Throwback Thursday: Billy Graham – Part 2

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 21, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000
By Iain H. Murray
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, 342 pp.

5 Stars

For part one of this post, please see here.

German higher biblical criticism came to the U.S. in the later-19th-century and was a swift-spreading cancer in seminaries and mainline Protestant churches. Believing churchmen drew a line in the sand with a series of 90 essays on the basics of the Christian faith, published between 1910 and 1915, and known as “The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth.” Bible Christians rallied around the cherished doctrinal truths, but as mainline liberalism gained wider support, the fundamentalist movement increasingly adopted a circle-the-wagons, bunker mentality.

Billy Graham began his ministry in 1947 as a fundamentalist, but he and others recognized that fundamentalism took the opposite approach to Jesus’ exhortation to be in the world, but not of the world. Graham and like-minded friends (Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, Edward Carnell, et al.) reasoned they could more effectively reach souls for Christ by cooperating with mainline liberals and religious unbelievers rather than by separating from them. But just as fundamentalism had its unhealthy sectarian extremism, Graham’s “New Evangelicalism” had its own pitfalls. Cooperation works both ways and Graham’s cooperation with unorthodoxy and unbelief led to accommodation, compromise, and eventually, betrayal of the Gospel. Graham sacrificed right doctrine on the altar of numbers, popularity, and ecclesiastical “respectability” and set a precedent for generations of pastors and para-church leaders to come.

In “Evangelicalism Divided,” Iain Murray, a former close assistant to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, documents the rise and fall of Graham and New Evangelicalism. The larger portion of the book is devoted to circumstances in Britain, which closely mirrored those in the United States. Swimming against the rising tide, Lloyd-Jones called upon evangelicals to break ties with mainline liberalism and religious unbelief. When Graham began organizing crusades in Britain, he asked Lloyd-Jones, the nation’s most notable evangelical, to lend his support. Lloyd-Jones refused due to the many liberal churchmen aka religious unbelievers involved in Graham’s crusades. In opposition to Lloyd-Jones, Britain’s New Evangelicals, led by John Stott and J. I. Packer, rationalized that believers would be far more effective if they worked within the Anglican church. Not surprisingly, Packer would go on to be one of the charter signers of the ECT – Evangelicals and Catholics Together – ecumenical accords. Stott also fully embraced Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. As for the current state of Anglicanism, is there even one Bible-believing minister within the entire denomination?

Murray may wander a bit, but overall this is an excellent book. There were so many passages I wanted to quote, but where to stop? I would have ended up quoting half the book. For everyone who wonders HOW and WHY Graham and company ended up eventually betraying the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, this book is a sad but necessary eye-opener.

“The reason why the BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) decided to co-operate with liberals and other non-evangelicals (such as Roman Catholics – Tom) was never set out in terms of principle. The fact is that the policy was seen as a neccessary expedient designed sincerely for the best end, namely to gain a wider hearing for the gospel. Crusades depended on crowds and in the Graham story there is an almost ever-present concern for maintaining and increasing numbers. ‘Keeping an eye for maximum public impact’ and ‘trying always for the largest possible crowds’ was a settled part of the Billy Graham Association’s strategy.” pp- 58-59.

“We may be small in numbers but since when has the doctrine of the remnant become unpopular among evangelicals? It is one of the most glorious doctrines in the whole Bible. We are not interested in numbers. We are interested in truth and in the living God. ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ …If we stand for God’s truth we can be sure that God will honour us and bless us.” – a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p.293.

“Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000” is available at Amazon here.

Catholic Myths

Catholic Myths: A Biblical Examination into the Myths, Rituals, Relics, Superstitions, and Inventions of the Roman Catholic Church
By Charles A. Zonca
Independently published, 2020, 227 pp.

3 Stars

With “Catholic Myths,” author Charles A. Zonca (Word of Victory Tract Ministries) has done a decent job examining many of the mythical elements of Roman Catholic theology (see chapter headings below). The RCC’s doctrines are based more upon the church’s spurious “sacred traditions” than upon the Bible. Many of the traditions have their roots in paganism.

