The Feasts of Repentance (NSBT) by Michael Ovey

book feasts nsbt

This latest release in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series, edited by D. A. Carson, is an interesting read. Sometimes trying to tackle all that the author, Michael J. Ovey, did in this volume can be a disaster. He’s ultimately trying to talk about the doctrine of repentance, he’s wanting to limit his evidence to Luke-Acts, focus on the feasts found in those two books, and tie the whole thing to systematic and pastoral theology. Though I don’t imagine that many writers would formulate that design, he did seem to pull it off.

In case you’re wondering, of all those things he wove together, repentance was his main subject. There’s another volume on repentance in this series, but they truly do not cover the same ground. His first chapter digs into what I find to be the most common question about repentance: is it necessary to salvation? He makes a good case for it being present in all actual conversions, and he is pretty good at marshaling Scriptures to prove his point. The second chapter got more into the Luke-Acts specialty as he looked at the feasts in these books and how repentance was handled in them. There was some interesting information there that I could say frankly that I’d never thought of. In later chapters, he looks at repentance in terms of Jews and Gentiles, how identity and idolatry are key to understanding repentance (one of the better chapters), and entering repentance into the discussion of faith and salvation. For the record, he does hold to a reformed view in this chapter. His final chapter looked at repentance in terms of forgiveness and the church. Along the way, there were some telling comments about our day.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ovey passed away before this book was released. It’s clear he had put a lot of work into it. By this point, you should probably have a great idea of how a NSBT volume works. This is another good representation of the unique contribution this special series makes.

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.

 

 

 

 

Introducing Cultural Anthropology (Second Edition) by Howell and Paris

book into cul antro

Brian M. Howell and Janell Paris joined forces to produce this second edition that looks at cultural anthropology from a Christian perspective. This textbook is of manageable length and is up-to-date on the issues that are considered by many to be in flux in our turbulent days. Though it is in a textbook format, it is quite easy to read no matter your reason for approaching the subject of anthropology. More than many textbooks I’ve seen, the authors share personal asides when appropriate, so it doesn’t come across as some dry textbook-by-committee approach.

The first chapter on the discipline of anthropology serves as an overall introduction to the subject. The next chapter tackles culture and a variety of issues that fall under that umbrella. The next several chapters explore main influencing subjects like language, social structure, gender, economics, authority, marriage, religion, and medical anthropology. As you can guess, chapters 4 and 5 enter the realm of the most hot-button issues of our day. I personally felt they did a better job looking at social structure and inequality in race, ethnicity, and class than they did surveying gender and sexuality. To be fair, they were only defining terms as they are now used though they made more allowances than I could. The last two chapters serve as a conclusion and even went as far as looking at anthropology in ministry.

The textbook is attractive though I would’ve probably preferred a hardback for this type of book. The chapters are laid out nicely. There’s a list of things you need to be able to do after you finish a chapter, clear introductions and explanation of key concepts with occasional graphs and insets that are enlightening. Each chapter nicely ends with a list of key terms, discussion questions, and what might be used as an assignment looking at real-life situations in a section entitled “Anthropology and Scripture”. All in all, this is a well put together textbook.

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.

Original Sin (NSBT) by Henri Blocher

book orig sin

The New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series covers such a wide array of fascinating theological subjects. Of those I’ve read so far, I would see them as indispensable on the theological subject they address. This volume considering Original Sin by Henry Blocher is no exception. Blocher has turned out several penetrating works by this point and always strikes me as an original thinker. I don’t always agree with his ideas about Creation, but he really knows how to jazz up your thinking and make you see other sides of issues. While I wouldn’t call this title exhaustive in its coverage, what it does address is as insightful as any I’ve read recently while doing an extended study of the doctrine of sin.

