Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Reviews/Recommended Reading for the 2013 School Semester

Hello again! I'm sure that you all are wondering why I do so many book reviews. Well, it's because reading is the best way to be educated about a particular subject, and we Christians have more material available about any particular subject (especially the Bible) than any other people in history. So, get literate!

Kim Riddlebarger's book, A Case for Amillennialism, is a compelling case for Amillennialism. It is not, however, a convincing case. If you are coming to this book to convince you that Amillennialism is the true eschatological position, you will not find it here. You will only find it in the Bible. But Riddlebarger does make a compelling case for it. Unfortunately though, much of this book seemed to me to be a polemic against Dispensationalism/Pre-Trib. Premillennialism- indeed, almost exclusively! It was striking how little he seemed to interact with Historic Premillennialism or (more understandably) Postmillennialism. I will give him this: his critique of Dispensationalism is very much needed in modern evangelicalism's thought/theology, as it is often assumed to be the only eschatological stance. However, I would have preferred him to spend more time on Historic Premillennialism than he did. I digress...
His arguments are easy to understand and his writing style is easy to follow. He defines his terms at the very beginning (as any good writer should) and so makes it (at least mostly) easy for even someone new to theology to understand. He proves that Amillennialism is not the position held because of a liberal interpretation of Scripture which does not take the Bible literally, and in fact proves that those opponents who claim such merely take the Bible literalistically themselves. However, I'm quite sure it would be quite difficult to follow what he is saying if one does not have a decent knowledge of Scripture. What I mean is this: if you don't read the Bible, this book will not be very beneficial to you. You will not be able to see how he is right or where he is wrong. That being said, I think that this book does have much to offer to he who wants to understand an eschatology that actually makes a bit of sense or holds together when held up in the light of Scripture. I think Riddlebarger does a very good job of describing and making a compelling case for Amillennialism.
Read it all and read it well.

The Justification of God by John Piper is the gold standard of exegesis. This book is rich. This book is heavy. But this book is good, very good! This is Piper's most scholarly work, but this is the foundation for his entire theology: the sovereignty of God. This book lays out the text of Romans 9 and deals with it. Deals with it honestly. Piper takes it in context, too. Going all the way back to Romans 3, Piper deals with not only election, but propitiation, justification, sanctification, predestination (different word, similar meaning), and glorification. The weak claim that Romans 9 is taken out of context is wiped away with one swoop of Piper's exegetical acumen. He knows the Greek and he knows it well. 
Yes, there is a whole lot of Greek text in this book, but it is not necessary to know it in order to glean from this book. This book is a treasure. Perhaps not as entertaining as many of his works are, but it is just as rich or richer than most of his works are. If you want to go deep (and I mean deep) into the hard texts of Scripture, Piper dives straight in in a humble but unfaltering approach to understand and exegete one of the hardest texts in the New Testament. 
Read it all, read it slow, and read it well.

Jonathan Edwards wrote The Surprising Work of God over 200 years ago. It recounts the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon his and other congregations during a period of time known to us as the Great Awakening. Edwards depicts the events and effects of the Great Awakening from the perfect vantage point of someone who experienced it first-hand. This book recounts these remarkable events very specifically, even mentioning two specific people affected by these events. The book is an inspiration and an encouragement, constantly reminding me that revival can happen wherever, whenever, and through whoever God wants. 

These selected sermons of Jonathan Edwards put out by Hendrickson Publishers is a treasure. With over 20 of Edwards' sermons printed in very readable font on high quality paper, this book will have you underlining, highlighting, and taking notes on almost every sentence. Edwards was not only a theologian, but a pastor. These are sermons from over 200 years ago, but have been so important that Hendrickson published them today. The 20 sermons include Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men, A Divine and Supernatural Light, The Excellency of Christ, and his final sermon to his parish in Connecticut, A Farewell Sermon, among others. 

Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears is a very good introduction to Christian doctrine. It takes the reader through all sorts of Christian doctrine, from the Trinity to Inspiration to the Incarnation to the Kingdom, dabbling even in a bit of eschatology. Like I said, this is a good introduction. It does not get so deep as, say, Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, but it is still quite good for the casual reader. A great reference tool, this book has many answers to many questions. It's a great reference tool and a great intro to systematic theology.

This little orange book will change the way you live. Radical by David Platt is truly taking back your faith from the American Dream. Platt's thesis is that the American Dream has been infused with Christianity, creating something that we think is Christian but is really not even Biblical. Platt goes on to show what this infusion has done: created a Christianity which thinks that the basic commands of the Bible, the expectations Jesus claims he has for all of us are radical. Is this not peculiar? People have claimed that these expectations are ridiculous and radical. Platt says they're right. But he also claims that that is no reason to not obey them. This book is a call to the radical Christian life that we have been called to by Christ. This book will cause you to want to be radical. This book will cause you to want to go "all out" for Christ, like we're called to do. I hope that you all appreciate this book like I do.

I hope that you all read these books. With the amount of information we have at our disposal now is a responsibility we have. I think the Lord has given us this opportunity to pick up and read in order that we will pick up and read. So, read! Learn! Understand! Feast! Enjoy! So be responsible and read.

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