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)...

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...