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Book Review: A Journey in Grace, A Theological Novel by Richard P. Belcher

Yes it is true, I, a non-Presbyterian, married a Presbyterian. I now go to a Presbyterian church. Yet, not being raised with reformed doctrine, I don’t always understand all the terms and theology, to make matters worse I don’t always know if I agree with them. The questions that keeps rattling around in my mind run like this, “what are we going to teach our children?”  “what am I going to say if they have questions?” So I have decided to read some books on reformed theology more specifically the 5 points of Calvinism. Hence the book. review.

A Journey in Grace: A Theological Novel by Richard P. Belcher Published by Richbarry Press, 1990, 2002

This book follows the story of a young Baptist theological student as he studies the five points of Calvinism (John Calvin’s view of how Jesus saves a person as he saw it from the Bible).

  1. Total Depravity
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited Atonement
  4. Irresistible Grace
  5. Perseverance of the Saints

The young man, Ira Pointer, who before had been totally unfamiliar with these doctrines, searches through the scriptures to answer doubts and questions raised by his own mind (and others) concerning the 5 points. He also comes into contact with preachers who are either “hyper-calvinist” (meaning they don’t believe in witnessing or missions or intercessory prayer) and love bashing people over the head with their doctrine, and preachers who are “Calvinist-haters” and love condemning any Christian’s ministry who believes this theology. Ira comes to realize how these views are not scriptural but a twisting of scripture. Overall this book was a good introduction to the Calvinist view of theology. It helped me to understand where in the Bible theologians saw these points.

The book is only 240 pages long, making it a quick read. The story is rather lame and not that well written, but the purpose of the book is not the story. That being said, it does help you read the book, otherwise it would have probably taken me a year to read through a 200 page book solely on theology. There is also a lot of internal review which helped me not to lose track of the theology discussion in the midst of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who want a good introduction to the basic tenets of Calvinist theology.

As of yet, my conclusions have not been draw, so you may see more books like this on my blog as I probe deeper into reformed theology.

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7 Evidences the Bible is Inerrant

Is the Bible Inerrant?

This is a big question many Christians face today. Many scholars have done their best to tear down the authority of scripture to the point that, sadly, many Christians do not believe in the inerrancy of God’s word. There are those (like myself) who believe wholeheartedly that the Bible is inerrant but who has no idea how to “prove” it to a skeptic.

A couple weeks ago in Sunday school, we watched a great video presentation by Charlie Campbell called 7 Evidences the Bible is Inerrant. It completely answered my question of “yes, I believe, but how do I explain it to the skeptics?” Here is just a brief summary of what he covered on the hour long session.

7 Evidences the Bible is Inerrant

1. Fulfilled Prophecy: no other religious book contains so much specific fulfilled prophecies. For example: 600 years before Jesus came it was prophesied the  Messiah would be born of Abraham’s seed, in the tribe of Judah, of the house of David, in the city of Bethlehem. Daniel pinpoints the exact time period the Messiah would also be born in 500 years before his birth. There is no way that Christians could have “doctored” up these prophecies. The Dead Sea Scroll (which predate Christ) contain manuscripts of the prophets writing.

2. Archaeological Evidences: The Bible is historically reliable. If it talks about a city, a person could go dig around in the dirt and find that city. In fact the Bible is so accurate, archaeologist has started going to it for information. Dr. Nelson Glueck is quoted as saying, …”No archaeological discovery has ever discredited the Bible…in fact the Bible’s evidences has lead to the discovery of many things.” Here are just a few examples: there was a stone found with writing on it pronouncing a curse on King David. Caiaphas’s (the high priest who wanted Jesus dead)  tomb was found. The Megiddo Church (very old church probably one of the first churches) has a very old plaque dedicated to the God Jesus Christ. These are just a couple of MANY discoveries proving the accuracies of the Bible. Unfortunately, the Book of Mormon is not so fortunate. Some of the places mentioned in there are completely fabricated.

3. The Bible’s Internal Consistency: The Bible consists of 66 books, written by 40 different authors over a 1500 year period, covering 60 generations, on 3 different continents, in 3 languages not to mention many different styles (history, poetry, prophecy, letters, narratives etc.) yet it harmonizes all the way through. In the original language there is no contradictions of message. The Koran, written by one man, cannot boast total consistency.

4. Extrabiblical Writings: The people in the Bible cannot be just figments of the disciples imaginations. There are external sources that verify at least 60 persons from the Bible. Josephus mentions that Jesus was a good man who lived and then was crucified by the Romans after that he mentions that Jesus’ disciples claimed He rose from the dead. There are 39 other non-Christian sources within 150 years of Christ’s death that speak of Jesus and his contemporaries.

5. Bible’s Amazing Scientific Accuracy and Foresight:  The Bible doesn’t contradict science. Not all other religious books can make this claim. For example, Sura 18:86 of the Koran mentions that Alexander the Great “…when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water…” King David also speaks about the sun in Psalms 19:6 “Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat” (NKJV). The Hindus believed that the earth was set on an elephant who stood on a turtle who swam in a great ocean. Job, a contemporary of them wrote “… He [God] hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7 NKJV). In fact, I think the Bible might have been a little bit ahead of science on that one since scientists didn’t figure this concept out till around 1650 AD. Jeremiah the Prophet mentions that the “…host of heaven (stars) cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured…” (Jeremiah 33:22, NKJV). Kepler said there were only 1006 stars. Thankfully Carl Sagan was a little more astute when he said, “there were more stars in the heavens than there are sand on the beaches of earth.” Oh and one last one, Isaiah the prophet says that the Lord “sits above the circle of the earth.” His contemporaries probably thought he was a moron; they all thought the earth was flat. So how did these guys know stuff that their contemporaries didn’t? Simple, God wrote through them (2 Peter 1:21).

6. Manuscript Evidence:  a big objection of the skeptics to the Bible is the complaint that the Bible’s manuscripts haven’t been accurately translated throughout the generations. A manuscript is anything handwritten predating 1455 and the printing press. there are 24,000 partial of complete New Testament manuscripts. The ancient church father quoted the New Testament 86,000 times.In fact, if we lost the New Testament today, we could piece 97% of it back together with just quotes from the ancient church fathers (Justin Maryter, Polycarp, Tertullian etc.). But that’s just the New Testament, what about the Old Testament? Three words: Dead Sea Scrolls. This proves that the Bible and it’s message hasn’t been changed.

7. The Willingness of Jesus Disciples to Suffer: there are many many Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians that have died for their faith because they believe they had the truth.Yet, people die for what they think is true, not allow themselves to be brutally killed for what they know to be a fabricated lie. Almost all of Jesus disciples died nasty and disgusting deaths like having all their skin cut off, boiled in oil, burned to death, shot to death with arrows, crucified upsidedown were just among a few of their deaths. Why would they allow this if they just fabricated everything? Self-preservation is pretty high human instinct. There may have been 1 crazy disciple willing to die for a lie but 11? I highly doubt it. Their message got them killed or kicked out of their own country (and any other country they went to). Yet at Jesus’ arrest, they all ran away and let him be taken. At his death and after, they hid in a little room embarrassed for following this man. What changed? The fact that they realized Jesus is God after he rose from the dead.

The Bible is not just an amazing piece of literature. It is the word of God. Why is this important? As Charile Campbell said, “Our faith should be grounded on fact not feeling.” I’m not going to be ashamed anymore to mention that what I believe, or I should say know, is true.

To find out more about this subject check out Charlie Campbell’s website