Deuteronomy (Apollos Old Testament Commentary)

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This volume was the first in what is developing into a major commentary series. This entry has enjoyed a favorable reception in the scholarly world and so I looked forward to reviewing it. Now that I have used all the titles in the Apollos series, I personally think the first two volumes (this one and Daniel) has a different feel than later volumes.

I found the Introduction to be unhelpful. He tackled issues of composition that I couldn’t agree with, and more importantly, most pastors find irrelevant. Only when he gave some theological insights was I helped. He also did not accept Mosaic authorship. Though the Apollos is earning a conservative reputation, this one would have trouble earning that designation in places.

Still, the quality of the commentary proper is high. The writing is good, the scholarship mature, and the information helpful. It was engaging throughout. This alone will make for a great commentary volume. The layout is similar to all the volumes: translation, notes on the text, form and structure, comment, and explanation. Consistently, I enjoyed the last two the list the most.

When I said that the first two Apollos volumes had a different feel, it seemed to me they were more for the scholar while the later volumes were better for pastors. If you are a scholar, add a star! In any event, I still recommend this volume and the entire series.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Schizophrenic–A New Book Diagnosing The Independent Baptist Movement

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Can you believe it finally happened? Someone deep in IFB culture wrote addressing the critical issues facing the movement. Tom Brannan was raised in an IFB home and has pastored IFB churches for several years. This book is unique in that though others in the Independent Baptist world (including me) have written on these issues, Mr. Brennan is the first writer to stay within the standards that some of us believe are beyond Scriptural requirement to do so. I applaud his efforts and imagine he will reach an audience no one else can.

In Book One he addresses what he feels is right in IFB churches. Though I could not agree with all his conclusions, he wrote in a calm manner that would be a model for some others from the same background.

In Book Two he writes on what is wrong in those same churches. I thought he candidly addressed many of the issues others of us would label as the problem. He rightfully began with pride. In his chapter on “We elevate young men” he explained how young men get the positions in Bible colleges because complete agreement outranks depth of thought. In other chapters he explained how loyalty could be taken too far. He actually gave soul liberty its props and he wasn’t afraid to say “we cover up sin.”

I especially appreciated how he addressed the quality of both preaching and study and admitted it was often woefully inadequate. He didn’t dodge how separation was out of hand in many cases. He looked at several other issues and even dropped the truth bomb: “Pharisee”. He ended his book politely calling for reforms.

There may be some who completely write him off for Book One while others will do the same for Book Two. I would suggest the former give him credit for doing what no one else around him is doing and the latter for being the first of their number to say what needs saying. I recommend the book and am excited for those he will reach that no one else can. I just pray he doesn’t get thrown under the bus in the process.

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My writing on the same subject can be found in The Truth Revolution series here.

 

 

The Bathroom–The Surprising Foundation That Collapsed

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I know you’ve already made your mind up. I realize that even if you ignore a lot of current events, you have not ignored this one. If you wanted to not think about it, a store like Target where we have all shopped at some point throws the issue into our faces and now you know that you simply can’t.

I’ve been thinking about it for days. It was akin to thinking about a stomach bug, but still I’ve been thinking. I’ve been listening too. I’ve genuinely wanted to hear what others have said as well. I have especially been intrigued  to hear what women think about it. I have hung on every word my wife Alicia has had to say about it. ( I sit here watching her be unable to stay awake because of medication following surgery and find myself overly introspective). Then I found myself wanting to hear what other husbands and fathers say about dealing with it. I am a Bible-believing Christian so I have an easy time determining that gender-neutral bathrooms are immoral, but I’m struggling thinking about the implications of it all.

My confidence in my Lord is unmoved and I know He is not shaken by what might shake me. Still, I’m not going to use bad theology to help myself cope. My loving Lord has chosen to not intervene on several massive issues over the last two years and I see no evidence that He will in this case. My God is good, and loving to me, whether my country stands or falls. In fact, I assure you the two are not related.

