January 2012


This month Zach Nielsen is giving away three Crossway titles at Take Your Vitamin Z blog. You can enter to win here and here is a list of the books to win:

  1. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile
  2. Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches by James Hamilton Jr.
  3. Keep Your Heads Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation Ed. by Anthony Bradley

Monday I posted my review of Die Young: Burying Yourself in Christ by Hayley and Michael MiDarco. Today I wanted to post a number of great quotes from the book in chapter order.

Death is the New Life:

His death (Christ), then, allows for your death….His death is the one and only thing that allows you to no longer live for yourself (p. 24).

The trials and suffering of your life offer you the opportunity to die, and sometimes they make you want to die. But suffering is senseless and so is the pain that goes along with it if it serves no other purpose than to destroy you….Will suffering destroy your hope and your faith, leaving you with nothing solid to stand on,, alone and empty, or will your suffering destroy the parts of your life that tie you to the things of this earth and keep your focus off the God of heaven? If you believe that death is the new life, then you have to know that you will face trials, you will suffer (p. 27).

By the process of dying to yourself and your old way of life, you are brought into a new creation, one that is not only a grain but also an entire tree filled with the fruit of righteousness (p. 33).

There is a death that comes that isn’t meant to destroy you but to destroy that in you which was never meant to replace the hand of God in your life (p. 33-34).

Down is the New Up

It’s from a lowly position of self-awareness and sin that we are saved because God reaches down and touches us in our need…..The bottom isn’t such a bad lace because it is only from the perspective of your own lowest point that you are able to see your sinfulness and need for a loving Savior and to be saved (p. 45).

The counterintuitive nature of taking last place is actually the remedy to all our anger, frustration, and bitterness (p. 43).

Self-loathing would not exist if we had replaced our own interests with God’s interests; but it does exist not solely because of our self-hatred, but because of the mostly subconscious notion that we are so significant that we ought to be doing better than we are, to be more successful than we are, to be thinner than we are, or to be in any way better than we have been. The deep-seated and camouflaged pride in us screams, “It’s all about me! My pain, my suffering, my stuff! And because of that all of my energy is going into fixing me, even through torture or starvation, punishment and hatred.” What happens is the punishment of self is really an elevation of self to the center of our minds (p. 55).

Complaint simply elevates the one who complains, making that person the assayer of all goodness and the authority on all badness (p. 62).

The whole world is turned upside down when you die young and determine to live for the one who died for you (p. 73).

Less is the New More

While stuff isn’t inherently evil, the position we give it in our hearts can be (p. 75).

For everything that we want more of there is an accompanying danger in the more. The danger really isn’t even with the stuff but the position that our hearts give the stuff (p. 78).

The less we allow ourselves to follow our desire and passion for the more of this world, for the more that sin offers, the more we have of God himself (p. 80).

As long as we continue to hoard the things God has given us, we keep those things from changing the lives of those around us (p. 82).

This saving of your life through the stuff you put into it is then turning away from God and his saving grace towards the saving grace of stuff. And this is the essence of idolatry (p. 84).

To deny yourself something, anything, even if it isn’t something bad for you is to teach yourself that you will not be controlled by your passions. Less is more because the continual practice of less keeps your wants from becoming your needs…. When less is offensive, when less makes you uncomfortable, God becomes less important than your need for more (p. 87).

We know the word “covet” is bad, but when we see something we really want, complain because we don’t have it, or do all we can to get it, we give it a completely different definition. “Need,” “deserve,” “meant for,” are the terms we use to define the desires of our hearts (p. 91).

Weak is the New Strong

It can be a horrible feeling, your own weakness, your own wretchedness, but it isn’t mean to be the end of hope but he end of you, and that comes when you surrender the idea that you can do it all in your own strength (p. 103).

In the moment when everything is stripped away, when the pit seems like it can’t get any deeper, when all you love is lost, then can you truly see heaven reaching down to grab your hand to pull you up (p. 109).

When you become so certain of your need for him that each moment you look to receive all that you require from him,  then waiting becomes the highlight of your day, the source of all your hope (p. 111).

Slavery is the New Freedom

When a man demands the freedom to make his own choices, to do whatever he pleases and to be subject to no one, he deceives himself into thinking that freedom is a possibility….the man devoted to freedom becomes a slave to whatever freedom he enjoys (p. 120).

