Book Reviews

Review of Being Saved: Explorations in Human Salvation edited by Marc Cortez, Joshua R. Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton

Cortez, Marc, Joshua R. Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton, eds. Being Saved: Explorations in Human Salvation. London: SCM, 2018, pp. 361, $56, paperback. Being Saved is a collection of essays circling around the twin topics of “theological anthropology and soteriology” (p. xiii). The essays explore classic systematic theological categories while also engaging with other disciplines of enquiry about the human condition. The editors acknowledge that this creates a wide variety in the essays, but they seek to avoid “a homogenous approach to this multi-levelled discussion” (p. xv). This approach makes clear several different modes of theological enquiry for Christian theology. By juxtaposing them in one volume, it serves as a sourcebook for contemporary questions about soteriology and about the interaction between soteriology and philosophy. Although a four-part division provides structure to the book, some essays fall more neatly into the given categories than others. The first section, “Sin, Evil and Salvation,” centers on cosmic issues, or those outside the individual person. After initial forays into God and time (“Identity through Time,” R. T. Mullins) and idealism (“Divine Hiddenness,” Trickett and Taber), there are three essays on sin and atonement. Jonathan Rutledge rejects “Retributivism”, defined as the claim that “the punishment…

Review of Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? by Jack Cottrell

Cottrell, Jack. Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? Mason, OH: The Christian Restoration Association, 2022, 163pp, $14.99, paperback. Jack Cottrell, arguably the most prolific writer and influential theologian of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, tackles the topic of baptism in yet another accessible book, Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? This text incorporates Cottrell’s primary insights on how the Protestant Reformer Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531) changed the course of church history by creating a new view of the meaning of baptism from salvific to merely symbolic. Although this concise book contains previously published material by Cottrell, it is good to have an overview and summary of Cottrell’s critique of Zwingli’s view of baptism in one small volume. It is certainly handy for the student as well as the scholar and teacher. Cottrell divides this work into three parts: (1) a review of his Princeton dissertation on Zwingli, (2) his personal views on “Zwinglianism,” and (3) a reproduction of “Connection of Baptism with Remission of Sins.” (Part Three is the work of the nineteenth century Christian Church theologian J. W. McGarvey which was originally included in his New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles [1892] but omitted from later editions.) Part One is divided…

Review of The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative (2nd Edition) by Steven D. Mathewson

Mathewson, Steven D. The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021, 252 pages, $22.99, paperback. Steven Mathewson is both a pastor and a scholar. He serves as the senior pastor in Libertyville, IL, and he is also the director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Western Seminary in Portland, OR. Mathewson’s background as a practitioner and scholar in the field of homiletics enhances his book, The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative, by allowing him to provide practical counsel and helpful instruction to readers. The author develops his work around three parts. In Part One, Mathewson addresses some challenges with preaching from Old Testament narratives, and he surveys “The Christ-Centered Preaching Debate” (pp. 15-26). In relation to the subject of Christ-centered preaching, the author notes that “I did not deal with this sufficiently (in fact, hardly at all) in his first edition” (xviii). Mathewson’s rationale for adding this discussion is as follows: “Your conclusions [about preaching Christ in the Old Testament] will shape the way that you study and preach an Old Testament narrative text” (p.15). In Part Two, Mathewson presents his methodology for studying biblical narratives for preaching in six chapters….

Review of Say It!: Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition edited by Eric C. Redmond

Redmond, Eric C. ed. Say It!: Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition. Chicago: Moody, 2020, 240 pages, $14.99, paperback. What does the Great Migration have to do with exposition? Much! The Black Church in the United States has a beautiful yet painful history. The African American preaching tradition arose in this context, producing notable preachers including John Jasper, Richard Allen, Francis J. Grimké, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gardner C. Taylor, James Earl Massey, and E. K. Bailey. Historically, African American preaching has been underresearched and underpublished. However, times are changing, and homiletical treasures are being unearthed and offered to Christ’s people. Eric C. Redmond (Ph.D., Capital Seminary and Graduate School) has assembled a top-notch lineup of African American homileticians in Say It! to “demonstrate the power of exposition in the cradle of the black pulpit” (back cover). Redmond is a Professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute and an Associate Pastor of Preaching, Teaching, and Care at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL. He has published several books and articles, including Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men’s Questions About the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008) and Christ-Centered Exposition: Jonah (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2016)….

Review of God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood by Andrew S. Malone

Andrew S. Malone. God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2017, pp. 230, $25.00, paperback. Andrew S. Malone serves as Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Dean of Ridley Online at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. In God’s Mediators, Malone develops an expositional and synthetic biblical theology of the theme of priesthood, studying both individual and corporate priestly identities and work across the canon so as to “augment and refine our existing knowledge, reinforce or reshape our theological framework, and make us better expositors of the texts and their consequences for God’s holy people” (p. 10). He contends, specifically, that Christians struggle to define priests and priesthood in a manner following the patterns of the biblical witness (pp. 8–9; 186–187). Malone descriptively surveys, therefore, the biblical landscape for individual priests, starting with Aaron’s and his sons’ mediation at Sinai with an important focus on “the kingdom of priests” found in Exodus 19:5–6 as a royal priesthood (pp. 16–17, 126). His survey of the Aaronic priesthood, ultimately, establishes a baseline to consider implications for 1) Israel’s corporate priesthood, 2) Jesus’ priesthood, and 3) the nature of the church’s corporate priesthood. He labels the Aaronic priesthood by its status of…

