Book Reviews

Reading the Bible SupernaturallyIt seems fitting that John Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, would publish Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture at this point in his writing ministry. Nearly every thread of his ministry distinctives is woven into this book that exalts the divine source of these now well-known emphases. Christian hedonism, worship, missions, the necessity of rigorous thinking for the sake of the affections, prayerful dependence on God, and even a few of his more popular acronyms are brought together in a book on reading Scripture well. Read more at the Gospel Coalition

Why the Reformation Still MattersWhy the Reformation Still Matters | Michael Reeves and Tim Chester – Five hundred years ago this October 31st, a young Augustinian monk, disturbed about the Roman Catholic Church’s many pastoral abuses and doctrinal aberrations, nailed to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, a list of topics he wanted to debate with the local religious authorities. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” would serve as the catalyst for a theological and ecclesiastical upheaval within Europe that would transform churches and whole communities around the world. By returning to the Scriptures as the fount of divine knowledge and rediscovering the doctrine of justification by faith, Martin Luther and those who followed in his footsteps opened a gateway of truth and life to those who had long walked in error and death. Read more

The Religious TradesmanThe Religious Tradesman | Richard Steele – Richard Steele was a Puritan minister in the mid-seventeenth century, but his work The Religious Tradesman is what you might consider a “lost classic.” Even in 1747, eighty years after its initial publication, Isaac Watts, writing in the introduction, lamented that the piece was “now very little known;” it’s popularity foundering under the disadvantages of an “ancient name” and “ancient dress.”early 300 years later, we can join in Watts’s lament. Despite excellent content, Steele’s book has received very little attention among contemporary Christian readers. Hopefully this brief review can encourage a few Christians to pick up Steele’s volume and find encouragement to attend to their daily work with renewed joy and purpose. Read more

being-christianbeing-disciples

Being Christian and Being Disciples | Rowan Williams – What is essential to the Christian life? What beliefs and practices do believers in all stages of growth need to be called to again and again throughout their lives?In two recent works, Rowan Williams—former Archbishop of Canterbury (2002–2012)—distills the Christian life into a few basics. In Being Christian, Williams focuses on baptism, the Bible, Eucharist, and prayer. In Being Disciples, he offers brief comments on the triad of faith, hope, and love as well as forgiveness, holiness, engaging culture as Christians, and walking in the Spirit. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Glory PiperA Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scripture Reveals it’s Complete Truthfulness | John Piper – Most Christians will at some point wrestle with doubts over the truthfulness of Scripture. This observation is generally uncontroversial. What inflames debate is how these doubts should be resolved. Do we bypass our intellectual struggles and treat them as unimportant or a sign of weak spirituality, or do we delve into apologetics and rigorous historical study in order to establish our faith once and for all? Or might there be another way?In his latest book, A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness, John Piper deals with these issues by considering two primary and related questions. The first is whether we can trust the Bible. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Historic AdamFour Views on the Historical Adam | Edited by Matthew Barrett and Ardel B. Caneday – Late in 2013 Zondervan released another installment in their Counterpoints series; this particular contribution offering different perspectives on historicity of AdamSince their inception several years ago, I have appreciated these multiple-view books. Although I usually come to and leave these books holding firmly to one of the views, I am always grateful to learn, first-hand, how proponents of different positions articulate and defend their views. I am also encouraged to think afresh about my convictions and presuppositions, and nuance my own position if necessary…Read More

Spiritual FriendshipSpiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian | Wesley Hill – It is impossible to quantify the worth of a good friend. Intimate, meaningful friendships are among God’s greatest gifts, and Christians in particular have a calling to both enjoy and steward such gifts. But how might a Christian who wrestles with same-sex attraction fnd close friendships in the church? Does his or her sexual orientation produce an obstacle to intimacy with members of the samesex? Tese are the questions over which Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, gives extensive refection in his latest work, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian…Read More

The Pastor's KidThe Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity | Barnabas Piper – Re-entering pastoral ministry after a seven-year seminary hiatus with the recent addition of two boys makes me nervous. More than anything I fear the possibility that my children’s regular exposure to the disappointments, trials, and vulnerabilities of pastoral ministry will have a hardening effect on their hearts and will serve to drive them away from Christ and his people rather than into close communion with both. I have heard the stories of pastor’s kids who have turned from the faith of their parents, often citing the unique difficulties of their dad’s work and their experience in the church as the primary reasons they don’t want to follow Christ. And now I’m a pastor. Who is sufficient for these things?…Read More.