However, there are a couple of problems with this book. 1) Zonca relies heavily upon Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” (1858) and Ralph Woodrow’s “Babylon Mystery Religion” (1966), which drew directly from the former. Historians have shown that Hislop overreached with some of his postulations regarding Babylonian paganism. Woodrow later reconsidered and disavowed his previous book with the publication of “The Babylon Connection?” in 1997. 2) Zonca is a purveyor of KJV 1611-Onlyism and presses that view.

“Catholic Myths” has a lot of very good, detailed information about popular, superstition-tinged Catholic beliefs and practices that the more academically-inclined evangelical writers like Gregg Allison and Leonardo De Chirico tend to avoid, but the problems mentioned above prevent me from recommending this book as a resource.

An excellent examination of Roman Catholicism as it compares to Biblical Christianity is “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy, available at Amazon here.

Contents

Myths

  • Bible Versions
  • The Rock
  • Apostolic Succession
  • Peter – Bishop of Rome
  • Limbo
  • Purgatory
  • Transubstantiation
  • Sacrifice of the Mass
  • Forgiveness of Sins
  • Mary – Mother of God
  • Assumption
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Mary Worship
  • Worship of Saints
  • Celibacy
  • Priests and Nuns
  • Sainthood Canonization
  • Fasting from Meat
  • Gambling and Drinking
  • Many Ways to Heaven
  • Muslims
  • Chrislam
  • Papal Infallibility
  • Charismatic Movement
  • The Magi

Rituals

  • All Saints Day
  • Holy Stairs in Rome
  • Indulgences
  • Infant Baptism
  • The Host
  • Worship of the Monstrance
  • Pope’s Tiara
  • Mitre
  • Kissing the Pope’s Ring
  • Kissing Statues
  • Priestly Clergy Garments
  • Processions
  • Praying the Rosary
  • Pilgrimages to Shrines
  • Votive Candles
  • Catholic Santería Voodoo Rituals
  • Epiphany Door Blessing Ritual

Relics

  • Relics of Romanism
  • Our Lady of Clearwater
  • The Nun Bun
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe

Superstitions

  • Apparitions
  • Amulets

Good News

  • The Bible – Man’s Only Hope

The Rise of Catholic Indifference

Deadly Indifference: How the Church Lost Her Mission and How We Can Reclaim It
By Eric Sammons
Crisis Publications, 2021, 304 pp.

1 Star

The Roman Catholic church has always taught baptismal regeneration and the complementary doctrine of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (Latin: “outside the Church [there is] no salvation.” Two exceptions were added to these doctrines, those being baptismus sanguinis (“baptism by blood”) and baptismus flaminis (“baptism by desire”). The former declared that those who were martyred before they were baptized could be saved, while the latter declared that those who desired to be baptized, but died before the sacrament could be administered, could also be saved. Those two exceptions were historically understood as “rare” occurrences, but today the Catholic church teaches that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and even atheists can be saved implicitly through baptismus flaminis/baptism by (unconscious) desire. How did this teaching evolve? In “Deadly Indifference,” traditionalist Catholic editor, Eric Sammons (“Crisis” magazine), examines the history of the expansion of baptismus flaminis and the implications for the declining RCC.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, some Catholic theologians and philosophers began to mull over the spiritual status of those pagans in distant lands who had never heard the Catholic gospel. The notion of “invincible ignorance” was born, which stated that “some” pagan souls might desire baptism if they were aware of it, and that they could also be saved via the baptism by desire exception. The teaching was bandied about by Catholic theologians for centuries and even gained papal approval in the Singulari Quadam allocution issued by Pius IX in 1854: “It is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God.” Invincible ignorance was popularly viewed as the theoretical exception rather than the rule as Catholic missionaries determinedly continued their efforts to convert non-Catholics across the globe.