We are often accused of getting carried away in some of these issues, but this is one of the foundations the righteous lament seeing crumble. Plus it’s like fixing a non-problem. We’ve been able to go to the bathroom in separate facilities for ages with little incident.

Conclusions We Can Draw

1. This issue is here to stay.

Like many others, I had a good feeling when I signed the petition against Target as well as calling their corporate offices to register my disapproval of their new Bathroom Policy. (For the record I am not going to shop at Target anymore and I don’t care who cancels a concert in North Carolina!) But let’s be realistic. Tonight it’s becoming clear as primary election results come in that the nominee for each political party will be pro gender-neutral bathroom. One will nominate liberal Supreme Court justices while the other will likely flip and give us liberal judges too just as he flipped on this bathroom issue. That doesn’t bode well for all the mammoth issues of the last two years.

2. Women and little girls will be violated.

Men have already been caught photographing ladies in public bathrooms. We who said that it would happen hardly waited two days to hear reports confirming our fears.

3. Violence will grow.

Many of us who have a chance will stop our wives and daughters from being violated. Some will relish the violence as an outlet to their rage for this abusive, outrageous change. I am a Christian trying to figure out how I will do this without damaging my testimony. I pray for wisdom and take no pleasure in violence, but I will not allow a man to walk into the bathroom with my wife or daughters.

4. I am not going to yield to this ungodly political tide even if it washes me out to sea.

The pressure is growing daily. The political narrative has totally left reality. The line between sanity and lunacy is now as blurred as the one between the men and women’s restroom. I want to stay on record for what I believe as well:

a. Gender is not a real concept.

The Lord decides your sex. Let me define it for the non-Christians: your chromosomes determine your sex. There isn’t a person on earth who can change that reality either. You can become a homosexual, you can have a sex-change procedure, and you can tell yourself and the world otherwise, but you will have the same number of chromosomes you were born with.

b. You waking up and deciding you’re a woman is not worthy of being recognized.

I can wake up and decide I have a full head of hair, but when you see me I will still be a bald-headed man. For that matter, if I put on a toupee, I will still be a bald-headed man! Imagination does not alter reality.

c. My wife and daughters has as many rights as a “trans-gendered” person.

That means you don’t have a right to steal from their rights to increase yours. It is immoral to rob their rights and freedoms to gain “special” rights for you. Special rights always come at the expense of the natural rights of someone else.

d. This change is catastrophic even if a person who had a sex-change was already in the wrong bathroom.

I look at this point practically. Maybe a man who has had a sex-change procedure has already been in a public bathroom with my wife or daughters. If a man has already gone through that radical physical change, I assume that he has proven he is not attracted to women. That is not to say that he is right before God, but in a hostile environment I will at least maintain safety.

e. The Lord is holy and His Word is true and a hyper politically-correct age can not change it.

I will not call evil good no matter the pressure. I don’t hate anyone and would love every trans-gendered person to fill the emptiness of his or her soul with Jesus Christ.

There are many things I can’t change, but I can stop those things from changing me. I have as a role model my unchanging Lord!

 

 

Leviticus (Apollos Old Testament Commentary)

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Here is one of the most recent major commentaries on Leviticus. Nobuyoshi Kiuchi contributed this volume in the developing, scholarly, but pastor-friendly Apollos series by IVP. While this commentary is rather conservative in many ways, it has raised some controversy in its defining the Hebrew word usually rendered “sin” as “to hide oneself.” The harshest criticism I saw even called it “revisionist.” That will change interpretations in a few places, but does not shipwreck an otherwise fine production in my view.

If you overlook that one twist, you will have an excellent commentary to grapple with Leviticus. That will be clear in the Introduction. It is well written, easy to comprehend, and not sidetracked on esoteric sidewalks. He quickly dismisses, as is easily done, bizarre theories like the documentary hypothesis. He was at his best in the section on Structure. Whether you would agree or not, he really analyzes in a way that opens up Leviticus.

