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Seth Aaron Lowry (Olean, NY United States)

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Case For A Creator
Case For A Creator
by Lee Strobel
Edition: Hardcover
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cogent case for intelligent design, June 10 2004
This review is from: Case For A Creator (Hardcover)
In this particular work, Christian apologist Lee Strobel attempts to point the reader towards the evidence that implies a Creator was responsible for creating the universe and life as we know it. First, let me quickly mention the one problem I had with this book. In the opening chapter Strobel states that he is on a mission to investigate the evidence for and against a cosmic creator, yet the entire book is filled with interviews from scientists and philosophers who are stalwart theists. To be fair, Strobel should have interviewed some naturalist proponents and maybe a few creation scientists as well. The only reason I can think of to explain Strobel's one sided approach is that he was attempting to argue as the skeptic he once was. As an adolescent and young adult Strobel was convinced of evolution and atheism on account of his science education and I believe he was attempting to play the role of the skeptic arguing as he was once taught. Although this may be unfair since he is now a theist, it still allows for both sides to express their views.
Of all the chapters I enjoyed the most, Jonathan Wells' chapter on the icons of evolution was the best. Wells' evidence is simply too strong to be ignored and illustrates how dishonest and shrewd the academic community is in dissemenating false evidence. From the Miller-Urey experiement to Haeckel's drawing of various embryos, Wells' marshals too much evidence to show that the scientific community is being dishonest when in the evidence it produces in favor of evolution. Another chapter of particular interest is William Lane Craig's arguments that cosmology and astronomy point to a Creator. Relying on the Kalam cosmological argument Craig convincingly argues that everything that began to exist has a cause and since the universe is not eternal but began at the big bang, then the universe must have a creator. Then, Craig proceeds to show why every rival to the big bang is inadequate or doesn't fit the observed evidence. Particularly interesting is his critique of Hawking's model in which Hawking substitutes imaginary numbers into his equation to end up with an eternal universe. The problem with this model is that it assumes there is such a thing as imaginary time which is somewhat contradictory. Furthermore, a majority of the scientific community rejects Hawking's imaginary time approach. Regardless of Hawking's stature within the scientific community, a model that relies on imaginary time and unobservable phenomena is not scientific. If it comes down to choosing between an eternal universe and an eternal God, I will choose an eternal God.
Other chapters include two interviews with Stephen Meyer who argues that the fine tuning of the universe implies a Creator and also that the information inherent in DNA also speaks of intelligent design. Once again, if I must choose between infinite universes that can't be proved or studied to account for life's existence or an infinite Creator, then I will choose to believe in an infinite Creator. Behe's chapter contains arguments against evolution based on irreducible complexity. Much of what is stated here can be found in Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box. Finally, J.P. Moreland argues in favor of dualism and offers several scientific and philosophical reasons for believing in the correctness of the dualist position. All in all, this book contains some of the most powerful and convincing arguments in favor of a Creator and against materialism and darwinism. Hopefully this will serve as a springboard to further validate Intelligent Design as an authentic scientific rival to the materialism of our times.

