Dr. Robert Sumner passed away in December 2016. The Biblical Evangelist newspaper is no longer being published and the ministry of Biblical Evangelism has ceased operation.

The remaining inventory of his books and gospel tracts was transferred to The Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles and may be ordered here.

Book Reviews
Dr. Robert L. Sumner

FROM DARWIN TO DESIGN by C. L. Cagan & Robert Hymers; Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA; 8 Chapters, 169 Pages; $12.99, Paper

This is an amazing, fascinating book, starting with the telling of Cagan’s conversion from the ignorance (for this is what he shows such to be) of aimless atheism to fruitful faith in Christ and Christianity. The authors have been friends of the reviewer for years, but I never knew the details of Christopher Cagan’s conversion background (nor the accidental change of the Jewish family name from Kagan to Cagan) until I read this volume.  The title could easily be “from atheistic evolution to faith in God,” for that is the story it really tells.

Can science satisfy? Of course not, and this book proves it. In fact, as we read we mused, “No wonder the suicide rates – especially among young people – are at an all-time high!” The hopelessness and meaningless of life “according to the atheistic science” taught in our public schools is obvious.

In any creation-evolution controversy our own thoughts have always returned to the observation of David: “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14). The authors quote molecular biologist Michael Denton, writing from a secular viewpoint, as saying about a single cell: “…one cell resembles a huge automated factory, larger than a city, carrying out hundreds of different functions,” yet its complexity “is impossible to understand in terms of simple molecular motion and random or semi-random combinations.” The amount of information it contains “is simply staggering, which points to an intelligent Designer.”

The authors ask which is more difficult to believe: “…that the universe exists as it is because of an almighty and intelligent God who designed it, or that the universe with all its mathematical completion and faultlessness, and with all of its basic numbers perfectly set up on favor of life, came into being all by itself, with no cause or meaning or reason – not at the beginning, not now, and not ever? To deny God in this way, and accept a universe with no ultimate purpose, actually is much more difficult and less reasonable than to affirm God as the Creator and Designer of it.”

The authors also explain why many of the world’s most brilliant minds were not so smart after all! And they also point to the hopelessness, humanly speaking, of this world system. But Cagan and Hymers don’t just cry “the sky is falling,” they offer the solution from the living, eternal Word of God and its key personality, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a good book, one you will not only enjoy, but profit immensely from spiritually. Design is scholarly, well documented, and indexed. Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote the Foreword and Dr. Henry M. Morris penned a Preface.

It bears our enthusiastic recommendation.

[You may order this book, written by our friends, Drs. Cagan and Hymers, from your local bookstore or the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle, P. O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015-0308]

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PAUL MEETS MUHAMMAD: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection by Michael R. Licona; Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI; 15 Chapters, 175 Pages; $13.99, Paper

This is an imaginary debate between the Apostle Paul and the alleged Prophet Muhammad on the key issue of the resurrection of Christ, which Muslims deny because they don’t believe He was crucified. We say ‘key issue’ because everything about our faith rises and falls on the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ from the grave. When we first picked up the book and started reading we were excited, but the more we read the less enthusiasm we had. In short, our enthusiasm waned quite quickly.

Why? It seemed to be repeating the same ground over and over.

We also had some strong differences with the author in his arguments. For example, he repeatedly (all of his arguments were repeated!) had Paul insist that Christ died of asphyxiation (lack of oxygen), a position of weakness. To us, this is an insult to Christ and a horrible violation of Scripture teaching.

How did He die? The Word of God, in John 19:30, says, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” The latter phrase (Greek, paredōken to pneuma, quoted from Psalm 31:5, is literally, as Scofield noted, “dismissed His spirit.” He died as no one ever had before Him or since, voluntarily dismissing His spirit. That hardly fits asphyxiation.

All four of the Gospels record that act and both Matthew and Mark add that He shouted with “a loud voice” when He did so. One dying of asphyxiation (lack of oxygen) wouldn’t and couldn’t do that. We would be interested in Licona explaining how one with no oxygen in his lungs could shout with a loud voice!

There were other disappointments. He has Paul admitting that he and James “didn’t always see eye to eye on everything,” implying there was a contradiction between them, saying James had a “more rigid lifestyle” than he did (James wouldn’t have a TV in his home if living today, but Paul would). Licona has Paul following the short stay in the tomb for our Lord (not 3 days and 3 nights, but only portions of them), saying, “If the Gospels are accurate, Jesus was only in the tomb one day and two nights.” We object to his making the accuracy of the Word of God depend upon his faulty interpretation. We’re not sure a Muslim would follow his claim that the fish was not an analogy, but that the time inside the fish’s belly was one! And that would mean Jonah was only in the great fish about one day and two nights (Matthew 12:40). Oh, what a tangled web we weave when. . . we start rewriting Scripture!

