Book Review: Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ

Peterson, Robert A. Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ.

Robert Peterson offers a warmly semi-academic survey of the nine major “events” in the life of Christ that the Scriptures directly link with our salvation: incarnation, sinless life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, Pentecost, intercession and Second Coming.  He observes that although Christians are universally aware of the necessity of Christ’s death and resurrection, few consider the importance of other salvation-oriented aspects of Jesus’ life.  The second half of the book introduces the reader to the six most significant “pictures” concerning the salvation that Jesus has brought to us.  These include Christ our reconciler, our redeemer, our legal substitute, our victor, our second Adam, and our sacrifice.

Salvation Accomplished provides a thorough, yet accessible look at the work of Christ.  It rejects defective theories of the atonement and argues that Christ’s penal substitution underlies all of the other pictures of our salvation.  Peterson graciously but firmly rejects modern, critical views of salvation and demonstrates the significance of propitiation for the believer.  He also shows that the popular Christus Victor theme, while often mishandled by scholars who use it in place of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice, is an accurate biblical image.  Christ is our champion.  Christians need to understand better the breadth of Christ’s work, and Peterson has offered a valuable tool to aid in this knowledge.

Note: An appendix defends limited atonement, but the author keeps this point of debate out of the overall text, preferring instead to focus on what the Scriptures emphasize about the work of Christ.

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review: Christ’s Prophetic Plans

John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue eds.,  Christ’s Prophetic Plans: A Futuristic Premillennial Primer

As with most books of collected essays the quality varies by the contributor. The best essays in this volume are the three by Michael Vlach that deal with the topics of Dispensationalism and Israel. Mirroring his work in Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths, Vlach defines Dispensationalism and clarifies misunderstandings. He demonstrates that Dispensationalism does not demand a particular soteriology (Calvinist or Arminian, progressive sanctification or Keswick, etc.). It certainly does not teach two ways of salvation, and it is not antinomian (though it does not hold that the Mosaic code directly applies to the believer). He defines Dispensationalism in terms of “six essential beliefs.” First, the NT does not reinterpret the OT in such a way that the OT authorial intent is canceled out. Second, Israel is not a type of the church. Third, “Israel and the church are distinct, thus the church cannot be identified as the new or true Israel” (29). Fourth, the salvific unity of Jew and Gentile does not remove a future national purpose of Israel. Fifth, Dispensationalists believe in the future salvation, national restoration of Israel during the Millennium. Sixth, Dispensationalists affirm that “seed of Abraham” has multiple senses. It can refer to national descent or to Gentiles connected to Abraham in Christ. In defining Dispensationalism, Vlach is also careful to correct Dispensational errors in self-definition. For instance, Ryrie asserted that the glory of God as God’s purpose in the world was a Dispensational distinctive. Vlach notes that it would be better to say that Dispensationalists have a greater tendency to understand God’s purposes in a holistic manner that incorporates “social, economic, and political issues” in God’s plan for glorifying himself along with soteriological and spiritual issues (21-22). He also highlights the problem of Dispensationalists defining themselves in terms of consistently literal hermeneutics. He quotes Feinberg, “The difference is not literalism v. non-literalism, but different understandings of what constitutes literal hermeneutics” (22). Vlach is correct that the hermeneutical discussion must go deeper to wrestle with the reasons for different approaches to prophetic material. Vlach’s essays on dispensationalism along with his essay arguing for the future restoration of Israel are highly recommended.

Church historians of many different persuasions have long recognized the earliest Christians were premillennial in orientation. Nathan Busenitz’s essay helpfully provides for lay readers the quotations from the church fathers that underlie this consensus. He also provides a historical argument for why Amillennialism became the dominant view in the church from Augustine through the middle ages and beyond.

Matthew Waymeyer presents a standard defense of the premillennial reading of Revelation 20. He argues from Scripture passages about Satan’s current activity for the impossibility that Satan is currently bound and unable to deceive the nations. He argues against the idea that the first resurrection in Revelation 20 refers to regeneration. He argues in favor of a 1,000 year millennium. And he argues in favor of a chronological reading of Revelation 19 and 20.

