Terry Brooks creates a wonderful fantasy world with this classic work. Although at times the plot or writing quality may seem mediocre, the book reall...moreTerry Brooks creates a wonderful fantasy world with this classic work. Although at times the plot or writing quality may seem mediocre, the book really does deliver. The story thickens, the characters separate, and what at first may have seemed like another ho-hum fantasy work, turns out to really provide some thrills.
I appreciate Brooks sticking with more of a Tolkien-esque nature when it comes to how much sensuality he allows. The book is very clean. Also following Tolkien's lead, he develops plenty of depth to the tale.
The stage to the story adds interest. The world is ours, only thousands of years after a global nuclear war. The races of our legends have become reality, and you'll encounter Trolls, Dwarves, Elves, Men, and Gnomes galore. And plenty of other fantastical creatures.
If you don't want to get swept away in an epic battle of good versus evil, don't try picking up this book. I give it 4 stars.(less)
Hidden enclaves, secret societies, and mysterious codes await the reader of this book; as do car chases, gun fights, and the discovery of skulls in da...moreHidden enclaves, secret societies, and mysterious codes await the reader of this book; as do car chases, gun fights, and the discovery of skulls in dark catacombs. Archeologist and adventurer, Jack Hawthorne can’t seem to shake such dark discoveries as he makes his way around the globe. And in this third and final book detailing his adventures, Hawthorne will finally come to the end of himself and unravel the secrets of an ancient society, thousands of years old and as evil as they come.
"Blood and Bone" is the third and final book in Don Hoesel’s adventure series following the life of archaeologist and bounty hunter, Jack Hawthorne. In the earlier books, "Elisha’s Bones" and "Serpent of Moses", Hawthorne makes improbable discoveries of biblical relics with miraculous power. Along the way he makes enemies and raises the ire of fellow bounty hunters and government officials the world over.
Hawthorne’s adentures takes him to five continents, and lands him in impossible situations and dire predicaments more times than can be remembered. His weapons are his wide grasp of archeology and ancient languages, dumb luck and his slowly growing faith in the God of his youth. This tale finds him married to his long-time girlfriend who happens to be a world-class authority on ancient cultures herself. She doesn’t let him venture off alone as together they race to meet the demands of the kidnappers who have stolen their two children.
In this final installment, Hoesel pulls all the stops and delivers a top-notch adventure that gets to the bottom of the secret society Jack has tangled with in the first two books. Along the way, Jack finally discovers the faith that has eluded him, and the adventure series reaches a satisfying finish.
Unlike the second book in the series, this one returns to the high level of artistry Hoesel accomplished in his first title. The books cover fantastic and unbelievable tales, but the stories themselves are well-written, and credible. The characters are intricately developed and suspense and discovery take turns dominating the narrative.
Readers looking for a fast-paced, mystery tale in the vein of Indiana Jones or Paul Maier’s A Skeleton in God’s Closet, will eat up this series from Don Hoesel. This is archeological fiction at its best. I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.(less)
Book 2 of the Shannara Trilogy doesn't disappoint. Set 50 years after Terry Brook's bestselling initial work: The Sword of Shannarra, this sequel brin...moreBook 2 of the Shannara Trilogy doesn't disappoint. Set 50 years after Terry Brook's bestselling initial work: The Sword of Shannarra, this sequel brings a new perilous threat to the very existence of the world. And the adventure in this one is even more fast-paced then in Book1.
This book really displays Brook's talent as a writer because from the beginning the plot is laden with twists and full of the unexpected. Yet the development of two of the main characters is quite full, and his dealing of their emotions and thoughts adds greatly to the success of this story.
By the end of this work, you're ready for anything else Brooks might send your way. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the Sword of Shannara trilogy. I give this book 5 stars.(less)
Any book which includes "Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures" in its title instantly grabs my attention. How Christ is revealed in the Old Testam...moreAny book which includes "Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures" in its title instantly grabs my attention. How Christ is revealed in the Old Testament, and how the Old Testament foreshadows New Covenant realities has been a theological interest of mine for some time. So when P & R Publishing agreed to let me review Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures, I was thrilled with the opportunity. I hadn't known of Dennis Johnson, but I did recognize Westminster Seminary California where he is Academic Dean and Professor of Practical Theology. So with P & R as publishers, and the Westminster connection, I trusted it would be a good book.
