Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (IVP)

dictionary

This volume is another of the massive volumes in IVP’s “Black Dictionary” series. It upholds the quality this series is known for. Edited by Tremper Longman and Peter Enns, with Longman particularly known for his work in Wisdom Literature, and hosting a long list of competent authors, this dictionary  is one of the most important works on the Wisdom books available today.

Beyond the usual suspects of Job through Song of Solomon, this dictionary covers the Megillot, which adds Ruth, Lamentations, and Esther to the information covered. The audience written to is clearly a scholarly one, but pastors and teachers can glean much even if they feel the need to skip a few paragraphs in some articles.

Each of the books are covered in as in-depth fashion as a major commentary. Actually, more information than is covered in many of them will be found. The one on Psalms covered most every issue on the Book of Psalms that could be imagined. Some of the history of interpretation including the wave of form criticism that Psalms has faced is covered even if it beyond what many of us thinks is important. On the other hand, the ways certain psalms are categorized was very enlightening.

I read other articles on a variety of subjects and found them helpful. For example, I read the article on Ahasuerus from the Book of Esther and found it fascinating. There are many other such articles.

This is a fine reference volume to have on hand and I recommend it.

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.

Racing Down Hill

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As we head into Memorial Day weekend it is a good time to think about where we are as a nation. What a massive contrast we have before us: those who gave all for our country versus those who are doing their best to destroy it. I’ve been studying Ezekiel 22 (“stand in the gap”) for my sermon Sunday and see in that chapter how everyone failed–princes, preachers, and people. It is quite the similar situation in our day.

Perhaps you are like me–you are siding with God, you are disgusted with the direction of our nation, you understand the concept of judgment,  you still trust the Lord, and you want to stand in the gap. Even if all that is true, perhaps you also feel blindsided over the last two years. Perhaps you knew we were going downward, but wonder how we spiraled so suddenly. Go back to any part of our history and you will find serious problems and issues, but I can’t help but see the unique elements in these last two years. I’m comparing what I thought as it happened to trying now to process it collectively. Here are, to my mind, the highlights:

1. Ferguson and the New Race War

Of course we have had race issues in our country since the day our country was founded. The 1960s were a particularly ugly period in that regard. Still, there is a difference in that whether we would agree with the methods used to fight it or not, there were racial injustices in our country. With an elected black president and minorities in every facet of our world now, that is no longer the case. Now we have manufactured these injustices and have turned a large portion of our nation against the police. In thinking about where our country is going, I can’t help but thinking of a biography of Hitler I read last year. Hitler manufactured these race problems repeatedly.

2. The Confederate Flag and Rewriting History

We used to have more sense. We could appreciate our history and its good points without agreeing with its bad ones.  Surely you are logical enough to realize that every American on the Confederate side did not have the slavery issue as his or her main point. For many, it was just about the fact that the region they lived in was at war. Many of them did not even own a slave themselves. For over a century we were able to be against slavery and yet appreciate the people on both sides of the conflict. Now we have revived the hate.

Of course people have long tried to make an issue here, but now the Confederate flag became almost criminal and confederate generals have even had the graves moved because they are suddenly a problem after 150 years where the corpses are now merely dust.

This problem is so much bigger than a flag. It is the legitimizing of rewriting history. Hitler was a master at rewriting history and finding issues that needed addressing that had not needed addressing before. That is an incredibly slippery slope.

3. The Anti-Gun Attack

We’ve had people trying to take our guns away for a long time, but we have never had those attacks to be so effective. The President with a straight face keeps saying guns are causing some of the mass shooting we have had, but the sad part is how many accept that illogical conclusion unquestioningly. The guns involved were already illegal and taking guns away from law-abiding citizens would have no bearing on it. A possible soon shift in our Supreme Court and the Second Amendment may be gone. I assure you there was no Second Amendment in Nazi Germany either.

4. Legalized Gay Marriage

This is the one I fear that has broken our backs. Romans 1 is why I believe that to be true. Can you believe that it was exactly 4 years ago that our President surprised us by merely announcing that he was in favor of it? I wrote about it then and felt that was a major turning point. Still, I’m no Prophet; I never dreamed we’d already be here. I know I’ve already written on it here and here, but time for reflection has not lessened my opinion of the magnitude of this issue in our country before the Lord. Hitler changed moral laws too (like what you could do to a Jewish person), but I think Old Testament warnings of judgment are even more appropiate here.

5. The Bathroom Fiasco

Maybe I’m just not perceptive enough, but this one really surprised me too. I wrote on this issue too in September 2013 over a few cases in the news, but I never dreamed that it would explode as it has. I have already written on it here and here as well, but a few weeks to think about it has not lessened my belief that we are in trouble. The Lord will protect His remnant, but the country I love has a grim future.

6. ________________

I’m not even sure I want to know what’s next.

