Biblical Sufficiency Applied, General Editor Christopher Cone (Fort Worth: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2011), 319 pp. paper $21.00

Eleven different authors contribute to this book dedicated to the promotion of biblical sufficiency.  The volume is less a defense of the sufficiency of Scripture than an application of this important doctrine along a wide range of issues facing the conservative evangelical movement today.  As general editor Christopher Cone states, “Biblical Sufficiency Applied is an effort on the part of its several contributors to consider certain areas of contemporary controversy in the light of Scripture” (p. 1). Some of the important issues addressed include:  a critique of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins (Cone), biblical counseling (John Adams Tucker), supersessionism (Kevin Zuber), the New Perspective on Paul (myself), worship and music (George Gunn and Arnfield Cudal), contextual interpretation of Scripture (Samuel Dallessandro) and New Covenant Theology (Leon Johnson). As is the nature of such a book, each article serves more as an introduction to the subjects covered rather than a...

The Promised One by Nancy Guthrie, Wheaton: Crossway, 2011; 285 pp. paper $15.99

The Promised One is a 10 part study guide for women which “is uniquely designed to help you to look into the wonder of the first book of the Old Testament—Genesis—and see how it prepares for and points to Christ” (p. 9).  The controlling scriptural passage is Luke 24:27 in which Jesus instructed the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  The verse reads, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (ESV).  On this foundation Guthrie writes, “Most people see the Bible as a ‘guidebook for life.’  But Jesus is saying here that the Bible is not about what God wants us to do but about who God wants us to see.  And it is Jesus we are going to see as we study Genesis together” (p. 24). Herein lie both the strength and the weakness of...

Interpreting the Historical Books, An Exegetical Handbook by Robert B. Chisholm Jr

This volume is one of six in the “Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis” series edited by David M. Howard Jr.  The only others in the series presently available are on the Pentateuch and Psalms.  The others: Wisdom Literature, Prophets and Apocalyptic Literature await publication.   The books are primarily intended to serve as textbooks for graduate level exegetical courses that assume a basic knowledge of the Hebrew language.  However, any well-versed serious student of Scripture would benefit from these works.  The book under review, written by the chair of the Old Testament department at Dallas Theological Seminary, is helpful on a number of levels. It serves as an excellent primer and introduction to the Old Testament books beginning with Joshua and concluding with Esther. Chisholm opens with a long chapter explaining what narrative literature is including basic elements of a story, structural features, dialogue, the role of the narrator and...

Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey.

Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey.  The Woodlands, Tex.: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010. 127 pp.,  $10.99 (paperback). One of the hardest things to do is to listen.  And one of the hardest things for church-goers to do is to listen to sermons.  Expository Listening is a new book by Ken Ramey that seeks to help believers in that endeavor.  As the back cover of the book states, Expository Listening is your handbook on biblical listening.  It is designed to equip you not only to understand what true, biblical preaching sounds like, but also how to receive it, and ultimately, what to do about it.  You need to know how to look for the Word of God, to love the Word of God, and to live the Word of God.  In this way, God and His Word will be honored and glorified through...

What on Earth Is God Doing? by Renald E. Showers

This book provides a biblical answer and reveals Satan’s counterfeit to the three major worldview questions:  Where have we come from?  Why are we here? Where are we going? (p. 128).  The Lord has a plan and a goal for all of His creation, and it is these that Satan makes every attempt to thwart.  Since God’s ultimate purpose is made possible only through the Redeemer, the devil focuses much of his attention on subverting, or even attempting to eliminate, the Savior.  What on Earth Is God Doing? traces this conflict between God and Satan through history. Showers understands all of history in light of this conflict and, therefore, reads both biblical accounts and historical events through this lens.  This being the case, the author often does not proof-text many of his statements but sees events in light of his understanding of this conflict.  For example, concerning Cain’s murder...

Hold Your Course, 22 Daily Readings from the book of Colossians by Roger Ellsworth

This little volume is sort of a cross between a light commentary on Colossians and a daily devotional.  The net effect is very positive as Ellsworth gets us into Scripture and provides helpful insight and probing questions, all in a format that is far meatier than the average devotional material.  Hold Your Course would be excellent for personal Bible study as well as group studies....

The King James Only Controversy by James R. White

James R. White, an elder at Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church and Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, has written several apologetic books, including Is the Mormon My Brother, The Roman Catholic Controversy, and What’s With the Dudes at the Door.  In The King James Only Controversy, White seeks to “oppose those who would force others to use the KJV or risk God’s wrath for allegedly questioning His Word,” (p. VI).  He explains his motivation for writing in the Introduction: It is very important to understand the motivation behind this book. This book is not being written to push one particular translation of the Bible over another. There is no desire to get everyone to read the NASB, or the NIV, or the NKJV, or the RSV, or any other “modern” translation. On the other hand, I am not in any way seeking to stop those who use the KJV...

