On Reading Fiction in 2016

Daniel Silva has been called one of our generation’s finest writers of international intrigue, a spy novelist extraordinaire. I was introduced to one of Silva’s novels by a pastor friend several years ago. I confess the book he recommended was so compelling, haunting, and brilliant that I could hardly put it down. I finished it in just a few days. Thus began what turned out to be a “love affair” with the fiction of this popular writer. Almost all of Silva’s books have reached #1 New York Times bestselling status within months of their publication. His fan base is huge. I am numbered among them now.

Silva’s first book, situated in World War II, was The Unlikely Spy (1997). It is a novel of love and deception set around the Allied invasion of France. His second and third novels, The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season, were instant New York Times bestsellers and starred two of Silva’s most memorable characters: CIA officer Michael Osbourne and international hit man Jean-Paul Delaroche. I was hooked by

By |December 29th, 2016|Categories: Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Fiction, Israel|

The 110th Birthday of One of the Greatest Christians of the Last Century

bdb188d9-723d-438b-99f1-cc9e9d6f603eToday, February 4, is the 110th birthday of the German pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When I arrived at Wheaton College, as a transfer student in January of 1969, one of the first great joys I experienced was finding the story of Bonhoeffer for the first time. The classic book, The Cost of Discipleship, was my introduction. Later I read his prison papers, a few of his works on ethics and a lot of biography. I did not understand this theology then, and still do not fully understand it now, but I knew greatness and humility when I saw it. Bonhoeffer was truly a great Christian! But here is the point often missed – he was not a “safe” Christian. Anyone who reads him soon realizes that Bonhoeffer was not a typical pastor.

Too few of us have read Bonhoeffer and fewer still have grasped his importance, especially to the modern West. (The popular biography of him a few years ago was helpful in some respects but it also gave some distorted images and caused

John Hagee: Reflections on My Facebook Post (Part 3 of 4)

B166PIn the case of John Hagee very few people within the larger culture are paying attention to his prophecies. Last week I scanned a copy of John Hagee’s book, Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation (Howard Books, 2010), in a Half-Price Bookstore near home. The copy I looked at was called an “Updated Edition.” (I love how these books have to be updated. I wonder why? This is humor dear reader!) The subtitle on this newer edition reads: “Startling Revelations and Promises of Hope.” The cover speaks of “special updates” on: the death of the dollar, a nuclear Iran, the reaction of Israel, and hope for a troubled nation. Hagee writes of the following:

  1. The impending nuclear war in the Middle East
  2. The coming death of the U. S. dollar
  3. The consequences of rejecting Israel
  4. The absolute accuracy of biblical prophecy
  5. The coming Fourth Reich

The dust jacket of this same book says, “As a candid conservative Christian leader . . . this bestselling author courageously sounds an alarm to awaken the American nation from the slumber

The Palestinian-Israel Debate Among Evangelicals and Why It Matters (Part Two)

10509610_10152989938635760_6272610025872651556_n-1My point yesterday about the assumptions of many Christian writers who defend Zionism, and attack younger evangelicals for their liberal views on this issue, is made quite well by Luke W. Moon’s final sentence in his article I cited: “American evangelicals should think very hard about whether they want to give up the opportunity to be a blessing to the nation that blessed us with Jesus Christ.” Wow! If we do not support the modern secular state of Israel then we are missing out on the opportunity to bless the Jews!!!

My response to this sentence is really quite simple: “Are you kidding me?”

I write as one who freely dialogues with rabbis, has some great relationships with Jews and really does believe that the modern state of Israel should exist politically. I also support the broad-based support for Israel against terrorism and extremism. I also write as one who believes that the history of Christianity reveals a tragic response to the Jews that has been anything but consistent with regards to the teaching of Christ, who was himself a

The Palestinian-Israel Debate Among Evangelicals and Why It Matters (Part One)

A growing divide between evangelical Christians, regarding the state of Israel and the Palestinian problem, has arisen in recent years. This debate, and the subsequent divide that grows out of it, is prompted by very passionate voices on both sides. Many conservative churches and leaders support Israel without equivocation. As I understand what has happened this support often comes without serious questions about whether or not injustice has taken place on the part of Israel. Others, often with a more progressive political agenda, support the Palestinian cause, sometimes in ways that reject the whole notion of Israel’s existence and future.

