Book Review: Eli’s Quest for Truth

Eli's Quest for Truth (cover)I recently read Eli’s Quest for Truth by Casey Head. It’s a little different than the type of books I typically review here, but I thought it was good and worth mentioning.

This is a fictional story of a Galilean shepherd, Eli, living just before the time of Jesus’ public ministry. Eli sees the different factions that exist among the Jewish people and sets out on a quest for truth, seeking to determine which sect was right so he can become part of it.

As the story progresses, we see Eli’s conversations and experiences as he learns about the Pharisees, Sadducess, Essenes, Herodians, Zealots, and Samaritans. Reading about them in a story like this helps to explain the differences between these groups that are mentioned in the Bible. Eli’s Quest for Truth really helps to shed some light on who these groups were and how they fit into the history recorded in the New Testament.
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Is Jesus the Only Way to Salvation?

One Way

A recent report has found that a minority of Presbyterians believe that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Only 39% of members agree or strongly agree with that statement along with just 35% of pastors and 45% of elders.

Before you might jump to conclusions, understand that this was not a report done by a group that is biased against the Presbyterian church, making their findings unreliable. The article linked above cites the latest “Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians” report and was released by the Presbyterian church itself.
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Number of Women Pastors has Doubled in a Decade

According to a recent study by the Barna Group, the percentage of U.S. Protestant women serving as senior pastors has doubled over the past decade. In the 1990’s, about 5% of Protestant senior pastors were women. In 2009, that number has risen to 10%. A large number of women pastors were associated with “mainline” churches as opposed to more “traditional” churches.

When we consider the topic of women serving in leadership roles in the church, there are a few basic points that need to be understood. This has nothing to do with whether or not women are capable of teaching or directing a group of people. The Barna Group study notes that women pastors are, on average, more educated than men in the same position. The fundamental question is this: What role has God given women in the church?
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Book Review: Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up

Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up (cover)David W. Bercot’s book, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, compares Christianity today (defined by the author as the Evangelical Church) with the early Christians (2nd through 4th centuries). The book is very easy to read, but contains some challenging and thought-provoking material, specifically for Evangelicals. But it is helpful for others as well.

This book shows the sharp contrast between what many denominations today teach and what the early Christians taught. The early Christians believed that salvation by grace was conditioned upon obedience, that baptism was tied to salvation, and that predestination refers to God’s foreknowledge, rather than His selection of certain individuals for salvation. Many denominations teach just the opposite (salvation by grace/faith alone, baptism not essential for salvation, God predestined some individuals for salvation and some for damnation).

This book helps one get an insight into what the early church was like and what they taught. But before I can recommend the book, I need to caution you about a few things:
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Is the Church of Christ a Denomination?

Church of Christ

This question will come up from time to time as we interact with those around us. To many, churches of Christ (labeled by some as “Church of Christ”) are just one denomination among many. This perception can lead them to view the members of churches of Christ as hypocrites – condemning denominationalism while (allegedly) being part of one.

Is the church of Christ a denomination? It is a fair question. Depending on what one has in mind, there could be various answers given – yes, no, maybe, not yet, etc. So let us consider the question about the church and denominationalism.
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American Individualism and Ecumenism in Religion

On January 14, 2009, The Christian Science Monitor posted an article about the growing trend in this country of those who claim to be Christians deciding on their own what they will believe instead of relying on some church or denomination. The following paragraph does a fair job summarizing the main points in the article:

“A sizable majority of the country’s faithful no longer hew closely to orthodox teachings, and look more to themselves than to churches or denominations to define their religious convictions, according to two recent surveys. More than half of all Christians also believe that some non-Christians can get into heaven.”

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Is One Church as Good as Another?

Church building

As we talk with people in the world, particularly those who are religious, one idea with which we are often confronted that one church is as good as another. Many people believe this. This can make it difficult in trying to lead someone to the truth. After all, if one is already part of a church, they can simply ignore what you say because their church is just as good as yours. So he has no reason to consider any discussion that might lead him to decide to leave his church. If one is not part of a church, and should he decide to attend one, it would not have to be where you attend. He could go anywhere, limited only by how far away from home he wants to drive. This concept that one church is as good as another must be eliminated if we want to have any success in leading souls to Christ. So it is good for us to consider the idea so we might be better prepared to handle various situations.
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