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  ...

African Hermeneutics by Elizabeth Mburu

Elizabeth Mburu is African by birth but received her theological training at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (PH.D.). She is a professor of New Testament and Greek and on the board of the Africa Bible Commentary.  Thus she is well suited, both by her personal background and by her education and experiences, to address the vital subject of hermeneutics within the African context. I began reading this book with serious apprehension due to its title.  I reject any concept that there is an African hermeneutic, or an American, or Asian hermeneutic, for that matter. There is only a biblical hermeneutic and all cultures must determine the meaning of the biblical text as God intends.  To entertain the idea that Africans can interpret the Bible differently from Westerners must be quickly rejected.  At times, however, this appears to be what Mburu is suggesting.  She claims that millions of Africans use “foreign”...

Missions, How the Local Church Goes Global by Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson, associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, has contributed this short volume to the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches Series. As advertised, Johnson is not promoting a complicated missions program, but rather providing straight forward, wise and biblical insights into how a local church can develop and maintain a ministry of global outreach. The author carefully, and graciously, challenges some of the church’s treasured traditions and current fads and trends, and directs the reader to Scripture for a more biblical model.  The goal of the book is summed up well in the introduction: Imagine a local church where the congregation’s mission to the nations is clear and agreed upon.  Elders guide the congregation toward strategic missions. Missions is held up as a concern for all Christians, not just the niche “missions club.” The tyranny of new trends and demands for immediate, visible results holds no...

For Whom Did Christ Die? Reconciling Unlimited Atonement and Limited Atonement by R. J. Arthur

It would be impossible to improve on the author’s given outline: The present author will provide a consistent and accurate biblical verse by verse exegetical commentary of Romans 5:12-21.  Following this exegesis, several scriptural proof texts from both the Unlimited Atonement and Limited Atonement proponents will be presented and correctly interpreted within the light of Romans 5:12-21.  Finally, in a summary conclusion, the present author will answer the following three fundamental questions and provide pragmatic implications with practical applications:   1. What is the nature of Atonement? Or in other words, for whom did Jesus die? 2. What is the efficacy of Jesus’ atonement? Or in other words, what effect does Jesus’ atonement have upon whom? 3. Monergism or Synergism? (sic) Or in other words, what cooperative or participatory role does mankind play in their own salvation (pp. xii-xiii)? In this self-published work, R. J. Arthur (I do not...

Poor Analogies and Illustrations Used to Teach the Trinity Which May Teach Heresy Instead

(Volume 25, Issue 6, November 2019) Without question, the Trinity is one of the most complicated, mysterious and difficult doctrines for God’s people to comprehend.  The core doctrine of Old Testament Judaism was monotheism as expressed in the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” And while there are scattered references to the three members who composed the Godhead in the Old Testament, those references are better understood in the light of New Testament revelation.  We look back now with clarity and recognize the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all are present prior to the incarnation, but it is doubtful that many Old Testament saints grasped the idea of a Trinity, at least not with the precision that Christians do today.  So it is not surprising that when the Patristics attempted to understand and define the Triune God that there...

The Cost, What It Takes to Follow Jesus by Steven J. Lawson

The Cost, written by well-known author and preacher Steven Lawson, is a simple, straight-forward proclamation of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ based upon Luke 14:25-35. In the biblical account, a large crowd was listening to Jesus.  The crowd was composed of many levels of interest – from those who were merely curious to some who were confused to those who were counterfeit to those seeking truth and to some who were committed disciples (pp. 21-31). Jesus clarifies to this mixed multitude what it means to be a follower of Himself. As Lawson correctly interprets Jesus’ words, to begin the journey costs us nothing but it is a journey that comes at a high price (pp. 15, 17).  “It is a free gift to receive by faith alone. But it will cost you everything” (p. 127), is the essence of this book. Several brief observations...

Journey into God’s Word, Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall, and J. Daniel Hays

Journey is a short book devoted to the basics of hermeneutics. It is a rather standard guide, varying little from other conservative grammatical-historical approaches to interpreting Scripture, however it has several unique features.  First it is a short work, easily read and thus highly accessible for most Christians wanting a helpful source for understanding the Bible.  Secondly, it is designed for use in local churches with a suggested eight-week teaching format (p. 10).  And, thirdly, the authors use a creative four-step process to take the reader from the biblical text to accurate interpretation and appropriate application (pp. 15-20). The four steps are constructed along the lines of a metaphorical journey from where we live now (our town), to recognizing the differences between our town and the original biblical audience (described as measuring the river that divided the two times), crossing that river as we search for the timeless theological...

The Law, Then and Now: What About Grace? by John B. Metzger

For over two decades, John Metzger has been involved in Jewish Ministries and is well qualified to tackle the controversial role of the Mosaic Law in the church age.  In short, he views the Old Testament Law as no longer operative, having been replaced by the Law of Christ.  Actually, I think the title of the book should have included the Law of Christ (or Messiah, as he consistently terms it for His Jewish audience), for it is truly Metzger’s focus rather than grace, per se. Metzger presents the direction of the book on page 10: With that setting in mind, we will proceed to study the participants, purpose, and provisions of the law so that we can understand what the law was to accomplish; why, when, and how it would end; and how it is not part of the Christian life today – though readers should note that...

It Is Time to Kiss the Church Hello

(Volume 25, Issue 5, September/October 2019) By now the details about Josh Harris’s divorce and apostasy is old news and every cheesy pun associated with his best-selling book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, has been trotted out ad nauseam. I thought I would attempt a positive pun instead,–“It is time to kiss the church hello,”–because I think ultimately the focus is on the wrong issue.  Follow my musings for a moment. Harris experienced the world of evangelical celebrity at a very young age.  As a youth he assisted his parents in their leadership in the homeschooling movement, traveling to home school conferences and selling his father’s materials.  Still, in his teens, Josh was speaking at these conferences and produced a magazine for homeschoolers called New Attitude.  At the ripe old age of 21, he published his signature book, which not only sold over a million copies but also launched a...