1237880_497673997002383_9782664491885697_nAn example of this growing divide recently came to my attention via a Christian political publication called Faith & Freedom (Fall 2014). Author Luke W. Moon, the co-director of the Philos Project on Christian engagement with Israel, contributed an article to this issue titled: “The Latest Threat to Evangelical Support for Israel.” By the title you can readily see the author’s intent. He argues, and it seems rightly, that only a small percentage of evangelical leaders actually challenge “support

FDR's Holocaust Legacy – A Lesson in the Failure of Moral Courage

imagesPresident Franklin D. Roosevelt was, and still is, one of most admired and esteemed presidents in American history. I grew up hearing a lot of good things about FDR. I also heard some bad things from those who felt the “New Deal” created the modern welfare system with all its contested problems. One thing is certain, FDR’s name was esteemed by most scholars and ordinary Americans who lived through the Depression and the Second World War. Rarely could you get a serious taker for a critical debate on FDR’s accomplishments, at least not among those who loved and adored him as a president.

When FDR died on April 12, 1945, Americans grieved deeply as a nation. His picture hung in millions of homes. He was lionized by multitudes and is still considered by a large number of people to be one of our five best presidents. Amazingly, he is the only president to have served three full terms in office. He had just been elected to a fourth term less than six months before he died. (Constitutionally no

Little Town of Bethlehem

Opinions range from one extreme to the other on how to find “peace in the Middle East.” Many Christians actually think peace is impossible since the great prophetic clock is ticking down day-by-day to the return of Christ. Others, especially among some liberal critics, think the single solution is for Israel to stop its unjust practices and cease to be a state at all. Still others see the political solution in a “two-state” formula that recognizes a Palestinian State. I share this view politically but I think this process is far more complex than any single political solution.

large_poster A recently released DVD, Little Town of Bethlehem, brings forward a different approach, that of a growing non-violent movement modeled on the approach of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the leaders of the non-violent approach is Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today Sami Awad is the executive director of the Holy Land Trust, a non-profit organization that promote Palestinian independence through

By |November 28th, 2010|Categories: Film, Islam, Israel|

Why Do Some People Deny the Holocaust?

I have always wondered why some people deny the Holocaust. The record is so self-evident that no one should have any series doubts. But Holocaust deniers are real. We were all reminded of this fact by the recent controversy that touched the Vatican when renegade British Bishop Richard Williamson was restored to the Roman Church by Pope Benedict XVI.

Holocasut Over
Williamson, as you probably now know, dismissed the “so-called Holocaust” as “lies, lies, lies.” Iran’s dangerous president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejab, has called the Holocaust a “myth” while Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah says, “Jews invented the legend of the Holocaust.” Hutton Gibson, the father of actor Mel Gibson, is an ultra-conservative critic of the modern Catholic Church and argues that after World War II there were more Jews in Europe than before the War. And an engineering professor at prestigious Northwestern University, Arthur Butz, wrote a book titled: The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jews. What

By |March 9th, 2009|Categories: Israel|

Israel's 60th Anniversary

My good friend, Jim Tonkowich, the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), wrote a news release yesterday on the birth of the State of Israel, which occurred on May 14, 1948. Jim’s statement about Israel’s past and future reflects my own view of things there quite well. I believe this type of balanced perspective is called for when various confusing voices are raised regarding this important modern democracy in the Middle East.

Since I know Jim very well, and respect his comments profoundly, and because I serve on the IRD Board, I am pleased to share his statement with my readers:

Today the nation of Israel is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its independence, according to the Hebrew calendar. On May 14, 1948, as Great Britain relinquished its mandate over Palestine, Jewish leaders there proclaimed the modern state of Israel. U.S. President Harry Truman, overruling many of his top advisers, was the first to recognize

By |May 9th, 2008|Categories: Israel|

Don't Forget the Holocaust

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. Regardless of the revisionist historians and their utter nonsense about this great war, six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated while many of the German and Russia (and even American) peoples and political leaders, with some courageous exceptions, looked the other way! In an attempt to remember these important and defining moments a friend sent me a poignant cartoon that is worth seeing and reading.


Iran, among  others, continues to claim that the Holocaust is "a myth." This makes it imperative that people who love freedom and respect real history make absolutely sure that the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do this again. If you doubt this statement you simply do not understand the modern world and the

By |January 12th, 2008|Categories: Israel|