DeYoung, Kevin. Why Our Church Switched to the ESV. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.
A helpful, non-technical comparison between the ESV and NIV that shows the benefits of a translation that seeks to remain transparent to the form and metaphors of the original languages when possible.
DeYoung, Kevin and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.
See previous post.
Webb, William J. Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic for Troubling Texts. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011.
William Webb applies his problematic Redemptive-Movement hermeneutic to corporal punishment. The central problem with his approach is that it seems difficult to avoid a Whiggish view of history (or in this case, ethics) with this kind of hermeneutic. He seems to imply that the judicial use of corporal punishment on criminal adults is ruled out with the redemptive-movement at its present stage. But why should an increasingly secularized 21st century West determine this. Why not a more Christianized 19th century? Or why the West; what of the East? Corporal punishment is still practiced in Singapore. Which is more humane, locking up people up in prisons for extended periods of time or instituting corporal punishment for certain crimes? These are questions that Webb fails to wrestle with. He also unhelpfully mixes discussions of child-rearing with passages that seem to deal with criminal punishments. He furthermore gives his readers false options by implying that either one adopt his redemptive-movement hermeneutic or accept as still valid various provisions of the OT Law.
Fitzpatrick, Elyse M. and Jessica Thompson. Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011
The discussions of the law and the gospel could have benefited from some recognition of the third use of the law. Nonetheless, as the practical discussions unfolded, it seemed that this category was implicit. Readers would also benefit from reading and keeping in mind John Frame’s cautions on redemptive-historical preaching as they read this book. As with redemptive-historical preaching, the emphasis here is on the indicative, and there should be some cautions about not avoiding the imperatives for fear of moralism. Those caveats given, this is a good book. The overall thrust of the book is that parents should not try simply to produce good children. They should instead seek for gospel opportunities in discipline situations. This does not mean that discipline disappears but rather that it is contextualized with the gospel. The book also stresses that following the right formulas will not necessarily produce good children but that God’s grace is necessary to transform children’s hearts. Thus parents must consistently pray for God’s work of grace in the hearts of their children.
Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2002.
Good overview of various ecclesiological proposals and the state of the discipline. Negatively, it is slanted toward unorthodox views.
Ryle, J. C. Expository Thoughts on Matthew. 1856; repr., Banner of Truth Trust, 1986.
Ryle designed this work for family devotions and it is worthy of continued use for that purpose over 150 years from its original publication.
Hannah, John D. An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
Hannah provides an interesting institutional history. It doesn’t have the same narrative quality as George Marsden’s history of Fuller Seminary or Gregory Wills’ history of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hannah goes into more detail about curricular changes and other details which break up the narrative. But the discussion of how Dallas emerged from the Bible Conference movement and developed in relation to fundamentalism and evangelicalism was interesting. Hannah placed Dallas somewhat between fundamentalism and the neo-evangelicalism spearheaded at Fuller Seminary.
Goheen, Michael W. A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011.
I think this has been the most disappointing and most profitable book that I’ve read recently. Disappointing because I came to the book with high hopes and found that I disagreed with his basic thesis. Profitable because it is not only full of wise thoughts but because even when I disagreed I found my thinking helpfully provoked. Goheen did not convince me that the church is defined by its mission. It seems that the church most be more than a “come and join us people.” Its definition must include the what for which people join. Nonetheless, missions is vital to the church, and Goheen’s discussion of mission and missions remain helpful. I also disagree with Goheen’s relation of the church to Israel. This ended up being a major theme of the book. Nonetheless, Goheen has sparked an interest into researching further OT prophecies about the role of Israel in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles.
Wilson, Douglas. What I Learned in Narnia. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2010.
One of the reasons Lewis’s books are so enjoyable for Christians is that they help them see with fresh eyes the foolishness of evil and the wisdom of a God-oriented life. These lessons are not sermonizing within the stories. They are baked into the narratives themselves. And they are the kind of things that stick in the mind and are recalled unbidden when similar circumstances or ideas arise in real life. Wilson highlights these lessons in this book. An enjoyable read.
Schreiner, Thomas R. “A Biblical Theology of the Glory of God.” In For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper. Edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.
A helpful overview of the centrality of the glory of God in every part of the biblical storyline/canon.
Dever, Mark. “The Church.” In Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of D. A. Carson on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert W. Yarbrough. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.
A basic unpacking of the doctrine of the church in terms of its four ancient attributes and two/three Reformation marks. Includes helpful thoughts on church membership
Kidd, Reggie M. “What John Frame Taught Me about Worship.” Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John M. Frame. Edited by John J. Hughes. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2009.
He likes Frame, Clowney, Old, and Webber. But the essay is pretty thin on content.