C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason
C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason
by Victor Reppert
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.87
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking argument against naturalism, June 10 2004
Although oft neglected in many philosophical circles, the writings of C.S. Lewis still have something to teach us about reason, human nature, and human existence. Reppert defends Lewis' argument against naturalism which simply states that mankind's reasoning abilities cannot be trusted if they are a product of Darwinian evolution; In other words, if the human brain is nothing more than a complex conglomeration of atoms and energy, then we have no reason to trust our reasoning abilities because it is the product of nothing more than a chaotic collision of atoms. Furthermore, since natural selection is completely blind in it's selective process evolution does not necessarily favor an advanced reasoning capacity. Natural selection could have just as easily favored a mutation that makes us perceive the world contrary to the way it is if this facilitated the survival of human beings. Since we cannot trust reason itself under the naturalist/Darwinian paradigm then the scientific enterprise becomes totally superfluous and meaningless.
Although short, only 132 pages, I must admit Reppert's arguments are quite through and engaging. The only possible defense the Darwinist has against this argument is to say that advanced reasoning abilities favor man's survival and would thus be selected by nature. Yet, this argument doesn't necessarily have to be true and only begs the question since assumes what it is attempting to establish. In a discussion I recently had with an individual who studied psyhcolinguistics, I employed this argument against a materialist argument in favor of mind equating with brain. When I discussed Lewis' argument the individual I was talking with conceeded the point that relying on reason in the naturalist paradigm was tenuous and could not be relied upon.
This compact book also delves into the issue of dualism vs. materialism, or the argument over mind is synonomous with brain or whether mind and brain are dichotomous entities. I personally favor the dualist view since it meshes with my views as a theist and safeguards human integrity. The materialist view must necessarily deny free will since our brains are ruled by natural laws and therefore the atoms in the brain operate according to fixed laws that can be studied and accurately predicted. If free will is denied, then this has serious implications for our society in areas such as law, education, and religion. Although Reppert's arguments for dualism are not as deep as they could be, he does an admirable job arguing in favor of the dualist position. For further study in favor of the dualist position I would recommend reading J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig.

The Last Samurai (Widescreen) (2 Discs)
The Last Samurai (Widescreen) (2 Discs)
DVD ~ Koyuki Kato
Price: CDN$ 7.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite films, May 21 2004
I have never been a fan of Tom Cruise, but after watching this movie my opinion of him has slowly begin to change. Granted, Cruise is a good actor, but there are several others I would place ahead of him in terms of acting ability and on camera congeniality. Nevertheless, I believe The Last Samurai is one of Tom Cruise's best films, if not his best film ever, because he does an outstanding job of portraying the role of Capt. Nathan Algren; Algren is a Civil War and Indian War veteran who is tortured over the atrocities he has viewed and committed on the front lines. These experiences have transformed Algren into a man filled with bitterness and cynicism and driven him to embrace alcohol as his escape mechanism from reality.
Cruise does an excellent job of capturing this particular spirit in the film. Even though Cruise's performance is excellent, the film is only bolstered by the performances by the performances of Watanabe and the rest of the cast. Watanabe was simply terrific as the Samurai warlord, Katsumoto. On screen he exuded a kind of gentle but stern warrior aura, and showed he was a man of astute intellectual abilities. In his performace Watanabe displayed all the qualities and characteristics that were essential to the Samurai. Besides the performances the battle sequences and costumes were spectacular. In addition, the scenery and setting were also very good and captured the atmosphere of a 19th century Japan that was experiencing rapid Westernization. At several instances in the film it is easy to see vestiges of traditional Eastern Japansese culture stand side by side with modern Western culture. Last but not least, the musical score by Hans Zimmer is phenomenal. As always, Zimmer delivers a rousing an emotional score that complements the film and actually heightens the sensitivity at certain crucial moments of the film.
My only criticism of this movie is that Tom Cruise was focued upon too much. It would have been nice if the other characters, Ujio, Taka, and Katsumoto, received more screen time since they were all so likeable and each delivers a great performance. Slight criticism aside, this is one of my favorite movies of all time and one I would recommend to virtually anyone who asked.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Full Screen) (Bilingual) [Import]
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Full Screen) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Russell Crowe
Offered by AddVALUE
Price: CDN$ 25.00
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5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure and battle on the high seas, May 21 2004
I approached this movie assuming I would enjoy simply because Russell Crowe is the title star of the film, but the film is much better than I anticipated. As Captain Jack Aubrey, Crowe plays the Commanding officer of the British vessel the HMS Surprise. Severely damaged by a new and more militarily advanced French warship, Aubrey must choose whether to abandon his mission and repair his ship, or do the best he can and seek revenge. As expected, Crowe's performance was excellent. He plays the role of an early 19th century naval Captain extremely well. A second standout performance was delivered by Paul Bettany who played the ship's doctor; He was definitely the character I sympathized with the most and Bettany should be lauded for his performace.
The strength of this movie resides in it's intense realism. From the setting, to the manner in which life onboard a 19th century vessel is portrayed, to the carnage and gruesomeness of the battles, this film did a remarkable job of recreating an authentic atmosphere to make the viewer believe he or she is actually watching 19th century naval history. There is one scene near the beginning of the film which shows a young child having his arm amputated after an encounter with the French. One can only imagine that what is depicted on the screen was as bad if not worse in real life. This film is truly an enjoyable viewing experience and one any history enthusiast or fan of dramatic adventure films should see.

