Biblion COMPENDIUM - The Best Reviews of 2018

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COMPENDIUM 2018


WELCOME

EDITORIAL

s imp l y t h e b e s t

COVER DESIGN: DA N I E L G O M E S

Revista de Livros, Livros em Revista

Compendium 2018 The Best Reviews of 2018 COLlaborating in this issue: Daniel Gomes (Assistant Editor), Vitor Marini (Author Portraits), Samuel Ascenção (Production Support)

EDITORIAL OFFICE email: mag@biblion.pt web: www.biblion.pt

PROPERTY OF: Unique Creations, Lda. HEADQUARTERS: Tv. Francisco dos Santos, 2-6ºD 2745-271 Queluz REGISTRY: Dep. Legal Nº 405423/16 NIPC nº 510951910 ISSN: 2183­-7899

EDITING: BIBLION MEDIA by Unique Creations

We at Biblion aim to provide the best content at all times. Our issues cover the most varied themes and works of literature, always seeking to present an enlightening piece to our readers. At the same time, we feel obligated to honor those works that distinguished themselves from the rest. These are simply the best books we have had the opportunity to cover, and we are proud to display them in one special anthology. This is the essence of our Compendium. What you are now about to read is the triumphal parade of this year's best reviews, along with a few original articles and a much anticipated preview of our upcoming publication, Enchridion. Buckle up, and enjoy the best of 2018!

EDITOR AND DIRECTOR: Paulo Sérgio Gomes DESIGN AND GRAPHIC PROJECT: UC Design Studio

DA N I E L T. G O M E S

MISSION/PURPOSE: To promote and encourage reading habits of Christian themes, fostering the necessary conditions to allow everyone to access these works. Learn more about our drive and our principles at www.biblion.pt. CONTENTS: The content of the articles hereby presented is subject to their authors’ opinions. CONTENT USAGE: Given that the main goal is the promotion of works and authors, content sharing is allowed for non-commercial ends only, and requires the source of this content to be mentioned. PRICING & AVAILABILITY: Prices mentioned include VAT. Products are subject to stock availability at the time of the order.

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index

biblion "top 15" of 2018 10 the imitation of christ

32 utopia

thomas Ă kempis

thomas more

12 the hiding place

36 escape from reason

corrie ten boom

francis schaeffer

14 the end of memory

40 the cross and the switchblade

miroslav volf

david wilkerson

18 st. teresa of avila:

44 when is it right to die?

HER LIFE IN LETters

joni eareckson tada

teresa of avila

48 how to be a

20 tithing, giving and

perfect christian

the new testament

the babylon bee

anastasios kioulachoglou

52 the prison letters of

24 inspiratio

nelson mandela

osmar ludovico

sahm venter

26 i have a dream

56 quo vadis

martin luther king jr .

henryk sienkiewicz

60 in the year of our lord sinclair b . ferguson

MISC. 64

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travel

featured post

featured post

"the heretic that changed christianity forever"

"scholasticism"

"singapore" + book review "Miracle on the river kwai"

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80 enchiridion preview of biblion's 2nd book


the team

P au lo S Ê r g i o G o m e s editor - in - chief Paulo SÊrgio has developed his career within tourism business, where he achieved personal fullfilment and recognition. Along the way, he has devoted his skills and resources to a few philantropic projects, ranging from financial education, grassroots soccer and overseeing an in-church bookshop. Currently, he manages the project of a lifetime – a little magazine called Biblion, striving to keep reading habits and book publishing alive in his home country.

D a n i e l T. G o m e s assistant editor / copyw r it e r The younger half of Biblion's "father & son" duo, Daniel T. Gomes is a graphic designer and content creator from Lisbon, Portugal. He is responsible for much of the magazine's design, although his role also extends into proofreading and translating written content.

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biblion #10

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C1

compendium 2017

F4

flash #4

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our identity

GET TO KNOW

Who We Are - Biblion is a free, quarterly digital magazine that promotes healthy literature and reading habits. - Created in 2016, Biblion is an initiative undertaken by Portuguese publisher Unique Creations, and enjoys the support of both resident and guest collaborators. - Currently, the magazine is on its tenth issue, with Digital (Issuu) and Interactive (Joomag) versions available in Portuguese (EU) and English (US)

What We Do - Reviews concerning books deemed beneficial for the reader’s intellectual and/or spiritual edification; - Interviews of authors, pastors and personalities involved with the development and spreading of Christian literature; - Articles relative to ethical and religious subjects; - In-house content production; - Dissemination of both Christian and general literature; - Endorsement of reading habits for all ages.

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our identity

KNOW US

Our Mission - Promoting Christian literature and its production in European Portuguese; - Stimulate the publication of works from Portuguese authors; - Encourage the practice of “fair pricing” and make literature available to everyone’s financial conditions; - Promote wholesome reading habits; - Host the healthy dialogue among different perspectives.

How You Can Help - Subscribe to Biblion on Issuu so you don’t miss our latest releases! - Support our work through Patreon or PayPal! - Follow us on Facebook and share our posts! - Subscribe to our Youtube channel! - Rate our articles on www.biblion.pt and leave us your feedback!

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FINAL SELECTION

BIBLION #7

BIBLION #8

THOMAS H. KEMPIS

ANASTASIOS KIOULACHOGLOU

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST CORRIE TEN BOOM

THE HIDING PLACE MIROSLAV VOLF

THE END OF MEMORY TERESA OF AVILA

ST. TERESA OF AVILA: HER LIFE IN LETTERS

TITHING, GIVING AND THE NEW TESTAMENT OSMAR LUDOVICO

INSPIRATIO

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

I HAVE A DREAM THOMAS MORE

UTOPIA

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER

ESCAPE FROM REASON

BIBLION #9

BIBLION #10

DAVID WILKERSON

HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ

THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE JONI EARECKSON TADA

WHEN IS IT RIGHT TO DIE? THE BABYLON BEE

HOW TO BE A PERFECT CHRISTIAN SAHM VENTER

The PRISON LETTERS OF NELSON MANDELA 8

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QUO VADIS

SINCLAIR B. FERGUSON

IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD


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HONORABLE MENTIONS JOHN KOESSLER & J. BRIAN TUCKER

MANUEL LUZ

ALL TOGETHER DIFFERENT

HONEST WORSHIP

"All Together Different is an excellent work in ecumenism and awareness, with biblical and scientific advice that allows us to understand the relation between individual diversity and the collective union of the Church."

"... a succint work that invites us to face worship as it should be: a reflection of Christ's character at all times."

THOMAS MALORY

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY

LE MORTE D'ARTHUR

THE GRAND INQUISITOR

"Malory's masterpiece draws the reader to a mythical era, where fantasy and historicity blend seamlessly to produce a magnificent work of medieval fiction."

"Despite it's ambiguous conclusion, 'The Grand Inquisitor' remains one of the most emphatic and relevant tracts of Dostoevsky's novel. (The Brothers Karamazov)"

SOREN KIERKEGAARD

FEAR AND TREMBLING "This really is an incomparable study of the example of faith Abraham is to millions and millions of believers."

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top 15 an eternal classic of christian literature

the imitation of christ Thomas H. Kempis Pub. Europa-América

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nspiring and daunting at the same time, The Imitation of Christ is one of the oldest and most popular devotionals in history, as well as a classic of Christian literature. Its influence remains strong in the Church of this day – six hundred years after its publication – and with good reason, too.

Every day we are overwhelmed with messages that stimulate our pride. Mass media promote products and services that allegedly make us better and happier; social networks turn us into celebrities, whether we have a hundred followers or a million. We live in a constant hustle, 10 COMPENDIUM 2018

trying to be successful in our lives, believing we have control over them. The work attributed to Thomas à Kempis goes against everything that moves today’s society. With harsh but sincere language, The Imitation of Christ reminds the reader of what he really is: a fragile, mortal being. Con-


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trol is an illusion. Fame is an illusion. The sinful condition of the human being and his dependence in God are quite real, however, and Kempis does not flee from this reality; infact, he encourages the reader to embrace it with a humble and broken heart, a heart that seeks God’s will alone. The author highlights the importance of our interior life in the walk with Jesus. The Christian must be absolutely humble and obedient, with a love for Christ greater than the love for the self. As human beings, we are weak and unstable; we depend on God’s grace and power to galvanize us: “How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone to evil!” Kempis does not ignore the hardship ascribed to the decision of following Jesus’ example; in fact, he raises the bar even more: “Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.” One of the most interesting characteristics of this book is the dialogue between “(The Voice of) Christ” and “The Disciple”, a tool Kempis uses to strengthen his message. By adopting the role of “The Disciple”, the reader becomes a key

part of the teaching and identifies with the character’s prayers and difficulties. It should be noted that this “disciple” seems to based on the author’s own experience, as the following quote indicates: “How wise was Your warning to beware of men; that a man’s enemies are those of his own household; that we should not believe if anyone says: ‘Behold he is here, or behold he is there.’ I have been taught to my own cost, and I hope it has given me greater caution, not greater folly.” With a striking, severe depiction of the true follower of Jesus, The Imitation of Christ continues to test and inspire thousands upon thousands of believers all around the world. This is a devotional that intimidates but also educates, with a powerful and lasting message to the Church of our days.

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the hiding place Corrie ten boom Elizabeth & John sherrill baker publishing

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he echoes of an imminent war between allied forces and Nazi Germany were coming to the nether lands of polders and tulips. One night, with the Dutch people glued to their radios, the prime minister assured the country that he had guaranteed the Netherlands’ neutrality in the conflict and that the war’s dark clouds did not cover the nation. Five hours later, the Luftwaffe bombers charged and the sound of sirens was heard across Amsterdam’s canals. And so were the first bombs.

