Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zondervan 2 Volume Church History

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Zondervan has released a two volume set of textbooks covering church history.  They come in at around 1300 pages total and they look to be a great resource for students of all sorts.

These books are formatted beautifully.  Zondervan did a real service by allowing plenty of room in the margins to let the reader make notes and doodles…assuming it is used in a lecture format.  They also provided some great charts that summarize neatly large portions of important information.

There are no discussion or review questions included at the ends of the chapters.  That may be a negative to some but I had nop problem with it.  I do not usually utilize them, but always feel a bit burdened with them sitting there…like I am doing a disservice to the book by not answering the question in 1000 words, double spaced in Times New Romans 12 point.

The books have in the back a wonderful, I repeat wonderful, timeline that shows in parallel columns political rulers, writers/thinkers, events and bishops.  It allows the student to see events and people in perspective and is just plain old interesting.

Is the content of the book accurate?  I can only assume so based on the reputation of Zondervan but I could offer no insight of my own into that question.  That is simply beyond my knowledge.  What I do know is that both of these books are approachable, informative, and entertaining and I would love to have these be a text in a Christian history course.

I received review copies to look at and provide an honest review.  This review is for both volumes.

The Morality of God in the Old Testament by GK Beale

The Morality of God in the Old TestamentThe Morality of God in the Old Testament by Gregory K Beale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another great book in a series that P&R and Westminster Press have teamed up to publish.  If this is not the best one, it is definitely right up there and a genuine 5 star book (especially when looking at it for what it is).

The question of God’s morality in light of certain events recorded throughout Scripture is one argument that will be cited over and over again by skeptics and unbelievers.  Beale looks at this topic, narrowing his focus on how to specifically defend the morality of God against accusations made based on this particular event.

“The purpose of this booklet is to discuss the problem of how God can be considered to be morally good, while at the same time he does things and commands people in the Old Testament to do things that do not appear to be good. One famous example is God’s command to israel to exterminate every man, woman, and child of the Canaanites (e.g., cf. Deut. 20:12–15 with 20:16–18).”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with ChristFound in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“We neglect the doctrines of incarnation and union to our own deep impoverishment.  It’s a sad reality that many Christians spend their entire lives wandering around a spiritual wilderness, malnourished, thirsting, and consuming rubbish because they have never feasted on the soul-consoling, heart transforming, zeal-engendering truth found in the study of the incarnation and union.”

With this, Elyse Fitzpatrick invites the reader to come with her through a study of the believers union with Christ and His incarnation and to experience relief from the “isolation pandemic” that has struck so many.  This is an encouraging, comforting, and edifying book.   Fitzpatrick’s writings consistently encourage me and Found in Him was no different.  God has a special way of using her words to minister to me, and many others as well.

Chapter 1 is a great overview of Christ in all the Scriptures.  It could easily stand on its own as a booklet on how to properly see the grand narrative of Scripture running through the Bible from cover to cover.

Beginning in chapter 2, Fitzpatrick allots about half of the book to look at the incarnation and half to see the Doctrine of Union with Christ.  Basically, Christ in his grace-filled goodness united himself with humanity in the incarnation in order that the believer might be united to Christ for eternity in order that God would be praised and man be saved….that is my summary, not hers.

“The incarnate God-man Jesus Christ is completely matchless, and his condescension to humanity’s earthiness, finitude, frailty, and sin should astonish us and provoke worship.  But the sad truth is that we’ve become so very familiar with this story that we can hum carols during the Christmas season while we shop for trinkets and never once fall on our faces in awe”

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Faith and Creeds: A Guide for Study and Devotion

Faith and Creeds: A Guide for Study and DevotionFaith and Creeds: A Guide for Study and Devotion by Alister E. McGrath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Faith and Creeds, McGrath sets out to provide the reader with the "panorama" of the Christian faith, arguing (quite convincingly) that "in order to appreciate individual beliefs, you need to see the big picture of which they are a part." Writing on a more common level, McGrath invites three of the great "lay theologians of the 20th century; C.S. Lewis, Dortothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton. He also follows the leading of Lewis in expounding a "Mere Christianity", that is the common faith to which all Christians hold.

