Divine Impassibility: A review

Divine Impassibility: Four Views of God's Emotions and Suffering (Spectrum Multiview Books) by [Thomas Jay Oord, Robert J. Matz, A. Chadwick Thornhill]

Divine Impassibility: Four Views of God’s Emotions and Suffer edited by Robert J. Matz and A. Chadwick Thornhill

In what has been a renaissance in regards to theology proper this title helps capture the main positions on the issue of impassibility in evangelical circles. This title also helps to demonstrate the importance and implications of the various views held in regards to impassibility. It follows the same layout as other titles in the series where one contributor will present their position and then the other contributors provide their rebuttal.

The first contributor James Dolezal has written one of the best books on classical Christian theism entitled All That is in God, and in this work he has contributed a strong defense of strong impassibility. Daniel Castello seems to try to find a middle road in regards to passibility and impassibility but in my opinion falls short of making a compelling or biblical argument. John Peckham and Thomas Oord ultimately argued for a view of passibility that puts forward the diminished view of God that is central to open theism.

Dolezal’s chapter and responses are worth the price of the book. In a time where it seems many evangelicals are deviating from historic orthodoxy this book was helpful for me in understanding another side of evangelicalism that I don’t have a lot of direct interaction with.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Character Matters: A Review

Character Matters by Aaron Menikoff

In a day and age where it seems that character is undervalued or ignored pastor Aaron Menikoff has provided a resource calling to attention to the high value the Bible places in character and explores this in relationship to the fruit of the Spirit.

Over ten chapters Menikoff explores the fruit of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23 love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Menikoff explores how these virtues are defined and explained in the pages of the Bible and as they apply to pastoral ministry. Throughout the book the reader is constantly reminded that the fruit of the spirit like every other aspect of sanctification is progressive in nature. Believers never come to the point where they have achieved perfection, there is a constant need for growth in Christlikeness.

I would commend this book to every pastor I know. In a day and age where we in ministry might be tempted to take shortcuts there are no shortcuts for or substitutions for character.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Growing in Holiness: A Review

Growing in Holiness by R.C. Sproul

Drawn from lectures on the doctrine of sanctification by the late R.C. Sproul Growing in Holiness is a helpful resource in understanding and applying the doctrine of sanctification to daily life.

This book helps capture the biblical understanding of sanctification as a work in progress, that is progressive sanctification. Sproul explores both the biblical nature of sanctification as our goal as believers and God’s work in the life of the believer. In the later parts of the book Sproul fleshes out the assurance that arises from sanctification and the evidences of sanctification in the lives of believers.

If you’ve benefited from Sproul’s past works this book will not disappoint. Whoever worked on bringing the lectures into a publishable form has been able to capture Sproul’s voice in this work.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Including the Stranger

Including the Stranger: Foreigners in the Former Prophets (New Studies in Biblical Theology Book 50) by [David G. Firth]

This is a unique contribution to the NSBT series which addresses an area that is often overlooked in understanding the Old Testament in general and the Former Prophets in particular and that is the place of foreigners.

It’s easy to assume that there was no place for foreigners in the life of Israel but Firth through his close reading of the Former Prophets helps address that fundamental misconception. I this book Firth addresses the place of the foreigner in Joshua, Judges, the books of Samuel, and the books of Kings. In addressing Joshua he rightly points to how Rahab a foreigner finds welcome in whereas Achan is cut off from the people and throughout the Former Prophets that comes to be a repeating pattern. The foreigners are welcome and included as they come to know the true God, and Israelites cut off for living like the surrounding nations.

Through Firth’s careful exegesis we can see how the history recording in the Former Prophets ties into the canonical theme of the inclusion of the Gentiles among the people of God.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

100 Days to a Healthier Church: A Review

Over my years in ministry Karls Vaters has been a trusted guide in church ministry through his various writings. The last title I had read by him Small Church Essentials was a helpful corrective toward the attitude that bigger is better in regards to church size. In this book Vaters continues his emphasis on church healthiness by addressing how to implement health-producing change.

The first section of the church provides guidance in understanding the current health of the church. The following sections address how to assess the needs of the church and leads the church in a process of addressing issues in the church that might be hindering church health. One of the great things about this book is that it deals with the generalities in such a way this book will be helpful in a wide range of scenarious.

