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Book review: “God has spoken” by Gerald Bray

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Gerald Bray, God has spoken: A History of Christian Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

I received a complimentary kindle copy of this book for review from Crossway Publishers. Gerald Bray is a theologian and researcher at The Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Alabama. Bray’s book is a tour de force of church history, theological controversies, & philosophy. His knowledge of these subjects is impressive, and his erudition is demonstrated by his many appropriate quotations from Patristic, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformed sources. He has knack for reducing complex arguments to easily understable prose. On the criticism side of things, I find his approach too ecumenical (e.g. he gives more legitimacy to Orthodox & Roman Catholic doctrinal positions, viewing them as part of “the church”.) When he comments on Scripture, I sometimes found his opinions to be contrary to the Bible’s teaching (e.g. he believes that Christ could have sinned – He didn’t, but He could have. A careful study of Philippians 2:5-11 & other passages show that the Lord was & is impeccable, i.e. God manifest in the flesh cannot sin!)

In summation, read this book for a survey of the development of the doctrinal positions of the various parts of Christendom. The book is particularly strong on the Trinity, and also has an outstanding section on the Enlightenment and the development of academic theology of the 18th – 20th centuries. But, like good Bereans, get your doctrine straight from the Bible!

Book review: Taking God At His Word

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Book Review: Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me.

 by Kevin DeYoung. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.)

I received a review copy from the publisher.

Kevin DeYoung, a well-known preacher and blogger, articulates the doctrine of Scripture in a clear, modern, and highly readable style. He emphasizes that classic position of Christians that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. As he explains: “This is a book unpacking what the Bible says about the Bible. My aim is to be simple, uncluttered, straightforward, and manifestly biblical. I make no pretenses about offering you anything other than a doctrine of Scripture derived from Scripture itself.” In my estimation, he succeeds admirably.

He has excellent chapters explaining that the Bible is Sufficient, Clear, Authoritative, and Necessary. DeYoung easily condenses several centuries of high-powered evangelical scholarship into a few targeted quotations. The book’s strongest feature is its exposition of the view of Scripture held by the Lord Jesus and His apostles. He uses passages like John 10:35 and Matthew 19:3-9 to show that they viewed the Bible as the inspired, historically sound, and authoritative word of God.

This book is highly recommended for seekers, new believers, and more experienced Christians who want a concise resource on the doctrine of Scripture. The author provides a detailed index of the verses that are quoted in the book, and those wishing to delve deeper into the subject may consult his outstanding bibliography.

Book review of David F. Wells’ “God in the Whirlwind”

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Book review: David F. Wells, God In The Whirlwind: How The Holy Love Of God Reorients Our World. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.)

David F. Wells is the well-known author of acclaimed books like God in the Wasteland and No Place For Truth. In his latest work, God In The Whirlwind, Wells couples erudition, wisdom, and spiritual insight with a clear writing style that is a pleasure to read. He attacks the modern notion of God existing for the satisfaction of our needs and the bolstering of human self-esteem. One sample of his writing sets the tone:

We become inclined to think of God as our Therapist. It is comfort, healing, and inspiration that we want most deeply, so that is what we seek from him. That, too, is what we want most from our church experience. We want it to be comforting, uplifting, inspiring, and easy on the mind. We do not want Sunday (or, perhaps, Saturday evening) to be another workday, another burden, something that requires effort and concentration. We already have enough burdens and struggles, enough things to concentrate on, in our workweek. On the weekend, we want relief. It is not difficult to see, then, how this two-sided experience, this paradox, has shaped our understanding of God. It leaves us with a yearning for a God who will come close, who will walk softly, who will touch gently, who will come to uplift, assure, comfort, and guide. We want our God to be accepting and nonjudgmental. It also leaves us with the expectation that somehow this God of plenty will dispense his largesse in generous dollops to us. Maybe even through a lottery win. Perhaps we could win Powerball, or maybe some sweepstakes prize. That is the kind of God we want. This is what we expect him to be like.[1]

While I do not share all of his Reformed convictions – most notably his Covenant Theology perspective when dealing with Adam in the garden – I applaud his zeal for the holiness and love of God. He rightly diagnoses and deplores the modern man-centered culture that infects evangelical thinking at certain points and evidences itself in the Church’s worship (especially its music) and preaching (or lack thereof.) He spends a significant portion of the book defining “holy-love” and shows why this understanding of God’s nature is vital for Christian belief and practice. God commands full attention and is worthy of all of our affection and obedience. Wells rightly shows the scriptural emphasis on God’s supremacy and beauty. He inverts the skewed modern idea of human-centeredness, in favor of focusing on the triune God.

[1] David F. Wells. God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World (Kindle Locations 446-455). Crossway. Note: I received a review copy from Crossway.