The Cessation of the Prophetic Gifts

The Cessation of the Prophetic Gifts is Timothy Dane’s doctrinal dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for his Doctor of Philosophy degree at Baptist Bible Seminary.  It is a scholarly work with thousands of footnotes (which happily are not endnotes, making for easier reference) and an extensive 69 page bibliography. Dane clearly defines the goal of the book: This dissertation will strive to demonstrate a plausible statement of cessationism based on the mature-body view from three main lines of reasoning: (1) a plausible exegetical defense of cessationism from 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and Ephesians 4:7-16 that to teleion is a reference to a mature-body in Christ that Paul foresaw, (2) a plausible support from a theological level that a mature-body explanation has broader theological support in directly relevant issues, and (3) a plausible validation at a historical level that the church did experience a cessation of the revelatory gifts...

The Greeks, Crucible of Civilization by Paul Cartledge

Greek history has always fascinated me, so when I stumbled across an intriguing PBS documentary by the above title, I just had to have the accompanying book. Unfortunately this is one of those rare cases when the movie is better than the book, although not by much. Actually the book is very interesting, full of facts and information worthy of note. But I was not particularly fond of the format, which was arranged by personalities rather than the actual flow of history and events. The result was, in effect, 15 short biographies of famous (and a few not so famous) Greeks from Homer to Alexander the Great. Along the way you will find numerous wonderful pictures that will help bring the times alive....

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

That the autobiography of a relatively obscure individual would be considered perhaps the greatest of all autobiographies (by many critics) was intriguing to me. I thought that I might give it a read. What I found surprised me. Henry Adams, a grandson of John Quincy Adams, was a brilliant man who lived a long time, from 1838 to 1914, had great potential and for the most part accomplished very little. He was a writer and historian but was content with what he termed “education” not action. By education he seemed to mean that he was an observer, a learner. He studied life, often from a detached point of view – he seldom entered the contest himself. In the process of educating, Henry Adams nurtured his already inherent pessimism about life, people, politicians and even himself. So what is the draw of this book? Well, first Adam was an excellent...

Small Group Evangelism by Richard Peace

This book deals with biblical and practical approaches to small group evangelism. It offers some helpful insight on both fronts, but it is limited for local church use by at least two factors. First, the author is more familiar with a campus setting. As anyone who has been involved in college Bible studies and ministries knows, what is successful on the campus is not automatically transferable to the local church. Peace also laces considerable pop-psychology throughout the book. This is truly unfortunate and must be filtered out by the discerning reader. Nevertheless, the work is worth a reading for those interested in evangelistic home Bible studies and the like....

Presence—Centered Youth Ministry by Mike King

Mike King is president of YouthFront, an organization creating an environment for youth to experience spiritual transformation. He is also on staff at Jacob’s Well Church in Kansas City. King is definitely somewhere in the emergent/emerging camp, but he says little about his doctrinal beliefs in this book so it is difficult to know exactly where he fits. Like many others in the emerging “conversation,” King is reacting from unpleasant experiences in conservative and what he could consider legalistic churches (chapter 1). But he does have a legitimate concern—the majority of church-raised young people drop out in their twenties. How are we to reach these young people for Christ? I found myself in consensus with many of King’s general philosophies:   • “The notion of youth workers as entertainers and program directors must give way to youth workers as authentic shepherds, spiritual guides with a holy anointing to lead...

Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper

Subtitled The Supremacy of God in Missions, this book is marketed as the “sequel to the Supremacy of God in Preaching draws on key biblical texts to show that worship is the ultimate goal of the church and that proper worship fuels missions.” To a large extent, Piper satisfies this goal and goes beyond it. Touted by many as the book to read on missions, for the most part Let the Nations be Glad lived up to its billing. The book is composed of two parts, the first entitled “Making God Supreme in Missions, The Purpose, the Power, and the Price.” Here Piper speaks of the relationship between missions and three important actions: worship, prayer and suffering. Each of these chapters is loaded with scriptural support and, as usual, Piper’s favorite theme of seeking our own happiness in God emerges. It often disturbs me how smoothly Piper can...

