Review of The Legacy of Luther

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The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul is a timely read in light of the coming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This work brings together some of the bes church historians to address important aspects of Luther’s life and thought.

The contributors to this volume are: Stephen Nichols, Steven Lawson, David B. Calhoun, Joel Beeke, Michael Horton, Guy Prentiss Waters, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Gene Edwards Veith, Aaron Clay Denlinger, Scott Maentsch, Sean Michael Lucas, Terry Yount, Derek W.H. Thomas, and R.C. Sproul. The first section of this book provides a look into the life of Luther most significant in this section is Beeke’s chapter on Luther as a family man, which addresses Luther’s teaching on marriage and family and how he practically lived that out. This is one aspect of Luther’s life and thought that often goes underappreciated. The second section addresses Luther’s doctrinal understanding along the lines of the Solas of the Reformation. The final section addresses Luther’s ongoing contribution as a Bible scholar, his contribution to the broader Reformation, his impact as polemicist, his contribution to hymnody, and Luther’s impact on preaching. R.C. Sproul fittingly closes this work with a reflection on Luther as pastor-theologian.

Each author draws out important aspects of Luther’s life and thought. In reading this I did find it odd how little diversity there was in the denominational backgrounds of the contributors especially in light of the greater diversity in contributors found in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion,  Doctrine,  Doxology. Especially surprising is the fact that a work on Luther only has two contributors from the Lutheran tradition. I think in exploring Luther’s more attention should have been given to the theology of the cross and its outworking in his theology.

Overall this is one of the better works out there on Luther that seek to address him in his own context and address his importance today. Some modern works seek to psychoanalyze Luther more than explore his doctrinal convictions and impact on church history, a pitfall these contributors happily avoid. If you’re looking to learn about Luther and why he is so significant in the development of church history this book is a must read.

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.

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Review of Bible Studies on Mark

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Bible Studies on Mark by William Boekestein provides an engaging look at Mark’s gospel and draws out practical questions for greater understanding of the text and personal application. This book would best be categorized as a devotional commentary of the best kind.

In 21 lessons Bokenstein walks the reader through Mark’s gospel helping the reader to understand the doctrinal and practical implications of Mark’s gospel. Boekenstein has an eye toward pointing the reader to the continuity between the gospel story and the gospel promise found in the Old Testament.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is the fact that Boekenstein doesn’t get bogged down in interacting with too much secondary literature. Anyone who has consulted a more technical exegetical commentary will see that in modern commentaries there is more interaction and reflection on other commentaries than interaction with the text itself. While not a verse by verse commentary, this work is a commentary nonetheless and one that reflects serious interaction with the Gospel of Mark itself. Throughout this work Boeknestein focuses the readers gaze on the person of Christ and presses home the importance of believing in Christ. As Bokenstein notes in his introduction there is a great danger of taking our eyes off of Jesus and the Gospels are vital for keeping our eyes on Christ. So if you are looking for a book that fixes yours eyes upon the person and work of Christ this is one such book that should commend itself to you.

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 of The Great Good Thing

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The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ by Andrew Klavan is a book that you just can’t set down. Klavan’s  account of how he came to life is testimony to the many influences that work to bring a person to faith in Christ.

Klavan begins recounting his early life in Great Neck, NY. Reading it I couldn’t help see similarities to his nominal Jewish upbringing and the nominal Christianity of many if the Bible belt. Klavan cites his bar mitzvah as the point in his life in which he became disenfranchised with religion after having gone through the motions while at the same time his family did not believe the underpinnings of Judaism. His families faith was more of a matter of cultural heritage than deep-seated belief. In addition to that he had what by all accounts was a troubled childhood with a father who never seemed satisfied in him and who also seemed to have a desire to sabotage his children. In many ways Klavan’s early adulthood was that of a prodigal loosing himself in the world. Each step of his life turn out to be one step closer to Christ. The book’s closing chapters revolve around his conversion, his father’s death, and his baptism following his father’s memorial service.

There need to be more testimonies like this. Klavan’s story is one of God’s mercy leading him to find the great good thing, the gospel. Human brokenness and God’s grace are evident on every page.

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.