The believer is no longer his own, so to demand freedom is to demand to be set free from God, free to be your own god or to find another that serves you better. This ends up being no freedom at all (p. 122).

To reject the freedom of Christ for the freedom of the world it to submit yourself again to the yoke of slavery (p. 122).

Slavery is the new freedom because slavery to God gives those of us who embrace it freedom from all other gods which express their hold on us in the form of struggles, addictions, fears, worries, and all other sins in our lives (p. 123).

…Here is the single most critical verse in the life of the sinner, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). This is the message of the gospel for a sinful world. And this is the slavery that freedom brings, freedom from the condemnation that ought to come from sin but doesn’t because of the blood of Jesus (p. 123).

The only man who is truly free is the one who not only believes that slavery to God is what is best for him, but who trusts his master enough to believe that he made arrangements for his complete freedom and not a partial freedom. You cannot be a part-time slave (p. 127).

Slavery empties itself of all its self-will and determines to please God and to crucify self. The life that doesn’t die to self denies the master, refusing to entrust itself as slave, and thereby misses out on freedom (p. 129).

Freedom is yours when you submit to the only slavery that you were meant to be under (p. 137).

Confession is the New Innocence

Without confession of guilt there is no innocence for the sinner (p. 139).

Our resistance to confession does two things: it keeps us from the forgiveness our sin needs, and it also calls God a liar because to fail to confess is to say “I have not sinned.” (p. 140).

Many times our confessions to God might be more statements we make to ourselves about being better next time and thankfulness that God is forgiving. They might never get to the heart of a confession that states the sin and accepts the responsibility for it (p. 145).

When you feel guilty after doing any of the things God forbids, then confession is your only exit (p. 148).

To refuse to be honest about our sin is to refuse to agree with God that there has never been and will never be a perfect person besides Jesus (p. 154).

Red is the New White

We have to beware the thinking that it was out of God’s kindness and love that he saved us. Certainly he is kind and he loves us, but it was out of the death of his Son that he saved us. We can’t rely on God’s kindness or love to gain us access to the throne; it is only through accepting the blood that we can be viewed as innocent and allowed entry (p. 165).

You must, in order to receive justification, believe that the blood is enough. You must die to the part of you that insists to do its part to participate in this salvation thing and to help out God (p. 168).

If you heart has a hard time believing justification by the blood, then consider killing the part of you that would argue against God’s gracious and necessary gift (p. 168).

For many of us, the sins of our past continue to haunt us, and we are unable to forget the terrible things we’ve done. We see Christ and then we look at ourselves and we cringe; how unholy are we, how ugly. But the point of the blood isn’t to keep you there; its to purify you from the stains of your sin, to move you forward. The blood is our bleach (p. 170).

Conclusion – But you can make today the turning point in your life – the point when you determine to completely bury yourself in Christ so deep that nothing can every really harm you again. When you do that…..there is no more death for you. It is all nothing but life. No one can kill you when you are already dead (p. 172-73).

This week Credo Mag is giving away three great books from IVP. You can enter to win here and here is a lit of the books:

  1. Reading Scripture with the Reformers by Timothy George
  2. Justification: Five Views Ed. by James Beibly & Michael Horton
  3. Galatians, Ephesians (Reformation Commentary on Scripture) by Gerald Bray

There is perhaps no other book in the Bible that has be subject to the most diverse and sometimes fanciful interpretations than the book of Revelation. Its content has left many confused. Even the famous theologian and commentator John Calvin did not write a commentary on it because he could not understand it. For a book that brings to close the whole of God’s written revelation concerning his acts in history for the salvation of man and his glory, the door is wide open as to how the church has interpreted it through the ages.

In an effort to help believers better understand the interpretations of the book of Revelation C. Marvin Pate has written his newest book on eschatology, Reading Revelation: A Comparison of Four Interpretive Translations of the Apocalypse published by Kregel. This book is a step towards clearing the often muddy waters in ones attempt to understand the views of others as well as help the reader better see how their own interpretation looks live in the text.

