The Battle for God – Part 3

Volume 28, Issue 1, January 2022 While debates concerning the nature of God can be traced throughout church history, often resulting in creeds such as Nicene (381), which established a standard of theological orthodoxy, battle lines in recent years have been drawn over the issue of submission of the Son to the authority of the Father. Those calling themselves classical theists maintain that the Son was subordinate to the Father only during His incarnation.  Others, sometimes termed theistic mutualists, believe that the Son has eternally submitted to the Father; yet in no way is this submission a sign of inferiority.  Their position has been labeled the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS), or the Eternal Functional Submission of the Son (EFS), and more recently Eternal Roles of Authority and Submission (ERAS).  Since much mudslinging between the classicalists and the mutualists has occurred, and since most Christians are unaware of...

You Never Stop Being a Parent, Thriving in Relationship with Your Adult Children

Jim Newheiser and Elyse Fitzpatrick team up to address an often ignored but vital topic concerning relationships with adult children. Although the book was written in 2010 its message is still relevant. A few quoted statistics are obviously out of date, but since most of the advice is grounded in Scripture and the cross (p. 13), its message is timeless. Nevertheless, many of the problems and situations addressed in this book are unique to recent times. Boomerang kids, young adults who return home, and the Peter Pan Syndrome, in which many simply do not want to grow up, are a rather modern phenomenon. Chapter three addresses these concerns, but not before first laying down important principles that need to be taught while children are growing up (chapter two). Chapter five specifically calls for adult children who are still in their parents’ home to work as hard as their parents,...

The Other Six Days, Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective by R. Paul Stevens

The burden of this book by Paul Stevens, a Professor of Marketplace and Theology at Regent College, is “the church is a people without laity or clergy, summoned and equipped by God for the life of the world” (p. 244). Stevens sees no evidence of either clergy or laypersons in the New Testament (pp. 31-32). The clergy, he believes, was created by the church in the second and third centuries (pp. 39, 45) and is not found in the Bible. He does admit that the Old Testament had a system of priests distinct from the people and he does not deny that leadership and appropriate leaders are found and prescribed in the New Testament (pp. 53, 145-152). But clear distinctions between clergy and laity are absent in the church-age Scriptures. In conjunction, Stevens believes that all Christians are equally called vocationally (pp. 71-88). A vocational call is not limited...

Putting Your Past in Its Place, Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness

Pastor and biblical counselor Stephen Viars has written a useful work concerning dealing with our past. He believes there are two extremes: Believing our past is nothing and believing it is everything (p. 17). In order to get a good handle on our past, and respond to it biblically, Viars suggest four buckets, around which he develops his book (p. 69). Bucket #1 – The innocent past where you responded well. In chapter six, (the best chapter in the book, this reviewer believes) the author titles this response as authentic suffering. He calls on his readers to face the innocent past honestly, biblically, hopefully, and missionally. Bucket #2 – The innocent past when you responded poorly requires humble analysis to determine if reaction to the sin of others against ourselves was/is biblical. Bucket #3 – This moves to our personal past guilt, in this case when we have responded...

Christianity and Social Justice, Religions in Conflict by Jon Harris

Jon Harris, who hosts the “Conversations That Matter” podcast, has written his second book on social justice issues, his first being Social Justice Goes to Church. The burden of this present volume is to demonstrate that “this woke gospel is a different gospel,” which confuses law and gospel, offers different ethics of sin, justice and righteousness, rests on standpoint epistemology and humanism, draws from Marxism, and “is another gospel contrary to the true gospel of Jesus Christ (p. ix).” To prove this thesis Harris begins by tracing the roots of Critical Race Theory and social justice to philosophers such as Jean–Jacques Rousseau and theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, the Frankfurt school and its cultural Marxism (pp. 12-18), and the social gospel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (p. 37). Evangelicals are adopting these ideologies with predictable results. But to the past faulty concepts have been added multiple layers of contemporary unsound...

The Battle for God – Part 2

Volume 27, Issue 9, December 2021 In part one of this series, the origin of the debate between classical theists and theistic mutualists concerning the nature of God was introduced. The essence of the discussion centers on whether or not the Son has eternally submitted to the will of the Father or just submitted during the time of His incarnation. Complicating matters is the fact that complementarians support their views partially on the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS), also termed Eternal Functional Submission (EFS). While neither side denies the orthodox statements found in the Nicene Creed (381), the classicalists accuse the mutualists of misunderstanding the creed and falling short of its intent. A few even charge mutualists with the heresies of subordinationism and even Arianism. If the supporters of EFS are correct then the classicalists lament we have misunderstood God since the beginning of the church age. If...

Final Word, Why We Need the Bible by John MacArthur

This short work is vintage MacArthur, as he expounds on his favorite subject: truth as found in Scripture. There is nothing new here if you have read MacArthur previously. As a matter of fact, I had the distinct impression throughout that I had read all of this before, especially his excellent exposition of Psalm 19. Still, even if that is the case it is valuable to organize these thoughts in a central, easily accessible location. The six chapters each deal with a topic relevant to the Scriptures: they are under attack, they are truth, they are authoritative, they are the catalyst of spiritual growth, they are central to faithful ministry, and they are food for the soul. Besides the section explaining Psalm 19 (pp. 49-61), there is a deeply appreciated exegesis on 1 John 2:12-14 (pp. 70-81), and 1 Peter 2:2-9 (pp. 113-127). The book serves as a reminder...

The Making of Biblical Womanhood, How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth by Beth Allison Barr

Beth 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 literally dozens of times and virtually in every chapter), nevertheless Barr believes her background in history places her in a position to clearly see what most Bible scholars and theologians have not, which is that biblical womanhood is not biblical at all, but a plot to suppress women. Biblical womanhood, Barr states has been built “stone by stone by stone throughout the centuries” (p. 205) and is a capitulation to culture and sin rather than a scriptural truth. Complementarianism is an interpretation of Scripture “that has been corrupted by our sinful human drive to dominate others and build hierarchies of power and oppression” (p. 7), or so is Barr’s contention. Some definitions are in order. As Barr uses the terms,...

Men and Women in the Church, A Short, Biblical, Practical Introduction by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung has written a concise, readable and accessible explanation and defense of the complementarian position. He states, “This book is about the divinely designed complementarity of men and women as it applies to life in general and especially to ministry in the church” (p. 15). To this thesis he adds, “One of the burdens of this book is to raise up a new generation of cheerful and unflappable Christians who will celebrate a vision of manhood and womanhood that is not only biblical but in a profound sense natural as well (p. 133 – emphasis his). DeYoung believes that the Scripture presents definite patterns of male leadership and female submission. He is careful, however, to distinguish biblical understandings of male/female roles from cultural and/or abusive ones. His view is clear, “The truest form of biblical complementarity calls on men to protect women, honor women, speak kindly and thoughtfully...

Tearing down the Wall, Prayer and the Untold Story by Bob Provost

After 72 years of communist rule, which had brought persecution and suppression for everyone including Christians, the Soviet Bloc began to loosen its grip on its people. In 1989, a couple of years before the collapse of the Iron Curtain, another wall was torn down—that of religious freedom. That year, Bob Provost, of the Master’s Seminary was sent to Russia to see what could be done to aid the believers there. Provost found the influence of Peter Deyneka and the Slavic Gospel Association, among others, had borne fruit.  The persecuted church was indeed small (estimated 500,000 evangelicals in the country—p. 58) but it was vibrant.  Provost discovered the most humble, joyful and hungry for truth Christians he had ever met (p. 12).  In addition, the Lord had used the instrument of communism to protect the Russian church from false teachers from the Western world (p. 47).  Bob knew that...