Among the millions who couldn’t believe what was happening were two sisters in a typical house of the Haarlem, Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom, the daughters of an expert 12 COMPENDIUM 2018

watchmaker, whose lives were deeply affected by these events. Barteljoris Street was an example of ethnic and religious plurality of cosmopolitan Amsterdam. Christians, Baptists or


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Lutherans, Jews and Anti-Semitists she was there, subject to inhuman lived in a healthy neighborhood and shameful conditions, Corrie where friendship and mutual support kept her hope and faith in God, and were evident. Until that day! still served as a spiritual guide to her The Hiding Place tells us a real fellow prisoners. story, filled with episodes that In this work, we get to know how demonstrate the compassion and the architect of that Haarlem house love reigning at the core of the Ten modified Corrie’s room, taking Boom family while they used their advantage of the existing dip on the home to host hundreds of back of the building, in people persecuted by the order to make a fake wall. occupying German forces This adaptation allowed Every experience – mostly Jews. the temporary hiding of God gives us, every The book also depicts hundreds of Jews who person He puts the terror of the Nazi sought refuge with the in our lives is the Holocaust that this family Ten Boom’s. perfect preparation experienced. The father Corrie became a was buried anonymously, for a future that only farsighted “operational,” and Betsie succumbed to even being presented as He can see. the inhuman treatment, the head of a great organiT H E H I D I N G P L A C E perishing in captivity at zation – an exaggeration, CO R R IE T EN B OOM Ravensbruck’s concentraaccording to the author, tion camp. but in truth it was not just But Cornelia survived. She surviabout concealing a hideout. Corrie ved to tell the world of the miracles obtained ration cards, essential to that God has done there. Even the those without identification authoemission of her own certificate of rized by the Germans, and spoke in release may have been the product “watchmaker” code in a clandestine of an administrative error, since on telephone. To her, “every experience the week following her release, all God gives us, every person He puts the women at the camp who shared in our lives is the perfect preparation her age were exterminated. While for a future that only He can see.”

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top 15 remembering rightly in a violent world

the end of memory miroslav volf wm. b. eerdman's publishing

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iroslav Volf, one of the most renowned theologians of our time, brings us a message of forgiveness and reconciliation extremely relevant to these days. Based on his experiences in ex-Yugoslavia, Volf debates people’s attachment to their memories, especially the most painful ones, and suggests a way of finding peace and put an “end to memory,” so to speak. There is an expression closely associated with the events of September 11th: “(We Will) Never Forget.” The tragedy that hit the United States on that fateful day was such that the American citizens, and the whole world in a way, refuse to let 14 COMPENDIUM 2018

go of that memory, even though it is such a painful one. After that day memorials were built, and measures were taken so that an act of terrorism such as that one would never take place again. The day itself became an official day of mourning and


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remembrance – the Patriot Day. I doubt anyone could forget what happened with all this, even if that person wanted to forget. Nonetheless, there is one question that goes almost unnoticed with all this emphasis in not forgetting: Why not forget? Why continue to remember such a bitter and harsh event to us? What is the final purpose of keeping this wretched memory alive? Is it simply to remember those who perished? Is it to forgive this uncanny offense? Or is it to perpetuate the fear and the violence? While most people agree we shouldn’t forget such a dire atrocity, public opinion is not as unanimous as to why we shouldn’t forget. This is one of the reasons why several parts of world face a political and/or social crisis today: ex-Yugoslavs that have not forgotten the brutalities of the 90’s, African-Americans that have not forgotten the times

of segregation, Irish that have not forgotten the violent confrontations between Catholics and Protestants, Jews that have not forgotten the terror of the Holocaust, and so one. No one dares to forget. Miroslav Volf is not a stranger to tragedy. He too went through very rough times in his life, and this book is partly based on one of his worst years. In the communist regime of Yugoslavia, the theologian was called to serve in the military at Mostar, where he spent a year being constantly interrogated. It was one of the most scarring experiences in the life of the Croatian theologian, whose connections to religion and to capitalist America made him a suspect of espionage and subversion, and subsequently a target to extensive and dehumanizing “talks” with one of the ex-Yugoslav officials. Volf talks about the way the captain made that year a living hell to him on

wherever, whenever

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this book, and how he undermined Volf ’s trust in his comrades as he sought evidence to incriminate the theologian. Nevertheless, The End of Memory is not just a recounting of the torment Volf went through in Mostar; it is the full stop to that torment. Even though the experience lasted only a year, its remembrance persists in the theologian’s heart ever since, and he recognizes it has changed him forever. Volf acknowledges how difficult it is for him to move on, to forgive and to be reconciled with the memory of that captain who scarred him in an indelible way – but he recognizes that as an inevitable step to his happiness and his walk with Christ, and shares with the reader everything he knows about how to remember in this book. Aware that our memory can as easily be a sword as it is a shield, the theologian states

that abandoning the recollections of the injustices we suffer is sometimes beneficial and essential to the process of redemption. He highlights the role of voluntarily not recalling these memories – the remembrance is not erased, but remains ignored by our consciousness – as a vital tool of reconciliation and a very similar method to that of God’s judgment, which knows the sins of His people yet will remember them no more (Jer. 31:34). The End of Memory is not exactly easy to understand; the theme’s interpretation can be somewhat wearisome, yet its message of forgiveness and love when it comes to knowing how to remember injustice knows no peer. This is a book that the whole world needs to read and let its content teach us to treasure the power of grace and reconciliation.

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St. Teresa of Avila: Her life in letters teresa of avila ave maria press

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o Teresa, who is called “of Jesus,” writing was always a part of her instruction, just as reading and culture were, thanks to her parents’ influence; thus she dedicated herself to the vital task of writing. Her works, The Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection, are recognized today as fundamental among the medieval classics.

In a compilation of personal letters mostly directed to different recipients, it is tough to maintain a coherent reading with all the variety of themes and subjects. This book is no exception, but those who don’t know Teresa of Ávila can hereby still contemplate her dependence on the Lord to beat the obstacles that came across her path. This is rather blatant 18 COMPENDIUM 2018

throughout this work. Split in chapters corresponding to chronological decades in the author’s life, Teresa’s ever deteriorating physical frailty becomes evident, and it often made her ask for help in writing the letters. Among the recorded documents are missives for Philip II of Spain, interceding for John of the Cross (with whom she founded the Order


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of Discalced Carmelites) concerning where she first started her Discalced the Inquisition; Dominican author Carmelite ministry) blends with the Louis of Granada; or D. Teotónio terror of living under the Inquisiof Bragança, Archbishop of Évora, tion’s censorship. It was a time when to whom she manifests deep concern persecutions and sentences without for the eventual military conflict betimpartial judgment could come ween Spain and Portugal. She even to anyone, even the most faithful states, “I would rather among the Catholic die than see it.” religion. Even though Though there is not she was integrated in one moment where the Church of Rome, she seems afraid of Teresa was not free writing, her care for from continuous scrunot giving the inquitiny for the spiritual sitors any excuses practices uncommon that may endanger at the time – despite h e r i s n o t i c e a b l e. her only seeking a Teresa, who came to contemplative life, but be accused of being which transcended “alumbrada” (i.e. “enthe Church’s stanSt. Teresa of Avila: lightened,” pertaining dards and spawned Her Life in Letters to the Spanish heretic suspicion around the T E R ESA OF AVILA

movement from the sixteenth century), saw the need to use a “cyphered” writing to pass through the Inquisition’s sifter, as she knew she lived under the constant surveillance from her religious inspectors, who filtered her mail and sought to apprehend her literary manuscripts. The literary legacy of Teresa of Jesus (or “of Ávila,” Spanish town

aura of mysticism enveloping her. An entrepreneurial nun, she established a remarkable network of cloisters, hosting young women from noble families drawn to the cloistered cause, dedicated to a life of prayer and intimacy with God. As such, the Carmelite nun always depended on God to meet all her financial needs. www.biblion.pt 19


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tithing, giving and the new testament anastasios Kioulachoglou

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nastasios Kioulachoglou’s first work, entitled Tithing, Giving and the New Testament, delves into the concept of Christian giving and debates the practice of tithing – an Old Covenant practice – and its place among born-again Christians.

Ah, money. It never fails to be a touchy subject, does it? Yet Kioulachoglou, an economist by profession, has no qualms about it. In his raw, incisive style, the Greek author states exactly what the New Testament has to say about money and its stewardship; to that effect, he starts his 20 COMPENDIUM 2018

first book by addressing one of the most well-known practices present in modern-day church – tithing. Backed by an impressive number of biblical passages, Kioulachoglou concludes that tithing is a part of the Mosaic Law circumscribed to the people to whom the Law was


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given – the Jews, the people of the Old Covenant – and that a parallel of such practice is not to be imposed on people who are outside the Law, i.e. Christians. Instead of considering whether they should give 10% of their earnings before or after taxes, Christians should be mindful of what the New Testament really calls for: gracious and willing giving. The author goes on to present various examples of what genuine giving is all about in the New Testament; this is giving that blesses, that is voluntary, and that does not necessarily come in the form of material possessions.

Kioulachoglou also spends a chunk of his work in addressing the reality of modern-day church finances, providing his input as inferred from the biblical teachings of the NT in the role of Christians supporting church staff salaries, missionaries and widows. He condemns the form of financial stewardship so prevalent in our days: “Why do we take what would normally go to the poor saints and to missions to further the kingdom of God and give it to maintain structures and traditions that are foreign to the Word of God?” (p. 71) He challenges the reader to “ask

tithing in tough topics Sam Storms’ final “tough topic” in his first Tough Topics book happens to be tithing. Here, for a change, Storms and Kioulachoglou seem to be on the same side of the debate: both agree that tithing cannot be demanded from the Christian. Nevertheless, Storms advocates that tithing as a voluntary practice of the believer does have its place on today’s Church, so long as it respects God’s standards of genuine giving. The theologian goes on to defend that Christians have a responsibility to “be generous with their wealth” (p. 319), yet he acknowledges that such responsibility cannot be undertaken grudgingly or with guilt, which follows along Kioulachoglou’s affirmation of true giving as gracious and voluntary.

