Reprobation and God’s Sovereignty, Recovering a Biblical Doctrine

Peter Sammons is the managing editor of The Master’s Seminary Journal and director of Academic Publications at The Master’s Seminary. In this volume he tackles the heavy theological, often avoided and frequently misunderstood topic of reprobation, which he defines as “the eternal, unconditional decree of God for the non-elect” (p. 47) and “that eternal decree of God whereby He has determined to pass some men by, with the operations of His special grace, and to punish them for their sin, to the manifestation of His justice” (p. 119). “Reprobation includes two elements: on the negative side is preterition, or the denial of grace not due, and predamnation, on the positive side, meaning the appointment of punishment due” (p. 122). What Sammons is attempting to do is to address the issue of theodicy, the problem of evil: “How does an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God exist and interact with in the...

Rediscover Church, Why the Body of Christ is Essential

While neither Hansen nor Leeman is a pastor, both being employed by parachurch organizations (the Gospel Coalition and 9Marks), they have teamed up in the wake of the Covid shut downs to call Christians to rediscover the church. They are concerned that too many have attached themselves to livestream and virtual church and are depreciating the value of the church gathered. The authors strongly challenge such ideas, proclaiming that “regularly gathering together is necessary for a church to be a church” (p. 48) and virtual church is a push toward individualize Christianity (p. 53). “A Christian without a church is a Christian in trouble,” they state in the introduction (p. 11). Hansen and Leeman expand their conviction later: “This book aims to help you rediscover church so that you both understand what church is and in turn discover the richness of living as a brother or sister in the...

Awake & Alive to Truth, Finding Truth in the Chaos of a Relativistic World

John Cooper is the founder and lead vocalist for the rock band Skillet and is not the kind of person one would normally expect to write a book heralding biblical truth – but he has. Given his celebrity status among young people who enjoy his brand of music, he perhaps may draw a unique audience to his message. His message is that our lives must be built on the immoveable foundation of biblical truth (pp. 9, 21). Cooper addresses the shifting ideas concerning truth in our culture (pp. 21-33) and passionately defends the authority of Scripture (pp. 36-45). The author understands well the fallen, sinful nature of mankind and recognizes that the original bent of all people is toward unrighteousness (pp. 47-55). As a result, not only can our natural thinking not be trusted, but neither can our feelings (pp. 55-64). Therefore, we must follow the Word (p. 59)...

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...