Review: Bruce P. Baugus' China’s Reforming Church

Among Christians with a passion for missions, China is on center stage. We certainly recognize the strategic mission field that is this nation of approximately 1.35 billion people, and tremendous evangelistic fruit is being seen as a staggering number are daily becoming Christian. While focused evangelistic efforts must continue (especially since many of China’s minority groups are considered unreached or unengaged), the astounding growth rate of the church poses critical and urgent needs in relation to church development. Because of this, China’s Reforming Churches is a unique in that it focuses more on ecclesiology than missiology, more on building up the church than on evangelism (though of course these are connected).

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Review: Michael Bird’s Jesus is the Christ

I grew up an atheist in an unreligious home and never had any exposure to Christianity. Once in a while when I did hear the name “Jesus Christ,” I assumed that Christ was Jesus’s last name. To most evangelicals, however, the affirmation that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah is perhaps the most obvious fact about our Lord; it’s akin to saying that Bird is the Conan-esque Australian biblical scholar. Duh. Of course he is. But in the academic world of Jesus/Gospel studies, it’s commonly argued that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah; rather, “the identification of Jesus as the Messiah is something of an ad hoc addition to the tradition, made in order to indicate that Jesus is a person of some importance in the divine plan” (3).

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Review: Reformation Commentary on Scripture John 1-12

John 1-12 is one the latest entries into IVP Academic’s Reformation Commentary on Scripture (RCS). It’s series you should be familiar with. Owning the thousands upon thousand of robust books produced during the Reformation and mining those would require hours you may not have. RCS does the work for you and provides context for the Reformation conversations and the Scripture text.

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Review: John Stott’s Christian Mission in the Modern World

Christian Mission in the Modern World  provides “an ecumenical understanding from an evangelical source” (10) for the term mission. Stott carefully defines five key terms in this pursuit: mission, evangelism, dialogue, salvation, and conversion.

Stott starts with an excellent introduction on authorial intent and Scriptural authority. He says, “We evangelicals think we have [learned to live under the authority of Scripture]—and there is no doubt we sincerely want to—but at some times we are very selective in our submission and at others the traditions of evangelical elders seem to owe more to culture than to Scripture” (14).

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Review: Denis R. Janz’s A People’s History of Christianity, One Volume Student Edition

I’m not typically drawn to introductory church history books. There are some fine classic surveys (e.g. Shelley’s Church History in Plain Language, Gonzales’s The Story of Christianity, etc.), and often new texts don’t offer much new information or perspective. But Denis Janz’s A People’s History of Christianity series is a unique addition to the field that needs to be engaged in some way by all those with an interest in the history of Christianity.

And Fortress Press has made it easy to interact with this distinctive treatment of church history, whether one is a rabid bookworm undaunted (and even delighted) by the prospect of reading thousands of pages or just wants a 300-page introduction. Originally a seven volume series, the content was distilled into a two-volume student edition [editor’s note: see our review of the Student Edition volume one and two] as well as a one-volume student edition, the latter of which is the subject of this review.

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Review: Alex Chediak’s Preparing Your Teens for College

Alex Chediak constructs a valuable discipleship resource for parents who are preparing their teens for college. He writes with academic experience as a college professor and theological acumen. Preparing Your Teens is structured  for maximum usefulness. Each chapter centers on a single topic parents should be conversing with their children about as parents prepare them for college. And he doesn’t skip up a beat when discussing difficult topic (see especially his helpful advice for discussing homosexuality 122). That’s why I called this a valuable discipleship resource.

At one point, Alex points out the tendency for parents to step back from engaging their children as maturing adults allowing school, church youth pastors, and the like handle the important conversations from sex to money to college. He reminds us of our responsibility as parents to disciple our children in this formative years as an intentional step in their next level of maturation as young adults.

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Review: Matt Appling’s Life After Art

Appling contends, “There are a lot of things you and I used to know about life and faith  and the world. No one taught us these things, they were just given to us by our Creator. But over the years, this native knowledge about the world around us got covered up. And that has shaped and colored our lives in negative ways ever since then” (13). From his experience as an art teacher, he tells us how many of children lose this knowledge and wonder at art and the world.

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Review: Justin S. Holcomb’s Know the Heretics

Justin S. Holcomb shares an invaluable resource with the church. Know the Heretics is equal parts theology and church history and addresses a looming issue in the church today. Holcomb talks about church history’s heretics and how the church should define heresy. “However, heresy was a weighty charge that was not made lightly, nor was it used whenever there was theological inaccuracy or imprecision” (14).

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