Book Reviews

Review of 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me by Hansen and Robinson

Hansen, Collin and Robinson, Jeff.  15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018, pp. 155 , $17.99, Paperback. 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me is a multi-author work.  Each of the authors, however, demonstrate that at least a portion of their vocational ministry consists of time serving pastorally over a local congregation of believers.  This equips each of the authors to be able to speak extensively and practically to the arena about which they wrote, giving the reader both confidence in their ability to assess and explain the situations involved but also the practical guidance for how to maneuver difficult situations that arise within the context of local church ministry. In this work the various authors seek to establish, encourage, and root the reader in the practical realities that accompany life in the local church.  Each individual seeks to address a  different topic someone might encounter in vocational ministry that was potentially not covered during a stint of studying at a seminary.  The first chapter argues that simply because an individual has education it does not make them competent for ministry, giving practical guidance in what to focus on and how to love people more than the knowledge…

Review of How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Andrew Naselli
Book Reviews , New Testament / February 19, 2020

Naselli, Andrew David. How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017, pp. 432, $30, hardback. Andrew David Naselli is Associate Professor of New Testament at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also a pastor at the North Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Moundsview, Minnesota. Before coming to Minnesota in 2015, Dr. Naselli was D.A. Carson’s personal research assistant. In addition to his teaching and pastoral responsibilities, he writes regularly at Andynaselli.com and has written many scholarly and lay-level journal articles and books. In fact, he is currently one of the editors of a massive dictionary project: G. K. Beale, D. A. Carson, Benjamin L. Gladd, and Andrew David Naselli, eds. Dictionary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, forthcoming [~2022]). Dr. Naselli’s How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (HUANT) is his only book on New Testament hermeneutics. HUANT is the companion volume to Jason S. DeRouchie’s How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017). The sheer volume and diversity of…

Review of An Obituary for “Wisdom Literature”: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus by Will Kynes
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 14, 2020

Kynes, Will. An Obituary for “Wisdom Literature”: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus. Oxford University Press, 2019. 352pp. $78.24, hardcover. An Obituary of “Wisdom Literature” divides into four sections: Introduction, Historical Metacriticism, Genre Methodology, and The Reintegration of Wisdom Literature. The introduction establishes Will Kynes’ methodological critique of wisdom literature. Wisdom literature is a modern scholarship invention and Johann Bruch is the Wellhausen of Wisdom (p. 4). Kynes’ genre-method combines theories of a constellation metaphor and turns the referent into a three-dimensional reference (p. 12). Scholars should put to death wisdom literature as a genre, then reevaluate wisdom: categories, genre, schools, and concept (p. 18). Wisdom must first be understood as a concept and not a category that unites other corpora together (p. 22). Section I focuses on Kyne’s Historical Metacriticism on wisdom literature and he divides the section into three chapters. The first chapter describes the rise of wisdom literature as a category and the rational for the demise of wisdom literature. The imminent demise arose through the spread of wisdom literature into every discipline with an ever-changing definition.  The second chapter buttresses Kynes’ argument on the historical precedent of the definition of wisdom literature…

Review of Decisional Preaching by Jim Shaddix

Shaddix, Jim. Decisional Preaching. Spring Hill, TN: Rainer Publishing, 2019, pp.147, $11.47, paperback. Dr. Jim Shaddix is Professor of Preaching, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC), holding the W. A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching, also serving as Director for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership. He has made homiletic contributions to numerous multi-authored works and along with Jerry Vines has co-authored Power in the Pulpit (Moody, 1997/2017) and Progress in the Pulpit (Moody, 2017). He has authored The Passion-Driven Sermon (B&H, 2003). Decisional Preaching is a much-needed book for every practitioner of Christian preaching seeking to discern the difference between pulpit manipulation and biblical persuasion. Seasoned homiletician Jim Shaddix takes the reader from stem to stern on the necessity, purpose, and practice of the persuasive elements of preaching. The book unfolds in six chapters: “Confessions of a Spurgeonist” (argumentation for decisional preaching); “Preparing to Call for Decisions” (preparation of the preacher through Word and Spirit); “Decisional Qualities of Sermon Foundation (utilizing persuasion in the sermon’s formal elements); “Decisional Qualities of Sermon Function (using persuasion in the sermon’s functional elements); “Decisional Qualities of Sermon Force (understanding the sermon style issue of force and its expression); and finally “Public…

Review of The Extravagance of Music by David Brown and Gavin Hopps
Book Reviews , Christianity & Culture , Theology / February 10, 2020

Brown, David and Gavin Hopps. The Extravagance of Music. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018, 352 pages, $89.99, Hardcover. David Brown is an Anglican Priest, Emeritus Professor of Theology, Aesthetics and Culture, and Wardlaw Professor at the University of St Andrews. His work explores the relationship between theology and philosophy, and most recently, the interactions between theology and the arts. Gavin Hopps is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Theology, and Director for the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts (ITIA) at the University of St Andrews. His research focuses on theology and the arts, with particular interests in Romantic literature and contemporary popular music. The Extravagance of Music presents an optimistic and generous understanding of music’s potential to allow for divine encounter. At the heart of the book is the notion that music is inherently “extravagant”—a term that Brown and Hopps root in its medieval origins, extrā vagārī, meaning to stray outside boundaries or to go beyond limits. This “generous excess” that music provides can potentially mediate our experiences of a similarly generous, extravagant God. The study challenges previous well-chartered but significantly more constrained conceptions of the theological possibilities of music. These have tended to focus on certain styles, or…

Review of The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith by Fairbairn and Reeves
Theology / February 7, 2020

