Book Reviews

Emily Davis (Heinlen)‘s review

Mar 16, 12
5 of 5 stars
             Read in March, 2012
 This was a great book. It was easy-to-read and straightforward. The author clearly explains Christian and biblical messages without being too preachy. This is definitely a must read for anyone who needs to reaffirm his or her faith or anyone looking to become a Christian for the first time, but needs more information and advice.

It’s such an eye opener book. The accounts of the author tickle the spirituality within me and motivates me to remember to offer everything to the Lord because He loves us all. The way Thomas Walker wrote the entire book was so simple but because of it, it was easier for me to relate to his stories. It is an interesting read for those who lost their paths and for those who want to straighten what they started. ( )

This was a great book. It was easy-to-read and straightforward. The author clearly explains Christian and biblical messages without being too preachy. This is definitely a must read for anyone who needs to reaffirm his or her faith or anyone looking to become a Christian for the first time, but needs more information and advice. ( )

ForeWord Clarion Review RELIGION Seeking Wisdom from God: A Quest for Truth Thomas H. Walker WestBow Press 978-1-4497-1023-1 Four Stars (out of Five) Seeking Wisdom from God: A Quest for Truth is both a traditionally Christian and surprisingly revolutionary book. From the outset, Thomas H. Walker reminds us that “Jesus did not come to earth to set up another religious denomination, but to put an end to religion.” Using the premise that God’s message is like a jigsaw puzzle, Walker reassures the reader that eventually all pieces will fit to form the beautiful portrait of God’s love. He proceeds, then, in a logical fashion to take the reader through a series of scriptural concepts that build a convincing argument.
Christ’s daily washing of his disciples’ feet is the first and founding metaphor for his premise: the mustard seed that grows into full-blown philosophy. Christ washed the feet of his disciples daily and asked that they also wash each other’s feet. Walker interprets this scripture to mean that our feet are dirtied by walking through this sinful world. We must wash them daily (confess) and wash each other’s (forgive each other and ourselves). We will sin and sin again. Sin serves a purpose and we should not be defeated by it. It exists so that we may confess and seek forgiveness from God. This daily washing ensures that we stay in intimate contact with Christ. It supports a personal relationship which is not distorted by religious doctrine.
Well-considered references to familiar scripture support the author’s message through a series of chapters that explore common biblical references. The rapture, the expulsion from the garden of Eden, and the wedding feast are used to strengthen the argument that sin is caused by will and we overcome this weakness by learning from our personal experience and our personal relationship with God.
Thomas also takes his religion to task. “In the name of Christianity, there have been more wars fought, brutalities inflicted and . . . inhumane treatment of innocent people perpetuated.” He goes on to assure that Christianity is not the problem: It is ritual that obscures the truth that it was meant to reveal.
The author’s central message is compelling. There are echoes of Buddha, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Martin Luther King in his arguments for inclusiveness and compassion. The final chapters of the book might have been stronger if he had substituted a summary of his philosophy for conjecture about the Jew’s role in the Holocaust and God’s involvement with life on other planets. Taken out of context, these passages might alienate some readers and distract from his ecumenical message.
This book is nicely packaged, but merchandising standards should have been applied to the cover, which has too much text. Personal anecdotes effectively illustrate Walker’s points and copious references to scripture support his arguments. The charm of the author’s style is evident in observations like this: “..to see the Bible not as a history book, but a personal preview of coming attractions.” “God will see to it that you face Goliath, . . . and even a Pontius Pilate who will order your crucifixion for someone else’s mistakes” Marilyn Berry ( )

