Book Reviews

Review of To Aliens and Exiles: Preaching the New Testament as Minority-Group Rhetoric in a Post-Christendom World by Tim MacBride

MacBride, Tim. To Aliens and Exiles: Preaching the New Testament as Minority-Group Rhetoric in a Post-Christendom World. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2020. pp. 254, $51, hardcover. Tim MacBride (ThD, Australian College of Theology) serves as Head of the Faculty of Bible and Theology at Morling College in Sydney, Australia. At Morling, MacBride teaches New Testament and Homiletics. Prior to joining the faculty, MacBride pastored a church in Sydney’s south suburbs for twelve years. To Aliens and Exiles is MacBride’s third book on preaching New Testament rhetoric. MacBride’s two previous books on preaching include his doctoral thesis, Preaching the New Testament as Rhetoric (Wipf & Stock, 2014), and Catching the Wave: Preaching the New Testament as Rhetoric (InterVaristy Press, 2016), in which he simplified his doctoral thesis for a non-academic audience. MacBride has also written several articles on preaching and a book on patronage in John’s Gospel. In To Aliens and Exiles, MacBride offers Christians a lens to understand how to articulate the faith from a minority group position. Such a minority position was the context in which the New Testament was written. Indeed, MacBride posits, Christians have always been a minority. How to instruct the Church to interact with the…

Review of Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered by Rick W. Marrs

Marrs, Rick W. Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2019, pp.260, $19.95, softcover. “Believe more.” “Pray more.” “Do more.” Law-centered counseling can accidentally burden the counselee with more guilt, shame, and depression. Christ-centered counseling, on the other hand, mitigates tribulation and motivates sanctification by centering the counselee in the forgiveness, love, and grace of Jesus Christ. By presenting a primer in the Christ-centered theology of Martin Luther and suggesting soul-care strategies that flow from that theology, Rick Marrs, Christian counselor, licensed psychologist, and professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, aims to make Christian counseling more Christ-centered. Luther’s Christ-centered theology comes packed in orthodox paradox. In Marrs’s manual, three of Luther’s paradoxes are especially unpacked and employed to help make Christian counseling more Christ-centered: (1) the bane and blessing of Anfechtung, (2) the distinction of Law and Gospel, and (3) the saint and sinner-hood of the Christian. First, Marrs shines a needed light on Anfechtung, the lost locus of Luther. Whether we like it or not, human beings are creatures afflicted with Anfechtung, Luther’s favorite German word for temptation, trial and tribulation, guilt and shame, suffering and sorrow. Against a theology of glory or prosperity gospel, the…

Review of Autism and the Church: Bible, Theology, and Community by Grant Macaskill

Macaskill, Grant. Autism and the Church: Bible, Theology, and Community. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2019, pp. 236, $34.95, hardback. Grant Macaskill is Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis since 2015. Prior to this, he had taught as Senior Lecturer in New Testament at the University of St Andrews. His research engages with the New Testament as a coherent body of theological literature emerging from the diverse contexts of late Second Temple Judaism. His publications have included extensive treatments of theological issues in the New Testament, notably “Union with Christ”. In many ecclesial settings, it goes unnoticed that the church’s autistic members are a gift. In his book, Grant Macaskill has written in a tone of faithful hope about Autism and the Church within an awareness of the sorrow that can accompany being overlooked in such contexts. This book is an example of a biblical theology which dispenses neither of the participatory nature of the church in its reading practices nor the social and scientific research required to write informatively about autism. Macaskill submits the rigour of theological scholarship to its pastoral significance making serious reflection accessible to a larger range of readers than simply those inside the university. The…

Review of Thy Will Be Done: The Ten Commandments and the Christian Life by Gilbert Meilaender

Meilaender, Gilbert. Thy Will Be Done: The Ten Commandments and the Christian Life. Baker Academic, 2020. pp. 125, $21.99, hardcover. Gilbert Meilaender, a Lutheran research professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana, is a leading ethicist. His textbook on bioethics is generally considered a standard. In Thy Will Be Done he follows in a long line of Christian tradition that reflects on the Christian life in terms of the Ten Commandments. On the basis of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, it is difficult exegetically to know how to number the Ten Commandments. Three different numbering systems have developed. The Catholic-Lutheran numbering, which Meilaender follows, treats the prohibition against other gods and graven images as the first, the prohibition against using God’s name in vain as the second, the command to sanctify the Sabbath as the third, the command to honor parents as the fourth, the prohibitions against murder, adultery, and stealing as the fifth, sixth, and seventh, the prohibition against bearing false witness as the eighth, the prohibition against coveting the neighbor’s house as the ninth, and the prohibition against coveting the neighbor’s wife, servants, and possessions as the tenth. The Eastern Orthodox-Reformed numbering treats no other gods and no graven…

Review of The Heart of the Preacher: Preparing Your Soul to Proclaim the Word by Rick Reed

Reed, Rick. The Heart of the Preacher: Preparing Your Soul to Proclaim the Word. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019, xx + pp.216, $13.99, hardback. “Preaching is not just hard work; its heart work” (p. xvi). It seems apropos for Rick Reed to speak to this issue, a veteran of preaching and pastoral theology, with experience in the church and the academy. Dr. Rick Reed (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as the President of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada where he is Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Studies. He was Senior Pastor at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa for fourteen years. He has been a plenary and seminar speaker for the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and a master coach for Global Proclamation Academy in Dallas, TX. He is a regular contributor to the “Ask the Religion Experts” column of the Ottawa Citizen. The Heart of the Preacher is a timely and insightful book that every practitioner of Christian preaching and pastoral ministry will want to explore. It is a tonic for the ailing ministry heart and a preventative to the potentially unhealthy preacher’s soul. Reed’s heart is to “help your heart as a preacher” (p….

