Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: The Resurrection Fact

The Resurrection Fact: Responding to Modern Critiques is a collection of essay by various scholars addressing critiques and demonstrating the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. Because the resurrection is so central to the Christian faith it resfacbecomes the bases upon which the church stands or falls. As the apostle Paul says in his letter to the church in Corinth, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Such a significant point of the faith has not been left without evidences and these evidences should be shared if for no other reason than to exalt the Lord of glory.

What I found interesting about the book is the contributors to the volume. Each of them comes from a specialized field of study (Law, History, Philosophy, etc.) which they apply in their responses to topics such as, skepticism of the New Testament, the events of Good Friday and Easter, the role of faith and evidence for the resurrection, and the historicity of the resurrection. Each contributor is in dialogue with a modern day critic which I found to be very useful. This is not a rehashing of the same old arguments. The writers of the Resurrection Fact are dealing with contemporary critics which offers a fresh new look at these important issues.

As far a my own criticism goes I can’t think of any. However as tradition would have it they wont come to me till after I have completed the review. However, I can anticipate someone being apprehensive about reading a book on apologetics written by academicians. My response is to not be. It is important to have individuals who understand the issues write a response. That is a given. However, reading above your comfort level will only make you a better reader and thinking.

I personally rank this book a 5 out of 5.

 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature

Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature

Richard A. Taylor, Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook

Kregel Publications, 2016, 205pp., ISBN 978-0-8254-2761-9.

Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature is sixth in the Handbooks For Old Testament Exegesis series by David M. Howard Jr. Taylor’s book is a step forward in the right direction for Old Testament exegesis. Avoiding the pitfall of assuming that all text should be interpreted in very same way Taylor opens the book by giving some foundational insight in to the type of literature the apocalyptic genre is.  He writes,

The expression apocalyptic literature refers to a type of writing that adopts to a significant degree the outlook of apocalypticism and portrays those themes through a vivid use of symbolic language.

Taylor spends the entire first chapter explaining the foundation of apocalyptic literature, defining terms, and talking method for understanding apocalyptic literature. In so doing he has established a solid start point for the discussion.  From here he explains seven major apocalyptic themes (chapter 2), basic guidelines for apocalyptic interpretation (chapter 4), teaching apocalyptic literature (chapter 5), and ends by providing sample apocalyptic texts (chapter 6).

Interpreting Apocalyptic literature is a well written and very necessary introduction to the topic of apocalyptic literature. At 205 pages it isn’t going to delve into every instance of apocalyptic literature found in the Bible. However the strengths in the volume is it’s easy to read style providing the pastor, seminarian, or laity with a solid resource for reading and understanding this particular genre.

RATING 4 out of 5


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Timothy George On The Trinity: From A Theology For The Church

tftcI have been reading A Theology For The Church edited by Daniel Akin and came across something that I had to share. I always find it odd the way we talk (or neglect to talk)about the Trinity. It is often treated as the black sheep of the family of essential theological beliefs. We would rather not bring it up and hope nobody else does either. So you can imagine how refreshing it was for me to come across the passage below in Timothy George’s section on the nature of God..

“Though followed by many orthodox theologians, there is a subtle danger in the former pattern (de uno deo). The danger is that it can lead to a low-grade unitarianism that reduces the doctrine of the Trinity to an afterthought. If we begin by treating the essence and attributes of God in the abstract and then come along and say, “Oh yes, this God is also a triune reality,” the latter affirmation can easily become a secondary or even dispensable element in one’s theological system…

We should introduce one further distinction before turning to some key biblical texts. The economic Trinity refers to God’s works ad extra, that is, what God has done outside himself in creation and redemption while the immanent Trinity denotes God’s relations ad intra, that is, his eternal intratrinitarian communion as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The immanent Trinity is also called the “ontological” Trinity…

The doctrine of the Trinity is the necessary theological framework for understanding the biblical account of Jesus as the true story of God-and if what the Bible says about Jesus is anything other than that, we have no gospel.”

Here George discusses the tendency to discuss the one God as opposed to discussing the Trinity. On the surface this comes off like a simply error but the constant habit of doing this tends to cause one to think theologically in terms of God as a single modality instead of the Triune God that He is. For God to be a single solitary modality would mean the loss of Godlike qualities the biggest of which is his self-contained fullness, that fact that God requires nothing outside of himself for His own existence.

George also introduces the distinction between economic and immanent or ontological Trinity. The economic Trinity explains such things as how the Father creates, the Son saves, and the Holy Spirit sustains us. It’s what he means when he says that the doctrine of the Tinity is the necessary theological framework for understanding the Gospel. Foundational to everything is the ontological Trinity. The idea that from all eternity existed a personal God who loved, had volition, and created all things including us in His image.

I really appreciated the way George handles the doctrine Trinity in this section. As I read through A Theology For The Church I find many of the sections to be like this brief, to the point, and without the complexities common in other theology texts. I would recommend this volume for any level of Christian. All that the book requires is that you have an interest in the study of God.

