philippians-by-william-varnerThe Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament (BHGNT), edited by Lidija Novakovic, is now in its fourteenth book in the series with the recent addition of Philippians by William Varner. The BHGNT series is “designed to guide new readers and seasoned scholars alike through the intricacies of the Greek text.” (v) The rationale for this series is to fill the often neglected focus of traditional exegetical commentaries when it comes to the “mechanics”, intricacies, and grammatical challenges the Greek text can often present. While there are established rules for Greek grammar (though allowing for various schools of thought on certain issues), readers will be challenged to see the text in new ways as presented by the authors of each book. No two exegetes will see eye-to-eye on every aspect of the text. Diversity of thought by exegetes can often lead to more clarity of understanding the original thoughts of the writers of the New Testament.

The book begins with an introduction which covers the basic linguistic, literary, and grammatical aspects of the text. This is not an introduction to the background, authorship, theology, etc. of the book as found in more traditional commentaries and books on Philippians. By examining the details of the Greek text Varner extracts several important aspects which all point to one main theme. There is a reason Philippians is called the book of joy because that is its main theme. This theme is joined by Paul’s admonition for the church to live in unity together. As such, Varner sees Philippians 2:1-4 as the “discourse peak” of the book (xxvii).

The bulk of the book is comprised of the handbook proper and is divided into successive sections of the text rather than separate chapters. Each section of text is translated first into English and the translation is essentially justified in the following exegetical discussion of the text. Each verse is presented in the NA28 edition followed by a word-for-word description of each words grammatical make up along with the parsing of all verbs and many of the nouns. You might think of this book as an expansion of Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament but with a discussion about the mechanics of each word translated. Similarly, though this series is presented in a word-by-word format it should not be confused with the method employed by Kenneth Wuest in his famous four volume work Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.

The BHGNT series is more than a quick reference translation guide but not a word study book. It is a handbook that focuses specifically on the translation of the Greek text and furnishes the reader with additional information germane to that task. It assumes and requires a basic working knowledge of New Testament Greek for it to be profitable. It gives enough information to be helpful and readers can chase down the cited sources for further study on words or topics of interest. This is the kind of book you would want while doing translation work and before you get into any commentaries.

Philippians: A Handbook on the Greek Text is an invaluable resource for those acquainted with New Testament Greek as they study Philippians. This is a great book for pastors and teachers as it would help to reduce the time spent digging through numerous other language reference works but it should not be seen as a replacement for all of them. These books are the next best thing to electronic language resources and I recommend them to pastors, teachers, and scholars alike.

I received this book for free from Baylor for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

message-of-the-twelve-by-fuhr-and-yatesWhile we would not expect those who do not believe in the Bible to affirm its relevance for today, we should not expect Christians to think likewise. However, there are a number of Christians who do not see the relevance of all 66 books of the Bible. One group of books in the Bible to which Christians struggle finding value and relevance is the minor prophets.

Admittedly, the minor prophets do not show up on the top three most loved books of the Bible by Christians nor are many “life verses” chosen from them. But, when readers of these twelve short, yet powerful, books are served by aids to understand them, their timeless relevance shines through.

Professors Richard Alan Fuhr Jr. and Gary E. Yates have given us such a reading aid in their new book The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets (B&H, 2016). This is an accessible guide to understanding the context of the minor prophets, the message of each, and the timeless relevance they have for the Church.

The first four chapters of the book explore some of the fundamental issues readers will need to grasp in order to understand the message of the minor prophets. The first chapter provides a short survey of the historical context in which each book takes place starting with Jeroboam I and the book of Jonah and ending with Malachi who prophesied during the time just before or during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (18).

Chapter two examines the prophetic role of the prophets as foretellers and forth-tellers. While most readers of the prophets are quick to characterize the prophets primary role as foretellers (predictors of the future), the authors rightly point out that much of what is said is characterized rather as forth-telling (proclaiming the Word of God to his people). The third chapter provides a brief sketch of all of the literary genres and rhetorical devices the prophets used in order to communicate their divine message. This is one of those introductory chapters readers might turn to time and time again while reading through the prophets. The fourth chapter argues that the minor prophets are in fact a literary unit more than twelve individual books. This conclusion is borne out by several aspects including their chronology, unified view of the Day of the Lord, repeated call to repentance, covenant focus, and view to a new David.