Shepherding God's FlockShepherding God’s Flock | Ed. Benjamin L. Merkle and Thomas R. Schreiner – Almost three centuries ago, pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards offered this observation on the value of godly leaders: “Useful men are some of the greatest blessings of a people. To have many such is more for a people’s happiness than almost anything. . . . They are precious gifts of heaven.” Competent shepherd-leaders are of particular worth to a congregation since their ministry is one of the primary means Christ uses to protect and provide for his people. It seems obvious, then, that those who desire to grow in their skill as shepherds and capacity to bless God’s people should make the study of biblical leadership a high priority. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

From the Mouth of GodFrom the Mouth of God | Sinclair Ferguson – It is always refreshing when you come across an accessible, edifying book on Scripture. Sinclair Ferguson’s From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading, and Applying the Bible is an easy-to-read, straightforward guide to understanding and profitably using God’s Word. But Ferguson doesn’t leap right into the specifics of biblical interpretation. He knows our attempt to interpret and apply Scripture will falter to the degree we’re unable to wholeheartedly trust Scripture. In order to prepare us for the task of reading and applying, then, Ferguson begins by discussing the doctrinal prerequisites to fruitful Bible study. In this first of three sections, the professor of systematic theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas examines essential topics including inerrancy, canonicity, and inspiration. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Effective Bible TeachingEffective Bible Teaching, Second Edition | James C. Wilhoit and Leland Ryken – Would you classify much of the Bible teaching at your church as little more than “poor lay preaching?” If you were honest, how would you describe the teachers under whom your people sit week after week? Is their material full of biblical content, but dry, disjointed, and unconnected to real life? Or, is their teaching illustrative and witty but touching upon the Scripture only long enough to glean only the smallest seeds of truth? Perhaps you are a pastor or lay-teacher who feels like you fit into one of these two categories. Whatever the case, whether you are a pastor hoping to cultivate a strong teaching ministry in your church, or a lay-teacher struggling to communicate the truths of God’s word in a way that is both useful to students and faithful to the text, Wilhoit and Ryken’s Effective Bible Teaching has much to offer you….Read More

Just Do SomethingJust Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will | Kevin DeYoung –  What’s God’s will for my life? It’s a question every Christian asks at least once on their way to heaven. For many believers, however—especially those currently 35 years old and younger—it’s a question that looms over most of their decisions, goals, and general approach to life. Christians of the so-called millennial generation are finding it increasingly difficult to determine what God would have them do with their lives, so they are asking with greater frequency and fervency about the will of God and how to find it….Read More

Making Gay OkayMaking Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything | Robert R. Reilly – With the recent launch of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, Robert Reilly’s latest work, Making Gay Okay, could not be more relevant to Christians who desire to think carefully about the so-called gay marriage debate. Although Reilly wouldn’t locate himself within the evangelical tradition—he is a Catholic scholar and apologist—he has much to offer evangelicals who sense a deep contradiction between the order of creation and homosexual acts, or who are still undecided over the question of same-sex “marriage.” Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Covental ApologeticsCovenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of our Faith | K. Scott Oliphint  If the practice of apologetics is primarily a theological venture–and there is good reason to believe that it is–then K. Scott Oliphint has provided the church with an exception resource with which to defend and commend the Christian faith. Working within the Reformed Tradition and drawing from the work of Cornelius Van Til, Oliphint presents a compelling case for a presuppositional approach to apologetics in his new book, Covenental Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of our Faith. Read More at Credo Magazine 

The Presdient's DevotionalThe President’s Devotional | Joshua Dubois – If you knew what the President of the United States looked to for spiritual sustenance and guidance, would it influence your own reading list? If it were possible to read the same devotional literature President Obama reads each day, would you make it a priority to get your hands on it, too? Judging from the popularity of Joshua DuBois’s new work, The President’s Devotional, the answer to these questions for many readers is a resounding yes. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Think OrangeReview Article: Think Orange by Reggie Joiner – Around the time Reggie Joiner was drafting copies of his second book (his first was a co-authored effort entitled, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry), a noticeable trend was taking shape in evangelical churches. Prior to the late 20th and early 21st century, “Family Ministry” as a distinguishable component of ecclesiastical life was not a topic of conversation among many church leaders and thinkers….Read more

