Van Til Tool

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

Friday, April 20, 2012


Prophet:  A Gem of Christian Speculative Fiction 


A review of


R. J. Larson Prophet (Bethany House, 2012)

 $14.99   352 pp   ISBN-10:
076420971X   ISBN-13:


Reviewer:  Forrest W. Schultz 



     The number of Christians writing science fiction and fantasy (and other forms of "speculative" fiction) continues to rise.  The latest addition to these ranks is R, J. Larson, who debuted this month with an other world fantasy Prophet, the first in her Books of the Infinite series.


     Like Keven Newsome's Winter, Larson's Ela is an eighteen year old woman called by God to a prophetic ministry.  Unlike Newsome's story, which is set in contemporary America, Larson's is situated in a context like our ancient world.  As such it can provide some insight into what it was like to be an Old Testament prophet.  In fact, one of the discussion questions at the back of the book asks the reader to compare Ela with the OT prophets. 


     A word needs to be said in praise of the magnificent art work on the front cover of the book.  On Larson's website, are found two more gems, a map of the land in which the story takes place, and a picture of one of its vicious animals, the Scaln.  These should be placed somewhere in the book. 


     Comparing Ela to the Old Testament prophets is not as easy as it might sound.  Contrary to what some people might think, there was considerable diversity among the OT prophets.  Jonah, for instance, was very atypical.  What I shall do here is the same thing I did in my review of Winter, namely conclude that Ela can be compared favorably with the paragon of OT prophecy, Elijah, because of her godliness, her sharp logical mind, and her sense of humor.    


      Her verbal dexterity is also worthy of note.  Consider how she replies to the query posed to her by the Istgardian king (p. 101),


"How do you know it is the Infinite who speaks?


"He tells me everything I don't want to hear, sends me where I don't want to go, and aks me to fulfill tasks I consider impossible."


I love that -- one of the most memorable and significant things in the book!





     The story itself is well developed and the characters are skillfully crafted to provide us with a picture which is in some ways unique and in other respects quite similar to the history depicted in the Old Testament -- although this is another world, it has the same old same old sins and their ruinous consequences which are present in our world, and the same opportunities for new life for those who repent.  And the same kinds of hardships experienced by the OT prophets also befall Ela of Parne.


     One thing which is different is the romance which develops between Ela and the Tracelands Ambassador Kien.  To find out how that develops, one will need to read the sequel, Judge, the second book of the trilogy, which is expected to be published fairly soon.  I plan to read that one also!


This is a must-read book if you want to keep up with the best in Christian  speculative fiction.




Starla Anne Lowry Publishes Remarkable Hillbilly Fantasy

 A Romp of Multi-Genre Escapades:


Hillbilly Girl Lizzie Jane Makes Her Debut


A review of


Starla Anne Lowry Adventures of Lizzie Jane -- "Country Girl" (South Wales, UK:  New Life Publications, 2012)

                               117 pp   $14.00   ISBN: 978-0-9567950-1-4


Reviewer:  Forrest W. Schultz



     I would be hard pressed to think of any adventure story I have ever read or heard of which includes a greater variety of escapades and genres than Starla Anne Lowry's debut novel.  Lizzie Jane narrowly escapes drowning and dangerous wild animals and witches and zombies and kidnappers and savages and Bermuda Triangle time-warps!    And I have never met in real life or in fiction a character quite like Lizzie Jane.  There have been others who have had adventures like hers, but none that responded to them in quite the same way.  Nor approached life in general in quite the same way. 


     Some of this uniqueness is due to the particular form of Southern culture found in its rural mountainous areas, where Lizzie Jane has most of her adventures.  The author writes about this area and its society with the same kind of authenticity found in the novels of Sharyn McCrumb, and for the same reason.  This is where she lives:  she writes about what she knows.


     I was also quite impressed with Lizzie Jane's relationship with her mother and with God.  Here again I have never met or heard of a Christian quite like Lizzie Jane.  I was quite moved and blessed by her:  she is someone I would like to meet. The ability to create such a character is a mark of a good author.  For this reason I predict that this book and Starla Anne's future books will gain many readers.  I am privileged to have "discovered" someone like this and to be able to share it with you.


Monday, April 16, 2012


Screwtape For The Twenty-First Century


A review of


Richard Platt As One Devil To Another (Tyndale House Publishers, 2012)

                     208 pp   $15.99   ISBN-10:
1414371667   ISBN-13:


Reviewer:  Forrest W. Schultz



     C. S. Lewis, who excelled as an author in various forms of literature, wrote one of the best satires of all time -- The Screwtape Letters, in which a senior devil advises a junior devil in the techniques of tempting humans.  The book under review here is an update of Screwtape for our time.  The theology and style are the same and most of what is satirized is the same.  The difference is the inclusion of such modern phenomena as television, computers, silicone implants, and deconstruction. Platt does not provide his senior devil with a name as memorable as Screwtape and the ending of his book is not as good as Lewis's "Screwtape Proposes A Toast" but otherwise, as Walter Hooper says, "it reads as if Lewis himself had written it". 


     Hooper, who for a long time now has been the top authority on Lewis, wrote the Preface to the book, which includes this plaudit.  I join him in recommending Platt's book to any reader who enjoys well written sophisticated satire in the tradition of C. S. Lewis.  It is remarkable that Platt, like Lewis, is able to communicate so much of God's greatness and love as well as warnings aganst sin in this literary medium.  And even in those discussions where the reader may not agree with all that is said, e.g. about computers, he will find find the writing to be thought-provoking.  It is by no means stodgy, though, and some of it is downright silly, such as Hell's University being called "Tempt U.".  This is a treat you will definitely want to add to your library.