However, as modernism/liberalism took hold in Catholic academia and episcopacies in the twentieth century, “invincible ignorance” and baptismus flaminis gradually became the standard regarding non-Catholics and were codified in the Second Vatican Council declarations, Unitatis redintegratio (1964) and Nostra aetate (1965). It took some time for this new liberal paradigm to filter down to the seminaries, rectories, convents, and pews – as a young Catholic grammar school student in the early and mid-1960s, I distinctly remember being taught by the priests and nuns that Protestants and all non-Catholics were destined for hell – but filter down it did. Sammons uses a “salvation spectrum” to demonstrate the current range of Catholic teaching/belief regarding extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. There is the absolutist on one extreme, who rejects the aforementioned exceptions. This view was infamously espoused by Jesuit Leonard Feeney (see here). Sammons states that, unlike Feeney, he is not an absolutist, but an exclusivist. He concedes the exception of baptismus flaminis as legitimate, but only in “rare” cases. Sammons posits that modern popes, John XXIII, Paul VI, JP II, Benedict XVI were in the middle “inclusivist” range in varying degrees, but that Francis is at the opposite extreme as a pluralist bordering on universalism.

The result of the expansion of baptismus flaminis and “invincible ignorance” is that there is no incentive for Catholic missions, since it is now taught that it’s possible for every non-Catholic religionist and even atheists to merit Heaven. Another result is an ever-increasing number of cradle Catholics are dropping away from the church because of the prevailing indifferentism. Their thinking: “If non-Catholic religionists and atheists have a good shot at Heaven, it makes no sense to have to suffer through an hour of boring mass every Sunday.”

Traditionalist Sammons, would like to return the Catholic church to pre-conciliar militancy, when baptismus flaminis and “invincible ignorance” were understood as the “rare” exceptions rather than the rule. He desires that Protestants be once-again categorized as “heretics” and that they be targets for proselytization by Catholic missionaries along with all other non-Catholics. Sammons also pines for the day when “religious freedom” is a memory and the Catholic church once again rules hand-in-glove with civil governments (pp. 50-51). Nope, I’m not kidding. How does Sammons put the horse back in the barn? He encourages fellow traditionalists to turn the clock back to pre-conciliar militancy, parish by parish.

We’re seeing signs that this rad-trad militant Catholicism that Sammons espouses is gaining traction and getting some internet notoriety, but the reality is that it’s still a small minority among Catholics.

Postscript: This book was valuable to me only in that it details some of the historical expansion of baptismus flaminis that I wasn’t aware of. In contradiction to all of this Catholic internecine squabbling over legalistic details (i.e., if baptismus flaminis is only rarely legitimate, how rare is rare? 0.1% of non-Catholics? 1%? 5%? 10%?) is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Neither Francis’ progressive pluralism or Sammons’ militant traditionalism have any connection to the genuine Gospel of grace. Some might be surprised that evangelical darling, Billy Graham, also embraced the teaching of “invincible ignorance.” Watch Graham unabashedly propagate the heresy of invincible ignorance in a 1:30 minute video here.

Throwback Thursday: Irresponsible

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on August 6, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

The Secret History of the Jesuits
By Edmond Paris
Chick Publications, 288 pp.

1 Star

I don’t usually read or review anything from Chick Publications because many of their claims against Roman Catholicism are irresponsibly outrageous, but this book was a gift. “The Secret History of the Jesuits” by Edmond Paris was originally published by Librairie Fischbacher in France in 1970 and later republished by Chick Publications in 1975. Multiple editions followed. From what I can tell, Paris (1894-1970) was a quasi-historian who specialized in Vatican exposés in much the same vein as Avro Manhattan.