John MacArthur contributed three essays to this volume, including a version of his controversial address about why Calvinists should be Premillennialists. His other essays address the timing of the last things. He opposes both preterism and date-setting, but he affirms the general dispensational sequence. In another essay he argues that no New Testament passage precludes the premillinnial position.

Richard Mayhue’s contributions were the weakest. At several points his chapters read like speaking notes in which greater explanation would have been provided in the course of the lecture. These parts were written in a bullet point fashion that succinctly stated his position, but greater development and argumentation for the assertions would have been desirable. MacArthur and Mayhue also repeatedly make the error of appealing to literal interpretation as if it settled the debate. This was especially disappointing because Vlach demonstrated this line of argumentation to be erroneous in the books’s first chapter.

This book is for a lay reader who wishes to have a basic orientation to dispensational premillennialism (the authors have coined the term futuristic premillennailism, which is an odd choice since historic premillennialists also believe that the millennium is future). Those who wish to dig deeper into this perspective of eschatology would want to track down the sources listed in the endnotes.

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802401618

Review written by Dr. Brian Collins and you can read his blog Exegesis and Theology.    This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review: Reasons for Our Hope

H. Wayne House and Dennis W. Jowers, Reasons for Our Hope: An Introduction to Christian Apologetics

House and Jowers have done a masterful job of presenting a theological, historical, and philosophical primer on Christian apologetics.  The authors survey the major types of apologetics, the significant apologetic arguments, the greatest hurdles that apologetics must overcome, and the strongest objections to faith with a sound rebuttal for each objection.  House and Jowers do not come down strongly in favor of a single perspective on apologetics (presuppositional or evidential), but they exhibit a significant depth of understanding of these apologetic systems and their appropriate use.
Reasons for Our Hope divides into four major parts: apologetic methodologies and systems, apologetics in Scripture and history, apologetic problems, and how to use apologetics in engaging the world.  Each section exhibits cohesion in its theme and practical applicability in its tone.
Some apologetics texts treat these apologetic issues on a more popular level or argue for one system of apologetics or another.  Reasons for Our Hope reads as an engaging, wide-ranging textbook, reference work, or manual on all the crucial issues of apologetics.  House and Jowers write on an intermediate level—accessible enough for many introductory students of apologetics, but thorough enough in presentation to be valuable for many advanced readers.  I envision its being used by college and seminary students who will find a valuable introduction to the important terms, systems, and arguments that pertain to the field of apologetics.  Reasons for Our Hope will also serve as a wonderful reference tool for believers who wish to address crucial objections made by our modern culture against the truth claims of Christianity.

  • Softcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: B & H Academic, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0805444810

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.
This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review of Business for the Common Good

Wong, Kenman L. and Scott B. Rae. Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace.

Business for the Common Good offers an ethical guide for Christian businesspeople who want their lives to reflect their Christianity. The introduction to the book notes, “There simply is no established, widely recognized body of ethical or religious knowledge now operative in the institutions of knowledge in our culture” (p. 17). Christians are falling into the same traps as unbelievers in the realm of business—caught up with the pursuit of money, working to advance rather than to glorify God, and trampling on the less fortunate.  Wong and Rae offer an alternative to an unbelieving worldview.  They do not trumpet social activism for the sake of activism; they promote a free-market economy as best reflective of biblical mandates; but they do not give capitalism a free pass.  Its advocates have no right to do and act as they see fit without concern for biblical truth.  The authors treat topics ranging from the worker’s view of his labor to the Christian response to a global economy.  They also treat the pursuit of wealth and the stewardship of the environment without accepting an uncritical perspective on any of these issues.

Readers will want to be aware that the authors sometimes quote from and praise some theologians (e.g., Miroslav Volf, 74) and social workers (e.g., Mother Theresa, p. 133) who fall outside the bounds of orthodoxy, but they carefully qualify this praise as resulting from the fact that even fallen people are made in God’s image and can reflect some moral good.

Christian businessmen will be helped by the attention that the authors give to examples of specific ethical situations (both by way of historical illustration and hypothetical situation).

  • Softcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0830828166

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Bible Conference Book Signings

This week is Bible Conference here at Bob Jones University and during this week the Campus Store is running many specials in the store.  One of the things we are able to do the week of Bible Conference is to have multiple book signings.  There is much excitement about all the books and authors that we will be having for book signings this year.

