AfterThought Podcast: Episode 8 – Interview with Ray Rhodes Author of Susie

Hello, dear ones, I hope this post has found you all doing exceptionally well! Today, on AfterThought, I dropped the interview I did with pastor and author Ray Rhodes. Ray wrote the biography of Susannah Spurgeon, the great Prince of Preachers wife. The book is titled Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, and I reviewed it here.

What a blessing it was to talk with the author of one of my favorite books. I want to thank Ray for joining me on the program, and Moody publishers for working with me to get the interview scheduled. I hope you’ll all be as encouraged and edified by this conversation as I was. You can listen to the podcast on my host site Podbean, iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.


Thursday Book Review – Irenaeus Against Heresies

The book review I’d like to do today is going to go along with the Friday series on heresies, in particular, the Gnostics. Irenaeus, who was taught by Polycarp, the disciple of John the Apostle, directly refutes Gnosticism in all its many forms throughout this five-volume set. While Gnosticism isn’t the only heresy he addresses or the only topic he brings up, it’s the main thrust of the book. Most likely written in 180 AD, Irenaeus Against Heresies clearly lays out Biblical theology held by the early church, while answering the heretical views being introduced into the church.

Irenaeus of Lyons quote

There’s a couple of points that I found very interesting. First, Irenaeus was a quick-witted man, willing to be sarcastic when sarcasm was needed to show foolishness. This made the dry reading of the varied sects within Gnosticism more bearable. Second, he names names for the sake of the brothers and sisters in Christ being confronted by the Gnostic leaders. He warns believers about specific people to avoid, just as we need to do today. Lastly, he connects this heresy to Simon Magus from Acts 8:9-24. That was such a fascinating part of the book, to have that man’s story told to a further degree. Obviously, the early church fathers, like Irenaeus, are not inspired writers. We do not, under any circumstances, turn their words into Scripture, or hold them as high as that authority. However, it is a blessing that so much of their writing has remained, and we can and should enjoy their works. Particularly, it was interesting to hear about Simon and where his error led.

Irenaeus Against Heresies is an important book for today’s believers, as we deal with very similar false teaching. Not only in the cults, but also in the minds of the lost who grew up hearing bits and pieces of gnostic nonsense, which can be seen in the way postmodernism has flourished. Also, Gnosticism is still very much a thing, and as believers, you will have the so-called Gnostic Gospels mentioned from time to time. It’s dry in many places, in all honesty, as even admitted by the writer who explains in a few different points why he needed to be so detailed. His sense of humor breaks up the expansive lists of names, and differing views on the eons, held by so many at the time. It’s in the public domain, which means you can download it in pdf free here, or listen to the audio here, and also if you enjoy podcasts there is a podcast version of the audio here. If you want it for yourself, and find the free printing of nearly 400 pages tedious, you can buy the kindle here, and the paperback here. I do recommend this for older brothers and sisters in Christ, as most younger readers and preteens would find this too detailed and dry to follow. As always, beloved brothers, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved!

In case you missed it, I launched a new Podcast! You can listen here, and soon will be able to listen in iTunes and Google play. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if you’d like to link up in other social media platforms. God bless you!

Thursday Book Review – The Church History by Eusebius

Hello again, beloved, I hope this post finds you all doing well! I have another historical book to review today, The Church History by Eusebius, as I mentioned last week. This, like with the writings of Josephus, is not light reading. It’s also not dull, or difficult to read, but in many ways is a page turner. The Church History was written in the fourth century, and details the the first few centuries of the church after Christ was ressurected. There are portions of the book that will fill the believer with great rejoicing, however the majority of the book is much like reading Foxe’s Book of Martyres. The fruitfal, yet dangerous, decades for the generations of Christians after the disciples were gone home, passed with persecution unlike that of today. The book does not center around persectuion, although Eusebius takes time to carefully name those who faced it manfully, he also addresses many other needful topics. He talks about heretics, church order, and leaders in different areas throughout the centuries up until his time. It is also true that Eusebius is the best source of information on the Counsel of Nicea, as he was there himself.

