Book Review: The Whole Truth About God: Biblical Theology

The Whole Truth About God: Biblical TheologyThe Whole Truth About God: Biblical Theology by Bobby Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a brief study on the importance of sound doctrine to a local church for love, holiness, worship, witness, and unity.

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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: 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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Book Review: The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel

The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the GospelThe Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a practical, ground-up look at a healthy church. Elements of church structure and operation may not seem the most interesting concepts to read about, but they are vital to the health of a local church. I highly recommend “9 Marks of a Healthy Church,” and this book is a perfect companion to it. The first communicates the vision and direction and the second helps see how to get there.

Pastors are responsible to care and watch for all the flock they serve. At the very least, this book will help pastors identify holes in their pastoral care and give some practical advice on how to fill them in.

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Book Review: Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus

Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you’ve never given the subject of elders in a local congregation serious thought, you might be surprised by how many passages in the New Testament speak to it. This book isn’t an exhaustive, doctrinal defense of elders in a local church. It is more practical than that and that might be the key to this brief book’s usefulness. It isn’t usually a doctrinal objection people make to plural eldership, but rather a practical one. Independent Baptist churches largely abandoned the practice in the twentieth century, so many church members have never seen it done.

The greatest difficulty for many is in conceptualizing how multiple elders would work together. Then, because their conception of the purpose and practice of elders is formed from their imaginations, they conclude it isn’t necessary today, or only necessary in an extreme circumstance such as a large membership. Many have the question: What does it look like? This where Jeramie Rinne’s book can serve as good soft introduction to the subject. He tackles the subject from a practical perspective and gives various views into what it looks like.

It could also be a helpful book for men who have some gifting and a desire to serve, but question or wrestle with whether they should be the “main guy.” I think we can unintentionally restrict the room for service in the leadership of a church. Single-elder pastors often burn out under the load one man cannot carry, or a pastor dies or becomes medically unable to continue, and a church often faces a painful transition. Ultimately, we fail to raise up leadership and the health and growth of a local church is stunted.

This is a helpful book for pastors and church members alike.

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