From the publisher:

A Theology for the Church, an immense 992-page work edited by Daniel Akin, with contributions from leading Baptist thinkers Albert Mohler, Jr., Paige Patterson, Timothy George, and many others, addresses four major issues in regard to eight Christian doctrines.

What does the Bible say? Each Christian doctrine is rooted in the Bible’s own teaching in both the Old and New Testaments.

What has the Church believed? Christians have interpreted these doctrines in somewhat different ways through the centuries.

How do the doctrines fit together? Each Christian doctrine must cohere with the other doctrines.

How does each doctrine impact the church today? Each Christian doctrine must be meaningful for today’s church. It’s sure to become a widely-used resource in systematic theology study.

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Filed under Book Review, Christianity, God, Gospel, Ontology, Review, Salvation, Theism, Theology, Trinity

Book Review: A Syntax Guide For Readers Of The Greek New Testament

Lee Irons has recently published a new Syntax Guide For Readers Of The Greek New Testament (SG). The purpose for this guide is to give readers of New Testament Greek a jump start in to the discipline of reading the New Testament in its original language. Typically studies of the Greek tend to either get overlooked or focus on individual word studies. What Irons would like to see is students of New Testament Greek take up the practice of reading whole sections of the Greek text and eventually the entire New Testament. However, anyone who has taken up that task has recognized immediately the difficulty before them in being able to readily interpret as you read. SG provides the syntactical information (i.e. idioms, syntactical categories, etc. )to help aid in understanding Greek phrases and sentences  in order to “streamline” the reading experience.

While this is a helpful volume it requires some prior familiarity of the Koine Greek. I would say this volume was ideally written for any one with at least two years of Greek. In fact the volume assumes it’s reader’s understanding of Greek. My only reservation is the Iron’s does not sight the sources he has used for his content. Then again this isn’t that kind of tool, which is fine with me as I have always known Irons to be competent with his Greek.

This volume has several appealing features. First it follows the Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th and 28th editions. To me it even looks like the maroon hardback UBS Greek New Testament. There is also a subject index that allows the reader to look up verses by grammatical form. This is a very helpful volume. I have attempted to use it as Irons had intended and I found personally I come away with a better understanding of the text since my tendency is to skip over phrases or sentences that I didn’t understand.  Definitely a must for any Greek reader’s reference library.

Rating 4 out of 5

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, And Practical Approaches

EschatologyD.Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider, Eschatology; Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches (Kregel Academic, 2016). 501 pgs.

Eschatology (or the study of the end) has fallen on challenging times. What was once understood as a facet of the gospel intended to provide the Church with hope, has now become fodder for end times prognosticators.  This shift in emphasis represents a system that relegates the discussion of Eschatology proper to secondary status since it is erroneously seen as theories about the tribulation, rapture, and millennium to the exclusion of emphasis on Christ’s Second Advent and the hope that is provided therein.

Eschatology; Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches, is a festschrift (a collection of essays written in honor of a particular scholar) dedicated to Craig Blaising in honor of his sixty-fifth birthday. Blaising’s work extended to theological method, Patristics, Wesley, but he is most notably known for his work in eschatology and more precisely Progressive Dispensationalism, hence the subject matter of this festschrift. This work is without the end time’s speculations that typically make up books on eschatology. Rather, I see this work as an attempt to make inroads with the blessed hope for which eschatology was intended.

The subtitle reads “Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches” outlining the focus of the book. The book is divided into four parts, the first being The Doctrine of the Future and Its Foundation. The purpose of this section is to orient the reader on key foundational concepts such as continuities and discontinuities between Old and New Testaments, the teaching of future things and their relation to the hope that is offered to the believer, and since eschatology hinges on biblical prophecy, this section offers a discussion on the weakening of prophecy which seeks to explain how future prophetic fulfillment is undermined, hence causing a “weakening.”

No work on eschatology would be complete without reviewing the subject matter in light of Biblical Theology. Part 2 provides such a treatment with discussions on Old Testament teachings of the future, covering the Pentateuch, historical books, wisdom literature, and ending in the prophets. The discussion continues into the New Testament covering the writings of John, the Synoptic Gospels, the writings of Paul, and Hebrews.

Having covered Biblical Theology, Part 3 discusses Historical Theology. In so doing, it traces the teaching of western patristic writers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, Athanasius, and Augustine and in the Reformation era, such authors as John Calvin and the Anabaptists. Other collective bodies such as the Baptists and contemporary evangelical theology are also dealt with. This treatment of historical theology helps the reader understand how the biblical data was understood in various traditions, eras, and among different Christian denominations.

Lastly there is the “Practical” approach mentioned in the subtitle. Part 4 rightfully concludes the work on eschatology with a section on how to properly inculcate eschatology into ministry. I realize this might sound foreign but it is important reminding us that all good theology is practical.

