Gospel Conversations, How to Care Like Christ

Gospel Conversations, How to Care Like Christ by Robert W. Kellemen (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015) 397 pp., paper, $18.99 Gospel Conversations is a long, intense and thorough manual for biblical counseling.  The big idea communicated throughout the book is that “we learn to become competent biblical counselors by giving and receiving biblical counseling in the context of real and raw Christian community” (p. 17).  The focus is on training counselors to grow in four areas: biblical content, Christlike character, counseling competence, and Christian community (p. 24).  Counselors, in turn, seek to implement these same four areas into the lives of those they counsel.  Along the way Kellemen develops 21 biblical relational competencies (p. 44), and eight ultimate life questions (pp. 52-53).  In addition, there are two guideposts and four compass points of biblical counseling, four heart-focused goals, five sustaining competencies, five healing competencies, six reconciling competencies and five guiding...

Francis Asbury: God’s Circuit Rider

Francis Asbury: God’s Circuit Rider by Charles Ludwig (Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1984) 206 pp., paper, $5.94 used. If someone is looking for a short, simple history of American Methodism, Francis Asbury would be hard to beat. Written at about a junior high level this biography of the most important circuit rider and Methodist Bishop in the early years of the Methodist movement in America, is filled with both English and American history of the 18th and 19th century. While never considered a great preacher, Asbury was nevertheless a great leader and inspiration to those early followers of John Wesley’s theology and system designed to develop holiness in the saints. Perhaps the greatest hurdle Asbury had to overcome pertained to the ordinances. Wesley did not seek to start a new denomination and was comfortable remaining in the Anglican church. The movement he founded came alongside the established church to...

Social Justice Goes to Church

Social Justice Goes to Church, the New Left in Modern American Evangelicalism by Jon Harris (Greenville, South Carolina: Ambassador International, 2020) 205 pp., paper $16.99 Jon Harris has written an important book documenting the history leading up to the modern Social Justice Movement which has infiltrated evangelicalism. In part one he traces the roots to the progressive radicals of the 1960s and 1970s (pp. 13-19), devoting a chapter each to the key leaders: Jim Wallis, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Sharon Gallagher, John Anderson, Richard Mouw and Ron Sider. Others mentioned include: Tom Skinner (p. 94), Anthony Campolo (p. 47), Mark Hatfield (pp. 28, 64), and the editors of Christianity Today. These early left-wing Christian leaders summarized their views in the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern published in 1973 (pp. 17, 45-49). Harris identifies the key ingredients of the declaration: The Declaration itself acknowledged Christians’ failure to demonstrate the “love of...

Just Mercy

Just Mercy, a Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (New York: Random House, 2015) 349 pp + xiv, paper $17.00 Shortly after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1985, Bryan Stevenson was a young black attorney who found himself quickly thrust into an American South justice system riddled with injustice.  Believing that “the true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned” (p. 18), he soon established a law firm called Equal Justice Initiatives to defend such marginalized people and correct the system where he could.   This book is about “getting closer to mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America” (p. 14), and attempting to do something about it. Stevenson creatively weaves his ideology through stories of people that he has defended, in particular Walter McMillian whom was wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to be...

The Son Who Learned Disobedience

The Son Who Learned Obedience, a Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son by D. Glenn Butner, Jr. (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2018) 224 + x pp., paper $28.00 The Son Who Learned Obedience is exactly what the subtitle claims—a heavy, intense, thorough and robust defense against the theological position held by many complementarians known formally as the Eternal Functional Submission (EFS) of the Son to the Father within the Godhead.  Intense debate concerning EFS surfaced after Liam Goligher, in 2016, accused those holding to eternal submission of constructing a new deity that verged on idolatry (p. 1).  Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware, two key supporters of EFS, fired back defending their position and thus began a contentious evangelical war centered on the Trinity.  Throughout the book, Glenn Butner attempts to moderate extreme attacks from both camps, affirming, for instance, that EFS does not teach Arianism (p....

