Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew

Scot McKnight’s companion book with Five Things Theologians Wished Biblical Scholars Knew is almost as disturbing as the first. Hans Boersma, the author of the volume mentioned above, comes fully equipped with Anglo-Catholic, mystical, and liberal credentials, but McKnight is a card-carrying evangelical. This renders the work under review even more disappointing than the latter book, if that’s possible. That said, there are features of Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew that are of value. The “five things” on McKnight’s list are that theology needs a constant return to Scripture, needs to know its impact on biblical studies, needs historically shaped biblical studies, needs more narrative, and needs to be lived. The author set the agenda by writing, “The fundamental starting point is that we Bible folks think systematicians sometimes get a bit too far from Scripture” (p. 13). The rest of the book explores the five items...

Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew

I purchased this volume and its companion, Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew, looking for a lively interaction between biblical scholars and theologians, which would expose holes in each approach leading to a better comprehension of God’s truth. Unfortunately, such was not the case. The publishers chose not an evangelical theologian to represent theologians but a Catholic/Anglican mystic who thoroughly embraces the historical-critical method as well as higher criticism. Scot McKnight, who wrote the second book in this short series, captured the essence of Boersma’s thesis in his foreword: In the last two decades or so something has arisen that is call the theological interpretation of scripture, that reading the Bible isn’t simply about authorial intention… Boersma’s theology is at work in advocating for a kind of theological, christological reading of Scripture in a sacramental sense (p. xi) (emphasis his). Boersma structured his book around five themes, each...

Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life

Crash Course is a 100-day devotional manual targeting teenagers. The author wants to help his readers become followers of Christ by discussing five critical areas: doctrine, decisions, direction, devotion and delight. Each of these areas is addressed in 20 two-page devotionals, complete with an introduction, bottom line summary, application, prayer and passage of Scripture. The book is biblically sound, with a few especially helpful insights and, conversely, a few miscues. Daniel Darling writes in a colloquial, rather simple manner, in his effort to relate to teens. Whether or not this book and its approach will engage teens is not something I am personally able to discern. I would be interested in the feedback of young people who have actually read the book. However, if parents are looking for devotional material that addresses issues teenagers wrestle with Crash Course would be worth considering. by Daniel Darling (Birmingham: New Hope Publishing,...

Reading the Times, A Literary and Theological Inquiry into the News

In light of the consolidated, monetized and dominate flow of news coming from modern media sources, we need a practical theology of the news. Jeffrey Bilbro writes this volume to help his readers “think theologically” about how Christians should consume the news (p. 6). Each of the three parts addresses a particular set of questions: To what should we attend? How should we imagine and experience time? And how should we belong to one another? Each part follows the same pattern, with a chapter considering how our contemporary media offers inadequate answers, a second chapter, which proposes a theological answer, and the final chapter suggesting specific practices, which “might cultivate a healthier posture toward the news” (p. 6). A quote by Josef Pieper sets the tone for Part One: “The average person of our time loses the ability to see because there is too much to see!” (p. 11)....

Things That Differ, the Fundamentals of Dispensationalism

The Berean Bible Society and Cornelius Stam represent a wing of dispensationalism often called hyperdispensationalism although this handle is rejected by those in the Grace Movement. While maintaining most of the major tenets of more traditional forms (e.g., moderate and progressive) such as a separation between the church and Israel and a consistent application of grammatical–historical hermeneutic, hyperdispensationalism differs on a number of importance points. These differences take on additional significance because nondispensationalists often confuse what the Grace Movement teaches with the more standard and far more widely held form of dispensational theology. But lumping in ultra-dispensations with more mainline views is like claiming that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists or that all Armenians are in league with Pelagius. Stam, in Things That Differ, shows clearly that things do differ among those who are under the broader dispensational umbrella. Stam agrees with other dispensationalists concerning the definition of dispensation (pp....

Simply Trinity, the Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Spirit

Simply Trinity is the best book I have read in support of Classical Theism, what Matthew Barrett (Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) terms “The Great Tradition,” and the rule of faith (p. 35). The Great Tradition is grounded in the Nicene Creed (p. 37) and reinforced by the pro-Nicene Church fathers. Barrett turns to what he calls his “dream team” of pro-Nicene advocates as those who were the most influential in supporting and passing down the Great Tradition. The team consists of 12 theologians including: Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, John Owen, John Gill and the Cappadocian Fathers: Basil and the Gregorys. Barrett quotes from his dream team time and again to demonstrate that Classical Theism has deep roots and is biblical. The motivation undergirding Simply Trinity is Barrett’s belief that the Trinity has been manipulated and distorted beyond recognition, not only by liberals, but by...

The Last Hour, An Israeli Insider Looks at the End Times

Amir Tsarfati, a Jewish believer living in Israel and president of Behold Israel, writes this book to communicate God’s truth with “a desire to wake up the church, warn unbelievers and to speak of the blessed hope that believers have” (p. 28). He agrees with Ed Hindson who wrote “Bible prophecy is not written to scare us. It is written to prepare us” (p. 29). Tsarfati presents a pretribulational understanding of biblical prophecies and is mostly on target theologically. He also details important historical events concerning Israel and dispels a number of modern myths about the current nation of Israel (pp. 95-115). Unfortunately, the wheels come off when Tsarfati attempts to connect the dots between biblical prophecy and current events. Believing that all of the prophecies found in Ezekiel 37 and most found in Ezekiel 38 have already been fulfilled (pp. 181-201), the author tries to prove the Lord’s...

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)...