We object too with Licona having Paul agree with Muhammad that a prophet doesn’t have to be right on everything. God gave His people a test for prophets so they could determine if one were true or false by whether his predictions came true (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Perhaps Licona would like to tell us where even one of the true biblical prophets was wrong! (There are many cases where Muhammad erred!)

And while it certainly is not a “life or death” matter, we objected to Licona having Paul repeatedly say the Gospel of Mark was the first written. We disagree, noting considerable evidence that the biblical order is the correct one: Matthew through John. The big argument is that Mark wrote first and the others copied from him; we don’t think anyone copied from anyone!

This is an interesting book of fiction, but we’d hate to have anyone getting his or her theology from it!

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DAISY CHAINS by Sandra Byrd; Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN; 11 Chapters, 226 Pages; $10.99, Paper

This is the fourth release in Byrd’s “Friends for a Season” series, fiction aimed at girls in their early teens. It revolves around two Seattle-area, 14½-year-old girls, Kylie Peterson and Rachel Cohen. The girls tell their side of the story in alternating chapters. One is Protestant (in name only, at the start) and one Jewish. The latter has a cousin who has become a “completed Jew,” having found Jesus as her Messiah and much of the book revolves around her wedding. Interwoven are her attempts to continue her Jewishness with her new faith (something we’ve never been very exited about).

There is a lot of “growing up” in the book and standards are high for parent-child relationships, which is good, but there is a lot of approved movies, dancing, card playing which is not so good (in short, no standards). One of the girls gets converted, but the conversion story is very weak.

The author is apparently good at relating to modern teen language since she uses words we never heard before (like “flubba”).

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AMISH COUNTRY CROSSROADS by Beverly Lewis (with David Lewis); Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN; 86 Chapters, 692 Pages; $19.99

Amish Country contains three of the Lewis novels – The Postcard, The Crossroad and Sanctuary – all wrapped up in a single volume with hard binding. Lewis was raised in Lancaster County – the Amish stronghold in Pennsylvania – and her parents pastored the Glad Tidings Temple in Lancaster during her childhood. She herself is a Mennonite.

This, obviously, is bargain day for fiction lovers, especially the Lewis fans (we understand she has written about 70 books, including the ones for children). Purchased separately, these three novels would cost the reader $38.97. In short this is approximately a 50% discount off the single prices. She wrote the first two and her husband, David, collaborated with her on the third.

The first story starts with an accident caused by a skittish horse bolting at an intersection, carrying the Amish wagon into heavy auto traffic – and Rachel Yoder suddenly losing husband, son and unborn child although her young daughter is spared – and is left blind even though there is no apparent physical cause for it. Eventually Philip Bradley, a New York City newspaper man doing a story on Amish life enters the scene, lodging at the Bed & Breakfast run by Rachel’s parents. He finds a postcard (the one in the title, of course) and things start popping. He is able, with help, to solve that mystery.

The second story picks up where the first one left off, the title referring to Highway 340 and North Ronks Road (where the father, son and unborn had been killed). Blind Rachel makes her #1 priority regaining her sight, including prayer, the elders anointing her with oil, and Philip – who is back in the picture big time – offering to take her to a noted Christian psychiatrist in New York City. (If she had been healed that way, we would have tossed the book in the trash!) Does she get her sight back? If so, how? And do she and Philip (who was of another culture) hit it off?

The third story is not a continuation of the first two, but starts with an exciting mystery beginning to unravel. It is a mystery that is not finally unraveled, we might add, until the closing pages. Unlike Postcard and Crossroad, this one does not have the Amish setting fully, only incidentally. The intriguing plot relates to newlyweds Ryan and Melissa, her late father, a lady who helped raise her after her father’s death, and eighty million big ones.

Of the three books, this one is far and away the best in this reviewer’s judgment. (Maybe Mrs. Lewis should have her husband join her in story telling more often!) All three of them, however, are way above average for Christian fiction when it comes to working the Word of God into the tales.

If you enjoy fiction, you will enjoy this trilogy! And at a bargain, too.

