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Archive | Book Reviews

Browse Worthy: Shots in the Arm

So often the news and even blogosphere can be depressing to read, from the latest political scandal to the next ecclesiastical controversy. Though living in this sin-drenched world means we have to deal with negative news, meditating on the grace of God in Christ can fill us with the Spirit’s goodness. Here are a few good reads along those lines.

The State of Evangelicalism in America and all that Blah Blah Blah | Tim Challies

Encouraging to read our Canadian brother reminding those south of him how we should be grateful to God for all that he is using the American church to do around the world.

Assurance: a Pastoral Conversation | Jeffrey Stivason

An imagined but all-too-real conversation that shows how a pastor might help a parishioner whose mind is troubled regarding assurance of salvation.

Why and how do we sing to one other? | Matt Merker

A short video clip from 9Marks that explains that our congregational singing is not only to God, but to one another.

When Everything Is Missions | Kevin DeYoung

This article is a review of a book by this name (When Everything is Missions by Denny Spitters and Matthew Ellison) that explains its thesis: everything is not missions, should not be missions, and when […]

3GT Episode 60: Gordon Keddie, Author of Prayers of the Bible

On this episode of 3GT, we interview Pastor Gordon Keddie, author of the new book Prayers of the Bible from Crown & Covenant Publications. Yet this is not your ordinary interview. With his Scottish brogue, lively spirit, and keen insights, Gordon brings the subject of prayer to life!

Nor is this an ordinary book on prayer. His newest book offers 366 prayers of the Bible in a two-page, daily format. Each day contains an inspiring, pithy devotional in Gordon’s inimitable style, a suggested psalm portion to accompany it, and space to write down particular prayers.

Our episode sponsor Crown & Covenant will give away two free copies of Prayers of the Bible! Just be one of our first two listeners to send one of Gordon’s favorite prayers mentioned in the podcast along with your name and address to threeguystheologizing@gmail.com.

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/3gt-episode-602.mp3

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Frustrated with a Friend

Introduction

Having an interest in Hebrew and Old Testament studies in particular there are few people to whom I am more indebted than the scholar Mark Futato. His language courses are brilliant and his contribution to Hebrew studies massive. Whether thinking of ‘BibleWorks’ or ‘Daily Dose of Hebrew’, though I have never met him personally, I regard him as a friend.

I Just Happened To Be Reading

I was, however, a little troubled recently, when I picked up a new book entitled ‘A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Promised’, edited by Ligon Duncan III: this text contains many brilliant contributions from numerous outstanding authors. It was with a sense of excitement, therefore, that I eventually turned to the chapter on the Psalms.

Why I was frustrated

I really was not anticipating what I encountered next, as I lit upon a surprising comment he makes, on page 353 of this tome. It comes at the end of a lucid, succinct, informative, in many ways excellent entry: the section is headed ‘Approaching the New Testament’; he is dealing with the question of how many or which of the Psalms should be considered Messianic? Let me quote what our brother says:

“The answer can either be […]

9.5 Theses: Suggested Reading on the Reformation

This article originally appeared here on the Tabletalk Magazine website and is reposted here with permission.

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With the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses approaching on the last day of this month, how might a church put together a guide for laypeople who want to learn more about the history of the Protestant Reformation? Before I answer that question, let me answer a more foundational one: Why is reading about the Reformation so important for Christians today? Please let me offer a bit of testimony for this latter question, then offer a guide to answer the first one.

Years ago, when I attended seminary in my mid-twenties, I took my first church history class. It was like stepping into a whole new world.

Having had a secular education, spotty church attendance through my childhood, a conversion in college, and then a journey for a few years before I came into a Reformed church, I had not known of the history I was now hearing. As I took courses and read, I often learned of people I had little to no knowledge about. I was fascinated by martyrs such as Perpetua and Polycarp in the early church, doctrinal […]

Between Irrelevance and Inspiration: Rob Bell’s “What is the Bible?”

I imagine it was a paradisiacal day—whatever happy, joyful, and blissful picture that gives your imagination—when the serpent slithered to the woman in the Garden of Eden. He did not come armed with bow or sword but only with his tongue and a simple but provocative question: “Did God actually say?” There was the starting point of humanity’s tragic descent into sin and misery. Its origin was doubt, disbelief, and misinterpretation of God’s word. I cannot help but hear an echo of that fateful question in Rob Bell’s new book, What is the Bible?

For many evangelicals and Reformed folk Rob Bell is, perhaps, a relic of the past. His departure from some of the main tenets of Christianity have made him all but irrelevant. So why should we care that he has written a new book? Well, if there is any value in this book it is simply that it offers a popular representation—without big vocabulary or complex hermeneutical rules—on where many people place the Bible in their understanding of Christianity. Rob Bell doesn’t write without knowing exactly to what audience he is writing, and he has learned well to connect with that audience in a captivating way. This book […]

3GT Episode 36: The Shadow Shows

Can you see Christ portrayed in the Book of Job? If so, how? The shadow shows!

