Jesus the Son of God Book Review

jesus-the-son-of-god-a-christological-title-often-overlooked-sometimes-misunderstood-and-currently-disputedWhat does the bible mean when it refers to Jesus Christ as the Son of God? There are varying opinions that have surfaced in the history of Christianity and the discussion continues even in our generation. Many theologians have written on the subject from the perspective of the Trinity and the purpose of the coming of the Son of God as well as the pre-existence of the Son. Few however have really delved into a biblical study of the usage of this title.

While many works tend to focus on the title “Son of God” in the grander view of the Trinity, D.A. Carson has given us this important book Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (To purchase in Moncton, please go here) focusing entirely on the title Son of God. The book was published by Crossway in 2012 and is approximately 108 pages in length spreadout into three chapters.

Carson begins the book with a survey of the shorter version of the term in the usage of “son of” in scripture. He points out that the term “son of” without a modifier generally refers to a biological son. With this in mind, this is not the only sense the title has. Carson explains that the title “son of” is used in a metaphorical sense as well (son of a bow, sons of thunder). It also takes on an indicative reference of who has trained an individual or a reference to your master (Son of the devil) or can even signify your trade (sons of the singers). Carson brings out that in this study that the term “son of” can also demonstrate the heir of a promise and it is not always biological. The Sons of Abraham were heirs by faith not by physical hereditary entitlement (Galatians 3:7). Carson has some really interesting information on the translation of the title “son of” and how in some modern translations it can sometimes be muddied with an over emphasis on a translational methodology called dynamic equivalency. This will become important in his argumentation in the 3rd chapter.

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Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon Book Review

untitledFor anyone who has visited this website for even a short period of time will recognize that we have a tremendous love and respect for a great 19th century Baptist Leader by the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Known as the Prince of Preachers, Spurgeon left us with a treasure of writings from sermons to commentaries. While he was well known for his ability to preach and expound the beauty of the word of God, Spurgeon was also recognizable for his works of benevolence, his life as a pastor and a man who stood for the truths that are found in scripture.

I have had the pleasure of reading many biographies on great Christian brethren from the past and I surely benefit from them as these men influence my understanding on how to live out the faith that was left for us in scripture. Thomas Nettles, who is a professor of historical theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville KY, has given us a goldmine in a new biography on the life of Spurgeon. The book is titled “Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon”. The book was published by Christian Focus Publications in 2013 and is approximately 680 pages in length.

The book stands out as a standard on the life of the great Baptist preacher. Nettles takes us through some details of Spurgeon’s early life in the first two chapters focusing on his upbringing, his conversion to Christ and several life events that led him to becoming one of the greatest preachers in Britain. Nettles spends some time delving into his first pastorate at Waterbeach which eventually led Spurgeon to the New Park Street Chapel and then to the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

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Book Review: From Heaven He Came and Sought Her

heavenFrom Heaven He Came and Sought Her is a book that was released shortly before the end of 2013. It is a multi-author volume edited by David & Jonathan Gibson and published by Crossway. FHHCSH addresses the topic of Definite Atonement[i]. For those who are unfamiliar with Definite Atonement, it is the discussion of the extent, intent and effect of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. It deals with the questions for whom did Christ die, what did the Father and Son have in mind that the death of Christ would result in and what was that result after Christ’s death. The subject has been a controversial point amongst most Christian of the idea that the atonement was universal in its scope.

The book is an in-depth and rich look at the topic it addresses. It stands at close to 700 pages of actual materials spread out in 23 chapters and divided into four sections. The four sections are

  • Definite Atonement and Church History
  • Definite Atonement in the Bible
  • Definite Atonement in Theological Perspective
  • Definite Atonement in Pastoral Practice

I will give a brief overview of each chapter in the book and at the end of this review I would like to give a few general observations

Introduction

The foreword to the book was written by none other than J.I. Packer and anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy Packer especially his introductory essays. This portion was not disappointing to say the least and sets the tone for the rest of the book.

The opening chapter was an overview written by the editors David and Jonathan Gibson. They laid out some of the themes and topics that would be addressed throughout the book. I felt that they explained well by means of introduction to some of the arguments that would be laid out in future chapters as well as some opposing arguments that would be addressed. For someone who is not familiar with the whole discussion, this chapter will be essential.

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Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative Book Review

imagesI have been studying eschatology for a few years now and I have been blessed in my efforts to understand the biblical theme of the “last things”. The reason I have spent a few years is, as anyone who has studied eschatology knows, that the bible is absolutely saturated in looking forward to blessed events where God will act and there are numerous interpretations of what the bible says about it. This was true of the Old Testament with the expectation of a future Messiah who would sit on the throne of David, set up the Kingdom and redeem God’s people in a climactic way. It is also true of what the 2nd coming of Christ will bring at the end of the age.

I have read numerous books on the subject of eschatology (many can be found on my eschatology page on this website) from various points of view. Each book tended to answer some of the questions that I had accumulated over the years but quite honestly they also seem to present even more questions. With that said, I just finished reading Sam Storm’s “Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative”[i]. This is probably one of the first times that I have honestly had more questions answered than had been accumulated[ii]. While I am convinced that the Amillennial position is the closest to being faithful to the biblical evidence, it sometimes is a difficult position to explain particularly to someone who has been entrenched in premillennial thinking especially from the Dispensational Perspective. Sam Storms is in a unique position to write such a book that is helpful to present the Amillennial position in a clear fashion. Sam is a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary and he was a student of great dispensational thinkers such as John Walfoord, J. Dwight Pentecost and Charles Ryrie. Storms understand dispensationalism and eschatology as a whole to which he has dedicated many years of study to. He is able to present his position in light of other positions much more effectively because he’s been there! Here are a few thoughts in regards to the book.

