Van Til Tool

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

Friday, July 27, 2012


A Fantasy Concerned About Reality

A review of

R. L. Copple Reality's Fire [Volume 3 of Reality Chronicles] (Splashdown Books, 2012)
                     $11.98 248 pp ISBN-10: 1927154243 ISBN-13: 978-1927154243

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

     In a classical fantasy -- such as the one under review here -- there are some physical laws which are different, but the moral and spiritual principles are the same. For example, deception and other evils are just as wrong in Copple's fantasy as they are in the real world. His story is especially concerned with exposing deception in order to lay bare the ugly reality concealed by it. As such it has relevance for today's world which abounds with spiritual counterfeits which are deceiving many.

     A good synopsis of Reality's Fire is found on the rear jacket of the book. Its heading "reality revealed by fire" refers to he eschatological expose' noted in I Cor 3:13. Analogies are found in the story, e.g. the expose' of a town falsely calling itself Paradise. And the story focusses on questions concerning whether or not one of the characters is decieved about something. And the main concern in the story is rescuing Crystal from the demon who deceived her and is possessing her.

     Although this is a serious story pertaining to serious matters, there is a considerable amount of humor involved as well. One example, was the fear of falling off of the magic carpet while it was flying through the air.

     If you like fantasy that is fun and deals with important stuff, then I recommend reading this one.

     Information can be found at these websites:



Faeraven Enters The Mythosphere

A review of

Janalyn Voigt DawnSinger (Harbourlight Books, 2012)
                     342 pp  $16.99  ISBN-10: 1611162009  ISBN-13: 978-1611162004

Reviewed by: Forrest Schultz

     The Mythosphere, discovered by Dianna Wynne Jones, is expanding at an ever increasing rate as ever more great fantasy worlds are produced. The latest entry into faerie is named Faeraven by its creator, Janalyn Voigt, whose debut novel DawnSinger takes us there via the unforgettable tale of Princess Shae, who through many vicissitudes learns that her destiny is to journey to a far out place to sing a song to summon the world's Saviour.

     Of course, this sort of thing is par for the course of great fantasy and it is also par for the course in being its own special creation rather than a copying of some one else's tale. And, in Eric Wilson's words, the writing itself is fresh and crisp and muscular and lyrical. Plus the whole atmosphere breathes fantasy, including the Celtic names for the places, beings, and dramatis personae, for which a glossary is appended in the back of the book. The front cover of the book is a beauty but, surprisingly, the map is very poor, but then I alsmost never use the maps anyway, except to note their style!

     Voigt's story is recommended for a good summer read. The next book in the Faeraven trilogy, WayFarer, is expected to be published soon.

     For more information on the author get onto your flying horses (she calls them wingabeasts) and go visit these sites  and

    By the way,  in writing "DawnSinger" and "WayFarer" I did not make an error in spacing.  The author intends for them to be written like that.  This is not unprecedented.  I know of a photography exhibition which is called "SlowExposures".



By Forrest Schult

Evangelical Agonistes:

The Struggle To Attain and Maintain The Biblical World View

A review of

Donald T. Williams Reflections From Plato's Cave: Essays In Evangelical Philosophy (Lantern Hollow Press, 2012)
                                 288 pp   $14.99   ISBN-13: 978-0615589107   ISBN-10: 0615589103

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

     Donald Williams has become one of our premier Evangelical thinkers, who is following in the footsteps of his mentors C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. In his essays in this collection, which deserve careful reading and reflection, Williams sets forth the Biblical world view and contrasts it with various prominent false philosophies. And he does so in depth, continually showing, as he states at the very outset on page 5, that " the reason why logical argument is possible", thereby unmasking the illogicality of any view not based on God.

     Unfortunately, he is not always consistent in this, because at times he lapses back into the old notion of trying to prove the existence of God, thereby forgetting that God is the very basis of proof itself. Maintaining a consistent Biblical world view is indeed a struggle!

     It is also a struggle to perpetuate the Biblical world view in today's church. A long time ago R. J. Rushdoony lamented the disgusting fact that most evangelical churches have no concern for history -- even recent history! Williams recounts for us how he learned this in 2005, when he discovered that almost none of his students in his "Western Thought and Culture" course had heard of Francis Schaeffer!!! Outrageous as this sounds, this really happened.

     Williams does a masterful job in the essays in this book showing the great contributions which Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis made in helping us to understand the Christian view of many different subjects. About half the chapters are devoted to this. There also are chapters attacking deconstruction and other postmodern notions. And there is a very interesting literary and philosophical analysis of Milton's Paradise Lost pertaining to Satan's declaration of mental autonomy as the basis for his rebellion against God, a philosphical insight that was not widely known until the twentieth century.

     In between the essays Williams places "Interludes", which are witty poems which are not just literary embellishments, but which are thought-provoking and helpful in deepening our understanding of the points covered in the essays.

     One of my favorite chapters was a very special one, which, unlke the rest, is not an essay but is an imaginative "meeting of the minds" type discussion among four panelists -- Socrates, Erasmus, a "New Critic" and a deconstructionist. This is well done and quite helpful in showing the contrasting ideas in their respective viewpoints.