His analyses of key words and themes was equally helpful. I believe repeated words are always a clue to themes and he follows that line. At other points he presents original thinking and even writes as if symbolism (what some call “types”) is not far off the mark.

He had a few other peculiarities like calling the soul “one’s egocentric nature”, but was still helpful. He interacted well with the exegetical volumes most likely to compete for pastor’s attention: Wenham, Rooker, and Hartley.

The commentary proper was excellent and presented in the typical Apollos style: Translation, Form and Structure, Comment, and Explanation. This is a solid effort and worthy of purchase.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Epistle to the Romans (NIGTC) by Longenecker

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This volume has been highly anticipated for some time as the magnum opus of highly-respected scholar Richard Longenecker. It appears to have lived up to its billing.

In a short Preface he spells out the greatness of Romans and the challenges of its study. In a relatively short Introduction for a work of this size, he shares more of the great issues of grasping Romans. In fact, his Introduction strikes me as rather different than most. He mostly raises the great issues. He brilliantly defines what they are, but only rarely in the Introduction does he state what premise he will argue in the commentary itself. Apparently, that is the place he feels that he should answer the great questions.

The commentary proper is massive, well written, and perceptive. I studied what he said on several major passages, focusing on those that I thought were harder for a commentator. What I found was outstanding commentary. In Romans 1 he argued beautifully without falling prey to political correctness. In Romans 7 he laid out fairly the various viewpoints and then maturely outlined his position. In Romans 9-11 he handled the theological minefield with dignity and grace. The quality of coverage was constant.

Though this volume is clearly aimed at scholars, he managed to keep it where pastors could glean immensely. That is not always well done in the commentary world. He even translated more Greek than is common with this series. Though I would not agree with every conclusion he made, I constantly felt in the hands of a master as I read. This book is an exceptional commentary.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Miracle of Israel by Frazier and Fletcher

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The miracle that is Israel is a story too little told in our day. Gary Frazier and Jim Fletcher wisely subtitle their work “The Shocking, Untold Story of God’s Love for His People.” Hatred of Israel is on the upswing yet again,and the saddest part of it is that many Christians fail to see the significance and rank evilness of it.

The book is an easy read and is appropriate for anyone. It begins with three chapters that review Israel’s history in the Old Testament. It is a satisfactory overview.

Part Two is four chapters that present the information that is most likely to be unknown to readers. Particularly, chapters 6 and 7 tell the incredible story of modern Israel. The Lord has worked in several miraculous and thrilling instances and that story is told here. It is my favorite part of the book.

The last Part is three chapters on the future. Here prophecy involving Israel is discussed. It is handled from a premillennial perspective. It was good, but occasionally saw something in the Biblical text that was perhaps at best a guess.

Some of the prophecies used from the Old Testament seemed a stretch too. Still, if this volume can help stem the tide among Christians against Israel, it will be a blessing. Those with genuine questions will find some answers as well.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Evangelism Handbook by Alvin Reid

evangelism

I think I have found what I will use as my premier resource for evangelism in church and personal ministry. This volume by Alvin Reid is at once a passionate call for evangelism and a practical guide to several aspects of it. A Foreward by Thom Rainer and an Afterword by Roy Fish tells you type of book this one is going to be. It did not disappoint.

I loved Part 1 that was nine chapters on why evangelism is so essentially Biblical. It was so well done and accurate. It had the flavor and fervor of the old writers of evangelism, yet it was fully up-to-date.

Part 2 was five chapters on a subject that is missing in many modern works on evangelism–spiritual resourses. Some works present evangelism in such a mechanical way that methods, they suggest, guarantee results. Reid explains the role of the Spirit and the need of real spirituality on our parts. He also explained the nedd of and use of a personal testimony.

The rest of the book is good counsel on how to carry out evangelism and how to be missional. There may have been a sentence or a quote here and there that I disagreed with, but this book is nothing short of a home run!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.