But before he goes into the creed of the Christian faith, McGrath begins by examing the creed of atheism and where it falls short. While being a lover of science, he rightly points out that the truths of empiricism might show themselves to be factually correct and verifiable, they also show themselves to be existentially insignificant. And that which is truly existentially significant is more than often not empirically verifiable. Science, at its best, can explain the how of the universe but can offer nothing for the why. "The deepest truths of life lie beyond ultimate confirmation. The simple fact is that none of us, whether religious or secular, can prove any of the great truths we live by. That's just the way life is."

Everyone lives by a "big picture", the overarching narrative of what is true. The rationalists big picture is just not that big, culminating in reason and empircal evidence. McGrath urges the reader to expand our vision and see the true "big picture", the coral reef that lies beneath the surface of water that the empiricist and rationalist is bound to only see.

To see this big picture McGrath says we are in need of a map. The map to the Christian faith he proposes is found in the creeds of Christendom.

"The map we find in the creed is there to help us explore the landscape of faith and to find our way back home. It's a map that distils the core themes of the Bible, disclosing a glorious, loving, and righteous God, who creates a world that goes wrong, and then acts graciously and wondrously in order to renew and redirect it, before finally bringing it to its fulfillment. And we ourselves are an integral part of this story that reveals our true purpose, meaning and value--who we are, what is wrong, wht God proposes to do about this, and what we must do in response. "

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John Knox--Interesting Life, Interesting Book

This was a fun reading experience for me.  I had always wanted to learn about John Knox.  He was a character from the Reformation era that I knew was significant but really knew almost nothing about.  I also had wanted to read one of the Armchair Theologian books.  I love the idea of a short biographical sketch of specific theologians and their contributions to theological thought and was curious about how these books fleshed out.  So I was excited about the chance to read John Knox for Armchair Theologians.

Suzanne McDonald provides a great overview of Knox's life.  It spans his entire life and, while never diving too deep into the man and specific events, it definitely provides alot of information in a short amount of pages.  It also is a good overview of his major writings.  One drawback for some would be the lack of firsthand information.  I do not see it as a drawback however.  This is in no ways a John Knox reader, it is a biographical sketch that also covers his writings and it does so in an informative and entertaining way. 

One of the really exciting things about how McDonald has written is how she leaves the reader wanting to know more.  You finish the book and you find yourself wanting to know more about Knox but also wanting to read and study about other characters introduced through the narrative of Knox's life: Mary, Elizabeth, Bullinger, Cranmer.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Classic Sermon: Job's Resignation by C.H. Spurgeon

Job's Resignation
"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."—Job 1:20-22.
Job was very much troubled, and he did not try to hide the outward signs of his sorrow. A man of God is not expected to be a stoic. The grace of God takes away the heart of stone out of his flesh, but it does not turn his heart into a stone. The Lord's children are the subjects of tender feelings; when they have to endure the rod, they feel the smart of its strokes; and Job felt the blows that fell upon him. Do not blame yourself if you are conscious of pain and grief, and do not ask to be made hard and callous. That is not the method by which grace works; it makes us strong to bear trial, but we have to bear it; it gives us patience and submission, not stoicism. We feel, and we benefit by the feeling, and there is no sin in the feeling, for in our text we are expressly told of the patriarch's mourning, "In all this Job sinned not." Though he was the great mourner—I think I might truly call him the chief mourner—of Scripture, yet there was no sin in his mourning. Some there are who say that, when we are heavy of heart, we are necessarily in a wrong spirit, but it is not so. The apostle Peter saith, "If need be ye are in heaviness through manifold trials," but he does not imply that the heaviness is wrong. There are some who will not cry when God chastiseth them, and some who will not yield when God smiteth them. We do not wish to be like them; we are quite content to have the suffering heart that Job had, and to feel the bitterness of spirit, the anguish of soul which racked that blessed patriarch.