– I received this book for free from LibraryThing Member Giveaway in exchange for an honest review –
The author claims to, in this book, reveal “a fresh and unique viewpoint on some Biblical topics,” (page xiii) and it was interesting to see some of his thoughts and interpretations of areas of the text, although I tend to be much more progressive, and he more traditional, so there was much within the book that I did disagree with, even if his writing style was engaging and enjoyable.
For example, the author and I have different understandings when it comes to many themes and terms within the Bible, including, but not limited to: Satan, Adam and Eve, the “last days” and rapture, rewards in heaven, the idea of a physical resurrection, spiritual warfare/battles, the Kingdom of God, the intended message of Jesus, the idea of will and humanity, etc, etc. Some of the differences in opinion I will touch on here in this review, and the rest I will just leave with saying that I don’t believe the same as he does.
One difference in belief can be found when he is discussing the idea of will being something that will be removed from us completely in the “new kingdom”, as “humanity’s will is intrinsically evil” (page 24). He even goes on to say that free will is the most destructive force in the universe, which is something I cannot agree with. I believe that free will is important, essential; something God Himself felt so vital that He granted it to each and every one of us – not just to learn the lesson that we can’t manage on our own, or to prove how badly we’d screw it up by our own efforts, as the author suggests. Instead of stripping will altogether (because we’re apparently not capable of submitting our will to His), I think the point is a cultivation of a will that reflects/aligns His own, since His will is rooted in love and compassion and relationship. I believe the point is moving past a selfishness to a selfless, altruistic way of life, of growth and progress and union with God and our fellow man. I don’t see mankind as flawed or fallen, but believe when we are told that we are made in the image of God that such a likeness doesn’t refer to a physical similarity, but instead reveals that we are able to reflect the very nature of God Himself, that we are able to tap into the innate goodness and potential and act in love. He speaks of humanity being the problem, but the way I believe and understand, our humanity is the way we reflect God. The very definition of humanity pertains to the tendency of mankind to be humane, to be loving, compassionate, altruistic, the higher consciousness and awareness mankind has that allows us to contemplate morality and goodness and God… It (our humanity) is the very way by which we mirror God Himself!
In fact, when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, I don’t believe he was referring to a future event, but instead inviting people to a reality we can experience here and now by applying his message to the way we live our lives in the present. I believe that the idea of a circumcision of the heart refers, not to something (the removal of the will) that will happen when eternity begins, as the author declares, but instead refers to a change in heart that happens when one “comes to faith,” so to speak. I think it speaks of the healing, restorative, transforming power of love and the message of Jesus. I don’t think the point is that we *can’t* or *aren’t* capable of love and goodness, but that we *are* – that not only are we entirely capable (as examples like Gandhi and St Francis and many others can reveal), we are *called* and *expected* to cultivate that potential and capability, we are *commanded* to follow and emulate the example of Christ (to become Christ-like) – not, as the author might claim I’m trying to suggest – in terms of works, but because when one’s heart is love one becomes love oneself and love and goodness (and other “fruits of the spirit”) become the natural results.
I think the two different viewpoints : that mankind is inherently flawed/evil, and that mankind is inherently good, is the basis for ALL of our our disagreements in interpretation. My personal understanding of humanity and its relationship to God, its nature and inherent goodness as children of God, leads me to understand the message and meaning of Jesus and his life/death much differently than the author does. The author seems to speak of God needing to wear people down, even *break* them down, in order for them to come to acceptance, to learn what they need to learn, to love Him the way He hopes we would, and such an idea is difficult for me, believing as I do that Jesus built people up by reminding them of, and appealing to them through, their inherent worth and dignity and potential, that he called to them through love and edification. The author claims his interpretation of God is loving (I loved his quote, on page 120, “God is love. God’s love for the human race defies the imagination in its intensity and passion”), even unconditionally so, but much of what he (and many others) says *about* God, according to the way he understands God, puts conditions on His love, reveals a Deity that doesn’t sound very loving at all… I would rather have complete faith in the love and compassion of God, cannot believe that there are limits to God and his love, etc, etc… Those differences in interpretation aside, I did find his thoughts on the parable of the ten virgins, his thoughts on the idea of the whole of the universe eventually being intended for mankind’s habitation (the connection to Abraham and God’s promise to make his descendants number as many as the stars in the sky was interesting), and his understanding of washing of our feet, interesting and engaging, even if I may not personally think the same way or wouldn’t have personally gone in the same direction he did, in expanding on those interesting interpretations.
