Review of Finding Forgiveness

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Finding Forgiveness by author Stanley Gale is a concise and helpful work on the issue of forgiveness. The topic of forgiveness is one of the most important themes in Scripture touching upon the promise of forgiveness in the gospel and extending to our responsibility to forgive others.

In five chapters the author is able to bring much needed clarity to important aspects of forgiveness. In the first chapter addresses the gospel and the joy found in knowing the forgiveness of sin made possible by Christ and his work. In the second chapter the importance of forgiveness in the Christian life is highlighted. Chapter three addresses the actual how of forgiveness addressing how forgiveness is to be practiced in relationships. Chapter four addresses the issue of what makes forgiveness real and genuine. The final chapter addresses the new concept of self-forgiveness.

This book stands out in how the author is able to draw out the principals of forgiveness clearly and concisely while also addressing important misconceptions that have crept into the church. This book would help anyone seeking to understand what biblical forgiveness is.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

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Review of God the Son Incarnate

In my reviewing if I receive an egalley of a book that I find truly exceptional and valuable  I purchase a hard copy for my  personal library. Stephen J. Wellum’s latest work on Christology God the Son Incarnate is one such title. Wellum’s work ably traces the historical trends surrounding Christology and defends the biblical teaching concerning the person of Jesus Christ.

In four major sections Wellum addresses the epistemological basis for Christology, the biblical basis of Christology,  the historical developments of Christology in the church, and finally addresses some recent developments surrounding kenotic Christology and defending orthodox Christology.

While this book blends apologetics, biblical theology, historical theology, and systematic theology addressing the most important question of who Christ is. Wellum’ s interaction with contemporary trends in Christology is needed reading especially as Wellum addresses many of the false Christologies that are paraded in documentaries around Christmas and Easter. Wellum rightly puts the emphasis upon Scripture in coming to rightly know and understand who Jesus is, something that seems to be lacking among evangelical pastors. Wellum states, “Rightly identifying Jesus, then, requires doing Christology from “above,” starting with Scriptures as God’s own accurate authoritative word written in texts that interpret one another (p. 106).” In a day and age when many evangelical pastors seem to want to build a Christology “from bellow” Wellum’s emphasis is a needed one. Wellum makes clear we are wholly dependent upon the Scriptures as divine revelation to rightly know Jesus. This book is worth the time and effort to work through because of the value of its subject Jesus the incarnate Son of the Father.

Disclosure: I received an ecopy 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.

Review of Biblical Authority After Babel

Biblical Authority After Babel:Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity by Kevin Vanhoozer maybe one of the most important books on the impact of the Reformation and biblical interpretations to come out in recent years. As noted by Vanhoozer the Reformation is not and has not been without its critics and opponents. There is a vocal crowd that believes the Reformation is at fault for rampant Western individualism and the fractured nature of Christianity. As someone who is appreciative of the Reformers and the work of the Reformation I am grateful for Vanhoozer’s work in this book.

Vanhoozer begins his work by addressing the criticism that has circled around the Reformation. Looking at those who see the Reformers as the cause of the evils of modernity. This work is retrieval theology at its best. As Vanhoozer states in his introduction he is retrieving the priesthood of the believer in regards to biblical interpretation and catholicity as expressed in Mere Protestant Christianity. I agree with Vanhoozer when he says in the introduction, “The kind of Protestantism that needs to live on is not the one that encourages individual autonomy or corporate pride but the one that encourages the church to hold fast to the gospel, and to one another.”In this work he draws on the solas of the Reformation in addressing issues pertaining to interpretive authority, the church, and the priesthood of the believer.

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation drawing near Vanhoozer has provided a book that ably defends the good that came from the Reformation, responding to the critiques surround’ the Reformers and building upon their contribution with an eye to future developments in Protestantism. In light of current trends in evangelicalism such as individualism, isolationism as seen in the growing nondenominational movement, and an ecumenical spirit which is critical of the Reformation I can think of no better book for pastors and leaders to read on these important issues.

Disclosure: I received an ecopy 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.

Review of The Family Life of a Christian Leader

The Family Life of a Christian Leader by Ajith Fernando is a resource that provides a biblical understanding of every aspect family life. While the title may direct it towards Christian leaders, it should be beneficial for any Christian whether they view themselves as a leader or not.

Fernando begins with the foundational truths of family life as they are built on the reality of God. He reminds that family is not a human institution but one divinely ordained. This truth and the fact that God desires to uphold our families is a good incentive to prayer. In the second chapter points to the importance of dying to self in our family relationships. Chapter three provides a biblical understanding of the love we are to have in our families, not the love of the world which is self-serving but the others-focused love which the New Testament calls us to. Chapters four and five focus in on the nature of marriage and the marriage bed. He moves on to address the fact that there is both joy in the family as well as pain and disappointment in the family. The importance of unity and the how to handle conflict in a way that promotes unity is explored. The closing chapters of the book address children in the life of the family.

There are some aspects of this book that are geared specifically for Christian leaders, however most of the instruction found is applicable and needed in the larger Christian culture. Fernando is able to address a wide range of issues in the family in a way that is both encouraging and convicting at times. In my reading I can’t remember a single book that addresses all the areas of family life as well as this one does. I would commend this book to any Christian seeking to understand what the Bible says about our family life as this work reflect a depth of biblical wisdom needed in order to address the issues facing families today.

Disclosure: I received an ecopy 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.

Review of Inductive Bible Study

In Inductive Bible Study authors Richard Alan Fuhr Jr. and Andreas Köstenberger have provided a resource that draws together the hermeneutical triad found in Köstenberger’s earlier work Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology  and the solid interpretive method of inductive bible study.