Review of Preaching God’s Grand Drama by Ahmi Lee

Lee, Ahmi. Preaching God’s Grand Drama. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp. 175, $22.99, paperback. An experienced pastor and worldwide preacher, Ahmi Lee is Assistant Professor of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Her first book, Preaching God’s Grand Drama, is a timely, theologically rich contribution to the field of homiletics. While other works, such as Eric Brian Watkins’ The Drama of Preaching, have explored the dramatic dimensions of preaching in relationship to the redemptive-historical narrative of Scripture, Lee builds on the work of Kevin Vanhoozer and others to present a theodramatic homiletic in conversation with prevailing models of preaching. Specifically, the book reflects Lee’s experience of feeling “caught” between two competing paradigms of preaching: “the text centered, so-called traditional preaching” model and “the reader-centered, conversational mode of preaching” (pp. 1-2). Preaching God’s Grand Drama is her attempt to draw upon the best of these two models to articulate a third way: theodramatic preaching, an integrative model of preaching that invites the Church to participate in God’s past, present, and future action in the world. The book is arranged into six chapters. The first chapter articulates and assesses the traditional homiletic. For Lee, the traditional homiletic is…

Review of Shepherding God’s People: A Guide to Faithful and Fruitful Ministry by Siang-Yan Tan

Tan, Siang-Yan. Shepherding God’s People: A Guide to Faithful and Fruitful Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2019, 263 pages, $22.99, paperback. Originally from Singapore, Siang-Yang Tan (PhD, McGill University) serves as professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary and senior pastor of the First Evangelical Church in Glendale, California. Tan has authored fourteen books and serves in editorial roles for several academic journals. If only a single word were used to describe this volume, one might settle on “comprehensive.” Indeed, this is how John Ortberg describes the book in his preface. A quick perusal of the table of contents, and a thorough reading of its content reinforces the comprehensive nature of this overall project. From the beginning of the book, readers sense Tan’s commitment to plunge into the deep waters of pastoral ministry. Guided by an expert with more than thirty-five years of experience under his belt, this volume comprehensively covers the critical aspects of a faithful shepherding ministry. Divided into two overall sections, part one consists of the first four chapters. Here Tan introduces readers to select fundamentals of pastoral ministry: a biblical perspective on ministry, the essential role of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual life of a pastor, and…

Review of Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today edited by Gibson and Kim

Gibson, Scott M. and Matthew D. Kim, editors. Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, 192 pages, $21.99, paperback. What is the influence of hermeneutics to the task of preaching? Scott M. Gibson, the David E. Garland Chair of Preaching and director of the PhD program in preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, and Matthew D. Kim, the associate professor of preaching and ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, have collected four leaders in the field of preaching to weigh in on this important discussion: Bryan Chapell, former president and chancellor of Covenant Theological Seminary; Abraham Kuruvilla, senior researcher professor of preaching and pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary; Kenneth Langley, adjunct professor of preaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; and Paul Scott Wilson, professor of homiletics at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto. As established authors in the field of homiletics and former presidents of the Evangelical Homiletical Society, editors Gibson and Kim were excellent choices to facilitate a discussion about the interplay between hermeneutics and homiletics among these able evangelical scholars of preaching, and voice their own perspectives at the conclusion. Gibson and Kim set the table for the conversation…

Review of Understanding Bible Translation: Bringing God’s Word into New Contexts by William D. Barrick

Barrick, William D. Understanding Bible Translation: Bringing God’s Word into New Contexts. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2019, 248 pp, $21.99, paperback. All eyes were transfixed on the speaker who ascended the lectern. As he opened the sacred book, the hushed crowd rose together as if on cue. After a blessing the standing throng uniformly put their faces in the dust. The Word of God was about to be read! But the reading sounded strange, most struggled to understand the foreign words. Expectant hearts began to grow disillusioned until another man stepped forward to translate the text into the common tongue (Neh 8:1–8). Thus began the history of Bible translation, from Mosaic Hebrew to the Aramaic of the exiles. Bill Barrick offers readers a window into this history as well as the intricacies and importance of translating God’s Word into the common languages of the world. Barrick’s resume makes him an excellent guide for such a journey: 15 years as a Bible translator in Bangladesh, 50 years of teaching Hebrew and Old Testament, and a contributor to multiple English Bible translations (ESV, NET, LEB). Having taught for many years at The Master’s Seminary, he currently serves as the OT editor for…

Review of Dogmatic Ecclesiology Volume 1: The Priestly Catholicity of the Church by Tom Greggs

Greggs, Tom. Dogmatic Ecclesiology Volume 1: The Priestly Catholicity of the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp. lxviii+492, $50.00, hardback. Professor Tom Greggs holds the Marischal Chair of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen. He has authored numerous articles and books, including Theology Against Religion: Constructive Dialogues with Bonhoeffer and Barth (T&T Clark, 2011), Barth, Origen, and Universal Salvation: Restoring Particularity (OUP, 2009), and the forthcoming The Breadth of Salvation: Rediscovering the Fullness of God’s Saving Work (Baker Academic, 2020). In Dogmatic Ecclesiology Volume 1: The Priestly Catholicity of the Church, Greggs presents us with the first entry in a three volume project. The themes of the three volumes reflect a coordination of the threefold office of Christ as priest, prophet, and king with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed’s description of the church as catholic, apostolic, and holy. Volume 2, then, will address the church’s “prophetic apostolicity,” while volume 3 will attend to its “kingly holiness” (p. xxi). As if such a project was not ambitious enough already, each volume will follow the same outline. For example, chapter 1 in each book will address the Spirit’s role through the lens of the volume’s unique theme, chapter 2 in each book…