Book Rec.: Rawhide Down

RAWHIDE-IMAGE

I love nonfiction books that point you to a specific point in time that may have lasted from several minutes to an entire day, and every facet of that event is digested and rolled over and over again, analyzing that particularly momentous moment in history. In the case of Rawhide Down, the event on display lasted merely 1.6 seconds.

Del Quentin Wilber captures the near-assassination of former President Ronald Reagan as though the book stood as a telling photograph of that entire day. Not a beat is missed as all hell breaks loose and the players on the stage of this dramatic occurrence freeze, Matrix-style, as the author walks his readers around the commotion, pointing out the structure of the armored limousine that would provide safety to the president and his body guard, Jerry Parr. The would-be assassin goes unnoticed hiding behind a noisy heckler as he steadily fingers his $45 RG 14 revolver, loaded with explosive bullets. Wilber goes into the history of the Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy who was hoping to avoid duty that day so that he wouldn’t get his new suit wet in the rain, and that he never would have known he would become a human shield for the president, taking a bullet to the chest.

Acts of heroism from others such as officer Thomas Delahanty, press secretary James Brady, and Drs. Benjamin Aaron and Joseph Giordano are put on display for us to give our thanks to and honor, for saving the president’s life that day in March 1981.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which I highly recommend anyone to read.

President Reagan has just been informed that he will be undergoing surgery at the George Washington Memorial Hospital in D.C.:

Looking up from the gurney, Reagan spotted Jerry Parr, one of the few familiar faces within view. “I hope they are all Republicans,” he said through his mask. Parr smiled, but he was too anxious to laugh. Reagan would repeat the line later, to better effect.

One nurse monitoring the president’s vital signs was startled by his attempt at humor; given his condition, she didn’t think it was a good time to be joking around. Another nurse was amazed at how calm Reagan seemed. And everyone working around the gurney was impressed by his courtesy. 

“I don’t mean to trouble you,” the president said to one of his doctors, “but I am still having trouble breathing.”

Get it here on Amazon.

For Whom the “Bell” Tolls – My Thoughts on Velvet Elvis Part 3

For Part 1, click here.

For Part 2, click here.

This post will conclude my review of Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis.

…And what does he say about those pastors who do teach the Bible? Luke 11:46 says, “Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.’” He uses this against pastors who challenge their congregation to read the Bible more and pray more. Understand this! He’s attributing reading the Bible and praying to burdens of the world! Think about the implications of what he’s saying! He says that when pastors tell him to do those things, it makes him want to do them less. I only have one painfully obvious response to this: It’s called laziness, Superpastor!

Bell continues: “A little while later he [Jesus] calls them ‘sons of hell’ …religious leaders actually get in the way of entering into the life of God.” I think this is the closest to the truth he’s gotten so far!

So is the Bible the best God can do? Besides the fact that this question is completely irrelevant it stands that whatever God offers is the best because it’s from God. God is the best. That’s what He is, and anything that comes from God, including His very Word spoken through the Bible is the best no matter how much or how little He gives to us. No matter how you slice a block of cheese, it’s still cheese. [I recommend the John Piper’s book, GOD’S PASSION FOR HIS GLORY for more on this topic.]

I can spend lots and lots of time pointing out stark contradictions in this book. It would be laughable if so many people weren’t buying into these lies. A book that people are still buying off the bookshelf at the local Christian store provides sentences like this:

“To grab a few lines of Jesus and drop them down on someone 2,000 years later without first entering into the world in which they first appeared is lethal to the life and vitality of TRUTH and the Bible” (emphasis not mine).

Anything that is factual and insightful in this book is completely stolen from Ray Vander Laan’s That the World May Know DVD series, whom Bell gives very little credit to, found only in the endnotes. Bits and pieces of Vander Laan’s teachings were evident throughout the first part of the book, and then toward the end, an entire chapter was taken from a portion of his DVD series. And Rob Bell gets paid for this book. 

“Hell is full of forgiven people,” is a statement Bell makes that is arguable at best. (How can people be forgiven if they haven’t accepted it?) But, “Jesus measures their eternal standings in terms of not what they said or believed but how they lived specifically in regard to hell around them,” is a statement that is not at all in line with Scripture. It is clear in Romans that you must believe that Jesus is Lord in order to gain salvation through Him. Bell disregards this part of the transaction and preaches a works-based faith, failing to balance the practices of belief and works stemmed through convictions of the Holy Spirit. 

“The most powerful things happen,” says Bell, “When the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join.” So let me ask if this desire is from the flesh or from the Holy Spirit? Granted there are people who “save” people to make them look Super Christian. But do we just assume that of everyone who is reaching out to the world? I think not, because Christ Himself clearly states that we are to be fishers of men. We are to serve others and reach out to non-believers out of love just as Jesus did. Bell eliminates the latter command from any realm of importance to the Christian faith. Spreading the Gospel and serving go hand in hand. There can be no separating them. 

Finally Bell says that the “church must stop thinking of people as saved or unsaved… it’s offensive to others. Do not treat people differently based on what they believe.”

This is another lesson I have learned for myself while reading this book. I couldn’t quite understand the fierce and seemingly bias protection the church has over us, the members. Reading this book taught me why it’s so important that the church does so. We are the Body of Christ, and we are to protect ourselves and each other from lies and anything that might harm us spiritually so that we may not stumble. It is crucial that we guard the doctrine that we know and believe with the same intensity of a citadel guarding a fortress (or a wall for that matter). This kind of thinking that is taught through Velvet Elvis has more potential to damage and weaken and question the faith of a believer in Christ than it does to uplift, encourage, and liberate said believer from the bondages of this world. At least, in the end, Rob Bell did get one thing right: “Something can be labeled Christian and not be ‘true’ or ‘good.’” 

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 

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