August 2012


God wants you to argue for the truth of the Christian faith. To some, the mere idea of God wanting Christians to argue, let alone for His truth, is an oxymoron. This is because many people wrongly associate the idea of arguing with two people yelling at each other while they debate an idea. But this is not the idea of arguing, let alone the picture Peter had in mind when he challenged believers to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)”

No, arguing for the truth of the Christian faith has its roots in Scripture and it is in the life and ministry of Paul in which we see pervasive argumentation for Christianity. A quick read through the book of Acts will bring to light the apologetic nature of Paul’s ministry as time and time again Luke tell us he “reasoned”, “defended”, “contended” and “argued” for the truth of the Christian faith to unbelievers.

With the belief in mind that Christians are commanded to give a defense of the Christian faith, Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister have brought together a selection of some of the best arguments for the truth of Christianity within various fields in the book Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources. It is the editors desire that the book “will be effective in removing obstacles hindering faith in Christ and in bolstering faith in those who already believe. (p. 16)”

As an anthology the book is a compilation of the previously published works of various apologists and theologians who have been recognized over the years as providing some of the best arguments in regards to the subjects they have written on. The book is broken into eleven parts dealing with introductory matters such as the history of various methodologies of apologetics as well as specific disciplines within apologetics like the existence of God, Scripture, miracles, the problem of evil and Christianity within the world.

The contributors are varied which adds to the strength of the book. By varied I mean several things. First, the contributors represent various apologetical methodologies. For the broad evidentialist camp there is C.S Lewis (poster boy for Evidentialists), William Lane Craig (Classic Evidentialist), Josh McDowell (Historical Evidentialist) and Richard Swinburne (Cumulative Case Evidentialist). For the Presuppositionalist there is the formidable Greg Bahnsen and the variant of Presuppositionalism, Reformed Epistemology as represented by Alvin Plantinga. Finally, for the Experientialist there is Blaise Pascal. Second, though fundamentally I am a committed presuppositionalist, I realize the apologetic value that other methods have to offer. Thus, having a variety of methods represented allows the best defenders of a certain topic to be added to the book despite their apologetic method. This leads to the third observation in regards to the strength of a varied representation, that is, since each apologetic method tends to focus on a certain area, having them all together speaks to the all-encompassing nature of Christian apologetics: it speaks to all of life and there is no place in reality where God’s truth cannot speak too. Fourth, though there is only one women contributor, Teresa of Avila, this speaks to the fact that though men have been the dominate force in apologetics, there are women who given their minds to the task as well. Finally, there is a variety in regards to the era of contributors represented. Contributors are selected from the beginning of Christianity to the present. The first entry is from the Apostle Paul himself in Acts 17, there are the greats that followed like Augustine, Aquinas and Anslem as well as apologists in the present era like William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga.

One of the most intriguing chapters of the book was by James K. Beilby, Varieties of Apologetics, who is the author of Thinking About Christian Apologetics. In this chapter (taken from his book), Beilby surveys the variety of apologetical methods and attempts to break them down by comparing and contrasting them. Beilby believes that all apologetics methods are trying to answer five basic questions: (1) What is the relationship between faith and reason, (2) To what extent can humans understand God’s nature, (3) What is the role of the Holy Spirit in apologetics, (4) What is the nature of truth and (5) What is the task of apologetics? Beilby then breaks down each apologetical method into its essential core beliefs in order to demonstrate why each one takes the road they do in defending the Christian faith. Beilby concludes the chapter with a look at whether an eclectic apologetic is possible or not. In doing so he notes that there are those within each apologetical school of thought who are either strict adherents or eclectic adherents.  Strict adherent believe their method is how it must be (Van Til is a Strict Presuppositionalist) whereas eclectic adherents believe their method is how it might be practiced (Francis Schaeffer is an Eclectic Presuppositionalist) (p. 37) Men like Augustine, Anslem, Pascal, Edward Carnell, C. Stephen Evans and Alvin Plantinga are examples of apologists who have anchored themselves within one method or another but made wide use of the strengths of other apologetical schools of thought.