Wolters, Al. “Reflection by Al Wolters.” in Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology). Edited by Gary T. Meadors. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
When I referenced this book for my dissertation, I found that Wolters had the most perceptive reflection on the four views presented. In the dissertation, I drew on him for his critique of Vanhoozer’s theodramatic view. This time I read him to refresh my mind on his critique of Webb. Here too he was perceptive. He notes several problems with a redemptive-movement hermeneutic: (1) It treats ANE ethics monolithically. There were multiple ethics in multiple cultures. Further, some may have been more advanced that Israel if one assumes the “ultimate ethic” that Web lays. (2) His approach depends on the Bible reader having access to ANE background information that many ordinary readers don’t have access to and that even scholars did not have access to before the nineteenth century. Even today scholarly knowledge of the ANE is patchy. (Wolters is clear that he is not against making use of ANE background materials.) (3) “There appears to be no standard by which to measure what an ‘ultimate ethic’ might be. A clue to what is in fact the implicit and unacknowledged standard for Webb is provided by the proximity in the diagram of ‘Ultimate Ethic’ to ‘Our Culture.’ To be sure, the latter is qualified by the words in parentheses: ‘where it happens to reflect a better ethic than Y,’ but no criterion is provided by which we can judge that ‘our culture’ on this or that point reflects a better ethic than Y. This is a remarkable statement when we recall that Y represents ‘the concrete words of the text,’ that is, the biblical text. For all practical purposes it seems that Webb’s ‘Ultimate Ethic’ is pretty well equated with ‘Our Culture,’ at least insofar as the latter is the bearer of human and liberal values. It looks for all the world as though the values ‘we’ hold trump the explicit ethical instruction of Scripture” (p. 306).
McDaniel, Stefan. “Flogging: The Best Hope for Our Broken Prison System?” The Public Discourse (2011).
It was interesting to happen across this article shortly after having finished Webb’s book on corporal punishment. It comments on Peter Moskos’s work, In Defense of Flogging, which raises the issue of whether flogging might be more humane than locking people up in prison. He tentatively proposes the flogging be an option that those convicts who are not a danger to society may choose instead of a prison term. This is interesting because Webb rhetorically reacts in horror at the idea of corporal punishment as a punishment for adult criminals. But what if Webb’s trajectory toward from Scripture toward our culture isn’t a trajectory to that which is more humane after all? This article at the very least raises that question.
Campbell, Donald K. “The Church in God’s Prophetic Program.” In Essays in honor of J. Dwight Pentecost,. Chicago: Moody, 1986.
Lewis, C. S. “The Inner Ring.” In The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. HarperCollins, 2001.
An excellent application of the tenth commandment to friendship. The best fictional correspondence to this address in Lewis’s writing is the character of Mark Studdock in That Hideous Strength.
Osborne, Grant. “Hermeneutics and Theological Interpretation.” In Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of D. A. Carson on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert W. Yarbrough. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.
When I was writing my dissertation on theological interpretation of Scripture, I found the literature so voluminous and diverse that I struggled in finding a structure for my analysis. In the end I focused on the role of tradition, the place of pre-critical interpretation as it relates to authorial intent, and how theological interpretation relates to biblical and systematic theology. I was therefore pleased to see that Grant Osborne’s survey of the same material covers these same key areas. Furthermore, I think he points his readers in the right direction on every point. He sees tradition as valuable but supplementary to Scripture, which retains its primacy. He argues that seeking authorial intention is correct and viable. One difference is that he seems to see Childs as a move forward after the collapse of the Biblical Theology Movement. I think that Childs carries many of the same weaknesses. That criticism aside, Osborne’s introduction to theological interpretation is a fine one.
Strange, Dan. “Not Ashamed! The Sufficiency of Scripture for Public Theology.” Themelios 36, no. 2 (2011): 238-60.
Strange provides a description of both Common-Kingdom (emphasis on natural law as the authority for the common kingdom) and Confessional-Kingdom (emphasis on the authority of Scripture for all of life) models of engagement with public life. He sides with the Confessional-Kingdom approach. His survey is helpful and his application to the UK is useful even for those in the USA.
Bookman, Douglas. “The Scriptures and Biblical Counseling.” In Introduction to Biblical Counseling. Edited by John F. MacArthur, Jr. and Wayne A. Mack. Dallas: Word, 1994.
Bookman’s concerns are entirely valid. But in making his case, Bookman seems overly reliant on arguing the definition of terms (while granting what many would identify as general revelation and its application in four affirmations), and even these definitions receive only the most cursory support from Scripture. Bookman’s discussion of general revelation would have been stronger if it had focused on the key general revelation texts, and his case against integrationist counseling would have been stronger if it focused on the substantive issue of psychological theories being equivalent to a theology rather than being revelation itself.
Mayhue, Richard L. “Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible.” In Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth. Master Books, 2008.
Mayhue provides an able refutation of Hugh Ross’s claim that nature is the 67th book of the Bible. But he seems to overly limit general revelation in a few places. First, when he says that the breadth of content for general revelation is limited to knowledge of God alone, this seems to rule out natural law (though he grants Romans 2 deals with both general revelation and moral standards). When he says that the corpus of general revelation does not grow over time, Mayhue excludes history from general revelation. He says he does so on the basis that history does not show up in Ps. 19:1-6; Acts 14:17; 17:23-31; Rom. 1:18-25; 10:18, but I would have benefited from some further discussion on why many theologians include history. Does Mayhue think they wrongly see it in the texts he examines; does he think they wrongly see it in other texts that do not teach general revelation? Mayhue then says to expand general revelation beyond special revelation adds to Scripture. But this is not clear. Scripture is special revelation and general revelation is not. These reservations and questions do not affect Mayhue’s case against Ross; Mayhue successfully refutes Ross’s claims.