Book Review: The Spirituality of Wine

The Spirituality of WineThe Spirituality of Wine by Gisela Kreglinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a fascinating book. Too many of us have giving too little thought and study about what the Bible says about wine. Regardless of what side of the issue of drinking wine you are on, it can’t be denied that wine is a prevalent theme in Scripture, which needs honest treatment. I disagreed with some of the theology and philosophy in this book, but the biblical passages treated in the book were handled fairly well. The historical and contemporary milieu of winemaking sections in the book were interesting and informative. The book really shines in the artful descriptions of vineyards and the connection between wine in the barrel and the soil of the place. Kreglinger dealt with the delicate balance between artful craft and the role of technology.

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Book Review: Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination During the First Century

Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord's Supper under Roman Domination during the First CenturySubversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination during the First Century by R. Alan Streett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book presents an informative and interesting study of the Graeco-Roman background of the first century churches’ communal meals, including the Lord’s Supper. It would have been good to have had some treatment of the Jewish background and influence on the early ekklesiai, and especially that of the synagogues. This approach to the New Testament suffers from a similar problem some have with Old Testament interpretation and the precise role of ANE mythopoeia. We certainly cannot ignore the Graeco-Roman milieu of the first century churches, but neither should we politicize the New Testament as though it were written entirely to subvert the Roman Empire. Egalitarian theology, two-age theology, and continuationism are a few problem theologies for the biblical interpretation in the book. With all that said, the Roman banquets and the extent of their influence on early churches hasn’t received enough attention.

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Book Review: Baptist History

Baptist HistoryBaptist History by John Mockett Cramp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall a good history. The last few chapters were a little more encyclopedic, with numerous short biographical sketches. Otherwise, it is an easily readable book. I appreciated the fact that Cramp was open about the scarcity of historical records and he wasn’t quick to just assume what filled the gaps. Many today could learn a valuable lesson from his example here.

This isn’t exactly a history of churches as much as it is a history of preachers and leaders. It was interesting to read about about a number of oddities and variances between churches. Among churches in the past can be found such things as naked baptisms, trine baptisms, temporarily abandoning baptizing at all, the laying on of hands after baptism, and times of women preachers and elders. There were quite a bit of differences between churches, but some things were more consistent.

They were unified around Gospel issues such as rejecting baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. They held the Scripture as the all-sufficient and final rule of authority for all matters of faith and practice. These churches were promoters of Bible translations, so the Bible was in the common language of the people and in their hands. They were proponents of educated and trained preachers for the ministry. They held to liberty of conscience in religion and opposed state churches.

If we’re being honest, history isn’t quite as pretty as we might like it to be, or as many men would lead us to believe it is. I guess when you’re facing constant persecution and harassment, you just don’t have as much time to criticize and harangue your brothers, and split and fracture over little narrow point until you’ll hardly fellowship with yourself. I’m thankful for our goodly heritage and do think we should learn from history.

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Book Review: The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics

The Golden RatioThe Golden Ratio by Gary B. Meisner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is an interesting look at math history with intersections in art, architecture, engineering, natural science, biology, chemistry, astrophysics, etc. Meisner looks at the natural occurrence of phi as well as the human use of the irrational number in history.

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Book Review: Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom

Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to FreedomSteal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom by Matt Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book focuses on Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson. Spurgeon was the well known pastor in London and Johnson was an African-American born into slavery in Virginia and lived as a slave for 28 years until finding freedom at the end of the Civil War. Johnson was saved when Jesus found him on the plantation. He went on to become a preacher and pastor. He longed to go to Africa as a missionary and ended up studying at Spurgeon’s Pastors College before he went to Cameroon.

The book focuses on these two men leading up to their eventual meeting and the friendship between them thereafter. Johnson was a friend and counselor whose experience as a slave helped Spurgeon in facing his own bondage of physical sickness and paralyzing depression. It’s a side of Spurgeon you probably knew existed, but it’s not typically the focus of any treatment of his life.

I found the book fascinating and appreciated the authors’ work in producing it. It is a work of narrative non-fiction. The authors took the various pieces of history of these two men and put them together in a narrative rather than an academic listing of names, places, and dates. Such an approach requires creativity to connect the dots at times. Every small detail may not be exactly right, but the work produced is readable and informative.

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