The Trinity, a Journal & Historic Creeds, a Journal by Kenneth Boa

Ken Boa, who received a master’s degree in Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, as well as doctoral degrees from New York University and the University of Oxford, is president of Reflections Ministries as well as Trinity House Publishers.  He is the author of several books including four journals in the Reflections series, all published by NavPress.  The two journals under review, along with the other two journals in the series, Sacred Readings and The Psalms, all attempt to do the same thing: take the reader on a meditative journal through the Scriptures or creeds via the use of  “the ancient art of sacred reading,” better known as lectio divina.  It is important to know that lectio is not found, promoted or prescribed anywhere in the Word of God.  It is a technique invented by the “Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century” (all quotations come...

A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur

MacArthur provides us with a comprehensive, readable and thoroughly biblical exposition of the “Parable of the Prodigal Son.”  In contrast to a well-publicized study of sermons on this great parable (See Christless Christianity by Michael Horton, pp. 48-61) which twisted the story into various therapeutic explanations, MacArthur rightly explains that the parable was aimed at the hard-hearted, legalistic Pharisees and the central figure is the “good” son, not the father or the Prodigal.  MacArthur’s understanding is summed up early in the book. The prodigal represents a typical sinner who comes to repentance.  The father’s patience, love, generosity, and delight over the son’s return are clear and perfect emblems of divine grace.  The prodigal’s heart change is a picture of what true repentance should look like.  And the elder brother’s cold indifference—the real focal point of the story, as it turns out—is a vivid representation of the same evil hypocrisy...

For the Love of God (2 volumes) by D. A. Carson

Robert Murray M’Cheyne is rightly recognized as a saintly Scottish preacher from the early 1800s. Although he did not live to see 30, his life and writings still touch the hearts of God’s people today. He desired to foster serious Bible reading for his people and, in that regard, he “prepared a scheme for daily reading that would take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice each year, and through the rest of the Bible once” (p. 12). D. A. Carson has taken M’Cheyne’s system and written two volumes of daily devotional material covering much of the reading in M’Cheyne’s schedule. Carson, being the biblical scholar that he is, supplies meaty comments that far exceed in content the normal devotional booklet. One drawback is that M’Cheyne had four listings per day and Carson, even in two volumes, covers only half of those readings. Another issue is that Carson’s...

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...

Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris

Harris has written a simple yet extremely helpful little book calling for heart-felt involvement in the local church. He pulls up short the numerous Christians who hang out on the fringe of the church. To such, he calls to love what Christ loves—the church; not just the universal people of God but the visible, flesh-and-blood local assembly of believers. Not only does Christ love the church but He commands us to do the same; such love is evidence of our love for Christ. I appreciate a Mark Dever quote, “Do you want to know that your new life is real? Commit yourself to a local group of saved sinners. Try to love them. Don’t just do it for three weeks. Don’t just do it for six months. Do it for years. And I think you’ll find out, and others will, too, whether or not you love God. The truth...

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....

Revolution by George Barna

Some years ago a popular but chubby Christian author wrote a book on how to lose weight. The uniqueness about this situation was that the author had been on his diet only for a short time and had not reached his targeted weight. So dramatic had been his weight loss that he rushed to inform the rest of the world about his method. But, as almost anyone knows who has ever gone on a diet, it is relatively easy to lose weight, even in large amounts, at the beginning of a diet. Our author thought he had discovered the wave of the future in weight management and was eager to share his finding. Alas, he and his regimen have long since been forgotten. All of this reminds me of George Barna’s belief that he has caught the wave of the future concerning the church. Within twenty years, he confidently...

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...

No Little Places by Ron Klassen and John Koessler

As the subtitle promises, this is a book about “the untapped potential of the small-town church.” It is a short book, full of practical advice for the rural pastor, written by two men who know their subject. Both Klassen and Koessler spent the early days of their ministries successfully pastoring small-town churches. Their approach is to share what they have learned through their experiences. The result is an interesting book that should offer insight and practical help to those in similar situations. This volume would be a nice gift to the pastor of the rural church . One could find cause to be concern over a few issues however: The use of Scripture is practically non-existent in the volume (and one of the few passages, Acts 5:13, is used incorrectly due to not reading the very next verse (pp. 24, 25)). I realize that it is not the purpose...