Some of the other notable chapters are Norman L. Geisler’s chapters on The Knowability of History, Alvin Plantinga’s Advice to Christian Philosophers, Greg Bahnsen’s presentation of the transcendental argument for the existence of God in his debate with Gordon Stein, Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, William Lane Craig on The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Kurt Wise’s chapter on The Origin of Life’s Major Groups and last but not least, Francis Schaeffer’s classic work A Christian Manifesto. No doubt, many readers will be reading through the list of contributors and their respective topics and think of others who could have been in there as well, but the books is an selection of representatives and not an exhaustive reference book with the best of everyone on each subject. To do so would require a multi-volumous work which I am sure would be heartily received.

Another helpful feature of this book is the list of questions at the end of each section designed to encourage the reader to engage more deeply and intentionally with the contribution of each chapter. Also located at the end of each section is a rich list of resources for further reading on the subject covered. No doubt, the selections in this book are just a sampling of the must-read contributions to each subject.

Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources is a feast for the mind of a Christian apologist who desires to be acquainted with some of the best apologists in their field. This is a must read for serious students of apologetics and should be on the required reading list for any apologetics class. This book will stimulate your mind with a desire to know more about our great God and speaks to the fact that God’s truth speaks to all of life. This is an apologetics book in its own right, not from the mind of one man, but from a multitude of capable defenders of the Christian faith.

NOTE: I received this book for free from Zondervan and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. The views and opinions expressed in this view are my own.

While the general definition of hermeneutics as the art and science of biblical interpretation may be given a casual head nod in the affirmative by most interpreters, it should not be assumed that those doing so agree on the mechanics of the of the art and science of hermeneutics. That is, there is general agreement that hermeneutics has an art and science to it but not what they look like in practice. So while many may look to hermeneutics to provide guidance and constraints for responsible biblical interpretation, one quickly finds out that there are plenty of options to consider, some of which take the interpreter down seemingly very different paths.

In order to help us sketch the hermeneutical landscape, Stanley Porter and Beth Stovell have brought together representatives of five different hermeneutical methods in the new book Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views. The contributors are as follows: Craig L. Blomberg presents the Historical-Critical/Grammatical method, F. Scott Spencer the Literary/Postmodern method, Merold Westphal the Philosophical/Theological method, Richard B. Gaffin Jr. the Redemptive-Historical method and Robert W. Wall with the Canonical method.

The aim of this book is to allow each contributor to present their hermeneutical view and then apply it to Matthew 2:7-15. Instead of listing the responses to each contributor after each chapter, all of the views are presented first and then each contributor has a separate response chapter in which they successively respond to the other views. The conclusion of the book wraps up with a look at how each view presented contributes to the hermeneutical task.

There are several things that stand out about the contents of the book. First, while each contributor takes a different view, each is committed to taking the authority of Scripture seriously on its own terms, though they end up in different places at times. There is general agreement that the approaches presented are not mutually exclusive.

Second, though each contributor I committed to the validity of their view, all recognize value of the other views. Blomberg is perhaps the most vocal about this fact but contends “that all of the other approaches must build on the historical-critical/grammatical approach in order to function legitimately. (p. 28)” He further states, “It is the necessary foundation on which all other approaches must build. (p. 47; see also pg. 145)”

Third, because each view makes a contribution to the hermeneutical process (some more than others), one can see a clearer picture of the text as each method is employed. One question might be, “Would it be possible to eventually get to all of the hermeneutical insights presented through the lens of one view?” Another question might be, “Is each method presented truly a distinguishable method?” In other words, do some methods just merely ask questions and ways looking at the text that can be legitimately used by any of the other methods, thus enveloping the method into another? I am personally partial the Historical-Critical/Grammatical and Redemptive-Historical approaches. However, in reading the other three views, I find that I have always asked some of the questions they do about the text, author and reader.

Finally, all of the contributors rightly recognize that hermeneutics involves understanding something about the world behind, in and in front of the text. The meaning of the text does not just fly off the pages and into the mind of the reader. Neither does, nor can, the text mean anything we want it to mean. The text has limits and hermeneutics is the guardrails protecting the interpreter from misusing and abusing the text for their own purposes.

