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Archive | Book Reviews

Interview: Bill VanDoodewaard, Author

Bill VanDoodewaard serves as Associate Professor of Church History at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.  Recently Bill’s doctoral work was published by Reformation Heritage Books under the title The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition.  As he served as a pastoral intern in our congregation for two years while he completed his thesis, I have been greatly blessed by Bill and his work.  I thought you might like to find out more about it.  Bill graciously responded with the following interview.

Spiritual Joy

Wilhelmus a` Brakel (1635-1711), a Dutch pastor and theologian, wrote a devotionally-focused systematic theology for his congregation. The Christian’s Reasonable Service was first published in 1700, but was only translated into English in 1992. For all of last year and the first part of this year, I read a portion of his work each day in conjunction with my personal devotions as I worked through the four volume set. This work lifted my soul day-by-day, and I highly recommend it to you for daily reading as well. For Christians who know they should be reading more and better books but struggle to read, this is a great place to start.

Here’s a sampling of the chapter on Spiritual Joy (Vol. 2, pp. 445-467) where we are exhorted to use the means God has given to attain joy:

A Worship Revolution

A book on a cappella singing by John Price. For sale at Crown and Covenant for one penny more than!

The worship of the Triune God is not like hair. Or ice cream.

That’s why my brain circuitry fries (and sometimes my eyes roll) when worship discussions devolve into arguments about ‘preferred style’ or ‘taste.’ The first two Commandments flit through my head as I hear fiery rhetoric pitting ‘contemporary’ worship against the ‘more traditional’ kind. And my stomach knots because – once again – we’re arguing from tradition (what fulfills us) rather than mission (our calling to glorify God in all we do) by embracing what God commands. We were taught to ask the wrong questions about God’s worship.

But I think a worship revolution is underway.

There’s a young, restless, and Reformed generation embracing “Sola Scriptura” – God’s Law and Gospel writ large. This generation of ‘New Calvinists’ is embracing the Biblical wisdom of the Puritans, the Reformers, and the Church Fathers. And some of them are listening as these Biblical expositors of old make the case that love for God translates into loyalty to him – and his specific commands about worship. A remarkable number – compelled by the […]

Interview of Michael LeFebvre, Co-Author of Our Triune God

Friend and fellow Gentle Reformation blogger Dr. Michael LeFebvre recently had a new book he coauthored published.  Below is a short interview I conducted to find out more about the book and Michael’s reasons for writing it.


Michael, what led you to work on this book on the Trinity?  How did it come about that you co-authored it with Philip Ryken, the pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadephia?

Electronic Dog Leash

Taking my daughter to a friend’s house a few times recently, I have noticed a sheltie collie at the end of one T-street on which I turn.  The little dog stands at the front edge of its fenceless yard, waiting for cars coming to its street.  As a car reaches the T of the intersection, the collie races madly to the end of the yard, then abruptly leaps and spins in the opposite direction and charges back that way, the whole time barking constantly.  As you drive past, you notice it keeps repeating this process – flying back and forth, back and forth, with non-stop barking.  Obviously it has been trained with an electric fence and collar, because it stays right on the front edge of the yard and never crosses the side edges of the property.  Indeed, the last time I went by the collie had worn a path in the snow right down to the ground.

Book Review: Addictions

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

Edward T. Welch

Ed Welch is a long-time counselor and faculty member with CCEF (Christian Counseling & Education Foundation). Like many, I have benefited greatly from his writings and lectures. This book is no exception.

Welch dives skillfully into a topic that has touched all of our lives, if only indirectly. All of us have fought a sin so long that it could be labeled an


Reading a book called Breath, which tells the incredible tale of Martha Mason. Martha, a fellow Tarheel, spent over sixty years in an iron lung. She had an incredible spirit, seen in such things as her graduating from Wake Forest or managing her own mother’s health when senility struck Martha’s lifelong caregiver. She went through all this without losing her sense of humor.

Hiding Ourselves

Is it not easier to hide who we are than who we are not?

To disguise our selfishness is but the work of a moment, whereas the lack of a generous spirit is too big a void to conceal.
To covet a neighbor’s position can be mostly contained within, but a failure to rejoice spontaneously in a friend’s success creates a loud silence.
To talk big about prayer and pray big in public can, like a rug over swept-up dirt, mostly hide the fact that we do not pray quietly in private, but it is not a very good cover up for a long distance relationship with God.

Is this not the way of the Pharisee Jesus exposed so devastatingly?

On Qu’ran Burnings

Because of what the Bible teaches, I do not think the pastor in Florida, who appears to be vacillating on whether to burn Qu’rans or not, should do so. Why?

Well, it is not because I believe that the Qu’ran is a holy book. To be as direct as possible, in its denunciations of Christ as the Son of God and crucified Redeemer; its upholding of a polygamous charlatan as the prophet of God; and its teaching that men are justified by works (i.e. keeping the Five Pillars of Islam), I believe the Qu’ran is a book that contains Satanic lies and is leading millions to the eternal doom of the burning flames of hell. Yet I still do not think he should burn them or Christians should participate in this type of demonstration. Again, why?

First, it is not consistent with the Scriptures on book burning. The Biblical proof-text Pastor Jones might offer for holding book burnings would come from Acts 19:19, where we are told this about the people of Ephesus who had responded to the gospel:

“And many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted […]

Impurity of Worship

Interesting what you come across where you least expect it.

I have been reading the first volume of a trilogy on the 26th President’s life, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. My purpose in reading it has been simply to enjoy learning more about this larger-than-life man. Never did I expect to have to examine my own heart regarding worship the way I did when I came across this excerpt from a letter of Roosevelt. Listen to what then Civil Service Commissioner Roosevelt said about President Benjamin Harrison following a meeting they had just had:

“Damn the President! He is a cold-blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid old psalm-singing Indianapolis politician.”

Though Roosevelt’s rant is typical of him when he did not get his way, it is interesting how he related the President’s action with his worship practices – in Indiana, no less!This reminded me of a similar line I had read long ago but not forgotten in Gene Stratton-Porter’s (born in Indiana) classic book Freckles. At this point in the story the main character Freckles, a one-handed orphan learning to work the once-great lumber lines of northern Indiana, is recounting his experience of how people […]