Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Preaching By The Book

Like many, I too sit in the pew and think about what makes for good sermon preaching. Preaching By The Book by R. Scott Pace offers those who are tasked with the sacred privilege of preaching a helpful guide that is practical as it offers fundamental guidance in the preparation process.

Preaching By The Book discusses a basic format of The Foundation, The Framework, and Finishing Touches. Foundationally, Pace argues for inspiration and investigation. Because preaching is so grounded in our theology, Pace starts by offering a really good theology of preaching. He writes, “The theological nature of preaching begins with our convictions about God and his divine self-disclosure” (5). This divine self-disclosure prompts us to investigate His Word. For this, Pace outlines a seven-step process for surveying the truth.

After laying out the foundation, Pace goes on to talk about the framework for preaching which he explains is interpretation and implementation. Here he discusses sound exegesis, textual interpretation, theological understanding, and relevant implications of the text.  In short, this is what Pace sees as interpretation. Once the text has been interpreted it should be explained how it applies to our daily lives. This is what Pace refers to as implementation. Pace explains, “Our exegetical study can provide a wealth of textual and theological insights, but information without application leads to frustration” (50). For Pace, the application is what provides people with guidance “to experience Christ’s victory in their lives” (50). Pace then ends the process by discussing the Finishing Touches. These topics include introductions, illustrations, and invitations.

From my perspective Preaching By The Book is a good resource for the new as well as for the seasoned preacher. It provides a very practical process for sermon preparation and still retains helpful reminders of the eternal importance and significance of sermon preparation. If I had to critique the book I would only have one, and that would be the section on the application. As a member of the laity, I have seen this done well and not so well. In short, I would like to see the application follow consistently with what Jesus or His disciples taught. Applications that spring out of thin air leave many of us in the pew’s wondering exactly where that came from. I would have liked to have seen this addressed in more detail.

My personal rating is 4 out of 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: the CSB World View Study Bible

I have had the CSB World View Study Bible for about a month and have come to truly enj9781433604348_CSB_WorldviewStudyBible_NAVY_LIDoy it. Beginning with the cover, it comes in 3 different options: grey and black cloth over board, genuine brown leather, and imitation leather in navy blue. It is a study Bible so there is some bulk to it, but it’s still compact enough to tote around.    When you open the Bible you will notice a readable size font, commentary at the bottom of the page and scripture references down the middle of the page. Each book begins with an introduction providing background information, a very helpful timeline, and worldview elements covering teachings about God, teachings about humanity, and teachings about salvation. In the back of the Bible, there is a very nice concordance and of course the maps.

What I found that makes this Bible even more useful are the worldview articles. The articles are specifically Christian worldview and are written by some of the most prominent Christian writers today. I read somewhere that there were over 130 articles written by over 120 authors. These articles range in topics from An Introduction To A Christian World View by Trevin Wax, to A History of Christianity’s Impact on Governments by Carl R. Trueman, Christians and Suffering by Christy Hill, A New Atheism by Al Moler, Ethics Of Personal Evangelism Thom S. Rainer, The Incarnation of Jesus Christ Daniel Akin the list goes on. One of my favorites so far was Timothy George on the Holy Trinity. I can’t say enough about the variety of topics and the quality of the writing.

My personal rating is 5 out of 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: 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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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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