Biblical Hermeneutics is a great introduction to five of the most used hermeneutical methods employed. I wonder if time will tell as to the longevity of the Literary/Postmodern and Philosophical/Theological views as they are newer to the scene. The methods with the greatest influence and deepest history are the Historical-Critical/Grammatical and Redemptive-Historical and I believe that will do nothing but continue despite the criticism leveled against them.

NOTE: I received this book for free from IVP and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. The words and thoughts expressed in this review are mine.

HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ churst555@gmail.com and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!

REVIEWS:

Christ-Centered Biblical Theology by Graeme Goldsworthy is reviewed by James Hamilton.

Four Views on the Apostle Paul ed. by Michael Bird is reviewed at Crux Sola.

Center Church by Tim Keller is reviewed by Mathew Sims.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith is reviewed by Craig Blomberg and Peter Enns gives some push back.

Charity and It’s Fruits Ed. by Kyle Strobel is reviewed by The Old Guys blog.

Reformation: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow by Carl Trueman is reviewed by Mathew Sims.

Protege: Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders by Steve Saccone is reviewed by Greg Dietrich.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is reviewed by Jesse Johnson.

Proverbs: Wisdom That Works (Preach the Word Series) by Ray Ortlund is reviewed by Kevin Fiske.

Deuteronomy by Daniel Block (NAC) is reviewed by Mathew Sims.

Are We Together?: A Protestant Analyzes Ran Catholicism by R.C. Sproul is reviewed by Tim Challies.

Talking with Mormons: An Invitation to Evangelicals by Richard Morrow is reviewed by Kevin DeYoung.

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (3rd Ed.) by Emanuel Tov is reviewed by Bob Hayton.

The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors by Shawn Lovejoy is reviewed by Dave Jenkins.

Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide by Miles Van Pelt is reviewed by Abraham K-J.

INTERVIEWS:

Tim & Kathy Keller, authors of The Meaning of Marriage, are interviewed at TGC Women’s Conference about marriage in our culture.

Michael Haykin is interviewed about his book The Reformers and Puritans as Spiritual Mentors.

Trevin Wax interviews Jonathan Leeman about preaching.

Trevin Wax interviews N.D. Wilson on Movies, Books and the Need for an Immune System at the Truth Exchange.

Matt Smethurst interviews Peter Gentry & Stephen Wellum about their new book Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants.

Trevin Wax interviews Dan Darling on 2nd Generation Christians from his new book Real: Owning Your Christian Faith.

CredoMag interviews Vern Poythress about inerrancy from his new book Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible.

Justin Taylor interviews Kyle Strobel about his new book Charity and It’s fruits: Living in the Light of God’s Love.

Timothy Raymond interviews Brian Croft at CredoMag.

Matthew Claridge interviews Michael Reeves about his new book Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith.

CredoMag interviews Mark Dever about his two new books The Church: The Gospel Made Visible and Preach: Theology Meets Practice (co written w/ Greg Gilbert).

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHTS:

A Round table Discussion with Michael Liconia on The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach with Danny Akin, Craig Blomberg, Paul Copan, Michael Kruger, Michael Liconia and Charles Quarles.

1st episode of discussion on Evangelicalism with Carl Trueman, James White and Phil Johnson on No Compromise Radio.

BOOKS & RESOURCES TO NOTE:

CredoMag posts Fred Zaspel’s preface to the new book Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy.

Andy Naselli highlights a new book on decision making and the will of GodHow Then Should We Choose?: Three Views on God’s Will & Decision Making.

Louis McBride gives a sneak peek at a forthcoming Baker title Exploring the Religion of Ancient Israel by Aaron Chalmers.

Andy Naselli posts the 30 Suggestions for Theological Students & Young Theologians from Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John Frame.

Andy Neselli highlights his new book, From Typology to Doxology.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

David Haines answers the question, Should  A Christian Pastor or Theologian Use Philosophy?

10 Apologists You Should Invite to speak for you.

Greg Koukl on The Zeitgeist Movie & Other Myth Claims About Jesus.

Trevin Wax on why Denominations Ought to be More Like Family.

While there may be disagreement over the fullest understanding of Scriptures term “the people of God” there is no disagreement that at minimum it includes the people of Israel as an ethnic group. This is certainly at minimum how Joseph would have understood the words of the angel of the Lord when he said, “She will bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matt. 1:21, ESV)” But as the Gospels and subsequent history reveal, the people of Israel have largely rejected Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior from their sins (as well as others).

