A while ago, when I still had Cable, I watched The Perfect Gift on JCTV. I remember when I first saw it I really liked it, but I never got around to purchasing it. Years later, when trying to think up some good Christian Christmas movies for my upcoming movie night, this was one of the first thoughts of which I was reminded. However, I didn’t completely remember why I had enjoyed watching Jefferson Moore’s The Perfect Gift so I had to re watch it again in order to properly write this review.
The Perfect Gift contains multiple stories, which all revolve around a drifter named Jes. Maxine is a spoiled rotten girl who is forced to make some new adjustments with Dad and his money no longer being in the picture. Maxine’s mother also has a burden forced upon her, but this mom’s trouble involves planning a politically correct celebration called “The Winter Gala”. Tony is an over burdened, Assistant Pastor who is in the process of setting up a Nativity Scene outside of the church; he also wishes the church was doing better. Blaine is an Atheist who is the head of an activist organization which claims to promote “religious freedom”. Jes is a drifter who peacefully arrives into town who looks a lot like Jesus Christ, is mysteriously a great carpenter, has a gift of wisdom, and somehow directly and indirectly affects the lives of all of these people and the rest of the town itself. What sort of lessons will everyone learn, and what makes Christmas… well Christmas?
After watching this I remembered why I LOVED The Perfect Gift. This movie is wonderful for many reasons, and certainly puts many Holiday Fluff films out there to great shame! One of my favorite reasons for enjoying this movie was the deep theological messages contained within the film without the actors hammering it into your skull. I was especially enamored with the way the townspeople respond to Blaine; it was awesome!!! Jefferson Moore is great as Jes, because he is able to cultivate a variety of moods appropriately, and I also liked how he passionately talked about Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and what he said to Blaine. In fact most of the actors did very well; Christine Fougnie wasn’t the best at first but got better with each scene. The story is very clever and quite realistic, and this was even funny at times. I am amazed I didn’t buy this sooner or tell people about this any sooner. I very strongly recommend this movie for your collection; especially if you like Christmas movies.
Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Evolution is an idea which many have talked to me about, and something which I have thought about constantly; I’ve written blogs and produced videos concerning the subject… It’s no secret that I am against the teachings of Evolution, especially Eugenics, so when I discovered this film on Christian Cinema’s website my curiosity was peaked. Alleged is a movie set during the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial, an important event in history not a lot of people talk about or even acknowledge; Atheists especially don’t because of how bad it makes them look.
Alleged is a movie about a reporter named Charlie whose dream is to work for the Baltimore Sun. Charlie’s father was once reporter and founder of the Dayton Harold, his hometown’s old newspaper. Charlie learns, while he’s trying to impress the editor for the Baltimore Sun, of the hottest new trial concerning plaintiff lawyer William Bryan Jennings VS Defense lawyer Clarence Darrow. In order to impress H.L Mencken (the editor), Charlie begins to not only side with Mr. Darrow but also begins mimicking Mencken’s journalistic style of half-truths and white lies. Rose doesn’t like the transformation Charlie’s making, as well as some of his latest stories, and gives him an ultimatum… Either he writes with integrity or writes for fame. What will he choose? Why is this trial so important? And what is the result…?
Obviously since this event has a lot of information behind it and this is a historical fiction movie, it’s doubtful every single detail for this historic account was provided within the film. However, this is a great introduction for those who have never heard of the Scopes Monkey trial, let alone the evils of Eugenics; definitely recommend the documentary What Hath Darwin Wrought for more info. The acting was very good, I especially find it interesting how similar Brian Dennehy looks in comparison to the real Clarence Darrow. I also love the importance the movie gives on telling the truth, despite many mainstream journalists currently following in Mencken’s footsteps, including their study guide provided in the DVD menu. I also like that they don’t show Clarence Darrow as a complete monster, even though Eugenics is such a horrible idea of theology, in how he responds to the little girl at the end of the movie; it shows the creators didn’t want to completely demonize the man. Without a doubt an Atheist is going to LOATHE this movie with a passion, but if you’re a Christian reading this I think you’ll enjoy this movie in addition to being given an introductory education on certain facts about Evolution you might not know about…
Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
I don’t remember when I first found out about Pastor Carl Gallups or the PPSimmons YouTube Ministry, but since I did I’ve been a fan; I’ve even had the privilege of interviewing him personally several times. When he told me about a book he was in the process of writing I was further intrigued. Now some might say: “Well what makes your review trustworthy then?” and in short my answer to that is: “look at my record.” I love reading Christian books and watching Christian movies, but I’m not afraid to say when someone does a poor job; Randy Alcorn is one example. (Good review, bad review) The question you’re probably wondering at this point is of course: “do you think Carl did a bad job with this book project?”
The Magic Man in the Sky is a book which questions the idea of evolution being “settled science”, and also questions the sometimes unspoken accusation that only uneducated fools would question evolution’s validity. Pastor Gallups’ intent for this project is to show evolution is not settled science. He goes over some of the things Atheists/Agnostics profess as the truth is actually false, not just because of Biblical scripture he sources but also because of various/proven scientific facts. The Magic man in the Sky addresses inaccuracies and inconsistencies within the theory of Evolution, and it also is a book which desires to encourage Christians not to question their faith just because they are attacked for it.
