The Battle for God – Part 4

 Volume 28, Issue 4, May 2022 Since publishing the first three parts in “The God Debate” series, I have read Matthew Barrett’s Simply Trinity and the most recent issue of The Master’s Seminary Journal, both of which strongly defend Classical Theism and were critical of Eternal Functional Submission of the Son (EFS). In addition, two other current books have given me some insight that will necessitate another related paper.  These latter books are companions: Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew by Hans Boersma and Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew by Scot McKnight.  As a result, I want to offer two more papers on the current subject.  This one will bring some additional clarity to the debate by defining more precisely some critical words and terms and drawing a conclusion.  I will follow up with one more article offering a caution related to the hermeneutics interwoven throughout...

Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew

Scot McKnight’s companion book with Five Things Theologians Wished Biblical Scholars Knew is almost as disturbing as the first. Hans Boersma, the author of the volume mentioned above, comes fully equipped with Anglo-Catholic, mystical, and liberal credentials, but McKnight is a card-carrying evangelical. This renders the work under review even more disappointing than the latter book, if that’s possible. That said, there are features of Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew that are of value. The “five things” on McKnight’s list are that theology needs a constant return to Scripture, needs to know its impact on biblical studies, needs historically shaped biblical studies, needs more narrative, and needs to be lived. The author set the agenda by writing, “The fundamental starting point is that we Bible folks think systematicians sometimes get a bit too far from Scripture” (p. 13). The rest of the book explores the five items...

Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew

I purchased this volume and its companion, Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew, looking for a lively interaction between biblical scholars and theologians, which would expose holes in each approach leading to a better comprehension of God’s truth. Unfortunately, such was not the case. The publishers chose not an evangelical theologian to represent theologians but a Catholic/Anglican mystic who thoroughly embraces the historical-critical method as well as higher criticism. Scot McKnight, who wrote the second book in this short series, captured the essence of Boersma’s thesis in his foreword: In the last two decades or so something has arisen that is call the theological interpretation of scripture, that reading the Bible isn’t simply about authorial intention… Boersma’s theology is at work in advocating for a kind of theological, christological reading of Scripture in a sacramental sense (p. xi) (emphasis his). Boersma structured his book around five themes, each...

Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life

Crash Course is a 100-day devotional manual targeting teenagers. The author wants to help his readers become followers of Christ by discussing five critical areas: doctrine, decisions, direction, devotion and delight. Each of these areas is addressed in 20 two-page devotionals, complete with an introduction, bottom line summary, application, prayer and passage of Scripture. The book is biblically sound, with a few especially helpful insights and, conversely, a few miscues. Daniel Darling writes in a colloquial, rather simple manner, in his effort to relate to teens. Whether or not this book and its approach will engage teens is not something I am personally able to discern. I would be interested in the feedback of young people who have actually read the book. However, if parents are looking for devotional material that addresses issues teenagers wrestle with Crash Course would be worth considering. by Daniel Darling (Birmingham: New Hope Publishing,...

Reading the Times, A Literary and Theological Inquiry into the News

In light of the consolidated, monetized and dominate flow of news coming from modern media sources, we need a practical theology of the news. Jeffrey Bilbro writes this volume to help his readers “think theologically” about how Christians should consume the news (p. 6). Each of the three parts addresses a particular set of questions: To what should we attend? How should we imagine and experience time? And how should we belong to one another? Each part follows the same pattern, with a chapter considering how our contemporary media offers inadequate answers, a second chapter, which proposes a theological answer, and the final chapter suggesting specific practices, which “might cultivate a healthier posture toward the news” (p. 6). A quote by Josef Pieper sets the tone for Part One: “The average person of our time loses the ability to see because there is too much to see!” (p. 11)....

Things That Differ, the Fundamentals of Dispensationalism

The Berean Bible Society and Cornelius Stam represent a wing of dispensationalism often called hyperdispensationalism although this handle is rejected by those in the Grace Movement. While maintaining most of the major tenets of more traditional forms (e.g., moderate and progressive) such as a separation between the church and Israel and a consistent application of grammatical–historical hermeneutic, hyperdispensationalism differs on a number of importance points. These differences take on additional significance because nondispensationalists often confuse what the Grace Movement teaches with the more standard and far more widely held form of dispensational theology. But lumping in ultra-dispensations with more mainline views is like claiming that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists or that all Armenians are in league with Pelagius. Stam, in Things That Differ, shows clearly that things do differ among those who are under the broader dispensational umbrella. Stam agrees with other dispensationalists concerning the definition of dispensation (pp....

Simply Trinity, the Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Spirit

Simply Trinity is the best book I have read in support of Classical Theism, what Matthew Barrett (Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) terms “The Great Tradition,” and the rule of faith (p. 35). The Great Tradition is grounded in the Nicene Creed (p. 37) and reinforced by the pro-Nicene Church fathers. Barrett turns to what he calls his “dream team” of pro-Nicene advocates as those who were the most influential in supporting and passing down the Great Tradition. The team consists of 12 theologians including: Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, John Owen, John Gill and the Cappadocian Fathers: Basil and the Gregorys. Barrett quotes from his dream team time and again to demonstrate that Classical Theism has deep roots and is biblical. The motivation undergirding Simply Trinity is Barrett’s belief that the Trinity has been manipulated and distorted beyond recognition, not only by liberals, but by...

Beth Allison Barr’s Distortion of Biblical Womanhood

Volume 28, Issue 3, April 2022 Recently we published a book review of Beth Allison Barr’s book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood.  Since then a revised form of that review was published in The Journal of Dispensational Theology, and given the significance of the subject matter, and its challenge to the biblical concept of men and women, we thought it prudent to send it out as a Think on These Things article.  Accordingly, it will read a bit differently than most articles, following more carefully the format of a book review. The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth by Beth Allison Barr. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2021. 245 pp. + xvii, paper, $19.99. Beth Allison Barr is a history professor at Baylor University who specializes in medieval studies. Admitting she is not a theologian, but rather a historian (p. 205) (a fact mentioned...

The Last Hour, An Israeli Insider Looks at the End Times

Amir Tsarfati, a Jewish believer living in Israel and president of Behold Israel, writes this book to communicate God’s truth with “a desire to wake up the church, warn unbelievers and to speak of the blessed hope that believers have” (p. 28). He agrees with Ed Hindson who wrote “Bible prophecy is not written to scare us. It is written to prepare us” (p. 29). Tsarfati presents a pretribulational understanding of biblical prophecies and is mostly on target theologically. He also details important historical events concerning Israel and dispels a number of modern myths about the current nation of Israel (pp. 95-115). Unfortunately, the wheels come off when Tsarfati attempts to connect the dots between biblical prophecy and current events. Believing that all of the prophecies found in Ezekiel 37 and most found in Ezekiel 38 have already been fulfilled (pp. 181-201), the author tries to prove the Lord’s...

Best Books

Volume 28, Issue 2, February 2022 Much of my life and ministry has been devoted to reading and study. Fortunately, the Lord has instilled in me a great love for such endeavors although, to be honest, I have managed to put undue pressure on myself to meet self-imposed goals which often rob me of some of the joys of reading. For example, no one required me, on the first day of full-time pastoral ministry, to make it my aim to read, on the average, one book per week for the rest of my life. And no one, some twenty years ago, asked me to write reviews of most of these books as I read them. But looking back over the 2,500+ books read and the approximately 800 Christian books reviewed, I am glad that I made such an effort. I trust my reading a wide range of topics, excellent...