God's Word in Human Words

God’s Word in Human Words | Kenton Sparks – Kenton Sparks, professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University—an evangelical school by confession—has recently offered his contribution to an evangelical doctrine of Scripture in God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship (GWHW). As the title of the book suggests and as he states clearly in the introduction, Sparks situates himself within the evangelical tradition, so he approaches his work from a “profound appreciation” for evangelicalism’s “doctrinal commitment to the inerrancy of God’s Word” (22)….Read more

Inerrancy and WorldviewInerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible – Over the past four decades, evangelicalism has seen no shortage of books defending the doctrine of inerrancy. Some have wondered aloud whether so much time and energy should be expended on this one particular issue, or if the church would be better served by turning her efforts toward other ecclesial or doctrinal matters. Is such doctrinal fatigue warranted? In some cases, perhaps. On the whole, however, I am not convinced that Christian theologians will ever be guilty of spending too much time defending the reliability and truthfulness of the Bible. Some attempts may be better than others, but to dismiss inerrancy wholesale as an irrelevant theological fixation from a bygone era would, in my judgment, do far more damage than to zealously overemphasize. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Humble OrthodoxyHumble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down | Joshua Harris – It wasn’t long into my work as a youth pastor before I found myself turning almost weekly to Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “The Lord’s servant is not quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Paul desired that his young protégé care deeply for truth, guard the great deposit, and teach with authority. Yet this zeal to promote the right doctrine among God’s people should be guided by patience, gentleness, and love for others. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Canon RevisitedCanon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of New Testament Books | Michael J. Kruger – In his latest book, Canon Revisited, Michael Kruger wants to know whether or not Christians have “intellectually sufficient grounds” (20) for accepting the current 27 books of the New Testament as inspired Scripture. More specifically, Kruger, associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, seeks to answer the objection that Christians “have no rational basis for thinking they could ever know such a thing in the first place” (20). Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Defending InerrancyDefending Inerrancy: Affirming the Authority of Scripture for a New Generation | Norman Geisler and William Roach – In the fall of 1978, in response to a controversy that had been mounting among evangelicals over the previous 25 years, a group of about 300 scholars and pastors gathered in a Chicago hotel seeking to clearly define the traditional understanding of inerrancy. The result of their collective effort was the the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI)—a 5,000-word document that provided a theologically nuanced definition of the historic doctrine. Read More at The Gospel Coalition

Deity of Christ The Deity of Christ | ed. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert Peterson – This volume, as the title clearly indicates, is a collection of essays on the deity of Jesus Christ.  The book begins with a brief introduction the editors, Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson, in which they discuss the vital importance of this topic and the need for fresh discussion….Read more

Jesus and the God of IsraelJesus and the God of Israel | Richard Bauckham – Jesus and the God of Israel is a collection of essays by Richard Bauckham that focuses primarily on the exposition and defense of the deity of Christ.  Bauckham’s approach to this doctrine, however, differs from other recent theological treatments by considering the issue of Christ’s deity under the rubric of identity rather than ontology….Read more

TogetherTogether: Adults and Teenagers Transforming the Church | Jeff Baxter – Youth ministry is in trouble. Not only are most teenagers indifferent about Christ and the gospel, but youth ministers, by and large, have found themselves on the brink of exhaustion, toiling under the weight of unrealistic expectations, acute disappointment, and the perpetual onslaught of daily responsibilities….Read More

How to Give Away Your FaithHow to Give Away Your Faith | Paul Little – Prior to his death in 1975, Paul Little was a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ and committed evangelist of the gospel. Little and his wife worked for twenty-five years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship—a ministry dedicated to serving Christian college students and bringing the gospel to unbelievers in a university context…Read more

questgodlinessThe Quest for Godliness | J. I. Packer – In 336 densely packed pages and over several chapters, Packer, in his book, A Quest for Godliness, brings the reader face to face with many different facets of Puritan life and ministry with historical precision and keen theological insight. Packer insists that an encounter like this with the Puritans is essential for Christians today who have all but lost any true sense of what Puritans believed, lived for, and sought to give to the church…Read more