The bulk of the book is dedicated each of the minor prophets. The chapters begin with an introduction to each book which discusses some of the key themes or aspects as well as the overall structure of the book. The bulk of the chapter is an accessible exposition of the entire book section by section. There are further discussions of the historical situations referred to in the book, discussions of important exegetical issues, and the literary and rhetorical aspects of the passages are explained. The final portion of each chapter challenges the reader with a theological reflection on the message of the book and the practical impact the passage has for today’s readers.

Fuhr and Yates have provided the church a rich, theological focused, text centered, guide to reading the minor prophets that does not sacrifice content in its brevity. The Message of the Twelve is a highly accessible book to guide readers through these old, yet timely books. This will serve as a great guide for personal study as well as those who are teaching or preaching through the minor prophets.

I received this book for free from B&H for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Family Life of a Christian Leader by Ajith FernandoThe family of a leader is perhaps one of the most underappreciated, misunderstood, and even neglected in the world at large. Leaders are being pulled in so many directions and by so many people That it becomes easy to neglect their own family. It can be hard to strike a balance between leading the people outside and inside your home. But this is not an issue that only leaders in the workplace face. Christian leaders face the same struggles with their families. For many of them their jobs consist of ministering to a multitude of families other than their own.

In my pastoral theology class my professor told us that the old adage that some pastors in the ministry followed was, “Take care of God’s people and God will take care of your family.” The understanding behind this (horrible!) advice was that ministry leaders, especially pastors, didn’t have time to minister to and lead the family in their own house because they had to spend their time ministering to and leading the families God gave them in his house – their local church. The fallout from that advice is disastrous and unbiblical at best.

Taking a biblical approach to advising ministry leaders on how to balance ministry and family life Ajith Fernando has written The Family Life of a Christian Leader (Crossway, 2016). A Christian ministry leader himself, Ajith serves as the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka has had a successful writing ministry with seventeen books published in nineteen languages. Ajith’s advice and wisdom is geared towards men in Christian ministry as heads of their household.

Putting Family First

Telling Christian leaders that God will take care of their family for them overlooks the biblical teaching that a man’s first responsibility, whether a Christian leader or not, is to the family God has given him in his own house. He is the means through which God will care for his family. If God doesn’t want spouses to divide their marriage (Matt. 19:6) then men must not do things that will tear them apart.

Ajith wisely notes, “When leaders practice Christianity in their homes, this brings credibility to their leadership and ministry.” (24) Practicing Christianity rightly in your home will result in putting your family’s needs first. In his list of qualifications for pastors, Paul tells Timothy that, “he must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (I Tim. 3:4-5, italics mine) It is a clear requirement of pastors, and should be for all Christian leaders, to care for their families first in order to qualify themselves for taking care of God’s church. We must not get this backwards.

In his chapter God’s Beautiful Plan, Ajith describes what can happen when Christian leaders neglect their families for the church

When his wife complains about his neglect of the home, he tells her that he must follow God’s call. The wife, being a devout Christian, chooses not to “fight God” and bears with her husband’s neglect of the home. After some years, however, the wife realizes that this neglect was not God’s will but the result of her husband’s lack of discipline. The consequence may be unpleasant confrontations at home. The guilt-ridden husband, by now suffering something close to burnout as a result of his poor discipline, goes to the other extreme. He drops out of ministry or takes a job that brings material comfort to the home but takes him away from his call-or keeps his positions in ministry without properly fulfilling his responsibilities. (60)

The list can go on and on as to the consequences of Christian leaders neglecting their families. When Christian leaders minister to their families first then they are truly free and equipped to properly minister to those in their care.

