Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Friday, May 27, 2011


A Look At New Christian Fantasy Author Dylan Higgins Debut Novel

by Forrest Schultz

Ever more christians are getting involved in writing fantasy novels. I have posted here some reviews of these books being written by christian authors here and there all over the contry. Now, lo and behold, there are some right here in the counties on the Southside of Atlanta. This is what the "Southside" in "Southside Book Reviews" refers to. Dylan Higgins is a teacher at a christian school called The Campus, which is located in Fayette County, the county directly to the east of the one I live in, Coweta. I met him and his band at the New Writers Night at the Barnes and Noble in Coweta's Ashley Park mall last month. Below is the review of his debut book. I will also be reviewing the second one, which will be coming out soon.


Southside Book Reviews
Reviews Of Books Recently Written By Southside Authors
Compiled by: Forrest W. Schultz 770-583-3258

April 26, 2011

Fayette Author Dylan Higgins Debuts With YA Fantasy Awakening

A review of

Dylan Higgins Awakening, Book One of The Emblem & The Lantern (Create Space, 2010)
310 pp $12.99 ISBN-10: 1453702989 ISBN-13: 978-1453702987

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

The nationwide surge in the publication of works of fantasy is now in evidence in the Southside. esp. among brand new authors. One example is the Young Adult Fantasy published last year by Fayette educator Dylan Higgins. Awakening is Book One of his tetrology titled The Emblem & The Lantern. Book Two, Stirring, will be released later this year.

Suppose that when you were twelve years old your parents told you that one of your favorite fairy tales had really happened! And, suppose you were also told that the hero of the story was your distant ancestor, and that his magic lantern was a family heirloom hidden right here in the house. This is what happens to the two central characters in the book under review here: the twins Ethan and Eisley Lambent, who are named after two of the author's children. The result?? Ethan and Eisley decide to sneak away and repeat their ancestor Riley's adventure, which was a journey to a land of everlasting and total darkness in which his only source of illumination was this lantern.

The story is a classic fantasy quest, but is by no means a crass copying of any story with which I am familiar, and fantasy and science fiction are my favorite genres both as a reader and writer. The story, characters, and lands are all interesting and well depicted, and the reader is carried along both with the external events and with the struggles within the characters. The magic lantern and the light versus darkness motif, both literally and symbolically, are central to the story. If the other three books are as good as this one, this could prove to be one of the major fantasy works of our time.

One puzzling thing is the name of the land of perpetual and complete darkness, Gloam. The name appears to be a cognate of the gloaming, which is a Scottish word for dusk. Therefore it is a surprising term to employ to indicate total darkness. The opposite name, Glaem, which apparently is the archaic form of "Gleam", however, is an excellent term, and its antiquity is further indicated by compressing the "a" and "e" into a diphthong.

Higgins is an educator at The Campus, a private school in Fayette County. He is also a musician who has formed a band, Sleepy Turtles, named after a mountain range in the story, which performs songs based on the story. Information is available at


Southern Baptists Then and Now

I remember a noteworthy thing said by Francis Schaeffer in answer to a question of
"what should we do??" One of the answers he gave was : Pray for the Southern Baptists! Well, maybe someone has been praying because look at what is going on in the SBC now. See my review of a recently published book by one of them.


P.S. The word "Southside" below means the counties directly south of Atlanta, which form what it sometimes called The Southern Arc, which includes Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Spalding, Henry, and Clayton Counties. I have lived in Coweta for the past twenty years


Southside Book Reviews
Reviews Of Books Recently Written By Southside Authors
Compiled by: Forrest W. Schultz 770-583-3258

March 31, 2011

Southern Baptists Are Now Self-Critical About Their Local Churches:
SBC Evangelist/Teacher Donald Ledbetter Speaks Out

A review of

Donald Ledbetter Satan, Deception, and Scriptural Misconceptions (Xulon Press, 2010)
                             $25.99   244 pp   ISBN-10: 1609579674   ISBN-13: 978-1609579678

Donald Ledbetter Deacon Relationships Through The Body of Christ (Xulon Press, 2009)
                            $15.99   232 pp   ISBN-10: 1607917106   ISBN-13: 978-1607917106

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

     It was not too long ago that a self-critical Southern Baptist was a rarity. Back then SBC missionary magazines not only contained no self-criticism but they also acted as though no one else was even doing any missions! In recent years this smugness has been replaced with some of the most creative thinking in missiology, which has led to several SBC missiologists having articles published in the prestigious Mission Frontiers magazine. During the past several decades Southern Baptists have also devoted a great deal of attention to their various theological deficiences, which are now being remedied -- so much so that they have installed into the presidency of one of their major theological seminaries Dr. Albert Mohler, whose high calibre has been recognized nationwide by such organizations as Crossway Books and the Institute for Creation Research.

    There is still much to be done at the top but the major need is for reform at the grass roots level in the SBC's local congregations. And here also there has been a good deal of self-criticism. This examination states that most SBC local churches are in serious trouble. The two books under review are a good example of this SBC self-examination at the local level. The author, Dr. Donald Ledbetter is very well qualified to speak to this issue and to perform the necessary SBC self-criticism at the local level. He served as a pastor in several SBC churches at the beginning of his ministry, and since 1984 he has traveled to over 700 SBC churches ministering to them either as an evangelist or as a speaker on various crucial topics.

     The deficiencies in the local SBC churches are not new nor are criticisms of these deficiencies new. What is new -- or fairly new -- is that we now find Southern Baptists themselves making these criticisms of themselves. Many others have seen these problems for a long time -- now Southern Baptists are admitting that they have these problems. Ledbetter himself notes that self-examination is a difficult task but is a necessary one if Christians and their churches are to be revived and to become what God commands.

     One of the books speaks of the array of various maladies afflicting the churches, and does so from the perspective of Satan's work aiming at producing these maladies. As its title implies, the Devil's main weapon is producing false thinking and confused thinking in the minds of Christians, many of them in the form of misconceptions about the meaning of Holy Scripture. The other book focuses on the malaise in the deacons in the SBC churches and recommends a teaching and training program as a corrective. Ledbetter in writing this book draws upon his own experience in the teaching and training of deacons he has done in his travels to many SBC churches.

     Ledbetter's books are not only significant as an example of SBC self-criticism, they are also important as one of the most recent examples of the burgeoning literary scene in the Southside counties. And Ledbetter is also one of the latest examples of the increasing number of Christians on the Southside who are authoring and publishing books.

     If anyone wishes to know what is going on in today's SBC churches, I recommend these books by Ledbetter. Information on the man and his ministry is available at