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46 Works 2,480 Members 8 Reviews

About the Author

Clinton E. Arnold is Professor and Chairman of the Department of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He holds a PhD degree in New Testament Exegesis from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is regarded as evangelicalism's leading authority on spiritual warfare. He has show more also written Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare and Powers of Darkness: Principalities and Powers in Paul's Letters. show less

Includes the names: Clinton Arnold, Clinton E. Arnold

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Works by Clinton E. Arnold

Exorcism 101 1 copy
"Magic" 1 copy

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Birthdate
1958
Gender
male
Country (for map)
USA
Organizations
Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas

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Clinton Arnold is a New Testament scholar and the dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola. I have appreciated his writing on 'the powers,' his commentaries (especially his Power and Magic: the Concept of Power in Ephesians), and his work on the Zondervan Bible Background Commentary. Jeff Arnold teaches high school, is a former youth pastor, and the creator of Unleashed (an intensive training program for Christian teens). The Arnolds have teamed up to produce Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible and Christianity. In the spirit and vein of Josh McDowell's classic Answers to Tough Questions, Short Answers examines the questions many unbelievers, new believers and young people ask.

The Arnolds tackle fifty questions ranging from the reliability, inspiration and relevance of the Bible, the problem of evil, the nature of faith and doubt, angels and demons, the after life, the nature of God, Jesus and the Spirit, and how to cultivate your relationship with God. The questions are topically arranged making this more of a quick reference book for particular questions than a cover-to-cover book of theology.

This is a simple and practical resource which I think would be perfect for a muture high school student or a young college student. These are short answers to big questions, which means it doesn't answer these questions comprehensively. There is a great deal more that could be said for any number of the issues covered here. But these answers are a good start and sometimes we don't need to have a definitivie and final answer when we face various questions. We just need to know that there are answers. In their preface, Clinton and Jeff Arnold state, "Short Answers is not meant to be the end of your study; rather, it's the beginning. Let this be the springboard for you to dive into the deep ocean that is understanding God" (17).

And a springboard is what this book is. With intelligent and pastorally sensitive answers the Arnolds make a good case for the reality and reliabilty of the God described in the Bible and insights on how to cultivate our relationship with him I give this book four stars.

Note: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Jamichuk | 1 other review | May 22, 2017 |
Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible and Christianity by Clinton E. Arnold and Jeff Arnold is just what its title declares it to be, it is an endeavor to answer, in only a few pages, many questions new Christians, or unbelievers, have about God, the Bible or Christianity. The book is not as good as I had hoped it would be. My main problem with it is its presentation of the relationship/interaction between God and mankind.

First, its discussions of the love of God toward people are presented too much like the modern concept of "falling in love", an uncontrolled, "couldn't help it" type of thing. Here are a few quotes to demonstrate what I mean: "God isn't just loving, he is love……And he isn't just a loving person 'in theory'; he literally, at this very moment, is aware of his deep love for you. "and, "he loves you because he created you…If you have a child, you have felt this love before; you don't love your child because of what they've accomplished; you love them because they are your child. This is how God sees you. …" I don't remember anywhere in the Bible where God's love is declared to have been bestowed on us simply because we are His creations. God created Satan too but He doesn't love him even though he is His creation. "The problem of sin created a serious dilemma for God…It is his nature to hate sin….yet he earnestly wants a relationship with his people…..", "In his perfect purity, holiness, and righteousness, God is deeply offended by our sin. Yet he longs to have a close relationship with us. Since he cannot simply overlook our offenses, he devised a merciful and loving plan to deal with this problem…" To me, this makes God's love come across as a human loving a pitiable sickly little child, but God's love isn't generally presented that way (unless you count the picture of God's love towards Israel, but even then, it was His choice), it's more like God choosing to love a corpse, or a zombie…those dead in their sins and yet using their decaying faculties to rage against God and His attributes and desires. God CHOSE to have pity on us, God CHOSE to love us detestable creatures, creatures who naturally choose to despise Him and His laws in favor of their own selves and desires. He chose to make us New Creations, breathing spiritual life into us.