Review of The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring by Bobby Jamieson

Jamieson, Bobby. The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021, 185, $17.99, paperback. Bobby Jamieson is an Associate Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Formerly, Jamieson was an assistant editor for 9Marks. He did his doctoral work at the University of Cambridge and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written on all areas of pastoral ministry, including Guarding One Another: Church Discipline, Leading One Another: Church Leadership, and Hearing God’s Word: Expositional Preaching. The Path to Being a Pastor is a brief discussion about the necessary conversations that need to be had before one goes from participant to pastor. When one becomes a pastor, they join an elite group that God has used to do mighty works. Jamieson maintains that some have made this leap without realizing what they are getting involved in. As a result, the churches have suffered, and pastors have experienced burnout. Although Jamieson admits to not having been a pastor himself, he has helped many on the journey. This book is the fruit of that labor. The first third of the book sets up the dialogue about whether or not someone should…

Review of Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age by Felicia Wu Song

Song, Felicia Wu. Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2021. pp. 216. How do we understand personal identity in a time where we do not simply go online, but we live online? Song’s work in Restless Devices examines the question of personal identity in a digital age through the lens of an unapologetic Christian theological anthropology. It takes a supple voice and keen mind to navigate the complexities of digital media to an overwhelmingly uninformed audience about the ethical issues behind technology used every day. The expertise and tenure of Song’s work here shine in the landscape of the contents of Restless Devices. Anyone studying the ethics of technology understands the complexity of the relationship between the device as a mere instrument and the device as an implement of power. For example, Part 1 (“Being at Altitude; The Terms of Agreement; and The Industrialization of You and Me”) examines how “smart” technologies shape the user through the values laden by the producers of said technology (cf. Jürgen Habermas’ economic thesis). Tech companies use and exploit behavioral psychology and insights from neuroscience to make addictive products without much concern for the ethical…

Review of Inward Baptism: The Theological Origins of Evangelicalism by Baird Tipson

Tipson, Baird. Inward Baptism: The Theological Origins of Evangelicalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020, hardcover, $79. It is safe to say that within the conservative Protestantism of the last hundred years, there has been no common understanding of the relation in which the modern movement stands to earlier Protestantism. In the Victorian era, conservative Protestants saw things differently. With a sense of urgency provided by a resurgent Papacy bent on re-exerting international influence and by movements within Protestantism, such as the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement – which aimed at the re-Romanization of Anglicanism, Protestant historians tended to maximize the continuity of Protestant movements from one era to the next. Born in the age of Reformation, Protestantism was understood to have been reinvigorated in the age of Puritans and Pietists and enlivened in the era of transatlantic awakenings, but still been a constant. This broad-brush approach was in need of refinement and it has come about, beginning with the 1988 release of David W. Bebbington’s Evangelicalism in Modern Britain. While chiefly about developments within the United Kingdom, Bebbington’s work suggested elements of discontinuity between the transatlantic and trans-denominational evangelical movements arising in the 1730’s and what had gone before. Meanwhile, a…

Review of Trinitarian Theology: Theological Models and Doctrinal Application edited by Keith S. Whitfield

Whitfield, Keith S. ed. Trinitarian Theology: Theological Models and Doctrinal Application. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2019, pp. 197, $19.99, soft cover. Trinitarian Theology presents three theological models from scholars of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest U.S. Protestant denomination. The editor Keith S. Whitfield is associate professor of Christian theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Between Whitfield’s introduction and conclusion, six chapters follow a multi-perspectives pattern: opening arguments lead to responsive rebuttals. The authors provide a general defense of their Trinitarian models and specifically address the question of eternal relational authority and submission (ERAS). First, Bruce Ware, author of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2005) and editor of One God in Three Persons (2015), presents ERAS as biblically necessary and historically defensible. Second, Malcolm B. Yarnell, author of God the Trinity (2016), conditions ERAS theologically. Third, Matthew Y. Emerson, Christ and the New Creation (2013) and The Story of Scripture (2017), and Luke Stamps, Thy Will Be Done (to be published by Fortress Press) criticize ERAS as contradicting the pro-Nicene tradition. These models differ regarding their grounding. Ware surveys Scripture guided by Hebrews 1-2 to ground ERAS directly, while also providing historical and philosophical support. He states that “since the Bible…

Review of Preaching to People in Pain: How Suffering Can Shape Your Sermons and Connect with Your Congregation by Matthew Kim

Kim, Matthew. Preaching to People in Pain: How Suffering Can Shape Your Sermons and Connect with Your Congregation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021, xvi + pp. 223, $21.66, paperback. With the heart of a pastor, the mind of a theologian, and the skill of a soul-surgeon, Matthew Kim navigates the turbulent waters of pain. This insightful work will “encourage pastors to preach less pain-free sermons and to preach more pain-full sermons where preachers disclose their suffering and pain” (p. xi). Kim (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) serves as the Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, MA, as well as past president of the Evangelical Homiletics Society. He is a seasoned pastor and prolific author of works such as Preaching with Cultural Intelligence and Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today. Preaching to People in Pain is a balm for each preacher’s soul as well as their weary flock. If after reading this book, you can see the value of preaching on pain, then Kim has fulfilled his goal (p. 201). He arranges his work into two units: Naming the Pain (three chapters) is an invitation to authentic dialog concerning how and why pastors…