Reading Revelation is not a commentary but as the subtitle states it is an interpretive translation. A simple translation is the work of a person or persons who have translated the original text into another language and do so according to a specific translation philosophy. An interpretive translation adds the translators interpretation of certain portions of the text so the reader sees how the translator understands/interprets a certain word, phrase, verse or chapter. Reading Revelation is an interpretive translation of four major distinct interpretations of Revelation along with the GNT 4th Ed. and Pate’s English translation.

A Question Posed for the Interpreters

In order to get a taste for how an interpretive translation works with Revelation we will ask each interpretive method to answer this question: Since Revelation is typically interpreted within the events of history (whether past, present or future) how does your interpretation see Revelations relation to history?

The preterist interpretation (also known as postmillennialism) sees the events described in Revelation as having already happened in history at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The address and following comfort were to the churches that existed at the time of its writing and were meant to speak to their current situation of persecution. The preterist position roots the references in Revelation in the unfolding history of the life of the first century church. Postmillennialism prides itself as being an eschatology of hope. Hope that “as the church preachers the gospel and performs its role as the salt of the earth, the kingdom of God will advance until the whole world will one day gladly bow to the authority of Christ (p. 8).” One distinctive of the preterist position is that in order for its interpretation to refer to the history of the first century church it must have a written date before 70 A.D. As such the majority view is that Revelation was written during the time of Nero between 54-68 A.D. Another distinctive of the preterist position is that chapters 20-22 reveal to us how Christ has established his earthly rule in the first century. Thus, all of Revelation refers to the past and the end of the book is similar to the books of Acts in that it is left open to the future until Christ’s kingdom rule has been completed on earth.

The historicist interpretation roots the references in Revelation to the unfolding of history in the life of the church from the first century to the return of Christ. Its major strength has been to “make sense of Revelation for the interpreter by correlating the prophecies directed to the seen churches of Asia Minor with the stages comprising church history (p. 9).” Thus, Revelation is a sort of church history book that is still being written.

The futurist interpretation takes the historical rooting of Revelation a step further removed from the first century and believes that chapters 4-22 are still future in relation to the present church. Within the futurist inperpretation there are two camps that divide on the events of the second coming of Christ. First, the Dispensational camp sees the lack of mention of the church after chapter three as indication that the church has been raptured before the events of chapters 4-18 take place as they deal with the Tribulation period (seventh week of Daniel 9). In great distinction to preterisms hopeful optimistic view of history, Dispensationalism is labeled as pessimistic since the world gets worse and worse right up to the rapture of the church. The second camp within the futurist position is known as Historic Premillennialism. It differs from Dispensationalism in that it believes the church has replaced OT Israel and will therefore go through the Tribulation period and not be saved (raptured) from it. For the futurist interpretation, Reading Revelation follows the Dispensational interpretation since it is the majority view of the two.

The idealist interpretation is the last interpretive school and sees the historical rooting of Revelation quite different that the other three. The idealist view interprets Revelation in a symbolic way. Pate describes this view as “representing the ongoing conflict of good and evil, with no immediate historical connection to any social or political events (p. 11).” Thus, the statements in Revelation are in no means predictive of actual historical events except for Christs final victory over evil at his return. This view is a combination of the Alexandrian school and the amillennial method and was the dominant view from the 3-5th centuries until the Reformation. This view has a strength in that it does not fall prey to seemingly force the text of Scripture into a specific historical event in order to either make sense of the text for the present reader or make sense of the readers situation from the text. On the other side, since there are no historical references to the events in Revelation the door of how it can be applied is wide open to abuse.

An Example

Now that we have a general idea of the four interpretive schools it would be helpful to see an example of how different the four schools can interpret a particular verse and get a real feel for what an interpretive translation looks like. We will use Revelation 1:19 as our example since ones interpretation of it sets the interpretive grid for the rest of the book – “Write therefore what you saw, and the things that are and the things that are about to be after these things.”

