new-believers-guide-to-the-christian-life-by-alex-earlyIn describing her new found faith in Christ, Rosaria Butterfield described her conversion as a crisis of worldview. Everything she thought she knew and believed about the herself and the world was destroyed, and it was painful. It was like heart surgery without the anesthesia. When you come to faith in Christ you come to learn that you do not shape your identity, God does in Christ. Your identity in Christ shapes who you are as a Christian.

Often times, in the early stages of discipleship with new believer’s, well meaning seasoned Christian’s jump right to the do’s and don’ts of the Christian life. Going to church, reading your Bible, praying, giving money to your church, etc. While those are all true and right activities for the Christian, they need to be grounded in the new identity believer’s have in Christ. These Christian activities that stem from faith in Christ need to be rooted in one’s identity in Christ himself.

Seeing the need for a resource to help new believer’s begin to understand their new identity in Christ, author, speaker, and pastor Alex Early has written a new book The New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life: What Will Change, What Won’t, and Why It Matters (Bethany House, 2016). The driving force behind this book is Alex’s desire to help new believer’s see how the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which they now believe, shapes who they are as a Christian and gives the grounding for all of the Christian practices that are to follow.

In many ways, what Alex is doing is nothing more than what the apostle Paul did in many of his letters in the New Testament. He gave doctrine before duty. Orthodoxy before orthopraxy. While we need to show new believer’s right Christian practice, we need to do so within the context of who God is and who they are in Christ.

One of the things that is most helpful in Alex’s writing is his openness about the struggles of the Christian life. Yes, we are dead to sin but we still struggle with it. Yes, our debt of sin is paid for on the cross but we will still act like it wasn’t. No, we can’t add anything to our salvation and justification but we still act as if we can. The more honest we are with new believer’s about the real struggles of the Christian life early on, the better equipped they will be to handle them down the road. The gospel is not a quick fix to my life. It is change over the long haul and Alex gets that.

This book isn’t just about the who of being a Christian but the doing as well. Alex addresses important identity practices like baptism, church membership, life within the church, and money. These are all identity shaping practices. Their practice says something about who I am as a believer, especially baptism and church membership. Because he discussed baptism and church membership, I think he should have discussed the Lord’s Supper as an identity shaping practice.

So if you are a new believer in Christ or know someone who is, then I recommend The New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life. Its message is crucial to a believer’s understanding of their identity in Christ. Even as a seasoned believer I found several parts helpful and challenging.

I received this book for free from Bethany House 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.”

 designed-to-lead-by-geiger-and-peck“The primary purpose for our leadership mandate is to make known the glory of God by leading others to flourish in God’s design.” (62)

Is there a connection between discipleship and leadership? Where do leaders come from? Are all disciples leaders? What role does the Church play in leadership development? In an effort to answer these questions and more that Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck have written Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development (B&H, 2016).

For decades there have been books written, seminars and conferences dedicated to, and entire models made and revolutionized around the idea of leadership development. Places outside the Church have largely been the producers and shapers of leadership development as we know it. And this is exactly the problem according to Geiger and Peck. “The Church is uniquely set apart to develop and deploy leaders for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel.” (2) “Because the core of sustaining and transforming leadership is the Church,” they say, “no organization should outpace the Church in developing leaders.” (7) But that is exactly what is happening, argue the authors, and addressing how to bring the Church at the forefront of leadership development is the purpose for this book.

Something Old

In one sense there is nothing new that Geiger and Peck are proposing. In fact, it is a sad commentary on the current state of too many churches that this book even needs to be written. What they are calling churches to do is what Scripture has been calling churches to do since the first century. They take their biblical cues from 2 Timothy 2:2, “….entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” and Ephesians 4:11-13 which is Paul’s instructions for the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to use their God-given gifts “for the training of the saints in the work of the ministry.” This is no-brainer stuff, right? It should be but it isn’t.

What has happened to ministry in general, and leadership specifically, it that many churches operate on the following approach:


This is where the pastors do the majority of the ministry in the church while most of the rest of the congregation is a recipient of the pastors ministry/gifts but are not joining them in ministering to others as well with their gifts. So, only the pastor can visit the sick in the church.

What Ephesians 4:11-13 teaches is the following:

pastors→prepare→people→minister→each other.