I was wrong. It was a phenomenally good book. In every way it exceeded my expectations. 500 pages is quite a bit of ground, and with that space Johnson covers an awful lot of territory. Even still, by the end of the book, I was eager for more.
The book is part hermeneutic manual, homiletic textbook, and preaching guide. It's a polemic for apostolic preaching (that which recognizes the Christological bent of all of Scripture) even as it is an explanation for how to be exegetically careful in handling Old Testament texts. As I said it covers a lot of ground.
The book is divided into two parts: first Johnson makes the case for apostolic, Christocentric preaching. He then he fleshes out the practice of that preaching. Johnson contends that:
Christians need to be shown how to read each Scripture, first in the context of its original redemptive-historical epoch, and then in terms of the focal point and climactic "horizon" toward which the particulars of God's plan always pointed, namely Jesus the Messiah, who is the second and last Adam, seed of Abraham, true Israel, royal descendant of David, and obedient and suffering Servant of the Lord.(pg. 49)
Such preaching today is not all that common. Johnson traces the history of how the Church has interpreted, and preached the Scripture. Behind the preaching of today's "twenty-first century evangelicals", lies both "the Reformation's hermeneutic restraint and the Enlightenment's faith in scientific methodology as part of our almost invisible but virtually inevitable mental framework" (pg. 126-127).
As an antidote, the major portion of the book focuses on a positive treatment of how to preach Christologically. Johnson focuses on Hebrews as an example of an extended Apostolic sermon, and goes on to carefully model his approach to preaching in five or six passages from each testament. The exegesis is very sound, and only with great care does Johnson run from the OT text to Jesus. But he does run to Jesus, and he shows us how to find the Biblical path to Jesus from most any Scriptural text.
It is not only the Scriptural promises of the Messiah that point to Jesus, "What God said in the words of the prophets as they pointed Israel's faith toward the future in the imagery of the past and present, God had also said through his design of the events of the history of Adam, Noah, Abraham and the patriarchs, Moses, Israel and David." (pg. 226) Johnson shows how not just from the Old to the New, but often from older revelation to newer revelation in the Old Testament itself, God makes use of foreshadowings and types. The prophets use the imagery of the Exodus and the wilderness wanderings as they pronounce judgment or promise future blessing for Israel. Johnson's emphasis on how the Old Testament uses the Old Testament is extremely helpful and not something I've encountered before in the whole discussion of the NT use of the OT.
With this background, Johnson can argue,
Because of the occasional character of the New Testament, however, we should not conclude prematurely that Old Testament texts that are not explicitly interpreted typologically by a New Testament writer cannot be read in the context of Christ's climactic work as Lord and Servant of the covenant, and as prophet, priest and king. Rather, we must seek to relate particular texts to the broader structures and institutions that provide the framework for God's relation to his people throughout the history of redemption. (pg. 279)
Such an approach, Johnson admits, "requires a more comprehensive hermeneutic perspective." He proceeds to provide just such a perspective. He argues that Christ's role as the Mediator, and his threefold offices, Prophet, Priest and King, provide overarching themes by which to find Christ in the Old Testament revelation. He shows how to preach the promises in the Old Testament, and how to then preach the Promise Keeper in how we handle the New Testament. Showing how the NT passages interpret and fill up the OT provides a unified view of God's redemptive work which truly ministers to the believing soul.
This work doesn't stop with theory and theology. Johnson provides numerous discussions of texts in the book, working through the passages step by step. After exegetical discussion, he provides simple outline with application points for the passage at hand. He then offers an appendix with two sample sermons that are more filled out. After reading all the sermon outlines, and seeing how the theory comes to life, one will certainly be impatient to try out this method of preaching for himself.