Furthermore, Job made use of very manifest signs of mourning. He not only felt sorrow within his heart, but he indicated it by rending his mantle, by shaving off the hair of his head, and by casting himself prone upon the ground, as if he sought to return to the womb of mother-earth as he said that he should; and I do not think we are to judge those of our brethren and sisters who feel it right to wear the common tokens of mourning. If they give them any kind of solace in their sorrow, let them have them. I believe that, at times, some go to excess in this respect, but I dare not pass sentence upon them because I read here, "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." If the crepe should be worn for a very long while, and if the sorrow should be nursed unduly, as others judge, yet we cannot set up a standard of what is right for others, each one must answer for his conduct to his own Lord. I remember the gentleness of Jesus towards mourners rather than his severity in dealing with them; he hath much pity for our weakness, and I wish that some of his servants had more of the same spirit. If you who are sorrowing could be strong, if the weeds of mourning could be laid aside, it might indicate a greater acquiescence in the divine will; but if you do not feel that it should be so with you, God forbid that we should rebuke you while we have such a text as this before us, "Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground;" and "in all this Job sinned not."

I want you, however, to notice that mourning should always be sanctified with devotion. It is very pleasant to observe that, when Job had rent his mantle after the Oriental custom, and shaved his head (in a manner which, in his day, was not forbidden, but which under the Mosaic law was prohibited, for they might not cut their hair by way of mourning as the heathen did), and, after the patriarch had fallen down upon the ground, he "worshipped." Not, he grumbled; not, he lamented; much less that he began to imprecate and use language unjustifiable and improper; but he "fell down upon the ground, and worshipped." O dear friend, when thy grief presses thee to the very dust, worship there! If that spot has come to be thy Gethsemane, then present there thy "strong crying and tears" unto thy God. Remember David's words, "Ye people, pour out your hearts,"-but do not stop there, finish the quotation,—"Ye people, pour out your hearts before him." Turn the vessel upside down; it is a good thing to empty it, for this grief may ferment into something more sour. Turn the vessel upside down, and let every drop run out; but let it be before the Lord. "Ye people, pour out your hearts before him: God is a refuge for us." When you are bowed down beneath a heavy burden of sorrow, then take to worshipping the Lord, and especially to that kind of worshipping which lies in adoring God, and in making a full surrender of yourself to the divine will, so that you can say with Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." That kind of worshipping which lies in the subduing of the will, the arousing of the affections, the bestirring of the whole mind and heart, and the presentation of oneself unto God over again in solemn consecration, must tend to sweeten sorrow, and to take the sting out of it.

It will also greatly alleviate our sorrow if we then fall into serious contemplations, and begin to argue a little, and to bring facts to bear upon our mind. Evidently Job did so, for the verses of my text are full of proofs of his thoughtfulness. The patriarch brings to his own mind at least four subjects for earnest consideration, out of which he drew great comfort. In like manner, you will do well, not merely to sit still and say, "I shall be comforted," but you must look about you for themes upon which to think and meditate to profit. Your poor mind is apt to be driven to and fro by stress of your sorrow; if you can get anchor-hold of some great clearly-ascertained truths, about which you can have no possible doubt, you may begin to derive consolation from them. "While I was musing," said David, "the fire burned," and it comforted and warmed him. Remember how he talked to himself as to another self, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." There are two Davids, you see, talking to one another, and cheering one another! A man ought always to be good company for himself, and he ought also to be able to catechise himself; he who is not fit to be his own schoolmaster is not fit to be schoolmaster to other people. If you cannot catechise your own heart, and drill a truth into your own soul, you do not know how to teach other people. I believe that the best preaching in the world is that which is done at home. When a sorrowing spirit shall have comforted itself, it will have learned the art of consoling other people. Job is an instance of this kind of personal instruction; he has three or four subjects which he brings before his own mind, and these tend to comfort him.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Understanding World Religions

Understanding World Religions: A Bible-Based Review of 50 FaithsUnderstanding World Religions: A Bible-Based Review of 50 Faiths by Len Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Looking for a book on world religions can be tricky.  Initially, it would seem that you would look for a book that is from a neutral perspective.  This way, there would be no bias and we could get "just the facts, ma'am."  But then reality kicks in.  There are no "uninterpreted facts" and everyone brings their own bias.  That is just the nature of being human.