Chapter 1 lays out the parameters of the extent of Original Sin. Chapter 2 steps back to the place of the arrival of sin in Adam’s day. You will not have to agree with his take on Creation to find this information intriguing. Chapter 3 tackles the most prominent New Testament passage on the subject in Romans 5. There is fine exegesis here, outstanding representation of varying viewpoints, all followed by his own suggestion. Once again, you will not have to agree with his final conclusion to be greatly enriched by this chapter. The last two chapters look more broadly at the relation of Original Sin to human experience and evil and pain in our world. As for a recommendation, since I have been deeply in the study of sin recently, I’m sure glad I found this little jewel. What better recommendation could I give 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.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image (Updated Edition) by Brand and Yancy

book fearf wond

This book is special. It could only have been written by a man deeply in love with Jesus and with medicine. If you read the preface you will discover how Philip Yancey met Dr. Paul Brand and how they came to be co-authors. It appears to me that the joint production worked this way: Dr. Brand provided the substance of medicine and spiritual insight while Mr. Yancey with his journalistic background cast it in beautiful words. Mr. Yancey seems in awe of Dr. Brand and I can see why. Don’t misunderstand me. This book doesn’t elevate any person other than the Lord. Besides your own personal edification, this book will also supply you with a host of exquisite illustrations for teaching and preaching.

Dr. Brand is one of those doctors that you would dream of having. A doctor who sees the big picture of so many things and yet can perform tasks that in our day are usually only done by specialists. That he has spent much of his career in dispensing his considerable talents to those afflicted with leprosy tells you so much about the person he is. He proves to be a reflective Christian as well and his first two chapters on being image-bearers are nothing to sneeze at. In part two, he does a commendable job in four chapters of highlighting diversity and unity. Part three brings out many observations of the spiritual nature from his areas of specialty including the skin and bones and other such things. The fourth part that he calls proof of life looks at blood and breath. His section on pain, and his work among the suffering helps you realize that we are listening to an expert, is spiritually rich. The final section on the brain is profound as well.

I don’t want to steal his thunder in this review because you will want to discover these things as you read it yourself, but there is not one chapter where he didn’t take something I didn’t know medically and illustrate a spiritual truth that I was aware of but could now see better. I never felt he stretched anything in making his spiritual points. In fact, in every chapter, I was more amazed by my God.

This new edition that is described as “updated and combined” is an attractive hardback with a beautiful dust cover. You will want this one!

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 Doctrine of Humanity by Charles Sherlock

book doct humaity

At this point, I’ve been blessed to use several volumes in this too-little-known Contours of Christian Theology series. This one on the doctrine of humanity by Charles Sherlock compares to the best volumes in the series. It dives into the doctrine yet not in such an esoteric way that you are left with little contribution to your thinking. Mr. Sherlock hits on most of the main components in the study of Christian anthropology. He even relates beautifully to the corresponding doctrine of sin in helpful ways. He occasionally relates a viewpoint that you might find subversive (he is not in my opinion as conservative, for example, as Sinclair Ferguson on the Holy Spirit in this series), but his contribution to the big picture of understanding this doctrine is greatly enriched by the arguments and detail he brings to bear.

His first focus, as he calls the divisions of the book, is our being made in the image of God. He looks at that in terms of ancient Israel, our being renewed in Christ, and in a variety of contexts in Christian thought. This section is truly foundational and well done. The next focuses on the human race. He takes a broad view, he reveals his political stance along the way, yet he still offers wonderful food for thought. The final section is on the human person. There’s a chapter on the unique person that covers things like human dignity, freedom, indignity, rights and the sanctity of life and an introduction to thinking about gender roles. He had a chapter each for being a woman and being a man that ran back and forth between fascinating and making you raise an eyebrow. His chapter on the whole person where he got into the body, soul, spirit, and heart was the best in the whole book. After the conclusion, he has two appendices that relate the doctrine of sin to humanity as well as some additional material on gender roles and issues.

Though you may have picked up on my few caveats, the book is still totally engrossing on many levels. Again, it’s one of my favorites in the series and is a must-have in your doctrine of humanity section.

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.

