Book Reviews

Review of The Church: Presbyterian Perspectives by Donald K. McKim

McKim, Donald K. The Church: Presbyterian Perspectives. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017, pp. 108, $15.43, softcover. Donald K. McKim (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He served for some years as Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Memphis Theological Seminary, and in recent years has devoted much of his time to writing. Dr. McKim has written many books relating to Reformed theology and Presbyterian ecclesiology, including books on Martin Luther and John Calvin, and the well-received Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, now in its second edition. This current short volume, The Church, is a collection of six messages (thus six chapters) given to various assemblies of clergy and laity. As stated in the preface, these comprise a “theological reflection on the nature of the church” (p. ix). Though this is admittedly an introduction on such matters, Dr. McKim covers some of the more fundamental topics with reflections that span from devotional to theological. His writing style is very lucid. Immediately noticeable is his extensive use of quotes from some of the great theologians of the past, including Barth, Bonhoeffer, and well over 50 quotes from Calvin. Such weaving of words from these…

Review of Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development by Geiger and Peck

Geiger, Eric and Kevin Peck; Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016, pp. 234, $22.99, hardback.  Eric Geiger is a vice president of the Resources Division at LifeWay and a pastor of a local church in Tennessee. He has a doctorate in leadership from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has authored or coauthored several books including the best-selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Kevin Peck, also with a doctorate in leadership from Southern Seminary, is the lead pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church in Texas. Peck also serves as the Director for Emerging Regions for the Acts 29 Network. The authors open Designed to Lead by engaging this question: “Where is the leadership locus in your community?” and they seek to show that the local church ought to be a primary leadership locus in every community (p. 1). Their conviction is that the church is particularly commissioned and equipped to call and develop leaders in all spheres of life. The way that churches can systematically see that leaders are developed is by establishing constructs in the context of a leadership culture that grows out of a strong conviction that all people are called to leadership. It is along those lines that the book is divided into three sections: conviction, culture, and constructs. Part one lays the foundation for a biblical and theological conviction for leadership…

Review of Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey by Garwood P. Anderson
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / May 10, 2017

Anderson, Garwood P. Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Academic, 2016, pp. 439, $45, hardback. Garwood Anderson, professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, makes a strong case for what other scholars have suspected—namely, that Paul’s own perspective on salvation expanded as evidenced by differences between his earlier and later letters. This is why the so-called “new perspective on Paul,” championed by E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, and N. T. Wright, makes good sense of Galatians, but the old Lutheran reading still has explanatory power for Romans and Philippians (pp. 12-13). “The argument of this book insists that both ‘camps’ are right, but not all the time” (p. 5). The clever title, Paul’s New Perspective, refers to the so-called old perspective on Paul that comes late in his writing. But Anderson suggests that the motif and mystery of union with Christ is large enough to encompass the development. The argument moves in three stages. Chapters 1—3 contextualize the debate for the reader. Anderson acknowledges not being a “Pauline specialist,” (VIV), but he engages a large swath of the secondary literature. He also focuses on three passages that do not…

Review of The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction by Richard S. Hess
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / May 4, 2017

Hess, Richard S., The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Jan. 2017, pp. 816, $49.99, hardback. Richard S. Hess (PhD, Hebrew Union College, MDiv and ThM, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a BA from Wheaton College.) is Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, and editor of the Denver Journal. Dr. Hess has authored 9 books, edited or co-edited 33 books, and published more than 100 scholarly articles in collected essays and journals.   The title of the book “The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological and Critical Introduction” is a precise summarization of the contents.  In the preface, Hess writes that “This book is designed to meet the needs of the broad variety of students who come to study the Old Testament at a seminary or at a graduate level. It does not presume a deep knowledge of the Scriptures, although I wrote it with the intent to inform any serious reader.” (viii).  Hess brings together an articulate synthesis of the Old Testament based on his years of academic research and publications about manuscripts, translations, textual criticism, archaeology, theology and exegesis. He states in the introduction…

Review of The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology by O. Palmer Robertson
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / April 26, 2017

Robertson, O. Palmer, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015. O. Palmer Robertson is the director and principal of African Bible University in Uganda. He previously taught at Reformed, Westminster, Knox, and Covenant seminaries. He has authored such works as The Christ of the Covenants and The Christ of the Prophets. The Psalms appear to be a haphazard collection of prayers and praises. Robertson argues, however, that the Psalms showcase a deliberate structure at the hands of their final redactor. Because the Psalms developed over a long period of time, the final redactor selected certain psalms for certain locations (p. 7). By discerning this structure, one may see how the Psalms connect with each other and gain insight into each Psalm (p. 3). He notes the Psalter divides into five books, each of which ends with a doxology (p. 8). He identifies already extant Psalm collections (p. 10). Next, he observes how the redactor distributed different authors throughout the Psalter. For example, Davidic Psalms dominate Books I and II, but their number diminishes in Books III–V. The redactor also positioned significant Psalms at the literary seams: Psalm 72 by Solomon concludes Book II, and…

Review of A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised, edited by Miles V. Van Pelt
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 18, 2017