Calvin's Institutes, AbridgedInstitutes of the Christian Religion, Abridged | John Calvin (ed. Tony Lane) – When John Calvin wrote the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, it was intended to be a “simple handbook of Christian doctrine” (14). Just prior the time it was to be published, however, Francis I, the king of France, unleashed a “fierce campaign of repression” (14) against French Protestantism. In light of this, Calvin wrote an introductory letter dedicating his work to the king of France as a confession of the Christian faith and a defense of its truth…Read more

God’s Greater Glory | Bruce A. Ware   God’s people throughout the centuries have struggled to understand the relationship between God’s sovereignty and our human responsibility. Recently, some theologians have developed a theological framework most commonly referred to as “Open Theism,” in order explain the apparent paradox that exists between the twin realities of God’s divine rule and our human freedom…Read more

Evangelical EthicsEvangelical Ethics | John Jefferson Davis – It has been easy for me to slip into the mentality that engagement in ethical issues is not the priority of the Christian individually or the Church as a whole. To be honest, as I consider the past eight years of my Christian life, I can say that most of the time I have spent in seriously pondering the truth of Christianity and its application, I have narrowed in primarily on issues that relate directly to me…Read more

Journey from Text to Translation | Paul Wegner  – God’s promise to uphold and protect His Word is a precious and reassuring promise. To observe how God has accomplished this throughout the ages is edifying and faith strengthening. The Journey from Texts to Translations by Paul D. Wegner is a meticulously researched and richly illustrated treatment of the Bible’s transmission and translation, from ancient manuscripts to popular English Bibles, showing us the practical means by which God has sovereignly guided the development of Scripture…Read more

Christianity and Liberalism | J. Gresham Machen – J. Gresham Machen’s main burden in his book, Christianity and Liberalism, is to make a clear distinction between true Christianity and what had, by that time, been termed as liberalism. It was primarily within the context of the unparalleled advances in industry, technology, and science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that liberalism began to take form….Read more

Historical Christ and Jesus of FaithThe Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith | C. Stephen Evans – The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith is, at its most basic, a defense of the historical reliability of the gospel narrative. At the outset of his work, however, Evans explains that his aim is not apologetic per se, but an attempt to provide a “convincing account” of why knowledge of the gospel story is valuable and why those who hold to the truth of the story of Jesus are justified in doing so (vii)….Read More

cs-preachmPreach and Heal: A Biblical Model for Missions – Derek BrownThere is much in Fielding’s work, Preach and Heal: A Biblical Model for Missions, to commend it as a helpful resource for missionary work.  Fielding’s observations on the differing opinions between the “Preachers,” and the “Healers,” was clever, insightful, and at times stinging.  Yet this sting grew into conviction and then hearty agreement as Fielding brought the two together in the Person of Christ, demonstrating that like Jesus, and in obedience to Jesus, we are called to both preach and heal….Read More

Teaching to ObserveTeaching to Observe | Jay Adams – In Teaching to Observe, Jay Adams helps counselors to see teaching as an essential and indispensable aspect of counseling. The counselor is not a professional “listener,” who merely draws out solutions to the counselee’s problem from the counselee himself. Rather, the counselor is one who seeks to impart genuine spiritual knowledge to the counselee with the aim to enabling the counselee to believe and obey the knowledge he has received….Read More

Seeing with New EyesSeeing with New Eyes | David Powlison – Although the chapters in Seeing with New Eyes were written as separate articles, the unifying theme of Scripture’s sufficiency for counseling is clear and unmistakable. Whether it was a chapter which unearthed the truths of the Bible by thoughtful exposition and application of particular passages, or a section that included a series of heart-searching, sin-exposing questions, Powlison creatively and persuasively demonstrates how Scripture really is sufficient for counseling others…Read More

the-great-exchange1The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness | Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington – I have been a fan of Jerry Bridges for several years. I was first introduced to Bridges when I picked up Transforming Grace—a warm and refreshing treatment of the grace of God and how we can practically apply the liberating truth of God’s grace to our daily lives. Then I read The Pursuit of Holiness, followed byDiscipline of Grace and then The Gospel for Real Life. Needless to say, I quickly learned that Jerry Bridges is not only doctrinally in-tune with the truths of the gospel; he is relentlessly passionate about the gospel….Read More