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The author, Eusebius of Caesarea, or Pamphili as he was also known by, lived from 263 AD to 339 AD, and was born in southern Israel. Recall, dear ones, that the Counsel of Nicea happened in 325, in response to Arius the Alexandian priest we discussed here. Eusebius’ life was spent in the heated discussion of Arius’ herecy, the Nicean rulings, and the time of Athanasius against the world. While he is certainly not an unbias examiner of the Counsel of Nicea, his extant works are the most detailed. He sided with those who  believed the wording chosen by Athanasius’ side was too ambiguous, while all except two members of the councel sided against Athanasius and for Arius. I actually find that this middle ground makes Eusebius not only the most detailed, but the most likely to accurately depect both sides of the debate. However, in the end, the declerations of the counsel would falter, Arianism would grow in popularity, and the church would swing back and forth between heresy and truth for several decades. Those decades would ibclude the remainder of Eusebius’ life. This explains why he felt it so important to write down the history of what the church had done, believed, taught, and accomplshed up until his time.

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Eusebius is careful to quote from many other writers throughout his ten book collection on church history. Unfortunately, many of the texts he quotes from are no longer extant, leaving The Church History with a glimpse at what a wealth of doctrine and truth the early church actually had. In these books, which is collected together to make one large book, you will read of men and women who were saved from paganism, who stood fast against persecution and heresy. You’ll also read of the leaders who fell, of those who bowed their knee to Ceaser, and of those who rose up in hatred against the Church. You’ll read varies bits of what life was like in the early church, what truths they stood on, how they conducted themselves, and even the inner debate Eusebius had over the book of Revelation. I recommend this book for all believers, especially those learned, or teaching, church history. You can find it in it’s kindle version here, pdf here, free audio version here, and paperback here. The Church History by Eusebius is in the public domain, so it can be downloaded and printed, which I recommend if you’ve got the ink. As always beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review: Recommendations

Hello, dear friends, I hope this post finds you all doing well! I’m currently, nearly, halfway through Eusebius’ History of the Christian Church. I can not wait to review it for you all. Lord willing I’ll have finished it by next Thursday. Until then, I’ll listed three great book reviews below from others. I hope they’ll be a blessing to you all. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Pastor Jim over at VeritasDomain reviewed Matthew S. Vos book Sociology.

Over at Blessed Are The Forgiven there are many great book reviews, including this review of Zack Erswine’s book Spurgeon’s Sorrows.

Melissa at MelsJourney reviewed Nancy Pearcey’s book Love Thy Body.

Monday Creation Science – Book Review From Tom and Pastor Jim

Below is a link to Pastor Jim at VeritasDomain’s book reviews of the Answers in Genesis Answers Kids books. These reviews are very helpful, and exciting! While on the topic of creation science and books I also shared Tom from exCatholic4Christ’s review of Darwin Devolves by Michael Behe. This review was so entertaining, and helpful!

Answers Book for Kids Volume 1

Answers Book for Kids Volume 2

Answers Book for Kids Volume 3

Answers Book for Kids Volume 4

Answers Book for Kids Volume 5

Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution

Thursday Book Review: The Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus

Hello beloved, I have finally finished this book and could not be more thrilled to review it for you all. In keeping with the early church heretics series on Friday’s I thought it would be appropriate to read and review historical books from the same time period. I had already placed Josephus’ work on my list of needed reading, however I had no idea how beneficial his works would be. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian that lived through the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. The Wars of the Jews is believed to have been published in 75 AD, although the original document has not survived. The oldest known codex is a Latin translation believed to have dated back to the fifth century.