Foundations of African Traditional Religion and Worldview by Yusufu Turaki

For an excellent understanding of the traditional religions and the spiritual beliefs of the African people I cannot recommend this book too highly. Dr. Turaki is an African who has lived and ministered in both Nigeria and Kenya and has a number of advanced degrees from America. He knows the spiritual climate in Africa both experientially and scholastically. He therefore brings to the table a wonderful blend of the practical and the theological. Some of the highlights of the book include: 1) African religions are pragmatic. People want a religion that they can use to meet their needs and provide for their wishes (p. 15, 107, 117). 2) African religions are not cognitively-oriented systems with esoteric doctrines and strict rules or regulations. Rather they are existential and experiential – more felt than understood (pp. 19, 33). 3) There are five fundamental beliefs of African religions. A belief in (pp....

Faith Undone by Roger Oakland

Roger Oakland has provided for God’s people a needed and valuable exposé of the emergent church movement. This is the most complete and up-to-date treatment of this complex and rapidly changing “conversation” (as adherents like to call it). Faith Undone is extremely valuable on many fronts: First, we are given the history and roots of the movement. While officially of recent vintage, the roots go back many years to people like Peter Drucker along with Bob Buford and his Leadership Network. From the foundation laid by these the emergent movement was launched in the mid-1990s by disillusioned pastors Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones and Mark Driscoll. While not all of these men are in complete agreement and Driscoll has distanced himself from emergent, these individuals continue to provide much of the leadership to the “conversation.” Oakland quotes fluently from these key leaders...

Discipling Music Ministry by Calvin M. Johansson

This volume, having been recommended by two reliable book reviews, was to be the one I have been looking for to help me better understand music in relationship to the church. It proved to be a grave disappointment. It started off promising with statements such as, “Church music should be determined by the nature and mission of the church itself,” and “Nothing is gained by entertaining people into the kingdom, musically speaking, only to have them jolted into reality that the Christian life is not an entertainment at all.” But then signs of problems began to show up. First was the dogmatic assurance that some music is godly and other evil just by whether or not quarter notes or dotted sixteenth were used (or some such jargon). Some music (not speaking here of lyrics) is simply more disciplined and therefore more holy (p. 71). How could he prove this,...

The Disciple Making Pastor by Bill Hull

Hull believes and teaches that it is the primary ministry of the pastors of local churches to make disciples. Few would argue with this in principle, but in practice the time and energies of many a pastor is fragmented into so many areas that the task of discipleship making gets lost in the shuffle. Hull’s book is an attempt to call pastors back to this ministry and to help equip them for the job. The Disciple Making Pastor is a book well worth reading. It lays out the Scriptural teachings and guidelines for a discipleship ministry, and gives practical suggestions for implementing such a program. The book is not without its problems, however. I felt the author was a little too caustic toward pastors who have not caught his vision. Coupled with this is the simple fact that the pastor of an established, traditional church may find it very...

The Disciple Making Church by Bill Hull

With a few exceptions (such as using Mother Teresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as examples of Christians to model), The Disciple Making Church is an excellent examination of the discipling ministry that should be part of every local congregation. Hull, basing most of what he writes on the New Testament, has a good grasp of what a church ought to be, and all sorts of ideas on how to get there. He occasionally pushes a little too close to the market-driven paradigm, but the discerning reader should be able to filter out the fluff from the stuff. I liked his thoughts on the priorities of church leaders and outreach activities (he calls them “fishing pool” ideas). I thought he went too far when he recommended only one “sit and listen” service a week, which would lead to a doctrinally endemic church in a short time. Hull’s comprehensive flow-charts and organization...

Dining with the Devil by Os Guinness

Dining with the Devil is not about the spiritual warfare movement, as some might assume, but rather deals with the megachurch movement as it “flirts with modernity”, as Os Guinness, the author, puts it. Guinness is very concerned about where the megachurch craze is taking the church, or rather how it is reshaping the church. Guinness is an intellectual (I am not quite sure who decides these things, but Os probably “are” one) and as such he is concerned not so much with the surface issues as with the history and foundation that undergirds the megachurches of America. He implies, from the title on, that this movement may be drawing more from the devil than from the Lord. An early quote says it well, “He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon” (I love that kind of stuff, even when I am not certain what...

Consumer Church by Bruce and Marshall Shelley

Like most books written by the politically correct evangelical church leaders, this one says much without saying anything of importance. On the positive side, overviews of recent church history are good, surveys of modern worship styles are interesting and sketches of church movements in America are worth knowing. But the authors dare not step out and express opinions, nor do they properly evaluate anything by the Scriptures. So what we have is the typical mellow evangelical fare, with lots of generalities, little if any Scripture, no clear pronouncements lest someone be offended. In essence, except for the above mentioned positives, this book is of little value to anyone....

