Knots Untied by J. C. Ryle

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Banner of Truth has brought most of J. C. Ryle’s works back into print. Though Mr. Ryle is from another century, his works still have something to say to our generation. Not only have they brought these works back into print, but they have done so with nice bindings and attractive covers that will make these works last for years. This title, Knots Untied, is made with the same design as several others that they print to make a beautiful collection. For the record, they have also recently published an outstanding biography as well as Mr. Ryle’s autobiography.

Mr. Ryle did not write this volume for scholars. You could tell that he aimed at regular Christians, and perhaps, even new Christians. Since almost everyone in his generation attended church, he did write with the assumption that people knew about the churches in England at least. Still, there is at once no superficiality and clear, accessible guidance.

Unlike some of his volumes, this is not a book of sermons. Or at least if they are, they are of the topical nature. He never wavers in loving Scripture, being conservative, and clearly and logically laying out his case.

A few of the chapters were not especially interesting to me as they were too tied to the Church of England. I’m referring to things like the Thirty-Nine Articles and the chapter on prayer book statements about regeneration. In a few other chapters I did not completely agree with him, particularly on the mode of baptism, but don’t let a few disagreements keep you away from this fine book.

And in so many other places he wrote the things we so badly need to hear today. I rejoice in the clarity of his teaching on there being only one way of salvation, or in the help he brings to the subject of private judgment. I assumed I would not like his chapter on the church, but found it a great encouragement. My favorite chapter of all was on the fallibility of ministers. It was the tonic needed in our days.

This is a fine book and 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.

Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden (Revised)

Here’s a revised and expanded edition of an influential book on discipleship. Ogden is one of the most respected authors on the subject and he is passionate about the subject as well. He gives the reader a lot to chew on.

The book is in three main parts with the first one covering what has gone wrong with discipleship. He exposes the superficiality in Christians today as the proof of discipleship going awry. He says people worship “with a reviewer’s mentality.” He cites studies that show few Christians have a goal of being committed to Christ, but are more focused on the American Dream. He laments how the lifestyles of Christians and non-Christians are indistinguishable. He says, “It would appear that Christians have been almost as seduced by self-focus as the broader population.”  He surmises that we have been diverted from the main calling we have. We are consumed with programs that does not actually disciple people. We says people don’t have the right idea about church and churches don’t have it about discipleship.

The next part is where he traces discipleship in the New Testament. He goes, of course, through Christ’s ministry. Next, he tackles Paul and even admits that Paul doesn’t use the word “disciple.” He shows Paul speaks of parenting young believers and transforming lives. He draws it out with great detail.

The balance of the book is a detailed explanation of his particular method of discipleship. He emphasizes relationships and  not expecting quick results. It’s interesting, but strikes me as working better in some areas or with professional people. Still, it’s worth considering. In an added chapter, he unnecessarily pits preaching and discipleship and is too harsh on preaching. 

This book is necessary for our shelves in discipleship.


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
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