Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book review - The Hungry Inherit.

The Hungry Inherit is a 128 page book written by Zane Hodges. The copy that I read was published in 1972. In his forward Charles Ryrie says that the purpose of the book is to "distinguish clearly salvation and discipleship." This the book does and does well.

The book is a departure from Hodges' normal writing style and is much more informal than he normally writes. Starting at the encounter at the well of Sychar and moving through Jesus' earthly ministry the book concludes in Revelation. All of the points are tied together in a story-telling type of format. In spite of the change in style, Mr. Hodges does not fail to support what he is saying with frequent Scripture citations. There are no footnotes though.

There were three things that I found particularly interesting in the course of the book. The first is the beginning scene at the well. Mr. Hodges' assessment of Jesus' words is done in light of the culture of the time. He brings the conversation to life, explains why the woman asked the questions she did, and correctly points out that Jesus had one conversation but in two parts with two different audiences. The woman he calls to salvation, the disciples to reformation and His work. The messages are clear, connected, and separate.

The second area that I found of special interest was Hodges' take on the parable of the soils or of the sower. I don't know how many times I have read or discussed this parable. In all those times I missed that the thorny soil does produce fruit, just not as it should have - to perfection. My take on the parable did not change in its essence but the point was well taken.

The third area that I found enlightening was Hodges' discussion of Revelation 21:8. In that passage a list is given of those who will inhabit the Lake of Fire. That list has caused many to say that if one habitually engages in such sins one is unsaved. Zane points out that believers can still engage in such sins, perhaps habitually. However their character, as viewed by God, is not defined by those failures but is defined by His grace. Comforting thought.

Overall I give this book a hearty recommendation. In spite of the laid back style, or perhaps because of it, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and learned much. While not a theological dissertation, the book does an excellent job of breaking the truth down so as to be easily absorbed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Book review - Witnesses at the Creation.

Witnesses at the Creation by Richard B. Morris is subtitled Hamilton, Madision, Jay, and the Constitution. As might be surmised by the subtitle, the 261 page book is an account of the Constitutional Convention and the three men's role in bringing it about, drafting the Constitution, and pushing for its ratification. The subjects of the book were chosen due to their roles in writing The Federalist Papers.

Mr. Morris begins with a brief background of each man. That helps explain the development of their political thought and their relationship with each other at the time. Following that, each man is followed through the crises leading to the Constitutional Convention. James Madison was especially key in bringing about the convention although Alexander Hamilton also played a large role.

Using Madison's notes and those of other participants, Mr. Morris recreates the convention with emphasis on the parts played by the three men. Madison is often called the father of the Constitution but he could not have claimed the title without the assistance of others, in particular John Jay.

During the ratification fight Jay and Hamilton worked together in New York with the advantage that the Union was pretty much an accomplished fact by the time the were debating the matter. On the other hand Madison led the fight in Virgina and had to do so against formidable odds. In addition to the fact that ratification was not certain, none other than Patrick Henry led the opposition. After a grueling debate, the ratification party carried the day.

After the ratification all three men moved on to immediate well-known success. Madison to a leadership post in the first House of Representatives, Jay to the Chief Justice position on the United States Supreme Court, and Hamilton to an appointment as Secretary of the Treasury. The three would part ways before their public lives were finished but what they had accomplished still stands.

All in all I found Mr. Morris' book to be an interesting one. He obviously has a very nationalistic tilt to his political thought and gives it free reign for most of the book. Alexander Hamilton in particular benefits from this as his many authoritarian views are explained away. In contrast Patrick Henry and others of his school of thought are not allowed the same luxury. In spite of this, Witnesses at the Creation is worth the read for those interested in the political sausage-making that went into the document that our nation still lives by today.