Taking Care of Family

Much of the advice and wisdom Ajith gives boils down to good parenting as applied to some of the specific challenges Christian ministry leaders face. There is advice on the proper balance between delighting in and disciplining your children, growing your marriage, knowing when to take time off, planning your schedule, dealing with pain and ministry disappointment, and prioritizing the needs of your children at each stage of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most neglected areas of focus within families is that of joy. Happiness comes and goes but joy is what sustains a family in the good and bad. When joy fills a home there is very little that can destroy it. Spouses and children who have been filled with joy from the leader of the home are better equipped to handle tough situations brought on by the ministry and they are better able to handle the sometimes extended absences of the husband/father when he has to leave and serve others. If the joy of the Lord is our strength as believers, then it is for believing families as well (Neh. 8:10).

Conclusion

In the adoption and foster care classes my wife and I took we were given a lot of training on how to parent kids who have come from backgrounds with abuse and neglect. I remember thinking to myself that the tools and advice they were giving us boiled down to solid parenting skills as applied to the special parenting situations we would encounter with these children. The Family Life of a Christian Leader is not unlike that. Ajith gives a swath of advice and wisdom for ministry leaders to lead and care for their families better in the midst of the demands of ministry. It is good parenting and spouse advice as applied to the unique situations families find themselves in when in ministry.

I received this book for free from Crossway for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology by Thomas McCallIf you have ever read the works of authors like Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstoff, Oliver Crisp, Paul Helm or Richard Swinburne then you have most likely read a work of analytical philosophy or analytical theology. While analytic philosophy has had a long history of use, analytic theology is rather new to the scene.

Analytic theology is a budding field that is making its mark within the broader theological world. But if, like me, you are not as familiar with analytical theology as you would like to be then Thomas H. McCall’s new book An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology (IVP, 2016) is just for you. McCall is an analytic theologian himself who teaches biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. His two previous works of analytic theology are Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? and Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters.

What is Analytical Theology…

While there are more complex explanations of analytical theology, in short, it “signifies the commitment to employ the conceptual tools of analytic philosophy where those tools might be helpful in the work of constructive Christian theology.” (16) This naturally begs the question as to what analytic philosophy is. While there is no final consensus, there is general agreement that it includes things like conceptual precision (Smith), logical rigour and clarity (Crisp), and a style and ambition that is similar to that of analytical philosophy (Rae). (17-18)

Analytical Christian theology requires its practitioners to know not only the relevant areas of philosophy but further, and more particular to its task, the Christian Scriptures, historical theology, posses an ability to engage culture with its ideas, and “seek to articulate what we may know of God as God has revealed himself to us.” (22) As such, analytical theology is serious about the task of theology. While some chide its existence because “they worry that analytic theologians bypass and effectively ignore God’s own revelation as it occurs ultimately in the incarnation of the Holy Son and reliably in the Bible as Holy Scripture,” it actually places a high priority on the Christian Scriptures as its foundational source of authority and orients itself towards a focus on Jesus Christ.

So Christian analytic theology is the application of analytic philosophy to the task of Christian theology. It is not an enemy of theology but rather a helpful friend. But how, why, and what does it matter to theology if we apply the principles of analytic philosophy to it?

… And Why Does It Matter?

While most, yea, even the vast majority of Christians will never engage in analytic theology, it does have a place within the church (both the academy and the local church) as a means to benefiting the average Christian. What one will realize time and time again while reading this book is that analytic theology is a work of systematic theology while utilizing the more rigorous tools of analytic philosophy. Your average systematic theology textbook, while dipping into philosophy, historical theology, and other fields to inform it, is not engaging in analytical theology. The analytical aspect takes the task of theology to the next level so to speak. “Analytic theology, as a kind of systematic theology, tends especially to be concerned with a focus on logical coherence.” (57) This is not to say that systematic theologians are not concerned with logical coherence but it is to say that analytic theology more directly addresses the issue and works it out more in its practice.

While most Christians, even some theologians, may turn a blind eye to this field of work, analytic theology offers the Christian church a service in the work of theology. For instance, McCall tackles several areas of theology to which he applies analytic theology as a means of showing its relevance and use. One such area of study to which McCall applies analytical theology to is historical theology. This is commonly called retrieval theology or constructive analytic theology. “This work actively evaluates various theological proposals from the tradition, and does so critically as it tries to mine the riches of the tradition for theological materials that will be useful in constructive work.” (85) So it goes beyond the traditional practice of “repetition and description” as characterizes historical theology (90), and seeks to further develop a specific theological issue from an historical perspective in a more contemporary context. It seeks to carry the work of the past into the present with the idea of further theological development and application.

