Book Review

Review – Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture

A Clear and Present Word is the 21st volume in the “New Studies in Biblical Theology” series which now extends to 45 volumes. This volume is dedicated to the doctrine of perspicuity (or the Bible’s clarity). From Eve’s wicked interlocutor in the garden to the present day, there has been a reechoing “Has God really said?”

In recent theological debates, it is clear that inerrancy is often the bibliological battleground. However, as this book endeavors to show, even if the accuracy of the words is granted, their power can just as easily be neutralized though obfuscation as through denial. Mr. Thompson (Principle of Moore Theological Seminary, Australia. Evangelical Anglican) labors to unfold the importance of Scripture’s clarity as well as to defend it.

Perspicuity has not seen the scholarly concentration of other doctrines of Bibliology and the book is a welcome resource for anyone who desires to better understand it. The series aims to relate important biblical/theological themes in a way that is both scholarly and accessible to the layperson. The author succeeds in presenting a book that can be beneficial both to the studious lay person as well as the pastor.

Chapter one takes up the question of whether Christians can even claim to have a clear word of God. After all, we live in the postmodern era when truth is considered at least obscure, and often unknowable. The chapter outlines the arguments against the clarity of the Bible, first from church history and then more recently the post-modern view of truth.

1185 reads

Audio Book Review: Nancy Pearcey’s Finding Truth

The rhythm of my life in recent years is such that I have little time for paper and ink reading but lots of time for listening. In 2018, I read about sixty books that way. Though nearly all of them edified me in one way or another, most would fall into the category of relatively frivolous fiction. My thinking was that listening, especially while driving, exercising, or doing chores, wouldn’t permit enough concentration to do any thoughtful non-fiction reading—so why bother?

I was wrong. Though the good is often the enemy of the best, the reverse is often true: passing up on the merely good in hopes of gaining the best often gains neither.

Last summer, a discussion here at SharperIron raised the topic of Nancy Pearcey’s Finding Truth, and we later posted Don Johnson’s Proclaim and Defend review of the book. I felt drawn to the book and decided to give it a whirl in audio. The audiobook amply rewarded the effort—enough to compel me to write my own review.

The Audible version of Finding Truth clocks in at 8:44:19 and is read by Pamela Klein. I normally listen at 1.10x or faster and found that Klein’s pace was about right for me at 1.10x. Klein’s reading is not at all robotic, as is sometimes the case with nonfiction audiobooks. Though Klein seems to lose Pearcy’s flow of thought at times, the reading is clear and alive enough to not be a distraction.

1360 reads

Review – The Making of a Battle Royal: The Rise of Liberalism in Northern Baptist Life

Image of The Making of a Battle Royal (Monographs in Baptist History)
by Jeffrey Paul Straub
Wipf and Stock 2018
Hardcover 416

This work by Jeff Straub, originally written as his doctoral dissertation, has finally been published as part of the “Monographs in Baptist History” series under the Pickwick Publications imprint. Written in a clear and compelling style, this book traces the rise of theological liberalism in Northern Baptist life, focusing especially on the seminaries. Straub’s main thesis is that liberalism was able to achieve such a “theological hegemony” in Northern Baptist life that “conscientious conservatives” had no choice but to separate if they wished to preserve an orthodox Baptist witness.

1759 reads

A Review of ‘Israel, the Church, and the Middle East’

This compendium of new essays follows the only occasionally stellar The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel, edited by the same two men. This book marks Israel’s seventieth anniversary. It is divided into four parts, Biblical Foundations, Theology and the Conflict, Yeshua in the Midst of the Crisis, and Current Challenges to Peace in Israel.

