Books

Personal Thoughts About Commentaries: The Thessalonian Epistles

Image of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
by Robert L. Thomas, Andreas J. Kostenberger
Zondervan Academic 2017
Kindle Edition 446

The two small letters of Paul to the young Thessalonian Church are among the earliest of his writings. This means that they are also among the earliest writings of the New Testament – even for those of us who opt for the traditional dates of the Gospels. Although I am pretribulational it has to be admitted that Paul does not settle the date of the rapture in these letters. Therefore, what I look for is careful exegesis informed by salient considerations of other biblical teachings on the subject. Attempts to spiritualize the “naos” in 2 Thessalonians 2 count as a mark against any work.

1. Robert L. Thomas

This contribution to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary is, to my mind, the best single exegetical treatment of the Thessalonian Correspondence. Although space restrictions were imposed on the author, Thomas makes very good use of his allotted pages. The work is based on Thomas’s “Exegetical Digests” of these books.

2. D. Edmond Hiebert

The Second Advent shows up in every chapter of these letters, and the material on the Day of the Lord and the Antichrist have to be treated with care, not squeezed into a theological box. Hiebert’s exegesis is thorough enough for most pastors, and his conclusions are well thought through.

3. F. F. Bruce

The first installment of the WBC still holds its own as an excellent commentary on these epistles. A lengthy (for Bruce) Excursus on Antichrist is included which is worth pondering, even if all will not come out where Bruce does.

1731 reads

Wm. Paul Young's Problems with the Truth About God (Part 2)

Image of Lies We Believe About God
by Wm. Paul Young
Atria Books 2017
Hardcover 272

Read Part 1.

Universal Salvation

When I speak of Young’s universalism I am not referring to the belief that Jesus Christ provided an atonement for every sinner; a position which I hold. I am instead talking about the liberal theological teaching that God will save everybody, whether or not they have placed their trust in His Son.

Because of the author’s encounters with hurt and pain, it is understandable that he has searched for a god who is safe and accepting. In his striving to push past the debilitating burden that bitterness carries with it, perhaps he has embraced a god that characterizes his wish to move on and forgive—everyone? One can’t be sure. But Young wants to remove what he sees as the hard edges off of the traditional concept of God:

958 reads

Wm. Paul Young's Problems with the Truth About God (Part 1)

Image of Lies We Believe About God
by Wm. Paul Young
Atria Books 2017
Hardcover 272

Wm. Paul Young is best known as the author of the astoundingly successful book The Shack. He has also written two other works. All his books deal with pain and suffering and seek to offer hope.

Unfortunately, Young’s brand of hope, although it presents itself as Christian, and indeed has been understood as such by many, is not anchored in the biblical portrait of God at all. This book, Lies We Believe About God, lays bare Young’s understanding of some of the central tenets of Christianity for all to see. Those of us who were unhappy with the portrayal of God in The Shack have had our suspicions vindicated. Young’s conception of God is very unbiblical.

Where He Is Right

Saying that this book contains a false view of God is not the same as saying that it is entirely false. He has some strong words for the word-faith people (86-87). He correctly states that for God to change this world into a monument of His grace “speaks volumes” about His character (39). He is also spot on when he says that we are all individuals and God will relate to us as such (158), and in his insistence that we have intrinsic worth (32). There are a few things in the book where the author makes a good point or two. He can get you to agree with him.

1756 reads

You Are What You Love - A Review (Part 1)

Image of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
by James K. A. Smith
Brazos Press 2016
Kindle Edition 213

Three themes dominate James Smith’s You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. (1) Our loves are like unconscious dispositions we have towards the things and events around us and they reveal our identity. (2) The habituation of godly virtues forms our inner self-our soul. So while gaining knowledge of God and His Word is vital to discipleship, the gaining of virtues—the forming of the soul—is the core of discipleship. (3) The primary way of gaining virtues (of forming the soul) is liturgy in the church.

Chapter 1 explores love and worship. Which is more indicative of our identity? What we love, or what we think? Smith argues that what we love defines our identity. We as humans love something. “You can’t not love.”1 Our loves dictate our choices. Smith compares our loves to our compass, a default orientation of the soul.

Virtues are the habituated, internalized inclinations of the soul “to be compassionate, forgiving, and so forth.”2 “As Aristotle put it, when you’ve acquired a moral habit, it becomes second nature.”3 “Those habits that become ‘second’ nature operate in the same way: they become so woven into who you are that they are as natural for you as breathing and blinking. You don’t have to think about or choose to do these things: they come naturally.”4 “In fact, if I have to deliberate about being compassionate, it’s a sure sign I lack the virtue!”5

14267 reads

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