Book Reviews

Review of Freewill and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns edited by Timpe and Speak
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / January 24, 2017

Timpe, Kevin and Daniel Speak, eds. Free Will and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 316, $85. In this collection of essays, readers will encounter an interesting array of topics related to free will and philosophical theology. For example, essays cover issues related to divine providence, the doctrine of hell, the problem of evil, the doctrine of divine conservation or divine sustaining of the universe, and the compatibility of God’s freedom with His essential perfection. Even though these essays cover different topics, there is one major question that runs throughout the entire book: does something about theism entail libertarian or compatibilist accounts of freedom? One of the most impressive features of this volume for me is the editing of the essays. The contributors are not directly debating one another. It is not the case that one contributor writes an essay, and then another contributor responds to the original essay. However, the reader will often feel like she is reading a debate between dialogue partners. The editors have selected the contributors carefully in this regard. In many of the essays, a contributor has written up a nice summary of arguments that he or she has…

Review of From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research by Michael Kibbe
Book Reviews , Theology / January 3, 2017

Kibbe, Michael. From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 152, $12, paperback. As I have taught classes at both the undergraduate and graduate/seminary level one of the things that I have noticed that students struggle with most is academic writing. The struggle in writing is nearly universal among students. Kibbe’s From Topic to Thesis is a very helpful tool that will help students through the beginning stages of the writing process, stages that are often ignored by students and under taught by faculty. Kibbe starts his guide for students with an introduction. He starts the introduction with a discussion of process by noting that students should move from topic to thesis and not from topic to paper, which students often do. Kibbe also briefly outlines the history of theological research and gives a discussion of how theological research is similar and distinct from other areas of research. He ends the introduction with a discussion of key terms and a discussion of bibliography. Chapter one is focused on finding direction. In this chapter Kibbe brings out a number of important points when writing. Kibbe starts this chapter with a discussion of four…

Review of A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal their Complete Truthfulness by John Piper
Book Reviews , Theology / December 6, 2016

Piper, John. A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, pp. 304, $24.99, hardcover. John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) served for 33 years as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. He is the founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. Over the years, Piper has written over 50 books, each dedicated to connecting man’s joy and satisfaction with the glory of God. A Peculiar Glory is no exception. In this most recent book, Piper connects certainty of mind in the truthfulness of the word of God with the direct revelation of God’s glory through the Christian scriptures. His argument is that the truthfulness of the Word of God is self-attesting as God’s glory shines through with a peculiar light, enlightening the mind and satisfying the soul. In summary, Piper’s argument is a defense of verbal-plenary inerrancy. He argues for the complete truthfulness of the Old and New Testaments in all they claim. However, the distinctiveness of Piper’s project is to provide a warrant for the believer’s certainty and trust in this claim. How can one come to know (with certainty) the truthfulness of the Word of God?…

Review of Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective by Mark Cortez
Book Reviews , Theology / November 29, 2016

Cortez, Mark. Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 272, $27.99, paperback. Marc Cortez is currently associate professor of theology at Wheaton College. His prior works include Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark, 2010) and Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies: An Exercise in Christological Anthropology and Its Significance for the Mind/Body Debate (T&T Clark, 2008). As the title of these previous monographs indicate, Cortez has an interest in theological anthropology. The recently published Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology represents his third full length contribution to this field. What makes us human? This is a question upon which much ink has been spilled. Most studies attempting to answer this question have tended focus on one of several topics: 1) human origins, 2) ethics, and 3) the imago dei. What Cortez brings to this already oversaturated field is a rethinking of the methodology upon which so many of these studies are founded. Cortez’s approach to theological anthropology is strictly Christological. Although this book is not primarily a constructive proposal but a study of historical Christological anthropologies, Cortez reveals his constructive method which…

Review of A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / November 8, 2016

Frame, John. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2015, pp.xi + 875, $59.99, hardback. John Frame holds the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Frame’s A History of Western Philosophy and Theology is just one book among many that he has authored—books that span a wide range of subjects, including theology, apologetics, ethics, worship, and philosophy. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology is a culmination of sorts of Frame’s labor in expounding upon Reformed Christianity’s doctrines and applications. Frame’s latest work is a helpful account of not only the history of Western philosophy, but also of the sometimes contentious, sometimes harmonious, relationship between theology and philosophy. Frame seeks to tell a “philosophical” story in his History—one in which he attempts to “analyze and evaluate” the history of Western philosophy “from a Christian point of view” (p. xxvi). In a day when histories of philosophy have ignored theology’s contribution to philosophical thought (or, at the very least, relegated such contribution as irrelevant to the scope of philosophy), Frame sees little difference between the two disciplines (p. xxv). More importantly, the Bible speaks to…

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 God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits by Malcolm Yarnell
Book Reviews , Theology / October 25, 2016

Yarnell III, Malcolm B. God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2016, pp. xi + 260, $29.99, hardback. God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits presents a nuanced exegetical case that “the pattern of the Trinity is woven into” (p. 5) the fabric of the various Old and New Testament literature. Throughout the work, author Malcolm Yarnell (D. Phil., Oxford), Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, balances close theological exegesis with a desire to help the community of believers understand life in the Trinity. The opening chapter serves to introduce the case made in the sequel, appropriately beginning with Yarnell’s hermeneutic. Eschewing “propositionalism” (the insistence, bequeathed by the Enlightenment, that doctrinal claims must be propositional claims), Yarnell instead utilizes the historical critical method—although not indiscriminately (decrying its occasionally “acidic” use [p. 79], as well as its tendency to blunt our reading of the fathers [p. 98]). Each chapter (save chapter four) centers on the unpacking of a selected biblical passage, each yielding a complementary portrait of God (the fitting metaphor of portraiture is used throughout). Chapter one rounds out with a consideration of Matthew 28:16-20, highlighting the portrayal of the divine persons as in…

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 Locating Atonement: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics by Oliver D. Crisp and Fred Sanders
Book Reviews , Theology / October 4, 2016

Crisp, Oliver D. and Fred Sanders. Locating Atonement: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015, pp. 256, $26.99, paperback. Locating Atonement is an edited volume drawing together several highly respected theologians and philosophers for the sake of determining where a theory of atonement might conceptually intersect with other prominent theological topics (e.g. the Eucharist, an account of the ascension, or a doctrine of divine wrath). The editors, Oliver Crisp (Fuller Theological Seminary) and Fred Sanders (Biola University), are both accomplished systematic theologians in their own right and conversant with the movement of analytic theology represented by several of the articles contained in this volume. In what follows, I will focus on the contributions of Benjamin Myers (Charles Sturt University) and Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis University), whose articles represent well the scholarly rigor of the volume as a whole. In “The Patristic Atonement Model,” Myers attempts to develop a model of the atonement, which expounds the views of the patristics and serves as an alternative to the Christus Victor model advanced by Gustaf Aulén. Myers offers this alternative to Aulén’s model because the latter model has recently come under criticism by several scholars who claim that Aulén has not…

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…