Other areas McCall applies the work of analytical theology to are kenosis theology within Christology, physicalist theology in Christology, and the historical Adam in relation to evolution and creation. In respect to the third issue, McCall shows how analytic theology helps one to wade through the various differences in the use of the term evolution. One definition does not fit all when it comes to the use of the term as can be seen in the six different uses of the term McCall describes: old earth, simple to complex life, descent with modification, common ancestry, naturalistic mechanism, and naturalist origins (136-37). In evaluating Peter Enns’ book The Evolution of Adam, McCall points out that he uses the definition of at least five of those listed above in the conclusion to his book but without proper distinction. This is confusing at best. The point to see here is that the way in which McCall goes about examining the various references to evolution in Enns’ work is an exercise in analytic theology. He is applying rigorous, logical, precise, and clear argumentation is his examination of Enns’ work in order to bring more clarity to the issue.

To What End is Analytic Christian Theology? 

Analytic Christian theology would be distinct from analytic philosophy (philosophy of religion), or merely analytic theology, in that it is intentionally practiced for the glory of God and the service of the church. Analytic theologians are not rogue theologians seeking to blaze their own trail of tradition or fame. McCall suggests that “it should be grounded in Holy Scripture, informed by the Christian tradition and attentive to the potential and pressing challenges faced by God’s people in God’s world.” (161) It is to have a Trinitarian focus in its product and its practitioners are to be marked with the same Christian character to which all Christians are called to in their life and work (166-70).

Conclusion

An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology accomplishes its task of introducing and orienting its readers to the task of analytic Christian theology. Far from a merely academic endeavor, analytic Christian theology enjoys the role of applying the rigors of analytic philosophy to systematic theology and the like to produce a more robust, coherent, logical, and ultimately God glorifying theology.

McCall has pulled the curtain back and invited us into a field to which all theologians ought to aspire to practice. If truth matters, and it does, then we ought to strive to be more and more truthful about how we present the truth of God. Analytical theology will help Christian theologians do that. Not only for theologians, I believe that the basic ideas and goals driving  analytic Christian theology ought to characterize any serious Christian or ministry leader who wants to do theology for the glory of God. I highly recommend this book for Christians who are serious about thinking, doing, and writing good theology.

I received this book for free from the IVP for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

NIV Cult Back Study Bible


The mantra of Bible interpreters the world over is context, context, context. You can twist the Bible into supporting virtually anything you want but when you read and interpret the Bible in its context then everything changes.

Context changes everything is the slogan Zondervan Bibles has chosen to showcase their new Bible the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (2016). Containing the full text of the NIV version of the Bible, this study Bible is edited by world renown scholars John H. Walton (OT) and Craig S. Kenner (NT). While this study Bible draws on the work of many scholars, Dr. Walton has drawn extensively on his own work in the Zondervan Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament and Dr. Keener has drawn on his work in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

While there are numerous good study Bible’s out there in a number of good translations, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible stands apart from the rest for a number of reasons. Written with the purpose “to increase your understanding of the cultural nuances behind the text of God’s Word,” the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible “has been developed with the goal of allowing readers to immerse themselves in the culture, the literature, the geography and the everyday life of the people to who the Bible was originally written.” There are several features of the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible which facilitate these stated goals and an example of each will be given from the book of Deuteronomy:

