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Book Reviews – May/June 2013

Iran and Israel: Wars and Rumors of Wars

By Mark Hitchcock
Harvest House Publishers, 2013, 224 pp., $13.99

Should Israel make a pre-emptive attack on Iran due to Iran’s determined and rapid progress toward achieving a nuclear weapon? Oklahoma City area scholar, pastor and lawyer Mark Hitchcock believes it would be justified. He bases his opinion on the remarks by leading Iranian authorities that the Zionists of Israel are a major threat to the peace of the Middle East, and that threat must be stopped. Hitchcock’s views are too extreme and endanger the whole world, not just the Middle East. His emphasis is on Ezekiel 38, 39 in the Bible, which depicts the End Time war between Israel, Gog and Magog. The latter two are supernaturally defeated by God as he rescues Israel from defeat.

Not explained is why God does so even though Israel has acted treacherously. The author says that Israel is ready to fight against godless invaders of Israel. He ignores the fact that Iran is a Muslim nation who worships one God, just as Israel does. Neither nation worships idols nor accepts Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, Son of God and Savior of those who commit to him. It seems that Israel is just as friendly to antichristian views as Iran and other Muslim nations are. That is so except when Israeli leaders are courting huge contributions from arch-conservative evangelical Christian Americans who believe we must support and defend Israel at all costs. For them the Zionists make exceptions for friendships.

Also not explained is why the arch-conservative Christians believe that God always supports Israel, even though we know that God has allowed Israel to be defeated and dispersed many times. Some examples of the conquerors were the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Muslims. Each dispersal got longer, as was promised in Leviticus 26. The main helper for the Jews was Persia (Iran), who defeated Babylonia and freed the captives to return to their homeland in the sixth century B.C. England and America rendered similar aid after World War II. The Jews have not had a king on a throne since the Romans conquered them long before Jesus was on Earth bodily. Evidently God did not think the Jews’ behavior merited his fulfilling his promise to always have a descendant of David on Israel’s throne. They broke their covenant with God repeatedly. Their modem mistreatment of the Palestinians is part of a long string of oppressions of the poor and the powerless.

The Gog/Magog battle is described in Revelation 20:8, coming at the end of the 1000 year reign of Jesus on Earth, which has not yet happened. Why say it is near-at-hand in our times?

If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword, said Jesus in Matthew 26:52, and he told the disciples to put up their swords. Keep in mind it was Israel who introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East-many of them. They should have known that neighboring nations would think they needed them also for defense against Israel, which seems to be the case. Using weapons to solve conflicts was not what Jesus encouraged, especially to preserve the wealthy and strong over the poor and the weak. Christians should encourage cooler heads to promote negotiations and see what love can do through positive acts of friendships.

Del Coppinger
Oskaloosa, lowa

Ministry in the Digital Age

By David T. Bourgeois
InterVarsity Press, 2013, 144 pp., $15

In Ministry in the Digital Age, David Bourgeois brings his extensive experience administering digital communications in the business world to the unique challenges and opportunities of ministry. He focuses especially on the needs and challenges of organizations, whether they be local congregations, para-church organizations or religious non-profits. Bourgeois moves methodically through what volunteers and professionals, congregations and organizations should consider and plan for establishing, promoting and maintaining their digital strategy.

Ministry in the Digital Age is especially relevant for those who are operating within an organization that is looking to begin, expand or improve its digital presence and outreach. Bourgeois systematically walks the reader through a range of best practices that ensure the integrity, security and effectiveness of online communications. He frames his book around three key aspects of digital ministry – technology, process and people, taking care to address one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of digital strategy: how to structure and manage coordination between various staff members and volunteers within an organization.

David Bourgeois has written a very serviceable book that lends guidance for those who are entirely new to digital communications, while at the same time providing helpful reminders and insights
for those with years of experience under their belts.

Micah Bales
Washington, D.C.

Finding God in the Hobbit

By Jim Ware
Tynsdale House Publishers, 2006, 177 pp., $14.99

I gave this book to my daughter, Kate, who is the youth leader for the Richmond (Indiana) middle school youth group as a resource to help her create a program. With the release of the movie, The Hobbit, Kate thought this might be the perfect resource. A few weeks after she began to read it, she asked me to read it. “It is pretty good, Mom,” she stated. (This is, indeed, high praise.)

As I began reading I realized this little book was not only a good devotional, but a great avenue in which “morsels of spiritual nourishment” were savored. Both my daughter and I enjoyed reading this devotional together.

This book is part of the Finding God series, which utilizes favorite movies such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia to have readers encounter God in unexpected ways. What I appreciated most was the sense of adventure the writer provided. He writes, “Faith is an ongoing adventure, not simply a one-time choice. ‘The Road goes ever on and on,’ as Bilbo regularly reminded Frodo. Once we hear the knock on the door and step onto the Road, there’s no turning back. Life will never be the same.”

The nuggets of spiritual nourishment within the pages of this devotional cause one not only to reflect on God’s grace, but to gain the courage to step forward on the Road and know the travel with God will be quite an adventure.

Annie Glen
Centerville, Indiana