CultureWatch

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Four Important New Australian Books

Feb 28, 2017

Of the making of many books there is no end, or so the writer of Ecclesiastes said (Ecc. 12:12). I think he was on to something there. New books are pouring from the presses all the time, and some at least are certainly well worth getting. Here I just want to look at four Australian authors and their new books which I can heartily recommend.

I happen to know all four authors, and I greatly appreciate the various works and ministries they are involved in. All four are experts in their fields, and their volumes are tremendously useful. All four also happen to be followers of Jesus Christ, and they make no attempts to hide their faith in these volumes.

But all four books can be read profitably by non-Christians as well, given the importance of the subject matter and the way the books have been written. So let me introduce you to these four excellent resources:

Stuart Robinson, The Hidden Half: Women and Islam. CHI Books, 2017.

For nearly a half a century Stuart Robinson has lived, worked and/or travelled in Muslim countries. He has written a number of vital books on Islam including his important 2003 volume, Mosques and Miracles. Thus he is well placed to deal with this topic. And what a vitally important subject it is. Says Robinson:

Although approximately 10% of the world’s population may be Muslim and female, within countries where Islamic law predominates, they are mostly silenced in public places and rendered effectively invisible by the clothing they are obliged to wear. They are frequently condemned to suffer abuse and indignity through male mouthpieces who determine their role and outcomes.

In a number of well-documented and meaty chapters, he looks at the various ways in which women are oppressed by Islam. Whether it is Female Genital Mutilation, forced coverings, honour killings, child brides, second class citizenship, or religious rape (yes, that exists in Islam), women are treated abysmally in this religion.

Consider just one issue which has made at least some news headlines of late. In the UK where the Muslim population is said to double each decade, Muslim paedophile gangs had been at work there for decades. Robinson cites a 300+ page research report on this which documents all the horrific abuse, rape and torture.

For example, a number of Muslim males were jailed for grooming up to 100 underage girls for sex. The study found that “Muslim males are 154 times more likely than others to perpetuate this sort of crime.” Much of the mainstream media has stayed silent on this story, so it is terrific to see Robinson bravely exposing it.

Facts, figures, data and research presented in the book are supplemented by numerous personal horror stories of women being treated so very poorly in Islam. It makes for frightening reading, but it is necessary reading. We all owe Stuart Robinson a great debt in producing this urgent wake-up call.

As Elizabeth Kendall says in her foreword, “The events reported in this book may disturb you and even move you to tears. But if change is to occur, reality must first be faced.” Quite so, and the reality of how women fare under Islam is expertly and carefully documented in this must-read volume.

Elizabeth Kendal, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East. Resource Publications, 2016.

Since I just mentioned Kendal above, let me highlight her most recent book. She is an expert on matters of religious liberty, both here and internationally. She is the Director of Advocacy for Christian Faith and Freedom in Canberra.

She has been carefully following Islam, religious freedom, the fate of Christians in the Middle East, and the rise of Islamic terror groups such as IS for many years now. This book is a detailed look at what is taking place in the Middle East, the factors that have led to the current crisis, and the way forward.

The 25-page bibliography gives us an indication of the intense research and study which has gone into this volume. Chapters deal with topics such as the current crisis in Syria, the Sunni-Shia divide, the rise of IS, the return of the caliphate, and the response of Christians.

The title of her book is explained early on: “There is a popular Arabic war cry which never fails to make the blood of Middle Eastern Christians run cold…. (“After Saturday comes Sunday”) is issued as a threat, meaning: As sure as Saturday (the day of Jewish worship), is followed by Sunday (the day Christians worship), first we’ll kill the Jews, then we’ll kill the Christians.” She reminds us that this is no idle threat.

Indeed, her nearly 300-page book carefully documents all the persecution, abuse, bloodshed and terror which Christians experience at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East. It is sobering reading, but it is something we all must be aware of.

She finishes her book by looking at the “Cost of Quiet Diplomacy”. This is about Christians in the West who for whatever reasons have been cowed into silence, and will not speak out publically about the Islamic attack on Christianity and persecution of Christians.

She notes how Christians during the Cold War similarly refused to speak out about the Communist persecution of believers. She closes this way:

The church needs to wake up to the fact that the world is not going to save the church; and that’s okay, for God never intended that it should. From Genesis onwards, the Bible reveals … that God intervenes and saves his people by grace through faith. Consequently, it is absolutely imperative that the church steps out in faith. The silence of the churches is not only indefensible, it is absolutely disastrous.

Bernie Power, Understanding Jesus and Muhammad. Acorn Press, 2016.

My third author and book is also about Islam. Bernie Power is one of Australia’s leading experts on Islam, and he has worked with Muslims for decades now. He not only educates Christians as to what Islam is all about, what it teaches, and what it does, he also has ongoing ministry to Muslims themselves, seeking to present to them the claims of Christ and the gospel.

In this helpful volume he looks at arguably two of the most influential men in history: Jesus and Muhammad. They both have had a very real and pronounced impact on the world, but for quite different reasons. Indeed, the differences between the two in terms of their life, their teachings, and their example could hardly be greater.

Carefully researched and detailed chapters look at a number of key topics, such as:
-what the Koran says about Jesus and Muhammad
-the sinlessness of Jesus as compared to Muhammad
-the miracles and Jesus and Muhammad
-violence in Christianity and Islam
-the way Jesus and Muhammad viewed and treated women
-the death of Jesus and Muhammad
-the end times in the Bible and the Koran.

This terrific book offers very useful comparisons and contrasts between the two men and the two religions. It is most useful for Christians who want to learn more about Muhammad and Islam, but it can also be given to Muslims who want to learn more as well.

But I also need to mention two brand new books by Power, based on his PhD. I hope to review these volumes as well in the near future. They are:

Power, Bernie, Challenging Islamic Tradition. William Carey Library, 2016.
Power, Bernie, Engaging Islamic Tradition. William Carey Library, 2016.

Albert Stuart Reece, Let My People Go: A Theology of Addiction. Westbow Press, 2014, 1016.

My last volume is not about Islam, but another important social issue. There are not many books written by Christians talking about the drug wars, and about how we can offer genuine, practical help for those who are struggling with drug addiction.

Dr Reece is certainly well qualified to deal with all aspects of the drug debate. He is a medical doctor who has worked with drug-impacted people for decades. He is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Western Australia, and he has written dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles.

He is also a leading pioneer in the important naltrexone implant treatment. This is an abstinence-based treatment program for those struggling with heroin, opium, alcohol and other drug addictions. He has helped to treat some 3000 addicts in Australia.

So he knows all about the science and medicine of addiction; he has decades of personal experience in dealing with addicts; and he also is a committed Christian. So he seeks to bring biblical data to bear on all this. Thus the book is filled with medical and scientific data, plenty of personal case studies, and lots of biblical material.

The book therefore will be of great help both to addicts as well as to those who deal with addicts. A book like this is long overdue. Well done Dr Reece for so faithfully serving in this area, and for producing this much-needed book.

(For Australians, all four of these books can be purchased at Koorong Books.)

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