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the tough questions,” yet to do so in love and with the sincere desire of improving the body of Christ. Tithing, Giving and the New Testament is a brief yet powerful work. It succeeds in showing God’s pleasure in genuine giving by challenging a long-held (and misunderstood) church tradition. Just like Kioulachoglou’s second book, The Warnings of the New Testament, this work is currently available as a free PDF on the Journal of Biblical Accuracy website, while its eBook and printed versions can be purchased on Amazon.

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inspiratio osmar ludovico editora mundo cristão

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entor. Advisor. Spiritual guide. Osmar Ludovico is deeply renowned among those who inspire themselves in his teaching, such as authors Ed René Kivitz, who forewords this work, and Maurício Zágari, the editor, who calls him the pious thinker. After O Caminho do Peregrino, written in partnership with Laurentino Gomes, and Meditatio, a hymn to intimacy with God, here is his third book – Inspiratio. Not claiming to be a writer himself, Osmar presents in an exemplar manifesto (anti-credo) that by which he guides his conscience and character. He is faithful to reclusion and contemplation, to the discrete 24 COMPENDIUM 2018

service for the community, and to the sharing of friendship and affection. Through Inspiratio – with the double meaning of “source of creativity” and “breathing action essential to live” – we are spurred towards a deep


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quest for spirituality based on simpliBody of Christ. To be present, to city, prayer, silence and meditation. know your neighbor and develop a This book of reflections is divided true spiritual relationship – to live in four subjects: God, the Church, true Biblical koinonia – requires time, Faith and Society, and Spirituality. tolerance and love. In Divinatis, we find the greatness Regarding classical spirituality of God’s love in our midst, while (i.e. pre-Reformation), the author Ecclesia highlights the legacy of Chstates that the Holy Spirit has maristianity’s foundations that helped nifested throughout the first 1,500 prepare the movement spearheaded years of Church history through by Jesus throughout the the “contribution of saints last two millennia. In the and Church elders in the "The Father's chapter Fide et Societas are movements of priesthood, house is our addressed such subjects monasticism and medieval that deal with each and mysticism.” Such is his heart." every one of us: money, interest in classical spiriinspiratio marriage, worship, among tuality that acclaimed conOSMA R LUDOVI CO others. Osmar Ludovico temporary thinkers such saves Spiritus for last, where his intias Protestants Hans Burki, James mate compassion becomes evident, Houston or Eugene Peterson, and inviting the reader to contemplative Catholics Thomas Merton, Henri immersion and to hear God’s voice, Nouwen and Anselm Grün, seek to reading the Bible, exposing all his restore the good in that tradition and vulnerability and taking the reader fuse it with today’s spiritual quest. from repentance to devotion to Him. Instead of a “mystical, alienaFrom the Greek koinonia comes ting practice, (…) the emphasis on the word “communion,” which Lusilence, solitude, meditation and dovico states is not a mere gathering contemplation is not an end in itself, at the temple of people who share but a means to a life of holiness and a common social and cultural conservice to our neighbor. With the lectext, nor is it restricted to the mystic tio divina, we Evangelicals can rescue communion among members of the Biblical reading with our heart!”

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i have a dream martin luther king, jr. editora bizâncio

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he life of Martin Luther King, Jr. blends seamlessly with the fight against racial discrimination, which he experienced from a very early age. Although his parents had taught him the notable values of civility and dignity, the reigning system in the south of the United States, where he lived, repressed the African-American population at all costs, and he soon rebelled against it.

The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. blends seamlessly with the fight against racial discrimination, which he experienced from a very early age. Although his parents had taught him the notable values of civility and dignity, the reigning system in the south 26 COMPENDIUM 2018

of the United States, where he lived, repressed the African-American population at all costs, and he soon rebelled against it. The restrictions imposed were one of the authorities’ obsessions. King states that no black child in Atlanta


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could go to a local park. Likewise, he could not attend white-only schools, nor walk into a restaurant to eat a burger or drink coffee. Entertainment facilities for people of color, such as movie theaters, were also rare. King’s education allowed him to develop his intellectual path with some of the best mentors of his time, studying philosophical currents, identifying with the theories of the world’s greatest leaders – preparing himself for a unique ordeal in the history of mankind. He spent the Christmas break of 1949 reading Karl Marx, attempting to understand why Communism was attracting so many people, but it was Gandhi that fascinated King upon hearing the testimony of Dr. Mordecai Johnson, who had just returned from a trip to India and spoke about that notable figure, whose bold approach to love and non-violence became the example

for the social reforms King sought to implement. According to King, it was Gandhi who first raised Jesus’ ethics beyond the mere interaction among individuals, employing it as a powerful and efficient large-scale social force. King believed that for Gandhi, love was a potent tool of social and collective transformation. Mahatma Gandhi inspired the African-Americans of Montgomery, AL, to start a social movement of great dignity. While Jesus inspired them to use love as a creative weapon in acts of protest, the African-American community created the most powerful weapon in their fight for freedom by combining Gandhi’s methodology of non-violence to the Christian doctrine of love. Montgomery’s Civil Rights Movement is born in response to Rosa Parks’ refusal to leave her bus seat for a white passenger. She was arrested, and King delivers the most decisive

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speech of his life in her defense. There began the overreaching process that, after many years and many deaths later, culminated in the end of racial segregation. The bus boycott in Montgomery (where there was an anti-boycott law at the time!) lasted thirteen weeks, throughout which the city’s black inhabitants walked everywhere, oftentimes being intimidated, persecuted and arrested for not using public transportation. Planning and improvising an ingenious system of alternative transportation, those

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who adhered to the boycott endured the revolt until they had won: at the end of 1956, the US Supreme Court declared the bus segregation laws as unconstitutional. King soon became known as a young and brave African-American with his leadership actions within the movement. Montgomery contributed with a new tool for the African-American revolution, a social instrument of non-violent resistance. The movement unveiled to the world a person who the whites would have to listen to and respect,


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even if grudgingly. Someone who the blacks admired, who had left the “paralyzing passivity and numbing complacency,” emerged with a new sense of dignity and destiny. The young and brave African-American from Montgomery acquired a new determination to attain freedom and human dignity, despite the grievous cost. Following the Montgomery movement is the Sit-in movement of the 1960’s, a galvanizing rally of black students that spread throughout southern schools and townships of the US, consisting of occupying cafeterias and other public places, and which gave America a brilliant example of disciplined, non-violent action worthy of opposing the segregation system of that time. Throughout more than 400 pages, the book describes meticulously the most remarkable events in the process of the African-American fight for civil rights under Rev. King’s selfless leadership, based on true, original texts and content. There’s the narration of the Birmingham and Chicago campaigns, of the Washington and Selma marches, of his involvement with Malcolm X and

A Unique Content This work becomes even more precious by transcribing the most important written messages of Martin Luther King, Jr. – some of them complete – from a speech contest he won at age 14 to his very last speech. To those readers interested in knowing more about this remarkable figure, here’s what they will be able to find: •

First sermon as minister of Dexter Av. Baptist Church, in Atlanta

The most decisive, albeit improvised, speech of his life at the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott movement

Speech on Mahatma Gandhi

Prison journals and telegrams sent to President Kennedy during the Albany movement, in the summer of 1962

Birmingham’s Prison Letter directed to eight clergymen from various religious groups – clergymen who had criticized the rallies and the “extremism” of King’s actions

“I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington

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a unique content (cont.) •

Mourning address to the murder of four black girls during Sunday School, at the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, and to the murder of President Kennedy

1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, at the Oslo University Conference

Several remarks connected to the events in Selma, Alabama and the Chicago Campaign.

Appeals against the Vietnam War

Poor People’s Campaign and the March on Memphis

Last speech at the temple of Bishop Charles J. Mason in Memphis, a day prior to King’s death.

the Black Power movement, of his talks with American heads of state – Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon; several episodes of his numerous times in prison; accounts of his family life, which was crucial for his motivation. Even the full length of his ultimate speech in Memphis, the day before his murder, is included in this work. “Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

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a remarkable work As Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Archive Director, Clayborne Carson is an expert in terms of the gigantic amount of documents that comprise his collection. Naturally, Carson was invited by King’s heirs to compile the reverend’s invaluable legacy of letters, messages and journals into a book, including recordings and pictures from his sermons and public speeches. Thousands of documents and records have been read, heard and viewed, and later stringed in a chronologic, historical and factually coherent narrative in the first person, thus adding to this “autobiography” a very unique identification of a very unique world figure. More than an MLK autobiography, this work is a long and well-established unraveling of the historical events in the racial liberation achieved by black Americans.

Consider Supporting us! We are so grateful that you have picked up our magazine, but we have a favor to ask from you! We are an independent magazine. Our content is sincere and heartfelt, and does not favor one author or publisher above another. But our financial resources are very limited. Thus we turn to you, our reader, to help us keep our project running! With as little as $1, you can contribute to the upkeep and expansion of our literary venture! www.biblion.pt 31


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utopia thomas more

U

topia, the literature classic that immortalized its author’s name and shaped an entire subgenre of fiction, has been made fully available and free to read at theopenutopia.org, a website dedicated to honor the legacy of Thomas More’s opus magnum.