The God who Justifies James WhiteThe God Who Justifies – James White – Martin Luther described the doctrine of justification—the topic of this book—as the article of faith that determines whether the church is standing or falling. Speaking of Luther, James Buchanan writes, By this he meant that when this doctrine is understood, believed, and preached, as it was in New Testament times, the church stands in the grace of God and is alive; but where it is neglected, overlaid, or denied, as it was in medieval Catholicism, the church falls from grace and its life drains away, leaving it in a state of darkness and death (14)….Read More

Commentaries for Biblical ExpositorsCommentaries for Biblical Expositors | James Rosscup – I do not have an unlimited amount of space in my home, or an endless amount of money with which to purchase books; so I want guidance on not only choosing books, but choosing the best books for my library.  More specifically, as a Bible teacher and one who desires to teach and preach the Bible for the rest of his life, I need the best commentaries for my library….Read More

MacArthur 1 VolumeThe MacArthur Bible Commentary | John MacArthur – There are tens of thousands of theological books and commentaries available today. Despite this massive selection, however, I am becoming more convinced (almost daily!) that there is no necessary correlation between number of books in our libraries and actual insight into the Bible. In fact, I am beginning to think that the more widely one reads, the confused he is liable to get….Read More

Spiritual LeadershipSpiritual Leadership | J. Oswald Sanders – The third book, Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders, came by of the middle school ministry I am blessed to oversee. I had chosen Biblical leadership as the summer’s theme and I desired to carry on the theme through the fall with our group, ‘Nuclear Reactors.’ ‘Nukes’ is our discipleship class for students where I choose a book for us to work through over a 11 week period.This time it was Spiritual Leadership by J.Oswald Sanders…Read More

Spurgeon on Spiritual LeadershipC. H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership | Steve Miller – The second book I came upon was C.H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership by Steve Miller. I read this book about 3 months after I read MacArthur’s The Book on Leadership. I came to love Spurgeon while listening to a great pastoral biography on his life by Dr. John Piper. He was a man who truly demonstrated Christ-exalting perseverance in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds and obstacles. This is the kind of man I need to learn from….Read More

The Book on LeadershipThe Book on Leadership | John MacArthur – I think a lot about leadership. One, because I recently was married and I desire to know how to lead my wife in a Christlike, God-honoring way; and two, my job as youth pastor requires that I know something about leadership since I am, well, the leader. Interestingly, however, I didn’t actually plan to immerse myself in leadership material….Read More

 

edwards-a-new-bio.jpgJonathan Edwards: A New Biography | Iain Murray – I have been recently observing an unfortunate phenomenon: Jonathan Edwards is not well known. My referencing of Edwards in conversation has usually been met with an astonishing, “Who?” or, the caricature of the angry, downcast, miserable, depressed, joy-stealing preacher of “Sinners in the hands of an angry God,” springs to mind and immediately prejudices the hearer against considering anything positive about the rural pastor from North Hampton, Connecticut. Sadly, this trend has settled in among those who should know and love him best: the Church of Jesus Christ….Read More 

The Gospel for Real Life | Jerry Bridges – JerrGospel Bridgesy Bridges is one of my favorite authors.  His writing is always clear, concise, saturated in Scripture and very edifying.  The Gospel for Real Life is certainly no exception. Bridges gives his straight forward and simple thesis in the preface: “This book is not meant to be a theological treatise.  To borrow an expression from the collegiate world, it is intended to be ‘Gospel 101.’”

 

Roots of EnduranceThe Roots of Endurance | John Piper – I love biographies.  I love John Piper.  So I really love biographies written by John Piper.  The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon and William Wilberforce is the third book (of four) in the Swans are not Silent biography series.  Piper, each year, hosts a pastor’s conference at his church.  One of the favorite portions of this conference is Piper’s own contribution.  Each year he gives an one hour lecture on the life of a great saint of the past.