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Showing posts from November, 2011

Excellence in Proper Perspective

After finishing Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholary Virtue by Andreas Kostenberger, I am still awestruck by the way Dr. Kostenberger brought to bear the twin ideas of excellence being found in God and basing our scholarly virtues on Him. This seems sort of like an obvious statement, but I have never read a book that deals so biblically and faithfully with scholarly virtue and God. Most times what you get from a book about scholarly virtues is concepts related to philosophy and Greek thinking, but Kostenberger rightfully situates scholarly virtues in the character of God. How does he do this? Kostenberger writes, "Undergirded by the grace of God, we will make progress in our pursuit of excellence as we add to our faith the various virtues discussed throughout this book" (28). The virtues themselves that the author is talking about fall into line with the various headings: vocational, moral, foundations and relational excellence.




One of the best things…

The Aims and Goal of a Good Book Review

Recently I did a quick search on http://www.amazon.com/ to look up Peter Leithart's newest book, Defending Constantine.  Having been wading through the book on my own, I was wanting to see what other readers had to say about this particular work.  To my dismay, some of the reviewers took the opportunity to lambast Leithart because of his theological agenda all the while ignoring his textual and historical arguments in regards to Constantine.  There is nothing wrong with being critical about another person's work, especially in the realm of academic reviewing and writings.  Yet, in providing a review even for a consumer website like Amazon, we must not be content with haphazardly reviewing a book (not reading the entire book) and attacking the theological programme behind the work while leaving to the side the arguments contained in the book. On a consumer site like Amazon or other consumer websites, reviews are not meant to be in-depth scholarly reviews of the latest literatur…

Doing Battle with Dragons

Dragon Slayers by Joyce Denham and Roger Snure is a wonderful book for children ages 9-12. Being an adult, I was not sure how I would receive the book. Yet, as I began reading, the book came to life as a resource in the battle of spiritual warfare. To start with, the book is very attractively put together, from the cover emblem of a warrior in battle to the maps in the inside and back covers. Secondly, the illustrations by Roger Snure are fabulous. The artwork depicts the ensuing dragon (vice or sin) as a compelling creature calling its victim to do battle. I had a good laugh with the dragon named Braggen who is seen with two heads waving his finger at himself with proud stature (Braggen, tempts you to brag about yourself, 68-69). Next, the book's layout is very suitable for digesting the main content of exposure to the method of the dragon and the practice of arming yourself against him.




I was very pleased with the material involved with each dragon. For instance, in the section…

A Vision of God's Glory

Rev. Sean Michael Lucas, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg, Mississippi has written a timely, well-researched and edifying book on New England's greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards. Before I go on, I must divulge that I cut my teeth on the work of Jonathan Edwards in Lucas' class at seminary (Edwards was not an easy read then, nor is he now). Yet, the vision that Lucas casts concerning the life and work of Edwards is full in scope and touches upon both the life, ministry, and vision of Edwards. Reminiscent of John Murray's book title, Lucas' book is divided into two sections, the first being on redemption history (Edwards' biblical theology from creation to consummation), and the second is Redemption Applied (how does the fact of God's sovereign glory and grace through redemption apply to the workings and lives of the church and its people). Instead of a dry, arid and scholastic work, Lucas displays the essential elements of Edwards theologic…

Hope Through Suffering

Pastor Brady Boyd's book entitled Fear No Evil: A Test of Faith, a Courageous Church, and an Unfailing God is quite a tremendous work. Boyd, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the place of a gunman entering and killing people, has written here of his experience with tragedy and the hope that God does not leave his people. The tragic events were preceded by the scandal of Ted Haggard prior to Brady Boyd's coming on board.


One of the best chapters of the book is Boyd's chapter entitled Disney Doesn't Do Christianity. Boyd intimates early on that a Christianity that offers all that you could possibly want with no cost is just the type of belief system that Christianity is not. Rather, as Boyd says, "But as I mentioned earlier, suffering is what we were promised, both by Jesus and by the apostle Paul" (107). Rather than shirking from the possibility of suffering, Christianity is bound up with the idea that suffering is part of the promise as we believ…

Praying in Black and White

Praying in Black and White by Andy and Sybil MacBeth is an important book on getting men to lead lives of prayer and learn some of the tools of prayer. In the book, Sybil writes one chapter and Andy another, dividing up between practices of prayer, obstacles, and joys of prayer. One of the sections that I found most helpful was Andy's chapter on How Men Learn. He writes, "An individual can practice most of the prayer methods suggested in this book, but learning them with a group can give us an ongoing network for encouragement and accountability" (27). This sentence in the book rang true to the core for me. In difficult times when prayer becomes a struggle and life hits you from out of nowhere, having a group for encouragement is essential. I especially like this part because guys have a tendency to draw back from groups, to go the lone ranger, when in effect, all this does is fester isolation and feelings of disappointment. Reaching out to others in the spirit of prayer…

The Foundation of a Movement

In Rodney Stark's book For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery he draws a conclusion near the end of the book on his chapter on God's Justice that is very revealing.  He writes concerning abolitionism in American and in general by saying, "This example (Samuel Sewall's publication of Selling Joseph) demonstrates a fundamental sociological principle: publications don't launch social movements; people do" (339).  This statement seems overtly obvious in tone and content, yet it carries with it great truth.  Reformation of thought and deed do not take place on the altar of the ink pen, but rather at the blood, sweat, and tears of great people.  Why is this so?  For many people, reading a publication is much more about absorbing ideas and knowledge than take specific actions as a result of the principles embedded in writing.  Although great principles about the horrific nature of slavery were given due…