There’s no doubt the Jesuits were involved in more nasty, nefarious skullduggery than we’ll ever see in mainstream history books. The religious order was founded in 1540 to foil burgeoning Protestantism and to advance Catholicism by any means necessary. But Paris goes where no academic historian would dare by adding two plus two to equal five in several of his far-reaching extrapolations presented as fact. There’s some excellent information here mixed in with some sensationalistic blarney such as the Jesuits’ alleged puppeteer-like orchestration of both the First and Second World Wars. The translation is somewhat choppy, making for some challenging reading. Also, Paris goes into great detail recounting the Jesuits’ role in French politics and history, which won’t resonate with American readers.

On page 269 of my edition (no publication date indicated), Chick added a publisher’s note claiming the Vatican with its “communist pope” (Karol Wojtyla aka pope John Paul II) had secretly thrown its support to the Kremlin and was “preparing a concordat with Russia.” Chick continues, “Moscow will serve the Vatican as the muscle to conquer nations where Roman Catholicism will be the only religion tolerated worldwide.” The subsequent fall of the Soviet empire foiled Chick’s wayward and preposterous prophecy.

Chick Publications built quite a little empire for itself among fundamentalist Christians back in the 1970s and 1980s with its Jesuit conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, Chick’s irresponsible flailings harmed the efforts of credible outreach ministries to Roman Catholics. Christians interested in responsible critiques of Catholicism should avoid the Chick quagmire and seek out books by Gregg Allison, Leonardo De Chirico, James G. McCarthy, William Webster, James R. White, and Rob Zins among others. For more on my viewpoint regarding Chick Publications, see here.

Jack Hyles and Fundamentalist Seduction

Fundamental Seduction: The Jack Hyles Case
By Voyle A. Glover
Brevia Publishing Company, 1990, 486 pp.

4 Stars

Shortly after my wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior in 1983, we began attending an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church not far from our home. The IFB movement was quite prominent back in those days. Remember Jerry Falwell? Falwell was an IFB pastor, although not a “shouter” or “brow beater” as was the IFB norm. One of the other IFB “superstar” pastors of that period was Jack Hyles, who pastored one of the largest churches, IFB or otherwise, in the country at the time, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (FBCH) , 23 miles south of Chicago, with over 15,000 in attendance on any given Sunday. Hyles trained young men to be pastors according to his strict formula at his Hyles-Anderson College and IFB pastors from all over the country flocked to the annual week-long Pastors’ School at FBCH to learn the secrets of Hyles’ successful “methods.”

Jack Hyles

In the 1980s, rumors of adulterous relationships began circulating at FBCH and within IFB circles, rumors involving Hyles’ son, David, and Jack Hyles himself. Evangelist Robert Sumner knocked over a hornets’ nest when he published a somewhat detailed exposé of Hyles in his The Biblical Evangelist newspaper in 1989. Hyles had been in a long-term, adulterous relationship with the wife of one of his deacons, Vic Nischik. Several men of the church went to Hyles regarding the allegations involving him and his son, but Hyles denied everything. A “100% for Hyles” campaign was started at the church with Hyles’ approval.

Attorney and FBCH member, Voyle Glover became convinced of the accusations against Hyles and wrote this book in 1990. In addition to presenting FBCH “insider” evidence of Hyles’ guilt, Glover informs the reader how Hyles had achieved cult-leader status and control at FBCH. Members were systematically indoctrinated to follow Hyles wherever he might lead and submit to him completely. Hyles’ sermons glorified himself rather than God. Brow-beater? Yup, Brother Hyles could brow-beat and bully his membership, individually and collectively, as well as any “loud and proud” IFB pastor. It’s difficult for non-IFBers to understand, but there was a cultish, Jim Jones/David Koresh-ish dimension to IFB pastors’ sway over their congregations.

Most FBCH members would not even consider the abundant evidence of Hyles’ marital infidelity presented by Sumner and Glover. Vic Nischik also wrote a book in 1990, “The Wizard of God: My Life With Jack Hyles,” describing some of the details of his wife’s affair with Hyles. The final nail in the coffin came many years later, in 2013, when Hyles’ own daughter, Linda, also confirmed the allegations.

