Live Not by Lies, a Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher, author of the popular The Benedict Option (see my review here:  https://tottministries.org/?s=The+Benedict+Option) has written Live Not By Lies as a warning about the soft totalitarianism he sees rapidly overtaking America.  The means of resisting the propaganda is, according to the author, to challenge its philosophy with truth.  Or, as the title suggests, to “live not by lies,” a line taken from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s final message to the Russian people (p. xiv).  What it means today to not live by lies is the issue this book explores “through interviews with and testaments left by Christians (and others) from throughout the Soviet Bloc who lived through totalitarianism” (p. xiv).  The author is convinced that “we cannot become the kind of Christians we need to be in preparation for persecution if we don’t know stories like this, and take them into our hearts” (p. 204). Dreher sees much overlap between...

Gospel Conversations, How to Care Like Christ

Gospel Conversations, How to Care Like Christ by Robert W. Kellemen (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015) 397 pp., paper, $18.99 Gospel Conversations is a long, intense and thorough manual for biblical counseling.  The big idea communicated throughout the book is that “we learn to become competent biblical counselors by giving and receiving biblical counseling in the context of real and raw Christian community” (p. 17).  The focus is on training counselors to grow in four areas: biblical content, Christlike character, counseling competence, and Christian community (p. 24).  Counselors, in turn, seek to implement these same four areas into the lives of those they counsel.  Along the way Kellemen develops 21 biblical relational competencies (p. 44), and eight ultimate life questions (pp. 52-53).  In addition, there are two guideposts and four compass points of biblical counseling, four heart-focused goals, five sustaining competencies, five healing competencies, six reconciling competencies and five guiding...

Francis Asbury: God’s Circuit Rider

Francis Asbury: God’s Circuit Rider by Charles Ludwig (Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1984) 206 pp., paper, $5.94 used. If someone is looking for a short, simple history of American Methodism, Francis Asbury would be hard to beat. Written at about a junior high level this biography of the most important circuit rider and Methodist Bishop in the early years of the Methodist movement in America, is filled with both English and American history of the 18th and 19th century. While never considered a great preacher, Asbury was nevertheless a great leader and inspiration to those early followers of John Wesley’s theology and system designed to develop holiness in the saints. Perhaps the greatest hurdle Asbury had to overcome pertained to the ordinances. Wesley did not seek to start a new denomination and was comfortable remaining in the Anglican church. The movement he founded came alongside the established church to...

Social Justice Goes to Church

Social Justice Goes to Church, the New Left in Modern American Evangelicalism by Jon Harris (Greenville, South Carolina: Ambassador International, 2020) 205 pp., paper $16.99 Jon Harris has written an important book documenting the history leading up to the modern Social Justice Movement which has infiltrated evangelicalism. In part one he traces the roots to the progressive radicals of the 1960s and 1970s (pp. 13-19), devoting a chapter each to the key leaders: Jim Wallis, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Sharon Gallagher, John Anderson, Richard Mouw and Ron Sider. Others mentioned include: Tom Skinner (p. 94), Anthony Campolo (p. 47), Mark Hatfield (pp. 28, 64), and the editors of Christianity Today. These early left-wing Christian leaders summarized their views in the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern published in 1973 (pp. 17, 45-49). Harris identifies the key ingredients of the declaration: The Declaration itself acknowledged Christians’ failure to demonstrate the “love of...

Just Mercy

Just Mercy, a Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (New York: Random House, 2015) 349 pp + xiv, paper $17.00 Shortly after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1985, Bryan Stevenson was a young black attorney who found himself quickly thrust into an American South justice system riddled with injustice.  Believing that “the true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned” (p. 18), he soon established a law firm called Equal Justice Initiatives to defend such marginalized people and correct the system where he could.   This book is about “getting closer to mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America” (p. 14), and attempting to do something about it. Stevenson creatively weaves his ideology through stories of people that he has defended, in particular Walter McMillian whom was wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to be...

