Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions by Sam Storms
Sam Storms, Senior Pastor at Brideway Church in Oklahoma City, founder of Enjoying God Ministries and prolific author has put together another work of clarity and thoughtful engagement with the issues. This book is designed to take some of the most challenging questions from demons, open view theism, and infant salvation and give cogent answers to them chapter by chapter. The result is a guide to understand these challenging issues from a biblical, pastoral and theological perspective. Sam minces no words here but gets right to the heart of the issue. With insight and detail, Sam is able to deftly answer these questions with patience by focusing in on the Scriptural warrant for each issue.
The structure of the book was evident indeed that Sam wanted the reader to be a foundation on the trustworthiness of Scripture so that he could engage the issues properly. Therefore, the issue of Inerrancy is the first challenging topic that Sam provides an answer to. While I agreed with his assessment of the need to rest on the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, I also thought highly of his conclusion. Same writes, “Second, we should subject our souls to the infallibility and authority of the Scriptures, immerse our minds in tis truths, and bathe our spirits in its teachings because the inerrant special revelation of God in Scripture has the power to change human lives and to transform the experience of the church” (31). The power of Scripture rests on its ability to change the lives of its hearers due to its supernatural character and the work of the Holy Spirit in its pages. This is good news for every Christian because it illuminates the fact that Scripture is a balm for their souls and a word for the unbeliever at the same time. The Scriptures are effective and transformative, informational and an instrument of radical change.
On a similar vein, Sam took great pains to relate difficult passages in Scripture to Jesus’ teaching. In the answer to the warning passages in Hebrews, Sam writes, “They are not Christians who have “lost” their salvation. I believe the spiritual state and experience of those described in verses 4-6 is virtually identical to that of the first three soils in the parable of the sower” (216). When troubles come their way, they walk away from the truth. Sam is right to connect Hebrews 6:4-6 with Matthew 13 and Mark 4 because the situation is similar with the seed. Sam indicates that there are ‘varying degrees of understanding, interest, and joy’ but not a full-blooded faith that weathers any storm. Because Sam is able to interpret less clear Scriptures by more clear ones, the reader is able to deal with these issues from a full on biblical perspective and not isolated texts that are often very difficult.
I found this book to be very good at answering some really tough questions. There were times where I hoped Sam would deal with other issues, but his topics were on the hearts of people’s minds. The takeaway is a biblical and thorough investigation that is both theologically and pastorally sensitive.
Thanks to Crossway Books for the copy of this book in exchange for review.