The Enneagram, A Christian Perspective, by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

As I write this review I am in the process of using The Enneagram, A Christian Perspective as a primary sourcebook for a larger article on the Enneagram; reference to that article will reveal further insights into this particular book. Written in 1989 under the title of Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey, and somewhat revised for this printing, Rohr’s and Ebert’s work is foundational for a modern understanding of the Enneagram.  Originally, the authors believed the Enneagram system was derived from medieval Islamic (Sufi) sources, but by this printing, they trace its beginning to the Christian desert fathers and mothers, primarily to Evagrius Ponticus (d. 399) and the Franciscan Blessed Ramon Lull (1236-1315) (p. ix). Its roots may even go back to pre-Christian times (p. xi) and finds common ground in mysticism which resides in many major religions (p. xii). This is because...

What is Dispensationalism? Editor Paul Miles

Twenty-eight authors contributed to What is Dispensationalism? edited by Paul Miles, who established and directs Grace Abroad Ministries, the publishers of this book.  This multi-author volume accomplishes what it set out to do—explain dispensationalism, which is defined as “a school of thought that results from reading the Bible plainly and, therefore recognizes a distinction between Israel and the church and sees the glory of God as the main purpose of history” (p. 13). Said differently, “Dispensationalists consistently apply a grammatical-historical hermeneutic, reject supersessionism, and hold to a doxological centrality of history” (p. 13).  In the twelve chapters, four appendices, numerous side articles, and several “graceful debates,” many subjects are covered. These include the basic teachings and history of dispensationalism, the number of dispensations, and what they are, historical dispensational schemes, detailing and defending the three essentials of dispensationalism (as described in the definitions above). Other collateral issues such as...

The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett

As the title states, The Valley of Vision is a collection of some 200 short Puritan prayers and devotions, each about one page in length. Together they offer a good representation of how the Puritans viewed God, themselves and life. The entries range from the depressing (i.e. pp 72-74, 101), to the sublime (i.e. pp 3, 10, 12, 26, 35 46, 55, 76, 92, 101, 115, 135, 158, 171, 190, 196, 211, 216, 219) and everything in between. Reading one or two of these each day provides a happy supplement to daily time in the Word. They might be viewed as vitamins taken after a meal. They are not the main course but they are useful. The Puritans selected were exclusively English with the exception of David Brainerd. However, this leads to an interesting assumption by Bennett that the Puritan Era was extended to the end of the 19th...

The Road Back To You, an Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile

The Road Back to You is a primer concerning the latest fad in personality type-casting known as the Enneagram.  According to the authors, the Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that “helps people understand who they are and what makes them tick” (p. 10). The purpose of the Enneagram is “to develop self-knowledge and learn how to recognize and dis-identify with the parts of our personalities that limit us so we can be reunited with our truest and best selves, that ‘pure diamond, blazing with invisible light of heaven,’ as Thomas Merton said” (p. 24).  The authors continue, “The true purpose of the Enneagram is to reveal to you your shadow side and offer spiritual counsel on how to open it to the transformative light of grace” (p. 31).  In Christian-speak, it is a means of progressive sanctification, a rival to Scripture’s message and method concerning spiritual maturity....

The Mission of the Church, Five Views in Conversation, ed. by Craig Ott

This volume is not a dialogue among evangelicals concerning the mission of the church; it is far more ecumenical than that.  But by bringing together leading thinkers from five different theological traditions, a crosscurrent of views is well represented.  Stephen B. Bevans (Roman Catholic), Darrell L. Guder (mainline Protestant), Ruth Padilla DeBorst (Latina evangelical), Edwan Rommen (Orthodox), and Ed Stetzer (North American evangelical), all contribute chapters from their biblical perspectives, and each provides a critique of the understandings of the contributors at the end of the book.  Editor Craig Ott, professor of Missions and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, summarizes the various views, as well as the historical background, in his introduction.  The focus of the work is the precise missionary nature of the church.  In other words, for what purposes does God send His church into the world and how is the church to fulfill them...

