Book Review: Zen in the Art of Writing

Zen in The Art of WritingZen in The Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a collection of Bradbury’s essays grouped together around the topic of writing. It was part memoir and part advice. I gleaned a couple of book recommendations and I thought the title essay was the strongest.

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Book Review: Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament BooksCanon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kruger has given us an excellent treatment of the subject of canon. He evaluates various canonical models, and seems to treat each fairly. He ultimately makes the case for the self-authenticating model of canon. He also gives serious considerations to objection to this model, as well. This is not a book trying to prove the existence of a canon to skeptics. Kruger is rather investigating whether there are sufficient reasons to acknowledge a complete canon of Scriptures. Though not a work of apologetics per se, Kruger also makes a case for presuppositionalism more generally. This shouldn’t surprise us because there is always a degree of circularity when dealing with ultimate questions, e.g., authority, reality, epistemology, etc.

While exploring the self-authenticating model, he also gives an introductory primer on the relationships between Scripture, Apostles, Holy Spirit, and churches. I enjoyed this book on various levels. This is a book that pastors and preachers ought to read and keep a copy around for reference.

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Book Review: What is a Healthy Church?

What Is a Healthy Church?What Is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is based on Dever’s larger work, “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church,” and is a briefer and more practical treatment of what a healthy church should look like. He does briefly touch on each of the nine marks, but he divides them into essential marks and important marks. I appreciate how he emphasizes that the Bible is the rule of faith and practice. He asks for a hearing and that if the reader disagrees with his conclusions, it will be because, through studying the Bible, the reader believes the texts mean something different.

Having said that, I do disagree with some conclusions here and there because I believe the texts have a different meaning. However, the book overall is helpful for thinking through a number of issues related to the church and the practical application of doctrine.

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Book Review: God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments

God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New TestamentsGod’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments by James M. Hamilton Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hamilton has given us an extensive look at the work of the Holy Spirit moving from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The precise nature of distinctions between the work of the Spirit in the old and new covenants is often debated. Hamilton did a good job interacting with Scripture and various views on the subject. I thought he treated both fairly. He mentions how his own views revised from the beginning of his study to the end of it. I think that humility characterized the whole book.

The book is a dissertation in book form. The presentation is academic, but he managed to still make it accessible. I would have like a little more spade work here and there. However, this is an excellent book for thinking about the work of the Spirit. You may not agree with all his conclusions, but the book will still be helpful in making distinctions and providing a framework for an orderly study.

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Book Review: By Whose Authority? Elders in Baptist Life

By Whose Authority? Elders In Baptist LifeBy Whose Authority? Elders In Baptist Life by Mark Dever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This brief book takes up the question of multiple elders in Baptist churches. Dever approaches the answer from Scripture, Baptist history, and practicality. The scriptural arguments section is a survey of the instances of elder(s) in the New Testament. He notes the interchange of elders, overseers, and pastors to describe the same local church office of leadership. Dever also references the use of the plural for this office in reference to a singular church in the New Testament. It is worth noting that the New Testament does not use the singular for the office with either the singular or plural for churches.

Dever quotes from historic Baptist confessions of faith as well as the writings of various Baptists in history that refer to the practice of multiple elders. He may not have put it in quite these terms but I believe Baptists in history have a unique polity from other groups where Baptists have upheld independent, autonomous churches that practice elder-led congregational polity. Not only are Baptists historically distinct in this, but also biblical.

The last section seemed the briefest of the three. Dever succinctly touches on practical aspects of plural leadership. This section wanted a more extensive treatment. The book is probably a good introduction to the subject. It can be read in less than an hour and does touch on major points. Again, it’s concise and not an extended treatment, but helpful.

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