Sir Thomas More was an exceptionally accomplished man in his lifetime: he enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer and a statesman, which culminated in his appointment to the position of Lord High Chancellor of England in 1529. He was also a Catholic philosopher and Renaissance humanist acquainted with some of the brightest minds of his time, including fellow humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. Moreover, More’s 32 COMPENDIUM 2018

faith in the Catholic doctrine led him to battle the English Reformation and subsequently reject the King’s supremacy over the church – an act of high treason that led to his execution as well as his canonization, as the Catholic Church revere Thomas More as a saint for his martyr’s death in defense of the Church’s unity. Yet none of these feats can match his ground-braking satire Utopia. First published in 1516,


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the fictional work has gone on to Utopia with rigorous detail, from its form the backbone of utopian and geography and economy to the inner dystopian literature and to inspire workings of its society and religion. economic and political ideologies Throughout his tale, Hythloday such as socialism and communism. offers an extremely positive image Heavily based on Plato’s Republic of the island nation, praising the and the emergent humanist ideals of Utopians’ emphasis on the common More’s time, Utopia depicts an idyllic good and public domain over pernation and society which sonal property, their comall other nations and mitment to learning and to societies should aspire to the virtues of Nature. "Pride thinks its imitate, and its content While confounded by own happiness remains the subject of some aspects of Utopian shines the brighter culture and policy, Hythlomuch discussion more than five-hundred years by comparing it to day realizes there is much after its publication. wisdom at work in these the misfortunes of Utopia is written as same aspects. For examother persons." the transcription of a ple, Hythloday did not conversation involving understand at first why the UTOPIA Thomas More, his friend nation hired an excessive T HOMAS MO R E Peter Gilles, and a fictioamount of mercenaries, as nal character, Raphael that would seem strange Hythloday. It is this last character, and ineffective in the Old World’s portrayed as a Portuguese explorer wars. This decision made perfect and philosopher who sailed with sense to him, however, once the Amerigo Vespucci, who does most of Utopians told him how they had no the talking in the book; Hythloday is need for gold and silver – the two the one who tells More and his friend things mercenaries kill and die for – about the sublime island of Utopia, though they had plenty of both, and where he claims to have spent five how they would rather pay foreign years in the gracious company of free companies handsomely to fight its natives. He goes on to describe for Utopia than sacrifice their own

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people in the battlefront; not to mention that, by doing this, Utopians guaranteed that their enemies could not hire these mercenaries for the same effect. A deeper understanding on how Utopians saw bloodshed in general helps Hythloday (and in turn, the reader) realize this was in fact the best course of action for the Utopian people. It is the wise ways of Utopia that often lead Hythloday to contrast the island nation, which he remarks as “the only commonwealth that truly deserves that name,” with the petty kingdoms of Europe and their oppressive laws, warmongering culture and prideful nature. He concludes there is much that these kingdoms can learn from Utopia’s example, but also that it’s not his place to bring about such improvements.

More’s role in the conversation largely dominated by Hythloday is that of a mere listener with remarkable etiquette; even in his conclusion to the fictional conversation, More remained quite reserved on his final thoughts, vaguely stating that he would like to see more of Utopia in England despite not agreeing with some of their policies and customs. This, however, should come as no surprise; More was an adamant Catholic and counter-reformer, so he would probably refuse to accept the Utopian principle of female priesthood or the nation’s views regarding divorce. What should come as a surprise, though, is that More, being the devout Catholic he was, would envision these things as part of a true and perfect commonwealth. The matter of Utopia’s interpretation

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is indeed a tricky one, with the satire being so complex and believable, and yet bearing so many hints of ridicule, that its exact meaning and purpose become inscrutable. Whether More was being cynical in his work is, nevertheless, beside the point; Utopia and its concepts have been pivotal in shaping the political spectrum of the world and in raising awareness to the principles of common good and civic responsibility. While Thomas More may have never expected to see an earthly "Utopia" in his lifetime, the reality still seeks to emulate the fiction; it is up to us to honor More’s legacy and strive to bring to fruition what only seemed like a hopeful dream in the sixteenth century – and it starts by reading this marvelous work.

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escape from reason Francis A. Schaeffer editora vida nova

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he second entry in Francis Schaeffer’s famed “Trilogy,” Escape From Reason examines man’s historical pursuit of knowledge and truth in the areas of philosophy, theology, sciences and arts. It’s a short, yet compact work that remains up-to-date in the 21st century ever since it was first published in 1968.

Starting from the philosophical views of Thomas Aquinas, renowned theologian and apologist Francis A. Schaeffer scans the centuries of philosophical developments that have led to today’s relativism and flight from objectivity. He is critical of Thomism’s distinction between 36 COMPENDIUM 2018

grace and nature, which separates heavenly and spiritual things (like the “soul”) from the earthly and material ones (like the “body”). Schaeffer also blames Thomism’s perception of self-sufficient human intellect – where reason stands apart from the faith – for unwittingly birthing a natural


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theology completely independent from divine revelation, which would subsequently develop into full-fledged humanism (although he acknowledges that Thomas Aquinas believed that human reason and divine revelation were perpetually bound to agree upon each other). As the autonomous natural theology brought about a renewed interest in Neo-Platonism during the Renaissance, a new movement within Christianity sought to bring back unity between the realms of nature and grace: the Protestant Reformation. Schaeffer states that the Reformed Churches’ theology, as spearheaded by Calvin’s Institutes, brought about the unifying knowledge that natural theology has yearned for since Thomas Aquinas. Schaeffer goes on to explain how the Reformed theology has succeeded in its ordeal of providing unifying (albeit incomplete) knowledge, as it

presents a personal and infinite God as autonomous instead of a finite man, and binds grace and nature in the reality of man – a creature made in the image of God yet corrupted by the original sin of the Fall – with Christ being sovereign over all man, and therefore, over both grace and nature themselves. From then on Schaeffer proceeds to examine the downward spiral of natural theology apart from divine revelation: the Enlightenment philosophy of Kant, Rousseau and others exhausted rationalism, claims the author, and Hegelianism was the dying breath of natural theology’s search for unifying knowledge. Kierkegaard’s existentialism, drowning in the despair brought about by the loss of hope in a solely rational knowledge that can unify the verifiable with the unverifiable, gives up on rationality altogether, according to Schaeffer, and relegates truth and

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SCHAEFFER’S PREDICTIONS HOLD TRUE? purpose to the individual’s subjectivity. This eventually boils down to the modern man in Schaeffer’s view: a man who no longer aspires to have unifying knowledge – even if incomplete – and whose dilemma is no longer between grace and nature, but between the rational and the non-rational. Schaeffer concludes that there is today an enormous philosophical chasm between the Church and modern man and that the Church ought to recognize it in order to better understand the modern man himself, though he alerts for signs of the modern duality creeping into the unifying theology of the body of Christ. Don’t let the size of the book fool you; Escape From Reason is nothing short of thought-provoking, and it proves to be one of those few works that, in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, are meant “to be chewed and digested.” Such a detailed study of the development of Western epistemology throughout history is to be cherished by every reader who wants to obtain a solid grasp on the foundations of modern philosophy.

Perhaps the book’s greatest stroke of Schaeffer’s genius is not what the author states about the past, but what he predicts to be the future. In Escape From Reason, Schaeffer warns us about the “philosophy of definitions” – what he claims to be an anti-philosophic approach to philosophical questions by means of linguistic analysis. Nothing could be more evident today, as the existentialist view and Derrida’s deconstruction of language work together to shape the meaning of language according to the demands of today. In essence, certain words and terms are being given new definitions that squash the old, long-standing notions surrounding those words. For example, “marriage” no longer stands for “a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman”; instead, it can be defined as a “socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses” (Wikipedia), where gender and term of union are no longer defined. Cultural and moral relativism is now the dominant position in philosophy and anthropological studies, and it is determined to do away with the absolutes of bygone eras – including the absolutes of the Christian faith, without which there would be no “adequate basis for law,” (p. 90) according to Schaeffer. Therefore it is paramount that believers embrace and protect the values of the Scriptures in a secular age that prizes subjectivity over all else.


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the cross and the switchblade david wilkerson Elizabeth & John sherrill editora betânia

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avid Wilkerson’s legacy is absolutely undeniable. The intervention and rehabilitation program for drug addicts founded by this evangelist – Teen Challenge – stretches throughout over one hundred countries today, with more than 1,400 centers all over the world. But how did it all start? The Cross and the Switchblade gives us the answer.

Reverend David Wilkerson was a striking figure of the Pentecostal church in the fight against substance abuse and in the sharing of the Gospel, risking everything – even his own life – to bring hope and change to New York’s most dangerous boroughs. As such, it is with great astonishment that we realize the comfortable situation in which Wil40 COMPENDIUM 2018

kerson lived prior to his call to New York: The Cross and the Switchblade presents us David and Gwen Wilkerson, a young couple ministering a small community in the peaceful town of Phillipsburg, PA. Neither of the two could foresee how much their lives would change when David heard the Lord’s voice after reading the court trial of seven minors, all of


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them members of a New York City love and faith. It is this faith so firm gang. “Go to New York and help and unshakable that leads David to these kids.” God’s task for David conquer the hearts of several teeseemed almost surreal. How was nagers connected to addiction and he supposed to help these youngsgang violence, sharing with them the ters from the big city while he was message of hope and unconditional already the pastor of a church far love that can only be found in Jesus away from New York, and bringing many with a wife and kids to to know the Christ provide for? And yet, Redeemer. the voice persisted. After some years God’s plan was quite of ministering in real, and it was going the New York City’s to change David’s life most impoverished forever. neighborhoods, WilThat is the bekerson founded the ginning of a series first Teen Challenge of amazing events – center, a place where many of them could all teenagers, indeeven be called “mirapendently of gang afthe cross and cles” – that unfolds filiations or substance the switchblade into a tremendous abuse problems, were DAVID WILKE R SON

odyssey of evangelism. The reader is brought to the “Big Apple” of the 60’s – already a metropolis divided and withered by poverty, discrimination, violence, and above all, by drugs. David Wilkerson goes on a true crusade against the plague of substance abuse and the youth crime that comes from it, armed not with a sword but with

welcome. The center soon became the headquarters to a rather unusual mobilization of young Christians – some of them former gang members – who took to the streets of New York every day in search of other young people whose lives had been ruined by crime and drugs and needed urgent transformation. The book ends with Wilkerson www.biblion.pt 41


Consider Supporting us! We are so grateful that you have picked up our magazine, but we have a favor to ask from you! We are an independent magazine. Our content is sincere and heartfelt, and does not favor one author or publisher above another. But our financial resources are very limited. Thus we turn to you, our reader, to help us keep our project running! With as little as $1, you can contribute to the upkeep and expansion of our literary venture!

discussing Teen Challenge’s expansion to Chicago, aware that the Holy Spirit is the only one in charge, and that Teen Challenge will continue to perform its work as long as it stays that way. The Cross and the Switchblade is undoubtedly one of the most impressive testimonies of faith of all time, faithfully retelling the rough nature of New York’s inner city and Wilkerson’s anguish in those moments when nothing seems to be going well. His message of trust and grace has inspired many all over the world to follow on his footsteps, bestowing this work with an absolutely incalculable value.