Hyles survived the scandal, thanks to his loyal (aka brainwashed) congregation, although he was battered and bruised. Many fellow IFB pastors distanced themselves from Hyles and withdrew standing invitations for the “celebrity pastor” to speak at their churches. Jack Hyles died in 2001. His son-in-law, Jack Schaap, succeeded him as pastor at FBCH until he was arrested in 2012 for having sexual relations with a 16-year-old female church member. Pulpit bully, Schaap, no doubt had felt the same type of privileged impunity as his father-in-law predecessor.

This book brought back so many cringeworthy memories of my IFB days. Pastor idolatry was the norm in the IFB. Pastors were put on pedestals. IFB pastors controlled their people through manipulation and fear. The IFB movement has since declined significantly. It has nowhere near the influence it had back in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. The takeaway from this book (and this post) is not to idolize any man. We follow God and His Word and don’t put men on pedestals.

I had read and reviewed two books on Jack Hyles previously (see here and here) and desired to read Glover’s book, but it’s been out of print and used copies were über expensive. However, Glover recently made the book available via Kindle. The transcription to ebook gets a B+ although a drawback to “Fundamental Seduction” is the large amount of redundant material. Glover could have used a good editor. I would hazard that about one-third of the text could have been excised with no effect on Glover’s fundamental message.

Above is a disturbing 3-minute video of Jack Hyles manipulating and browbeating his congregation at First Baptist Church, Hammond. To Hyles’ right, in one “seat of honor,” is his wife, Beverly. To the left of Hyles, in the other seat of honor, is his secretary and mistress, Mrs. Nischik. Despite the close proximity, the two women did not fraternize and were not on speaking terms.

The Catholic Convent – Provocatively referred to as the “House of Death and Gate of Hell”?

House of Death and Gate of Hell
Compiled by Evangelist L. J. King
Osterhus Publishing House, 1948 (first printed 1928), 128 pp.

3 Stars

This book is an interesting compilation of articles put together by evangelist Louis Joseph (L.J.) King almost 100 years ago. The evangelist was born in French Village, New Brunswick, Canada in 1868 and raised as a Roman Catholic, but accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and was born-again in 1892 in response to an altar call at a Methodist Church. King relocated to the United States and traveled the country preaching the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The evangelist also focused on outreach to Roman Catholics and spoke of the many heresies of the RC church. Former-nuns were often part of his traveling entourage and shared the platform at churches and assembly halls where King spoke, recounting the travails and abuses within the convent (i.e, the House of Death and Gate of Hell referred to in the title).

King’s reputation preceded him, and militant Catholics (members of the Knights of Columbus) often attempted to break up his meetings. He was physically assaulted many times. King died in 1948 in Toledo, Ohio, where he had taken up residence.

Many ex-nuns were part of the late-19th and early-20th century Protestant lecture circuit, warning of the dangers of Roman Catholicism and the nunnery. Among several others, King names Helen Jackson and Margaret Shepherd, whose books I have previously reviewed (see here and here). Catholic spokespersons of the period naturally claimed that the “convent escape narrative” books, which detailed the abuse within convents, were entirely fiction. But revelations over the past thirty years regarding the horrific abuses within Catholic institutions (convents, schools, reformatories, laundries, residences for indigenous children) have more than validated the claims of these ex-nuns from yesteryear.