I can't think of another similar book that rivals Him We Proclaim. If you are looking for a book to help revolutionize your preaching, or something to challenge your perspective of the Old Testament, look no further. For anyone interested in theology or aiming for a better understanding of how all of Scripture fits together, this book will be exceedingly helpful. I'm proud to be able to recommend such a great resource as this.(less)
I don’t remember having heard the story of Lady Jane Grey, so when I picked up Simonetta Carr’s most recent addition to the “Christian Biographies for...moreI don’t remember having heard the story of Lady Jane Grey, so when I picked up Simonetta Carr’s most recent addition to the “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series I was covering new territory. I was not disappointed. Jane Grey’s life story is truly inspiring, even though her life was tragically cut short. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Since parents are the likely readers of my review, I’ll risk some spoilers. Jane Grey was in England’s royal family, during the time of Henry the VIII. When Henry’s son Edward was dying, he named Jane Grey to be his heir — in hopes of spoiling his step-sister Mary’s chances at the throne. But more than mere political intrigue was involved here. It was Grey’s strong evangelical Christian testimony which moved Edward to select her. And Mary was destined to become known as “bloody Mary,” in her zeal to purge England of Protestant opposition to Roman Catholicism. Lady Jane Grey, who never asked or wanted to become queeen, ruled for less than two weeks, and after a lengthy imprisonment, was eventually put to death as Mary moved to secure her rights to the throne.
Jane Grey and her Christian testimony, shine through in this bright and colorful book for kids. Like always, Simonetta Carr has done her homework and provides a factual account of Grey’s life. She shares the touching last moments of Grey’s life–her preparations for death, and the full text of a letter written to her sister, encouraging her in the faith, just hours before Jane was to become a martyr. Carr captures the uncertainty of the story and illumines it with historical detail that bring seventeenth Century England to life, for today’s children.
Illustrator Matt Abraxas outdoes himself in providing rich and vivid drawings, detailed maps, portraits, pictures and other artwork which will make flipping through the pages of this book a joy for parent and child alike. Inquiring young minds will enjoy the timeline provided and an assortment of fascinating facts from her era. The rest of the story, when it comes to religious freedom in England, is also provided.
Once again, Carr has given us a masterpiece. This book will educate and delight young readers, and it will challenge and inspire both them and their parents to live for Christ. As a father of six children, I appreciate books like this that can inform and shape my children’s impressionable minds. This book will find a special place in our home.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Reformation Heritage Books. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.(less)
This book is not a covenantal theology manual, as some might suspect. The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, is a book about the many Sc...moreThis book is not a covenantal theology manual, as some might suspect. The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, is a book about the many Scriptural covenants: the covenant with Noah, Abraham, and David, to name a few. Robertson departs from many covenant theologians in refusing to call the pre-Creation Divine determination to redeem fallen man an actual covenant, even as he argues for the basic correctness of the covenantal position on Israel and the church.
What this book does best is show how the covenants (and not dispensations) truly structure Scripture. Indeed without understanding the covenants, one will inevitably fail to understand much of Scripture.
Being raised a dispensationalist, I had a somewhat vague understanding that there are several covenants mentioned in Scripture. But I never understood how important and influential they really are. Interestingly, in an excursus focusing on dispensationalism, Robertson compares the Old and New Scofield Bibles and shows that contemporary dispensationalism now also emphasizes the importance of the Biblical covenants.
Starting with the basics, Robertson defines the term “covenant” against the backdrop of ancient middle-eastern covenants. He concludes that in Scripture a covenant is “a bond in blood sovereignly administered.” Robertson delves into the technical discussions surrounding this concept, but at the same time manages to keep it somewhat simple. A relationship is established unilaterally, and loyalty is demanded on pain of death.
Robertson moves on to discuss the extent, the unity and the diversity of the Biblical covenants. He makes a good case for understanding the Gen. 1-2 in terms of a covenant of creation, citing Jeremiah 33 and Hosea 6:7 as proof. He contends that after the fall, the Biblical story is a progression of covenants each more specific and more glorious, culminating in the new covenant which was begun and inaugurated with the death of Christ. Yet he maintains that there are important differences worth noting between the covenants, and particularly between the Law and the new covenant.
Then he begins a discussion of all the important Biblical covenants, starting with the covenant of creation. He admits that the focus of that covenant is on the prohibition concerning eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but claims the covenant establishes a gracious relationship whereby man is called to rule God’s creation and given instruction concerning marriage and Sabbath observance (he contends that there is a binding Sabbath principle to be observed on Sundays still today). He rightly emphasizes that ignoring the foundational teaching of how man should relate with the rest of creation has negatively impacted how Christians relate with and think about culture today.
