Book Reviews

Review of Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney

Whitney, Donald S. Family Worship. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016, pp. 80, $7.99, paperback. Recent publications indicate a growing interest in the spiritual discipline of family worship. Families and Christian leaders are realizing that outsourcing the Christian discipleship of their children is neither effective nor a fulfillment of God’s plan. Don Whitney (DMin, Trinity; PhD, University of the Free State) is well qualified to contribute his voice to this important topic. He serves as associate dean and professor of biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also founded and currently serves as the president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality. He served in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years and has written numerous books on spirituality and spiritual disciplines. Family Worship provides a brief introduction to the practice of family worship. With the first two chapters, the author builds the case for why families should regularly practice family worship. Chapter one surveys the Biblical record for examples of and instruction in family worship from Abraham to Peter. Chapter two calls on the saints throughout church history to give their teachings and testimonies concerning family worship. The next two chapters provide practical instruction on how to implement family worship. Chapter three…

Review of How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Wright

Wright, Christopher J. H. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 288, $18.99, paperback. Christopher J. H. Wright is the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership and was also chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group which presented The Cape Town Commitment to the Third Lausanne Congress in 2010. He has written numerous books including Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, The Mission of God, and Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament, among others. He attends All Souls Church, Langham Place in London where he preaches occasionally. Written as part of Zondervan’s All Its Worth series, Wright focuses on the Old Testament in this volume, working beyond interpretation to aid preachers and teachers as they study and prepare the material for proclamation. Wright divides his book into two main sections, focusing on why one should preach and teach from the Old Testament in the first section and how one does so in the second. Every chapter ends with questions and exercises to help the reader digest the material, and the “How” section includes preparation checklists and sermon outline examples for each major Old Testament genre. As…

Review of Five Views on The Church and Politics eds. Gundry and Black

Stanley N. Gundry, series editor for the Counterpoints Series, and Amy E. Black, general editor. Five Views on The Church and Politics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015, pp 240, $19.99, softcover.   Zondervan’s Counterpoints series exists to provide a forum for Christians to discuss and critique different views on important biblical, theological, and cultural issues. This volume on the relationship between the church and politics seeks to navigate this challenging topic with clarity and substantive dialogue. The five views represented are the Anabaptist (or Separationist), the Lutheran (or Paradoxical), the Black Church (or Prophetic), the Reformed (Transformationist), and the Catholic (or Synthetic). Amy E. Black (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology) serves as the general editor of this volume, and her contribution is especially helpful to students engaging this discussion. Black is Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College and is a prolific author of several noteworthy books and articles. Black’s introductory essay succinctly summarizes the wide array of responses centuries of Christians have offered in response to one’s allegiance to Christ and the rights and responsibilities that earthly citizenship requires. Black carefully articulates the four major theological traditions (Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, and Anabaptist) who have a distinctive set of teachings or…

Review of Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived by J. Daniel Day

Day, J. Daniel. Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived. Macon, GA: Nurturing Faith, 2013, pp. 287, $16, paperback. Daniel Day is the former Senior Professor of Christian Preaching and Worship at Campbell University Divinity School in North Carolina, and he is the Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. As a pastor, he also served congregations in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma. His publications and articles appear in Ministry Matters, Review & Expositor, Baptists Today, and the Abingdon Preaching Annual. Day is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and earned both MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the preface, Day clearly states his aim in writing: worship is about God. In his view, evangelical worship has been shaped by models other than “seeking God’s face”—the understanding that God is the object and subject of Christian worship. Instead, most contemporary evangelical worship falls within one of three categories: the “evangelism model” which makes worship synonymous with an evangelistic meeting, designed to facilitate the conversion of the worshiper; the “inspiration model” designed to entertain and attract worshipers with only positive words, images, and songs; and the “experiential model,” rooted in classical Pentecostalism and the…