I want to make a quick side note here, as you’ll rarely find scholars that will say that we can not be sure Josephus’ works we’re really written by him, even though the closest copy was written five hundred years after the fact, in a different language, the closest dated Greek codex is from the tenth century. However, we do see this accusation constantly repeated by secularists in regards to the Bible. The earliest known manuscript found to date was copied only a few decades after the New Testament was written. A counsel didn’t have to come together and decide these books were Scripture, that was already assumed, as we see Peter referring to Paul’s writings in this very manner (2 Peter 3:16). The counsel, which we’ll be discussing in the Friday series soon, only came together to discuss what was not to be considered Scripture, since some were attempting to add their own preferred books. Scholars in the area of textural criticism will note these two facts, whether they’re Christians or not. Unfortunately the atheists, and Mormons, of the internet don’t know, or don’t care. I wanted to point this out, dear ones, in case you came across these arguments.

The War of the Jews, also known as Jewish Wars, is broken into seven books, beginning with a historical recounting of Jerusalem’s fall to Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 BC. Josephus also gives a detailed description of the surrounding areas, rulers, and wars that would eventually impact Israel, or directly lead to its destruction. The books end with the eventual fall of the temple in 70 AD. Josephus was born in 37 AD to a priestly lineage on his fathers side. In 66 AD he would be made commander in Galilee over the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. While they were unable to defeat the Romans, Josephus survived. I want so badly to tell you this part of the story, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it. Needless to say, this is not a historical book that will put you to sleep.

To that point, I have to say that this was a fascinating, page turner, from beginning to end. There is no modern book, whether fiction or nonfiction, that can hold a candle. Throughout the book names and places familiar to us all made the description of each battle come alive. From Mark Antony and Cleopatra to Pontius Pilate, King Agrippa, and Nero, the history right before, during, and after the life of our Lord comes together in this book unlike anything I’ve read on the subject. Before reading this my thoughts on the first century were fragmented, and disconnected, but I now have a better understanding of how it was that the Jerusalem fell.

For starters, without giving too much away, the world around Israel seemed to be in as much chaos as Jerusalem was in within. Robbers had taken over the temple, named themselves rulers and priests, killed or imprisoned anyone who could fight back, then called a neighboring group to come to their defense acting as if they were the innocent ones. They took up the type of debauchery that’s currently being celebrating in our country today, and desecrated the temple. They killed anyone who tried to escape, and refused to allow the dead to be buried. When a worse tyrant came with his army, the Jews welcomed him into their city, hoping he would rid them of the robbers. Rome was also in a state of confusion, as the empire was divided, and more then one man was declared Caesar.

While I can’t recommend this to young audiences, I do recommend all born again believers read this. It will give you a better understanding of the time Christ Jesus lived in, what led up to the fulfillment of His prophecy that the temple would fall, and how believers lived in the decades after His resurrection. It’s a lot like learning about the Holocaust, heartbreaking but important. Perhaps if the world hadn’t forgotten this past, the world wars that mark our modern time wouldn’t have happened. With the graphic nature, I would recommend 16 and up for this one. It’s in the public domain, which means it’s free! You can find the entire book free here, the free audiobook here, a pdf here, Kindle version here, and a hard copy here.

Thursday Book Review – Recommendation of a Review: Answering the Alleged Catholic Verses

Dear ones, Tom our brother in Christ over at ExCatholic4Christ has diligently worked his way through Dave Armstrong’s book “The Catholic Verses”. He addresses all 104 verses listed by the catholic apologist, and gives Biblically sound exegesis for each of them individually. More than a review, Tom has given us a complete rebuttal to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Below I’ve attached a post he wrote where he lists every refutation for these verses Armstrong gave. I know I’ve been tremendously blessed by these, and if you have friends, family members, or acquaintances in the Catholic Church you’ll find these very helpful for sharing the Gospel with them.

This is also important if you have children, my daughter is only eight and has already encountered the argument that Catholics are no different than Christians. It was actually thanks to Tom and his hard work that she had an answer to that. It has happened to many youth raised up in church, having not been taught the distinction, that they are drawn away by every wind of doctrine. These posts are a perfect primer for addressing, apologetically, the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, and their false gospel of works. Tom was, himself, raised in the Catholic faith, allowing him to see first hand just how destructive that false gospel is. I pray the Lord blesses you through Toms hard work. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.