By Design: Science and the Search for God
By Design: Science and the Search for God
by Larry Witham
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.95
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, May 17 2004
When I started reading this book I was a little disappointed because it focused on the development of the Intelligent Design(ID) movement, and did not cover much of the science behind Intelligent Design. Nevertheless, after finishing the book I was very surprised and pleased with the content of the book. Beginning with the Darwinian centennial of 1959, Witham begins by showing how science exuded confidence and hubris over the fact that science was apparently on the verge of solving the mystery of life's origins. Yet, even before the centennial celebration cracks in Darwinian theory were already beginning to appear; From Francis Crick's discovery of the complex double helix structure of DNA, to new findings in molecular biology, to the anthropic principle in astronomy, new discoveries seem to be casting doubt on the principle that we live in a purposeless universe and that man is nothing more than a cosmic accident residing in a backwater location in the universe. Moreover, Witham covers the growth and development of the ID movement from the Templeton foundation to various academic establishments attempting to break into mainstream science. All of the major players are mentioned including: Behe, Johnson, Dembski, Polkinhorne and others. It is quite sad that these men remain on the outside looking in in regards to the scientific establishment because they have a lot to say and raise some interesting questions. Yet, as Witham notes the scientific establishment gets to make it's own rules and disregard anyone who doesn't abide by their rules, and the Darwinian majority seems to be wed to Darwinian theory because they are afraid or unwilling to consider purposeful design. They are like the medieval astronomers who continued to accept Ptolemaic astronomy even though it had developed into a great monster. Hopefully, the ID movement will continue to press on and make inroads into mainstream science where their theories and ideas can be evaluated critically and not rejected outright as fundamentalist creationism.

Darwin On Trial
Darwin On Trial
by Phillip E. Johnson
Edition: Paperback
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Johnson's best!, May 17 2004
This review is from: Darwin On Trial (Paperback)
I read Johnson's book Defeating Darwinism about 3 years ago, and was not impressed with his arguments against evolution in that book. Yet, after reading this book I have become a fan of Johnson's critiques of Darwinian theory. As a law student myself, I have come to appreciate Johnson's literary and argumentative techniques because he writes from the perspective not of a scientist, but as a lawyer examining the evidence to see which case is the strongest. Some criticize Johnson for not being a scientist, and in fact that was the criticism I levied against him three years ago, but as a lawyer Johnson is able to do something no scientist can do; Namely, examine the facts as they are and root out assumptions that individuals hold which help them interpret the facts in a certain way.
This is exactly what Johnson does in this book as he examines the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution. Johnson correctly notes that a vast majority of the scientific establishment have embraced the philosophical system of materialistic atheism as the logical partner of Darwinian theory. Therefore, there is no purpose to the universe's existence or any purpose for mankind's existence but everything is the result of law and chance. This type of worldview is antithetical to a religious worldview and therefore religion and science often do clash because these two philosophical systems are at odds with each other.
In addition, Johnson notes that the theory of evolution is slowly collapsing under the weight of new scientific discoveries. Sure, in Darwin's day the lack of fossil of evidence wasn't perceived as a problem because people believed the fossils were yet undiscovered, but the fossil discoveries of the last 150 years have only reinforced the fact the Darwinian evolution contradicts the fossil evidence. Yes, in Darwin's day the cell was believed to be a simple structure consisiting mainly of water and a nucleus, but now molecular biology has discovered that the cell is extremely complex, more complex than any man made machine, and believing such a structure could be created by random, pointless processes is absurd. These are just a few of the ideas brought forth in this book and although Johnson doesn't do much to damage the scientific validity of evolution he servely damages the philosophical foundations of evolution and that is damage enough.

