How To Be A Perfect Christian: A Review

How to be a Perfect Christian by The Bablyon Bee

Brought to you by the satire website The Babylon Bee this book brings the usual sharp cutting wit that one has come to expect from them. No group or sacred cow in evangelicalism is left unscathed or unlampooned.

In ten chapters through the vehicle of satire this book helps to expose how ridiculous much of evangelicalism. Some might be offended at the satire but if it hurts it shows you probably have a problem. What is reflected in this book is a rejection of a subcultural Christianity that in many respects elevates traditionalism and culture above Christ and His word.

Not only is this book humorous but if read rightly it might wake the reader up to many of the current problems in evangelicalism.

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.

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Bearded Gospel Men: A Review

Bearded Gospel Men by Jared Brock and Aaron Alford

Beards have recently become popular, but as authors Jared Brock and Aaron Alford demonstrate in this book there is a long line of long bearded gospel men who can be looked to as examples of faithfulness.

The authors in this book 31 miniature biographies of bearded followers of Christ from a range of Christian traditions throughout the history of Christianity. Each chapter comes with reflection questions to help the reader better appreciate the legacy of the individuals addressed in the book. Each entry is well written and engaging and provides an introduction to historical figures that often go unnoticed in church history. Some might object to the wide range of traditions represented in this book from Catholic to Anabaptist and all points in between but that only helps to ensure that the book will have a wide range of readership.

What pleases me most about this book is that it packages church history in an accessible and interesting format that the average guy would be interested in reading. Young men living in a culture likes ours with so few heroes would do well to read this book and reflect on the legacy of the bearded gospel men who have helped shape the history of Christianity. I would commend this book to any man in my church, even the ones without beards.

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.

 

Eats With Sinners: A Review

Eats with Sinners by Arron Chambers

Arron Chambers in this book, that arose from a sermon series that made a great impact on the church he pastors, draws on the example of Christ in the gospels in pointing readers in how to practically engage the lost.

In this book Chambers draws out thirteen characteristics that marked Jesus and his outreach to sinners. In his chapter on urgency Chambers makes the argument that the church in America largely lacks a sense of urgency to reach out to the lost, whereas Jesus instilled a sense of urgency in his disciples in pointing out the harvest is ready. This also ties into his last chapter on vision, too often we don’t see or care to see the lost around us which in turn kills our sense of urgency.

More than a book on evangelism and outreach this book gives us a reminder of what Christ’s character was like in his earthly ministry. I think far too often our evangelism is stifled by the simple fact that we are not striving to be like the one who saved us by His grace. This book has far greater implications than simply evangelism as it touches upon qualities that are essential for us to be fruitful believers.

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.

Review of Questioning Evangelism

In Questioning Evangelism Randy Newman provides a resource that rightly blends evangelism and apologetics. Newman draws on the example of Jesus who often used a questioning method to evangelize and teach. Where many resources focus on providing short memorable cookie-cutter outlines Newman helps readers think through how to ask the right questions to lead people to a better understanding of God and the gospel.

In the first section of this book Newman points to the importance of asking questions rather than giving pat answers. He gives general principles for evangelism drawn from the wisdom of Proverbs. He then provides basic principals that help move from asking the right questions to a place where the right answers are received. In the third section he addresses some of the fundamental issues that are often confronted in evangelism and apologetics ranging from the problem of evil to the biblical teaching regarding homosexuality. The third section addresses some important issues that point to the lack of compassion and concern that often prevent evangelism.

If you read nothing else in Newman’s book read his last three chapters. I think Newman has hit on the main reasons that professing Christian don’t evangelize others namely that either they don’t care or they actually hate others. Newman’s book is both instructive and convicting at times.

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

Review of The Resurrection Fact

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The Resurrection Fact edited by John Bombaro and Adam Fransisco, released in time for Easter this year, provides an excellent defense of the resurrection of Christ against some of the more recent challengers.

A wide range of contributors address key objections to the resurrection, for example Mark Pierson provides excellent insight in historical matters surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ. Contrary to many skeptics the best historical evidence does demonstrate that it would be unlikely for Jesus body to have been left for scavengers. He did die and He was buried. Many of the chapters a list of recommended resources to dig deeper. Reading the modern ideas put forward in challenge to the resurrection of Christ it becomes clearly that the alternative explanations such as the swoon theory, mass hallucination, etc. all require a blind faith that ignores the clear historical evidence surrounding Christ.

Overall this book provides a good defense of the resurrection with each contributors demonstrating attention to details. I think this book would be a good one to place in the hands of students today as many will be confronted with objections that parallel those dealt with in this book.

Disclosure: I received an advanced 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.