The first chapter of this book lays the foundation exploring why the Bible is not as easy of a book to understand as we might assume it to be. The authors explore the various gaps that exist between the reader and the Bible that pose a challenge to those seeking to understanding the Bible. The gaps explored follow along the triad of historical, literary, and theological. The second chapter explores the seven principles of inductive bible study. The second unit of the book falls along the lines of bridging the literary gaps that exists between the modern reader and the ancient text of Scripture. The authors point to the importance of comparing translations, asking the right questions of the text, finding key terms in the text, paying heed to the literary features contained in Scripture, and discourse analysis. The second section involves digging deeper exploring a texts context in regards to historical background, literary genre and its place in the book and canon itself, and the theological context taking into account where the passage is in regards to themes, progressive revelation, and covenant.  The authors point the reader to the value and danger of word studies. The last section of this work leads the reader to the word of application and theology.

While this book might have been written as a text book to be used in a classroom setting I think it is applicable to wider use than that. The truth of the matter most bible teachers in the local church be they pastor or Sunday school teacher don’t have the interpretive tools and method to rightly handle and teach the Bible. The authors rightly point out that there are serious gaps between us as the present readers of the Bible and the text, and too often in preaching and teaching those gaps are ignored leading often to misapplication of texts and unbalanced theology. The authors provide a solid foundation in this work for anyone to rightly understand and apply the Bible to life if they are willing to do the work required. What I would love to see happen with this text is for Lifeway and B&H Academic to collaborate on turning this into a curriculum/video teaching series that could be used to train Bible study leaders in the local church.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

 

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Review: Resolving Conflict

Last year was a year that brought many great resources in the field of biblical counseling. One that I was excited  to receive and have been greatly helped by is Resolving Conflict by Lou Priolo.

Lou Priolo’s introduction itself provides as a helpful corrective to current attitudes surrounding conflict. In my experience as a pastor I have seen what Priolo addresses in regards to viewing all conflict as inherently negative. This attitude leads to an unhealthy conflict avoidance which almost always makes problems worse. Rather than be avoided conflicts should be resolved in a biblical manner.

Priolo’s first section addresses the key characteristics that should exist for conflicts to be resolved in a biblical manner those being; humility, gentleness, patience, and loving forbearance. With that foundation laid Priolo looks at the biblical understanding of conflict. He addresses types of conflicts that can occur, the importance of communicating. Priolo examines the unbiblical ways we often handle conflict both in how we internally and externally respond. Priolo makes clear that biblical conflict resolution is hard work which is why it calls for diligence.

If you are a living breathing person you have had to deal with conflict in your life. Much as we try to avoid conflict it still happens. The question is not if conflict will occur at home, work, or in the church the question is how will it be handled. Priolo’s work provides a resource that gets to the heart of how to address conflict in a biblical manner with a desire for unity and peace.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

 

Review: Daily Readings From the Christian in Complete Armour

In Daily Readings from the Christian in Complete Armour James S Bell Jr. has edited William Gurnall’s massive work The Christian in Complete Armour into a more modestly sized daily devotional.

Gurnall’s original work unabridged comes in at 1240 pages in the single volume Banner of Truth addition. Utilizing the three volume revised and abridged edition, which itself is 1036 pages, Bell has drawn out devotional gems for the reader to feat upon daily. For those who don’t read older English works the updating of language will help the modern reader grasp what Gurnall is saying. I have compared this work with the full unabridged edition which I have, and the update is faithful to the original.

Why should you consider reading this devotional this year? In my opinion Gurnall’s work is one of the most important works on spiritual warfare out there. The Puritans had a view of God and commitment to Scripture that is lacking in many instances in contemporary evangelicalism. Others have commended Gurnall’s work better than I could. John Newton author of the hymn Amazing Grace said, ‘If I might read only one book beside the Bible, I would choose The Christian in Complete Armour.’ J.C. Ryle said, ‘You will often find in a line and a half some great truth, put so concisely, and yet so fully, that you really marvel how so much thought could be got into so few words.’ Gurnall’s concise way of stating  biblical principals is faithfully captured in this devotional.

If you haven’t found a devotional to use in this new year get this one. If you have already found one, get this one anyway. Simply put get this.

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

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Review : When God Isn’t There

In When God Isn’t There: Why God Is Farther Than You Think, But Closer Than You Dare Imagine author David Bowden wrestles with the important issue of God’s presence and absence.

In this work Bowden seeks to find a biblical balance in understanding God’s immanence and transcendence or as Bowden addresses it God’s absence and presence. Theologian Stanley Grenz in his work 20th Century Theology makes the case that the development and differences in theology in the 20th century are tied up in this issue.

Bowden addresses God’s absence and makes clear that it is good that God has absented himself, that is that he is not present with us as he was present in Eden. Without the work of redemption in Christ it would be a terrifying thing for God to be present in that way. Bowden says, “If we were to come into the actual presence of God as naked, shameful, and sinful as Adam and Ever were, we would be struck dead (p. 27).” In the second section Bowden addresses out pursuit of God as believers. In the third section, which I think along with the forth are the greatest contributions this book makes, Bowden addresses the nature of God’s presence and the church. He helpfully tears down the false notion that God is specially present in the building and points to the presence of God in and among His people. The fourth section addresses our suffering and experience of God’s absence and how He is present with us in suffering. In the final section we see the hope of God’s nearness found in Christ, and the hope of being fully and finally brought into his presence.

Bowden addresses areas that we too often are often unaddressed. We often avoid the paradoxes of the Christian faith and our experience.  Bowden’s work will help readers understand their experiences of God’s presence and absence in  way that is informed by the truth of Scripture.

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