Archive | Book Reviews

An unseemly troll but a fine review

Several weeks (months?) ago I received a package in my faculty mailbox at work. I was so taken aback by it that I snapped a photo of it (at right). It was obviously a book mailer, but the label on the outside said this:

“Are Conservative Evangelical Men More Likely To Abuse Their Wives?”

I didn’t even know what was inside the package, but I already knew that this was a transparent troll—a marketing ploy. They send out a book to a bunch of conservative evangelical men, and then they put a label on the outside of the package with an ugly insinuation about conservative evangelical men. The publisher wasn’t merely trying to get me to read the book. They were trying to provoke me. Continue Reading →

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A must-read about the evangelical gender debate

Without question, 1 Timothy 2:12 is the most contested verse in the wider debate among evangelicals about women in ministry. The most contested clause within this most contested verse is “I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.” And the most contested word within this most contested clause is without a doubt authentein (often translated as “exercise authority”).

The meaning of this term and even of its syntax has been the subject of no little dispute. And it has long been a crux interpretum among those engaged in the debate between complementarians and egalitarians.

For two decades now, the most important book on this crucial text is Women in the Church: An Interpretation & Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15, edited by Andreas Köstenberger and Tom Schreiner. The entire volume is devoted to explaining in rigorous exegetical detail what these words mean in their historical and literary context. The first edition appeared in 1995, the second in 2005, and now the third has come out just a few weeks ago. Continue Reading →

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Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past

Matt Haste and Rob Plummer have put together a little gem of a book on marriage titled Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past. I’ve never seen a book like this. It is an anthology of statements on marriage from major figures of church history. Some of the material is theological (like the entry from John Calvin). Some of it is deeply personal (like the poem Anne Bradstreet wrote for her husband). The book is formatted as a devotional and has a practical orientation. These voices from the past are marshalled to help marriages in the present.

Each reading has three parts: (1) a brief introduction from the authors, (2) the reading, and (3) devotional. I will include will include the first two parts from the Jonathan Edwards section below. This is a delightful little book that I am pleased to have received. Continue Reading →

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Boycotting gay weddings? A distorted take on an important book

Albert Mohler appeared on the front page of The Louisville Courier Journal yesterday next to the headline “Mohler: Christians should boycott gay weddings.” The story was later picked up by USA Today which ran a similar headline Baptist leader: Christians should boycott gay weddings. Since then, it has been featured in news outlets across the country.

It turns out that the report is about Mohler’s new book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong. This book tells the story of our particular moment in American life in the aftermath of the sexual revolution. And yet if all you had were the headlines, you might conclude that he just wrote a book-length treatise on how to boycott gay weddings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue Reading →

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Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change

I am happy to announce that my new book that I co-wrote with Heath Lambert has just been released. The book deals with issues that readers of this blog have seen me discussing for a long time—sexual orientation and change. In fact, the title of the book says as much: Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change (P&R, 2015).

This book is different from other Christian books about homosexuality. First, the book isn’t focused on the ethics of homosexual behavior but on the ethics of homosexual desire. Some people believe that homosexual behavior is sinful but that homosexual desire is not. For that reason, they believe and teach that homosexual orientation and same-sex attraction are morally neutral concepts. We argue from scripture against that perspective.

Second, this book isn’t just about ethics. It’s also about ministry. Given what the Bible teaches about the ethics of desire, is change possible? We believe that change is not only possible but also necessary. The title Transforming Homosexuality comes from Paul’s language in 2 Corinthians 3:18: Continue Reading →

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Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice

I contributed a chapter to a new book just published by Crossway: Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice. My chapter deals with transgender, but the rest of the book deals with gender issues more broadly. All of the contributors are complementarian. John Piper waxes nostalgic in the Foreword to the volume. He writes:

My amazement is that decades into this struggle, there is such a widespread and robust embrace of the beautiful biblical vision of complementary manhood and womanhood. This may strike you as an evidence of small faith on my part. Perhaps it is. But if you had tasted the vitriol of our audiences in the 1970s and 1980s, you might understand.

In the late seventies, we were called “obscene” for suggesting that God’s Word taught distinct, complementary roles for men and women based on manhood and womanhood, not just competency. Therefore, the breadth and maturity and creativity and joyfulness of the complementarian crowd today triggers happy amazement in me.

Here’s a list of contributors and their chapters: Continue Reading →

Jim Hamilton on the Song of Songs

James M. Hamilton, Jr., Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation, Focus on the Bible (Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015). 154pp. $14.99.

Jim Hamilton has recently published a stimulating commentary on the Song of Songs. Readers familiar with Jim’s work know his passion for doing whole Bible theology. Likewise, this volume exposits the Song with respect to the overall storyline of scripture. In short, it’s a work of biblical theology.

One of the big questions that any commentator on the Song has to answer is what this book is all about. Is it to be interpreted literally or allegorically? Is it about human love only or about Christ’s love for his church? Jim’s answer to those questions is “yes.” It’s not an either/or thing but a both/and thing. The Song depicts real human love, but that love serves to illustrate Yahweh’s covenant with Israel. Yes, the Song is about the King’s love for his bride, but it is also about Christ’s love for the church.

This is an accessible exposition of the text and highly recommended for anyone trying to understand the message of the Song. Purchase it here.

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A short review of Pres. Bush’s biography of his father

President George W. Bush’s biography of his father is like no other I have ever read. It is unusual for both father and son to serve terms as President of the United States, much less that one would write a book about the other. But that is precisely what we have in 41: A Portrait of My Father. Historian David McCullough once told the younger Bush how much history would have been served if Pres. John Quincy Adams would have written about his father Pres. John Adams. Pres. Bush says that he wrote the current book in part as a result of that conversation.

Pres. Bush begins by explaining that his account of his Dad’s life will not be objective. He admits up front that he loves his dad and wishes to honor him with the book. He leaves the objective account to historians. But if you think that lack of objectivity ruins the work, you would be wrong. What makes this book so compelling is the son’s love and admiration for his father. No matter how you feel about either of these men’s presidencies, the personal narrative on display in this book is gripping. There is not a dad on the planet who wouldn’t want to have a son view him with the same regard that Pres. Bush regards his father. His father is his hero. Continue Reading →

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Five books I enjoyed in 2014

It is the time of year for lists. Here are five non-theological works of non-fiction that I enjoyed in 2014.

1. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932, by William Manchester

I love this book. How can you beat Manchester’s prose? To understand Churchill, you have to see that he was fundamentally a relic of a bygone era called to lead the greatest conflict of the modern era. But it was Churchill’s vision of England’s greatness that made him great and equal to the task. All of his upbringing and early political life is covered in this book. The book begins, however, with a fast forward to Britain’s most desperate hour during the Second World War. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Manchester’s description of the rescue at Dunkirk gets me weepy even now: Continue Reading →

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The Owlings: A Worldview Adventure Story

It’s holiday season and time to think about gift ideas. I just came across this new little book written and illustrated by Dan Dewitt. It’s titled The Owlings: A Worldview Novella. The book focuses on four talking owls: Gilbert, Clive, Dorothy, and Reuel. You likely recognize the names: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and J.R.R. Tolkien. From the publisher’s description:

The Owlings is a worldview adventure for readers young and old alike about a young boy named Josiah who discovered an important lesson from some unlikely visitors. Get ready to meet Gilbert, a talking owl, who is joined by three of his friends to explain the greatest truth in all of the world—that the world is not all there is, or ever was, or ever will be.

You can get a copy here.

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