Of God and Men A.W. Tozer

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This title is not as well-known as many of A.W. Tozer’s other volumes. Don’t let that lack of fame fool you as it has all the qualities that we have come to love in Mr. Tozer. In fact, even more than some of his other books he lived up to his title of modern-day prophet here. A few times he even sounded angry at our casual, carnal Christianity. He couldn’t suffer spiritual foolishness easily.

At 167 pages, this book is an easy, yet profound read. The chapters are short, but pack a punch. He knew God from the Scriptures and personal relationship and he knew men from his own heart and ministering to others. His clear perceptions sparkle on every page.

I’m sure what sticks out to me may not be the same thing that sticks out to you, but several things did stick out to me. I love his chapter on holiness before happiness. He compares Christians to soldiers who do not seek to be happy on the battlefield, but who seek to get the war over with so he can go home to his loved ones. Home is where you’ll find happiness. His point is that we be a good soldier no matter what as we have great happiness to come.

Another favorite chapter was on how not all faith pleases God. He said, “let us beware that the Jesus we ‘accept’ is not one we have created out of the dust of our imagination and formed after our own likeness”. I also loved the chapter on backing into our convictions. One other chapter that I especially appreciated was the one on cultivating simplicity and solitude. There he admonished us to avoid the “digest type of mind” that loves short facts. Wow, if he could see us now!

This is another great Tozer title that will bless your soul.

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.

A Theology of Mark’s Gospel by David Garland

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This book is the equivalent of a whole shelf of books on the Gospel of Mark. Veteran commentator, David Garland, has written an ideal volume here. Think of it as a book that summarizes all the issues and themes that scholars often talk about involving Mark’s Gospel to put beside your commentaries on Mark. Fortunately, Zondervan is putting out a whole series called the Biblical Theology of the New Testament (BTNT) in eight volumes to cover the New Testament. Authors in the series are required to have already written a commentary on one of the books in their section. Mr. Garland has already written a commentary on Mark in the NIVAC series. Though its stated audience is for upper college and seminary-level students, I found it, as a pastor, accessible and easier to read than many volumes of its kind.

The book is divided into two parts, though that division is a little skewed. Part one only has two chapters covering introductory matters while the rest of the whole book is on major themes in Mark’s theology. While those first two chapters on introductory matters were well done, I feel part two is where the immense value of the book comes out.

Do you know why I find chapters 3 through 14 so valuable? It’s because all the issues that I’ve encountered in commentary reading on Mark’s Gospel get discussed in a clear, suggestive summary of what’s been believed and straightforward reasoning behind conclusions Mr. Garland offers. Some of these subjects were ones I’ve tried to get smaller individual volumes on, but was thrilled to find them all here.

He discusses what the introduction of Mark 1:1-13 means. He covers the Christological titles of Jesus, such as the Son of Man. Other standout chapters were his explaining the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Mark. He made great sense of the secrecy motifs that you so often hear of in regards to Mark’s Gospel. Another subject that you hear about so often is the prominence of discipleship and he covered it in great depth. Don’t miss chapter 10 on the requirements, costs, and rewards of discipleship – that chapter is quite perceptive. He makes clear what the atonement means in Mark’s Gospel, and as you might expect, covers Mark’s eschatology. The last chapter is on the debate over the end of Mark’s gospel, and though I find the longer ending more accurate, he well covers the issues.

As I said before, I can’t believe how many volumes I’ve looked for that could be replaced by this one volume. For my money, it’s quite a bargain.

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 Extent of the Atonement by David Allen

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Here is an encyclopedic treatment of the oft debated topic of the extent of the atonement. In particular, it’s a refutation of the limited atonement. To be sure, it’s focus is the atonement and not the totality of the Calvinistic system. This book really serves two distinct purposes. On the one hand, it makes a case for a universal atonement, while on the other hand, it presents an exhaustive history of what has been believed on the subject in the past.

The historical research done is mind blowing. I can hardly believe the volume of pages of reading that would’ve had to have been done to pull it off. No matter which side of the issue you are on, you must appreciate all the historical research that has been marshaled into one place for us.

Though I agree with the author in holding a universal atonement position, many things I learned here were a surprise to me. I already knew that there was no known precedent for the limited atonement in the church fathers, so my surprise came in the Reformation era. The biggest shock was that John Calvin himself did not hold to a limited atonement. In fact, we can find no historical proof of it before Beza. I was further shocked through the next several chapters to find several Calvinistic theologians that I knew did not hold to a limited atonement even if they did the other elements of Calvinistic theology.