  1. Introductions – The introductions to each book orient the reader to any relevant issues related to the broader cultural, literary, and geographical settings to the book. Most of Deuteronomy addresses the re-giving of the Mosaic Law. Similar to the OT, there are numerous collections of laws from neighboring cultures such as the Sumerian Laws of Ur-Nammu and the Old Babylonian Laws of Eshnunna.
  2. Sidebars – Throughout each book there are full color pictures of cultural artifacts, geographical locations, and comparison or data charts which bring to light more detailed information about a key aspect of the text. In Deut. 27 there is a picture capturing Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal where the former mountain was a reminder of God’s covenantal blessing’s and the later God’s covenant curses.
  3. Study Notes – The bulk of the information about the text comes from the study notes themselves. In keeping with the stated purpose for this study Bible, these notes expand on the cultural, literary, and geographical issues in the text. As such, they do not primarily intend to address theological or practical issues, though they are sometimes given a nod in passing. This should not be seen as a weakness. For instance, in the notes on Deut. 6:4 which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” they focus on the ancient near eastern (ANE) thought regarding deities and worship. Some of the notes say the following, “The claim that a deity is one or alone, as maybe Enlil and Baal, relates to the supremacy of that god’s rule….Another possibility is that this statement demands a unified view of Yahweh, in contrast to the views of the other Near Eastern peoples who would have many different shrines celebrating or emphasizing a different perspective or aspect of their gods.” (306) If you were to compare these notes of the same verse with those of the ESV Study Bible or even the NIV Zondervan Study Bible you will see a noticeable difference in the content of the discussion around the same topic.
  4. Articles – In addition to the sidebars, there are a few hundred short articles tackling various important issues raised in the text. For instance, there is an article addressing on Deut. 34 and the death of Moses and the authorship of Deuteronomy. In it the issue is raised as to whether or not Moses penned the entire book of Deuteronomy himself or if he had the help of trained scribes. At the back of the study Bible there is both a canonical and alphabetical list of the articles for quick reference.
  5. Ancient Near Eastern Parallels – This feature of the study Bible plays a major role in the formation of everything mentioned above. Much of the content of the notes draws on the parallels that the OT & NT text has to other cultures. Some will think the editors have gone too far with the comparisons. The intent is not to imply that the biblical text has simply copied ANE sources, historical accounts or cultural ways of life. Rather, the desire is to show the points of similarity and dissimilarity between the life lived by those who did not follow God and those who did. The point is to teach us about the text rather than imply that the biblical text is in some way inferior to the surrounding ANE cultures.

In addition to the printed options for the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible there is also an app for OliveTree where you can purchase either the study Bible itself or the notes. Both options work seamlessly in your app along side of your other books. You can also check out the OliveTree Bible study app which enables you to get the most out of all the tools in your library including the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. 

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is definitely a study Bible that you want to have on your shelf next to your other favorites. It truly has content that no other study Bible has and it adds to the readers understanding of the biblical text and the world surrounding it. It brings to life and clarity the world and point of the text in a way that no other study Bible does.

I received this book for free from the Zondervan for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

Adoptive Parent Toolbox by Mike BerryIf an aspiring young person were to ask you what they needed in order to be an electrician, lawyer, teacher, mechanic, business owner, or hair dresser what would you tell them? While the needs of each profession may vary, what is common to all is that each has a “toolbox” of sorts. The mechanic has a toolbox of tools he uses to fix vehicles, the hairdresser has a toolbox of hair care items, like combs and shampoo, they use to cut hair, and the teacher has a toolbox of tools necessary to teach their students. But what about people who are considering adopting a child into their family? Is there a “toolbox” for them?

Making a toolbox for adults considering adoption is exactly what eight-time adoptive husband and wife Mike and Kristin Berry do in their new book The Adoptive Parent Toolbox: Insights & Stories for the Journey (Lulu, 2016). The Berry’s are experienced adoptive parents who blog about their advice and a host of other adoption related issues at http://www.confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com. The content they provide is honest, uncut, and extremely helpful for hope-to-be adoptive parents to those who are living it in the trenches every day.

While adoption is growing throughout the US there are plenty of people who either do not know anything about how it works or have a lot of miss-information about it in general. Many times these two realities can keep people from pursuing adoption. As a three-time adoptive father, and husband of a wife who is very active in the adoptive community, there are several reasons why this book is must read material for adults considering adoption and will it will help to further educate people about adoption.

