Monday, February 18, 2013

Book review - Killing Lincoln.

Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's 294 page book Killing Lincoln has not always received the warmest reception from critics. After reading the book I am inclined to think some of the criticisms leveled have more to do with O'Reilly's political commentary than the content of the book. While the book is easy reading, I could only find a couple of historical facts to take issue with.

Starting six weeks before the assassination, the book moves through the planning of the killing to the aftermath. Along the way various conspirators move in and out of the plan. Some of them come in with full awareness of what is going on, others have only the faintest of ideas. After the killing the main conspirators scatter. A huge dragnet sweeps the eastern seaboard hauling in hundreds of suspects, some of whom were actually implicated in the crime. John Wilkes Booth and four others will pay with their lives. Others will never even be fingered until long after their natural deaths.

This isn't a history book written for scholars or those interested in heavily footnoted works. There is a short bibliography and an index at the back of the book but they only provide the barest documentation. What the book does do is bring the killing of Abraham Lincoln to life. It doesn't take but a page or two before the reader becomes deeply engrossed in the tale. As historical figures leap from the page and the conspiracy unfolds, it becomes harder and harder to put down the book.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy receives much more interest than that of Lincoln. This is due in large part to the JFK assassination being so vivid in the national conscience. I have often thought if the death of Lincoln was presented in a way that made it equally vivid it would be just as compelling. Whether or not you have read much history, once you open Killing Lincoln, you will find the account as fascinating as any involving a grassy knoll.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book review - The Ten Most Misunderstood Words in the Bible.

I have previously read and enjoyed several other books by Dr. Robert N. Wilkin. When I received The Ten Most Misunderstood Words in the Bible I was very interested in reading all 177 pages. I expected the book to be thought-provoking. I was not disappointed.

Divided into an introduction, conclusion, and a chapter for each word, the book makes for a smooth read. Dr. Wilkin's ten words are: Faith, Everlasting, Saved, Lost, Heaven, Hell, Repentance, Grace, Gospel, and Judgment. An appendix contains short discussions of eleven more misunderstood words with additional appendices discussing how to study Scripture and blessings and curses. Following the appendices is a study guide to aid in using the chapters for either group or individual study. The seven page Scripture index at the back helps insure the study is both Biblical and in depth.

Dr. Wilkin's challenge to the reader is not to radically redefine any of the words on his list or come to a understanding of any secret definitions. What he suggests is reading these words as they occur in Scripture and understanding them to mean what they mean in everyday English. Wilkin guides the reader through a word study of each word to show how we have fallen into the trap of using these words differently in understanding God's word than we do in understanding the speech of those around us.

While the definitions of these words are not earth-shattering, the realization of how they have been co-opted by theological systems can be. That's what caused me pause as I read through the book. Most of the chapters were either reminders of what I already knew or moments of "Why didn't I think of that?" A couple of words will bear further study on my part.

Overall I found The Ten Most Misunderstood Words in the Bible to be an interesting and thought-provoking read. It is well-grounded in Scripture and easily lends itself to further study at either a group of individual level. This book is a must read for anyone who is serious about reading and understanding the Bible. You may not always agree with Dr. Wilkin but we all need to understand what words mean to understand the Bible.