This book is not without its problems. King favorably cites the Ku Klux Klan five times (pp. 26, 30, 70, 96, and 102). Some conservative evangelicals of the 1920s were misguidedly drawn into the Christian nationalist, anti-immigrant nativism and paranoia of that era (see my review of “Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930” here). That’s not all that surprising given that the Christian nationalist paradigm is still quite popular within American evangelicalism today. Also, King’s writing style tends to draconian hyperbole. That said, I can also understand King’s hand-wringing with the then-reality of convents all across the country full of trusting young Catholic women who were “fish in a barrel” prey for abusive superiors and priests. Thankfully, there are relatively very few convents in America today. Would that all souls came out of Roman Catholicism with its false gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

I originally purchased a copy of this book from Osterhus Publishing back in the mid-1980s. That copy included a glued-on disclaimer from Osterhus disavowing King’s positive references to the Ku Klux Klan. I googled Osterhus to see if they’re still in business. Yes, they have a website, but they’ve sadly gone the ecumenical route. The current generation of Osterhuses has regrettably opted to sell Catholic bibles, missals, and catechisms (see here).

Evangelist L.J. King, 1868-1948

Throwback Thursday: You won’t see this book offered on TBN

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on August 14, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days
By Dave Hunt
Harvest House, first published in 1994, 544 pages

5 Stars

I’ve been meaning to read “A Woman Rides the Beast” for quite some time and finally squeezed it into my queue. The author, Dave Hunt (1926-2013), was a Christian apologist who was never known to mince words or to be deferential when defending the Gospel.

I had assumed from the full title that this book focused primarily on eschatology, but that’s not the case at all. Hunt begins by identifying the Great Harlot of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, as the Roman Catholic church. He uses the remainder of the book to justify that conclusion. Many events from the Roman church’s sordid history are examined as well as the origins of many of its unscriptural doctrines.

This book definitely belongs in the collection of every Christian interested in critical examinations of Roman Catholicism. Yes, Hunt leans towards hyperbole at times, but that’s understandable given the subject matter. The author references “Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy” by former Jesuit priest, Peter de Rosa (see my review here), and “The Pope and the Council” by disaffected 19th-century ex-priest, J.J. Ignaz von Dollinger, to a fault, but it’s not a problem in my eyes. Few of the people purchasing this book are expecting an academic treatise, yet Hunt has done more than enough homework.

If you’re interested in comprehensive examinations of Catholic dogma you would be better served by reading “The Gospel According to Rome” by James McCarthy or “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” by Gregg R. Allison (only nerdy seminary alum need apply in the case of the latter), but this book does a fine job of highlighting some of the most unbiblical and anti-Scriptural elements of RC theology and the darkest chapters of Roman Catholicism’s dark history.

Let’s be honest; the average Catholic has very little knowledge of their church’s history. What they were taught was more idealistic than realistic. And evangelicals? Most evangelicals these days have no idea why the Reformation even took place. They hear Catholics speak about Jesus and “grace” and “faith” and assume everybody’s now on the same page. This book would be ideal for both Catholics and evangelicals who should know better. Don’t let the 544 pages scare you. Hunt breaks it all down into many short, manageable chapters. “A Woman Rides the Beast” would definitely make my top ten list of books about Catholicism. Now there’s an idea for a future post!

Final thoughts: You surely won’t find “A Woman Rides the Beast” at your local Christian bookstore, but it’s readily available from Amazon.com. See here. When I first read the Book of Revelation after coming out of Catholicism and accepting Christ, I knew exactly what was being referred to in chapters 17 and 18. As more and more evangelicals get swallowed up into mega-church ecumenism, those Christians who continue to identify the Great Whore of Revelation as the Roman Catholic church will be increasingly relegated to the fundamentalist/lunatic fringe.

Polska Dotty

Polska Dotty: Carp in the Bathtub, Throttled Buglers, and Other Tales of an Englishman in Poland
By Jonathan Lipman
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011, 224 pp.

5 Stars

When Americans consider traveling to Europe for a vacation, they rarely think of Poland. If you go to Amazon.com, you’ll find very few Polish travelogue books. Why is that? Due to its unique history, Poland didn’t have a chance to develop at the same pace as other European countries. Poland was absorbed by Russia, Austria, and Prussia in the late-18th century and did not reappear as a nation until after the conclusion of the First World War. The Great Depression hit a decade later, followed by the horrific devastation inflicted by the invading Nazi Germans and Russian-Soviets, followed by 44 years of Russian-Soviet domination and oppression. Poland finally achieved its independence in 1989 and has been trying to catch up economically ever since.