In this (biblical) ministry model the primary purpose of those with the gifts mentioned in Eph. 4:11-13 is to equip the laity to do “the work of the ministry.” Some gifts are given as ministry-equipping gifts. So now, everyone is doing ministry and the ministry of some is to equip others to do ministry to others.  This is the every member a minister mindset. The failure to follow this simple model “results in an unhealthy church,” state the authors, and “a lack of conviction for equipping results in an immature body of believers.” (35) The result of following the biblical paradigm is not just faithfulness to God’s intention for the churches use of its Spirit given and driven gifts but a church that “is a community of gifted people, not merely a community of people with a gifted pastor.” (50)

Something New

While the Biblical rationale and foundation for this ministry mindset is not new, the authors present (1) their own vision for how the biblical model is carried out in churches and (2) solid theology of ministry woven throughout it.

The grid through which Geiger and Peck envision enacting Eph. 4:11-13 ministry is threefold:

  1. Conviction – As “a God-initiated passion that fuels a leader and [a] church,” conviction is the inner belief that God (1) knows best how the church ought to do ministry and (2) that He has told us how to do it. It must be part of our thinking and philosophy of ministry from the top of the leadership chain down to the saints who are being equipped for the work of the ministry. Churches must have the conviction that God designed mankind from the beginning to bear His image through leadership of the world (57) and that “to be part of a local church is to be part of a leadership community.” (79)  If churches, both the shepherds and sheep, are not convinced of this basis for ministry then it will never get off the ground.
  2. Culture – In order for the convictions of a church to begin to become a reality they must shape the culture of the church. This culture “is formed through the actual beliefs and resulting expressions for a local church about creation, the identity of the local church, and how the local church interacts in the world.” (103) This is where a churches philosophy of ministry on paper becomes a part of the minds of its people. This is where a church moves from actual beliefs, to articulated beliefs and then forms artifacts which are the visible and tangible expressions of the aforementioned beliefs (127). Church culture is hard to change. Its artifacts are the hardest but they will never change until the actual beliefs change followed by the articulated beliefs.
  3. Constructs – “If a value is strongly embedded in the culture [of a church], a system is in place to ensure the value is lived out and not merely words on a vision document.” (184) In order for the convictions of a church culture to become a reality there must be constructs (or systems) in place to make them a living reality and give them long term stability. What you do is an expression of what you believe. The construct God has designed for the church to make leaders is discipleship. Leaders must be identified for ministry, trained for ministry, given ministry opportunity, and coached along the way. They must be shaped in their heads, hearts, and hands if they are to grow and do likewise for the next generation.

Conviction, culture, and constructs are the three C’s to living out Eph. 4:11-13 and leadership development through discipleship. Something new serving as the vehicle for something old. Geiger and Peck close with this apt challenge:

For the faith to continually advance in your context, your conviction must be continually stirred, your culture continually cultivated, and your constructs continually implemented. (216)

Designed to Lead provides a biblical, theological, and practical explanation for how to develop leaders through discipleship. There are no gimmicks or overnight promises of change. Leadership training is for the long haul of faithful steady plodding and this book will provide the guidance churches need to make lasting disciple leaders for generations to come. If you loved Marshall and Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine then you will equally love this book. They both need to be read together and complement each other.

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.”


ephesians-by-benjamin-merkleThe Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series (EGGNT) has recently added the next installment on Ephesians by Benjamin L. Merkle. Merkle is a professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC and is the editor of their journal Southeastern Theological Review.

Series Summary

The commentary is solely based on the Greek of the New Testament primarily using the fifth edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament. The book divides Ephesians into pericopes by its Greek text, block diagrams, exegetes phrase-by-phrase, and gives a rationale for the translation given along with some detailed discussion of pertinent issues within each pericope. A good grasp of New Testament Greek is required to benefit from this book as well as an ability to understand the grammatical abbreviations used in the book.

As a guide, the reader is presented with a number of helps in their own study of the Greek text. The purpose of the book is not to do all of the work for the reader, but, rather, to “provide all the necessary information for understanding the Greek text.” Having a lot of the time consuming work done for you helps the reader to focus more on interpreting the information and developing the sermon. By breaking the book up into pericopes the reader already has a good idea as to how to lay out their sermons. There are suggested homoletical outlines (often giving more than one) as well as suggested further reading based on the subject matter of each verse or group of verses examined. When more than one suggestion is offered by commentators Merkle presents them along with his reasons for which one seems to fit the text best.