From a Christian perspective, while it may allow for the claim of arrogance and intolerance from naysayers, we do have access to truth.  The truth.  So when we view things, especially those things religious in nature, we should view them through the lens of God's revelation to man.  To do otherwise would be to embrace a misunderstanding of whatever we seek to know.

And if you are looking for a book on world religions from a distinctly Christian perspective, get this one.  Seriously.  It is quite good.  From content to presentation, this book is A+.

Woods presents different world religions, or worldviews would be a good term since certain views are included that would not traditionally wear the label of "religion", and he presents them from the viewpoint of a Christian.

Each worldview gets a basic overview including: basic beliefs, sacred texts, Nature of God, does/how does it present Jesus Christ, human nature, basic human need, salvation, and afterlife.  Also, if applicable, it covers some historical figures, calendar dates, and historical dates.

The format is beautiful and makes you want to read it.  The colors and patterns are engaging but not distracting from the text.  This would make a wonderful textbook for a basic world religions course taught from a distinctly Christian perspective.  Beyond that, it makes a great reference text to keep around and it is immensely readable, to the point where someone could sit down and read large sections straight through.

I cannot say enough good about this book.  It is great.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Classic Sermon: The Christian's Attitude Toward Death by B.B. Warfield

The Christian’s Attitude Toward Death
By Prof. Benjamin B. Warfield, D.D., LL.D.
For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For indeed, we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up in life. Now he that wrought us for this very thing is God, who gave unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight): we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”—2 Cor. 5:1–10.
NOWHERE more fully than in the opening chapters of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians does Paul describe the trials and distresses of the life that he was living as ambassador of Christ. He had been lately thrown to the beasts at Ephesus, and had escaped, almost miraculously as we may well believe, with bare life. While recovering, perhaps slowly, from the deadly injuries thus received, the news reached him of the threatening defection of the churches of Galatia, and of the danger of that in Corinth, and added mental to his physical distress. For the good of his children in the Lord he controlled the expression of his sorrows, and sent to each of these churches a letter of admonition and instruction, only venturing in that to the Galatians on the pathetic appeal which consisted in calling their attention to the large, misshapen, and painfully formed characters in which alone he could now scrawl the accustomed line or two which he added with his own hand at the end of his letters. Meanwhile things came once more to a climax at Ephesus. Under the leadership of one Demetrius, the craftsmen who made profit out of the service of Diana raised a tumult against the Apostle’s preaching; and assembling in the theater, “all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians!’ ”—not the first instance in history, nor likely to be the last, when volume and continuance of sound are made to do duty for argument.
Warned by this that the public mind in Ephesus was no longer in a condition to profit by his preaching, Paul departs for Macedonia, apparently before the time appointed for the return of his messengers from Corinth, hoping to meet them on the road. But Titus does not come even at Troas (2 Cor. 2:13); and torn with anxiety the Apostle pushes on into Macedonia. There at length his returning messengers meet him, and, better than that, bring him good news. The Corinthians allow his authority, and have humbled themselves to his rebukes; and that beloved church at least has ridden safely over the crest of the wave that threatened to submerge it. The burdened heart of the Apostle overflows, and he writes to the Corinthians out of his very soul. For once we see within him, and learn how the stupendous trials which pressed upon him affected his thought and feelings.
Amid all these sufferings, the mere allusions to which, lightly touched as they are, appall us, he is upheld by his sense of the greatness of his work and of the greatness of his hope. Though his outward man is being literally worn away, he need not faint; for his inward man is being renewed day by day, and all this affliction, terrible as it is, is light compared with the eternal weight of glory which it is working for him. His courage draws its force, thus, from his confidence in his future reward. It is because he looks not at the things that are seen, which are temporal, but at those that are not seen, which are eternal, that he can bear all things. Like Moses, he looks unto the recompense of reward, and endures as seeing the Invisible One. Like Abraham, he is content to dwell in tents for a season, because he looks for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God. It is, indeed, with just this last figure that the Apostle expresses his feeling here. The reason of his strength, he tells us, is because “we know that if our earthly tent-dwelling be destroyed, we have a house from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.” What are earthly sufferings to one who looks upon his very bodily frame as but a tent, in which he sojourns for a time, and expects the laying of it aside to be merely a step toward entering into a mansion prepared for him by God himself?