In this interesting book, British lawyer, Jonathan Lipman relates his experience living in Poland from 1997 to 1999. Lipman had met a Polish panna (single woman) when the two were studying at Oxford in 1994. They subsequently married and Lipman took a job with a Warsaw law firm advising on foreign business investment contracts written in English.

Lipman describes daily living in Krakow (home of his wife’s family) and in Warsaw along with some interesting vacation trips to Sopot (a resort city on Baltic Sea) and Zakopane (a village in Tatra Mountains). He devotes chapters to such topics as transportation in Poland, weather, religion and festivals, entertainment, customer service (or the lack thereof), Polish work ethic, and “the Polish character.” There’s also a chapter on Polish-Jewish relations, a fascinating topic that I studied intensively during my long “prodigal season.” Poland is probably the most Catholic country in Europe, but as Lipman describes it, Polish Catholicity is mostly about bonding with family via religious rituals and traditions.

Although the events and observations described within happened over twenty years ago, this book still offers many very relevant and astute insights into the Polish nation and its people. The author interjects a good amount of entertaining droll British humor throughout, although there are some British-isms that will leave the American reader scratching their head. For an independently published book, this was very well done. I read the Kindle version and the transcription was excellent. I’m impressed.

Postscript: Poland isn’t all Soviet-style, utilitarian, nondescript, gray, architecture. There are many, many lovely spots to visit. My wife and I spent five days in Krakow in 2016. The extremely well-preserved, former capital of Poland until 1596, Krakow was largely untouched by WWII bombardment. Krakow’s central city is as nice a place to visit as any city in Europe.

Above: A view of a portion of Krakow’s massive main market square, the Rynek Główny, at nightfall. It’s the largest medieval town square in Europe at 9.4 acres.

Throwback Thursday: A man of God

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on August 17, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
By Eryl Davies
EP Books, “Bitsize Biographies” series, 2011, 128 pages

5 Stars

I don’t recall exactly when I first became aware of Welsh-English minister, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I think it may have been about a year ago (2015), when I read his criticism of C.S. Lewis. Since then, I’ve been able to better acquaint myself with the doctor (an actual MD) and what a blessing it’s been.

The story of post-1960 English evangelicalism mirrors similar circumstances here in the U.S. There were mounting “pressures” to cooperate and compromise with liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Lloyd-Jones, perhaps the most notable British evangelical minister of his day, stood firm in fidelity to the Gospel and doctrinal clarity. He spoke out against the ecumenism of the popular C.S. Lewis. He refused to support visiting American evangelist Billy Graham who cooperated with theological liberals/modernists and the local Catholic hierarchy in the organizing of his crusades. Lloyd-Jones called for all born-again believers to leave spiritually-dead denominations that did not preach the Gospel of grace.

I very much enjoyed this short introduction to Lloyd-Jones. What a blessing! Like a cool drink on a blistering hot day. I don’t use the phrases, “man of God” or “woman of God,” carelessly. In fact, I just about NEVER use them. We need to put Jesus Christ on a pedestal, not men. However, after reading this book I was able to say with full confidence about Lloyd-Jones, “Yes, this was a man of God! This was a man after God’s own heart.” But where are the men and women of God today who warn against accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and the betrayal of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone? They’re certainly not on TBN! Try to imagine D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones sitting in front of a television set and watching TBN for one solid day. What would be his assessment of contemporary, movie-theater, mega-church Christianity and its mega-ecumenism? Argh!

I read an equally informative book in the “Bitesize Biographies” series on Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli. See here. For the entire line-up of EP Books’ “Bitesize Biographies” series, see here.

For my previous posts on Lloyd-Jones, see here (MLJ’s views on Roman Catholicism) and here (similarities between MLJ and Charles Spurgeon).

