Review: Daniel Strange’s Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock (Zondervan)

“It is not enough to say what other religions are not: we must know what they are, for this affects our missiology and praxis” —Daniel Strange

How is a Christian supposed to talk with an individual deeply committed to another religion? How is the Christian to appropriately respect a person’s religious convictions while holding to the exclusivity of salvation found in Jesus Christ? How should a Christian relate the details and nuances of another religion to the truth claims of Christianity? It is for questions such as these that Daniel Strange tries “to develop and deploy a biblically rich and nuanced theology of religions” (32). This effort culminates in Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rocks.

Their Rock starts with some clarifying bluntness. Strange states, “evangelical theology of religions has been stunted in its growth” (32). He believes this has occurred due to justified, but nevertheless over-focused, defenses of “the exclusivity and uniqueness of Christ” and “questions of soteriology” (32).

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Review: Michael Horton’s Ordinary

“We need fewer Christians who want to stand apart from their neighbors, doing something that will really display God’s kingdom in all of its glory. We need more Christians who take their place alongside believing and unbelieving neighbors in the daily gift exchange.” —Michael Horton, Ordinary. (p. 167)

There are billboards for the next big thing. There are the quarterly showcases of the latest newest. The world is enraptured with new and better. In Ordinary, Michael Horton argues that this same restless and revolution-seeking attitude is prevalent not only in the world (e.g. business, marketing, etc.) but also within the church. The next big pastor will be at the next big conference. The next big teacher will publish the next big program with that publishing company known for innovation. “Rinse, wash, and repeat” the shampoo bottle says. This psychological and sociological bent for more, better, and now creates an endless spiral where the latest must always be an improvement on the last or suffer ridicule. In the church, this has translated to—stay with the times or be left behind. “How to keep millennials in church” being the recent favorite get-with-the-times fad. More authentic. More results. More cowbell.

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Review: Jonathan K. Dodson’s The Unbelievable Gospel

“Evangelism,” says Dodson, “has become a byword” (11). And it’s true. My church background is in fundamentalism, and many of the young people coming out of that movement are weary of “evangelism,” at least in the way it was prescribed in their churches.

I’ve sat through my fair share of evangelistic meetings and old time religion camp revivals (old time a la 1900s, but don’t tell them) where the preacher guilted people into their brand of evangelism. “If you don’t carry tracts with you . . . ” they might say. Or “How dare you leave your pastors alone on soul winning night . . . ” as if soul winning could be checked off in a single night. These types of “cultural and personal barriers” (14) are what Dodson strives to overcome in The Unbelievable Gospel.

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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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Review: Jeremy R. Treat’s The Crucified King

In both the church and the academy, there has been an unfortunate separation of the kingdom and the cross. I’ve experienced church and parachurch settings where either kingdom or atonement was emphasized, to the near-exclusion of the other; and in both contexts I have an ache for what is missing. The same dichotomization characterizes theological tomes—works that treat the kingdom hardly ever mention the atonement, and works that deal with atonement hardly mention the kingdom of God. Both kingdom and atonement are significant motifs in Scripture, and focusing on either while discounting or neglecting the other can have devastating impacts on both one’s theology and ministry/church life.

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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: Four Views on the Historical Adam

Currently in the Christian world there’s probably no area of belief more controversial and more hotly debated than that of origins. Is the earth around 6,000 years old or billions of years old? Was Adam a real, historical person and the first human being? Is evolution compatible with an evangelical worldview? Underneath the various questions is a hermeneutical issue–How should Genesis 1-2 be interpreted? And ultimately the question is–What, if anything, is at stake in the origins debate? Four Views on the Historical Adam in Zondervan’s Counterpoint series explores these questions, focusing on the historical Adam.

The editors (Matthew Barrett and Ardel Caneday) introduce the book with a very helpful survey of the “debate behind the debate” by summarizing the six views outlined by Gerald Rau in the book Mapping the Origins Debate (4 evolutionist and 2 creationist):

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Review: R. Albert Mohler Jr., Peter Enns, et al’s Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy

If you’ve never reading any of Zondervan’s Counterpoints books, Five Views of Biblical Inerrancy is great place to start (I also enjoyed their Pauline theology four views). I was introduced to Michael Bird and Kevin Vanhoozer this last year and have thoroughly enjoyed reading their writing. Also, Al Mohler is always engaging. I hadn’t read Peter Enns or John Franke until now. They may have been the two I had the most disagreements with, but their sections were still sharpening and engaging.

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Review: Michael Bird, Craig Evans, et al’s How God Became Jesus

In chapter 1, Bird opens the book by noting the question of “when” Jesus “became” God is a loaded one, and that the question of Jesus’s divinity is ultimately a confessional one. However, the details of when, why, and how the followers of Jesus came to regard him as divine is a historical one that can indeed be answered by an examination of the evidence. “Such an enquiry can be responsibly pursued by mapping out the christological claims and religious devotion of early Christian writings in the first four centuries of the Common Era. This is the area in which we wish to critically engage the work of Ehrman directly” (12-13). Bird introduces this engagement by acquainting the reader with the “Early High Christology Club,” which argues for a “big bang” approach rather than an evolutionary one to the origins of a fully divine Christology. The figures mentioned here are luminaries in the field and must be engaged in any discussion of early Christology (key works are cited in the book for further reading concerning early high Christology).

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Review: R. Michael Allen’s Justification and the Gospel


Is justification by faith alone the articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae (the article by which the church stands or falls)? For as long as I can remember as a Christian, I’ve passionately espoused this classic Protestant affirmation. Yet it is one that seems to be increasingly unpopular, both in the academy and in the pew. Not only is the centrality of justification being contested, but the very definition of the doctrine itself is being (and has been for the past few decades) hotly debated and sometimes revised. The most well-known of these revisions is probably the so-called “new perspective(s) on Paul.” Though it didn’t originate with N. T. Wright, he is probably the proponent most well-known outside of the academy.

Alongside works reframing/revising the doctrine of justification, responses to these renderings abound. Most responses maintain their respective dichotomies (e.g. arguing for justification as opposed to participation, pistis Christou as referring to faith in Christ rather than faith of Christ). Furthermore, ecumenists and exegetes have dominated the debates, with systematic theologians playing a marginal role. In Justification and the Gospel: Understanding the Contexts and Controversies, R. Michael Allen offers a fresh, alternative approach to the topic of justification sola fide (by faith alone).

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