Conclusion

I can’t help but think about another biography I read that also involved Nazi Germany. It was a fine one on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. One of things that stood out to me was how he couldn’t believe how few Christians spoke out against Hitler. He was thought by many as pessimistic until, of course, the tide of events made them all hurt. Then he was a prophet–at first an imprisoned one and then a dead one–but quite a prophet.

For me, I don’t want to be like those Christians in Nazi Germany. I’d rather be thought a pessimist now than a fool later. I also want to “stand in the gap.” Whatever happens, I do trust the Lord. The Old Testament prophets greatly trusted the Lord, but they greatly thundered the warnings too.

Please forgive all the links to old articles from my blog, but I wanted to show a timeline. I have thought about the bad direction of our country, but I have misjudged its rapidity repeatedly. That means that the warning (which the Lord always gave to His people) is not that we can predict exactly what will happen, but that ultimately my walk with the Lord is urgent and all I can really do about it when all is said and done.

 

 

J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone–A Great New Biography

biography

This book is the kind of biography that warms your heart. If you happen to be in the ministry, you will get a double blessing. Iain Murray scores again with yet another quality biography in his repertoire. In this case, he has brought to life a man so worth knowing.

Ryle’s story is compelling. Though Ryle had a godly grandfather, his father became enormously wealthy and did not raise his children to follow the Lord. At one point, Ryle seemed like a person who could never become what he finally did. He is a testament of God’s grace.

His father went bankrupt and Ryle, then in his mid-twenties,  hardly knew which way to go in life. He quickly lost two wives though he was blessed with children. Even in later life with much success in the ministry, he lost his third wife! Trials played a part, as with many such men, in the men they became.

He was a man of the Book. He studied intensely and grew to publish many impressive titles. Though he was deeply involved in the Church of England, his first allegiance was to the Lord and His Word. When his beloved son Herbert became infected with higher critical methods, he never wavered though he managed to keep a relationship with his son. The subtitle “Prepared To Stand Alone” was a worthy description of him.

You may find some of his church battles uninteresting, but you will love the man. I was greatly challenged by his life. Murray has done us a service by giving us this attractive volume. I warmly recommend it.
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.

Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: Vol. 1 by Ben Witherington III

commentaryben

This volume covers Titus, I and II Timothy and the Epistles of John in the socio-rhetorical commentary style that Witherington has become famous for. In fact, it is almost beyond belief that Witherington has had such an enormous output of commentaries on New Testament books. If you suspect he may have written too quickly to have covered such ground, you will see in this volume that he hasn’t cut any corners in the subjects he addresses.

He makes quite a distinction about some of these epistles being homilies, but I couldn’t help but think as I read, what real difference does it make for we who study God’s Word? In the Pastoral Epistles he had a lengthy and quite good Introduction on them as a whole. Then there was an Introduction for each individual book before the commentary. I felt it covered the same sort of issues a regular commentary would. I did not agree with some of his conclusions, and feel perhaps his socio-rhetorical method can be overdone, but I still felt it a solid contribution.

I was even less in agreement with his conclusions on the Epistles of John, especially about who the writer is, and wonder if his thoughts about a theme of “wisdom” are beyond what the text can bear. Still, I found it easier to read than many commentaries.

At times he can be a little dogmatic, but the fact that he is a superb writer makes that a small price to pay. He will force you to think about his viewpoint, and even if you disagree, you will be far richer for having done so. In short, though I disagree in places, I give this volume a high ranking as a volume that succeeds in its mission–helping the reader to formulate his or her own positions.

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.

Eternal Salvation–A Christian Movie Review

eternal

Eternal Salvation is an excellent Christian movie. The wooden acting that has plagued some Christian films is no where to be found in this movie. The plot will grab your attention throughout. My wife and children watched this film with me and we give it a family thumbs up. You will love this Dove-approved Eternal Salvation DVD.

The story is of an unsaved family man who is a high-profile investment banker. He survives a brain aneurysm, but faces struggles in recovery and with his job and protege. Through that difficult time and the help of a Christian friend he finds Christ. There are more issues after his salvation that help him deepen his faith. His wife and daughter find the Lord as well. There is fine drama in telling this story that makes for a fine viewing experience.

I might quibble over the portrayal of his daughter’s conversion. It was not made clear that she had to have  a personal faith herself. Plus my children all noticed that she was an older girl than the part she was playing. Still, this is a film I recommend for your family.

You can check out a variety of similar Christian DVDs here. Fishflix is allowing me to offer you a $5 coupon to their site if you join their email list. You can join by visiting www.fishflix.com/5gift or texting 5-GIFT to 44222. I get no kickback on this coupon, but am happy for other families to have this resource.

I received this DVD 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 Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges

bridges

I hadn’t read a Jerry Bridges title in several years, though I have no idea why. Years ago I was incredibly blessed by his book on holiness. Reading this re-released title makes me regret not having read more by this beloved, recently deceased writer. Navpress is re-releasing his titles in far more attractive paperbacks that those we saw years ago.