The Magic Man in the Sky, is a book which is exactly as the tag line says: “Effectively Defending the Christian Faith.” As someone who has been verbally attacked for my faith in God, I can definitely say this is a beneficial book for all Christian readers. This book’s school of thought reminds me of the detailed works from people like Answers in Genesis, who profess the Word of God as truth while also providing scientific facts to back up their claims. This is not the “miracle” book which will make all deniers of God say “I’m wrong”, but it is certainly a book which ought to be essential for any Christian’s library; after all the only real miracle book is The Bible. This is well thought out and well researched.
Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
A friend of mine, who I learned is an Atheist, once argued with me about suffering; more specifically viruses. I didn’t have the best explanation on everything he desired to talk to me about at the time, but then again only God will know the answer to every question out there. Thinking about that complicated conversation and being a bit depressed recently, I felt the whole idea of Good VS Evil and the concept of suffering itself were things I ought to brush up better apologetically. Because of my desire to learn more about those common occurrences, I picked up a copy of The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn. Although this book is only 117 pages, I feel it was a very good read and inspires me to read even more books concerning the common complaint “Why does God allow suffering?”
The Goodness of God, is quite philosophical and thought-provoking. Randy Alcorn examines various topics like Sin, alternative world views, free will, justice, global depravity, love, natural disasters, natural selection, death, etc through logical argumentation. While discussing the big picture which is morality (you know the idea of Good and Evil), he also plentifully provides many passages of scripture in support of a Good and loving God despite all of the suffering within our world. Obviously, this book won’t answer every thought or question a person may conceive, although even if this book were over 1000 pages it still wouldn’t… This is a great book nevertheless, because it will slice into a person’s mindset and will also inspire additional research/Biblical discussion. Surprisingly, I feel this book would be good for both Christians and Agnostics/Atheists alike.
Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimer: Ben Umnus was given a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah Press, but he was neither paid for his review nor was he commanded by Waterbrook Multinomah Press to write a positive review. This review is the personal, written opinion of Ben Umnus. This disclaimer is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
*Disclaimer* For the sake of rational discussion I will be using the word “Hell” numerous times. It is only for the sake of reference and not for using as a cuss word. I apologize if you are offended by my use of the word, as my intent is only to talk about that place itself and the theology behind it, because as Christians we need to discuss Hell since its existence is real. I have no intention to purposely blaspheme against the Lord for it is my hope that those who read this if they are not saved will repent of their sins and swear allegiance to Jesus Christ who is the only hope for any persons’ salvation… Whether you agree with what is discussed or not, please be respectful. Any comments with curse words or comments which either are uncivil or is for the sole purpose of acting like a troll will be deleted.
Before I get into this very controversial subject I just realized today is the One Year Anniversary of this Word Press blog. For those who have remained loyal despite any disagreements you may have had with some of my writings, thank you for sticking with me. I appreciate it a lot. If you are new to the Christian Perspective I hope you learn/enjoy this discussion and feel free to make a comment and or subscribe. 🙂
I don’t know a lot about Rob Bell, but I am agreeing with his critics when it comes to what Bell thinks about Hell. You may not have heard, but Rob Bell is the unorthodox pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids Michigan, and he launched a controversial video as a precursor to his new book Love Wins. So I saw a YouTube clip, from Wretched TV’s channel, of Rob Bell talking about Hell and I could touch on some of the things he said, though you ought to see the clip for yourselves, but of all the things he said if I could point out something that bugged me the most… it would be the idea Bell suggested which I have simplified into the effect of the following:
“How can a loving God send good people to Hell?”
and basically mocked the idea that someone like Gandhi, even though he appeared to deny Jesus Christ, is capable of being in Hell. As Todd Friel from Wretched TV said in the You tube link I provided, Mr. Bell is basically endorsing the Universalist, New Age movement concept that “Jesus isn’t the only way to salvation” (which Oprah Winfrey once said on her show) and “if you’re good enough and have done enough then you’ll be in Heaven too.” Take it from someone who used to think that I can do lots of good things and please my way into Heaven (see my Christian Testimony), no! No you can’t be good enough to earn a ticket to Heaven! Without Christ, I am just as Hell bound as anybody else who is apart from God, for I have committed many-MANY sins against God; I have no reason to boast about anything good. By saying what he said, he appears to be basically mocking people who feel or appear to feel (in his opinion) that God purposely sends people to Hell, and because of his interpretation he is mocking conventional Protestantism. This is a serious accusation considering some people have become Atheists because of this issue, not to mention there’s the Calvinistic interpretation of Predestination some believe in (I do not believe the Calvinist view), and of course the attitude of such a statement in itself is offensive and misleading. Sure if God wanted to he could send us all into Hell right now in the blink of an eye, because he has the authority to do such a thing after all he created us and I’m sure when scientists build robots most don’t question if they can destroy their own creation… However, whether one can accurately judge if God literally “sends people” to Hell is irrelevant, because of what we do/say/think. If I could openly respond to Rob Bell himself I would tell him:
“God doesn’t have to send people to Hell, because we condemn ourselves!”