Then he takes up the covenant of redemption which he sees as started in Gen. 3:15, and progressively developed through the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and then the new covenant. He develops each covenant insightfully, focusing on the Scriptural passages which establish the covenant idea, and applying important truths in a fresh way for all of us today. His discussion of the new covenant, and particularly Jer. 31:3-34, is particularly rich and insightful.
That is Robertson’s book. Except I should note he stresses how the idea and promise of Christ is developed through each covenant. And he also has a great excursus chapter on dispensationalism. In that chapter he tries to show how dispensationalism has grown and changed. He finds contradictions within the system, however, and argues the point that dispensationalism depends on a false dualistic view that the physical and the spiritual must necessarily be distinguished. His chapter on dispensationalism (a mere 26 pages in length) alone is worth the price of the book. It would be well for those studying out the dispensational/covenant theology debate to listen to Robertson’s insights. Perhaps I will try to flesh out the arguments in that chapter in a later post.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Robertson’s book. After 300 pages one gets a thorough education in the Biblical covenants. At times it may be difficult reading, but the rewards gained are worth the effort spent. Mostly, Robertson has a gift for cutting to the heart of the matter. And a detailed study on the nature and teaching of the Biblical covenants demands the attention of any Biblical student. This book will help you understand Scripture better, and will increase your wonder at the glorious workings in God’s plan of redemption.(less)
Faerie tales and adventure stories have long held our imagination. Tales of far off lands with exotic beauty, of hair-raising dangers and evil warlord...moreFaerie tales and adventure stories have long held our imagination. Tales of far off lands with exotic beauty, of hair-raising dangers and evil warlords, of bravery and skill in the face of overwhelming odds -- such tales awaken our spiritual thirst for meaning and fulfillment in life. We've been blessed with fantasy authors steeped in a Christian worldview, great men such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have bequeathed a rich heritage of inspiring tales that Christians can embrace. Others have continued that legacy and in "The Binding of the Blade" series, L.B. Graham had picked up the mantle of Tolkien and Lewis.
Beyond the Summerland, the first book in "The Binding of the Blade" series, contains all that's best in fantasy fiction. Written by a Christian trained in a reformed worldview (who's even contributed articles to IVP's Dictionary of Biblical Imagery), it doesn't have the baser elements that modern fantasy fiction often includes. But more than a clean work of fantasy, Beyond the Summerland is a well-crafted, tale that's sure to keep you riveted until its very unexpected ending.
The world of Kirthanin is a beautiful place with a scarred and ugly past. A fallen angelic figure has brought war and desecration to the land, but all that seems so far away now. But the peace of Kirthanin may prove to be an illusion.
Graham takes us on a journey through the length of the land with an assortment of interesting and many sided characters. Prophetic visions and hints of danger combine to add suspense and wonder to the tale. And the beauty and courage on display is almost palpable.
His tale is no copy cat, and the world he creates is believable and unique. The tale seems like it will go on forever, which it almost does. And by the end of the book, you are begging for more. Fortunately, there are four additional titles in the series, and if they are all as exciting and fast-paced as this book, I will certainly be picking them up.
More than a good story, a Christian view of the world pervades the tale. The characters struggle with making wise and right choices, a creator God is worshiped and the world is seen as his gift to men. The vision for the future is of a restored holy mountain and communion with the Creator in newly reborn world. The story lines intersect with our Christian faith in several key places. This adds to the value of the book and makes it an inspiring read that can help orient one's mind and heart appreciate the wonder of the Greatest Fairy Tale of all, that we are a part of. Jesus Christ and His restoration of our fallen world, is certainly the greatest fantasy tale of all. Graham's work helps us taste a tiny bit of the wonder of it all.
The book is written with young adults in mind, but I found it suitable for all adults and youth alike. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to continuing this series.
