Oral Torah prophesied this time of Muslim terror

Oral Torah prophesied this time of Muslim terror

Book review by Tom Ryerson
April 25, 2012

Prophecies for the Era of Muslim Terror: A Torah Perspective on World Events by Rabbi Menachem Kohen. Lambda Publishers, 2007. 224 pp.

The 9/11 attacks, war in Iraq, and Christians fighting Muslims all prophesied in Jewish traditions? This fascinating book brings us a perspective on world events from the Oral Torah. A main theme is that later Oral Torah specifically prophesied the rise of the Muslims and their war against the Jews in the Land of Israel as well as against the rest of the world. Rabbi Menachem Kohen emphasizes that the Torah is the premier evidence that there is one Creator Almighty God who has given the Land of Israel to the Jews, and Who knows the future and where everyone will live.

As the author explains, the Torah is what is known as the five books of Moses, and through the centuries there have been many oral traditions passed down by the Jewish rabbis which have explained and expanded on the Torah. In recent centuries, mostly since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, these traditions have been written into books which are collectively known as the Oral Torah.

In Prophecies for the Era of Muslim Terror, Rabbi Kohen reviews centuries of history to remind us of the miracle of the Jews’ banishment from the Land of Israel, and the amazing miracle that for 1800 years there was little rain, little fruit, and no one else became permanent residents in the land, just as God had spoken. Then, out of nowhere, the Jews began to return, and other people have come to attempt to claim the land as well. Oral Torah prophesied the wars the Muslims are currently waging around the world, and Rabbi Kohen purports to show that the 9/11 attacks and the two wars of the U.S. against Iraq were specifically prophesied in the Oral Torah.

Rabbi Kohen appears not to be a believer in Jesus, and many Christians may dispute the level of credence given to the Oral Torah by this author. This book is worth reading and will give readers a different perspective on the truth that God will bless those who bless the Jews, but some of the more specific prophetic interpretations may need to be taken with a grain of salt.

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A Jesus to fit our culture

A Jesus to fit our culture

Book review by Tom Ryerson
April 21, 2012

A Western Jesus: The Wayward Americanization of Christ and the Church by Mike Minter. B&H Publishing Group, 2007. 248 pp.

Mike Minter is the founding pastor of a large reformed Bible church in Virginia. In this his first book, he offers many careful but pointed thoughts in a relaxed and common-sense manner concerning the Christian culture in America. Pastor Minter says, “No one fights over the issues we fight over here… I have worshipped in a Russian prison, in the jungles of Bolivia, in big cities, in fancy auditoriums, and in the suburbs. I once spoke in a church in New Hampshire during the winter. The wood to feed the potbelly stove was stacked behind the pulpit.”

Frequently using the term “the transcendent Christ,” Rev. Minter seeks to point out cultural hang-ups and the habits of human nature and to remind us that the real Jesus is for every generation in every location in the world. In one instance for example, he notes that while some extreme Pentecostal believers may say “God told me…,” a reformed believer may say “I got a great insight from the Scripture today,” all the while speaking primarily of the same thing. He points out various ways that culture, tradition, and scripture collide, and replacement gospels are preached. Rev. Minter reminds us that every person has some kind of theological bias when interpreting Scripture.

A Western Jesus has many good thoughts for reflecting on the state of Christian culture today and could be good reading for Christian leaders who want some ideas on cutting through the cobwebs of culture to be reminded of what is important.

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God has already decreed America’s future

God has already decreed America’s future

Book review by Tom Ryerson
April 10, 2012

The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future by Michael D. Evans. Warner Faith / Time Warner Book Group, 2004. 310 pp.

God has already decreed America’s future, according to Middle East expert Michael D. Evans, and it is as simple as remembering God’s promise to Abraham:  “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless  you… I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Mr. Evans says that after years of hearing prophecy teachers try to find America in Bible prophecy and years of his own research, he has determined in a nutshell that the United States of America has married two brothers, both of whom are the sons of Abraham. America has supported the sons of Israel sometimes out of genuine Bible belief, at times out of guilt because of the Holocaust, and many times because their democratic stability is a needed asset in the Middle East. But America has also supported the sons of Ishmael because of oil, and has sold them billions of dollars’ worth of weapons through the years.