Evolution: A Theory In Crisis
Evolution: A Theory In Crisis
by Michael Denton
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.95
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent critique of orthodox darwinism, May 2 2004
Michael Denton marshals a vast array of evidence against the theory of Darwinian evolution and is very convincing in the process. Denton begins by chronicling the exploits of Charles Darwin and shows how his views were formed during his expeditionary journey aboard the HMS Beagle. Then, he shows how the theory came to fruition and how it was either accepted or rejected by the scientists of Darwin's day. Finally, Denton shows how the theory itself went from a theory to an established fact within the scientific community within the span of 100 years.
Although the first half of this book is somewhat philosophical and concept heavy the information in those chapters is very enlightening and proves that there was solid reasoning in the mid 19th century for rejecting Darwin's thesis. Men like Cuiver and Agassiz disagreed with Darwin's hypothesis and pointed to the discontinuity of nature as proof that continuous evolution could not be true. Furthermore, taxonomists and those following the heir arching systems of Linnaeus perceived that nature was ordered more along the lines of archetypes and patterns and that progressive evolution was antithetical to this idea. Instead of viewing groups of animals in parent/daughter relationships, they viewed animal relationships as sister groups where each specimen of a group conformed to the characteristics of the representative archetype of the group. This is still how most taxonomists view relationships between animal groups today and it is in stark contrast to the evolutionary model.
In the latter half of the book Denton lists all of the observational and scientific evidence that argues against evolution. First, the fossil record is discontinuous and offers no evidence that animals gradually evolved from one species into another. Yes, Darwin knew these links were vital to his theory and he and his followers believed they would be discovered in time. Yet, over 120 years later no links have been found and the new fossils that have been discovered paint a picture that is even more discontinuous than the one recognized in Darwin's day. Moreover, work done with selective breeding in domestic animals has illustrated there is a limit that is reached in achieving new characteristics over time. So yes natural selection and mutation can produce new species that are slightly different from the previous one like in birds and dogs, but it cannot explain how an amphibian could become a reptile. Finally, the most convincing and damaging evidence comes from the realm of molecular biology. The comparative analysis done between animal proteins shows that some species are not more intermediate than others. In other words amphibians are just as far removed from reptiles as they are from mammals. Yet, the evolutionary paradigm argues that amphibians evolved into reptiles which evolved into mammals, so amphibians should show more similarity to reptiles than mammals. Most damaging of all the complexity and ingenuity of the cell. To believe this complex and highly organized microscopic factory could be created by random processes borders on outright absurdity if not blind faith.
The last few chapters are very interesting because Denton illustrates that the evolutionary paradigm is in the same position as the geocentric model of medieval astronomy. It's adherents maintain the status quo because an alternate theory has not been presented even though the theory itself has become a monster. It was only until the rival theory of the heliocentric solar system became scientifically more sound and explained the problems inherent in geocentrism that the model became firmly established. Likewise, the evolutionary paradigm is besieged by problems, but no rival theory has arisen to take it's place and explain the inconsistencies. Therefore, the scientific establishment will retain the theory because it's the only one that offers an explanation for the diversity of life.
On a side not, this book in no way endorses creationism. Even though the author is expressing his dissatisfaction and doubt over the evolutionary paradigm, this doesn't mean this book is a blaring endorsement for creationism. Sure, several elements of design and guidance are argued for and this book may strengthen one's faith and commitment to intelligent design, but I don't think that is the primary purpose of this book. The author's primary intent is to catalogue all the evidence against evolution and critique the theory and in this endeavor he does exceedingly well.