My thanks go out to P&R Publishing for supplying a review copy of this work. I was under no obligation to give it a favorable review.(less)
In Trusting God, Jerry Bridges tackles some big and important questions. How are we to approach the hurdles life throws our way? How can we trust God...moreIn Trusting God, Jerry Bridges tackles some big and important questions. How are we to approach the hurdles life throws our way? How can we trust God in spite of difficult circumstances? How are we to trust him even when life hurts?
These questions all give us pause to think at some point in our Christian life. And there are many books which aim to help us deal with these issues. This book stands apart. Bridges points in an uncommon direction for finding help: the sovereignty of God. Most don't like to think of God's being behind the very difficulties that make life so painful.
Bridges is under no illusions as to his ability to provide all possible answers to this age old dilemma. He offers hope but the answers aren't easy or glib. He doesn't reveal how he has personally conquered all such doubts and how his life story provides the answers to ours. Instead I picture him sitting down, opening his big black Bible and applying Scripture with care. This book is a Bible study, that will pay great dividends to those who dig in and hear what the Bible has to say about trusting God.
Three themes are explored in depth, in Trusting God. The author explains:
In the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God -- truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are: God is completely sovereign. God is infinite in wisdom. God is perfect in love. (pg. 16-17)
Most of the book explores God's sovereignty since so many Christians today are unfamiliar with the term and the concept. Bridges carefully shows the extent of God's control over this planet and each of our lives. If you are unfamiliar with the Bible's witness to God's sovereignty you will be amazed at the number of Bible verses and passages that are examined.
God's rule over all things gives His children hope. God knows what He is doing, and this circumstance is not out of His control. Jerry Bridges explains, “There is no agonizing by God, no hoping He has made the right decision, no wondering what is really best for us. God makes no mistakes.” (pg. 126)
After exploring the three themes of God's sovereignty, wisdom and love, Bridges deals with how we can apply these Bible truths to our lives. The author's great confidence in God, by the end of the book, becomes infectious. I particularly appreciated his insight into Christian's common obsessing over knowing God's will for us when it comes to a decision. I think his advice on this point is worth repeating at some length:
Consider the book of Acts. The only reference to the disciples seeking to determine the will of God occurs in the choosing of Matthias to succeed Judas. From that point onward, it is a record of God's guiding His people.... God does have a plan for each of us. He has given each of us different gifts, abilities, and temperaments and has placed each of us in the body of Christ according to His will.... We do have a responsibility to make wise decisions or to discover the will of God, whichever term we may prefer to use. But God's plan for us is not contingent upon our decisions. God's plan is not contingent at all. God's plan is sovereign. It includes our foolish decisions as well as our wise ones. (pg. 181-182)
Isn't that perspective refreshing? Bridges shares his heart in this book. It doesn't appear to have been an easy one for him to write. You can tell he's been through a lot personally and has shared the grief of many who have suffered even more. His personal accounts and illustrations add life to the book. His openness about his sin and failures to trust God is inspiring. He writes with an earnestness and confidence that can only be accompanied by prayers for those of us who would read this important book.
This book will be challenging at times, but the effort is rewarding. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and spend some time learning from Jerry Bridges as he takes you through the Bible. You will be better equipped to face the suffering that is in store for all of us. And you will find yourself trusting God, even when life hurts.
JERRY BRIDGES is an author and conference speaker. His most popular book, The Pursuit of Holiness, has sold over one million copies. Jerry has been on the staff of The Navigators for over fifty years, and currently serves in the Collegiate Mission where he is involved primarily in staff development, but also serves as a speaker resource to the campus ministries.
My thanks go out to NavPress for supplying me with a review copy of this book.(less)
Books on sex and romance, written by godly pastors are rare. C.J. Mahaney is no sexpert, and this is no sex manual. But this may be the best book on s...more Books on sex and romance, written by godly pastors are rare. C.J. Mahaney is no sexpert, and this is no sex manual. But this may be the best book on sex you'll ever read.
Sex, Romance and the Glory of God presents a theology of marriage that serves as just the right backdrop to look at how Solomon, in his famous Song, deals with sex. The book sets sex in the proper context for which God intended it. And it calls men—Christian men—to love and romance their wife.
