite small, and truly is 'bite-sized' enabling you to quickly learn about Rutherford and to get a taste for whether or not you'd like to read his works, or a larger biography like the ones listed at the end of this book. 

I'll end  with one of my favorite quotes from the book by Rutherford, "Look beyond time…they have but children's wit who are delighted with shadows and diluted with feathers flying in the air."


Many thanks to the folks at Cross Focused Reviews for sending me a free review copy of this book to review(My review did not have to be favorable.)
This book may be found on Amazon

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

When I first looked at Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary I was quite impressed.  It is very nicely bound, and quite "fancy".  It has several maps, modern pictures of the places being described, pictures of various archaeological finds and many other illustrations.  Much of the information it gives seems quite good. For instance, in their definition of Agape love, they explain that the term "unconditional love" is not the right definition, Agape love is:  "primarily a love of the will rather than the emotions.  The New Testament never speaks of God loving unbelieving human beings with emotional love…He loves with His will…". I loved a lot of their entries on particular people in the Bible, in a nice condensed summary of who they were and the events in their lives, I also really like the descriptions of various Biblical places, where they were located, what happened there...etc.

But, sadly, the negatives outweigh the positives so that I can't recommend this dictionary.  The primary reason is that some of the illustrations were extremely inappropriate(completely unclothed people), they are absolutely unnecessary and would prohibit children(or even adults like me) from being able to use the dictionary until the pictures are blotted out. The only ones I can think of right now were drawings and hieroglyphic type of pictures, but I don't think that makes it any more decent.  I would have rated it higher if it weren't for these pictures.  Also, some of the entries are biblically inaccurate.  Their view of the creation account in Genesis is appalling, "Skeptics have ridiculed the creation story in Genesis because it reports that the creation occurred in six days.  But the indefinite meaning of 'day' takes care of this objection.."  A "day" with an evening and a morning is not indefinite!!! It means one 24-hour day!  Who cares what the Skeptics think, we should care about what God SAYS happened, not disregarding His Word simply because some people doubt it.   But if it weren't for the bad pictures, I'd still have recommended it highly because of the information on the Biblical places, people, and things.

I received a free review copy of this book from the Booklook blogger program in exchange for my review which did not have to be favorable.