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top 15 A COMFORTING AND SURPRISING LOOK AT DEATH AND DYING

when is it right to die? joni eareckson tada zondervan

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wenty-five years after addressing to the subject for the first time, Joni Eareckson Tada returns to euthanasia as the main focus of this updated edition of When Is It Right to Die?. She felt the need to come back after learning of the tragic case of Nancy Fitzmaurice, a young 12-year old girl from England who, by the court’s order, had her tube feeding taken away. She died fourteen days later… of starvation.

Over the course of the years, especially the most recent ones, Joni has followed closely any story or initiative carried out by “pro-life” activists or those who defend “the right to assisted suicide,” as behind 44 COMPENDIUM 2018

it all there is a family just like hers. Despite her paralysis, she has found an answer to make life worthwhile. And that answer is “hope.” But why not die? Joni delves into the subject from the point of view of


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the human being that suffers. When is it right to die? “It’s none of your business!” “When the pain becomes unbearable!” “When it’s too expensive!” “When you don’t want to live with all these limitations!” “When it’s easier to die than to continue living!” Joni raises the question and, from the cases exposed and their inherent outcomes, it’s not just about knowing “when,” but who wants to die, how and why! One can notice a complex interpretation when it comes to the distinct conditions in which the patients find themselves, even though all is oftentimes reduced into a “terminal situation.” And it’s usually not so. From the athlete that is confined to the life of a quadriplegic who, even with the support of her spouse and kids, refuses to eat; to the woman dependent on life support for fourteen years, in a standstill between her family, who wants her to stay alive, and her husband, who wants to “pull the plug.” Which side should have the power to decide? Who was freed from the terminal condition of “dependency” – the sickly woman or her husband?

With her vast experience of suffering and dependency but also of struggle and nonconformity for her condition, Joni dissects the numerous approaches to the subject, whether it is euthanasia per se, voluntary, involuntary, non-voluntary, or assisted suicide; as well as “death with dignity,” the “right to die,” “quality of life” and relative/ absolute value; even considering the approach to the subject from the outside, though stating that the current tendencies in society is what influences public opinion. Dr. C. Everett Kopp explains euthanasia in this way: “The whole thing about euthanasia comes down to one word: motive. If your motive is to alleviate suffering while a patient is going through the throes of dying, and you are using medication that alleviates suffering, even though it might shorten his life by a few hours, that is not euthanasia. But if you are giving him a drug intended to shorten his life, then your motivation is for euthanasia. But the book is not all about final moments. Larry McAfee, a civil engineer, suffered a bike injury, becoming paralyzed from the neck down www.biblion.pt 45


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The following are reasons invoked when applying for assisted suicide: •

Limited capacity to take part in activities that make life enjoyable (96,2%)

Loss of autonomy (92,4%)

Loss of dignity (75,4%)

Feeling of being a burden to others (48,1%)

T hese

reasons have nothing to do

with the pain caused by a terminal disease.

and relying on a ventilator to stay alive. Prevented from moving outside the nursery and not being able to breath on his own, Larry appealed to the court in order to shut off his ventilator and die. Though she didn’t hesitate writing to him, Joni read on the papers that the judge had allowed Larry to end his life. However, Larry then opted not to turn off the machine right away, being transferred to another institution, with Joni eventually losing his trail. Years later, and to her joy, she found his whereabouts and reached out to him. They exchanged brief words about the paralysis, and before it was over she questioned him about what made him go back on his decision to proceed with the assisted suicide and what motivated him to keep on living.

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The reply was somewhat astounding: “Because I’m not forced to live in an institution or hospital anymore. I’m living in a little independent-living house with two other guys in wheelchairs. It’s a lot more enjoyable with a lot less pressure, less rigid. You can set your own schedule. As long as I’m not forced to live under the conditions of the state, then I consider life worth living.” Viktor Frankl, the author of Men’s Search for Meaning, a psychiatric and survivor of Auschwitz, comforted thousands in despair. In his words, “suffering can have meaning.” Joni E. Tada has done an extensive work of analysis to the multiple branches of this conundrum. This includes the differences between “vegetative state” and the “minimally conscious state,” as well as what the Bible has to say about euthanasia and dying, and the Hippocratic Oath, along with the wise comments of Christian authors such as Eric Metaxas and J. I. Packer. When Is It Right to Die is clearly an essential work to better understand this subject from a biblical point of view.

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how to be a perfect christian the babylon bee multnomah

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re you tired of “fighting the good fight” and “keeping the faith” without getting visible results? Do you feel frustrated and disheartened from running with perseverance the race set before you? Are you looking for an infallible way to obtain salvation without having to create a genuine relationship with God? Even if the answer is “not really,” the first literary work of satirical website The Babylon Bee is exactly the book you need to become the “perfect” Christian. How to Be a Perfect Christian is a genius satire on how an average, run-of-the-mill believer can become the perfect Christian – at least in the eyes of everyone else. In the style of 48 COMPENDIUM 2018

famous site The Babylon Bee, the book is an ironic and exaggerated guide to all who seek to reach the pinnacle of Christian perfection through religion and appearances.


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From picking the right church and joining the best fitting small group to dealing with children’s education and evangelizing non-believers, the work is indubitable and thorough in enlightening the reader of how a true “saint” lives in our days. The book even includes a “holiness tracker” at the end of each chapter in which the reader is compared to several biblical characters, and where he can evaluate his current progress. More than a “guide,” How to Be a Perfect Christian is an unnerving warning about a snobbish way of thinking not too different from that of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, and which is deeply rooted in the hearts of many believers today. Through subtle satire, the authors sought to point their fingers at current practices that are being undertaken lightly, but that also stem from a haughty, self-centered perspective. Many of

the behaviors “recommended” by the book for the “perfect” Christian – such as only listening to contemporary Christian music and reading “Christian” literature because secular music and books are automatically the Devil’s work – reveal a lack of maturity in faith and, at the same time, a dependence in works and personal merit; nonetheless, these and other equally noxious behaviors continue to develop in the minds of many believers. Probably one of the best and most original works of 2018, How to Be a Perfect Christian shows with equal measure of detail and humor that the Christian is perfect in the eyes of God by merit of the Christ, who once immaculate gave himself up for the salvation of every believer. It’s two hundred pages that blend fun and introspection seamlessly – a mixture you won’t want to miss!

wherever, whenever

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the prison letters of nelson mandela Sahm venter liveright

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s Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Zamaswazi asks himself, “how could he survive twentyseven years in prison?” Through the reading of this compilation of Mandela’s letters, written during his time in prison, we can better understand what helped him carry on. Throughout that time, Mandela made a copy of every letter he sent in his notebooks, leaving us with a precious collection now available in this new edition.

The reading of these letters leads the reader here and there throughout the menacing Robben Island prison, where there were no white inmates; where food rations were limited and mediocre, and where climate conditions were extreme. Its system of forced labor was brutal, and the coercion which political prisoners 52 COMPENDIUM 2018

were subject to bore enormous cruelty. After being initially sentenced to prison for five years, charged with leaving the country without a passport and for rallying strikes, Nelson Mandela was accused of sabotaging the South-African regime and condemned to life imprisonment.


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Together with other six convicted he recommended her the reading colleagues, he was sent to the inof two books by American psychofamous maximum-security prison logist Norman Vincent Peale – The of Robben Island, located near the Power of Positive Thinking and The coast of Cape Town. Results of Positive Thinking. Despite As political prisoners they were not agreeing with the metaphysical attributed level “D,” the lowest aspects of Peale’s arguments, Manrank with the least dela considered his privileges in the prison view on physical and system. Only one visit psychological prowas allowed ever y blems valuable, which six months, and they would help Winnie could only write and to overcome her frail receive one letter in health condition. that period of time. The authorities’ All mail was checked lack of humanity a t Ro b b e n I s l a n d t owa r d s M a n d e l a Censor’s Office, prohibecame quite blatant biting any description when, in July 1969, of confinement conhis oldest son Thembi the prison letters ditions or references died in a car accident. of nelson mandela to other inmates, and The letters to his exDAVID WILKE R SON

for a long time letters could only be exchanged with their closest family members. Mandela included in every letter he sent to his wife, Winnie, words of encouragement to push through the long years of distance between the two, as she struggled to care for their five children’s education and survival. In one of those occasions,

wife and Thembi’s mother, as well as to the prison lieutenant, accurately express the pain he lived as he was denied the chance to be present at the funeral and say goodbye to his son one last time. Years later, in a long letter directed to the highest office of the South-African prison system, he described these continuous abuses of www.biblion.pt 53


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authority, the egregious conditions in which prisoners dwelt and the discrimination. His Methodist education became clear when Winnie was tried in court along with other activists. Mandela wrote her an encouraging letter where he reported the story of an inspiring book he had read previously – Shadows of Nazareth, by C. J. Langenhoven. Here, the author describes the trial of Jesus through a letter of Poncius Pilate himself to a friend in Rome. Here we also learn some peculiar details of Mandela’s life. In 1975, under the suggestion of Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada, Madiba began to prepare in secret his autobiography. He wrote little pieces every night, which would then be translated by two inmates, who painstakingly reduced its content, from six hundred pages to sixty. This work was buried in prison until one of the inmates was released and could finally take the manuscript out of the country. Nevertheless, their plot was exposed, and their academic privileges were suspended for four years. Even though a good part of the texts arrived to London, the pu54 COMPENDIUM 2018

blishing of Long Walk to Freedom only happened in 1994, after Mandela’s release from prison. In December 1988, already after being hospitalized due to tuberculosis, he was transferred to Victor Verster prison, being lodged in an old house for prison guards, enjoying modern commodities. Around that time he finished his Law degree – forty-five years after starting it – at the University of Witwaterstand. In a speech to the nation in early February 1990 by then president F. W. de Klerk, it was finally announced Nelson Mandela’s release, which happened around 4:30 PM of February 11. He wrote his last letter in that same morning.