The first signing we will be having is Wednesday after the morning service (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) with Miriam Champlin.  Miriam is a student in the BJU Seminary and she has written a book on meditation called Constant Fellowship: A Handbook on Scripture Meditation. The second signing is with Dr. Craig Hartman who is speaking in the Conference this week.  He will be signing copies of his book Through Jewish Eyes.  Dr. Hartman is a very interesting and engaging speaker and his book has been greatly used over these past few years.  He will be signing after the Wednesday afternoon service ( 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.)

Also, after the afternoon service until 4:00 p.m Seth and Moriah Custer will be playing selections from their new saxophone/harp CD More Love to Thee.

Thursday March 22, 2012 we will be having Dr. Frank Garlock in the store signing copies of his new autobiography just released this March.  I Being in the Way, the Lord Led Me is his personal account of how the Lord has led in Dr. Garlock’s life and ministry.

Also on Thursday Dr. Panosian will be in the store signing copies of The Printing DVD.  Dr. Panosian is one of the main characters of the Unusual Films movie.

Friday The Campus Store will be having three exciting events simultaneously.  Mr. Don Orthner will be signing his new book The Lord My Shepherd  a devotional guide through the Psalms, including new hymns that he wrote and set to music through his meditation of the Scripture. Also Dr. Berg will be singing copies of his new curriculum designed for use by chartered chapters in a church based addiction program.  This curriculum can also be effectively used to disciple an individual who is struggling with a life-dominating sin or an overwhelming hurt, or who simply wants to grow spiritually.  The curriculum is entitled Freedom that Lasts. And finally the Campus Store is excited to be able to host in the Store as well as in the Student Center, and Snack Shop members from the cast of Unusual Films most recent feature film Milltown Pride .  Many of the cast members including Thomas Sneed who plays the main character in the film will be signing vintage baseball cards as well as movie merchandise Friday 11:30-12:45.  There will be a showing of the movie in Stratton Hall at 3:00 p.m.All items in that will be featured with signers will be on sale in the store during the signings of each item.

These and many other items can be found at www.BJUCampusStore.com

Also all the Bible Conference sermons are down loadable at go.bju.edu/sermons

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Book Review of The Intolerance of Tolerance

Carson, D. A. The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012.

What explains a bank’s unwillingness to retain the bank account of a Christian organization that adheres to traditional Christian views on human sexuality? How do universities justify requiring Christian student organizations to admit officers who hold views contrary to Christian doctrine and practice? Why are doctors in some regions required to perform abortions and pharmacists required to carry and distribute abortion inducing drugs—despite their conscientious objections?

In The Intolerance of Tolerance D. A. Carson argues that these incidents follow from a new definition of tolerance, a tolerance that is remarkably intolerant. The old tolerance permitted a wide variety of views—each strongly held. Diversity existed, and so did debate. The old tolerance also functioned within a moral framework. People might disagree about aspects of the framework, but all believed that the “common good” included moral norms.

The new tolerance rejects all dogmatism as intolerant. According to the new tolerance, all views must be accepted as true (or, at least, potentially true). The moral framework that the old tolerance functioned within is rejected by the new tolerance as intolerant. In the end, significant moral discussion becomes impossible. Instead of discussing the rights and wrongs of various theories of poverty and crime, conceptions of marriage, or the origins, nature, and value of human life, “the public discourse focuses on what sanctions should be imposed on those who do not ‘tolerate’ (definitely the new sense!) the abolition of what were once the moral standards” (133-34).

Intolerance becomes the only vice when the new tolerance is dominant. Yet, ironically, those who function under the old view of tolerance must not be tolerated. This, Carson says, is “worse than inconsistency.” The new tolerance views secularism as a neutral arbiter when it fact, as Carson takes the time to demonstrate, it has all the marks of a religious view in its own right. So ironically the free exercise of other religions must give way to the establishment of secularism.