Life in the Father’s House by Wayne Mack & Dave Swavely

Life in the Father’s House is a solidly biblical book aimed at members of the local church rather than at the leadership. It “speaks directly and extensively to the responsibilities of the ‘common’ people who are part of a local church” (p. 12). As such, numerous pertinent topics are handled including: • Church membership • How to choose a good church • Roles of men and women • Use of spiritual gifts • Church discipline • Unity in the body • Praying for one another Each chapter closes with study and discussion questions and an additional appendix with more such helps is included. Life in the Father’s House is a helpful book which would benefit any who read it....

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...

Jim and Casper Go to Church by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper

Jim Henderson, former pastor and co-founder of Off the Map, a ministry which helps Christians communicate with non-Christians, teams up with Matt Casper, a confirmed atheist, to visit and critique evangelical churches across America. Henderson wanted to communicate to church leaders what the unchurched perceive when they attend church, “What do first-timers see? How are they treated? What are the central messages they glean? How do they process the experiences? On what basis do they decide whether or not to return” (p. xi). To this end, Jim hires Casper to travel the country with him giving his observations of church services from an unbeliever’s viewpoint. The concept is intriguing, if not doomed from the start. It is flawed because the Lord has already informed us that the gospel is foolish to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). The church gathered is, according to Scripture, the people of God who have...

How to Experience Revival by Charles G. Finney

This little volume serves as a digest of Finney’s principles and teachings on the subject of revival. As the architect, if not the father, of what I would call “revivalism,” Finney has set the standard for what many today understand revival to be. In addition he has invented many of the means whereby so-called revival is initiated and sustained. Finney’s teachings have done immeasurable harm to the church of Christ, even though most Christian leaders have never read a single word he wrote. How to Experience Revival would give the busy Christian a little taste of Finney’s mysticism, unbiblical views on prayer, evangelism, works salvation, sinless perfection, and his “new measures” which changed the face of the American church....

Gothard by Wilfred Bockelman

In the over thirty years of Bill Gothard’s ministry there has only been two books, to my knowledge, critiquing his teachings and organization. This is due to a number of factors: the secretiveness of the organization, the overwhelming mass of materials and programs, and the militancy of Gothard followers. To many Christians Gothard, much like James Dobson, is untouchable. To examine, and especially to disagree with anything he says is like attacking the Bible. Few have dared to do so, even in areas in which Gothard is obviously in error. The first to attempt a published work was Wilfred Bockelman, who wrote Gothard in the wake of the early success of Basic Youth Conflicts seminars in the early 1970s. This is a relatively weak book written by a rather liberal Lutheran leader, who, when he attempted to correct Gothard’s teaching ended up promoting more error than Gothard. The book...

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...

Church Marketing, Breaking Ground for the Harvest by George Barna

Having concluded that he has already won the battle surrounding the “is marketing the church biblical” issue in his previous book, Barna now moves on to tell us how to get the job done. (p. 13,14). The essence of the market-driven philosophy (which Barna believes has many Scriptural examples, p. 23, and that even evangelism is a marketing technique, p. 20) is to meet people’s felt needs (p. 21). Herein lies the great flaw in the marketing approach – the purpose of the church has been turned on its head. The church does not exist to meet people’s needs, thus turning God into a benevolent genie who pops out of his lamp to deliver goodies and help us cope. The purpose of the church is to glorify God and instruct people how to please Him (beginning with salvation). With the marketing strategy firmly established and defended, in his own...

Can Fallen Pastors be Restored? by John H. Armstrong

It is doubtful that the true church of Christ has ever had to deal with anything quite like the recent moral failures of its Christian leaders. Some studies seem to indicate that one in eight ministers (who are still in their leadership position) have committed adultery, and up to 37% of ministers “have been involved in inappropriate behavior with someone in the church” (p.19). With statistics like that, it should not surprise us that churches are looking for ways of dealing with this onslaught. And while many issues surface at such times, none has proven to be more thorny than what to do with these fallen pastors. Resolutions seem to fall into three categories, assuming the fallen pastor has repented: 1) immediate restoration to church office (within 12 months of sexual failure); 2) future restoration; 3) personal restoration but with no possibility for restoration to office. What is the...

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....

Ancient-Future Worship by Robert E. Webber

Robert Webber, the recognized father of the Ancient-Future Faith Movement, offers this book as the final one in a series of five volumes which details what the movement encompasses. I have reviewed the original in the series, Ancient-Future Faith-Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World, written in 1999. I have also written three articles in our monthly Think on These Things publication on the Ancient-Future Faith movement, so those who want more information might read this material at www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/church. This particular book by Webber is not as concerning as the first volume as he puts a face on the actual worship methodology found in A-F, which Webber defines as, “the common tradition of the church’s worship in Word, Table, and song, practiced faithfully and communicated clearly in every context of the world” (p. 168). In light of the challenges facing modern evangelicalism, Webber is calling for a recovery of the...