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quo vadis henryk sienkiewicz

You may have watched the motion picture, but have you even heard of the book? Quo Vadis, one of Henr yk Sienkiewicz’s most appraised novels, is a tour de force that will take you back to Nero’s Rome, in a magnificent story where love and faith triumph even over the Emperor’s madness. The Polish author and Nobel Prize laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz tells us the story of Vinicius, a Roman tribune, and Lygia, a Christian servant of Roman patricians. Upon returning to Rome, Vinicius meets Lygia and falls in love with her immediately, which leads to a perilous series of events that will put the tribune’s feelings to the test. In this series of events, Vinicius discovers the Christian faith and becomes a 56 COMPENDIUM 2018

believer, and his bond with Lygia grows even stronger. Nevertheless, Nero has Rome set ablaze and blames the Christians for it, resulting in a chaotic and bloody persecution of Christians. It’s needless to say that the consequences are just as nefarious as the act itself. Vinicius is forced to use every bit of power and influence he has in order to save Lygia and himself, and even this carries its sacrifices. Quo Vadis is a remarkable example of Sienkiewicz’s skill as an historical novelist. Fiction and reality mesh together in such a way as to make it extremely difficult to tell which characters are fictional and which ones are historical. The author’s portrayal of characters like Nero and Gaius Petronius is a deep, faithful one;


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they’re not merely plastered in the work in order to fulfill empty gaps. These are complex, human characters that feel true to their historical persons, depicted in accordance with the historical setting of the novel. Another proof of the author’s ability as a novelist is the progression of a given character’s arc. Although the characters may not always act reasonably (Nero being an obvious example), they do not

betray themselves. Quo Vadis’ characters always behave according to their nature and status, making their development throughout the story seem all the more genuine. From small adaptations to life-changing transformations, a character’s arc never seems too unreasonable in this novel. A marvelous example of this would be Vinicius’ gradual conversion to Christianity: he believes and accepts Christ as his Lord

"Ictus": christian symbols in quo vadis The fish is a well-known symbol for Christians. You’ve probably seen it displayed in the trunk of cars; if that is the case, then you’ve probably asked yourself also, “Why a fish?” or “What is it supposed to mean?” Its meaning is interwoven with its roots, the fish having been used as a mark of Christianity for almost as long as Christianity itself. The word “fish” in Greek is ictus (or ichthys), adopted by Christians as an acronym: “Iesous Christos, Theou Uios, Soter,” or “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” It was used by Christians due to its innocuous nature – the cross being a much more conspicuous sign of Christianity – and found great popularity in times of dire persecution. As such, the symbol features prominently in Quo Vadis, but it is not the only instance of Christian symbolism in the novel. After all, the title itself is a reference to the Acts of Peter, an apocryphal book where Peter, fleeing Rome, asks a returning Christ the famous question, “Quo vadis, Domine?” (“Where dost thou go, Lord?”), to which Christ replies that He goes to Rome to be crucified, this time in Peter’s place; upon hearing this, Peter goes back to Rome and meets his fate. This episode is featured at the end of Sienkiewicz’s novel – a novel that counts with the presence of not only Peter, but the Apostle Paul as well.

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and Savior, but being incipient in the Christian faith and its teachings, his mentality remains inured to his Roman education and military experience. Thus we witness a vicious internal struggle in Vinicius, whose natural impatience and pride often get the best of him, even as he seeks to embrace the Christian principles of humility and temperance. Despite the movie’s influence, Quo Vadis has the power to stand on its own as a riveting work of historical fiction – arguably one of the best we have addressed in this magazine. Its wit and charm will have you stuck from the moment you pick up the book, and its twisting plot will have you hooked until you’re finished reading. It would have been remiss to dedicate our tenth issue to historical works and leave out such a laudable work from an equally meriting author. Read it for yourself; delve into this novel and allow it to consume your being – and you too will see that there is more to this love story than meets the eye.


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top 15 Reflections on Twenty Centuries of Church History

in the year of our lord Sinclair B. Ferguson intervarsity press

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inclair B. Ferguson is a professor of Systematic Theology at the Reformed Theological Seminary. He preaches regularly at St. Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, and he has written over fifty books, from scholarly works to youth literature. In his Scottish homeland, he has pastored the small congregation of Unst, the northernmost inhabited island in the UK, and another one in downtown Glasgow. Finally, he has also served as a senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Colombia, SC.

The title In the Year of Our Lord was picked on purpose, and while, according to the author, it doesn’t 60 COMPENDIUM 2018

concern the church’s history, it does take in some of the most significant stories in these two millennia of


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Christianity. The book’s resolve has much to do with a notorious global tendency to diminish the influence Jesus Christ has had in the history of mankind. This happens even in the oldest universities, where the halls once known as colleges of theology and divinity are now departments of religion and religious studies. In many cases, those colleges that were ranked among the best have now been integrated in the “arts” or “social studies.” In essence, they became branches in a broader concept of anthropology (the study of man, his environment, philosophy, etc.). The focus is no longer in God, but in man and his spiritual experience, subordinating Christian faith as a mere religious experience. Starting his chapters with excerpts corresponding to the respective century, Ferguson tells us about decisive facts and events in Christian Church history. Throughout twenty chapters – one for each century – since the be-

ginning of the Christian movement, the author presents to us figures and instances that had a major significance in the development of the church in an universal form. One of these figures is Origen of Alexandria (or Caesarea), perhaps the most brilliant, but also the most brazen, Christian thinker of the third century. He lived under extremely rigorous patterns of self-discipline and abnegation, taking Matthew 19:12 to the letter, which to him castrating himself. The fourth century was one of the most relevant in the Church’s first millennium, given the brutal persecutions on Christians, ordered by the Emperor Diocletian, that intended to destroy the Scriptures, thus stalling the progression of Christianity. Meanwhile, the eleventh century would usher in Anselm of Canterbury and his ontological argument for the existence of God, which is perhaps the least known of the

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top 15

classical arguments, yet the most fascinating to philosophers nonetheless. In the following century, with the development of universities and the creation of the Inquisition, another figure full of charisma emerged within Christianity – Bernard of Clairvaux (already introduced to our readers on Biblion #6), who founded his monastery in 1115, renowned by his phenomenal knowledge of Scripture, his influence in the ecclesiastical sphere, and the enthusiasm with which he defended the Crusades. Foreboding the arrival of the Protestant Reformation, Sinclair Ferguson addresses the impact several figures had in setting in motion such events as those starred by Martin Luther, from John Wycliffe, one of the most powerful precursors of the Reform, to Jan Hus, who saw his books being burned at the Cathedral of Constance, having he been

executed while reciting Psalms; or Girolamo Savonarola, who ended up being excommunicated and executed, after having inspired the people of Florence with the eloquence of his preaching. In this highly recommended publication there is room for other individualities such as William Wilberforce, Charles H. Spurgeon and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among many others. Ferguson challenges us to choose the “Book of the Twentieth Century,” reflecting on the twenty centuries of Christian faith. The author’s pick falls on Knowing God, which is an absolutely deserving work. In conclusion, Jesus continues to build His Church with His people two thousand years later, and will do so until the end of times. This is the yet-to-be-fulfilled story of In the Year of Our Lord.

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The xi'an-fu: Christianity in China (635-845) In the eighth chapter, we are presented with an excerpt of what was sculpted in a stone slab, erected in 781 – the Xi’an-Fu, or Si-ngan-fú (also known as the Nestorian Stele), discovered in northwestern China in 1625, and brought by Portuguese Jesuits Álvaro Semedo and Manuel Dias Júnior. In it were recorded facts concerning the Luminous Religion, transmitted by Syrian monk Alopen, who arrived there in the year 635. The missionary took with him the holy books and, once at the Chang-an border, he was received by the Chinese Prime Minister, Fang Huang Ling, who accompanied him to Emperor Tai-Tsong. Impressed by the truth and righteousness of the monk’s religion, the Emperor promoted Alopen to Great Spiritual Leader, Protector of the Empire, and ordered the translation and distribution of sacred writings throughout the whole realm. Unfortunately, in the century following the stele’s crafting (845), Emperor Wu Zong, of the Tang dynasty, abolished all foreign religions, bringing the gospel testimony and the worship of Christ’s name in China to a definitive end. There is a reference to this stone in the Diocese of Macau.