Mr. Allen, in my view, presented some compelling exegesis and logical argumentation throughout the book. I felt he was honest with what his research uncovered. If the theologian he studied made any statements positive toward a limited atonement, he readily admitted it. After reading this book, it will now be an encyclopedic resource for me when I want to look up a theologian to remember his position on the limited atonement.

After he completed his historical review, he reviewed in-depth the most popular, common, new title presenting the limited atonement, “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.” I felt he answered it beautifully, without superficiality or generality, and was quite successful. His closing chapter on why an unlimited atonement is important made an excellent conclusion.

The only negative thing that I noticed in this fine title is that I fear it is more likely to rile than persuade his opponents. At times, he would take his opponents to task for being over-the-top in their statements and would turn around and be overly harsh to them on the same page. Remember it seems that way to me, and I was on his side as I read.

Still, this book is a tremendous resource. It offers outstanding history and makes salient points that may be tough for those who hold to a limited atonement to answer. I highly 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.

The Attributes of God: Volume 2 by Tozer

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When you have Tozer on the Attributes of God you have Tozer at his best. Perhaps you have read his “Knowledge of the Holy” and found it one of the most amazing books you have ever read as I have. This volume, along with the corresponding volume 1, cover the same territory but with a more conversational and devotional approach. It is profound and worth reading even if you have read “Knowledge of the Holy.”

After an Introduction that talks about God’s Character in general, Tozer presents ten of the attributes in ten in-depth chapters. These attributes cover God’s self-existence, transcendence, eternalness, omnipotence, immutability, omniscience, wisdom, sovereignty, faithfulness, and love. There’s not a clunker in the bunch as I found meaning, warmth, and enlightenment in every chapter. You always get the feeling that you were reading a man who knew the Lord in the way you wanted to.

This edition by Moody has over 100 pages of a study guide by David Fessenden that really help readers dig into this volume. Mr. Fessenden is clearly well versed in Tozer’s writings and often quotes his other volumes to illumine the text here.

I highly recommend this volume. It is a true must-have 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.

Biblical Theology by John Goldingay

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John Goldingay, who has already produced a three-volume theology of the Old Testament and another on Isaiah’s theology among many other works, has now broadened his sights to the theology of the entire Bible. Because of his stature in the scholarly world, I predict this will become an influential volume.

As for me, I picked it up with a fair amount of skepticism. As a staunch conservative,   I find Mr. Goldingay sometimes on the other side side of the tracks. (There is a debate out there about whether he is really an evangelical or not). For the record, I found several sentences that were subversive to my eyes in this book. I thought I should pick one such statement for this review to prove my point. On page 74 in an explanation of Jesus as the I AM he says, “… The New Testament’s references to ‘worship’ of Jesus need not imply that he is seen as divine.” Are you kidding? To be fair, in the next paragraph, he returns to a more orthodox description, yet he has some such statements along the way. He is clearly a provocative writer, but where he succeeds as a writer may also be where he fails. As a provocateur he should stop short of inciting cardiac arrest in his readers!

Not that I am the standard, but I found myself disagreeing with many of his conclusions  along the way too. I only mention that because of what I want to say next.

This book threw away the mold of traditional theologies. I had never noticed before just how close a script all such volumes had in the past. From differing theological perspectives, they all present the same way. Here’s the Doctrine of God and off they go …1, 2, 3. Goldingay, for the better or worse, wrote his own script. That approach makes for creative new Approaches to study, even if you are a conservative like me who says often as you go, “O, you’re wrong again there, Mr. Goldingay.”

If you are as conservative as me, this is not going to be your first choice for a theology on your shelf. But if you are like me, you are going to make it one of a handful you always consult just to help you think outside the box. He simply made me think about things that I had never thought of before. I like that! I’ll make my own conclusions anyway, thank you. So I unashamedly give 4 out of 5 stars and recommend a book that I thought I might not.

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.

Devoted To God by Sinclair Ferguson

This book is special. Its title might not suggest the wallop it packs, though the subtitle “Blueprints For Sanctification” at least sends you the right direction. When the author says he is going to approach his subject by doing some expositions of the key NT passages you still might realize what you are in for. It’s only when you actually start reading and the chapters add up that you see the treasure you have. Those passages he expounds are ones we read over too quickly and their incredible value he simply unfolds. Along the way, the book proves itself an instant classic. That might be cliché, but I believe time will prove it true.

There’s an appendix that lists the “Blueprint Passages” at the end, and he has something to say on each, but he soared in Romans 12, Galatians 2:20, and especially Romans 6. He really helped me see the role the Law has in the life of the Christian today. He steered away from extremes that find so many adherents these days.

I could not say that I agreed with every sentence in the book, but he always carefully explained himself and made you do your own thinking. I can’t follow all reformed conclusions that were made, but I think most Bible believers will be helped and everyone needs this book. I challenge you to see if you can’t agree with his final chapter on the ultimate goal. I sure did.

