Books

Book Review: "Historical Theology In-Depth" by David Beale

David Beale, a longtime professor of historical theology at BJU Seminary, published his two-volume Historical Theology In-Depth in 2013. This is an outstanding work, and every pastor and interested Christian should use it as the “go to” text for a foundational explanation of key themes in historical theology.

It doesn’t cover everything, of course. Instead, it hits some high points of historical theology by way of 57 different essays and four detailed appendices over the course of its two volumes. The essays are roughly chronological, written at the introductory level and include helpful bibliographies and extensive citations throughout.

Volume One

The first volume begins with a summary introduction to the early church fathers (1), followed by extensive chapters on major patristic figures (2-8). Beale then moves to the Greek apologists with explanation of their worldview (9), then to a discussion of Christian apologists such as Justin, Irenaeus and others (10-13). He discusses Neo-Platonism (14), Origen and his hermeneutical school (15), Tertullian and Latin Christianity in general (16), then Cyprian and his incipient episcopal ecclesiology (17).

478 reads

Review of ‘Mark Through Old Testament Eyes’

Image of Mark Through Old Testament Eyes: A Background and Application Commentary
by Andrew T. Le Peau
Kregel Academic 2017
Paperback 352

This book by series editor Andrea LePeau is the first in a set of volumes that will explore the influence of the Old Testament upon the writers of the New Testament books. This influence, it is believed, is not only in the way in which certain passages are quoted and used in the New Testament, but also how minds stocked with Old Testament stories, texts, and theology brought that multi-layered influence into their books through structure, allusion, typology and motif. Especially important to this point of view is the way the Hebrew Scriptures are employed to point to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes.

LePeau can turn a phrase and his work is very readable and easy to follow. He is well read and he brings much to his task, though the book is not designed to be academic. The book includes a running commentary with notes on backgrounds and Old Testament motifs and allusions interspersed. Generally speaking he has done an excellent job with the commentary part of the book. This (major) portion alone ought to recommend the book to preachers and teachers.

539 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).

839 reads

Review: Toxic Charity

Charity and missions are apples and oranges, in my mind. Missions is about the great commission, planting churches, and making disciples. Offering a meal to the poor, in contrast, is an act of mercy. I can argue the point that missions is the more important of the two, but this is not the place to do so. The two can work together (as in the case of a rescue mission) but they are typically distinct.

When it comes to helping the poor, is it better to do nothing, or is it better to do something (perhaps a lot) — making you feel like you are helping others — when, in fact, you are harming them? That is the ultimate question.

Most of us desire to be compassionate people, characterized by good works. But the key to loving one’s neighbor is not doing what makes us feel better, or even what pleases them in the short term, but rather looking out for their long-term best interest.

Toxic Charity’s author Robert Lupton is not as conservative as most of us are, but he is in the evangelical camp and one of the most respected authorities in this field. He has worked in inner city Atlanta for nearly 40 years. He has observed what works and what doesn’t — and his findings are startling.

When you read chapter one, you know where the book is headed. Here are a few quotations.

What Americans avoid facing is that while we are very generous in charitable giving, much of that money is either wasted or actually harms the people it is targeted to help.

1533 reads

Book Review - The Global Public Square

Os Guinness’ book The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity is an important book … and a frustrating one, too. It’s important because Guinness analyzes the culture wars in light of the eternal need for freedom of conscience for all. It’s frustrating because I have little hope his rousing call for civility, persuasion and responsible engagement in the “global public square” will actually happen. I’m not sure he’s so sure, either.

This book is really an exposition of a document I’d never heard of: “The Global Charter of Conscience.” This document was published in 2012, and it’s designed as an addendum to the United Nations’ 1948 “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” another document I’d never heard of. Some readers may be put off by United Nations resolutions, and ecumenical documents about freedom of conscience. If that’s you, then don’t go away!

Any Baptist should be interested in this book. If you have visions of poor Felix Manz in your head, or vaguely remember reading about the Acts of Uniformity in Leon McBeth’s Baptist history textbook, then it’s time to broaden your horizons a bit. Guinness’ main concern is to protect the right of soul freedom for everybody:

710 reads

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