Van Pelt, Miles V., ed. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, pp. 601, $50.00, hardback. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament and its New Testament counterpart are projects undertaken by the faculty, both current and past, of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). The project was dedicated in honor of the seminary’s fiftieth anniversary. Miles Van Pelt edited the Old Testament volume and wrote both the introduction and the chapter on the Song of Songs. Whereas most introductions to the Old Testament discuss the historical-critical issues of each book, these issues have only a minor role in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Instead, the book offers an introduction to the theological themes contained within each book of the Old Testament. After an initial section discussion on the structure and message of the Old Testament, the book dedicates a chapter to each of the books in the Old Testament as they appear in the Hebrew Bible. Each chapter is divided into sections labeled “Background Issues,” “Structure and Outline,” “Message and Theology,” and “Approaching the New Testament.” The “Message and Theology” sections make up the bulk of each chapter. The book’s main strength…

Review of Idealism and Christianity, 2 volumes, edited by Farris, Hamilton, Cowan, and Spiegel
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / April 11, 2017

Joshua R. Farris and S. Mark Hamilton (eds.). Idealism and Christian Theology. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, pp. 256, $100, hardback. Steven Cowan and James Spiegel (eds.). Idealism and Christian Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, pp. 224, $100, hardback. What does idealism have to do with Christianity? In Bloomsbury’s two-volume series, editors Joshua Farris, Mark Hamilton, Steven Cowan, and James Spiegel set out to answer this question. Reflection upon Edwardsean and Berkeleyan idealism has lead them to advocate for a reevaluation of idealism’s compatibility with Christian theology. Together they have assembled a wide array of scholars whose personal commitment to idealism varies, but nevertheless each endorses a particular virtue of idealism. Since space forbids a detailed interaction with each chapter of this series, I have instead opted for a thematic summary and a meta-criticism concerning the enterprise of Christian idealism. The summary might also serve as a recommended reading plan of the two volumes, reorganized according to what I take to be the major contribution from each author. Many of these chapters do a refreshingly excellent job of writing historically informed analytic theology or philosophy, which was a chief aim of the editors of volume one. Consequently, my classification of prolegomena,…

Review of Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism by Anderson and Dryness

Anderson, Jonathan A., and William A. Dyrness. Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 374, $24, paperback. An Associate Professor of Art at Biola University, Jonathan A. Anderson is himself an artist and art critic. He has also afforded his artistic sensibilities to theological conversations, having coauthored the book Renewing Christian Theology: Systematics for a Global Christianity (Baylor University Press, 2014). William A. Dyrness is a respected scholar in the field of theology and the arts and has authored several books, including Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Baker Academic, 2001), Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life (Eerdmans, 2011). Additionally, he is Fuller Theological Seminary’s Professor of Theology and Culture. In Modern Art and the Life of a Culture, Anderson and Dyrness have combined their expertise to provide a treatment of modern art that is historically accurate, aesthetically conscientious, and theologically grounded. Anderson and Dyrness wrote Modern Art and the Life of a Culture as a response to Hans Rookmaaker’s influential book Modern Art and…

Review of Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth by Peter H. Lau and Gregory Goswell
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 4, 2017

Lau, Peter H. W. and Gregory Goswell. Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth. New Studies in Biblical Theolgoy 41. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016, pp. 212, $24.00 paperback. Peter H. W. Lau and Gregory Goswell collaborate in a recent addition to the series New Studies in Biblical Theology, Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth. Peter H. W. Lau is Lecturer in Old Testament at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia and is an honorary research associate at the University of Sydney. Gregory Goswell is the Academic Dean and Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Christ College, Sydney. In writing Unceasing Kindness Lau and Goswell do not intend to compete with commentaries, nor to “render them superfluous” (p. 157). Rather, the authors seek to build on “close studies of the text” provided by commentaries in order to explore “its biblical-theological parameters” in the context of the whole of Scripture (p. 157). Lau and Goswell begin by reading Ruth alongside various texts in the Old Testament, drawing out themes found when Ruth is read in conjunction with other books of the Old Testament. The authors first read Ruth alongside Ezra-Nehemiah, seeking to understand how Ruth informed the readers of the “early restoration period”…

JBTS 2.1 Book Reviews
Book Reviews / March 30, 2017

Book Reviews Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair B. Ferguson (Reviewed by Steven J. Duby) Theology as Discipleship by Keith L. Johnson (Reviewed by Justin McLendon) God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits by Malcolm B. Yarnell III (Reviewed by R. Keith Loftin). How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Christopher J. H. Wright (Reviewed by Ryan C. Hanley) From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research by Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts (Reviewed by Andy McClurg) Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology by Mark Cortez (Reviewed by Christopher Woznicki) A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame (Reviewed by J. Daniel McDonald) Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived by J. Daniel Day (Reviewed by Brian Turnbow) The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr Jr. and Gary E. Yates (Reviewed by Brian Koning) A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal their Complete Truthfulness by John Piper (Reviewed by Brett A. Berger) A Time to Keep: Theology, Mortality, and the Shape of Human Life by Ephraim…