Competent to Minister by Martin & Deidre Bobgan

The authors claim that the purpose of this book, is to call “Christians back to the Bible and to the biblically ordained ministries and mutual care in the Body of Christ that have effectively cared for souls for almost 2000 years.” The Bobgans, who for years were heavily involved in the biblical counseling movement, have blazed new territory in their last two books. They have come to have real doubts concerning the methodologies, direction and principles that undergird biblical counseling. Fearing that the movement has borrowed too much from secular psychology, especially in the area of methodology, they wrote a book entitled Against Biblical Counseling, For the Bible, in which they denounce the movement. In this present volume they take a somewhat more positive approach, calling God’s people back to the simplicity of the ministry of the Word, and the life within the body as curative for the problems...

Come Let Us Reason by Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks

The authors believe that logical thinking is a discovery not an invention. Based on that premise they set about helping the reader improve their logical skills, for without logical thinking we will not be able to either understand the Bible, nor make rational decisions in life. Come Let Us Reason goes on to give us a mini-course on logic. In the process it addresses subjects that only someone working in the field of logic, or a student cramming for a test, would take much interest. Nevertheless the book is very gratifying and deals well with an important subject. I found it refreshing, especially chapter six on informal fallacies....

Christian Liberty by Rex M. Rogers

This is a book that I desperately wanted to like, but Rogers got off to a ragged start when he trashed the Three Stooges. It was hard to recover from that blow, but I persevered. In Christian Liberty a number of threads are woven together to form a thesis. The first thread is the need to understand our changing times. We no longer live in a culture defined by modernity, where increasingly postmodernism is the mindset of our age. The second thread, that of the need to develop and live out a biblical worldview, naturally follows. The surprising thread (that which often hinders Christians from living out a biblical worldview in a postmodern culture) is that believers are too busy with intramural battles over minor issues. What the church needs is to practice Christian liberty, stop fighting unimportant wars and focus on two great mandates given to us by...

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene H. Peterson

I have to admit that reviewing a book by Eugene Peterson is not easy for me. Since Peterson has authored The Message, endorsed Richard Foster’s mysticism, and participated in the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, it is difficult to be objective about other books he authors, but with this caveat I will do my best. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places is a big book, at least 170,000 words I figure. It is not a quick read, as Peterson prefers a contemplative style. To get the most out of this volume one needs to take his time and to do so is to be often rewarded. Peterson says a lot of things worthy of meditation. He is knowledgeable, well read and not given to fluff. Peterson also does an excellent job on several occasions of tracing biblical storyline through sections of Scripture. These insights are helpful. As a matter of...

Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr

Published almost 60 years ago, Niebuhr’s classic is still the standard by which all others reference and interact concerning the issue of how Christians are to relate to the world around them. It takes Niebuhr ten pages to define culture and when he is done the reader is still not sure what he means and those who critique his work believe he is inconsistent in application. Nevertheless, the essence of the book and its value is in attempting to summarize Christian responses to culture around five approaches. A chapter is devoted to each of these approaches: 1. Christ against culture. Niebuhr sees this as a radical reaction in which all loyalty is given to Christ and all claims to loyalty by culture is rejected. This appears to be the position of the first Christians (p. 49) as well as those involved in monasticism and individuals such as Tolstoy (pp....

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

Written over twenty-five years ago, and proclaimed by Christianity Today as one of the ten best books of the twentieth century, the influence of Celebration of Discipline is all but incalculable. Foster is a Quaker, so his spiritual life is grounded in the subjective “inner light” presupposition of the Friends. He is highly steeped in the Roman Catholic mystics, drawing from dozens of them for his theology. More than that, Eugene Peterson informs us that Foster has “‘found’ the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot” (p. 206). Foster’s views are also formed by Quaker mystics and even secular thinking, most surprisingly Carl Jung, self-confessed demon-possessed psychologist. Without question these extra-biblical sources are behind Foster’s understanding of the Christian life. That is not to say that he does not refer to Scripture and occasionally interpret it correctly. However, it is astounding to see...

Brave New Schools by Berit Kjos

Brave New Schools is a book filled with facts, accusations, quotes, footnotes and commentary aimed at the concerned parents of school age children. The underlying thesis is that of a great conspiracy designed to corrupt not only our children but all America as well. Aldous Huxley’s famous novel, Brave New World is viewed not only as a prophecy but as a reality being fulfilled before our very eyes. Is Kjos correct or is she blowing smoke? Let’s take a look. Since the day Satan slithered into the garden the souls and lives of mankind have been under attack. Satan has masterminded a plethora of conspiracies and plots to destroy our lives, and that he is at work in our educational system should neither surprise nor catch us off guard. As in every age, discernment is needed. Presently, our educational community has recognized that many of our current methods have...

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

The strange name of this autobiographical tale borrows from Miller’s appreciation of the free-spirit characteristic of jazz music. As jazz music is almost impossible to score, being the language of the soul, so Miller sees the Christian life as the meanderings of the soul with few boundaries, rules or restrictions. Christian spirituality is “music birthed out of freedom. Everybody sings their song the way they feel it, everybody closes their eyes and lifts up their hands” (p. 239). Actually, I think Miller could have more accurately named his book after another analogy he used, “A Guide without a Map.” While traveling with a friend he resented his friend’s constant reference to the roadmap, even as he admitted that the alternative was to get lost. Spiritually, Miller prefers to travel—even proposes to guide others, without a map. We could admit that jazz music may float freely from the soul and...

Baptism, the Believer’s First Obedience by Larry E. Dyer

Dr. Dyer has done the church a service by publishing this fine little volume on baptism. He explains, in simple language, what baptism means and why the believer should be baptized. Along the way, he explains the mode of baptism and some helpful hints for both the one being baptized and the baptizer. This is an excellent book to hand to candidates for baptism to explain clearly this important doctrine. For the more technical minded, the author deals with a number of issues that have divided the church: He defends the immersion mode of baptism. He rejects infant baptism, promoting only believer’s baptism. He explains the true meaning of the major passages used to support baptismal regeneration. My only disagreement with Dyer would be in his understanding of modern day Lutheran theology being in opposition with Martin Luther’s view (p.33). Unfortunately, Luther, who did teach that salvation was on...

An Endless Falling in Love by Ty Gibson

This book, which was given to me by a Christian woman, centers around God’s love for us—and ours for Him. Gibson is a master writer and has much to say that is profitable. Unfortunately, he laces his book with errors. He allegorizes Scripture with abandon, often ignoring context (e.g. pp.105-106), accepts extra- biblical revelation (p. 82), and believes the universe is full of inhabited worlds. Gibson is also a Seventh-Day Adventist, even though he disguises it well, and brings out little Adventist theology. But there is something much more ominous lurking within the pages of An Endless Falling in Love — a heretical view of God (pp.39-45, 104, 113ff). This is a perfect example of how to lead the sheep through the back door into heresy without once mentioning the theological system known as “open theism.” Gibson has enveloped his reader in a winsome, attractive openism and tied it...