The demand that religion retreat into its own private sphere is bad enough for Christianity and other religions for whom privatization contradicts core beliefs. But worse, even a privatized religion will not suit the secularism of the new tolerance. Even the internal affairs of religious groups are censured under the new tolerance. For instance, the Catholic Church is denounced as intolerant for denying the Eucharist to members who publically oppose its abortion policies, and evangelical Anglicans are castigated for not permitted heretical bishops to preach from their pulpits. Doctors in some areas are told they must perform abortions despite personal religious objections. When a government sanctions those who seek to uphold morality (rather than those who seek to undermine it), not even a privatized religion or a personal conscience offers protection. Democracies too, Carson warns, can be tyrannical.

At this point Carson’s book could grow dark and discouraging or angry and shrill. But Carson avoids this. He concludes with ten “ways ahead.” Several of these suggestions center on ways of thinking and speaking which undermine the pretentious but hollow claims of the new tolerance. The last three ways forward deserve special mention: “evangelize,” “be prepared to suffer,” and “delight in God, and trust him.” Though making the United States (or wherever) “a better place” is not the motive for evangelism, Carson notes “when the gospel truly does take hold in any culture, changes in that culture are inevitable” (174). But if suffering and persecution rather than cultural change awaits Western believers, it will be nothing more than the New Testament tells Christians they should expect–and nothing more than what many Christians around the world experience (175). Therefore: “Delight in God, and trust him. God remains sovereign, wise, and good. Our ultimate confidence is not in any government or party, still less in our ability to mold the culture in which we live.” Our hope is in God.

Review written by Dr. Brian Collins and you can read his blog Exegesis and Theology

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Book Review of Sidney & Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs

Who are you like – Sidney or Norman?

Does Norman, a type A, successful businessman with a freshly pressed suit and a confident personality remind you of yourself? Or maybe you’re more like Sidney with his tie slightly askew, sporting a large toothpaste stain right in the middle and wearing a perpetually worried frown. Welcome to the endearing tale of two, very different, neighboring pigs. Sidney & Norman invite you to discover God’s ever present love with them – in a very real way.  The plot is simple. The illustrations are compelling. The message is poignant. In this heartfelt tale, author Phil Vischer, masterfully captivates his audience with the reality of God’s unconditional love. Suitable for audiences young and old, this book will have you intrigued by the character’s descriptions of themselves and will cause you to reflect on how much their personalities are much like your own. So, are you like Sidney or Norman? What message of love does God have for you? Read this timeless tale to find out!

This book was reviewed by Amber Houk, a Campus Store staff member, who enjoys sharing the joy of reading with children and adults alike.

Sidney & Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review of Romans and Galatians in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary

Roger Mohrlang, Romans and Gerald L. Borchert, Galatians in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary

The authors present an evangelical view of both of these foundational books.  This commentary series does not intend to offer a deeply exegetical analysis of the biblical texts.  Rather, it provides a basic commentary that is accessible to a wider audience.  The advanced student will find the absence of detailed discussion on fine grammatical issues disappointing, but most readers will find the commentary to be a helpful overview of the important issues.
One of the weaknesses of the series is its use of the New Living Translation, a strongly dynamic equivalent translation in which the translators often make interpretive judgments that change the potential meaning of the text as it stood in Greek.  The notes section that follows each section of the NLT text mitigates the weaknesses of the translation, but the translation itself is makes too many interpretive judgments in my opinion.
For the book of Romans, Mohrlang affirms the Pauline authorship and the integrity (the “wholeness”) of Romans.  He treats the major problems of interpretation as follows: he recognizes the universal applicability of the Bible’s prohibition against sodomy (ch. 1) and affirms that God is actively wrathful against sin; he affirms imputed righteousness against the New Perspective on Paul; he believes that the “I” who cannot do right in ch. 7 is not Paul specifically but “everyman” who tries to obey the law; he correctly assesses 9:5 as calling Christ God; he defends the paradox position against strong Calvinism and strong Arminianism; and he affirms the restoration of Israel (ch. 11).  Mohrlang excels in tying together other passages of Scripture with parallels in Romans.  He also points the reader toward the best conservative sources on a variety of more technical issues.  This will help even the scholarly reader to pare down the time needed to find the best resources on a given topic.
For the book of Galatians, Borchert accepts a Southern Galatian view of the book and defends Paul’s major theme of justification by faith.  He treats some of the problems of interpretation as follows: he correctly resists identifying to whom the ransom price of salvation was paid (p. 303); he treats the Sarah/Hagar illustration as a true allegory; he rejects covenant nomism as an adequate description of justification by faith (p. 318).  On the other hand, he overstates the meaning of the first class conditional (p. 299) and he fails to consider the intensive use of the conjunction in the key phrase “the Israel of God” (p. 336).
Overall, the reader will find this volume to be a basic, conservative handbook on the books of Romans and Galatians.