The Apostle then contemplates the wearing away of his present body with patience. But we must observe that it is not exactly death that he longs for. He is burdened here, and sighs for relief from the burdens of this life, that somehow mortality may be swallowed up by life. But he shrinks from death. He could wish to be alive to greet the Lord when he comes, and so put on the habitation which is from heaven over this earthly tent, rather than be found naked on the coming of that glad day. Not that he expects to live until the Advent; he only could find it in his heart to wish it; he is in entire uncertainty as to the issue, and accordingly adds, “That is, of course, if, when we do put on” (or “when the putting-on time comes”) “we shall be found not naked.” How instructive meanwhile it is to observe this great soldier of the cross, who was “in deaths oft” and “died daily,” shrinking with purely human feeling from the act of death; how magnificent must have been his courage, a courage rooted in nothing human, but in a divine faith and hope. For scarcely has this cry of human nature escaped from him before he proceeds, as if quietly reasoning with himself, to declare that God has wrought us for the very purpose of swallowing up our mortality in life, and given us even here his Spirit as earnest of his intention. And his contemplation being thus withdrawn from self and cast on God, his shrinking from death disappears too. “Being, then, of good courage always,” he declares, “and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are away from home from the Lord (for it is by faith that we are walking, not by appearance), we are of good courage, I say, and are well pleased rather to go away from home from the body and go home to the Lord.” Thus faith conquers the natural fear of death. As much as he fears it, he longs for the Lord more, and the most direct path that leads to his side, however painful or even unnatural it may be, he will joyfully take.
Paul’s whole heart is now before us. He is burdened in this life and longs to be with his Lord. He could wish that the Lord would hasten his coming, and thus “clothe him upon” with immortality; but if this is not to be he earnestly desires even in nakedness of soul to be with him, and welcomes the fearful and unnatural portal of death as access to him. It is the model of the Christian’s attitude toward life and death and the life that lies beyond death. Let us seek to make it such for our bruised hearts to-day,* and endeavor to understand from the Apostle’s uncovered soul what should be the attitude of our souls toward these great mysteries.
I. First of all, then, we may learn that this life which we are living here cannot be a satisfactory living to a Christian. “In this tent-dwelling,” says Paul, “we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven.” “We that are in the tent,” he repeats, “groan, being burdened, with a view to the swallowing up of mortality in life.” And lest we should think this a state of mind peculiar to himself, as one “in labors more abundant,” let us remind ourselves that he elsewhere represents it as characteristic of Christians, broadly declaring that they “who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” This is indeed the whole drift of that great chapter, the seventh of Romans, in which the conflict of the Christian life, that ineradicable strife between the implanted good and the natural evil within us, is vividly portrayed, ending with the heart-rending cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of this body of death?” It is a body of humiliation, as the Apostle elsewhere calls it, a body of death, a body of sin, with which our spirits are now clothed. How can we fail to long for deliverance from it?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Great Little Book on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent DesignCreation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Guillermo González
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design.  These are topics I have studied much in the last few years.  My views have been challenged, altered, manipulated, and confirmed from all different angles.  Each perspective has its own propagandists who care little about truth and a lot about being right.  These folks do not only want you to choose, say, creation over evolution...but it has to be their exact perspective on creation.  It has to be 6 literal days, or it has to involve a gap and recreation, or it has to(insert some other nuance).  Same thing with evolution or ID.

But, each perspective also has loyal adherents who believe strongly that the view they hold is correct and sincerely want you to come to a knowledge of truth.  I like those folks better.  They challenge and help and encourage me, even if I disagree with their conclusions.

One of the greatest things I learned as I was exposed to Reformed Theology and the sovereignty of God is this: All truth is God's truth.  Truth will not lead a person away from God, it will lead them to Him.  This encourages me greatly when dealing with issues, such as evolution/creation/ID, because I can pursue the truth without hesitation.  Truth will inevitably lead me to God, who is Truth!

This booklet from P&R does just that, it seeks the truth with the confidence that all truth is God's truth and truth inevitably leads us to God...even if it may alter, challenge, or contradict our interpretations, presuppositions, and traditions.