Mahaney explains that marriage then is intended to be a picture of how Christ relates to his Church. Let me quote Mahaney at this point, since his words are much more adequate than mine:
Please don’t think of this as merely a helpful illustration or an interesting perspective. It’s much more than that. This is the essence of marriage. This is the divine purpose for your marriage….
...there is a purpose in marriage that goes beyond personal fulfillment. Something of the selfless love, care, and sacrifice that Jesus shows toward the Church is supposed to be evident in you as you relate to your wife. Something of the respect, submission, and devotion that the Church shows toward Jesus is supposed to be evident in your wife as she relates to you. That’s the purpose for your marriage. That is why God has given her to you, and you to her. [pg. 23-25:]
Particularly helpful and challenging is Mahaney's call for men to romance their wives. Mahaney encourages us to plan and work at delighting our wife in any number of small yet meaningful ways. He provides practical pointers and suggestions and strongly encourages a weekly date of some kind.
The truth he wants us to remember, if nothing else from this book is this: “In order for romance to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body." [emphasis his, page 28:]
An example of Mahaney's practical yet unsettling wisdom is his must-ask question: “Do you feel more like a mother or a wife?” [pg. 29:]
Concerning this point he continues:
There can be a selfish, sinful tendency among husbands to view their wives as a goal that, once achieved, is then taken for granted. That is how a wife with children comes to feel primarily like a mother. And that is why the very idea of asking a question like this can cause many husbands to swallow hard and consider going off to watch a little TV. But please don’t—I want this to be an encouragement to you.
…A variety of legitimate activities may consume huge quantities of your wife’s time….But whatever your situation, if you make it a priority to love and care for your wife as Christ does the Church…God will touch her heart so that, even when surrounded by diapers, dishes, and diseases, she can answer that question with joy: “I feel more like a wife.”
…Motherhood is exceptionally important. It calls for immense sacrifices and deserves great honor. But I can say with full conviction that according to Scripture, motherhood is never to be a wife’s primary role. In fact, I think the most effective mothers are wives who are being continually, biblically romanced by their husbands. [pg. 30:]
The book is helped by several personal stories that Mahaney shares. The following story was a challenge and encouragement for me to remember that I am to love and serve my wife and family as Christ serves and loves the Church.
When our first two children were still quite young, I realized that my commute home in the evening was functioning as little more than a review of my day. As far as I was concerned, by the time I got in that car, my responsibilities were pretty much over until the next morning. I saw my home as a refuge, a place where the emphasis, for me, was on being served rather than on leading and serving with Christlike love.
In God’s mercy, he showed me the selfish motivation I was bringing home each evening. I saw that my commute could be best utilized as a time of transition, so that I might be prepared to finish the day by loving and serving my family well.
So I made a practice of pulling the car over a few blocks from my home so I could take a couple of minutes to make an effective transition in my soul. There on the side of the road, I meditated on Ephesians 5 as well as on some other passages. I confessed to God my sinful tendency to be selfish and sought to prepare my heart to serve my wife and children when I arrived home. In this way I learned to see my home as the context where I have my greatest privilege and opportunity to serve…. [pp. 50-51:]
I found Mahaney’s chapter on “The Language of Romance” to be very interesting. I was challenged to be more intentional in how I communicate with my wife, and to stop neglecting poetry as a means of arousing her love. Listen to Mahaney on this point:
…[Song of Solomon shows us:] a category of communication set apart from the stuff of daily life….It is highly intentional, creative, provocative, erotic language. It’s purpose is to arouse romantic passion—to inflame slowly and intentionally, all the while honoring and delighting one’s spouse….Long before they begin to enjoy one another’s bodies, they excite one another’s minds with tender, creative speech. They model for us what it means to feel sexual passion and to articulate that passion. The language is highly poetic, romantically expressed, and exceptionally creative and imaginative. It is also unmistakably sexual.
The best sex begins with romance, and the best romance begins with the kind of speech we read in the Song of Solomon. It begins with carefully composed words….
Far from scorning carefully composed words, I should accept the lesson of Solomon’s Song and learn how to use them. Poetic language is a gift from God that can help me promote godly romance with my wife!