  • Hardback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0842383424

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review of Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship

Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship. By Jonathan Lunde.

Jonathan Lunde expounds the biblical covenants, the Christian’s relation to the law, the Kingdom of God, and Christology in the service of laying the foundations for faithful Christian living. The themes that Lunde has selected to form the theological basis of this work are ones that theologians and biblical scholars have long recognized as among the most important in Scripture. Sadly very few lay-level books have approached these themes. Lunde’s work nicely fills this gap. What is more, despite the complexity and disagreements that surround these issues, Lunde, for the most part, arrives at what I believe to be the best interpretations. For instance, though he believes all of the biblical covenants are grounded in grace, he also recognizes that the Mosaic covenant differs from the others by providing stipulations with blessings and curses. The others are gift covenants. Lunde also does a good job handling the issue of the law’s relation to the believer and noting both the continuities and the discontinuities involved. Throughout the whole, Lunde is making applications to the Christian life. He structures the book around three questions: (1) “Why should I be concerned to obey all of Jesus’ commands if I have been saved by grace?” (2) “What is it that Jesus demands of his disciples?” (3) How can the disciple obey Jesus’ high demand while experiencing his ‘yoke’ as ‘light’ and ‘easy’?” In answer to his first question Lunde expounds the biblical covenants. He notes that they are all grounded in grace, that certain of the covenants are unconditional in nature, and yet that all the covenants maintain expectations for both parties. Thus even though Jesus has fulfilled the new covenant’s requirements, this does not relieve the Christian of his duties toward God. In answer to the second question Lunde primarily expounds the law as it had been transformed by the arrival of Jesus. He notes that while Jesus has fulfilled the law, the expectations on believers are now higher, not lower. In answer to the third question, Lunde focuses on the enabling grace given to believers in the new covenant. Overall, Lunde does an excellent job of maintaining a grace focus and recognizing the responsibilities that are vital to Christian discipleship. As with any book, a few weaknesses do emerge. I’m not convinced of the idea that Genesis presents two Abrahamic covenants, one conditional and one unconditional. Nor was I convinced by his argument that the servant in Isaiah 53 is first Israel and then ultimately Christ; furthermore, this lengthy digression didn’t advance the point he was making in that section of the book. Finally, some of his mission talk, though brief, seemed loose. The strengths of this work far outweigh its weaknesses. It deserves a wide reading since it will both inform lay readers of important but neglected aspects of biblical teaching while at the same time relating practically to their daily Christian walk.

  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310286165
  • Paperback: 320 pages

Buy Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship

Review written by Dr. Brian Collins and you can read his blog Exegesis and Theology

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Book Review of The Priority of Preaching

Christopher Ash is a preacher who trains preachers, and his little book The Priority of Preaching provides a unique angle on that training. He mines the example of Moses’ long sermon in Deuteronomy for the contemporary (expository) preacher. He places particular weight on the fact that Moses predicts that a succession of prophets will serve Israel—to them the Jews were told to listen (Deut. 18:15–22). The content of their messages was, Ash argues, supposed to be the written words of God.

I’m afraid that connection—and several other connections he made between New Testament preaching practice and supposed Old Testament precedent—is where he lost me. It feels awkward to say so, but Ash actually seemed stronger when he was relating general insights about preaching than when he was trying to tie those insights directly to Old Testament texts.