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singapore bastion of progress and diversity

Once a prominent feature for its geographical location, Singapore's city-state is now one of the most developed metropolises in the world. Something only made possible by the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, the country's founder and first prime minister since independence in 1965. Ruled with an iron fist, Singapore has become one of the world's most prosperous nations in just three decades. Even before the end of the last century, the country was already at the top of the main growth rates in several areas, with an unequaled economic development, a privileged position in international communications and the highest GDP per capita in Asia, except Japan. In this highly favorable scenario, the last twenty years have seen the 64 COMPENDIUM 2018

island develop as one of the most important tourist destinations in the world, creating unique infrastructures and remarkable entertainment attractions based on a rich and diverse history. British colonial remnants are a constant in urban architecture; religious monuments reflect the presence of different Asian ethnicities, and natural resources are references in sustainability. Having the opportunity to visit a destination so well stuffed with attractions is almost like getting to a city theme park, such a myriad of options to fill each day. And there's always something left to do. From bargain shopping in the neighborhoods of Little India or Bugis, to the sophistication of international brand megastores on


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the famous Orchard Road; from the Southern Ridges crossing, walking through the Henderson Waves, Mount Faber Park, Hort Park and Labrador Nature Park, or spend a day in nature at the Bukit Timah Reserve and at the Botanical Gardens; integrate into local history and culture by visiting the National Museum of Singapore, the SAM (Singapore Art Museum), the National Gallery, or the Malay Heritage Center. Strolling through the Chinatown neighborhoods, Tiong Bahru or Joo Chiat are excellent references to assimilate the traditional Sinhalese es-

sence, translated into gastronomy, urban architecture and ethnic diversity, of Malay, Chinese and Indonesian origin. On downtown avenues there is very significant British colonial presence, such as the Raffles Hotel, the CHIJMES (former Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Chapel) or the Victoria Theater and Concert Hall. Meanwhile the avant-garde spirit of world architecture has come to the city and finds in Marina Bay Sands some of its greatest symbols, such as the Marina Bay Sands complex, the ArtScience Museum, the Gardens by the Bay, Helix Bridge, and in www.biblion.pt 65


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particular the Esplanade Theaters on the Bay. Also to be noted is the futuristic Reflections at Keppel Bay residential complex. Nighttime entertainment complexes are located throughout the city, especially on the banks of the Singapore River, where Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the British colony, first anchored. With the development of trade in the area of Boat Quay, where all traders passed, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay also grew with an intense port activity that remained until the 1970's, when maritime traffic passed into the deep waters of the Strait of Singapore. The area has undergone a rehabilitation, transforming into a vibrant entertainment center with restaurants, bars and amusements, as well as attractive commercial arteries and international fashion. A visit to this city-state would be incomplete without a passage through Merlion, a half lion, half marine creature, symbol of the city, and a trip in the Ferris wheel “Singapore Flyer,� where you can observe the whole city. Singapore still has the small island of Sentosa, on the southern 66 COMPENDIUM 2018

tip, one of the largest tourist and entertainment complexes in Asia. In the last decade there has been a profound hotel development, with international class resorts; sports, with golf courses and nautical infrastructures; and fun, headlined by the Universal Studios theme park, the S.E.A. Aquarium, and the 4D Images of Singapore Theater. Sentosa also houses Fort Siloso, the only preserved military fort, where one can watch the immersive spectacle Surrender Chambers, depicting the period of Japanese occupation during World War II.


enchiridion the handbook

december 15


ad venture can one forgive an implacable enemy?

Miracle on the River Kwai Ernest Gordon editora vida by Paulo SĂŠrgio Gomes

Made prisoner at the hands of the Japanese at the Battle of Singapore, Ernest Gordon survived the most inhuman atrocities a human being can receive. His body was plagued by severe illnesses that nearly killed him, but he resisted telling his experience in the book Miracle on the River Kwai. Although he and a small group of British officers managed to escape on a boat to reach Sri Lanka, after two months he was captured and taken to the Changi prison. 68 COMPENDIUM 2018

The Japanese had plans to build a railroad into Thai territory, which involved the crossing of the Kwai River - a gigantic undertaking for the means available, massively resorting to available labor in concentration camps. The history of the construction of this bridge was portrayed in movies such as the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai, which garnered international recognition. However, as Gordon writes, this was a romanticized illustration of what


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really happened in the South-East With the permission of the field docAsian jungle. He was one of those tor, the friends accommodated him in who experienced in the first person a corner protected from the rains, at the extreme difficulty of that enterthe back of the ... morgue. Although prise, and recounts it in Miracle on the he was surrounded by corpses, he River Kwai, without concealing any was able to recover slowly there with details, so that the world knows the the help of the other inmates who whole truth. shared his meager rations with him. However, this is the only way to On being rescued from an annouappreciate the story nced death, Gordon Ernest Gordon became aware of the reveals in the pages camaraderie and felof this book, of how lowship that surrouit was possible for nded him, especially tens of thousands his friends "Dinty" of dying men with Moore, a Catholic, no expectations of and "Dusty Miller," surviving to stand a Methodist. The firm, to regain hope impact these two replica in that allowed them to men had on their fort siloso endure the execrable lives was a detercruelties committed by the Japanese, mining factor for the change that and to survive such captivity. has taken place, both humanly and While confined to that condition spiritually. It came to be known later of extreme precariousness, malnuthat one of them changed his Rolex trition, and excessive work, Gordon watch, which was worth a fortune, contracted various diseases such as with a Japanese guard, for medicines diphtheria, malaria, typhoid, amoethat saved Ernest's life. bic dysentery, and infectious gastritis. Through Dusty's perseverance, Already very debilitated and wihe who was an atheist became a Chthout hope of survival in that filth, ristian and later the chaplain of the something extraordinary happened. prison camp, where religious cults www.biblion.pt 69


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were permitted, dedicating himself to an exemplary work within that physically, morally and spiritually rotten community. But, as Gordon says, the real miracle that happened in that place was not that of his survival, but the transformation that took place among the imprisoned troops, and that even impacted his captors. They founded a university with the books they could get, fabricated prosthetics for lower limb amputees, set up a music and drama school with live performances that thrilled even Japanese officials, who were also lacking in entertainment. When men suffered from discouragement and suffering, an inner strength made them reborn and renewed their strength, helping each other and bearing one another in a test of unimaginable solidarity that allowed them to resist all adversities to the end of the war, in the summer of 1945. The change in the minds of allied soldiers was such that after the surrender the Japanese withdrew by their feet without any retaliation. What a lesson!

Consider Supporting us! We are so grateful that you have picked up our magazine, but we have a favor to ask from you! We are an independent magazine. Our content is sincere and heartfelt, and does not favor one author or publisher above another. But our financial resources are very limited. Thus we turn to you, our reader, to help us keep our project running! With as little as $1, you can contribute to the upkeep and expansion of our literary venture!


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the heretic that changed christianity forever

In the early beginnings of the Church there was no Bible – at least, not in the sense that Christians understand it to be today. The Gospel propagated mainly through word of mouth. Letters alone were the primary written records of Christian teaching, shared among fellow believers and congregations according to their availability. These congregations faithfully preserved words of encouragement and admonition alike, yet these epistles were examined thoroughly in order to learn whether their content was truly the product of divine inspiration, a process that often led to rather unpleasant disputes. Many were the heresies that plagued the first few centuries of the church and, for the most part, they became little more than a footnote 72 COMPENDIUM 2018

in the history of Christianity, their impact eventually curbed by some of the greatest apologists of that time. Marcion, however, has had a much more lasting and subtle legacy. A wealthy bishop from Turkey, Marcion of Sinope was at one point involved with the congregation of Rome in the second century AD. This involvement was short-lived, as Marcion’s ideas soon put him at odds with the Church, not only in Rome but a bit all over the Roman Empire as well; he was eventually excommunicated, and his ideas were heavily condemned before and after his death. Nevertheless, Marcion left on Christianity an indelible mark, which for better or worse has lasted to this very day – the compilation of a canonical book. Yes, it may sound


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crazy and outright blasphemous, but it is true: the Christian Bible has its roots on the work of a reviled heretic. Now, before you get all worked up, it is obvious that the New Testament flows from the Old, and that the Tanakh, as a canonical body of scripture, is the foremost origin of the Christian Bible; however, as previously explained, the early Church had not agreed on a canon of its own. Each congregation relied on the writings they had for their own edification, and for the most part they saw no need of emulating their Jewish counterparts in the formation of an official "New Testament." It was not until Marcion’s heresy that the Fathers began to see the demand of establishing a recognized canon for Christian scripture. In order to understand Marcion’s necessity of a “bible,” one must first attempt to understand his views.

Like many people today – Christians and non-Christians alike – Marcion struggled to reconcile the God of the Old Testament, an inflexible God of justice, with the God of the New Testament, a redeeming and merciful Messiah. He also criticized the Jewish influence in the Christian outlook of Jesus, though according to historian Adolf Harnack, he acknowledged the importance of the Old Testament as “a book worthy of belief.” N eve r t h e l e s s, t h e b i s h o p ’s solution was one that shocked the whole proto-orthodox Church to the core: he disassociated God the Father from God the Son almost completely. Marcion acknowledged that they were both “God” in their nature and power, yet separate (and at times opposite) entities in nearly every other aspect of their being. Moreover, he placed Jesus above

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Yahweh, representing the Maker as subordinate to the Messiah. This seemingly paradoxical response seemed to stem from both Paul’s writings and Marcion’s own antinomian feelings, although its major influence may have actually been Cerdo, a Syrian gnostic who posited a similar concept in Marcion’s time. source: wikimedia.org

Polycarp of Smyrna, early church father and

Apostle John, Rome. Upon being asked by M arcion , "D o you know who I am ?" P olycarp replied that M arcion was the "firstborn of Satan." student of the met

Marcion

in

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Marcion ended up eclipsing Cerdo, taking the gnostic notions of the Syrian even further by attempting to achieve something utterly radical: the “purification” of Scripture. Marcion collected many of the epistles historically attributed to Paul and grouped them together in what was called the Apostolikon. He then added his own book, the Gospel of Marcion – often called a “mutilation” of the Gospel of Luke – to his collection of Pauline epistles, thus forming the first body of New Testament scripture in Early Christianity – the Marcionite canon. The bishop rejected any other works held by the Church at large as Christian, including several books present in most canon versions of our day, and his subsequent teaching derived only from the books he had deemed faithful in their portrayal of the Christ. The creation of an official body of scripture strengthened Marcionism’s position in the early Church, its schismatic ideas flourishing to such an extent that it took centuries of unrelenting rebuttal and condemnation to root out the bishop’s ideology. While garnering a significant number of adherents, Marcion’s


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ditheistic concept also became anathema to most of the ecclesiastical writers. A number of them wrote openly against him and his teachings, with Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Ephrem the Syrian among these. Tertullian dedicated five whole books in response to Marcion, and one could argue that the Carthaginian’s logic was superseded only by his hostility. It is even rumored that the Apostle’s Creed was spurred by Marcion’s denial of the Apostles (with the exception of Paul). Feedback to Marcionism also came in the form of canon propositions: not long after the Marcionite canon was formed, Irenaeus identified the Gospels as being four, and by the fourth century, most books present in today’s

New Testament were part of the canons proposed, as proven by the Muratorian Fragment and the Codex Vaticanus. Slowly but surely, Marcion’s teachings faded into obscurity, though not without great effort from the Church Fathers. While marred by his defiant principles, Marcion’s course of action forced the early Church to respond in an equally zealous manner. His tragic heritage lives on ignored by most, but it lives on nonetheless, more often in the writings and productions of his opponents than those of his own. Out of all these, the Christian Bible stands out as the ultimate example of Marcion’s downfall – a downfall that, in a way, was of his own making too.