Ancient—Future Faith by Robert E. Webber

The thesis of Webber’s book, well represented by the title, is “you can best think about the future of the faith after you have gone back to the classical tradition” (p. 7). Webber does not want to reinvent the Christian faith, he just wants to “carry forward what the church has affirmed from its beginning” (p. 17). Six stages of church history are identified: ancient (classical) (100-600), medieval (600-1500), Reformation (1500-1750), modern (1750-1980), and postmodern (1980- ). The current postmodern era is, in a sense, a return to an ancient stage, which Webber sees as the most pure form of Christianity. He writes, “It may be said broadly that the story of Christianity moves from a focus on mystery in the classical period, to institution in the medieval era, to individualism in the Reformation era, to reason in the modern era, and now, in the postmodern era, back to...

A Matter of Principles by Don Veinot, Joy Veinot and Ron Henzel

It would be almost 3 decades before another brave soul ventured to carefully examine Gothard in book form. A Matter of Principles is a far more thorough work, investigating both the teachings and person of Bill Gothard, along with his organization. What is unearthed is extremely unpleasant at times, as Gothard is portrayed as a man lacking in integrity and simply not practicing what he preaches. Accounts of scandals being hushed and lies being told are detailed throughout the book. More importantly, many of Gothard’s core teachings are held up to the light of Scripture and found wanting. A Matter of Principles is a disturbing book that will anger many. The question of course is whether Don is right, especially concerning Gothard’s teaching. I would encourage anyone connected with Gothard’s ministry to give this book a fair reading and determine, with his or her Bible open, whether Don has...

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 Voice of Luke, Not Even Sandals by Brian McLaren

The Voice of Luke is part of “The Voice Project” sponsored by the Ecclesia Bible Society. The project is derived from the concept that people today think, and therefore, need to read differently. “Instead of propositional-thought patterns, people today are more likely to interact with events and individuals through complex observations involving emotions, cognitive processes, tactile experiences, and spiritual awareness” (p. ix). It is for this reason the goal of “The Voice Project” to tell the story of the Bible in a narrative format, in order that the “passion, grit, humor and beauty” which is often lost in most translations, is recaptured. “One way to describe this approach is to say that it is a ‘soul translation’ not just a ‘mind translation’” (p. x). The editors admit, however, that their translations of Scripture are really a cross between translation and paraphrase, a “retelling” which seeks to bring “the biblical...

The Story of Joseph and Judah by Warren Austin Gage and Christopher Barber

This volume is the first in a planned series entitled “The Masterpiece Study Series.” When completed, the ten volumes will cover a number of other major Old Testament characters, as well as the four Gospels and their human authors. These books are not commentaries as such, but more like guided tours through biblical literature. Each chapter includes helpful background and theological information, numerous study questions, plus suggested application and reflection. Concerned that too often students of Scripture get lost in the details, the authors want their readers to dig deeply but at the same time stand back and enjoy the big picture. “Our goal in this study,” they write, “is to help recover something that has largely been lost, by learning to read the Bible not only as a scientist, but also as an act of love” (p. 6). The Story of Joseph and Judah is intended to guide...

The Message of the New Testament by Mark Dever

First, let’s mention what this book is not. It is not a one-volume commentary on the New Testament. If you are looking for analysis of difficult issues and texts you will be largely disappointed. Nor is this a Bible handbook giving copious details about authors, dates, outlines and the like. If you need that kind of information you would be wise to look elsewhere. What you will find in The Message on the New Testament are twenty-eight transcribed and edited sermons, one on each book plus an overview message. There is much to commend in Dever’s volume: it gives solid exposition of the biblical texts, presents excellent overviews of the New Testament books, sets forth a great example of how to preach this type of sermon and is edifying to the reader. There are also some negatives—mostly unavoidable due to the nature of the project: • Difficult issues are...

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...

By This Name by John Cross

Veteran missionary John Cross has spent a lifetime attempting to communicate the central message of the Word of God to cultures that have little, if any, knowledge of that message. As America and other Western countries become increasingly biblically illiterate, a similar approach is needed here as well. By This Name is the methodology Cross has developed to communicate this central message. The concept behind this book is that it is most difficult to attempt to evangelize those who have no background in biblical narratives and themes. To give a gospel presentation, even one containing all the essential elements, will not benefit most hearers because they have no context in which to comprehend the message. Worse, if the evangelist is aggressive and forces an immediate decision, the hearers may well profess belief without understanding what they are professing. The result is that the evangelist reports encouraging statistics on conversions...

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...