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GOD’S GROUND FORCE by Barbara Sullivan; Bethany House Publishers, Bloomington, MN; 13 Chapters, 185 Pages; $13.99, Paper

This is subtitled What Happened When One Church Dared to Leave the Comfort Zone and the author says in her Introduction: “God took a small group of white, middle-class suburbanites with no ministry or Bible training, and birthed through us thirty ministries among the inner-city African-American and Hispanic population. He blessed us with a Christian grammar school of 400 students, a day-care facility of 200, a multipurpose church building, a youth center, homes for men and women ex-substance abusers, two resale facilities, and a boxing club and art center for inner-city youth.” And she asks, “How did all this happen?”

The answer, in our evaluation: by being ecumenical to the core!

The strange thing is, we mean that as criticism and she would probably take it as a compliment! A good illustration of what we mean might be her final chapter, “A Tale of Two Women: A Modern-Day Parable of the Church.” The two women are Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, who died within 5 days of each other. While the former is obviously not a role model, the latter admittedly did much for the poor and downtrodden of our society. Yet Mother Teresa was a gung-ho Romanist who believed passionately all the heresies of her church – as just a little research would show – and she might even be a worse role model because of the religious glitter to her life and her words of humility and seeming faith. (None of which is mentioned by Mrs. Sullivan.)

That this group did a lot of good deeds we cannot and will not deny. We were thrilled at some of the accounts of changed lives through redemption. But is what they did a biblical example to follow? We don’t think so.

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LOOKING FOR HOME by Eileen M. Berry, Illustrated by Maurie J. Manning; Journey Forth, a Division of BJU Press, Greenville, SC; 10 Chapters, 75 Pages; $7.49, Paper

This is a fiction book for children 6-7. It revolves around Micah and his slightly older sister, Liz, who have moved to a apartment in the city from their farm. While looking for buried treasure left by pirates, they meet and fall in love with Grandma Jan, an elderly lady who has also had to leave her home on the farm because of the death of her husband. Their efforts to make her “feel at home” are not always the wisest, but they are appreciated.

Kids should love it.

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DAY STARTERS: Devotions for Every Day by Louis Arnold; 365 Devotions, 300 Pages; $12, Paper

The author has been an evangelist, author, editor and servant of Christ for more than 72 years, starting to preach almost as soon as he was converted at age 12. He draws on his long Bible study and thousands of experiences to format interesting devotions. Some of the poetry he wrote himself.

Each devotional has a subject, a Biblical text, and then Arnold’s comments on the text.

This is a good book and you will profit from it.

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CHIEF: E. ROBERT JORDAN, An Autobiography; Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC; 12 Chapters, 170 Pages; $12.95, Paper

We have called this an autobiography only because the publisher does. It consists mostly of recounting battles Jordan has had over the years: getting saved, as a new Christian, the call to the ministry, his first church, separation, against BJU, tragedy (Parkinson’s disease), New Evangelicalism, Calvinism, the flesh, the Masonic Lodge (a hot button, and we agree with him totally), and Arminianism. It is interesting reading. The joke during my first time of special meetings with him was that the church’s favorite song was, “You Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone!” Yes, he has been a fighter over the years – including the middleweight boxing championship he earned in the Navy.

We held two different crusades with “Chief” at Lansdale (PA) – although we never called him that or even heard him called “Chief” (apparently a carryover from his Navy days when he climbed the military ladder to first-class boatswain’s mate) – in 1965 and 1967, the latter intended as the first evangelistic meeting in his new 2,000-seat auditorium (alas, the builders were way behind schedule and we met in the old one). While we had great results both times, we never heard from him again and we could only speculate why we fell out of favor. We had received an honorary doctorate from BJU at about the time of his ‘battle’ with that school and we thought for a time that might be it, but in reading this book we decided the timing was off by a year or so. He never fell out of favor with us, however, and we’ve always appreciated his good ministry.

We could add a few “tales of interest” to this volume. For example, in one of my meetings he had his first black apply for membership (she was smart enough to tell him before she came forward). The “membership candidate” was a dear lady who had long loved and served the Lord, but “Chief” made her swear off allegiance to Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP, and every radical black organization he could think of. She took it calmly and graciously, vowing to have nothing whatsoever to do with them.

There are several helpful features herein, including eight things to do daily, the article he wrote about ‘questionable things,’ principles to live by, and rules for child training.

In reading this volume – which we are glad to recommend to you – we came to the conclusion, “This is the same old Bob Jordan we knew 40 years ago.” And that’s good!

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