  1. Preterist – Write therefore what you have seen (Revb.1), and what is now (Rev. 2-3), and what will take place soon after these things (Rev. 4-22 = the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as a result of Christ’s coming to destroy it).
  2. Historicist – Write therefore what you saw, both the things that are (Rev. 1-3) and the things that are about to become after these things (Rev. 4-22 = the seven periods of church history culminating in the triumph of the gospel).
  3. Futurist – Write therefore what you saw (Rev. 1), and the things that are (Rev. 2-3) and the things that are about to become after these things (Rev. 4-22 and the signs of the times that will begin after the rapture of the church into heaven).
  4. Idealist – Write therefore what you saw (the whole vision of Rev. 1-22), both the things that are(the “already” aspect of the kingdom of God) and the things that are about to become after these things (the “not yet” aspect of the kingdom of God, which awaits the return of Christ).

As you can see from one verse alone there is significant difference in the four methods of interpretation even with the idealist school though it finds no specific historical rooting. Many verses have to interpretive parenthesis but many of them do. You could read the book in one of two ways. First, you could read each column separately from beginning to end to get a fluid feel for the interpretation. I might be best to start this way. The second way this can be read is by reading each view side by side either chapter by chapter or verse by verse. This will really allow for the interpretive differences to shine through to the reader.

Reading Revelation is a fascinating way to read Revelation and a great way to gain a better grasp of each interpretive method. It will truly open your eyes to the text and cause you to pay more attention to what is being said. It will help the reader gain a better appreciation for other interpretations and allow one to see possible weaknesses in their own interpretive line of thought. This is a must have for reading Revelation.

NOTE: I receive this book from Kergel for review and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

Servants of Grace is hosting a massive book giveaway compliments of Crossway, Baker Books, Dutton Adult and New Growth Press. You can enter to win here and this is a list of the great books you can enter to win:

  1. Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes by Voddie Baucham Jr.
  2. Gospel Wakefulness by Jared C. Wilson
  3. Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke
  4. Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Philip Graham Ryken
  5. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson
  6. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller
  7. Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation by Norman Geisler & William Roach
  8. God’s Will: Finding Guidance for Everyday Decisions by J.I. Packer & Carolyn Nystrom
  9. Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith by Alister McGrath
  10. What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life by Ed Welch
  11. Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments by Winston Smith

Today only Baker Academic is offering Robert Gundry’s commentary on Ephesians for FREE! You can download it from Amazon, CBD or Barnes & Noble.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dig your own grave? For real though. We use the phrase ‘Your going to dig your own grave if you_____’ metaphorically all the time. I suspect there have been some throughout history who have literally had to dig their own grave six feet in the ground at gun point. How often do we consider the fact that in a way this is what Christ is asking us to do at the moment we trust him as savior and each day we live as a redeemed child of God?

In their new book, Die Young: Burying Yourself in Christ, seasoned authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco are calling all Christians to die young and bury themselves in Christ. This is a book about living as dead to sin and alive to Christ. Black may be the new pink and 40 maybe the new 30 but for the Christian death is the new life. “People bury themselves in things they hope will save them, but the only one who can truly be saved is the one who is buried in Christ (p. 18).”

Die Young is all about self-denial. Not in a monastic asceticism sort of way by removing yourself from society and the comforts of life. “Die Young is about that kind of death, the dying-to-self kind of death, the ‘living sacrifice’ that Paul wrote to the Romans about in Romans 12. This ability to deny yourself so that you don’t serve your desires over his (p. 13).”

Through a series of seven chapters that present implications of the gospel in the life of the believer, the DiMarco’s present aspects of the Christian life in the form of statements that reverse how we might naturally think about things. This seven fold picture begins with the reality that for life in Christ to begin we must first die to ourselves. Death is the new life. Christ died to sin (our sin) and rose again to new life. When we respond to his gospel invitation in faith we make a decision to die to ourselves and are buried with Christ in His death to our sin and we are given the new life that He accomplished in His resurrection. Christ’s death and life become our death and life.