I’ve been reading this book and look forward to being able to implement what I have learned in the life of my church.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Where is Wisdom? A Review

Where Is Wisdom?
Where is Wisdom? by Scott James

Where is Wisdom by Scott James is a helpful introduction to wisdom for children. Based on Job 28 it introduces children to the wisdom of God both in creation and ultimately in the person of Christ.

I read this book to my four children for our devotional reading and they enjoyed it and I’m sure other kids will too.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Story Retold: A Review

G.K. Beale and Benajmin Gladd have come together to provide a truly commendable New Testament survey that will prove to be a valuable resource to students and pastors.

The first two chapters of this book provide an overview of the greater storyline of the Bible as it terminates in Christ and his kingdom and the interconnected relationship of the Old and New Testaments. Both chapters are helpful summaries of Beale’s overall understanding of biblical theology. In the following chapters the books of the New Testament are addressed with each chapter addressing basic issues of date, authorship, purpose, and an outline. Every chapter covers the main biblical-theological themes covered in each book of the New Testament as we as a helpful summary of the book.

Of all the New Testament surveys in my library this one will be one I go to more often than others given the careful attention given to the main theological themes of the various books of the New Testament.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Say It! : A Review

Say It! edited by Eric C. Redmond

As a preacher I read many books on preaching out of a desire to constantly learn and grow. This title collection of sermons by some leading African American expository preachers has proven to be a rich blessing to me.

The first section of the book addresses the issues of hermeneutics with an eye to how context shapes application in the context of expository preaching. The second section five exemplary sermons highlighting preaching from the Old Testament in African American circles. The third section provides three sermons one from the gospels, one from the epistles, and one from Revelation providing readers a fair sampling of preaching from different genres in the African American tradition. In the last chapter Eric Redmond addresses the importance of preaching through books of the Bible as well as how to deal with and anticipate objections.

I think this book is helpful for pastors for several reasons. First and foremost is that oftentimes pastors fall into the trap of only listening and reading those in their own theological, denominational, or cultural tribe which can lead to myopic view of the kingdom. As pastors we should be willing and able to learn from those who love Christ and are faithful in the ministry regardless of whether they are from the same denominational or cultural background. Secondly in the circles I have been in stereotypes of African American preaching seem to become ingrained assumptions which this book helpfully dispels. Lastly Charlie Dates sermon on Jonah in the Old Testament section would be worth the price of the book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

From & Before God: A review

From and Before God

From & Before God by Sugel Michelén

 

In this title Sugel Michelén provides a Bible based and God-centered introduction to expository preaching. This title would be beneficial for both those starting out in preaching and those with more experience.

In fourteen chapters divided into three section the author provides a theological foundation for expository preaching, the bare-bones understanding of what defines expository preaching, and practical guidance to progress in the ministry of expository preaching. I the first three chapters which provide the theological foundation for this work Sugel addresses the authoritative and inspired nature of the Bible and the Bible’s own imperatives which stress the importance of preaching the Word.  In the second section he fleshed out an understanding of preaching that is true to the text of Scripture and is rooted in the gospel message. I the final section he explores the practical steps of planning, preparing, and preaching expository sermons.

I personally think the final chapter is the most significant chapter in the book and in and of itself makes this book worth getting. Too often in preaching we can forget God in that not only are we preaching the message God has given but we need to remember He is the ultimate audience. God’s estimation and approval of our preaching should and must take priority over trying to get people to like us through our ministry of preaching.

Pastors and preachers do yourselves a favor and get this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Leveling the Church: A Review

Leveling Church by Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield

One of the greatest challenges in ministry is figuring out how to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Many pastors are often hesitant to delegate and raise up future leaders, which is the biblical model for church leadership as evidenced by both the ministry of Christ and the ministry of Paul the apostle. In this book Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield provide a helpful guide for pastors in this challenging task of equipping other leaders for the work of ministry.

The first six chapters address different ways of approaching ministry that often hinder pastors from raising up other leaders. The authors begin by demonstrating that biblical leadership is all about equipping others and involving them in the work of ministry. The authors proceed to address defective models of ministry and ministry goals that serve as roadblocks for raising up leaders. In the  the following four chapters the authors explore biblical examples of leadership in regards to raising up and equipping leaders. The leaders examined are Jesus, Moses, Paul, and Timothy. In the final chapter the authors settles in on the challenge of whether pastors and ministry leaders will engage in maintenance ministry or multiplication through raising up and equipping more leaders.

This is a great resource for all pastors, especially those hesitant to equip and involve others in the ministry of the local church.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.