Confessions of a Reformission Rev. by Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is at the center of much discussion today—partly because he is difficult to pigeon-hole. On the one hand he is a powerful preacher who holds to Reformed theology and has spoken at John Piper’s annual conference. On the other hand he is crude, admits to cursing and is prone to anger and sarcasm (Driscoll manages to insult and make fun of virtually everyone). I am often told that Driscoll is a work in progress (aren’t we all?) and has greatly matured in recent years. That may or may not be, but as a reviewer I must review the book at hand which was published only two years ago (2006). On a positive note, Confessions reveals a man who holds nothing back. Driscoll passionately and aggressively pursues what he believes is best for the Lord’s work. He defines reformissional as “seeking to determine how Christians and their churches...

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church by D. A. Carson

One of the fastest growing and most unsettling movements within the borders of Christianity is the emerging church. Barely ten years in its development, the emergent church is challenging the very foundations of evangelicalism, causing many to question their beliefs. D. A. Carson is one of the first to address the emergent church in a comprehensive way. Carson is a careful, solid theologian and Bible scholar. When he speaks we better listen, even if we occasionally might not agree. Carson has used his considerable skill to give us a fair but hard hitting analysis of this movement, its leaders and its basic tenants. The author knows the issues and he knows how to address them biblically. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church is a most helpful volume. I recommend it highly....

Translating Truth by Wayne Grudem, Leland Ryken, C. John Collins, Vern S. Poythress, Bruce Winter

Translating Truth is a defense of the “essentially literal” (“word-for-word”) approach to biblical translation as opposed to the “dynamic equivalent” or “thought-for-thought” renderings. Each of the five contributors was part of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version, an essentially literal translation published in 2001. The first chapter, by Wayne Grudem, is extremely informative and sets the agenda for the entire book. Grudem lays out his position: “Translators should not only ask, ‘Have I rendered the main idea of this sentence correctly?’ but should also ask, ‘Have I represented correctly the meaning that each word contributes to this sentence?’” (p. 29). Having so framed the debate, Grudem moves on to give examples of how dynamic equivalent translations leave out the meaning of some words which are in the original text and add meaning that are not there. As a result, dynamic equivalent translations cannot be trusted for...

The Last Word by N.T. Wright

N. T. Wright is the Bishop of Durham (Anglican Church), prolific author and biblical scholar, and is best known to many as the unofficial liaison between the New Perspective on Paul and evangelicalism. This work does not deal specifically with the NPP, rather Wright is trying to foster an understanding of Scripture which allows for and even nurtures such views. Wright is proposing what he calls a “new understanding of the authority of Scripture.” Exactly what is this new understanding? Let’s begin with the positive. By definition, Wright states “that the authority of Scripture must mean…‘the authority of God exercised through Scripture’” (p. 25). With this stripped-down definition we can agree. God’s authority is bigger than Scripture—it includes all that He is and does. Still Scripture is God’s written word and carries the full authority of Himself in all it proclaims. The Last Word provides much in the way...

Ten Keys for Unlocking the Bible by Colin S. Smith

This little volume is the forerunner of a series of four books entitled Unlocking the Bible. It is designed to give a high-altitude view of Scripture to those unfamiliar with its message. With this in mind, as I read the book I kept asking myself, “Would I give this to a new believer?” My answer is “no!” for two reasons. First, it “flies” so high and far that I think the “view” is missed almost entirely. Someone unfamiliar with Scripture would gain little from this book. Secondly, Smith makes a number of errors in his biblical interpretation. He misunderstands Galatians 3:2-4 in particular (p. 31) and the Law in general (p. 34). He does not understand the purpose of the Pentecost in Acts 2 (pp. 108, 109). He misinterprets Romans 7 and 8 (pp. 119, 120). And he gives the all too common (by evangelicals) implication that Mother Teresa...

Soul Restoration: Hope for the Weary by Terri Blackstock

Blackstock, formerly a writer of secular romantic novels, is now an author of Christian fiction (none of which have I read). At the conclusion of her novels Blackstock has made it her habit to write a short afterword stating clearly the spiritual point that she has tried to flesh out in her story. These afterwords, with some additions, comprise the content of this little devotional book. Soul Restoration contains two dozen inspirational readings which, for the most part, are true to Scripture and helpful to the reader. There are exceptions to this as Blackstock occasionally uses Scripture out of context or claims an extrabiblical promoting from the Lord. The most notorious of such accounts is on page 32 in which the Lord supposedly prompted her to read Isaiah 49:24-25, take it out of context and claim a promise from Him for a spiritual healing for a friend’s unsaved daughter....