With a desire to provide a robust, thorough and evangelistic tool to aid in the evangelism of the Jewish people, Chosen People Ministries leader Mitch Glaser has teamed up with Darrell Bock and a solid line up of evangelical scholars to produce The Gospel According to Isaiah 53: Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology. As Glaser states, “This book was written to help readers to utilize the truths of this magnificent chapter in bringing the Good News to those who do not yet know Jesus,” with a desire to “deepen their understanding of Isaiah 53 and to better equip the saints for ministry among the Jewish people. (p. 21)”

Structure of the Book

Part One gives an overview of both the Jewish and Christian interpretations of Isaiah 53. The Christian interpretations, though they may vary on some details, hold in common the belief that the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Richard Averbeck deals with the literary, historical and hermeneutical issues surrounding Isaiah 53. In chapter two Michael Brown lays out the various Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 53 which all have in common the Suffering Servant as the Jewish people themselves. Brown walks through Isaiah 53 verse by verse giving the Jewish interpretation of each as well as a response.

Part Two deals with Isaiah 53 and biblical theology. Walter Kaiser Jr. addresses the issue of identifying the nature of the Servant of the Lord. As the section indicates, Kaiser deals with the biblical theological identity of the Servant of the Lord. Kaiser really brings to the afore how the New Testament Gospels continue this Servant of the Lord theme/identity which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; Lk. 22:37). The chapters between Darrell Bock and Craig A. Evans show the reader that Isaiah 53 runs throughout the entire New Testament in every book and author. Its contents are both quoted and alluded to in every book and authors writings. In the conclusion the book Bock has provided a number of helpful charts showing the quotations of and illusions to Isaiah 53 within the NT. Perhaps the best chapter of part two is David L. Allen’s chapter on the substitutionary atonement aspect of Isaiah 53. After a solid treatment of the subject Allen concludes with the following:

The upshot of Isaiah 53 is threefold: 1) Isaiah clearly states that God ordained the Servant’s suffering, 2) the Servant is not suffering for his own sins, and 3) the Servant substitutes himself for the people and suffer for them. (p. 184)

Robert B. Chisholm Jr. closes out part two by addressing the forgiveness and salvation aspects of Isaiah 53. The Suffering Servant both bears the guilt of his people and removes the penalty their sin incurred thus saving them from their sins.

Part Three addresses a number of practical issues related to Isaiah 53. John S. Feinberg gives a timely discussion on the postmodern themes in Isaiah 53. Capitalizing on the narrative emphasis of much of postmoderns, Feinberg stresses the personal narrative structure of the chapter stating, “It is also the story of a God who wants so desperately to have a relationship with his people that he sent his servant to tell them and show them how much he cares for them. (p. 214)” Mitch Glaser gives his own testimony of how Isaiah 53 was instrumental in his conversion. Glaser overviews some of the various methods in which Isaiah 53 has been and is used in Jewish evangelism. He overviews the polemical use, major points of argumentation from, contemporary objections to and responses to those objections to Isaiah 53.

Conclusion

There are a number of elements that describe The Gospel According to Isaiah 53. First, the contributors of the book are all conservative evangelical scholars who are well known in their fields of expertise. These men are qualified to speak in the fields their chapters address. Second, the book has an evangelistic and apologetic focus. The desire of the contributors is to equip the reader with the apologetic tools they need to defend the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53 as well as use it to evangelize Jews with the chapter. Third, the book is accessible to Christians ranging from pastors to laymen. To be sure there are is plenty of detailed exegesis of Isaiah 52-53 as well as themes that run throughout them. However, much of the book is accessible to the average Christian. This book will assist any Christian to be more familiar with the contents of Isaiah 53 if they wish to engage in Jewish evangelism. The desire is to equip all Christians. Fourth, while the book clearly defends a Christ-centered interpretation of Isaiah 53, all of the contributors interact with the standard Jewish interpretations of the chapter. Not only is there a chapter on the Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 53 each contributor interacts with these interpretations throughout their defense of the Christian interpretation. This side-by-side presentation makes the book better accomplish its goal of equipping the Christian with the tools they need to evangelize Jews. Finally, as mentioned, the book is very exegetical in nature as most chapters in part one and two mine the depths of the relevant verses.