This title had that same heart-piercing quality I remembered from years back. The ten chapters are based the Beatitudes. In them he sees the theme of humility. I had never really thought of that, but after reading him  I am thoroughly convinced he is right. I was hooked by the time I finished the first Beatitude of “poor in spirit.”

Every chapter was superb, but I was most moved by the ones on mourning, pure in heart, and peacemaker. That will probably vary among readers based on where they are, but I would be shocked if some of these chapters didn’t move you.

The main value in this volume is its devotional or Christian growth element, but I plan to keep it on hand when I am studying the Beatitudes too. It holds up quite well as a Bible study resource as well.

I highly recommend this volume and have decided I need more Jerry Bridges reading for myself.

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.

New Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition (IVP)

dictionary

IVP continues to uphold its well-earned reputation in quality reference works with this revised work. It is essentially a new work in that so many articles were enlarged. The material covered also differs from the first edition because another volume, IVP’s New Dictionary of Biblical Theology had already pulled out that material. This volume focuses exclusively on historical and systematic theology in its massive 1000 pages.

The list of contributors is impressive. The scholarship is of the highest quality and none of the articles I read seemed to be done in haste. You might make the mistake of forgetting a subject would actually be categorized as biblical theology and search in vain, but if you are looking for historical or systematic theology subjects you likely won’t fail to find an entry here. At least I couldn’t.

Besides the great entries on all the theological concepts, I really enjoyed the biographical entries on the great theologians. They even had an entry for Charles Spurgeon! They purposely included articles on global theology and theological trends of our day.

The book is attractive and a joy to peruse. It will serve as an outstanding reference for many years. I loved it!

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.

Charts On Systematic Theology, Volume 1 by House and Roberts

charts

This volume of charts is part of the Kregel Charts of the Bible and Theology series. Though it covers Prolegomena, or introductory issues, this material is not for the beginning Christian like several books of charts are. Written by H. Wayne House with Kyle A. Roberts, it aims at an audience that has wrestled some with systematic theology.

It begins with helping readers see the difference between objective and subjective theologies. As is done throughout the book, it uses the explanations of the most famous corresponding theologian. That will range from the rather orthodox to the rather unorthodox theologians and theological positions.

At times, like in sharing different perspectives on possibility, the different position positions have a few that seem really close. Some charts, like the one comparing systematic, biblical, historical, and philosophical theologies, rose above the others in value. Still, they are all worthwhile.

I believe the greatest value in this book will be for those doing a deeper study on theology. From that perspective, complex things are well compiled and condensed without sacrificing understanding. It would likely be a boon to one teaching or needing a refresher in systematic theology.

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.

Revelation: A Shorter Commentary by Beale

beale

G. K. Beale’s Commentary on Revelation in the New International Greek Commentary  series has been highly esteemed since it was written. Unfortunately, most pastors because of the technical format and untranslated Greek found it too difficult to use. Assisted by David H. Campbell, Beale has responded to requests to make his contribution more accessible. This volume has succeeded on that score and becomes a lively read.

I should disclose that I subscribe to a premillennial interpretation rather than his “eclectic, redemptive-historical idealist view”. Though he is a brilliant author, and knows something about arguing well for his position, he in my opinion too casually addressed those of my persuasion by quoting the most radical he could find in our world. On page 22, he beautifully listed the reasons futurists hold the positions they do, but does not do as well countering them. In fairness to him, my bias may have been at work.

Whether I agreed or not on his overall prophetic approach, I must confess I learned much as I read. He is adept at seeing what is there–words, repetitions, and parallels. His Introduction was given in 34 pages and was outstanding.

I’m glad to have this volume for my studies as he has insights on every page. Like me, you might not agree with everything he says, but you will be enriched for having read it. I’m a pastor who doesn’t want all my commentaries on Revelation to agree with me.

This volume will be a go-to commentary on technical issues, but is far easier to read than the others I have used. This commentary is a solid effort.

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.

Pictures At A Theological Exhibition by Vanhoozer

exh

Kevin Vanhoozer is an excellent writer. He has a knack for making very complex concepts understandable. He has written many fine essays and sermons and this book collects several of them. What makes the book worthwhile is how well these essays work together to say something to us.

You probably picked up on his using Mussorgsky’s Pictures In An Exhibition. He effectively explains the parallel for what he is doing with Mussorgsky. It made good sense. He also looks at how we have lost our imagination (he explains its good meaning) and how we must work to get it back. He describes his book as “scenes of the church’s worship, witness, and wisdom.”

Like me, some of these essays will speak to you more than others, but they are all well thought out. Not a one of them seemed hasty to me. I loved how he picked up on a concept he came across called the “McDonaldization” of our society. How that exposed our day! He gave some great thoughts about Scripture that gave much to chew on.

There is so much more here. I loved how he could could even tackle a narrow subject like he did in “Enhancement in the Cathedral: Power, Knowledge, and Smart Pills.” Don’t miss that one.

If like theology, you will enjoy this volume.

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.