Girl, Wash Your Face A Critique

(Volume 26, Issue 1, February/March 2020) The best lies, the most potent lies, are rooted in deception. Obvious lies seldom get out of the starting gate, while well-disguised lies are racing around the track.  John 1:5 informs us that Jesus is the Light that shines in our dark world, while Satan, according to 2 Corinthians 11:14, manifests himself as an angel of light. Few would be attracted to Satan and his schemes if he appeared as an angel of darkness, but masqueraded as an angel of light, as one very similar to the true Light, he is able to entice multitudes to his worldview.  Those entrenched in satanic schemes, or doctrines of demons as Paul calls them in 1 Timothy 4:1, mirror the same techniques as their master, and infiltrate the globe as “false apostles,” spreading their erroneous teachings throughout the world.  Their most effective method is to dress...

Toward an Exegetical Theology, Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Walter Kaiser’s classic book on exegesis and preaching is still valuable and greatly needed.  His concern, when he wrote in 1981, was to close the gap that existed between the study of the text of Scripture and the delivery of the message (pp. 8, 48).  That gap still exists today, and thus the current need to continue to study Toward an Exegetical Theology.  Kaiser calls his approach the syntactical-theological method of exegesis and sermon building (p. 9).  There are two issues being addressed:  exegesis and delivery of the exegetical message. The bulk of the book explores the first of these, including discussions concerning hermeneutics (pp. 25-30), authorial intent (pp. 21, 33, 59, 79, 83, 106), differences between meaning and significance (p. 32), definition of exegesis (pp. 43-44), and the history and importance of gramatico-historical hermeneutics (pp. 44-47, 55, 60-61, 87-89, 197), although Kaiser proposes a name change to syntactical-theological...

Hot Protestants, a History of Puritanism in England and America by Michael P. Winship

Michael Winship is a professor of history at the University of Georgia and a prolific author of historical volumes.  In Hot Protestants, a term used by their contemporaries for Protestants who would later be called puritans (p. 1), Winship traces the history of puritanism from its roots in the 1540s to its collapse, on both sides of the Atlantic around 1690 (p. 1).  John Hooper, who was executed in 1555 (p. 10-17), is identified as the first puritan.  He, along with all puritans who followed, rebelled against the Book of Common Prayer and the accompanying rituals, especially the wearing of Catholic vestments and kneeling at the Lord’s Supper.  The early Protestants viewed the Pope as the Antichrist and the Catholic Church as the devil’s church, therefore anything that smacked of Romanism in doctrine or practice was rejected by hot Protestants.  Vitally connected to  their attempts to purify the church...

Music and Worship

(Volume 25, Issue 7, December 2019/January 2020) As a pastor, I have long been an interested observer of the ever-changing ebb and flow of music as related to the church and, specifically, worship.  As a Baby Boomer, I have personally experienced the birth of “rock and roll,” the “English invasion” spearheaded by the Beatles, and all that has followed.  This radical shift in secular music in the 1960s and 1970s was quickly mimicked by the Christian community in the late 1960s as believers attempted to reach a generation that was “turned-on and tuned-out” to the values and lifestyles of past generations.  It was assumed, first by a few but eventually by many, that the best way to engage this new, rebellious generation was to accept and adopt many of its philosophies, methods, and especially its music.  What would later be termed Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) was born on the...

Makers of Puritan History by Marcus L. Loane

This book contains short biographies of four important Puritans who lived during the struggles of the Stuart Regime.  Alexander Henderson and Samuel Rutherford represent the Scottish Puritans, and John Bunyard and Richard Baxter represent the English.  All the accounts are interesting and offer insight into the life, times and matters of importance for English Puritans. Makers of Puritan History by Marcus L. Loane (Grand Rapid: Baker, 1961, 2009) 240 pp., paperback $25.33 Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher at Southern View Chapel  ...