Survive or Thrive, Six Relationships Every Pastor Needs by Jimmy Dodd

Jimmy Dodd is founder and president of PastorServe, an organization devoted to aiding pastors in their lives and ministries.  Survive or Thrive details how PastorServe attempts to fulfill its mission.  Dodd founded PastorServe in 1999  to “provide care, coaching and crisis support to pastors” (p. 29).  The present problem, as Dodd sees it, is that most pastors’ gifting exceeds their maturity, a point the author demonstrates in the first section of the book.  In general, Dodd views most pastors as a mess, hiding behind a professional façade and trying to never disclose their brokenness.  The following generalization, toward the end of part one of the book, expresses his sentiments. I know that the pastor is fragmented and weak.  He has a temper, is generally a slob, and does not have the respect of his staff.  Sadly, he is commonly disrespectful of his spouse and he secretly abhors poetry.  And to…

No Little Women, Equipping All Women in the Household of God by Aimee Byrd

Aimee Byrd, author and co-host of the Mortification of Spin podcast, is on a mission.  She declares that everyone is a theologian, whether they know it or not, so “everyone in the church needs to be a good theologian” (p. 34).  As the title implies Byrd is particularly desirous that women be equipped theologically so that they are not easy marks for false teachers who often target poorly taught women in the church (2 Timothy 3:6-7). Her exhortation is timely because a plethora of women’s ministries and books exist which are mere fluff (see pp. 116-120, 127-129), appeal to the desire to extrabiblically hear God’s voice (pp. 59, 145, 150) and teach false and even heretical doctrines.  The antidote to these concerns is not to create women’s ministries as a separate entity (pp. 13, 19, 22, 48, 50-52, 91, 96-97, 104-106); nor to focus all women’s Bible studies on women’s…

Apostle of the Last Days, The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul by C. Marvin Pate

In this scholarly, detailed and thorough volume, Marvin Pate, professor of Christian Theology at Quachita Baptist University, traces the theology of the Apostle Paul throughout his New Testament epistles.  All 13 letters written by Paul are given careful consideration as Pate devotes 10 of his 12 chapters to overviews and discussion of the issues within each book.  Foundational to Pate’s understanding of Paul is his belief that the apostle was combating four conflicting eschatologies prevalent in the first century world (pp. 20-30, 138-139).  These were: Hellenistic/Syncretism (pp. 90, 167-168, 238-242) The Roman Imperial Cult (pp. 61-65, 87, 90, 165-167, 184-187, 217-218) Merkabah Judaism (Jewish Mysticism) (pp. 24-26, 29-30, 48, 102, 128-129, 216-217, 260-267) Non-Merkabah Judaism (Legalism) (pp. 26, 41-42, 169, 187-189, 270) Tracing these four eschatological systems through the writings of Paul is both the strength and weakness of Apostles of the Last Days.  On the positive side, identifying the…

Rescuing the Gospel, The Story and Significance of the Reformation by Erwin W. Lutzer

Erwin Lutzer, former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, has written an excellent overview dealing with the principle personalities and events surrounding the Protestant Reformation.  The book is written with the layman in mind, with simple language and an abundance of full-color pictures and maps.  In a short 200 pages, everything the average person would want to know about the Reformation is covered, beginning with the pre-Reformation reformers John Wycliffe and John Hus. Martin Luther draws most of the attention with 10 of the 17 chapters devoted to him.  While his contribution to the Reformation is given much space, not everything Lutzer says about Luther is positive.  Luther’s passion for truth is evident, but his stubbornness, anger, unnecessary battles and hatred for the Jews is detailed as well.  Huldrych Zwingli receives a chapter, as do the Anabaptists, while John Calvin gets two.  The closing chapter, “Is the Reformation Over?”, is…

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 2

( Volume 23, Issue 5, September/October 2017) Having surveyed the foundation of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and some of its theological distinctives in the first part of this article, we will now press on to investigate its infiltration into wider evangelical circles. We will then put the teachings of NAR to the test of Scripture.   Infiltration The influence of NAR has become broader, and therefore more dangerous, as many of its ideas are being accepted by traditionally non-charismatic churches and organizations.  This acceptance is due to a number of factors. Bethel, Hillsong and IHOP music has found enthusiastic reception in churches, youth ministries and among young adults throughout the evangelical spectrum. Many have no understanding of the teachings of NAR and no concept of what it is. Influential NAR teachers and books are making in-roads into evangelical circles. Due to rampant biblical illiteracy and general apathy toward Scripture and…