The American Prophecies reviews the Christian founding of America, and the connection between America and Zionism throughout the 19th and earth 20th centuries. He traces a nearly forgotten history of American Christian leaders who saw in Scripture that Israel would be restored and who brought this to the attention of American presidents. The book describes highlights of World War II, the creation of Israel, and modern events, noting those times when America has supported Israel and when it has not. Michael Evans emphasizes that the final battle line of this age runs through Jerusalem, and the essential question for America is whether we will choose to be on God’s side or whether we will choose to fight God. Even though it is eight years old, The American Prophecies is highly recommended reading for its prophetic call to America to repent for our sins and to get on God’s side of the battles in this world.

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True spy story inside Iran

True spy story inside Iran

Book review by Tom Ryerson
March 28, 2012

A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran by Reza Kahlili. Threshold Editions / Simon & Schuster, 2010. 340 pp.

Many Americans have heard that the Islamic Republic of Iran is really bad. Reza Kahlili brings us a true first-person account of how bad it is. Reza Kahlili is the pseudonym of a man who participated in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards during the 1980s. As the revolution progressed, Reza was sickened by the violence and hypocrisy. Having been educated in the United States in the late 1970s, Reza arranged to return to the U.S. for a visit and contacted the U.S. government to provide information. He ended up becoming a spy for the CIA, a status he maintained for several years.

A Time to Betray takes the reader inside the Iran of the Islamic Revolution, giving an up close and personal account of the violence, treachery, and persecution instigated by the Islamic religious leaders. Reza includes much about his family and friends, allowing us to see the very real world consequences of the tyrannical regime, and he describes the culture of fear that developed as people began spying on each other. The reader will receive a valuable review of some Iranian history, including a greater awareness that Iranians value their Persian heritage as distinct from Arab and other ethnicities. A Time to Betray is highly recommended for its personal story of the Islamic Republic of Iran. More information including on the current Iranian threat is available at the author’s website www.ATimeToBetray.com.

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Conservatives call George W. Bush an imposter and betrayer

Conservatives call George W. Bush an imposter and betrayer

Book review by Tom Ryerson
March 22, 2012

Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause by Richard A. Viguerie. Bonus Books, 2006. 255 pp.

Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy by Bruce Bartlett. Doubleday, 2006. 310 pp.

Nearly three-quarters of the way through President George W. Bush’s eight years in office, many genuine believers in conservative ideals began to raise the alarm that Mr. Bush was not at all acting upon true conservative values. An evidence of this is two books published in mid-2006 as America moved toward the mid-term elections which saw the voters overturn Republican Party majorities in both houses of Congress. Richard A. Viguerie has been a backbone of the 20th century conservative movement, gaining notoriety for pioneering direct-mail campaigning in the 1960s and 70s. Bruce Bartlett comes with an economic background, having served in the U.S. Treasury Department under President Ronald Reagan.

In Conservatives Betrayed, Mr. Viguerie warned, “When conservatives are unhappy, bad things happen to the Republican Party,” a warning which proved very valid by the end of 2006. Conservatives Betrayed lays out charges against President Bush and the Republican Party in many areas of policy, showing in essence that the federal government grew by leaps and bounds, violating conservative principles in almost every area of policy. Mr. Viguerie includes a valuable review of the conservative movement from Goldwater to Reagan, and a review of fundamental conservative beliefs in limited government and the fundamental moral rights and responsibilities of the people. He accepts the two-party system, saying it is the only way to get things done, but advocates that true conservative believers must at all times hold the party leadership accountable, blatantly saying, “Let me be clear: present leaders of the Republican Party are not conservative.”