Chapters two through six cover five more areas in which the gospel reverses how we might naturally think about things in this life. Down is the new Up deals with concept of living humbly before God and others. “It’s from a lowly position of self-awareness and sin that we are saved because God reaches down and touches us in our need (p. 45).” Less is the new More deals with our desire for stuff and our hearts desire to make idols out of it – even the good stuff God blesses us with. Everything we have comes from God but we can ask from it what it cannot give us (and only God can) when we turn it into an idol. Our hearts desire should be to give from what we have been given instead of hoarding and wasting it. By giving more we are dying to our desire to keep what we have. “It is the deep desire within us to get more that giving is mean to kill (p. 91).” Weak is the new Strong is a recognition that we cannot do life on our own and that we cannot even die to sin on our own. Once we recognize that we are weak then God can show us his strength. In Slavery is the new Freedom we see that being a slave to Christ is what brings us true freedom in this life and allows us to enjoy it in the life to come. When we become free in Christ we become free from the death (separation from God) that slavery to sin brings. Slavery to Christ brings with it freedom from the condemnation of God when we were in our sins (Rom. 8:1). “This is the freedom that slavery (to Christ) brings, freedom from the condemnation that ought to come from sin but doesn’t because of the blood of Christ (p. 123).” When we are slaves to sin we receive the result death brings (separation from God) which is a lack of freedom from God’s judgment on our lives. Finally, in Confession is the new Innocence we are comforted in the reality that when we sin we have an advocate with the Father in Christ so that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive because we have been united with Christ’s death and burial to sin and share in the new life His resurrection brings. We need to confess our sin at the time we respond to the gospel and daily as we walk with Christ. Confession is the cure to the guilt that sin brings with it.

Whether or not the DiMarco’s intended to do so, the final chapter, Red is the new White, offers both a conclusion to the book of counterintuitive statements about the Christian life but also a complementary statement to the first – death is the new life. Throughout Scripture there is a consistent witness to the reality that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (ESV – Heb. 9:22).” Red is the new White demonstrates for us that when we are covered in the blood of Christ we are made white as snow (Isa. 1:18). With Christ’s death there is shed blood. In Christ we are covered in it and we have new life in Him. Thus, “the blood is our bleach (p. 170).” Death is the new life and red is the new white are complimentary statements that serve as fitting book ends to this encouraging book.

There are two things that were really helpful in this book. First, it is evident page after page that this is a book deeply grounded in Scripture. Almost every page not only cites Scripture but quotes verse after verse. The words of the authors and Scripture are woven almost seamlessly together. Second, each chapter has a number of short stories from the lives of Hayley and Michael about how they have struggled with and applied the truths of each chapter. These are not superficial stories but are very transparent and readers will find it very refreshing to read. At times they seem to chop up sections of the chapters and you are not sure if you should read them and then move on or finish the paragraph in the text and then go back and read them. Nevertheless they are helpful.

Die Young is a great book that will refresh your soul. The author’s honesty is most helpful. The chapter titles are catchy and thus easy to remember allowing you to return to reflection on their content. So pick up your shovels and dig your grave. Because death is the new life and red is the new white. Dig your grave where you will bury yourself in Christ, die to sin and live under the blood of Christ that makes you white as snow and free in Christ.

NOTE: I received this book from Crossway for free and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

In the last post I shared some thoughts on a year of reading. Now I want to share some books I plan to read this year that I am really excited about.

Here is a list of books I plan to read this year that I am really excited about:

1. A New Testament Biblical Theology by G.K. Beale – I have not read much of Beale but from what I have read about this book it is going to be good. Beale seeks to show how the NT inaugurates the new creational aspect of the end times. I plan to blog through this book as much as I can and I am reading this book with a group which you can join here.

2. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller – This year I plan to read some newer books on marriage and this will be the second one I read after reading this to review. I admire Keller and have loved everything he has written. I expect there to be much wisdom and gospel centered content in this book as are in his others.

3. Earthen Vessels by Matthew Anderson – Evangelicals are funny about the body and I am not sure that up till now there has been a meaningful and serious book written like this one on anthropology and other related topics. Anderson tackles not just a theology of the body but also practical considerations like tattoos and the like.

4. Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Perspective on God’s Covenants by Greg Nichols – Over the years I feel I have grown more into a Reformed Baptist. I am not Covenental but I embrace much of the rich heritage of the Reformed faith. I am also leery of some of the Dispensational understanding of the covenants. I hope this book will provide me with a better understanding of where I think I am going in my theological development.

5. Evangelicalism: What is it and is it worth Keeping? by D.A. Carson – This book has been delayed for some time and I hope it actually hits the shelves this year. I think it will go along nicely to the recently book on Evangelicalism. I watched the video of Carson making an address summarizing this book about a year ago.