Blind Watchmaker
Blind Watchmaker
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.17

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough to invalidate intelligent design, May 2 2004
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
Richard Dawkins does an excellent job of arguing in favor of the naturalistic evolutionary paradigm in this particular book. I appreciated how he explained what evolution was by showing what it was not. First, he argues that evolution is not saltational or wide reaching, but that evolution takes place in small incremental steps over a vast period of time. Cumulative selection of small mutational changes over a period of time will permit one species to evolve into another. I enjoyed reading the chapter where he speaks about the bio morphs and shows how gradual changes occurring over and over again can create quite different entities than what was started with.
Nevertheless, I believe the weaknesses inherent in this book outweighed the strengths. First, Dawkins' explanation for the evolution of the complexity of the eye was unconvincing. The problem I had with his argument was that the idea that cumulative selection could account for the eye seems a bit absurd. Minor generational variations could not account for the development of the eye because such changes would necessarily involve changes in other areas. A better functioning eye would require a slightly more complex brain, which would in turn require a slightly different cranial structure, which would in turn result in a slightly modulated physiology. We are now dealing with multiple minor mutations to facilitate a better functioning eye and this cannot be explained under the rubric of cumulative selection. Also, when addressing the evolution of the bat and it's flight capabilities and sonar mechanism, Dawkins' reasoning is faulty. Dawkins argues that bat aviation was acquired gradually as a series of ancestors grew flaps of skin that made gliding ever more easy and then eventually ended up resulting in flight capabilities. Yet, this is so unlikely because the physiological adaptations necessary for gliding are completely different than those needed for flight. The bat ancestor would have gone through a complex series of evolutionary steps for gliding, and then the whole process would have been undone and started over so that flight could be achieved. In this case we are not speaking of an uninterrupted sequence of evolutionary changes that leads to flight, but a series of changes that need to be done away with so a new goal can be achieved. Space does not permit me to list other things I disagreed with, but these are just a few of the things I noticed. Again, I enjoyed reading this book but the arguments presented therein did nothing to convince me to abandon my belief in intelligent design and embrace Darwinian motifs.

The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life
The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life
by Paul Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.00
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fails to answer the big question., April 17 2004
Davis titled his book the Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life, but he never really answers this fundamental question. Sure, science hasn't answered this, and unlike Davies' optimistic assertion that they will accomplish this feat someday, I don't believe science will. If approached from the viewpoint that life arose spontaneously from the haphazard collision of random molecules by the direction of chance then the mystery will never be solved. The process that produced life was so improbable that it can't be reproduced in the laboratory and was truly an event that took place against all odds. Understanding that anything with a value of 1 10^50 is an impossibility, and that the conditions for life to occur would need a much bigger number, attempting to solve this mystery is a waste of time.
Nevertheless, if life is the product of a set of laws written into the universe that favor the creation of life then the search is not futile. Nevertheless, this opens up the possibility for design arguments and the need for a programmer to write such a code; This is a development that I welcome as a Christian, but one that is scorned by other scientists. Some of this attitude comes through at times in Davies book when he states on pg. 31, "However, it is the job of science to solve mysteries without recourse to divine intervention." This assertion is patently false. It is the job of science to explain observable phenomena with a natural explantion if the results are verifiable and make more sense than a mystical argument. It could very well be that the deity who created the universe was a very competent programmer who designed the creation to operate under very specific natural laws, and one of those laws is for the universe to create life under the right conditions. This is just a possibility, but one that should not be eliminated simply because the establishment thinks it should.
In the end this book fails to answer the question that matters most: If life did arise by natural means, then how did it do so? Davies offers absolutely no new insight into this perplexing question. In fact, many of his arguments seem to point against random, senseless and purposless creation. Believing that all the right circumstances could fall into place is just as much grounded in faith as is the idea of a Divine creator. The only new arguments presented by this book were those that speculated that life began underground and not at the surface. Yet, this raises a whole host of questions. RNA or DNA could not develop inside the earth because the tremendous heat and pressure would destroy the volatile molecules. Therefore, one is forced to conclude the cell came first and this gave the RNA and DNA the sufficient shelter to form and replicate. But this just brings us back the chicken-egg paradox and doesn't answer anything since the cell cannot survive efficiently without the help of DNA, RNA, and catalytic enzymes. Stating that the first simple cell was a more crude device which operated on a more crude scale only begs the question and is meaningless conjecture without evidence.