The book is an affirmation of the Amillennial position with some critiques of other positions such as dispensational premillennlialism and postmillennialism. I will elaborate more on some of the topics he addresses below but firstly, I would like to simply say a few general words in regards to this volume. The book is a reasonably hefty volume close to 600 pages in length with only a few footnotes hence Storms spends some decent time developing his thesis. I have yet to experience someone write on the topic of eschatology with such a care for his readers. Storms really makes a tremendous effort to explain himself in such a way as to give his reader a full understanding of terminology especially when mentioning positions that are not in agreement with his own. He also doesn’t brush off arguments from other eschatological positions and spends time answering the critique of those who are opposed to his understanding of prophecy. The reader may not be in complete agreement with everything Storms says but he/she will respect the time and care Storms places upon each topic he addresses. What is probably the strongest feature of the book is Storms’ relentless effort to build his arguments from the text of scripture. This is not a philosophical book nor is it simply a systematic eschatology but it is strongly focused upon interpreting key biblical texts that deal with eschatology.

Storm’s gives us a brief introduction to the topic of eschatology, his background and how he came to embrace the Amillennial position in his introduction. The first chapter deals with the hermeneutics of eschatology. I found this section very useful prior to beginning the book since Storms lays out his interpretive principles from the get go. One that was worth mentioning was point 4 (of 5 points) where Storms explains how those who were writing the texts of future prophecies were doing so in a context of what made sense to them in the present. Their expression was based upon their culture and experience while attempting to describe what it was that they were seeing. Understanding this is helpful when attempting to “grasp the distinction often drawn between what is literal and what is figurative. I found this especially enlightening when he applies this to the text of Isaiah 65. The second chapter is a definition of dispensational eschatology which would be tremendously useful to those who are not familiar with this understanding of the end times. Chapter three is a focus upon Daniel’s 70th week. Storms would hold to the same position as Philip Mauro and many others who view the fulfilment of the 70th week in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He also provides a good response to the dispensational notion that the 70th week is still in the future. Chapter 4 continues to look at the book of Daniel in regards to key texts that are important to grasp prior to addressing New Testament prophetic texts.

Chapter 5 is a critique of Premillennialism in general whether dispensational or historic. I truly enjoyed this chapter because I have heard many scattered assertions and arguments in regards to the problems with Premillennialism but Storms was able to lay out his case by founding his arguments on the exegesis of key texts that explicitly show that Premillennialism contradicts the testimony of scripture in regards to the timing of the 2nd coming of Christ. He goes through a very thorough exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 8:18-23, 2 Peter 3:8-13, Matthew 25: 31-46 and John 5:28-29. At the end of this chapter, he responds to some main arguments posited by Premillennialists against the Amillennial position.

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My “What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an” Book Review

cover27901-mediumWe live in a generation where anyone who has the ability to watch any news media cannot escape hearing about Islam. Since 9/11, coverage of the “fastest growing religion” has been frequent and constant in our society with no end in sight.  There is even a small group of Muslim’s who gather in the Moncton area as well and hence there is an opportunity for Christians to meet and share their faith with those of the Islamic faith.

It is tremendously important to know where we stand on the subject of Islam and how they differ from the Christian faith. We have often heard individuals ask “do not Muslims and Christians worship the same god?” The answer to that question is no but such an answer will not suffice since we need to give a reasonable explanation as to where they diverge.

There have been numerous volumes written on the subject of Islam especially over the course of the last 10 years or so.  The vast majority of books are written as a general overview of the religion but very few get into any specificity. James White’s book “What Ever Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an” is a much more focused book dealing explicitly with the teachings of the Qur’an itself especially in regards to what it has to say about the Christian faith.  The book is much more definite than your average “Islam 101” volumes and the average reader will appreciate the specific focus within the book on Islam’s holy scripture.

Dr. White has spent numerous hours examining the Qur’an and the hadiths, researching Islamic sources, debating many well-known Islamic apologists which truly gives him tremendous insight on this faith. The book is nothing short of a well documented resource for anyone wanting a closer look at what Islam has to say about the Christian faith.

The first chapter gives a historical account of Muhammad’s early years, his encounter with the angel Gabriel, how the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad was passed down, some important points about his life including his wives, his conquest of mecca and his eventual death. This is a general introduction that serves as a useful background to understanding the historical background of the Qur’an.

In the second chapter, Dr. White explores some relevant points regarding the Qur’an including some of its content, its language and how Muslims view their holy book.

Chapter three includes the primary tenets of the Islamic faith with a special focus upon tawhid (Unitarian monotheism) as well as the Islamic teaching of shirk, mithaq and fitra.

I truly enjoyed chapter four dealing with the Qur’an’s denunciation and unfortunate misrepresentation of the Christian doctrine of the trinity. Dr. White demonstrates that the writer of the Qur’an could not have truly understood the true doctrine of the trinity which places a big question mark on the claims that it was written in eternity by Allah.

Dr. White then moves on in the 5th chapter to go through the Qur’an’s teaching on Jesus Christ. He briefly addresses all 25 instances where the Qur’an speaks of “Jesus, son of Mary” (Isa ibn Mariam). This chapter also deals with the consequences of the Islamic Jesus in regards to the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus. Obviously a whole book could be written in regards to this topic however in the short space dedicated to it, Dr. White manages to give some compelling arguments against the Qur’an’s version of Jesus.

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