Review: Tim Chester’s Titus for You

Titus for You is an everyman’s commentary. The Good Book Co. has done an excellent job with For You Series, and Tim Chester is a great fit. His writing is engaging, approachable, and has depth. In describing Titus, Chester states early on, “The truth that creates a good life is the gospel. That is the truth that brings life and then changes life” (9). So it’s not just truth Chester is after, although he offers that by going through a book verse by verse, but he does so while engaging our affections, by appealing to our ideals of the good life—and showing how the Jesus is so much better than the good life we imagined apart from him (55-56).

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Review: Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next

Confession. I do not read productivity books. It’s not that I'm opposed to them. Honestly, they've just never been on my radar. I do have methods for getting stuff done (many of which I now know are inefficient—no more using my email inbox as a to-do list), but until recently I’ve never thought much about them. Matt Perman changed that. What’s Best Next tackles the how-can-I-get-stuff-done through the lens of the gospel. Matt says,

“What we see here is that there is no distinction between learning how to be productive and learning how to live the Christian life altogether, for both are about how we are to live in this world for the glory of God . . . . With the specific issue of productivity, then, we will likely utilize the same best practices as non-Christians in things like processing workflow and getting our email inboxes to zero. But when it comes to the motive and foundation of our productivity, the gospel brings in some radical transformations” (66, 67).

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Review: Ruthie Delk’s Craving Grace

The author herself states in the introduction that there are no earth-shattering truths in this book, and you won’t read anything that hasn’t been said before. However, for a Christian who hasn’t come to understand the biblical gospel and has just relegated the gospel to the method of entry into the Christian life, these simple truths can have earth-shattering, life-transforming effects.

Craving Grace centers around The Gospel Eight diagram, which evolved as Delk grappled with what it looks like in real life to preach the gospel to yourself. It is a visual to help understand the tug-of-war between faith and unbelief and how a Christian could almost simultaneously live like a spiritual orphan and God’s child. It is a tool to remind us of the gospel that brings freedom and life and hope. “This diagram shows both the believer and the nonbeliever that the solution to our despair is the same: we both need to run to the cross and put our faith and trust in what Jesus has already done for us” (23).

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Review: Terry L. Johnson’s Worshipping with Calvin

Worshipping with Calvin is much needed in today’s church because it asks important questions about the tacit liturgy in most evangelical and even Reformed churches. It also focuses on more than just Calvin’s worship (although that focus is present through out)—because Calvin was so strident in connecting his practices to the catholic church before him. Johnson says, “Catholicity of worship and ministry and the communion of all the saints are inseparable” (280 see also p. 58). This return looks like a simple liturgy focused on the work of the Triune God—it’s gospel-driven. In the book, Johnsons quote Ligon Duncan in making an important point: Reformed worship and ministry passes “‘the test of the catacombs’” (314). How silly would some of the pomp of the Roman Catholic Church look in the catacombs of the persecuted and even more so the performance/experience/entertainment worship so prevalent in evangelicalism.

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Review: Denis Janz’s A People’s History of Christianity, Vol. 2

A People’s History of Christianity is one of the newest academic series from Fortress Press. It has been condensed from its multi-volume format to produce two Student Editions for academic use. This review will cover Volume Two of the two-volume edition that covers materials from the Reformation to modern day.

The work of twelve authors, A People’s History of Christianity, Volume 2 (henceforth A People’s History) provides a new look at the people and social issues that have developed in the age of the Reformation and enlightenment. The result is an impactful history of modern relevance and challenging portrayals of church people.

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Review: Christopher J. H. Wright’s Old Testament Ethics for the People of God

Old Testament Ethics for the People of God explores the worldview of Israel as a nation. Wright reconstructs this worldview through “their beliefs, stories, and worship” (19). Also, Wright consistently employs a “broad matrix of self-understanding” to “pinpoint three major focal points” (ibid) or angles—the theological angle (“The LORD, as the God of Israel”), the social angle (“Israel themselves as an elect people in unique relation to the Lord”), and the economic angle (“The land Israel believed the Lord had promised and given to them”) (ibid). This grid underlays all discussions of the Old Testament ethics in this book.

Part one explores this grid in-depth and how it provides structure to the Old Testament ethical laws. He contrasts situational ethics of our day with Israel fundamentally theological ethics (23).

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Review: Marvin Jones’ Basil of Caesarea: His Life And Impact

The Church currently finds herself at an important juncture in her history. The culture no longer is as favorable as it once was to Christianity. Christianity is no longer an assumed at least as it once was. At the same time, there are warring among Christians. I’ve been saddened that we do not argue well—as brothers and sisters. Partly, I believe this occurs because in American many are unfamiliar or even suspicious of the early church—her doctrine, the fathers, and the times. Micahel A. G. Haykin asks some poignant questions in the introduction: “But what say we of the fathers . . . ? What shall we think of them, or what account may we make of them?” (Kindle Location 94).

We must answer these questions and we must answer them well. We must know the difference between orthodoxy, heresy, and heterodoxy. This series may well be a help in understanding these categories. They are books that explore the life and theology of important early church fathers. Books that are readable and understandable. But that also introduce Christians to important figures and places them within their cultural, doctrinal, and historical context.

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Review: Ronald E. Osborn’s Death Before the Fall

than the first two chapters of Genesis. These opening chapters of the Bible have caused division on scientific and theological levels; splitting Christian views on science, Biblical genre, and proper exegesis. It is within this debate that Death Before the Fall seeks to shed some light on the problem of animal suffering in creation and what it provides for interpretative keys to these chapters.

A new thought to some, the concept of animal death and suffering presents interesting challenges for the modern tradition of literal interpretation. Death Before the Fall provides introductory reflections on the purpose of death in God’s creation and whether it occurred before the great fall described in Genesis 3.

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