First, the Berry’s are honest about the realities of adoption. If you read just a few posts on their popular web site you will see that they do not hold any punches. They deal with special needs and severe attachment disorders so there is no looking at adoption through rose colored glasses for them. The happily-ever-after adoption story of Annie is not the norm. When people walk into adoption thinking they are saving a child from utter despair and that bringing an orphan into their homes will be nothing but pure bliss they are in for a rude awakening. Is adoption rewarding? Yes! Does adoption change both the parents and a child? Yes! Is it all roses with no thorns? No! Having a realistic picture of what to expect is the best thing you can do for yourself and the child(ren) you are going to adopt. “If your adoption experience is fueled by fantasy you are going to struggle more than you know.” (47) The Berry’s are clear about the potential costs of adoption, the relational issues in adoption such as attachment and trauma issues, and the potential extended family and friends issues that can surface from an adoption.

Second, this book is very comprehensive. This book covers the adoption process from the stage of considering it to being in the middle of dealing with severe trauma or RAD (reactive attachment disorder). They walk you through the process of raising financial support for your adoption, choosing an adoption agency, how to handle misconceptions with others about adoption, accepting the reality of what adoption looks like on a day-to-day basis, and how to find and develop community around yourself for support.

Third, woven throughout the book are real personal stories and experiences the Berry’s have had which get to the heart of showing you what they mean. They are living in the trenches of adoption every day and they lay themselves bare for your benefit. They share their experiences of what it is like to lose a child when an adoption falls through, what its like to live with a child who has RAD, and the real tension, struggle and growth adoption can put on a marriage. Also, they share the joys and victories of adoption in the lives of their children and their own. Adopting a child is like growing roses. There are lots of thorns that can prick you but those thorns are covering a beautiful flower. Orphans come into homes with lots of thorns that have to be carefully navigated but below those thorns are beautiful roses waiting to be nurtured and grown into healthy flowers.

Finally, the Berry’s understand the true nature of adoptive work. Going against the tide of the hero label the culture imposes on adoptive parents, the Berry’s rightly understand that adoption is not about being a child’s superman or wonder woman. Adoption is not a rescue mission. It is not radical a work. It ought to be a normal part of a local and global communities work to bring hope and transformation to the least among us.

Many people get into adoption with this idea that they are a superhero on a rescue mission, That’s not true. You adopt because it’s an opportunity to change lives, not because you’re amazing and want to spread your awsomeness to others! You do it because you want to transform this world and bring hope where there is hopelessness. Remember that. (37)

Further, the Berry’s understand the nature of adoption as it is an expression of their commitment as Christ followers.

The Adoptive Parent Toolbox is a welcome addition to the small but growing number of helpful books on adoption and will provide prospective adoptive parents with the starter tools necessary to begin the journey of adoption. If someone were considering adoption and wanted to know what three books they needed to read this will now be one of those three books.

This book is for anyone connected to anyone else in the adoption world. Prospective adoptive parents need to read this before they take their first steps towards adoption. Pastors and ministry leaders need to read this in order to better understand adoption and how to minister to those families in their churches that have adopted. Extended family, like adult siblings and especially parents whose adult children have adopted, need to read this book to better understand what life for their children and new grandchildren is like.

In fact, I challenge the Berry’s to write a book for extended families and close friends of adoptive families. There is as much a need to equip these people as there is for the adoptive families themselves and the Berry’s hint at this in the book. Many times the greatest misunderstandings and potential for hurt comes from those closest to adoptive families. The more family and friends understand what is involved in adoption the better they can help and support adoptive families. Until that book is written this is the one to read.

I received this book for free from the Berry’s for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Eschatology Ed. by Bungham & KreiderDallas Theological Seminary (DTS) has been the flagship seminary for teaching and training ministry leaders Dispensational theology. For years, under the leadership of men like Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, and Lewis Sperry Chafer, DTS taught Classic Dispensationalism (CD). Now, for more than a decade, DTS is at the forefront of developing Dispensational theology under what is commonly known as Progressive Dispensationalism (PD). The key difference between CD and PD is the relationship and realization of the New Covenant to the present day Church.

