I hope you had a very blessed Christmas! Today I am back with a fresh batch of mini books reviews for you. I was able to get a record (for me) amount of reading done this month, but I’m only going to share three of them for the sake of keeping this post fairly short. And again, they’ll be linked via Amazon if you click the title of the book. 🙂
I picked this book up almost two years ago, fairly early on in mine and Alex’s relationship. We actually read this book together! And this month we just about finished it. (Only a few paragraphs left, so I feel that it’s safe to include it in here.) It’s divided into four sections for different stages of a relationships progressions (hence the title), so we read the single and dating chapters early on in our relationship, the engagement chapters when we began seriously talking about getting married, and the married chapters a couple of weeks ago. I really liked the way that we decided to break it up, although it took forever to get through it haha. I found that this book had a lot of great ideas, although most of it was not “new” information. Ben provides helpful insight for how to be God-honouring with our relationships, complete with case studies of people in the Bible. The dating portion of the book was definitely the most thorough and well thought out. But we both agreed that the marriage section was a bit surface level, and that the book could have been significantly shorter if he hadn’t repeated so many of the same points. I would recommend this book to younger teenagers, maybe high school level. It was good, but I do think it lacked a lot of depth. However it did initiate some good conversations between Alex and I, and it was enjoyable to read it together!
Defining Deception: Freeing the Church from the Mystical-Miracle Movement | Costi W. Hinn & Anthony G. Wood
I am putting this in my top books for this year, as I found it to be extremely informative and important. This book digs into the doctrine behind churches in the Word of Faith/New Apostolic Reformation movement, using Bethel Church as the primary case study. The authors dig deep into the history of such churches, and then provide clear, biblical evidence against false teachings that have risen within these circles. It is important, because as Christians we are called to expose false teachings of the gospel, and often these movements are filled with “half-truths” that make them look safe on the outside, but have no solid biblical foundation on the inside. I myself was very supportive of Bethel and its affiliated worship ministries as a baby Christian, but was encouraged to look into what they teach on a deeper biblical level. It is so important to do our own research into why we believe what we believe and whether our sources are teaching the whole truth. This book was an excellent resource for doing such research. It also provides a neat perspective, as both of its authors were once also entangled in Word of Faith and prosperity teachings and hence are able to speak with insider knowledge. This book is written out of love, and presented in a very blunt yet compassionate way. They have clear, concise points. It begins with an overview, then the history of different teachers who led up to Bill Johnson. It goes into the dangers of Bill Johnsons endorsement of other teachers, the ways he takes Scripture out of context in order to fit his vision, and then addresses five critical errors in the doctrine of Bethel church. It ends with five additional appendices that address specific topics and questions people often have.
All in all this book is incredibly valuable, however it is not a book that will leave you feeling “refreshed” or “warm and fuzzy”. That is the point. It should make you question what you are following, and encourage you to turn to the Word of God alone to base your judgements of the truth, not just the messages of a particular pastor. Also important to note is that this book is a deeper level of thinking than most popular Christian literature, therefore may be a bit harder to understand if you are newer to the faith.
I read this entire book in 57 minutes. Seriously! One sitting, on a Saturday night, before bed. And then I read it again a couple of days later. This book may be small, yet it packs a very powerful punch! It is concise and bold, laying forth the biblical characteristics and requirements for a Christian, and then challenging the reader to examine how they line up. In our day and age of megachurches, celebrity pastors, countless lukewarm believers, and other religions that also call themselves Christians, this book is a powerful reminder of what it truly means to be a biblical Christian. It is packed with scripture. It works through eight different topics: biblical salvation, the accuracy of scripture, the call of death to self when we come to Christ, abiding in God’s Word, the idea of “costless Christianity”, and the “once saved, always saved” argument, and touches on the battle that we have against the enemy. Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough! It is hugely impactful despite its tiny size. It will make you evaluate your own life and whether you are truly living out how God has said Christians need to live. It is filled with biblical support, so it is evident that it is not just his opinions. On top of that, it is also a very beautiful book! (I know that’s not important, but I do appreciate beautiful books.) If you are interested in this discussion, but don’t want to purchase the book, Dale and his wife have a four part series on their podcast that works through the topics of the book two chapters at a time. I’ll link the YouTube videos here: Part one, part two, part three and part four.
That’s it for this post! I’ve got quite a few books on the go right now, so I should be back in a few weeks with another one. I hope you are enjoying this series, and that you have a wonderful last few days of the year!