I must give you warning. This book is not for casual reading. It demands slow, reflective reading. You invest that effort and you will be rewarded immensely. This is one of the great ones.

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 Testament Theology by Donald Guthrie

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Here is a paperback reprint of a classic. It’s been held in high regard for several years and has not yet been superseded. As I have delved into it, I am most amazed by its depth and scope. Some have found it too detailed, and I suspect we might want to use it more as a reference tool than for fireside reading, but it still holds great value as you track down theological themes in the New Testament.

When we say detailed, we mean 1000 pages. It actually takes through page 74 to describe how he thinks NT theology should be approached! He covers every topic thoroughly. You will know pretty much all that the New Testament has to say on the subject when you are done. I once read a criticism of this work that it doesn’t do too well in pointing out specific contributions to the whole each section makes. For example, you might not easily find what Paul added to the discussion. The truth is, there are many such volumes that explain those distinctions, but very few that give this comprehensive viewpoint. For that reason, this book remains indispensable to the theology section of your library.

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.

Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures by Georges and Baker



This book is profound on many levels. For me personally, I can’t remember when I last read a book that made me feel like I didn’t know a thing about the subject before I read it as was the case here. It’s not that I hadn’t traveled or been in mission work in other cultures, but that I didn’t know specifically why those other cultures even seemed to think differently than my own. My culture, as is so well described in this volume, is based on guilt whereas many other cultures think more with an honor-shame mindset. Even more surprising, my Western culture is by far in the minority in our world.

The authors, Jayson Georges and Mark Baker, are well qualified to write on this subject and I particularly appreciated how they shared their own trial and error while serving in other parts of the world to gain some of their knowledge the hard way. 

Though they tackled three distinct areas–deep analysis of what the honor-shame culture is, a careful explanation of how it fits in with biblical theology, and how to take this understanding and practically minister to those who view the world through an honor-shame lens–they amazingly prove themselves adept in all three disciplines.

In the first area they really helped you get into the mind of someone who thinks in terms of honor-shame and see why it makes as much sense to them as our more legal outlook does to us. In the second, while there is a forgiveness/legal/guilt outlook in Scripture, there is clear honor/shame outlooks as well. We may have been overlooking key theology here. Finally, the practical side is amazing. The chapter on evangelism is worth the price of the whole book.

This book should be required reading for every missionary or persons working with different cultures. It might make the difference in effectiveness more than you realize. For that matter, every Christian should read it both for its theology and ministry training. This book is home run all the way!

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.

What Does The Bible Say About Suffering by Brian Han Gregg

Suffering is one of the most difficult theological concepts to get a handle on. Not only in a world that finds it easy to get angry at God, but even among Christians the pain of suffering leads to many struggles. Mr. Gregg enters this tender territory to try and corral what the Bible says about suffering.

While he focuses on the complexity, or even the mystery of suffering, he reminds us that no simple answers will be found. He seems dedicated to teaching others to not oversimplify to some sort of formula. While you can see what he is trying to say, I was even more amazed at how he extracts from the pages of Scripture all the components of suffering that is revealed to us. He does an extraordinary job at finding in the text what we actually can know about suffering.

I found this volume highly stimulating to meditate on suffering. I’ll remember his warning about oversimplifying, but I’ll also use this book as a starting place when I wrestle with this age-old subject. I warmly recommend this book.

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 Thiselton Companion to Christian Theology

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What is called a theological companion turns out to be an astute theological dictionary from a seasoned theologian. The scope of this fine volume is so massive that it is hard to believe that one writer gave us the entire volume. Most dictionaries are compiled by a host of scholars who can even contradict themselves across entries, but here we have a unified approach to all things theological.

The book begins with a timeline of theologians to help you place the many theologians that will receive a biographic entry in the volume. That is a great help in seeing who was contemporary with each other. Next, there is a list of entries which is much easier than flipping through the large volume itself. Still, the majority of the book is a-to-z entries.

In addition to influential theologians, he gives almost every theological word imaginable whether common like “justification”, or biblical like “abba”, or of a modern scholarly bend like “open theism”, or even esoteric like “womanism.” Exhaustive is a fair description.

The articles are of various lengths following a logical approach to their complexity and importance. You might occasionally disagree with his choice, or find something missing like the “New Perspective on Paul”, but it is broad enough to cover most everything you might need in such a volume. You might even disagree on a theological conclusion, but you will never find him careless, naive, or harshly dogmatic. His lifetime in theology is apparent.

Quite simply, I must rate this a winner and consider it a jewel to have on your shelves.

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.