Review of Answers to Prayer (Read & Reflect with the Classics)

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B&H has recently started a new series called Read & Reflect with the Classics which seeks to  engage a new generation with classics that have impacted generations of Christians. One of the first titles in this series is George Muller’s Answers to Prayer a spiritual classic that should be on everyone’s shelf.

The first thing that sets this edition of Muller’s work apart from other editions is the superior binding. As a bibliophile it always bothered me that the best publishers would do for this spiritual classic is a mass market paperback. Muller’s account is one that should be read and reread as one never fails to find fresh encouragement in prayer in looking at God’s faithfulness in Muller’s life. This edition put out by B&H has a solid cloth binding which will hold up through many readings.

The second thing that makes this a superior edition is the addition of various promptings and questions the reader to actively engage with the text.

Muller’s life was one that clearly demonstrates the value and power of prayer, Bible reading, and meditating on Scripture. His work in the orphanage and the display of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer deserves repeating to every new generation of believers.

Disclosure: I received an advanced 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.

Review of 60 Days of Happiness

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In 60 Days of Happiness: Discover God’s Promise of Relentless Joy author Randy Alcorn draws on his previous book Happiness to make a devotional that will help readers understand the biblical truth behind happiness.

The title of each days devotion is a question concerning happiness and its relation to biblical teaching and the body of each devotion seeks to answer the question put forward. For example the first devotion addresses the question of why everyone wants to be happy and shows that our desire for happiness points us to a desire for something greater namely God himself. Alcorn addresses some of the most important misconceptions surrounding happiness pointing readers to the importance of happiness in the Christian life.

Christianity sometimes gets a bad wrap of being a religion for unhappy cranks. If you know someone who thinks that God wants everyone to be holy and miserable there are few resources out there that will help them understand the biblical nature of happiness more than this devotional. I would commend it to anyone who wants to better understand the biblical truth that God does indeed want us to have joy and happiness in Him.

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 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James

 

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There are some devotionals that draw attention to themselves and then there are devotionals that draw attention to the Bible and 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James by Timothy Keller and Sam Allberry is one of the latter type.

Each days devotion helps the reader work through a passage of Scripture providing questions that help with reflection on the meaning of the text. Some of the devotions also help the reader pray through the passage in question. Each devotion provides ample space to write out prayers and reflections on the days passage.

This is my first exposure to the Explore by the Book series but given the quality of this devotional it will be a series I explore further. If you’re looking for a devotional that will aid that will attract you to the word rather than distract you this should be at the top of your list.

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: Christ All Sufficient

A great frustration I have with many modern commentaries is the amount of space given to interacting with secondary sources as opposed to the text itself. Brian Hedges in Christ All Sufficient: An Exposition of Colossians avoids that and addresses the text first and foremost.

In ten chapters Hedges expounds the text of Colossians balancing doctrinal insight with an eye towards application. As Hedges notes while this is not a technical commentary, at the same time it isn’t what one would could consider a devotional commentary. This is commentary that is readily accessible to the everyday believer as well as a useful for any pastor working through this epistle. Hedges work is not overly dependent on secondary sources. Hedges makes clear the day to day implications this epistle has, especially the believers responsibility to live under Christ’s lordship as He is the all sufficient Lord of the Church who has reconciled the Church to himself through his shed blood.

I believe there is a great need for more resources like the one Hedges has provided here. There is in this exposition a laser focus on the text, which as I noted is rare to find in commentaries. Hedges also helps the reader think through issues of application while taking into account the cultural differences between our contemporary society and that of the Colossians. If you’re looking for a resource on Colossians that isn’t overly technical or a fluff commentary I would commend this resource 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: Progressive Covenentalism

There are books that you can read quickly and then there are books that you must plod through as they are prove to paradigm shifting. For myself Progressive Covenantalism edited by Stephen J. Wellum and Brent E Parker was the latter.

This book with ten contributors each addressing a particular aspect of biblical theology relating to how the New and Old Covenants relate to each other has helped me think through issues I have had question about since writing a paper on covenant theology’s understanding of the people of God for Dr. Wellum. I knew prior to that paper that my understanding of Scripture did not mesh with dispensationalism’s  emphasis upon discontinuity between New and Old Covenant. The various contributors in this work flesh out a theological via media between dispensationalism and covenant theology.

As a pastor chapters 6-8 are the most important contributions in this book to the local church. In some circles strict Sabbath observance in becoming more popular and Dr. Schreiner clearly and convincingly demonstrates that this Old Testament understanding and practice of the the Sabbath is not what is required of believers under the New Covenant. Cowan’s work on the warning passages found in Hebrews interacts with the covenant theology interpretation of the passages and shows the importance of those passages for believers.

This book calls for careful reading and reflection as what we believe about the  continuity and discontinuity of the Old and New Testaments will have a major impact on our beliefs about the gospel and the church.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher for providing this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html