This book takes a good look at these four issues through the various viewpoints of the authors. There are few weak contributions (e.g. a surprisingly tame essay from Bock), the general standard is high. Here are my thoughts on a few of the articles:

First, Richard Averbeck’s opening piece on the biblical covenants starts things off well. He is clearly uncomfortable being identified either as a covenant theologian or as a dispensationalist, but he has no time for replacement theology (22). More notable to me though was this line:

The system of theology known as “dispensational theology” describes the historical biblical covenants as subsumed under a set of dispensations in God’s program … (22)

1386 reads

Review – Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter

Image of Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter
by Thomas R. Schreiner
B&H Books 2018
Paperback 192

Much has been written on the topic of spiritual gifts by both cessationists and continuationists. Enter Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter, written by a continuationist turned “nuanced cessationist,” Thomas R. Schreiner. Schreiner is a leading New Testament scholar and the James Harrison Buchanan Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although Schreiner is a New Testament scholar, he writes Spiritual Gifts for the person in the pew who desires to gain more insight into spiritual gifts without having to wade into the exegetical minutia of an in-depth, scholarly treatment of the topic.

Schreiner begins Spiritual Gifts by stating he writes the book not only to support “a kind of cessationism” but also to “sketch in a theology of spiritual gifts.”1 He acknowledges that the issue of cessationism can easily become polemical and divisive, but as is typical for Schreiner, he desires to approach this topic humbly and irenically. It is not surprising then that he dedicates the book to Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Sam Storms—three notable continuationists.

1353 reads

Book Review – William Tyndale: A Biography

Image of William Tyndale: A Biography
by David Daniell
Yale University Press 2001
Paperback 440

David Daniell’s wonderful book, William Tyndale: A Biography, tells Tyndale’s story very well. Tyndale was the man raised up by God to give us a real translation of the Bible in English from the original Greek and Hebrew text for the first time in history. Before Tyndale, there was no real English Bible. Others, such as John Wycliffe, produced translations from the Latin. Tyndale was different; he gave us the entire New Testament in English directly from the Greek text. He finished a good portion of the Old Testament (Genesis - 2 Chronicles, and Jonah) before he was betrayed by a vile and treacherous fiend and martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. Daniel Daniell wrote and explained:

1145 reads

Review: “He Will Reign Forever” by Michael Vlach (Part 4)

Image of He Will Reign Forever
by Michael J Vlach
Jpl Books 2017
Hardcover

This is the final installment of my review of this book. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

As he moves through the Book of Acts, the author addresses the main kingdom passages only. An author must be selective with his material, so the relatively brief look at Acts is no mark against the book. In fact, due to his ability to sum things up quickly and accurately, Vlach can pinpoint the salient passages and continue into the Pauline corpus.

That said, he manages to dwell on the really crucial texts in Acts. He says, for instance, “Acts 3:19-26 is a strategic passage for the kingdom program” (421), and he has spent 7 pages getting to that conclusion. He not only exegetes Acts 3:19-21, he demonstrates Peter’s compliance with expectations raised by the Old Testament. He then mentions how Acts 3:25 cites Genesis 12:3 and 22:18 to prove that Israel — representatives of which the Apostle is speaking to — is still the same national entity as was envisaged in the Abrahamic covenant (420-421).

1094 reads

Review: Leaving Mormonism

Image of Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed their Minds
by
Kregel Publications 2017
Paperback 320

I was sent this book (and another that I must review soon) before Christmas and the publisher, quite understandably wishes me to review it. I am very happy to do so, since this is a fine resource

This book is a great idea. Four former Mormons with academic credentials and a passion for the truth write about why they left Mormonism and add a critique of it from their own perspectives. Each writer communicates clearly. None is mean spirited in their criticism of their former belief, though all are keen to inform readers not only of the errors of the Latter-Day Saints — errors which lead to a particular worldview — but also of the chameleonic nature of Mormon teaching as it seeks to adapt to criticism and exposure.

Corey Miller’s chapter, “In Search of the Good Life” asks whether experiencing the good is objectively possible under Mormon teaching. His answer begins with his personal testimony of being a Mormon with descendants reaching all the way back to acquaintances of Joseph Smith himself. His essay deals with the nature of Mormon testimony and the difficulty of achieving “salvation.” Miller is a philosopher and has provided excellent notes to go with his essay, even briefly outlining Alvin Plantinga’s response to de jure objections to Christian faith in his Warranted Christian Belief (70 n.41).

1195 reads

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