The Son Who Learned Disobedience

The Son Who Learned Obedience, a Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son by D. Glenn Butner, Jr. (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2018) 224 + x pp., paper $28.00 The Son Who Learned Obedience is exactly what the subtitle claims—a heavy, intense, thorough and robust defense against the theological position held by many complementarians known formally as the Eternal Functional Submission (EFS) of the Son to the Father within the Godhead.  Intense debate concerning EFS surfaced after Liam Goligher, in 2016, accused those holding to eternal submission of constructing a new deity that verged on idolatry (p. 1).  Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware, two key supporters of EFS, fired back defending their position and thus began a contentious evangelical war centered on the Trinity.  Throughout the book, Glenn Butner attempts to moderate extreme attacks from both camps, affirming, for instance, that EFS does not teach Arianism (p....

The Words of King Lemuel

The Words of King Lemuel, The Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 by James Daughtry (Bridgeview, IL; Abidan, 2021), 117 pp.   The Words of King Lemuel is a short practical commentary on Proverbs 31.  The author claims that the keys to understanding this chapter are the careful examination of the Hebrew words and the study of the lifestyle of the people (p. 8).  Using these keys, James Daughtry unlocks the meaning of King Lemuel’s instruction, and specifically the description of the virtuous woman, which encompasses most of the book.  Realizing that many have distorted and/or misunderstood this woman, Daughtry systematically works through the description given her in twenty-two short chapters, plus an introduction and an initial chapter.   The design of the book is to offer helpful insight and appropriate application drawn from the life of this excellent Old Testament woman, which relates to that of modern women.  In...

Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, How the Church Needs to Rediscover Her Purpose by Aimee Byrd

Aime Byrd is known as the housewife theologian. She is popular conference speaker, a prolific author with several books to her credit and, until the publication of this book, co-host of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals podcast Mortification of Spin.  Her earlier work, No Little Women, made some valuable contributions concerning women and their ministries, but even there I registered some concerns in my review (http://tottministries.org/?s=little+women). Byrd takes several steps forward, or backward, depending on your perspective, in her understanding of women’s “role” (a word she detested and claims is unbiblical) in the church and within ministry. As a member of an Orthodox Presbyterian church, she still maintains that ordination and preaching within the local church is reserved for males (p. 121), but views virtually all other ministries, both within the church and through parachurch organizations, are accessible to qualified Christian women. As a matter of fact, Byrd’s primary...

Preparing for Eternity by Mike Gendron

Mike Gendron was a devout Roman Catholic for 37 years before he found Christ. Since his conversion, he has passionately sought to proclaim the truth of the gospel to Roman Catholics who are deceived by their church. To that end he founded and leads “Proclaiming the Gospel Ministry,” producing written resources and speaking throughout the world warning of the false doctrines of Rome and teaching God’s Word. Preparing for Eternity is a virtual encyclopedia on Rome’s dogma and its misalignment with Scripture. Gendron is comprehensive in his research. He draws from official Catholic resources, such as Trent, Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting them verbatim to demonstrate what Rome officially teaches. He then contrasts many of its doctrines with Scriptures, showing that much of Rome’s dogma is not based on the Bible but on tradition and extrabiblical pronouncements. There are few stones left unturned as...

The American Puritan by Dustin Benge & Nate Pickowicz

For anyone who enjoys reading American church history, or has an interest in the Puritans, The American Puritans is a treat.  Dustin Benge and Nate Pickowicz have showcased the lives of nine Puritans who were greatly influential in the early settling of America including John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, John Eliot and Cotton Mather.  These individuals established “The New England Way,” “an expression of Congregationalism that sought to impact all areas of public life” (p. 7), and that embedded Christianity into the fabric of American society (pp. 54, 68-69, 110, 181).  The stated aim of the book is threefold: “First we hope to clarify and correct many of the myths and half-truths associated with the American Puritans.  Second, we hope to showcase their story—without hiding their faults—in order to inspire and edify this generation of Christian believers.  Lastly, we hope to encourage further study into their lives, beliefs, struggles, and...