I’m neither dead nor am I God so obviously I don’t know exactly who is in Hell, as well as an exact description of what Hell is like, and I don’t have the authority to condemn anyone. However, what I can say about Hell is that 1) Whoever rejects God is in Hell 2) Whoever rejects God’s son Jesus Christ is in Hell. 3) Our good deeds do not save us from Hell. 4) A person who is in Hell deserves it just as a guilty criminal deserves to be in prison. Like in the video I provided second paragraph, when on trial you don’t get to say to a judge “Yeah I’m guilty of this crime, but I’ve done so much good work for my community, and I try to be nice to all people so what I’ve done outweighs my offense right?” and get away with the crime… No if we did that in the real world, most of us (unless the judge is corrupt) would be convicted and sent to prison anyhow. In regard to Gandhi, no doubt did he do some great things for the Indian people, but according to Bible verses such as Isaiah 64:6 good deeds themselves without God are irrelevant. (by the way, the rag Isaiah speaks of is one which a woman wipes up her period blood… gross I know, but it’s a gruesome point to remember.) What bugs me the most about Rob Bell’s statement is what he is suggesting denies the concepts of Justice and Grace as well he is twisting around the definition of Love. In my opinion, Bell’s simply saying “Hey it doesn’t matter that someone denies the one who created him. As long as someone does what others think is good then that person ought to get into Heaven too.” Sure it matters whether someone knows God or not:
1) As Todd Friel said in the video, how do we know how good we have to be? And what is the standard of that goodness? No one can answer that first question without giving some personal opinion, possibly related to someone else’s deeds… We all have our personal standards of right and wrong, but in reality they do not completely match up with what God wants of us, not to mention our standards change constantly while God’s don’t change. The simplest laws we ought to be obeying is the 10 commandments in addition to the rest of the Bible. We fail to meet those standards, because of our current sinfulness and the sin which our distant ancestors Adam and Eve committed long ago…
2) Such an idea that a person doesn’t need Jesus or God to be considered “good” and “worthy of Heaven” conflicts with various scriptural examples like the passages provided in the previous paragraphs, including what Jesus said in John 14:21. It does matter whether I have sworn allegiance to God let alone it being the correct God. I’m not just talking about the God of the Bible here, there are other religions out there like Islam that say “If you’re following the wrong God you’re in big trouble.” (I’m summarizing) Not to mention in a worldly example, if I suddenly decide to become a Terrorist against the United States do you really think if I did something like stole thousands of dollars or bombed some people for the sake of an opposing country/organization that I’d be treated nicely by the United States Government? “Oh well we don’t like what he did, but because he and his group approve it then that’s ok, I mean he meant well.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!
3) The after life does not function like a democracy! I mean if this “majority rules” mentality were accurate for general morality, then I could rape someone without guilt or consequence if I got enough people to support it. We people do so many horrible things, I don’t even have to provide evidence for that because all one has to do is watch the news or look outside their window depending on where they live! Not to mention if morality were determined by a collective consensus, then Grace wouldn’t exist very often… We people, I know I fit this especially at times, can be so unforgiving! What Jesus did for us by dying an innocent death on the cross, which by the way was voted upon when they chose to release Barabbas, he died for all the bad stuff we do and say and think… Like in our legal system we are not entitled to mercy, again if God really wanted to he could just teleport us all into Hell right now, but God doesn’t do that because of his mercy and love for us. He is giving all of us a chance to seek his son, Jesus Christ who died in our place. We have all sinned against him time after time after time…
Hell, in the most simplest sense which I’m able to comprehend without making any false judgments, is a place where God is not present; the Bible calls it an eternal lake of fire. All those who reject God will finally get their wish if they choose to go to Hell. I say choose, because we have the choice whether to repent of our sinfulness and put our faith and trust into our Lord Jesus Christ (by swearing loyalty and allegiance to him) the Prophesied Savior who delivered us from our wages of sin, or we can reject God and continue live for ourselves for the rest of our lives and when dead reside in a place where God, who gives good and perfect gifts, will not be present. I do not mean to scare anyone with “Turn or Burn” style theology, because that is not my intention today. I simply feel I must confess to whoever reads this that Hell is a real place that shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. Anyone who rejects God and sins against him deserves to be in there, for the sake of Justice. But God who loves his creations, without violating our free will, sent his only son Jesus Christ to die in our place so that undeservedly we are forgiven for those sins, and all that is required is for us to believe in Jesus Christ and live for him. I have written this, because I don’t want anyone to go to Hell, we should never wish or hope that upon anyone no matter what they’ve done, rather for those who commit various misdeeds we ought to hope for their repentance… Rob Bell by denying the grace of Jesus Christ and belittling what Hell is supposed to be, is a wolf who is leading those who listen to him into heresy…