Slaves, Women & Homosexuals, Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William Webb

Slaves, Women & Homosexuals, Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William Webb William Webb, who received his ThD from Dallas Theological Seminary and is presently professor of New Testament at Heritage Theological Seminary, has written this book to introduce and promote a new hermeneutical approach to the Scriptures, what he calls “redemptive-movement.” The author’s primary concern is figuring out which statements from the Bible should be followed as expressed in Scripture and which do we have the right to take further to the redemptive spirit of the statement due to cultural changes (p. 13). Webb is trying to weave a path somewhere between what he calls static hermeneutics (grammatical-historical) and radical hermeneutics (liberal and neo-orthodox). With redemptive-movement interpretation the exegete will agree that statements, commands, etc., in Scripture can be taken at face “on the page” value. But the meaning was for the original time and culture only;...

Prolegomena by Christopher Cone

Prolegomena is the study of presuppositions, definitions and theological methods which are foundational to any doctrinal system. This volume concerning prolegomena is decidedly dispensational in approach and thus lays the groundwork necessary for understanding Scripture dispensationally. Cone, among other things, handles issues related to the existence of God, Scripture, hermeneutics and theology. He spends over a third of the book discussing hermeneutical matters and defending the Historical-Grammatical method. He deals much with Dispensationalism and distinguishes it from Covenant Theology. I believe Cone has done his homework and offers an excellent theological study which is basic to systemic theology....

How Readest Thou? by J. C. Ryle

This is my first book by nineteenth century author J. C. Ryle; it will not be my last. How Readest Thou? is an absolutely marvelous exhortation on the value and necessity of reading the Scriptures. It is amazing that a man writing over one hundred and fifty years ago could still speak so relevantly and powerfully to our generation. Anyone who could read this volume and not hunger more greatly for the Word had better call for the spiritual undertaker to pronounce his or her soul dead....

Choosing a Bible by Leland Ryken

Choosing a Bible is an excellent little resource detailing the differences between the three major types of translations: essentially literal, dynamic equivalent and paraphrase. The literal translation, which was the goal of the translator until the middle of the twentieth century, attempted to translate the words of the original Hebrew and Greek texts as literally as possible. Today, the best known translations of this genre are the NASB, ESV, KJV, NKJV and RSV. The dynamic equivalent (or functional equivalent) translations are best represented by the NIV, TNIV and NLT. The goal of dynamic equivalency is not word-for-word, but the thought behind the words. Paraphrases such as the LB and The Message are not translations at all but running commentaries, i.e., opinions of the author. Ryken demonstrates clearly the inferiority and danger of the latter two groups. What the dynamic translators give us, he writes, “is a translation plus a...

Biblical Authority by James T. Draper, Jr. and Kenneth Keathley

This is an excellent volume on the inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of Scripture. The authors take a solid position on the Word, give us a quick look at church history in relationship to the Bible and expose the dangers facing the evangelical church today in this regard. Draper and Keathley are both Southern Baptists so they have fought in the trenches over these issues and have much at stake personally. I recommend this book highly....

A Word for the Day by J.D. Watson

Most “devotional” books and booklets function like spiritual vitamins – take one a day and you will feel better. But neither vitamin pills nor devotional books were ever meant to replace balanced diets; they are meant to be supplements. Hence, most devotional material is light on doctrine, designed to give the reader a spiritual lift more than instruction in truth. Enter Dr. Watson’s excellent book. Ignoring the normal lighthearted paradigm of this genre of literature, Dr. Watson offers biblical meat and potatoes. I can think of no other book of this type that so meticulously enlightens the mind as it encourages the heart. J. D. Watson is at heart a pastor and he can’t help but sermonize on occasion. With some of these comments the reader may take issue, as they might with any author. Also, Watson’s strong preference for the KJV is apparent, which might not sit well...

Theology Lessons

Theology lessons are downloadable outlines of key doctrines found in Scripture. These lessons can be used to guide your personal study in these areas or for systematic theology classes in your church or small group Bible study. Click on a doctrine title below to download. Systematic Theology Angelology The Doctrine of Angels Anthropology The Doctrine of Man Bibliology The Doctrine of Scripture Christology The Doctrine of Christ Ecclesiology The Doctrine of the Church Eschatology The Doctrine of the End Times Pneumatology The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Soteriology The Doctrine of Salvation Theology Proper The Doctrine of God Biblical Studies Bible Survey Growing in Christ Psychology...