Imposter addressed the Bush administration problems from the economic angle along with added insight into the White House policy development process. Bruce Bartlett is a respected Washington economist who pointedly said, “I know conservatives, and George W. Bush is no conservative.” Mr. Bartlett took the Bush administration to task for the costly Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation and the way it was rammed through Congress, and he critically examined trade, tax, and regulatory policy. In laying out the budget numbers of the greatly expanding federal government under President Bush, he stated openly that in fiscal policy, President Clinton was simply better. Mr. Bartlett attempts to explain and expose that President Bush’s conservatism was a belief that bigger and better government could achieve so-called conservative goals. The author also criticized the Bush administration for poor policy development, saying the White House ignored voices of experience and research in favor of arrogant political hacks.

It is interesting to note that both of these conservative authors came to the conclusion that our federal government has done better with power divided between the parties. Though mainly geared to concerns of 2006, Conservatives Betrayed and Imposter stand as a reminder that conservative beliefs must be constantly taught, reinforced, and that without constant attention, the government is more likely that not to expand and become corrupt.

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Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton

Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton

Book review by Tom Ryerson
February 18, 2012

The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation by Steven M. Gillon. Oxford University Press, 2008. 342 pp.

To anyone who has followed national politics in the United States of America for twenty years or more, Newt Gingrich is well known for being a force behind the Republican Party takeover of the U.S. Congress in 1994 after two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. What is not as well known is the intensity of the ups and downs in the relationship of these two men over the years, especially from 1994 to 1998, and the stark similarities between them despite publicly being on entirely different ends of the political spectrum. In The Pact, author Steven M. Gillon, resident historian for the History Channel, examines the lives of both men, culminating in a secret meeting held between them in October 1997 to work out a plan to promote and implement Social Security reform. Unfortunately, the deal between them fell through when the Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998.

The Pact is biographical in nature, highlighting the personal accomplishments and struggles of Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton. Dr. Gillon notes at the beginning the similarities of both men having strong mothers and emotionally distant stepfathers, and shadows of that carry through the book. Both men first ran for Congress in 1974 and the author describes both as being very intelligent and intellectually curious, and both are incredibly gifted in many respects with a parallel lack of self-discipline in other respects. Both value the middle road where things can get done. But while President Clinton tended toward being more emotionally intelligent and appearing soft on the outside with a stubborn inner core, Speaker Gingrich is a man who is highly combative and bombastic on the outside with a soft inner core.

Dr. Gillon brings us many reminders of the highly complex nature of American politics, as power, ideology, personality, and what is doable versus what is desired all collide. The Pact is an excellent review American politics of the 1990s viewed through the lives of two men who embodied the public discussions of the time.

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Photos of Israel’s nuclear weapons production

Photos of Israel’s nuclear weapons production

Book review by Tom Ryerson
January 29, 2012

Triple Cross: Israel, the Atomic Bomb & the Man Who Spilled the Secrets by Louis Toscano. Birch Lane Press / Carol Publishing Group, 1990. 321 pp.

This current events inside scoop from 1990 was written by a veteran journalist of United Press International to tell the how and why behind the man who in 1986 leaked photographs of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. In 1985, Mordechai Vanunu had been working at the Dimona plant for eight years when he decided he could no longer stomach the state of things in Israel because of his increasingly pro-Arab views. On the way out, he took some pictures, not sure exactly what he would do with them. Months later, Mr. Vanunu permitted his photographs to be published by the Sunday Times of London along with an account of his story. He was subsequently kidnapped by Israeli intelligence and transported back to Israel for a secret trial and sentencing. Mr.Toscano notes that it was later found that the Israeli government became aware of the pictures at the highest level of government, and still permitted them to be published.

Though he did not interview Mr. Vanunu for this book, Mr. Toscano notes that he interviewed more than 120 people for the report. Triple Cross is an intriguing and compelling tale of the intersections of religious, political, and economic philosophies along with personal backgrounds, families, life struggles, and accidents of history.

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