Books & Publishing

Book Review - A Theology for the Church

Systematic theologies are invaluable resources for the Church. They are as varied as the authors who write them and some are more beneficial than others. The preponderance of systematic theologies are written by individuals within a denominational/theological tradition. While there are many multi-authored books on specific topics, this is not the case with systematic theologies. So it is unique and a bit refreshing when a systematic theology does comes along that breaks the individual author mold.

One of these few contributions is A Theology for the Church, Revised Edition edited by Daniel L. Akin. First published in 2007, the revised edition has new chapters on theological method from a missional perspective by Bruce Ashford and Keith Whitfield and a theology of creation, providence, and Sabbath by Chad Owen Brad which engages current research in science and philosophy. Additionally, the chapters on special revelation by David Dockery and human nature by John Hammett have been updated.

Overview

A Theology for the Church follows the standard outline of systematic theology starting with the doctrine of revelation and concluding with the doctrine of the end times. Each chapter approaches these doctrines through a fourfold pattern: (1) What does the Bible say? (2) What has the church believed? (3) How does it all fit together? and (4) How does this doctrine impact the church today?

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Book Review – Chance and the Sovereignty of God

It is easy to think that much of the activities in our lives are nothing more than a string of random chance events that have no significance beyond their occurrence or connection to the bigger picture of our lives, let alone the lives of others. Further, when it comes to the good events in our lives we are quick to attribute them to God. But what about the bad events? Is God in those somewhere? Did He ordain them? Allow them? Is He indifferent to them?

Chance. Randomness. Unpredictability. Is there such a thing? What do they look like in everyday life? How would they work with a sovereign God? Is there a place for them within the Christian worldview? Seeking to answer these questions and more, Vern Poythress has written Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events (Crossway, 2014). This book is a continuation of his previous books like Logic and Redeeming Philosophy in which Poythress seeks to understand these sciences in light of Scripture and the the existence of God as the foundation for all of life.

Overview

The book can be broken into two essential parts. In the first half of the book Poythress establishes the sovereignty of God as laid out in Scripture. From texts like Heb. 1:3 and Col. 1:17 it is established that God ‘s continual sustaining of the universe places God in sovereign control of it. From Scripture, Poythress shows how God in involved in many kids of events:

4975 reads

Book Review - Samuel Rutherford (Bitesize Biographies)

Samuel Rutherford is perhaps the best known Scottish Puritan. But his life and history seem not to be as widely remembered as other Puritan ministers. Rutherford’s legacy lays chiefly in collections of his profound and moving personal letters.

Richard Hannula brings renewed attention to Samuel Rutherford in his contribution to the “Bitesize Biographies” series from Evangelical Press (2014).

Overview

Rutherford had humble beginnings and even a possibly scandalous start to his ministry. He ended up resigning his post at the University of Edinburgh after some possible impropriety with his fiance. This may have been just an ill rumor, and Hannula doesn’t take pains to sort out the facts too closely, but moves on in his simple and straightforward account of Rutherford’s life.

The next chapter of Rutherford’s life finds him as a humble pastor in Anworth. And there he labored in preaching and declaring the loveliness of Christ. His life was caught up in the perils of Scotland’s church, and his Reformed stance eventually landed him in exile 200 miles to the north. And it was this exile that may have birthed his precious letters. He wrote to his flock at Anworth and encouraged them to remain true to the Reformed faith.

3458 reads

Book Review - A Commentary on Exodus

“Exodus is the true heart of the Old Testament” (p. 138). So says Duane Garrett in his recently published book A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Library). Garrett explains further at the beginning of the book:

Exodus it the true beginning of the story of Israel. Genesis is essential to the story, but it is a prologue, describing the lives of individual patriarchs rather than the history of a people. With Exodus we begin the story of the national entity called Israel….Exodus is the beginning of everything that is distinctively Israelite, and it is the fountainhead of most of the literature of the Old Testament that follows. (p. 15)

A Commentary on Exodus is part of the new exegetical commentary series, Kregel Exegetical Library, published by Kregel. This commentary series is mainly written for pastors to provide them with an exegetical foundation of the text along with theological guides. Each chapter is characterized by the following:

4139 reads

Book Review - Invitation to the Life of Jacob

Dr. Donald Sunukjian has had more influence in the area of expository preaching on the current generation of pastors than anyone except Haddon Robinson. I remember one of my seminary professors having us watch a video of Dr. Sunukjian doing a first person narrative sermon on Esther. It was my first introduction to that type of handling of Old Testament narrative, and I was hooked.

In a new series published by The Weaver Book Company called “Biblical Preaching for the Contemporary Church,” Sunukjian fills a gap in the world of pastoral resources. When doing sermon prep, I go to language helps and commentaries for the technical help I need. I can hit up my collection of preaching books for refreshers on exposition. But what about taking the principles of expository preaching and applying them to specific texts? This is what Sunukjian does, and he does it well. His stated purpose is to “offer models of the principles presented in the textbook (Invitation to Biblical Preaching).”

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Book Review – A Passion for the Fatherless

While adoption has been going on for a long time it has enjoyed a recent spike in attention within Evangelical circles. The accompanying wave of recent books on adoption has been good for both to-be adoptive parents and families as well as the children whom they adopt. Parents can be better equipped and children can be better cared for with their varying needs.

In 2011 Daniel J. Bennett wrote A Passion for the Fatherless: Developing a God-Centered Ministry to Orphans. Now in its 2nd printing, the book seeks to provide a robust theology of adoption along with many practical applications, specifically as it pertains to families considering adoption and churches having adoption ministries. Bennett writes from the perspective and heart of a pastor and adoptive father. This enables him to write in such a way as to reach ministry leaders and adoptive families.

Being an adoptive father myself, I have read numerous books on adoption by both secular and Christian authors. While all of these books have their benefits, there are several reasons why A Passion for the Fatherless is the best book on adoption that I have read yet.

2803 reads

Book Review - God Dwells Among Us

Christians who love the Bible, should love biblical theology. More than any other discipline, biblical theology has the power to take the student on an exciting journey into the overall meaning of the biblical text. Early on in my study of biblical theology, I was told about the transformative power of one particular book and one particular biblical theme. That book was The Temple and the Church’s Mission by G.K. Beale (IVP). Eventually I read through that book and now agree with all the praise that was heaped upon it.

Beale’s work on the temple, showing how that theme is developed from Eden all the way to the New Jerusalem, can be truly transformative. Beale is not the only scholar to uncover this biblical theme, but his book perhaps more than any other, has advanced our understanding of all that is meant by God’s pledge to dwell with man in a visible temple.

The one drawback to Beale’s earlier title was that it was quite difficult to work through. Beale is exhaustive in his treatment of primary and secondary literature. He builds cases for each of the NT allusions he finds to OT passages. He interacts with the second temple Judaistic writings in his effort to understand what the people of the Bible’s day would have thought when they heard various images and themes about the temple. All of that reads more like a theological tome than a helpful and practical book for church use.

1712 reads

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