     After the essays themselves, there are several book reviews. The one most helpful and meaningful to me was the one about John Beversluis's second edition (published in 2007) of his polemic against C. S. Lewis, which, apparently is very different from the first, of which I made a careful study back when it first came out in 1985. I intend to check out this second edition, which sounds more sophisticated than the first one.

     Williams has a lot of fun with word games, so I shall conclude my review with one of my own. Regarding the title of this collection (and of its first essay) I would like to see it reworded to say "Plato IS The Cave!! And his darkness can only be dispelled by the Light of Christ!!" Another favorite of mine is that "I think, therefore I am" puts de' cart before de' horse.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Angels Featured in J C Lamont's Creative Re-Telling of the Biblical Epic

Angels Featured In

J C Lamont's Creative Re-Telling of The Biblical Epic

A review of

J C Lamont Prophecy of the Heir: Book One of Chronicles of Time Trilogy (Crimson Moon Press, 2012)

620 pp $18.99 ISBN: 978-0-615-62320-7

Reviewer: Forrest Schultz

J. C. Lamont's Biblical fantasy epic is like some of the other retellings of "the old, old story" in making its characters and events come alive for the reader, but it is unlike most of them in that its point of view is that of the angelic beings behind the scenes. Since the Bible says so little about the particular events transpiring in this super-natural realm, writing a story which focusses on it is a great challenge requiring a lot of imagination. The author emphasizes the book's Heavenocentric focus by having the angels refer to Heaven as natural, and to the Earth and universe as sub-natural. That is quite striking, something I had never heard of before, and, I believe, is to be expected -- a good insight into the angelic point of view!

However, her depiction of angels -- both the good (unfallen) ones and the bad (fallen) ones -- as little different from immature, macho-posturing, status conscious men is bound to raise serious objections. When she portrays Satan and the other fallen angels in this way, I believe she has a great insight into their character -- it has the ring of truth. This, indeed is what we would expect of disgusting beings such as the Devil and Chemosh and Marduk. But to portray good angels such as Gabriel and Michael as bickering teenage boys does not sound right! But, since we know so little about angels, we cannot be dogmatic, and there have been those who have found fault, rightly I believe, with some of the traditional portayals of angels. And there is some humor in her portrayal of this rivalry that, I guess, is acceptable, but I believe her concept of the nature of the good angels is seriously flawed. This is not to be unexpected. It is not too difficult to portray what is equal to or less than us. It is very difficult to accurately portray what is superior to us. For this reason, I am also not always satisfied with how she portrays God and Christ either -- often it does not have the ring of truth but then often it does! I do not want to too critical because, frankly, I really do not know a whole lot about angels and God and Christ either! I believe her intention is good: she wants to give us a realistic portrayal, something often sadly lacking in traditional portrayals. But then she defeats her own purpose by a different kind of unrealistic portrayal -- angels are angels; they are not men!


There are also challenges to some of our other normal ways of thinking. For instance, in her story the six days of work followed by a seventh day of rest is not just for humans, but is also followed by angels in Heaven ! They call it the Seventh Day Ceremony. Do angels really need to rest?? Another one is how she depicts the soul as something that can be removed by angels reaching in and pulling it out, which is similar to the personification of Death in Piers Anthony's On A Pale Horse who at the designated time of death reaches in and pulls out the soul and places it into his soul bag! As fantasy, I have no problem with that, as long as it is not regarded as being the Biblical anthropology & psychology!

Now, some Christians are uncomfortable with the usage of any mythic and fantasy elements in telling the Biblical story. I understand this because when I was a young man the main theological enemies we had to fight were those like Bultmann who labelled the Bible as "myth" in the pejorative sense meaning that the Bible stories did not happen but were made up. Apparently Lamont shares a concern for this because she prefaces her story with this quotation from J. R. R. Tolkien: "The story of Christ is simply a true myth; a myth that really happened." Redemption was accomplished by what Christ did here in history climaxing in His death and resurrection. This is why God was determined to see to it that it happened and why Satan tried to prevent it from happening. This is the theme of the first book in Lamont's Chronicles of Time Trilogy, Prophecy of The Heir: Satan tries to wipe out the lineage of Christ to prevent Him from being born, and God continually thwarts Satan's efforts to do so. Now this theme only makes sense if historical events matter. This first book in the trilogy concludes with the birth of Jesus. Satan is defeated in this first round because God successfully has caused the birth of His Messiah. But, the Devil does not stop fighting against God. These future battles are dealt with in Lamont's second and third books. I look forward to reading them.

Although this book does, I believe, have the flaws indicated, I believe that on the whole it is worth reading and that the author is a good writer who knows how to spin a good tale, and to convey some helpful information and insights in doing so. In the rear of the book is a section in which she gives sources for some of the ideas she uses in the story. This is not surprising because she is a scholar as well as a storywriter.

Information is availble on these websites; and