Friday, October 7, 2011

Recent Reads

The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, is part science fiction, part mystery, and part alternate history.  Throw in a focus on classic literature, and you have a strange book.  Heroine Thursday Next is with the LiteraTec dept. of the Spec Ops law enforcement agency in England, 1985.  In this place and time, literature is taken very seriously, and crimes against literature are criminal offenses.  With advanced technology softening the boundaries between real world and literary world, beloved fictional characters are in danger of being victimized by criminals in the real world.  The Eyre Affair is the first in the Thursday Next series, but it may be the last one I read.  "It's okay" is the best I can say for it.
My rating (out of 5): 2 1/2

Tonight I finished reading Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, by Harry Kemelman, to Sara.  We both enjoyed it.  A good accessible mystery, with insight into modern Judaism thrown in.  This is the first in the series.  Already a profitable relationship between Rabbi David Small and Police Chief Hugh Lanigan is developing.
My rating: 3 1/2

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981, by Iain H. Murray, is the second and final volume of this brilliant preacher's life.  There is very little that inspires my thinking and increases my passion for the Lord like biographies of godly men and women.  And this 2-volume biography (at a little over 1200 pages total), is among the best.  This second volume covers Lloyd-Jones's 29-year ministry at Westminster Chapel (1939-1968) as well as his "retirement" years, which were actually years spent in writing and other forms of ministry.  One of the larger sections of the book covers his involvement and controversial stance in the whole push for unity that began to cross Europe in the late 50s, receiving some impetus from the Billy Graham Crusades.  During this time, Lloyd-Jones crosses paths with other well-known evangelical leaders, such as J. I. Packer, John Stott, as well as Billy Graham.  His position on unity, carefully articulated by Murray, left him at philosophical and theological odds with these 3 men, as well as with many others.  The great benefit of reading this book is its spiritual impact on the reader (at least on me).
My rating: 5

In Pursuit of HIS Glory is the autobiography of R. T. Kendall, another man who enjoyed a long pastorate at Westminster Chapel--25 years, to be exact: 1977-2002.  As soon as I finished the Lloyd-Jones bio, I turned to this one, which my parents gave me a year or so ago, because I thought it would be interesting to read of Kendall's connections with Lloyd-Jones, especially in light of mention made of Kendall at the end of the Lloyd-Jones bio.  The two books, in a way, are a study in contrasts.  Both men were reformed in theology, but they were different in practice.  One example: Lloyd-Jones never gave an altar call, felt they falsely induced people into a (deplorable) decision for Christ that was not based in the reality of the new birth, which could only be brought about by the Spirit.  Kendall introduced altar calls and gave them regularly.  Kendall's book challenged me because of his openness and advocacy of the Charismatic movement and his endorsement of such men as Paul Cain.  Men like Cain and Rodney Howard-Browne prophesied about Kendall and others around him, as well as about Westminster.  Some of their prophecies came true, but some did not.  I have a problem with that.  And Kendall's openness to the Toronto Blessing and "holy laughter" gave me pause.  What Kendall desired above all was revival, and he was open to the Spirit possibly working in new ways.  He didn't want to miss the Spirit.  Kendall freely admits, too, his obsession with attendance numbers as a means of legitimizing his ministry.  He acknowledges his weakness in that area, but also partially justifies it.  What I didn't realize until the end of the book was that his congregation was 200-400 throughout his ministry, and the sanctuary held 2500!  That would seem empty.  Kendall's theology for the most part seems sound, though his openness to people like Cain and Howard-Browne seems dubious to me, though he does credit Howard-Browne with healing his wife of a chronic cough and depression.  Some of his pastoral practices were of interest to me as well.
My rating: 3

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