The Words of King Lemuel

The Words of King Lemuel, The Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 by James Daughtry (Bridgeview, IL; Abidan, 2021), 117 pp.   The Words of King Lemuel is a short practical commentary on Proverbs 31.  The author claims that the keys to understanding this chapter are the careful examination of the Hebrew words and the study of the lifestyle of the people (p. 8).  Using these keys, James Daughtry unlocks the meaning of King Lemuel’s instruction, and specifically the description of the virtuous woman, which encompasses most of the book.  Realizing that many have distorted and/or misunderstood this woman, Daughtry systematically works through the description given her in twenty-two short chapters, plus an introduction and an initial chapter.   The design of the book is to offer helpful insight and appropriate application drawn from the life of this excellent Old Testament woman, which relates to that of modern women.  In...

The American Puritan by Dustin Benge & Nate Pickowicz

For anyone who enjoys reading American church history, or has an interest in the Puritans, The American Puritans is a treat.  Dustin Benge and Nate Pickowicz have showcased the lives of nine Puritans who were greatly influential in the early settling of America including John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, John Eliot and Cotton Mather.  These individuals established “The New England Way,” “an expression of Congregationalism that sought to impact all areas of public life” (p. 7), and that embedded Christianity into the fabric of American society (pp. 54, 68-69, 110, 181).  The stated aim of the book is threefold: “First we hope to clarify and correct many of the myths and half-truths associated with the American Puritans.  Second, we hope to showcase their story—without hiding their faults—in order to inspire and edify this generation of Christian believers.  Lastly, we hope to encourage further study into their lives, beliefs, struggles, and...

Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America

David Horowitz is a conservative commentator and bestselling author of literature addressing primarily the radical left and rise of Marxism in America. His books, well-represented by Dark Agenda, are interesting, informative, and filled with stories, accounts and statistics that support his conservative views and expose the true agenda of those on his radar. In this book, that agenda is the destruction of Christianity because it stands in direct opposition to the goals of the Marxist Left (pp. 15, 34-35). As Bill Maher says, “Religion must die for mankind to live” (p. 15). Horowitz provides much evidence for his accusation that the political left is attempting to stamp out Christianity and its morals and virtues, and along the way to radically reshape America to reflect Marxist principles. He offers New Atheism (pp. 7-35), the efforts of Madalyn Murray O’Hair (pp. 63-74), Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood (pp. 77-83), abortion and...

Coronavirus and Christ

John Piper has written a timely and beneficial book, which is broadly applicable to all suffering and pain, but specifically targeting the coronavirus. The pandemic, which is raging in 2020, has not only wreaked havoc throughout the world but has also unsettled even mature Christians. How are believers to understand and handle something so devastating and ugly? This short work is Piper’s attempt to provide a biblical answer. He begins exactly where he should – with theology, which is the content of the first part of the book. Before we can engage with the coronavirus, we must recall and believe what is true about God: He is our Rock and hope (pp. 15-19); He is sovereign over all things (chapters four and five) and therefore appoints all things (p. 19); He is righteous and good (chapter three); He has given us the Bible, His Word, to guide and instruct...

God, Marriage, and Family, Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation (2nd Edition)

Köstenberger and Jones have written what amounts to a textbook on marriage and the family, which they hope will point the way to return and rebuild the biblical foundation of marriage and the family (p. 16).  The catalyst for this expansive work is the authors’ belief that, “There remains a need for a volume that does not treat issues related to marriage and family in isolation from one another but that shows how human fulfillment in these relationships is routed in the divine revelation found exclusively and sufficiently in Scripture” (p. 19). The authors maintain a solid, conservative, biblical approach to marriage and family, exegeting Scripture well throughout.   Not only do they address scriptural teachings on family and marriage, but they also work through controversial cultural issues such as abortion (pp. 118-120) and human sexuality (pp. 199-222).  Of course evangelicals are not monolithic when it comes to the home,...