Review: The Way of the Wise: Studies in the Book of Proverbs

The Way of the Wise: Studies in the Book of ProverbsThe Way of the Wise: Studies in the Book of Proverbs by Robert Deffinbaugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a series of twenty lessons on the book of Proverbs. The author takes a topical approach to arrange the lessons to cover such things as the simple, the fool, the sluggard, wealth, politics, marriage, child rearing, etc. It is a clear and practical study I could see being helpful in a small Bible study, or a family study in the home.

View all my reviews

Review: He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God

He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of GodHe Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God by Michael J Vlach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been studying the kingdom of God closely for the last few years. I recently became aware of this book, which is “A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God.” This book is excellent and delivers on the expectations from the subtitle. Vlach works through the Bible from beginning to end, identifying the kingdom theme throughout. He ties all those threads together better than in any single work I’m aware of.

I appreciate that Vlach is up front about his premillennialism from the start. So many try to palm their eschatology and we end up with a vague treatment of scriptures. Even when I disagree with a man’s eschatological position, I appreciate knowing where he’s coming from and I want him to make his case so I can consider what he is saying and the prejudices he might have. Too many books and commentaries fail here.

Vlach did not cherry pick a few verses here and there, but rather worked with significant portions of Scripture. He paid attention to context and also presented primary objections or different views. He also answered those objections. I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through.

He makes a good case for plain meaning, but he also applies that hermeneutic to various passages. He gives a very brief treatment of historical views and apologetic applications. I highly recommend this book. Vlach’s writing is clear. So many books dealing with the kingdom are vague or overly spiritual. I will definitely reread and refer to this book in the future. The bibliography is also a great resource. I was unaware of many of those books, but I have found a few to start reading soon and others to read later.

View all my reviews

Review: Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository SermonChrist-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a good book on preaching. The explanation of exposition was good and there are great nuggets scattered throughout. I think the chapter on illustrations was really good. I also liked the explanation of what Christ-centered exposition is. I did not buy in on his fallen condition focus approach to a text. I also would poke at some the stuff on application. The appendices provide brief, practical advice. Overall it a good book on preaching expository sermons.

View all my reviews

Review: Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers

Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the MessengersWhy Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By the title of this book I expected it to be somewhat playful, but Gordon is all business. It is a serious subject and a serious problem, so his serious manner is appropriate. He transparently states the state of things in the average pulpit today. Though anecdotal, anyone with church-going experience can verify his unscientific findings. His concern is not that there are no great preachers today, but rather that the average pulpit in the average church doesn’t even have average preaching, but less than mediocre preaching.

Usually churches respond to this problem by trying to make up for it in other ways. They fool about with styles of music, interior design and decoration, technology, nurseries, groups, programs, etc. If they address the preaching directly it is to push for the twenty minute, one thought type of message. Gordon points out this is like a hospital having an excessive death rate in surgeries and choosing to address it by banning the use of scalpels in the operating room.

He doesn’t merely bewail the state of things but seeks to uncover the problem root. He acknowledges seminaries are imperfect, but he can’t lay the blame there. He contends Johnnies don’t have the inculturation necessary to preach well before they even enter seminary. He lists three sensibilities a man must have cultivated before he even begins to learn to preach. 1) “the sensibility of the close reading of texts.” 2) “the sensibility of composed communication.” 3) “the sensibility of the significant.”

He concludes by recommending ways Johnnies can cultivate these sensibilities. He did not set out to write the definitive work on preaching, but rather to address requisite beginning. His case is well put and compelling. Any man who is called to preach must be aware of the limitations of his upbringing in the media ecology of today and he must be deliberate about cultivating the skills required to preach well. If this book gets a man pointed in this direction, then it is well worth it.

I found some parts less compelling than others. I also scratched my head at different times. For instance, Gordon made a point of not apologizing for his classic use of masculine pronouns. So he baldly states he will be uber-conservative, traditional, and stodgy on that point. However, he makes a point of this in order to say that his old school grammarian ways are not to be interpreted to exclude women. Say what? This is a book about preachers and preaching and you make a point of saying you’re not excluding women. So in the same breath he defends his curmudgeonly use of grammar, but in service of liberal, progressive error. I think Johnny the Apostle might say, “That maketh no sense.”

I still think it’s a worthy book but reading it might be like listening to a lecture from a professor with a bad comb-over. What he is saying is important, but those flyaways can be distracting.

View all my reviews

Review: The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to DoThe Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My thoughts on this book are mixed. It is well-written in terms of craft. The human interest stories are compelling. It does have some useful suggestions and advice, but I don’t know that it accomplished its own expectation. I am probably cynical when it comes to pursue-your-dreams and live-a-radical-life messages. So, keep that in mind.

The idea of selfless service was not absent, but it wasn’t prominent enough. There wasn’t any effort to resolve tensions. For example: it could be an act of complete selfishness and self-centeredness to leave everything and move to Burundi. It might not be so, but the tension wasn’t explored. Being published by Thomas Nelson, I expected more of a Christian worldview on vocation–finding our purpose in life is found in pursuing God’s kingdom and his righteousness first and the greatest is the least and servant of all. It seemed that kind of message was watered down and, instead, there was some fuzzy, mystical stuff about “calling” and some near motivational guru speak. The message comes across as your failing unless you’re living in some radical, unconventional way. Where does this sort of message leave the Bible’s idea of a blessed life as being a quiet peaceable life with loving family?

Again, it wasn’t all bad. Apparently, many have read it and profited from it.

View all my reviews

Next Page »