…How many times in the past week or month have you spoken to your wife in ways that she found to be romantically and perhaps erotically arousing? [pg. 60, 69-70:]
When Mahaney gets to the sex part in the book, he doesn't disappoint. He stresses that the sexual aspect of marriage should not be considered "a fundamentally spiritual activity". He even goes so far as to say:
Is there a case to be made from Scripture that lovemaking is any less important to a marriage than praying together, studying the Bible together, or even attending church together? I don’t think so….
…let’s not see sex as merely a permissible part of marriage or something to be tolerated. Sex in marriage is mandatory and something to be celebrated! (See 1 Corinthians 7:35; Ephesians 5:31) Sex was created for marriage, and marriage was created in part for the enjoyment of sex. [pg. 74-75:]
Mahaney pointed out something about Song of Solomon that I had never considered. He stressed that Song of Solomon, while highly erotic, is a book about marital love. And he draws some important conclusions from that seemingly inconsequential point.
It’s remarkable how Solomon’s language, while obvious in its intent, is never biologically specific in a way that could be considered vulgar or clinical….that fact is itself full of meaning. Although sexual intercourse is certainly an ultimate expression of a married couple’s erotic encounter, it is not the outstanding central feature of this book. What is dominant in the Song is not any particular physical act. The book is not about sexual intercourse. Rather, it is about the remarkable nature of the couple’s overall relationship—in all its romance, yearning, desire, sensuality, passion, and eroticism….they do not desire to be together simply so they can experience sexual gratification. They want to be together because they are in love, albeit a powerful one…. [pg. 88-89:]
A valuable inclusion is the great “word to wives” section written by C.J’s wife Carolyn. It is for the most part a reproduction of chapter 7 in her book Feminine Appeal. I read that section, too, and was impressed by Carolyn Mahaney’s wisdom. Like the entire book, this section was not so much a manual on how to make love, as it is an encouragement to have a deep and lasting joyful relationship with your mate which includes a proper valueing and enjoyment of sex.
In Mahaney’s eagerness to use Song of Solomon as a Biblical description and instruction of marital intimacy, however, he falls prey to what I consider to be a wrong approach to interpreting that book. He pits an allegorical interpretation, which sees Christ and his Church as the key players in that song, against a “literal” interpretation, which sees Solomon talking about the joys of marital love. I am aware that there have been extreme allegorical interpretations that go so far as to negate any application of what the song teaches about marital love. But in Mahaney’s approach, which is very typical and widespread today, the error is made to the opposite extreme. He denies any typographical use of the book.
I see an alternative approach which can both affirm that the book clearly praises the joys of marital love yet also recognize that Solomon’s Song is written within the framework of a redemptive history that the Bible records for us. And just as other Biblical stories foreshadow and describe the redemption Christ accomplished for His people, thereby enhancing our understanding of and appreciation of the Gospel, so too the Song of Solomon may rightly be seen to describe the anti-type of which marriage is only a picture. Indeed all marriages are a picture of the abiding covenant love and joyful relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church (Eph. 5:31-32); and hence it would be proper to see Christ and His Church as ultimately referred to in this beautiful love poem.
My quibble over interpreting Song of Solomon aside, you need to get this book. And if you're a husband, you especially need to read it, and even more so if you have already been married for some time. I recommend it highly.(less)
Today's Church is facing a growing epidemic. Our young people are leaving Christianity by the droves. They survive through high school, but often hit...moreToday's Church is facing a growing epidemic. Our young people are leaving Christianity by the droves. They survive through high school, but often hit the eject button at some point during their college years. What's wrong?
J.P. Moreland and Mark Matlock think they have an answer to this crisis. In their recent book "Smart Faith: Loving Your God with All Your Mind" published by NavPress, they expose part of the problem: "We now live in a Christian culture so deeply committed to a nonintellectual way of understanding the Christian faith that this perspective is now embedded within us at a subconscious level." They continue: "Faith is now understood as a blind act of the will -- a decision to believe something independent of reason..." The gospel we share has been reduced to "primarily... a means of addressing felt needs." "We give testimonies of our changed life and tell people that Christ is the answer to troubles." But this lacks true transforming power. "Religion has... become personal, private, and too often simply a matter of how we feel about things." (pg. 24-26). In sharp contrast stands the rest of life which demands the use of our intellect in today's ever-secular world.