The Three Guys welcome C.J. Williams, Professor of Old Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, as they discuss his new book The Shadow of Christ in the Book of Job. As they sit at the good doctor’s feet and discuss the story of Job, they are reminded of what proper typology is and how to avoid merely allegorizing. They learn of the “Messianic Trajectory” set by this story. They hear of amazing similarities between Job and another shadowy Old Testament figure. And they hear what Aaron has in common with Job’s friends!

Our thanks to Wipf and Stock Publishers for sponsoring this episode! Listen to find an easy way you can win a free copy of Dr. Williams’ book! Go here to purchase additional copies.

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/3gt-episode-361.mp3

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With Him by Ken G. Smith

At the end of last week, I had the privilege of visiting with Ken Smith. Ken was my pastor when I was in seminary years ago. His Spirit-filled preaching, the warm hospitality he and Floy always gave us, and Friday morning prayer times with him and a few other men were just some of the ways he ministered to me during those years. I learned so much from him then, and now that I am back in the Pittsburgh area he has again been a rich source of encouragement to me. So I have not only heard him teach, but experienced him practicing, the truth contained in the title of his new book With Him.

This short volume on this simple yet profound principal of discipleship is chocked full with insights into Jesus’ way of working with men. As the Scriptures tell us, our Lord chose his disciples to be “with him” (Mark 3:14). Ken demonstrates from Christ’s life that the most powerful way of developing another is to take him or her with you as you minister and live. He also develops how other key biblical figures practiced the with him principal, backs it up with the teaching of others, and shares wonderful anecdotes […]

A Minister of Mercy

An Offer Too Good To Refuse

What a wonderful surprise! That’s was my reaction to the very kind and generous offer made by one of the older members of my congregation. He is a retired missionary who possesses a deep theological knowledge. I couldn’t believe my ears: ‘Take any books you like – you can have first pick from my library!” So on the appointed day, and at a pre-arranged time, I went round to my friend, with some sturdy cardboard boxes, and filled my car boot [trunk] with dozens of weighty tomes.

The Secret Workings of Providence

This all happened around the time when we recently moved house, so half of my library is still in boxes. This explains why I haven’t had much time to survey the contents properly or the leisure to digest their accumulated wisdom. Yet, as providence would have it, I recently read a quotation from Thomas Goodwin in a Banner of Truth magazine (it was either imbedded in a magazine article or just the bare quote and nothing else). The quotation was something along the lines of (my heavy paraphrase) “Salvation will not be withheld from any penitent sinner who comes to God truly believing that the Lord is full of mercy.”

Isn’t is […]

The Shoddiness of The Shack

With all the attention given to the movie The Shack, it would be good to take a careful look at the book it is based upon. The author, William P. Young, wrote The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Newbury Park, Calif.: Windblown Media) in 2007. Below is review of the book by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, pastor of Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian in Brownsburg, Indiana, and author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms and Exploring Ecclesiastes: Joy That Perseveres.

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The Shack is a modern day allegory of the Christian life. Like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, William Young’s The Shack is a vivid tale designed to teach the reader about the way of salvation. But Young’s vision, while helpful in points, ultimately presents a different kind of salvation than that of Bunyan’s classic.

Bunyan’s pilgrim labors under the burden called “sin,” and he only finds freedom from its guilt by receiving forgiveness at the cross. Young’s protagonist is cast in a more postmodern image. The Shack’s central character is Mackenzie Phillips, whose struggle is not with sin and guilt; Mack’s burden is “the great sadness”—the accumulated emotional baggage from his abusive childhood and the death of his daughter. Rather than seeking his own forgiveness, Mack’s […]

So You Want to Start a Book Club

Or at least I do. In fact, this year I’ve put out the call to my local church, assembling into one glorious band of reading brothers all those who have shown interest, or even partial interest, seeing how I’m not above cajoling the hesitant.

I’ve never done this before. Nor have I been a part of one. So it’s uncharted territory. But it sounds like fun.

Here’s how I envision it (and perhaps such visions of grandeur will inspire someone in another local body of believers to start a book club). I imagine us men tackling a book a month. The text could be political in nature, or theological, or cultural, or historical or whatever. No door stoppers. No arcane manuscripts from days medieval. Just good, thought-provoking books that not only challenge the mind, but sharpen the spirit. Or simply elicit joy.

I then imagine us sitting around together, once a month, like Oxford dons ornamented with cigars and golden drinks. As the evening waxes long, and as the shadows from the suit of armor in the corner deepen, we continue to pontificate into the night, solving the world’s problems and cracking the deep mysteries of life.

So that’s basically the format. […]