The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters
The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters
by Elaine Pagels
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 35.57
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An alternate opinion of Paul, April 4 2004
After reading several other book written by Pagels concerning gnosticism and gnostic beliefs, I have to say that this offering is definitely her finest. First, Pagels doesn't polemicize the issue by claiming that Paul was a gnostic or that he was strictly orthodox, but instead shows how 2nd century exegetes, both gnostic and orthodox, understood Paul. Furthermore, one of the great strengths of this work resides in the fact that Pagels allows the gnostic followers to speak for themselves by citing frequently from newly discovered gnostic texts. Instead of telling us what she believes the gnostics considered true she permits the gnostics to tell us themselves.
The book itself is broken is broken up into seven chapters and each chapter deals with an individual Pauline epistle. Interestingly enough, the gnostics, like the orthodox, also accepted Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews as Pauline, but they did reject the pastorals epistles. The first two chapters deal with Romans and I Corinthians and are by far the best sections of the book. Instead of interpreting the book literally as their orthodox counterparts did, the gnostics read the epistle to the Romans allegorically. Therefore, what was perceived as a treatise commenting on Jewish/Gentile relations in the church by the orthodox, the gnostics believed the text spoke about pneumatic/psychic relations. They believed Paul used such terminology secretly and that only the initiated believers could understand the real meaning behind the text. Also, of great interest to the gnostics were passages stressing grace and faith in the life of the christian. The gnostics utilized chapters 4 and 9 to stress that they themselves were saved totally by grace and the will of the Father; There was nothing they could do to lose their status because they were children of the Father.
The other interesting chapter delves into I Corinthians and attempts to uncover the gnostic meaning of the text. I thought Pagels brought up some excellent points that really seemed to strengthen the gnostic case. First, chapter 2 was heavily valued by the gnostics because in it Paul talks about wisdom and knowledge and at times seems to buttress the gnostic case. Later in chapter 15, Paul speaks of several things that the gnostics believed were absolutely damning to the orthodox case. Paul says that flesh and blood and cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, and that corruption cannot inherit incorruption. This verse was used to condemn the idea of a physical bodily resurrection since Paul frankly states flesh and blood cannot inherit heaven. Instead, the gnostics believed the resurrection consisted of an awakening from ignorance towards God. Moreover, the idea of baptism for the dead 15:29 is something that has plagued orthodox scholars for over 20 centuries. Yet, the gnostics easily handled this verse by saying that baptism for the dead meant gnostics being baptised in the place of psyhics for their eventual salvation. Since it was the psychics who were dead, ignorant towards God, a pneumatic could be baptized in their stead and effect their awakening and journey into gnosis. The rest of the chapters deal with the other epistles listed earlier, but most of what is discussed are themes that appear in these two chapters.
One thing I noted when reading this book was the striking similarity between some gnostic beliefs and the beliefs held by the Calvinist variety of Christianity. Both groups stress man's deadness towards God and their inability to move towards God, both believe in divine election and reprobation, both believe that God's will is supreme in deciding who will be saved and who will be lost, and both believe in God's absolute sovereingty over His creation. Moreover, both believed that since salvation was effected totally by God and was a result of His election, that a believer with a divine or new nature could not be lost. These two groups even stress the same chapters of Scripture in their debates with their opponents. Chapters such as Romans 9 and Ephesians 1 were favorites of the gnostics in their disputes with the orthodox, and they are not favorites of the Calvinist's in their current disputes with Arminians. I wish I would have read this book earlier when I myself was struggling with the very same issues.

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