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scholasticism a beacon of light in the dark ages

S

ocrates once said that “there is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.” But in the Middle Ages, very few people knew of Socrates; as a matter of fact, very few people knew much of philosophy to begin with. Peasants, making up the vast majority of medieval society, were illiterate. They could not read nor write – such privilege was normally bestowed on nobility and clergy, and it was the joint efforts of these two groups that allowed for education’s slow expansion. The two founded universities, built libraries, and made scholars out of simple men. Amidst these initiatives, a new form of learning was born, a beacon of knowledge that would drag Europe out of ignorance’s darkness – scholasticism.

Scholasticism was, above all, a new way of reaching definite conclusions. It attempted to conciliate faith and reason by applying critical thought and dialectics in lectures. Before scholasticism, knowledge 76 COMPENDIUM 2018

was transmitted without being duly processed, as it was often considered to be the product of divine revelation and ecclesiastical tradition. Such information was merely accepted as truth, since to deny it would be to go


source: wikimedia.org

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against the Church’s precepts, which was deemed heresy. In its defense, the Church often alluded to the idea behind Matthew 7:18: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.” (DRA) Nevertheless, that did not stop certain scholars and men of the cloth from pointing out the obvious elephant in the room: what about the classical philosophers? Many of the church’s precepts were established

upon the works of Church fathers such as Augustine, who in turn were influenced by pagan philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. If these philosophers could hypothesize and influence the clergy’s understanding of the world without a Christian faith, what stopped medieval scholars from employing reason in their studies? Thus monasteries and scriptoriums embracing scholasticism reached a compromise: reason and faith would www.biblion.pt 77


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source: wikimedia.org

work together to understand what Magnus and Bonaventure among reason alone could not account for a them. Their writings were the result satisfactory answer. In other words, of copious examination, and in turn belief took the back seat when one they became subject to such examicould learn things rationally, with nation themselves. Drawing on the certainty and proof. accumulated wisdom Only in matters of that only an univerreligion did faith play sity could provide at a key role, since these that time, scholars matters were conworked diligently in sidered to be above their efforts to find mortal reason’s grasp. rational answers In time, the schocompatible with lastic method propadivine revelation. gated through most Their productions Christian institutions reshaped the Churof higher learning. ch’s understanding the triumph of Several universities of reason’s role in st. Thomas Aquinas dedicated to study its philosophical and B ENOZZO GOZZOLI and research were theological studies, built across Europe, and scholars especially with one particular author: were attracted to various courts. Thomas Aquinas. Great names of theology and phiA Dominican friar, Thomas losophy arose in this time: William Aquinas was inspired by Aristotelian of Ockham, Anselm, Albertus philosophy and its commentaries by

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Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes). His many contributions transformed medieval philosophy and theology, especially his Summa Theologicae, where he was able to mingle Christian doctrine with Aristotelian concepts and notions. Thomas has had an unexpected lasting influence, being recognized as a pivotal precursor to the great names of Renaissance thought. In an era ridden with superstition and hearth wisdom, scholasticism became the driving force in medieval Europe’s intellectual progress. Its employment of discourse and investigation in studying propelled Western culture to rediscovering the wisdom of ancient and classical authors. By attempting to tackle difficult questions through debate and disputation, scholasticism formed the basis of the scientific advancement that marked subsequent ages. Often overshadowed by the obliviousness and fear so widespread in its day, we should remember scholasticism as a daring venture, one able to make inroads that would otherwise remain undone.

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enchiridion

enchiridion the handbook

A

fter the translation of Martin Luther´s acclaimed treatise "On the Freedom of a Christian," Biblion finally reveals its second in-house publication: Enchiridion, or "The Handbook," a daily reading designed to inspire you. This work consists of three different reading plans, each spanning thirty days, all made specifically to address the reader's current needs. Each day contains a quote from a renowned author, as well as a short reflection to meditate upon. Enchiridion includes the accumulated wisdom of numerous great writers, philosophers, world leaders and church figures, ranging from Plato and Augustine to Dostoevsky and Thoreau.

T

he next five pages are a rough preview of our Motivation plan, conceived to help you become more active and achieve your goals in life in a day-by-day basis.

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day 1 • Seizing Opportunity • “We should never lose an occasion. Opportunity is more powerful even than conquerors and prophets.” ‒ Benjamin Disraeli

Opportunity is a wonderful little thing. It’s something that we can readily see when others have it, but we can hardly notice it when we’re the ones confronted with it. Even when we do notice the opportunity, we often pass it up, convinced that either it was not relevant or it was more trouble than it was worth. But opportunity is also a rare thing, and the more opportunities we pass up, the less we can make use of. No one knows what tomorrow may bring. No one knows when our chance to do something special will be our last.

This is why Disraeli exalts opportunity so highly in Tancred. Opportunity can change lives. When seized, opportunity can lift up a person to the highest places. Opportunities can be such rare and powerful things that they should never be wasted. In the same way, we cannot squander opportunities to further ourselves towards our goals. We must seize these occasions, making the most out of them at all times. More, we need to be open and receptive about these moments, or else we won’t see them pass by - and opportunities that pass by us never come back again.

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enchiridion

day 2 • merit and demerit • “But let a man, wherever he is, strive earnestly; for the crown is given not according to position, but according to action.” ‒ Athanasius of Alexandria In this cruel and unforgiving world, action speaks way louder than words. We cannot lay back and expect our plans to work out by themselves; we must fight for them. We are not entitled to anything - to deserve the success and fulfillment we crave, we must earn them with our sweat, blood and tears. Lots and lots of tears. Do not be discouraged, though. Such is the way of merit - the scale by which all of us are ultimately measured. Merit is the worth of an individual’s accomplishments, the quality of deserving credit and reward for deeds effected. On the other hand, demerit is the mark of reproach, the condition of deserving ill. The terms contrast each other in almost every way, except in one instance: whereas both merit and demerit can be

obtained through action, only demerit can be easily earned through inertia. Merit requires execution. It needs accomplishment, success, realization - and these are dependent on hard work. To stay put is not an option. We must act to earn the things we want, whether they be praise, respect, power, money, knowledge, friendship and so on. It is in our power to work towards our goals, and to do so diligently - so why lay back, when you know it won’t accomplish anything? Prove yourself. With every battle and occasion won, your merit grows; soon enough your dedication will show, and others will recognize in you a worth and excellence they would never witness if you were to give up.

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day 3 • the importance of confidence • “Confidence is the mark of a hopeful disposition.” ‒ Aristotle

The right attitude goes a long way. Confidence is key when it comes to success. You will never achieve that great goal or earn that long-awaited prize without believing in yourself and your capabilities. It is crucial to your journey that you have faith in yourself and that you show it in your daily life. Even when times get rough, we need to keep our wits about us. We have to persevere in our belief that we can get through these times. We have to keep

looking up and show that we will overcome all those obstacles ahead of us. Sometimes we will stumble, true. But confidence is what allows us to get right back up and carry on. So believe in yourself. You may possess many qualities and virtues, but without confidence, you will never recognize them. Without a winning attitude, we are all doomed to lose - remember this, and allow it to transform your outlook in life.

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enchiridion

day 4 • the danger of passivity • “Pusillanimity disposeth men to irresolution, and consequently to lose the occasions and fittest opportunities of action.” ‒ Thomas Hobbes As we change our mindset from passive to active, it is important to recognize that we will want to fall back. We want to take a break and put things on hold to catch a breath. “One day is not gonna change anything, right?” But one day easily turns into two, and two into four, and four into a week. Before we know it, we’ve already lost all your momentum. We are back at square one, our mind now fraught with doubt and insecurity. Have our efforts been in vain? Was all this just wishful thinking? Such is the danger of passivity - a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, leading us away from our aspirations

and into a bottomless pit. Confidence is replaced with hesitation, the latter acting as a deterrent to all that we could possibly accomplish. We feel more and more impotent while the ambition we’ve set for ourselves looms larger and larger, to the point that we become scared to think of that which we once looked forward to achieve. Do not give in to the call of passivity. You must discipline yourself and focus on your goals, knowing that the oasis you see in the form of comfort is but a mirage. Keep walking the walk, and you’ll find new strength under the shade of your milestones.

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B I B L I O N - A C H R I S T I A N B OO K M AG A Z I N E

day 5 • action becoming behavior • “A man's virtue is not to be measured by his efforts, but by what he commonly does.” ‒ Blaise Pascal

Going “above and beyond” the expectations shouldn’t happen on rare occasions. This is the mindset of champions: to always do better than before, to improve and accomplish more with every new chance. It’s a behavior that will impact your life in tremendous ways - starting today! Striving for excellence needs to become a natural attribute. The resolve and ambition have to be part of who you are. To try really hard every once

in a while or to really want something only for a brief time won’t cut it. Consistency is of the essence here. Let the philosopher’s words inspire you to adopt this quality. Such change takes time, and it does not come without its growing pains. If you stay on the path, however, you will begin to see the change. Persevere, and let this active and earnest approach to life become your own.

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