Solid Ground by Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer

Reviewed by Kurt Goedelman, Director of Personal Freedom Outreach Efforts to undermine God’s Word are nothing new, but today’s assaults have become so refined and widespread that even some who claim to be Evangelicals have joined the campaign. This is why Gabriel Fluhrer, in his editor’s preface of Solid Ground, writes, “Each generation must own for itself the cardinal truths of the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and ours is no exception. Indeed, in my own estimation, our generation is in danger of seeing what is perhaps the most central doctrine of the Christian faith — the doctrine of the inspired and concomitant inerrancy of Scripture — eclipsed to a degree previously unknown in the modern era” (pg. x, italic in original). Solid Ground is an excellent collection of essays by eight prominent authors, pastors, and teachers who are committed to the “vital conviction that the Bible…

Hermeneutics, Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation (2nd Edition) by Henry A. Virkler and Karelynne Gerber Ayayo

The stated goal of this text is “to give the reader not only an understanding of the principles of proper biblical interpretation but also the ability to apply those principles in sermon preparation, personal Bible study, and/or in writing” (p. 12).  I believe that Virkler has been successful in obtaining this goal.  He defines hermeneutics as “the science and art of biblical interpretation“ (p. 16), and “essentially a codification of the processes we normally use at an unconscious level to understand the meaning of communication” (p. 19).  In order to interpret Scripture correctly, several “gaps” have to be bridged.  These gaps are historical, cultural, philosophical and linguistic (p. 19). Unfortunately, successfully bridging these gaps has proven difficult historically, therefore before hermeneutical principles can be applied other issues must be addressed such as: inspiration (pp. 20-21), senus plenior (pp. 24-25, 49-59, 171), illumination (p. 28), inerrancy (pp. 29-39), allegorical approaches (pp.…

The Key to Your Expected End by Katie Souza

Katie Souza’s life was a complete mess.  Drugs, crime and violence led to imprisonment, where eventually she came to Christ who turned her life around and gave her a specific purpose – her “expected end.”  Souza’s expected end was to start a ministry for prisoners and to write this book to aid in their spiritual transformation.  The author bases most of her teaching on Old Testament Israel, in particular its exile and captivity, and directly applies Israel’s experience to prisoners today.  She writes, “The Captivity Series: The Key to Your Expected End is a study of the exiles in ancient Israel taken from the Old Testament Scriptures.  Its purpose is to teach you about ancient Israel’s imprisonment, then help you apply this knowledge to your own incarceration” (p. 13).  Seeing Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise all can claim, especially prisoners, Souza believes God will bring freedom to all who apply…

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 1

(Volume 23, Issue 4, July/August 2017) The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is one of the largest, broadest and most powerful movements within Christianity today, yet it flies largely under the radar.  Even those involved often do not understand the movement to the extent that they may even deny they are part of it. This confusion is due to the fact that NAR does not have official membership or even leadership.  Rather, NAR is a loose coalition of mostly Pentecostal and charismatic Christians, organizations and churches that are united over a particular understanding and interpretation of certain portions of Scripture.  The interpretation of these New Testament texts are widely held by those connected with NAR and focus mainly on the miraculous sign gifts. Some have equated NAR with the so-called Third Wave of Pentecostalism (the first wave started with the birth of the Pentecostal movement in 1901, the second wave is…

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke

Tony Reinke seeks to answer the question, “What is the best use of my smartphone in the flourishing of my life (p. 20)?”  Few questions are more pertinent in an age obsessed with technology in general and the smartphone in particular.  While the smartphone was invented barely a decade ago (p. 15), one is now owned by most people and is checked on average every 4.3 minutes (p. 43).  Reinke appreciates the valuable tool that the smartphone has become but at the same time recognizes the dangers.  As a result, highlighting useful components of smartphone use, each of the twelve chapters zeros in on a unique danger.  Some of the more serious dangers include: smartphone addiction, distractions, increased loneliness and isolation, living vicariously, illiteracy due to short attention spans, misplaced hero worship, seeking approval of people rather than God, wasting time, online slander, and secret vices. Reinke does not recommend…