Review of The Whole Christ by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Ferguson, Sinclair B.  The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance – Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters.  Wheaton: Crossway, 2016, pp. 256, $24.99, hardcover. In an age characterized by both self-indulgence and anxiety, Sinclair Ferguson addresses in The Whole Christ the always pressing issues of legalism, antinomianism and assurance of salvation.  Ferguson served as senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina and is professor of systematic theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas and author of a number of books, including The Holy Spirit and In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel-Centered Life. Here Ferguson looks back to an instructive moment in Protestant church history – the “Marrow controversy” in early eighteenth-century Scotland – in order to glean insights for handling the relationship between God’s grace and God’s call for obedience in the believer’s life.  The introduction and first chapter shed light on the background and significance of the Marrow controversy, which centered on a book entitled The Marrow of Modern Divinity that was deemed antinomian by some Scottish Presbyterians but was and is believed by traditional Reformed and Presbyterian theologians to contain a sound presentation of the relationship between God’s grace and God’s law in the Christian…

Review of Theology as Discipleship by Keith L. Johnson

Johnson, Keith L. Theology as Discipleship. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015, pp. 192, $20, softcover. Theological dialogue is standard practice among scholars engaged in the halls of academia. These conversations are necessary and helpful, and it benefits the church greatly for scholars to remain steadfast in their specific academic pursuits; however, the church is not served fully if theology is restricted to the solitary confines of scholarly engagement. Theology must be applicable to the whole of life, and the church needs scholars to speak in this important conversational space as well. Keith Johnson (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary), associate professor of theology at Wheaton College, addresses the need for theology to be recognized as far more than an academic discipline. Johnson helpfully shows that theology is central to discipleship for believers. Theology as Discipleship is an excellent work that will help thoughtful students beginning theological studies. Johnson’s book was born out of questions and conversations Johnson encountered from students in his introductory theology courses at Wheaton College. His students questioned the relevance of theology to daily Christian living, and they also expressed legitimate concerns that theology might stifle one’s daily walk with Christ due to the tendency of quarrels and…

Review of A Vision for Preaching by Abraham Kuruvilla

Kuruvilla, Abraham. A Vision for Preaching: Understanding the Heart of Pastoral Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015, pp 224, $21.99, softcover. Abraham Kuruvilla (MD, University of Kerala; PhD, Baylor College of Medicine; PhD, University of Aberdeen) is research professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is also a dermatologist in private practice. As the consummate skin doctor, Kuruvilla treats abnormalities of the epidermis in a clinical setting and academically reflects upon divine words transcribed on vellum scrolls. His academic emphasis centers on the intersection of hermeneutics and homiletics for faithful expository preaching. This intersection is explored in his latest book, A Vision for Preaching. Kuruvilla’s hermeneutical and homiletical proposal is encapsulated in his vision statement. He says, “Biblical preaching, by a leader of the church, in a gathering of Christians for worship, is the communication of the thrust of a pericope of Scripture discerned by theological exegesis, and of its application to that specific body of believers, that they may be conformed to the image of Christ, for the glory of God—all in the power of the Holy Spirit” (p.1). This vision forms the chapter divisions of Kuruvilla’s book and casts a theological vision chapter by chapter…

Review of The Pastor as Public Theologian by Vanhoozer and Strachan

Vanhoozer, Kevin, and Owen Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015, pp. 240, $19.99, hardback. Kevin Vanhoozer (PhD, University of Cambridge) is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. An ordained elder, he has written or edited sixteen books. Owen Strachan (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of Christian theology and director of The Center for Theological and Cultural Engagement at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also, Strachan is the author of six books, and he is the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In addition to Vanhoozer and Strachan, pastoral contributions are woven throughout the work from twelve ministers across American and European evangelical contexts. Vanhoozer, Strachan, and a team of seasoned practitioners provide a sweeping rebuttal to the contemporary approach of pastoral ministry. Throughout this work, readers are confronted with a passionate plea to recover a historical and biblical view that pastoral ministry is first and foremost a theological calling. The authors dispel the mentality that pastoral ministry is one of only praxis and robust theological reflection is reserved only for the academy. The authors argue that “theological minds belong in ecclesial…