Fairbairn, Donald and Ryan M. Reeves. The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019. xi+396pp. Pb $34.99. The creeds and confessions of the Christian Church remain fundamental benchmarks of the faith that have survived the test of time and will continue to guide theological developments in the future. As this book reminds us, there is a lot of history behind the formation of these key texts, and not all of it has been pleasant. Controversies have flared up and sometimes led to unfortunate consequences that still defy resolution. However, the ecumenical spirit of our age has allowed us to re-examine this past more objectively than was once the case and to recognize that differences that once led to division may have been due to misunderstandings and/or extraneous factors that are no longer relevant. In weaving their way through these complexities, the authors of this book have done a magnificent job of condensing their material in a way that makes it digestible for the beginning student without cutting corners or being unfair to positions with which they might disagree. Every Christian, of whatever background, will be able to use this…

Review of Atonement by Eleonore Stump
Book Reviews , Theology / February 5, 2020

Stump, Eleonore. Atonement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, pp. 560, $80.00, hardback. Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University and an Honorary Professor at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology. Stump has authored or edited a number of works on Medieval philosophy and theology. Her Gifford Lectures, titled, “Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering” was published by Oxford University Press. In Atonement, Stump sets out to put forth a new account of the doctrine of atonement. To get to her account of atonement, Stump wanders through the darkness (or light?) of a number of theories of atonement, psychological literature on shame and guilt, medieval accounts of the will, and contemporary neuroscience. Eventually she dubs her account, “the Marian interpretation” of atonement, after any of the number of Marys in the Bible (p. 378). What exactly is this “Marian account” of atonement? First, I should mention that her understanding of “atonement” avoids “narrow” understandings of atonement that equate atonement with removing guilt by means of Christ’s crucifixion and death. Instead, Stump opts for a broader understanding of atonement, one that takes seriously the etymology of the word—”at-one-ment”—and uses the…

Review of Four Ministries, One Jesus: Exploring Your Vocation with the Four Gospels by Richard A. Burridge

Burridge, Richard A. Four Ministries, One Jesus: Exploring Your Vocation with the Four Gospels. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019, pp 242, $17.09, paperback. Rev. Professor Richard A. Burridge is the Dean of King’s College London where he serves as a professor of biblical interpretation. In 2013 he became the first non-Catholic to receive the prestigious Ratzinger Prize. Burridge is a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and served on the Evaluation Committee for ordination and theological education. Four Ministries, One Jesus examines the somewhat mysterious “call” of those entering into vocational ministry. Though designed with the Anglican context in mind, Burridge addresses all faith traditions in his engaging and articulate manner. The introduction to Four Ministries, One Jesus clarifies that this edition began as a collection of addresses given at an ordination retreat for the Diocese of Peterborough in England and serves as the foundational context for the instructions given by Burridge. The author divides the gospels into four categories of ministry: the teaching ministry of Christ in Matthew, the pastoral care of Christ in Luke, the suffering servant in Mark, and the divine spiritual life of Christ in John. Each chapter includes a perspective on…

Review of Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: A Systematic Theology of The Christian Bible by Joseph K. Gordon
Book Reviews , Theology / January 31, 2020

Gordon, Joseph K. Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: A Systematic Theology of the Christian Bible. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2019, 458, $65.00, hardcover. Joseph Gordon is associate professor of theology at Johnson University in Kissimmee, Florida. Divine Scripture in Human Understanding is a revised version of his doctoral dissertation at Marquette University under Robert Doran who specializes in the theology of Bernard Lonergan. Gordon’s work proceeds in six chapters. He begins by introducing the overall framework and thesis. His goal is to provide “a constructive systematic account of the nature and purpose of Christian Scripture that articulates the intelligibility of Scripture and locates it within the work of the Triune God in history and within human cultural history” (p. 8). Chapter 2 works from the premise that the varied perspectives of the scriptural books and their “pervasive interpretive plurality” requires Scripture alone to be an insufficient tool for comprehensively understanding the Christian faith (p. 34). In other words, it is not that Scripture itself is lacking but that humans require multiple “horizons” of interpretive action to obtain the meaning of the text. They cannot glean all that the Bible means by reading the Bible in isolation. Recognizing…

Review of Trinity without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology Edited by Bird and Harrower
Book Reviews , Theology / January 29, 2020

Bird, Michael F., and Scott Harrower, eds. Trinity without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2019, pp. 344 $25.99, paperback.  The sixteen essays of Trinity without Hierarchy (subsequently, TwH) together argue that conceptualizing the Trinity in terms of eternal relations of authority and submission (hereafter, ERAS) conflicts with the “the apostolic and evangelical faith” (p. 21). TwH’s editors Michael F. Bird and Scott Harrower lecture at Ridley College in Melbourne. Bird has defended ERAS previously, but he now argues that this approach (popularized by Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware) is “analogical to a semi-Arian subordinationism” (pp. 9-12, 10). Harrower published Trinitarian Self and Salvation in 2012 and God of All Comfort (2019), both exploring Trinitarian theology. TwH largely responds to the 2015 monograph edited by Ware and John Starke, One God in Three Persons. TwH presents ERAS as implicitly subordinating the Son’s glory in teaching that he eternally submits and that this grounds creational hierarchies (pp. 10-11). TwH provides biblical, historical, and systematic analysis to counter ERAS’s hermeneutics and theological conclusions. According to TwH, ERAS errantly interprets Scripture’s Trinitarian economy. Amy Peeler (pp. 57-83) exemplifies the book’s hermeneutical case with her biblically focused argument: “Hebrews does not demand [the ERAS] interpretation” (p. 68). Both John Owen, according to…