Gonzalez and Richards do a wonderful job of presenting a thoroughly biblical argument for God as Creator in a respectful, informative, and entertaining manner.  The challenge they offer at the end of the book sums up well the intent of the authors and I offer a hearty "amen" to it.

"Anyone who has studied science knows that scientists are not immune to 'herd instinct'.  Many false ideas enjoyed consensus opinion at one time....major advances in science often come from a lone scientist going against the consensus view of the day.  These pioneering often endanger their careers for defending their views...The lesson is clear.  Be skeptical of claims of consensus, especially when there are big political or metaphysical issues at stake.  Ask tough questions. Insist on clear definitions.  Educate yourself, using multiple sources of information. Do your best to follow the evidence where it leads. And rest assured that the real evidence of science, as opposed to the misleading claims of scientific  materialism, will not conflict with the truths of the Christian faith." 

I received a review copy from the publisher to review this book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 3, 2013

After the Last Tear Falls

After the last tear falls 
After the last secret's told 
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone 
After the last child starves 
And the last girl walks the boulevard 
After the last year that's just too hard 

There is love 
Love, love, love 
There is love 
Love, love, love 
There is love 

After the last disgrace 
After the last lie to save some face 
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue 
After the last dirty politician 
After the last meal down at the mission 
After the last lonely night in prison 

There is love 
Love, love, love 
There is love 
Love, love, love 
There is love 

And in the end, the end is 
Oceans and oceans 
Of love and love again 
We'll see how the tears that have fallen 
Were caught in the palms 
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all 
And we'll look back on these tears as old tales 

'Cause after the last plan fails 
After the last siren wails 
After the last young husband sails off to join the war 
After the last "this marriage is over" 
After the last young girl's innocence is stolen 
After the last years of silence that won't let a heart open 

There is love 
Love, love, love 
There is love 

And in the end, the end is 
Oceans and oceans 
Of love and love again 
We'll see how the tears that have fallen 
Were caught in the palms 
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all 
And we'll look back on these tears as old tales 

'Cause after the last tear falls 
There is love

Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin?

Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin?Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin? by Brandon D Crowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great series of short books on important topics that P&R is putting out.  "Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?" is a question that has been posed since, seemingly, Jesus' birth.

Crowe goes about showing some of the arguments against the virgin birth and offering brief counterarguments.  These sections are extremely brief and they might have been fleshed out just a little bit more.

I still remember a few years ago when Rob Bell, while not directly casting aspersions on the doctrine of the virgin birth, questioned if the doctrine was even a relevant one for Christians.  As a response to those who see no reason to argue for or against the virgin birth because they see it, at best, as a peripheral teaching, Crowe devotes a section of this book to the necessity of the doctrine and its implications on the rest of Christian faith and practice.

This entire series is focused on big picture arguments.  It does not take the time to go into the nuances of any perspectives and does not spend much, if any, time offering extensive proofs to arguments presented.  These are fly-by's and are really good at being that.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment... for children!!!

The Bible's Big Story: Salvation History for KidsThe Bible's Big Story: Salvation History for Kids by Jim Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment for children!!!...well, probably not. But it sure is close! I was super-excited when I saw this book on Amazon and bought it, in part, to ensure my Free Super Saver Shipping(you know you've bought stuff for that reason before!).

I am so glad I did. While I did not expect a Biblical Theology for children, I was pleasantly surprised to find something so robust and so simple for children....and honestly for me. I truly think that a great sermon series could be created from simply following the outline of this book!!

The Bible's Big Story takes kids from the Creation to Consummation, teaching the grand narrative of Scripture in a rhyming fashion. The Scripture references included make this a nice guide to use in family devotions with younger children and helps kids see the bigger picture in one sitting.

The rhymes are memorable and implant core truths into the minds of our kids: "On the cross he paid for sin, Jesus, Savior of all men." "From the grave he rose again, Conquering death and hell and sin."

Based on the format, this would be ideal for memorizing and we are considering how to utilize it in a Sunday School/Home-school Co-op type setting. This is a really good book and I feel very blessed to have stumbled upon it how I did and am thankful to Dr. Hamilton and Christian Focus Publications for writing and publishing this book.

View all my reviews