Tip: Download the free MLJ Trust app on your smart phone and listen to its extensive archive of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons (1600+).

The Byrds: The Ultimate Music Guide

Yup, last week we certainly did finish up our six-month-long Wednesdays series on the Byrds’ Top 25 Songs, and I actually didn’t have a post scheduled for today, until this gem showed up at our local Barnes and Noble.

The Byrds: The Ultimate Music Guide
John Robinson, Editor
NME Networks, February 2022, 146 pp.

5 Stars

I periodically scan the internet for news of the Byrds and in early-February I saw that Uncut/NME Networks out of the U.K. had published an “Ultimate Music Guide” special edition magazine devoted to the Byrds. I asked the person who coordinates the periodical section at our local Barnes and Noble when they would be getting the magazine. Disappointingly, she said had no clue and no way to find out. I visited the store every week for two months and was delighted to finally find the guide on display when I visited on my way home from work this past Sunday.

The magazine includes two-page reviews of each the Byrds’ twelve albums interspersed with articles from the NME archives as well as new material. The articles are listed below, using my own brief descriptions:

  • The fledgling Byrds tour England – August 2-19, 1965 – with disappointing results
  • The daring experimentation of “Eight Miles High”
  • Gene Clark quits the Byrds
  • Gene Clark solo discography
  • David Crosby is fired from the Byrds
  • David Crosby solo discography
  • Gram Parsons, the early years
  • The Byrds go to Nashville and pioneer country-rock
  • Thoughts on the McGuinn-White Byrds
  • More thoughts on the McGuinn-White Byrds
  • Final thoughts on the McGuinn-White Byrds
  • Roger McGuinn solo discography
  • Thoughts on Gram Parsons
  • More thoughts on Gram Parsons
  • Gram Parsons non-Byrds discography
  • Chris Hillman selected discography
  • The uncertain futures of Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, and Chris Hillman prior to the formation of McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman
  • Clarence White selected discography
  • Spotlight on Clarence White
  • Byrds compilations and live albums
  • The Byrds’ 20 Greatest Tracks*
  • Miscellany, including very brief hat-tips to mynah birds, er, I mean minor Byrds, Michael Clarke, Kevin Kelley, Skip Battin, Gene Parsons, and John York

NME did a great job on this well-designed, special-edition magazine devoted to the Byrds. There are 100 photographs and many additional colorful graphics (e.g., album covers, concert bills, etc.). This isn’t a chronological history of the band. For that, fans should check out “Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol. 1” (2011) by Johnny Rogan. This guide is rather a collection of “snapshot” vignettes of the Byrds as the band progressed and ultimately dissolved. The only drawback is the flowery/hipster prose of the U.K. music press, especially articles written in the 1960s.


*I thought it might be interesting for readers to compare Uncut/NME’s somewhat misguided selection of the Byrds’ top 20 tunes with my ranking (see here). Songs that made my list are in bold type with my ranking # in parentheses. Any Byrds’ songs ranking that has the novelty tune, “Mr. Spaceman,” at #9 and the disastrous “Lady Friend” at #12 can’t be taken seriously. The maudlin and hook-less “Hickory Wind” is on their list at #6 because of the alt-country fawning over mythological hero, Gram Parsons.

20. Ballad of Easy Rider
19. If You’re Gone (16)
18. Wild Mountain Thyme
17. Why
16. Dolphin’s Smile
15. Everybody’s Been Burned (9)
14. Triad
13. Tribal Gathering (8)
12. Lady Friend
11. Wasn’t Born to Follow
10. My Back Pages (15)
9. Mr. Spaceman
8. Draft Morning
7. I’ll Feel A Whole lot Better (12)
6. Hickory Wind
5. 5D (Fifth Dimension) (7)
4. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star (2)
3. Turn! Turn! Turn! (3)
2. Mr. Tambourine Man (4)
1. Eight Miles High (1)