There is much to commend in this book. Primarily that the message of hope is central to the study of eschatology. It isn’t uncommon to find in works of eschatology a speculative approach accompanied by an argumentative tone that leaves the reader wondering how this is at all relevant to the Christian faith. Such an approach is detrimental to this important biblical teaching. In Paul’s first letter to the Church of the Thessalonians he mentions the reason for him talking about future things is because he doesn’t want them to be uninformed like those who have no hope (4:13). It is evident that Paul’s message about the future was a message of hope. He further says, later in this discussion, to use this message to encourage (4:18).

This book is not however without its problems. The Dispensational system from which Craig Blaising is very fond of, tends to be presupposed throughout much of the book. This might be appropriate considering this volume was dedicated in Craig Blasing’s honor. However, it would be in error to present this volume as “…helpful to the student seeking to progress toward an evangelical, holistic, integrative, systematic perspective on the doctrine of the future (p.32)” since this type of language assumes an unbiased presentation of the teachings found in scripture. From an evangelical perspective, the presuppositions found in the various forms of Dispensationalism impose discontinuities throughout redemptive history that are not necessarily revealed by Jesus or His disciples who seem to understand redemptive history as one continuous crimson thread of redemption. Thus, for those who come out of a Dispensational background or have a pre-commitment to Dispensationalism, there is much in this volume that you will appreciate.

Personal rating is 3 STARS out of 5.

JAMES

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: We Cannot Be Silent by Al Mohler

 

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718032489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718032487

In light of recent events in legislation having to do with same-sex marriage, there have been many conflicting voices on the matter. Some have been helpful some not some much. Because this is such a heated issue with significant implications we haven’t heard the best possible argumentation from either side coming from media sources.

In We Cannot Be Silent Al Mohler (President of Southern Seminary) provides a very candidly Biblical explanation human sexuality from a Christian perspective. Whether one agrees with this position or not Mohler’s Biblical and exegetical precision can not be overlooked.

Mohler begins by looking at this matter from its recent historical perspective. He demonstrates that popularity in same-sex marriage actually has its antecedents in the sexual revolution. Mohler traces out this trajectory through the redefining of birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation. Without the redefining of these categories, Mohler shows that it would have been impossible to redefine categories of marriage, gender, and sexuality.

From the sexual revolution to same-sex marriage Mohler explains what has been commonly referred to as the “gay agenda”. He discusses its method and effectiveness in changing a cultural mindset on the definition of marriage. He explains that be redefining marriage we are actually obliterating marriage.

There was much that I found very helpful in this book. I found his discussion on the Biblical view of sexuality insightful. He also offers up answers to 30 common questions raised about sexuality: “Is homosexual sin worse than other sins?” “Aren’t people born gay? Doesn’t this mean God made them gay?” “Should Christian parents allow their children to play at the homes of children who have parents in a same-sex union?”

I would say We Cannot Be Silent is an important read for anyone. I don’t see Mohler grinding any axes here but rather addresses the issue from a Christian perspective. He reminds us that as Christians we will always be exiles on this earth and not to be discouraged or surprised by what we see. Rather we ought to look at the situation for what it is; an opportunity for the Gospel to shine among the darkness that surrounds it.

 

PERSONAL RATING: 5 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Spreading the Feast

Spreading the Feast

 

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing (December 11, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1629951765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629951768

 

Spreading the Feast is the latest publication from Howard Griffith (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.). The book as you can infer from the title is about the Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist, what ever term you chose to use they all work for me, but they seem to have more significance depending on your ecclesiastical or church tradition. As a Baptist we like the term “Lord’s Supper” because it reminds us of the Last Supper upon which our Lord was betrayed and offered Himself up as He atoned for our sin by which we “memorialize” His death. It is at this point that Griffith is so very helpful as he shows from Scripture not only the memorial aspect of the Lord’s Supper but the benefits and blessing therein, something that we don’t hear about very often yet very essential to the believer regardless of your tradition.

The book itself is very accessible and a good read. It’s 152 pages broken down in to 2 parts with six chapters total. Interestingly Griffith explains a book that he read while still in seminary by John Murray simply entitled Table Addresses which became the motivation behind this book. Table addresses are just that, brief meditations on Christ’s person and work through the promises given in the OT and fulfilled in the NT presented at the Lord’s Supper Table every Sunday. The blessing this was to his congregation left no regret in his mind for providing these meditations and was the basis for his writing this book in order to help other ministers while they minister at the Lord’s Supper table.

However, Griffith doesn’t start the book out with these table meditations. In today’s Christian circles it has somewhat become common place to communicate in broad and general terms. Fortunately Griffith lays a solid foundation in part one of the book before he begins his discussion on table meditations. Here he clarifies what is meant by the Lord’s Supper and explains its antecedents in the Gospel and Covenant so as to leave no ambiguity. Once the foundation has been established he enters part 2 which is the central point of the book, the meditations.

I found this to be an enjoyable read. The book appears to be written for ministers. However, I am not a minister. I found the book to be helpful in my understanding of the theology of the Lord’s Supper. But not only that I found the meditations to be very encouraging. So I would not only recommend this title for ministers and seminarians but I would say even the laity will find it to be edifying.

PERSONAL RATING: 5 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

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