Books & Publishing

Book Review - Day of Atonement

Most Christians do not realize there is a large gap between Malachi and Matthew. We’ve noticed a blank page or two, but eagerly turn from the Old Testament to the New without much thought. Those blank pages hide four hundred years of turbulent history in the life of the people of Israel. Some Bibles even include additional books to fill in the missing details. I’m not advocating a return to the Apocrypha, but every Christian can benefit from an appreciation of the harrowing tale that stands behind the Maccabean revolt. That history stands behind Jesus’ celebration (and endorsement?) of the Feast of Dedication.

The Maccabean history is helpful in today’s world where increasingly Christianity is marginalized and a pressure is building for us to synthesize our faith with the lifestyle of those around us. Just water down our faith, bend a little here and a little there, and we’re sure to increase our cultural status. A similar challenge faced the Jews who would be true to God in the face of the siren call of Hellenization and Greek influence.

3721 reads

Book Review - Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families

Everyone has a moral standard. Everyone has a moral position on abortion, capital punishment, orphanhood, plastic surgery, etc. But while everyone could tell you what their moral position is they cannot necessarily tell you why that is their moral position. Morals tell us what we will and will not do, but ethics tell us why we will and will not do those things. Ethics are the science (or reasons) behind our morals and morals are our ethics in practice. Most people do not think far enough into the ethics behind their morals. Unfortunately, Christians do the same thing. Many don’t bother to examine the why questions and others don’t know how.

As science continues to bring new discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic, new medical therapies offer promise for many, yet along with those advancements come a whole host of ethical dilemmas that Christians must face – both medical professional and patient alike. To help believers chart through the myriad of ethical decisions they will need to make in the current bioethics world, D. Joy Riley, MD, and C. Ben Mitchell, PhD, have teamed up to bring us Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families (B&H, 2015). This is the fourth book in the B&H Studies in Christian Ethics series. What is great about this book is that we have both a theologian and medical doctor in dialogue working through the issues. This professional balance offers a more well-rounded and holistic picture of how to think through the various situations.

2417 reads

Book Review - Scripture and Counseling

There is no doubt that Jay Adams has had an indelible mark on the Christian counseling movement. While he was not the first to place a high view of Scripture as the ground of the practice, he certainly brought a renewed focus to the role of Scripture in Christian counseling. There are many pastors, counselors, and Christian counseling organizations that owe a debt of gratitude to his work.

While the role of Scripture in counseling is often touched on in a general manner, it is not often enough treated as thoroughly as it should be, given its foundational nature for counseling. We often say that Sscripture should guide our counseling but what does that look like face-to-face? Filling this much needed area The Biblical Counseling Coalition has brought together a group of qualified pastors and counselors to write Scripture and Counseling: God’s Word for Life in a Broken World edited by Bob Kellemen & Jeff Forrey. This book provides not only a biblical and systematic theology of Scripture’s role in counseling but it also provides the counselor with a step-by-step guide in practicing the application of Scripture to the life of the believer.

1687 reads

Books of Note - How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible

When I was a kid I hated reading. My sister on the other hand loved it. I would read what I had to for school and that was it. When I reached high school I read through the Bible a few times for our youth group program and I did enjoy it. But outside of that I hated reading. I wanted to be outside rollerblading, or skateboarding, or shooting my pellet gun. I did not want to read. Reading required me to slow down and be quiet. Sometimes I literally cried when I had to read.

Now I love to read and I love reading the Bible. Though my youth pastor played a large role in my current love for reading, there were a number of factors that led to my love of reading. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many Christians. Not only is there a decline in reading in the general population there is a decline in reading of the Bible by Christians. Not only is the culture post-Christian, it seems that the Evangelical Christian church is becoming post-Christian merely because less and less Christians are reading their Bible and therefore don’t know it.

So how can Christians begin to read the Bible and develop an enjoyment of it? This is the question Keith Ferrin addresses in his new book How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible (Bethany House, 2015). There are many factors that contribute to a lack of enthusiasm for reading the Bible. Ferrin aims to help his readers avoid these obstacles and learn to love reading their Bibles.

2043 reads

Book Review - Shepherding God's Flock

“The importance of church leadership can so easily be either overstated, or understated” (p. 283).

It is common knowledge that when it comes to the leading of people by people, everything rises and falls on leadership. Whether it is a small business or a large multi-billion dollar corporation, both can be brought to their knees under bad leadership. Moses’ father-in-law realized as much when he approached Moses and suggested that he divide his oversight by appointing capable men to rule over Israel along with Moses. People need competent men and enough of them to lead them rightly.

For centuries Protestant churches have debated over proper and biblical polity, particularly regarding the office of elder and deacon and the roles they play within the local church and beyond. This issue continues to attract attention and there is no end of new books on all sides of the debate being published regularly. Writing from a Baptist perspective, Benjamin Merkle and Thomas Schreiner have teamed up with a number of Baptist pastors and theologians to bring us Shepherding God’s Flock: Biblical Leadership in the New Testament and Beyond from Kregel (2014). This book provides a thorough presentation of Baptist polity while also evaluating Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian forms.

Overview

While the book contains 10 chapters and no sections, there are essentially two sections to the book: chapters that address the issues raised theologically and those that handle them historically.

1645 reads

Book Review - 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution

Of the many contemporary debates pushing and pulling on the Church today, the Creation and Evolution debate is perhaps the most alarming. The New Atheists like Richard Dawkins try to lump any Bible believer in with the crackpots and loonies, while some of the most high-profile creationists spare no punches as they condemn the vast majority of Evangelicalism for any of a number of compromises on this question.

For folks in the pew, the situation is tense: Science continues to raise large questions, and the Church often seems to provide few answers. Many of our youth are pressured to abandon the faith as they encounter new arguments against creation. With at least four major views in Evangelicalism, there is not a strong unified position to lean upon. Most books on the topic defend their particular view and often take aim directly on other sectors of Christianity. These books do more to perpetuate the polarized nature of the debate than provide a clear way forward. And meanwhile it seems that the scientific consensus only continues to become an even larger stumbling-block to Christian faith.

In this context, a variety of new attempts to integrate science and faith have been proposed. Yet for conservative Christians this only raises new questions: How far is too far? What are the limits of integrating faith and science? How important is the age of the earth? Are all forms of evolution out-of-bounds for Christians? What about the Flood—must it be universal? Could animal death have preceded the Fall? What are we to think about Adam and Eve?

19752 reads

Pages