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...

Hearers and Doers, a Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples Through Scripture and Doctrine by Kevin J. Vanhoozer

In the opening words of the Preface, professor Kevin Vanhoozer lays out the intention of the book: “Hearers and Doers is intended to help pastors fulfill their Great Commission to make disciples, with emphasis on the importance of teaching disciples to read the Scriptures.”  Later he elaborates his thesis: To make disciples is to teach people how to become biblically literate so they can be effective inhabitants and representatives of the city of God, for the purpose of gospel citizenship.  Accordingly, this book is a guide for hearing and reading the Bible rightly, as well as a training manual for doing the Bible rightly. The goal is to train disciples to walk around in the strange new world of the Bible even as they live in the familiar old world of the present.  It is a pastor’s guide for training hearers and doers, faithful followers of Jesus Christ and...

Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement, Three Views Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Mark A. Snoeberger

While the extent of the atonement has been debated since the Reformation it has taken on new energy recently.  One of the best ways to get a handle on any difficult theological subject is to allow opposing views to be expressed by scholars who truly know, and can clearly represent their position.  Hence the value of books such as this one.  While there are a number of variations not covered in Perspectives, such as the commercial, eternal application, Amyraldism, and hypothetical universalism views, the editors chose to zero in on three that represent well the present theological landscape.  Reformed scholar Carl Trueman presents and defends definite (or limited) atonement; Grant Osborne, the well-known Arminian theologian, lays out the general or unlimited atonement understanding; and John Hammett offers a multiple-intention view which seeks to demonstrate that Christ’s atonement had more than one intention.  That is, it is both definite and...

The Storm-Tossed Family, How the Cross Reshapes the Home by Russell Moore

The Storm-Tossed Family was honored with Christianity Today’s 2019 Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year Award, so I was curious as to why. I found the book interesting in places, even if Moore often wrote in generalities and loaded the work with clichés.  I was bothered by his constant references to the “gospel,” without defining the gospel clearly.  This is especially true when he quoted positively several Roman Catholics who presumably would reject Moore’s understanding of the gospel: Thomas Merton (p. 136), Flannery O’Connor (p. 249), and J. R. R. Tolkien (p. 263), along with Wendell Berry who never claimed to be a Christian (p. 83).  Concerning the gospel, I would assume that Moore accepts penal substitution (p. 27 alluded to this), but he emphasizes the Christus-Victor view on the atonement, writing, “At the cross, Jesus defeated the accusing spirits by break the deception they have over human image-bearers.”...

The Unseen Realm, A Critique

(Volume 25, Issue 4, July/August 2019) Michael Heiser’s view of Scripture and the supernatural realm has generated much attention within evangelical circles recently.  His concepts have generated a wave of speculation that some are now riding.  What does he teach and how concerned should the discerning Christian be?  This critique will provide some answers. It all began when Heiser was examining Psalm 82:1, which reads in the NASB “God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. “Michael Heiser, currently Executive Director of the School of Ministry at Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, came to believe that he had discovered the key to understanding God and Scripture which had long been buried by the western world and the evangelical community. That key was:  “The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly – a pantheon – of other gods” (p....