October Book Review
The month of October was pretty crazy. I constantly felt behind on my reading schedule (Sorry IVP, I've got a ton coming your way in November!). I probably felt behind because I was constantly involved with good books. That said, this huge book list had reviews published during the month of October despite a couple of them being read with reviews written prior to the month of October. So buckle up, this one is long (as always, book titles are links to full length reviews).
This was one of the few books that has simply been beyond me. The factual information itself, which is an argument for the original bishop mode of the church, was not troublesome. But the immense amount of supplementary information, quotes, and citations were well beyond my level of knowledge and research. The arguments laid forth by Alistair Stewart were convincing and I can't help but recommend this book for individuals who are interested in an extreme deep dive into church polity.
This was the most frustrating book of the month. Instead of providing cutting edge material (like it claims in the introduction), this book simply repeated the same old dispensational song tunes. My poor review of this is not a slam of dispensationalism (with which I strongly disagree) but with the poor content (don't tell the people who read the review on Amazon, apparently there I am "unhelpful").
This rather excellent book from IVP is now my go to resource on the Olivet Discourse. Stein compresses a ton of information into a small book. He and I don't see eye to eye on everything in Mark 13 and how it correlates to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Nevertheless, Stein's arguments are excellent, well researched, and presented in a timely fashion. This is a highly recommended volume for people interested in supporting a "preterist" reading of Mark 13 and the Olivet Discourse in general.
As I said in my full review, I love the Skinii Bibles from Zondervan. I cannot hold back my enjoyment of this cheap simple Bibles. They are excellent to hold, easy to carry around, and not filled with much other than the Biblical text itself. They are pretty trendy looking and the NIV version comes in cool colors. Combine all of that with the original KJV text and you have the only trendy KJV on the market! :-)
One of the many children's books reviewed this month, this "christmas story" is pretty solid. We utilized it as part of our nightly family worship but it is not intended for that. The book itself is rather small and grown kids should be able to have it read (or read it themselves) in one sitting. The illustrations are very good and our children thoroughly enjoyed the book.
This biography by Simonetta Carr is intended for younger readers. Keeping this in mind the biography is pretty great. The illustration and historical photos help balance the short elements of text that fill the biography. Edwards is a huge figure in the history of the church and in particular the history of the American church. Biographies can be hard to get into when they are full length, this small version is an excellent way to initiate young readers.
In the running for second most disappointing book this month, this "Messianic commentary" is in fact not a verse-by-verse commentary. Though there are many interesting elements to this overview of the book of James, they aren't insight that are new or especially unique to qualify as a "Messianic commentary." The clear teaching on the Jewish nature of the New Testament has increased in the past couple decades and many prominent commentaries will provide similar insights. Laymen seeking a primitive introduction to the book of James will benefit from this but would be better off purchasing a genuine commentary on James.
Both of these great little books come straight from the Adventure Bible. The wording, sentences, and structure all lend themselves to children learning to read. I loved the depth of the stories. And I loved how they challenged and encouraged Kenzie. She recognized "Adam and Eve" from her catechism questions and she was in awe at the death required in the exodus. She still takes them to her bed for naptime reading. Pretty cool.
This is one of those books that I want to endorse but know people will not enjoy reading. Enns asks the tough question of the Bible. I don't agree with his answers (in most cases) but I'm pretty tired of people vilifying him as if he is attacking the Scriptures and God. Conservatives need to calm down and recognize that despite disagreements Enns is a brother in Christ and we need to get out of our mob mentalities.
This Zondervan publication is similar to the ESV Reader Bible and the recent "BIBLIOTHECA" viral kickstarter. Unfortunately for both, The Book of the Bible already does this, that, and the other in awesome fashion. The NIV is perfect for this style of Bible reading (no chapter and verse markers). It also reorders biblical books to better present the covenant story of the Scriptures. This isn't a perfect reordering in my opinion but I'd gladly read this over the consensus order we currently have.
It is hard to say anything else about this book. Between a seven part series and a high level book review, I've pretty much spent all possible words on this book. This is not the best amillennialism book. But it is an outstanding polemic against the travesty that is premillennialism and at the same time it serves as an excellent introduction to eschatology in general. Pick this up, read the chapters out of order, and you'll be happy.
The must buy book of the month. Subtitled "Responding to Gay Christians in the Church" is provocative and a hint at the general tone of the book. If you've ever heard the question "How should I respond to my homosexual <insert here>?" and not heard the response "Love your neighbor as your self" then you're evidence that this book is needed.
The one thing that the conservative, orthodox church has failed to do on this issue is love. We have become pharisees who are "right" about our theology and doctrine while hiding in the depravity and love-lacking walls of our congregations.
I recommend everyone read this. It doesn't matter if you know someone with same-sex attraction or you are someone with same-sex attraction. It doesn't matter if you are a laymen or a pastor. You won't agree with everything in this book. I certainly didn't. But its time we disagree in love and we begin to manifest our orthodoxy in our love.