The 58 percent of church-attending teenagers which Barna researchers tell us "won't be attending church by their thirtieth birthday", were likely "missing the intellectual aspects of faith." (pg. 25). Moreland and Matlock aim to cultivate a robust, Christian intellect through their book. Along the way, they hope to fortify their readers against the siren call of our world's increasingly anti-Christian culture.
The book describes the problem and how we got here. It explores faith and knowledge, and aims to elevate the importance of the mind. It then goes on to apply Christian intellect to evangelism and apologetical persuasion, personal devotion and study, worship, and more. The book provides case studies of complex real world scenarios that young people face that could present a problem. In the end, these case studies are fleshed out with an intellectually honest and faithful approach to integrating our Christianity with all of life.
The authors are irenic and patient, not to mention painfully honest. Slowly and surely the attentive reader is prodded and nudged in the right direction. The book is not a heady read. It's written in a light and straight-forward manner, and at 175 pages, it isn't too long. Still, it covers some important ground. More important, the authors achieve their goal: they offer a book which will ground the faith of young people and encourage a deep-rooted faith in Christ.
This book would make a great gift for a high school graduate. Youth ministers will want a copy of this book both for their own benefit and to recommend to others. "Smart Faith" earns a high recommendation.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by NavPress. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review. (less)
For hundreds of years, the training of Christian young people involved the learning of a catechism. A catechism was a set of instructions on Christian...moreFor hundreds of years, the training of Christian young people involved the learning of a catechism. A catechism was a set of instructions on Christian doctrine. Essentially, it was a list of questions and answers used to instill the fundamentals of the faith in the hearts of children. Many of the Reformed confessions, such as the Westminster Confession, included catechisms. Martin Luther considered his short catechism to be one of his two most important books. Even the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, wrote a catechism for young children.
Being an American and a Baptist, the very notion of a catechism seems incredibly foreign to me. But as I’ve studied church history and learned of the important role catechisms have played since the Reformation, I’ve actually been on the lookout for a simple catechism to employ with my own children. Since I’ve never used a catechism before, I was looking for something easy to use and also quite simple – as my daughters who I’d be teaching, are between the ages of 4 and 7.
Carine MacKenzie’s My First Book of Questions and Answers is what I found and so far, my children are eating it up. MacKenzie’s book is based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It consists of 114 questions broken up into 26 topics. The questions are direct and the answers are short and to the point. A Scripture reference is supplied for each answer.
The following topics are covered by the questions and answers. Who God is. Creation and sin. What the consequences of sin is. Salvation. Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King. The Ten Commandments – what they are and what they mean for us. Keeping God’s Laws. The Way to be Saved. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Prayer and Bible Reading. Death, Hell and Heaven.
The book is pocket sized with large font and catchy graphics. It’s a bright, cheery book that young readers will like to read. My 7 year old has been reading some of the questions and answers we haven’t yet covered.
I’ve found the catechism format works well as a tool for parents wanting to teach their children. You can easily use the questions to probe how well they understand the answers given in the book. You will be able to have a pulse on what questions your children have when it comes to the gospel. And on another level, my kids think the questions and answers are a lot of fun. It’s a game to them, and they are excited about some small incentives my wife and I have planned for them as they learn these questions.
I should add a word about the theology behind this book. The baptism and lord’s supper section is generic enough to be accepted by Presbyterians and Baptists alike. There is a Reformed bent to the questions throughout, which I appreciate. However, any of the questions and answers could easily be edited by a conscientious parent.
My First Book of Questions and Answers is an ideal “first book” for parents seeking to use a catechism (like myself). You will find it to be a great little tool for instilling biblical teaching into the hearts and minds of your young children. Even though this book is quite small, if used by prayerful parents, it promises to have an eternal impact. May God bless the use of this book in the lives of many Christian parents and their children!
This book is part of a line up that Carine MacKenzie has of 7 “My First” books. The other titles are My First Book of Bible Prayers, My First Book of Christian Values, My First Book of Memory Verses, My First Book of Bible Promises, My First Book about Jesus, and My First Book about the Church. I encourage you to check them all out.(less)