One such leader of PD is Craig Alan Blaising. In celebration of his work on PD over twenty contributors, including Daniel L. Block, David S. Dockery, Timothy George, Paige Patterson, Charles C. Ryrie, and David L. Turner, came together to write Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches under the editorial leadership of D. Jeffery Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider (Kregel, 2016).

The Man

In regards to his Dispensational roots, Blaising was trained at DTS where he completed his ThM (’76) and ThD (’79). Upon completing his ThD he became an Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at DTS in 1980 where he finished as a Professor of Systematic theology in 1995. He then moved onto Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1995 where he would teach theology until 2001. Since 2002 he has been teaching theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is currently the Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology.

His two primary contributions to PD have been Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition (1992) and Progressive Dispensationalism (1993) which he coedited with Darrell Bock. These books have made a lasting impact on the trajectory of Dispensational theology and showed that some of its proponents were trying to seek development within the system whether in response to criticism within or outside. What marked these books, thus allowing PD to separate itself from the CD of Ryrie, was their understanding of the present blessings of the New Covenant for the Church (and not just a future restored Israel).

The Book

As the title indicates, the book contains contributions which focus on the biblical, historical, and practical approaches to eschatology. The biblical approach is covered in the first two parts with a focus on general doctrinal foundations (Part I) and the doctrine of the future in various parts of the Bible (Part II). Part III covers a sprinkling of eschatological overview throughout church history ranging from the Apostolic Father and Origen to Jurgen Moltmann and more contemporary millennialism. The final section covers practical issues to which the doctrine of the future can be applied.

The overriding theme of the book is a focus on the hope given to believer’s in eschatology. Jesus is this hope and it is provided for us in his death, burial, resurrection, and future return. This theme of hope is present in almost every chapter of the book. Stanley D. Toussaint focuses his chapter on this concept and traces the idea from Genesis 3:15, where the hope is initially given, all the way to Revelation, where the hope is fully realized. Most books written on eschatology from a Dispensational perspective do not usually have this heavy of a focus on the hope Christ gives us in his return which is encouraging about this book.

There are two aspects of the books that stick out despite the encouraging focus on eschatological hope. First, there is an underlying, and almost overt at times, rift between CD and PD. As mentioned before, the defining separation between the two Dispensational systems centers on the present benefits of the NC. This becomes clear when one compares Ryrie’s chapter The Doctrine of the Future and the Weakening of Prophecy with the aim of the rest of the book. In less than six pages Ryrie argues that prophecy is weakened if we say that some or all of it is fulfilled now. Present fulfillment, he argues, “weakens the force of the entire body of biblical prophecy.” (73) This kind of statement cannot be supported and puts on in straight jacket when it comes to interpreting various prophetic passages and books. Prophecy is not weakened when it is fulfilled (even if that fulfillment is now), its fulfilled as Scripture said. It is not a categorical rejection of future prophecy to say that some of what was once thought to be future is in fact present. With the movement towards more present fulfillment of the NC within PD, Ryrie’s chapter seems a bit out of place in the whole book.

The second interesting aspect of this book, and more encouraging, is the very minor role Pre-tribulational Rapture theology plays. In fact, it is not even mentioned for the first 390 pages until Mark L. Bailey’s chapter The Doctrine of the Future and Dispensationalism. In it Bailey gives the standard defense for a pre-tribulation view. What might have been helpful for the book, and the position, is to include at least one chapter on historical background of the tribulation but some would argue that it would be hard to go back that far in time.

Conclusion

Near the end of the book David S. Dockery tries to reflect on the future contribution that PD makes towards millennialism. He recognizes that the rift within the Dispensational system has been on the timing and nature of the rapture and believes that “progressive dispensationalism is an attempt to bridge that divide.” (454) This seems to be the contribution, thus far, in regards to PD and eschatology; bridging the divide among Dispensationalist’s and between Dispensationalist’s and other views.

Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches is an encouraging book in that, coming from Dispensationalist’s, it focuses primarily on what ought to unite all eschatological views – the future hope for the world in Jesus Christ. Hope is the focus of all eschatological views and we ought to be able to at least acknowledge that no view has the corner on it.

I received this book for free from Kregel for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”