Ephesians Summary

Since this is not a full blown commentary there is little discussion on the typical introductory material you would find in commentaries. Merkle presents the arguments for and against Pauline authorship, the various dates proposed for the writing of the epistle, arguments for and against the superscription “to the Ephesians” as a destination marker, a rationale for the occasion and purpose of the letter (six of them to be exact), and finally a proposed outline of the book followed by a list of recommend commentaries. In light of the recent discussion concerning Peter O’Brien’s commentaries, readers will be interested to know that Merkle regards his Pillar commentary on Ephesians to be “the best overall commentary that is both academically informed and broadly accessible.” (9) There are varying opinions about the merits of accusing O’Brien of plagiarism. I am not yet convinced the accusations are warranted so I do not feel it should be a mark against Merkle’s work that he relies upon and highly recommends O’Brien’s book.

A good example of how Merkle, and the series in general, treats certain highly theological texts is Ephesians 2:8, “For on the basis of grace you are saved by faith.” (authors translation) You will immediately notice the differences in Merkel’s translation depending on which translation you have memorized (like the ESV). There are three translation issues in this verse but I will just examine two of them. τῇ γáρ χάριτί is usually translated as “by grace” which sees it as a dative of means. Merkle argues that it should be translated as a dative of cause and thus read “because of grace” or “on the basis of grace.” This in turn impacts how Merkle translates διà πίστεως as a dative of cause and thus “by grace”. Merkle notes, “A dat. of cause indicates the why or basis of something whereas a dat. of means indicates the how or method by which something is performed.” (61) This leads him to see that “the ref. to faith clearly refers to the faith of the believer and not Christ’s faithfulness.” (61)

As with the other books in this series, I highly recommend Merkle’s book on Ephesians for any serious student, pastor, and theologian/scholar looking for an accessible and helpful guide to the Greek text of Ephesians.

The other books in the series are as follows:

John by Murray J. Harris

2 Corinthians by Don Garlington

Philippians by Joseph H. Hellerman

Colossians and Philemon by Murray J. Harris

James by Chris A. Vlachos

1 Peter by Greg W. Forbes

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.”




4403 comp9.indd“Any way that we can grab on to Scripture will keep our minds in a place to receive the peace of God. Turning things over to God releases us from the strain of trying to control them ourselves.” (154)

Anyone who dreams about having children has dreams about what those children will be like; their personalities, possible careers, looks, and even the people they might marry and kids they might have. Every parent who dreams of what their children might be like does not prepare themselves for the ‘what if’ thoughts; what if they are not like me, what if they don’t get married, what if they don’t get a high paying job, and what if they aren’t born healthy? Even parents who have children through adoption, and know their child will have one or more complications, do not adequately prepare themselves for the what if’s that can come.

And then when they come what do you do? What does a parent do when their dreams for their children are shattered by the unimagined what if’s of reality? Even parents who adopt a child with mild or severe disabilities are met with surprises that were unknown to their caretakers or even hidden by them in an effort to keep them from having less of a chance of being adopted. Where can, better, where should, parents with children who have special needs turn when their dreams melt away to the what if’s they never dreamed of?

Mothers Kimberly M. Drew and Jocelyn Green know firsthand what life is like with children of special needs. Together they have written Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs (Kregel, 2016). As if being a parent were not hard enough, raising children with special needs brings with it additional challenges that are often overwhelming, perplexing, exhausting, and a whole other range of emotions.

As a parent who has two children with special needs I, along with my wife, live daily with the unique challenges they bring. There are good days and there are bad days. There are one-step-forward days followed by what can seem like several two-step-backward days. There is mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, frustration, worry, anger, guilt, and everything else you can imagine running through your mind and bleeding out of you.

But in the midst of all of the unknowns, variables, changes, and disappointments there is the constant reminder that God, like he was with Job, is right there with me in the midst of it all, waiting to speak to me once again through his revealed word, Scripture. This is where Refresh is so powerfully refreshing. Weaving each daily devotional with the testimony of a different parent with a child with special needs, the authors powerfully show how the truths of Scripture truly speak into the hardest, rawest, and darkest parts of our lives while raising children with special needs.

The message of these devotionals are deeply rooted in Scripture with a focus on Christ and the ongoing power and work of the gospel in our lives. There are not pat answers, no dodging the hard realities of this life, and no false promises. The authors, who live these realities themselves, fully acknowledge the hardships this kind of parenting brings. But they equally acknowledge the help, joy, and healing that is found in Christ through knowledge of Scripture.

Refresh is a book every single parent who has a child with special needs should have. If you know someone who has a child with special needs buy them this book. It will walk you through the various stages and seasons of parenting children with special needs and show how God, in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is there to meet you at your every point of need.

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.”

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).


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).


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.”