Second, in answering the question "Why Bad things happen to good people", part of the explanation is given like this, "God gave us the free will to make our own decisions. Without this freedom, we would be unable to truly love God - or each other, for that matter; we would simply be robots following commands. So when we ask how an all-powerful God could allow someone else to wrong us, the problem with what we're asking is that God's power has nothing to do with it;….God could, if he wished, end all pain on this earth right now. He could step in and directly control everyone's actions, thoughts, and feelings in order to keep anyone from doing anything that causes harm. But imagine the cost: an entire world full of people who move around like puppets, never saying or doing anything that wasn't controlled for them. No one wants that." So will we be robots in Heaven, not able to choose evil? When God makes us into New Creations, Christians, does that make us puppets? Is it really more loving for God to let a person choose to make choices that will lead to condemnation for eternity than it is for Him to change their dispositions to desire the right and accept Him so that they will live in the New Heaven and the New earth for eternity? That logic doesn't come from the Bible. That logic doesn't even make sense when it comes to parents with their children, it would not be loving for a parent to let their child slap their brothers and sisters around and then also give them the option to choose to stick their finger into a light-socket. The loving thing to do would be to stop them from doing both of those things, not giving them a choice in the matter, even if they aren't happy in the process of being stopped. "…without this freedom, we would be unable to truly love God.." really? Where does the Bible say that? True love comes from God (see 1 John), it doesn't originate with human beings. God defines love, and we learn in the Bible that true love is selfless. So to rephrase the above statement, "Without the freedom to be selfish, we wouldn't be able to truly be selfless?" As you can see, I don't believe that question about why bad things happen to good people was answered biblically in this book.

Things like the above really bothered me. This is not to say that there weren't good things in the book, there were. I just don't think that this book would necessarily be the best to give an unbeliever or an immature Christian because some of the answers given do not match up with what the Bible says. I really liked their section on why we don't always sense the presence of God. That chapter contains many statements that I really like, actually, I think they're excellent! So I'll end on a positive note with my favorite excerpt from the book:

Soon after I stopped feeling this intense love and presence of God, I started grasping for things that normally brought that passion back. I would drive almost an hour away to find churches with great worship bands and speakers……I knew on some level that there was something off about the way I was approaching this, but I felt like I needed to do whatever it took to get that feeling back. And then one day it struck me: my faith had stopped being about God and had become about how I felt. That was really selfish of me. It shouldn't have mattered how I felt if I trusted that God was real. At that point the best thing for someone like me was to remove those feelings so that my faith would once again become about God, not myself. ….the end result was that I began learning how to center my life around God with or without the feelings that I once had…….To make Christianity purely about feelings is to make it about ourselves rather than God. God doesn't promise to constantly flood us with intense emotion…From the earliest days of the church, Christians have based their closeness to God on theology - on what they knew about God from Scripture - rather than feelings. Many of the first Christians shed blood for believing in God. If anyone had the right to feel distant from God, wouldn’t it be the people suffering for his sake? Instead, the early disciples rejoiced at the chance to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41)."


I received a free review copy of this book from the Baker Books Blogger Program and my review did not have to be favorable.
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SnickerdoodleSarah | 1 other review | Apr 13, 2016 |
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. –Ephesians 6:12

This is a fascinating five-star book by a guy who believes in demons. He reasons that because belief in the spiritual world of demons and angels was prevalent among New Testament authors, we should believe the same today. In the preface, Arnold states “If we want help from the Bible for dealing with the problem of evil, we must be willing to take seriously what the Bible takes seriously: the intense involvement in life of a figure named Satan and his powers of darkness.” However, Arnold’s beliefs (other than the occasional call to take these things seriously) do not get in the way of excellent research into Biblical Demonology, and I thoroughly enjoyed his book.

I think Arnold is correct in stating that virtually everyone in Jesus’ day believed in such powers, and in astrological signs. Witches, demons, magic, divination, these things were to be feared and opposed. Angelic battles in heaven drove the fortunes of the nations they represented on earth.

By the time of Jesus, opposing gods were no longer considered on par with Yahweh, and were relegated to the level of demons or mere idols. The Serpent of Eden was unanimously equated with Satan by the early church (and still is today by many Christians). The church fathers strongly believed Satan himself animated the gods of the nations with his powers of darkness, based largely on the writings of Paul. (Note that Arnold takes the conservative approach of assuming Pauline authorship of all the letters traditionally ascribed to him, and that he leans quite heavily on the book of Ephesians.) Paul is not alone in emphasizing dark powers; the book of Acts records four instances of magic and divination, and Jesus often performed exorcisms, but Arnold’s study relates to Paul.

Unless you’ve studied the topic, many of Paul’s references to dark powers may not be obvious. All of the terms Paul used for the powers can be found in Jewish documents of the Greco-Roman period, so scholars agree on what they imply. The Testament of Adam lists the angelic powers according to their various orders, from the lowest to the highest. The lowest order is angels, followed by archangels, archons, authorities, powers, dominions, and then the high orders, thrones, seraphim and cherubim. Paul seemed unconcerned about rank and order, but used many of these words.

Only by really immersing yourself into first-century beliefs can the writings of Paul be put in perspective, and Arnold does this. His insistence that such dark powers surround us today brings Paul’s superstitious world even more alive. Great book.
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DubiousDisciple | Jan 28, 2014 |
Don't read every part of the bible in the same way.
 
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kijabi1 | Jan 6, 2012 |

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