6. The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson – Another Carson book, this one looks to be promising as well. You can find his lecture on this subject on Google.

7. Should Christians Embrace Evolution? Ed. by Norman Nevin – This book is written from a young earth perspective and covers a broad range of topics. This book contains thirteen contributors who respond to Darwinian evolution along scientific and theological lines.

8. Darwin on Trial (2oth Anniversary Ed.) by Phillip E. Johnson – This book is a classic when it comes to responses to Darwinism. Johnson is a lawyer and his evaluation is meticulous.

9. Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus by Bill Clem – Discipleship is a topic that intrigues me and I hope to write a book on it some day. Clem is the discipleship pastor at Mars Hill where Mark Dirscoll is the pastor. This book looks very promising.

10. Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson – Hermeneutics is one of my favorite subjects and this book looks like it will be the next standard primary text for an intro to the subject. Anything Kostenberger writes is worth its weight in gold. I plan to slowly read through this book piece by piece.

11. & 12. For Calvinism by Michael Horton and Against Calvinism by Roger Olson – Yes, it seems like very year another book is published on the age old Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate and I am a sucker for them. These books look to be more promising than others in the past. Both authors have a good grasp of the historical issues in the debate and I am interested to see how Olson makes his case.

13. Collected Writings on Scripture by D. A Carson – Anything Carson writes should be read by everyone. I read the book Scripture and Truth which he coauthored with Jonathan Woodbridge and found it to be very helpful in my understanding of the doctrine of Scripture. This book is a collection of essays Carson wrote over the years which his research assistant Andy Naselli complied for him.

14. The Bible Among the Myths by John Oswalt – I have a decent interest in Ancient Near Eastern studies. Oswalt’s thesis is that though the Bible as an ancient text is comparative to other ANE literature of its day (just like the Bible would be like contemporary literature if it were written today) it also has great differences which make it very different.

15. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament by John Walton – This is another book dealing with the ANE studies. From what I have read and heard from Walton I think I will disagree with some of his conclusions but there is much that will be helpful still.

16. What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert – The mission of the church is the buzz issue in ecclesiology right now. This book has caused quite a stir much to the authors surprise. The reviews a mixed across the board so I am not sure where I will stand with it on the last page.

17. Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ by Robert Peterson – Last year I read The Deity of Christ which was edited by Peterson and it was great. This book seeks to examine the major events of Christ life from incarnation to His second coming and several pictures of Christ such as reconciler and legal substitute.

18. The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer by Francis Schaeffer – I have decided to take it upon myself to read all the works of a few influential people and Schaeffer will be the first. There are 22 books in these five volumes. I plan to start reading these but not all of them this year. My goal is to review every one of them and I will have a category in my files for Schaeffer book reviews so they will be more easily accessible.

19. Parenting by God’s Promises by Joel Beeke – From the publisher, “Joel R. Beeke explores what this nurture and admonition looks like and offers gems of practical wisdom for parents on topics such as instituting and leading family worship, teaching children, modeling faithful Christian living, and exercising discipline. However, he carefully puts parental responsibilities in their proper perspective and guides mothers and fathers to lean not on their own abilities but to trust more fully in the God who knits children together in the first place. Above all, he affirms, parents must look to the one true God, who promises to provide everything His people need and to bless them and their families.”

As I mentioned in a previous post I read 53 books this year and reviewed 24 of them. In this post I wanted to share some of the best of them and why. In no particular order they are:

1.  Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old Fashioned Way by J. I. Packer & Gary A. Parrett – This book totally changed the way I think about the educational ministry of the church as it relates to discipleship. It calls for a resurrection of the church to intentionally teach believers the faith through catechism. The authors ground the use of catechisms in Scripture, give an overview of its use in church history and offer suggestions for how to incorporate catechisms in the church today. This is a must read for all pastors, Sunday School or small group teachers and even parents who want to teach their children the faith better.

2. The Glory of God in Salvation Through Judgment by James M. Hamilton Jr. – This book is a biblical theology of the entire bible. Hamilton contends that the theological center of the bible is the glory of God in salvation through judgment. He walks through each book of the Bible and hows how this theme runs throughout. You can read my review here.