Now My Eyes Have Seen You (NSBT) by Robert Fyall

book now eyes.jpg

The wide-ranging, impressive New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series here jumps into the Book of Job. Perhaps the editorship of D. A. Carson keeps this series running at a high pace, but in any event, I’ve seen this book by Robert S. Fyall often favorably mentioned. The author understands that Job has been subjected to widely differing interpretations. Fyall sees creation and evil as the key to understanding Job.

You may not agree with his total outlook, but the book’s value stands out most of all in its ability to highlight the masterful Hebrew poetry involved while also doing detailed exegesis on several passages that bring to light the key thinking behind the book of Job. What he has to say about the Behemoth and Leviathan was certainly new territory for me. I couldn’t agree with all his conclusions, but they are worth wrestling with. Make sure you take in his concluding chapter on “the vision glorious” as he ties together much of the detail he collects throughout the book.

There’s not a dud in this series and this book has caught the eye of all who write on Job. You had better check it out!

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 Last Things (Contours of Christian Theology) by David Hohne

book last things.png

I have no idea why the Contours of Christian Theology series published by IVP flies so far under the radar. Each time I begin to study one of the main areas of systematic theology I always look up the book on it in this series. I’m thrilled that this volume on the Last Things by David Hohne completes the series. It’s clear that the editors have given the authors wide latitude as some of them delved deep in one specific area on that doctrine while others take a broader viewpoint. While I’ve gotten the most out of those that tried to materially illustrate some key overlooked parts of a doctrine, they all are of value. This latest release is of that last type. In fact, it takes the broadest view of any in the series that I have seen.

I have read a blurb that says this volume “offers a Trinitarian theological description of eschatology that is at once systematic, generated from the theological interpretation of Scripture, and sensitive to essential elements for Christian practice”. I must confess that sometimes this volume takes such a broad view in systematic theology that I forget we’re on the subject of eschatology. While the book says many brilliant things, I’m not sure I experienced marked growth in my eschatological understanding. Maybe this book would have served better as a way to view systematic theology at large rather than to say here’s how to think about eschatology. I don’t want to downgrade the book as perhaps the failure was on my end.

To be sure, this book is never sloppy, careless, or trite. The author has thought deeply and makes comments to you likely will not have thought before. He does well explaining the “now-but-not-yet” viewpoint that keeps the Bible in apparent tension. Perhaps you will be as shocked as I am that the Lord’s Prayer is the skeleton that this work hangs upon.

At the end of the day, I’m sure some will love this book more than others while all will acknowledge its scholarship. Without a doubt, everyone who does serious study on systematic theology should have every volume in the Contours of Christian Theology 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.

Into His Presence: A Theology of Intimacy With God by Tim Anderson

book into pres

I’ve thought for some time that I needed some help on the theology of intimacy with God that was more depth and less fluff. There are so many who claim to be the golden ticket that it is refreshing to find someone who would prefer to dig out what the Scriptures truly say. When you think about it, there are not that many books that help us at this more theological level. There’s probably an experiential book on intimacy with God released every month but that usually doesn’t translate into us knowing anything more about it. Tim Anderson has clearly felt the same way and has made a grand attempt to step into the void. I’m not sure that this book fully settles the question, but it’s the best one I’ve gotten so far to get the discussion started.

Don’t skip his introduction as he makes it about what he’s trying to accomplish and the wide array of thinking that has to be sifted through to make sense of the subject of intimacy with God. The first half of the book comprising four chapters most scratched my itch. His defining intimacy with God forces us to think concretely about all the nebulous thoughts swirling around. Chapter 2 addresses the subject regarding philosophy and theology with some of that theology being the most helpful to me. Chapter 3 on linking the Fall of Man with intimacy with God was one of the best in the book and did clear up some real questions for me. The chapter on God as our Father tied in some important information as well and made sense of the role of fathers in our lives that is often written about today.