If you are looking to gain a deeper and clearer understanding of the Christ-centered nature of Isaiah 53 and want to be better equipped to evangelize Jews for Christ then The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 is the best place to start. This would be a great book for a Bible study or to use as a guide in one-on-one while witnessing to a Jewish friend or family neighbor.

Note: I received this book for free from Kregel in return for an honest review. I received no compensation for my review, was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the thoughts and words expressed herein are my own.

If you are not familiar with Andrew Root you need to be especially if you work with youth in any way in your church. Andrew is a bright, articulate and passionate about teens and theology and has done a lot of work to help youth ministries be more theologically minded and driven. Andrew is a professor of various youth ministry fields, family, friends and culture at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and  has written some great books already: Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry, The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry and The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being (which I have reviewed here).

In an effort to continue his passion of bringing theology into the youth ministry, Root is writing a four book series with Zondervan titled A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry. The first two books are coming out tomorrow: Taking Theology to Youth Ministry and Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry. The other two books will come out this December: Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry and Unpacking Scripture in Youth Ministry.

I strongly recommend you check out these books if you work with teens or pick them up for the youth workers in your church.

There is no doubt that teens are in a crucial stage of their lives. They are beginning to take on more responsibility, going through massive hormone changes, dealing with pier pressure from friends and are in the process of owning their faith as passed onto them by their parents. It is amidst this ownership of their faith that teens can develop a worldview crisis. Doubts begin to emerge as they think for themselves about their faith in God.

It is at this time in their life that teens need answers to their faith questions. In addition to reading Scripture, they need resources to help them think through the issues as others have before them. It is with this in mind that Master Books has developed a series of books titled Answer Book 4 Teens: Your Questions, God’s Answers Volume 1 and 2.

Volume 2 has released and continues to provide biblically based and intellectually sound answers to teens questions at a level they can understand that characterized Volume 1.

The questions volume 2 answers are as follows:

  1. Did creation really take just 6 days or did God use the big band?
  2. Noah’s ark…Really?
  3. What about caveman and missing links?
  4. But the Bible is full of contradictions..ins’t it?
  5. Don’t fossils prove evolution?
  6. Isn’t natural selection evolution? My textbook says they’re the same.
  7. Mutations are good for evolution, right? I mean, X-Men can’t be wrong, can it?
  8. But the Bible was written by a bunch of men, right? What make is so special/
  9. How should In interpret the Bible?
  10. But doesn’t the Bible support slavery?
  11. Unicorns and the Bible…you’ve got to be kidding me!
  12. How can we be sure the 66 books of the Bible are the only ones from God?
  13. What about abortion, cloning, and stem cells?
  14. What about going to college?
  15. “Going through the motions”…is that saving faith?

The Answer Book 4 Teens series is a great introduction to a number of biblical, scientific and apologetic issues and questions that teens will face either during high school or college. Even if your teens are not asking these questions to you they are either asking them to their friends, in their head or will ask them sooner or later. As a parent or teen worker, it is always good to get ahead of the game on these issues. This series of books is a great place to start. The font draws you in and the artwork is catchy.

The only thing I wish the publisher would have done was to provide a list of books for further reading at the end of each chapter. Certainly the answers given are not the end of the answer and their brevity (though not a fault) will certainly spur more questions and a desire for further inquiry.

NOTE: I received this book for free from Master Books in return for a review expressing my personal opinion and was under no obligation to provide a favorable one.

“It’s only after having been loved that you respond with love. You love him (God) back, and you reach out to share with others a tiny portion of the love that you yourself have received.” (p. xix)

Love. It’s a small word with great potential. Its absence is destructive but the effects of its presence are incalculable. But what is it? Is it a feeling or an action? If an action, what does it look like? Where does it come from? From within, or without?

These questions and more are answered in William P. Smith’s new book Loving Well (Even If You Haven’t Been). Though it can be easy to talk about what love is on paper or in conversation, it still remains that there is an undeniable hurdle to jump when moving from the theory of love to practicing it. It is out of a desire to help us see love in action that Smith has written this very helpful book.