3.  Following Jesus, The Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship by Jonathan Lunde – This book radically changed the way I view the nature of discipleship as a believer in covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There is a lot that is commendable with this book. Lunde does a better job with rooting covenant discipleship in the OT than he does with it in the NT. You can see my review here.

4.  The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family by Andrew Himes – This book is a fascinating look at the history of Fundamentalist and the life and ministry of John R. Rice from a family insider. There are some significant points of disagreement I have with Himes with his view of some theological issues but his history is well documented and he is gracious in his assessment. You can read my review here.

5.  A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission Around the Table by Tim Chester – This book hit me like a ton of bricks and challenged me personally in the area of personal evangelism like no book has. Chester walks through the meals of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and shows us how to use meal time as a natural inroad to evangelism.

6. A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story by Michael W. Goheen – This book is a powerful biblical theology of the mission of the church. Rooted in the OT and flowering in the NT, Goheen shows how the mission of Israel to be a light to the nations with the gospel is carried on in the mission of the church. You can read my review here.

7.  The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scott McKnight – This is perhaps the most controversial book I read this year. McKnight claims that much of the gospel content that evangelicals have presented in their presentation is more about the plan of salvation rather than the entire gospel message itself. I personally found much of what he had to say dead on and I feel his overpowering tone has blinded many to the truth of what he is saying. You can read my review here.

8.  Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis – I am a sucker of apologetics and this is a good one. As the title indicates this book is a comprehensive case for the Christian faith. Groothius uses the cumulative case method to build a case for why Christian theism is the best and only answer to the experience of life and to make sense of reality. My only negative critique of the book is that because he utilizes the cumulative case method he misses many of the apologetical strengths of the presuppositional model. Nevertheless, this is a great text book and reference book for every household to have. My review is forthcoming.

9. Jesus + Nothing  = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian – Of all the books that challenged me spiritually this one was the best. The title says it all in relation to our salvation. Page after page is filled with great one liners to mull over. You can read my review here.

10.  Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Counterpoints) ed. by Collin Hansen – This book provides a look into four views of Evangelicalism and what makes an evangelical an evangelical. The views range from Fundamentalism by Kevin Bauder to Postconservative by Roger Olson. There is agreement on the gospel being the center of evangelical life but great disagreement on how we relate to those who have different doctrinal articulation and practical expression of that gospel message. My review is forthcoming.

11.  Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga – This book was perhaps the hardest to put down while reading. This was such an engaging read and another reason why I love Plantinga so much even when I disagree with him. Plantinga evaluates the critiques of prominent contemporary atheists against Christian theism and then critiques their naturalistic claims and assumptions. He shows how naturalism and atheism are not inherent within science but rather philosophical or pseudo religious add ons. His main argument in the last chapter is that naturalism is itself an argument against naturalism and that theism makes the best sense out of what we see in science. This argument is called a naturalistic argument against naturalism. This book was so engaging that it kept me up until midnight and later on several occasions. There are a few chapters and sections that will be difficult to understand if you have not had a course in logic (like myself) or have not read much in philosophy especially by more contemporary atheists like Dawkins and Dennett. Plantinga does believe in theistic evolution at minimum but this does not detract from its use for Christians who do not hold to any form of evolution. I might be reviewing this book later.

12. The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being by Andrew Root – The central thesis of this book is that divorce causes an identity crisis in a child because the relationship that brought them into being, and from which they get their identity, no longer exists. Root provides a short history of the increase of divorce. This increase has been caused as the foundation for marriage has moved from labor centered to love centered. This book was fascinating and made me want to know more about so much that it touches on regarding the family. This is a must read for anyone who is directly touched by divorce, pastors, social workers, youth workers and anyone who works with children or even adults who have divorce in their families. My review is forthcoming.

13. The Christian Faith: Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way by Michael Horton – This was my systematic theology book for the year and it was a good one. Horton’s work is a wonderful and engaging read. He has paved the way for how to do systematic theology with an eye to biblical theology and I hope others will follow suit. Horton reminds me of Herman Bavink in how he interacts with many different disciplines and people but he is more accessible as he has written this book with the layman in mind. My review is forthcoming.

From now until January 12 Westminster Books is having a 50% off sale on all of their 2011 best sellers. There are some good books here  to get to help jump start your reading for 2012.

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