The chapter on interpreting biblical images of marriage and Christ perhaps got a little off track and in some cases, I felt split the hair too finely. Some of the pages on hermeneutics and how to interpret the Song of Solomon might have been better in another book too. There were additional chapters that addressed intimacy with the Holy Spirit and how suffering might be involved. A final chapter on songs of intimacy did not materially add to my understanding because I did not know every song discussed. I can see how that would have been a helpful exercise in his class, but I thought it was, perhaps, less effective in the book. Though he was cautious not to go the How-To route, a real theological discussion for how to apply the more pertinent things his book told us might have been in order.

Though I still say we need more, this book is an outstanding start. I appreciate what was shared here and the work that went into it. It’s nice to know that he read so across the spectrum to make sure he got a thorough idea of what’s believed in Christianity. It added something nice to when he discussed the theological directives of Scripture itself. I’ve scribbled several helpful notes from this fine book. Now I just need to figure out myself how to put it all in practice.

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 Mission of God by Wright

book mission god

Christopher J. H. Wright is an author who never disappoints. Though he has written commentaries, theological works, and Bible studies, this book on the mission of God now available in paperback is likely his most influential. In fact, his specialty on the mission of God elevates all those other books that he has written, but this one is where he makes his grand case that the narrative of the Bible has mission as its overarching theme. You will likely agree when you take in what he has said.

This book succeeds on so many levels that you might debate where to put it on your shelves. There’s the obvious choice of your mission section, but then you may wonder if it should be among your Bible theology or even Bible survey sections. Finally, it could hold its head high among titles in your deeper theology section too. That is not to say the book is unfocused, but that its explanation of the broad sweep of the Bible gets the job done from all those various vantage points.

The book is divided into four parts: the Bible and mission, the God of mission, the people of mission, and the arena of mission. As you can see, that begins in championing mission as the proper hermeneutic, continues to see God’s hand in mission, followed by the final two parts looking at the Bible from beginning to end and seeing how it sticks without wavering to God on mission. At over 500 pages, it is never shallow nor possessing omissions while never bogging into minutia either.

I’ve always felt that Wright could hold his own with any scholar while outpacing most of them on spirituality. You will see that here. This book will be the top of its class on this subject for decades to come and no Bible student should be without 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.

Hearers & Doers by Kevin Vanhoozer

book hear do.png

Kevin Vanhoozer is one of our sharpest theological minds today. He so often breaks into territory that no one else tackles. He may wrestle with a multitude of heavy theological works, but he is the guy to bring it to the rest of us. Since his latest subject here is that of making disciples, particularly from a pastor’s point of view, and since there’s a glut in the market on discipleship, he shows the league apart that he works in amongst a world of works that all say the same thing. Make room among all the dime-a-dozen discipleship titles on your shelves for this provocative volume to have a prominent place. This book is one for a pastor to lay as a foundation for our work. The subtitle accurately lets you know what you are getting yourself into: A pastor’s guide to making disciples through Scripture and doctrine.

After a clear introduction, Part One that is made up of four chapters explains why discipleship matters. He champions the importance of theology in making disciples. Chapter 2 is so profound that it could be pulled out of this book and presented as commentary on our age, at least involving fitness and body image which has taken on its own religious pretensions. I shared that chapter with some in my family as making clear things that I was ashamed I had never thought of. The next chapters explain the importance of taking disciples from hearing to doing and in building up the body of Christ.

Part Two in four more chapters digs into working out discipleship. Pastors should be challenged by his analogy of our being the eye doctor and general practitioner of the church. Next, he looks at the disciple as a member of the church, which is sadly so de-emphasized in our day. I found myself not fully agreeing with all he said in the chapter on the communion of saints, but there are some fair correctives there that may keep us from running off into the other ditch. The final chapter, wisely, looks at us as children of God who are disciples as “fitting image of Jesus Christ”.

You can often judge how much I find value in a book by how much I underline and notate throughout. My volume of this book is marked all over with usually something on every page. This book is for those who want to think, so pick it up and read slowly and you will be in for a treat.

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.