I even loved his section about racism – in fact, page 77 was my absolute favorite page in the whole book, with quotes like “Nothing reveals our God to the world like the love we demonstrate” and “Love is to the heart as rain is to the earth,” even the reference to Christ’s two laws of love being the “litmus test” for Christians (something I myself have said many times) – although I think it’s ironic that many Christians will speak out against racial prejudice without being able or willing to admit that religious prejudice exists, that many interpretations of religion encourage an “us verses them” mentality, a kind of religious caste system, a sense of superiority, a perpetuation of stereotype and misinformation (the way many Christians talk about Islam is a great example of this). Whether one believes in an absolute truth, in only “one” way (I personally don’t believe Jesus’ message was about recruiting people to a specific faith tradition or set of beliefs, but to a way of life and love, so I don’t believe in only “one” correct way to God, unless we were to say that love is that way…), I do think that it does need to be addressed that such an effect exists, and that we need to do something about it. Referring to those who are “wrong” as being deceived by Satan, or enemies, etc, only encourages such religious prejudice, although that’s where the idea of spiritual warfare becomes useful, I guess, because it’s easy to justify prejudice and superiority when one can claim that being “right” obligates one to “fight” against those who are “wrong,” something that makes me detest the idea of spiritual warfare even more than the idea of waging war against a demonic force that I don’t believe exists….
To be honest, I think many Christians are doing to Jesus what the author and many others claim Jews did with their laws and practices – missing the point by focusing so much on the medium through which the message was revealed, if that makes sense… I agree with him, and many others, when he says that “if Jesus walked among us today, few would recognize him,” (page 114) though I’m sure he and I would disagree on what we mean by that. 😉
Getting back on track, though, even though the author claims he is a “strong advocate for higher learning” (page 110), much of what he says (in the specific section, at least) almost comes of as anti-intellectual, and he and I disagree greatly when it comes to issues like Biblical criticism and applying scholarship to the text…
I think the one section I agreed with most were the pages discussion what he called “soil stewardship” and the idea of using chemicals and so forth interfering with the earth’s natural processes and leading to lower quality food. Such concerns should be something a Christian, called to be stewards of the earth, should take seriously, not only in the realm of farming and agriculture, but in all the ways by which we interact with the world around us, from the cars we drive to our waste management, etc, etc. I would love to see him expand on this idea more completely.
I think what bothered me most (because most of our differences and disagreements were merely differences of opinion and not really issues) was his claim that the Holocaust was God’s way of taking out the blood vengeance, so to speak, for Jesus’ death, because by rejecting Jesus as Savior the Jews are still under the law and therefore God is “obligated by law to avenge His son’s blood.” (page 142) Even though he claims that they were “manipulated (on page 144 he says “possessed”) by a host of demons” (page 143) and speaks of how Jesus’ death was necessary and *intended* by God (he even speaks on page 149 of how no one could kill Jesus, that he was “destined for the cross”), how Jesus himself cried for their forgiveness (which, according to him is why the state of Israel was founded after WWII), their descendants were held responsible for his blood being spilled (not because they rejected him or called for his blood, we are told on page 150, but because they were still under the Law while doing so). The whole chapter was disturbing and offensive, which he clearly knows by claiming that its being so “does not mean that it is incorrect.” (page 148) It is hard to believe in his “deep love for Jewish people” when he so easily speaks such a way, and even insinuates that the tribulation will be even worse, calling it “another Holocaust.” (page 149) Such contradictions bother me as a Christian – how we can claim to be loving, that our God is loving, and then be comfortable with such unloving ideas and actions, when we can be so comfortable with such uncomfortable, ungracious, unloving things? But I guess that’s a conversation for another time…
All in all, despite all the areas where we disagreed, I didn’t hate this book. I just think it wasn’t a very good fit for me. I loved the author’s style, but the content was much more traditional than I personally tend to believe. Someone who adheres to a more conservative or “traditional” way of faith would probably find it much more spiritually enlightening than I did, though I am glad for the chance to have read it, and wish the author well in his future endeavors. ( )

Christine Five Stars:This was, by far, the best book I’ve won from a Goodreads giveaway.

It took me a while to read, but it really was an extraordinary book. The author breaks down lessons so that they complete all of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each chapter discusses a new puzzle piece that is important for seeing the bigger picture. The whole thing was very well thought out and the lessons were very well presented. As most students need repetition, each chapter repeats the point in a few different ways.

This whole book really let me look at my life as a whole-what I’ve done, where I am, and my future plans. How do they work into God’s plan? Am I following His path or am I giving into the temptations of Satan, which can be small things but keep us away from God nonetheless? It helped bump me back into the right direction after I finally realized I made a wrong turn. It didn’t make me feel like a horrible person though, as many Christian books can do if written poorly.

My favorite parts were: Chapter 1: The Daily Foot Washing, Chapter 4: Circumcision of the Heart, and Chapter 19: For the Letter Kills: Under the Law. These are the three chapters that I will probably go back and reread periodically because they had the deepest impact.

This book truly was a joy to read and I have already recommended it to a few people. I recommend it for everyone!

For more reviews: “Goodreads Reviews”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10286052-seeking-wisdom-from-god

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