Roots of Love for Others

If there is one place we cannot say love is rooted in is ourselves. We are, by nature, unloving people. Even the good that we might do in an unconverted state is tainted with selfishness. Smith roots our love for others within the love that God has shown us in Christ. The key passage is 1 John 4:10-11, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (ESV) Smith explains that our love for others comes not out of ourselves but out of God’s love for us. “It’s only as the reality of his love becomes my present experience that I will be more concerned about expressing my love to others than insisting they express theirs for me.” (p. xix) Thus, unless we are in a loving relationship with Christ will we ever be able to love others.

Loving Well……

Loving Well is broken into three parts: Love That Responds to a Broken World, Love That Reaches Out to Build Others Up and Love That Enjoys Heaven and Earth. Each chapter addresses one area in which we need to love others.

Part 1 is perhaps the jarring of all three. Smith helps us see that in order to truly say that we love others we must be able to move towards others in love because this is what God did to us in Christ. Too often we want to turn tail and run from hurting people. But God came down to His hurting creation even though He knew we would abuse the grace we have been given in Christ and hurt Him. We respond to the broken world we live in with God’s love because that’s what God did to us in Christ. Here we see that we are to run to those in need, take on their sorrows, confess our temptations to one another, forgive each other by covering a multitude of sins and love in a longsuffering way with each other.

To be able to love in these ways requires vulnerability on our parts. We must open ourselves up to others in order to love them. God opened Himself to us in Christ. He moved towards us so we can move towards others with His love.

One of the gems in this section is chapter three on Struggling Love. Here Smith digs deep into the confessions of Christ to His disciples. Not of sins but of temptations. While examining Luke 4:1-12 and 22:39-46, Smith points out that, given that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts of the words and works of Christ, the only reason we have these accounts is because Christ Himself told the disciples about them. He is the eyewitness to both of them because He was the only one there (save Satan in the wilderness). Smith’s point is that Jesus Himself modeled confessing temptations to one another by the very fact that he recounted these grueling experiences. If Jesus can confess His temptations to some of the roughest people in town, then we can to others as well.

Part 2 deals with loving others in ways which build them up. Too often we think we can love those close to us from a distance. But loving others well requires that we get close and personal. Here we are shepherding others, talking to others, serving others and meeting their physical needs. What is often missed in loving others for the sake of edification is that we don’t have to be compatible with others in order to do this. “God is good at befriending people who are very different, then calling them to befriend each other. He desires that his friends develop diverse, complementary relationships with each other that go deeper than sharing similar socio-economic status.” (p. 89)

Part 3 seeks to show us how we can love on earth now in ways that we will love in eternity: pure, wholesome, healthy, delightful and enjoyable love. The key chapter for me in this section was on submitting to one another through humble love. This is “learning to bend yourself around what someone else needs from you.” (p. 183) We see this so clearly in what Christ did for us on the cross. He humbled Himself in the form of a servant by taking on human flesh and submitted Himself to death for our sins. He died the death we deserved to die, in order to give us the live we did not deserve. This was both a humble act on the part of Christ and humbling to meditate on.

….(Even If You Haven’t Been)

While defining love can be elusive and slippery, living love is more raw, concrete and messy. The subtitle of the book assumes something of us that we don’t want to readily admit – that if we are honest, we are not loving as well as we should or can. Quite frankly, Loving Well is a slap in the face to all as Smith both exposes how loveless we really are too often and how even in our expressions of love we do not love we enough.

On the flip side there is great encouragement in the gospel that we can love others well. What is pervasive throughout Loving Well is its gospel centered focus. Smith roots everything in the gospel and the life of Christ. Every chapter is rooted in the example of love for us we have in Christ. We can love other well because we have received the love of God in Christ. While I am normally turned off by books that have tons of examples I looked forward to each one in this book. One thing that was refreshing was how much Smith opened himself up throughout the book as he humbly showed how even one who writes a book on loving other well often times hasn’t. He is very candid about his failures, which is very refreshing!

Loving Well would be a great personal devotional book, small group study and should be on every ones reading list this year.

NOTE: This review was originally posted on SI and is reposted with permission.

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