For example, Ash points out that

an interactive Bible study is not culturally-neutral. To sit around drinking coffee with a book open, reading and talking about that book in a way that forces me to keep looking at the book and finding my place and showing a high level of mental agility, functional literacy, spoken coherence and fluency, that is something only some of the human race are comfortable doing… For those who can do it, it may well be profitable; but many people can’t, and just feel daunted or excluded by the exercise. (28)

Ash wonders if we have unwittingly “contributed to making some of our churches more monocultural than they might otherwise be” by insisting on this kind of exercise. What do we do for those people who lack the education or fluency to participate in small-group Bible study? They need to learn the word, too. If a back-and-forth dialogue won’t work, what will? Ash says there are two options, preaching and theater. Of course, he opts for the former. He makes the perceptive argument, one going back to the Reformation, that theater only produces people who know Bible stories but don’t know what they mean.

Ash attempts, however, to tie this argument back to Deuteronomy (through Moses’ prediction that preaching prophets would come to guide Israel)—and I, at least, wasn’t quite ready to follow. But that doesn’t invalidate his excellent insight.

I had the same feeling multiple times throughout the book. Perhaps added OT study will persuade me that he was right, but for now I believe that the way God ruled His people Israel and the way Jesus guides His church are not meant to be tied together as closely as Ash assumes. (We definitely can and must learn from the OT, but it’s not always a simple process.)

Critique done. Because this was a warm and insightful book by someone whose heart beats for God’s word to spread and be taught accurately.

Let me just tick off some of the insights that are now bathed in neon yellow in my copy of Ash’s book:

  • “Submission is not the same as discussion. Discussion is comfortably in line with the spirit of the age. We are happy to discuss and interpret…. There is a place for discussion and questioning to clarify our grasp of meaning and correct one another’s blind spots. But all too often, discussion is one of the ways we avoid submission.” (35, 36) Ash argues that preaching should not be replaced by dialogue, although it should be so engaging as to provoke a silent dialogue. “There may be times when a silent dialogue in preaching is actually preferable to a spoken dialogue. Some so-called dialogue is really simultaneous or alternating monologue…. Good spoken dialogue is easier said than done. How often a dialogue is hijacked by some over-talkative person asking questions that most of the others don’t want answered! Sometimes a coherent reasoned exposition is interrupted by irrelevant questions. Spoken dialogue sounds good, and it is sometimes necessary, but there are both practical and theological reasons for working at the silent dialogue of good preaching.” (54–55)
  • “There is not mystical short-cut, whereby the lazy preacher can hope to be clothed by some anointing, so that his ill-prepared words will come with the power of God…. Godly preparation is a struggle, but there is no substitute for the time and the pain of this engagement with the word.” (40, 42)
  • “Those who think [the] doctrine of authority puffs up the preacher have not begun to feel the sheer terror of being a preacher…. To be a preacher is one of the most deeply humbling experiences in the world.” (42)
  • “Liberalism claims to permeate and influence culture, but only does so in the way that a mouse permeates a cat; it is swallowed by it.” (51)
  • “Let us not teach, but also preach. If teaching is like the signpost which explains clearly to us where we ought to go and how to go there, preaching is like the friendly but firm shove from behind to get us started on actually going there and to keep us moving. We must teach: exhortation without teaching…. is an act of verbal aggression, an invasion of my personal space.” (64)

Now for two final insights that deeply benefited me. I’ve seen writers (typically left-leaning ones) praise community interpretation of the Bible, but I’ve never seen anyone flesh out what it means. Ash, a conservative, gave the best insight on the value of communal reading of Scripture:

“We are to be a community who interpret the word; but the kind of interpretation we are to aim at is much more than agreeing what it means. We are to interpret the word in the sense of becoming a living visible interpretation of the word, a community in which the word of Christ is lived out and made concrete.” (101)

In addition, he pointed out that “attending church” online removes the mutual accountability of knowing what we’ve all heard as a community:

“When I gather with my brothers and sisters to hear the word preached, it is still possible to hit the ‘Off’ button. I can look out of the window; I can read Wesley’s instructions for congregational singing in Christian Hymns; I can read the 39 Articles at the end of the Book of Common Prayer; I can doodle; I can daydream. But it is not quite so easy. For I have sitting around me brothers and sisters who might notice; and I would hate to be seen to be inattentive…. When we listen together, you know what word I have heard, and I know what word you have heard. I’ve heard it!… We are accountable to one another for our response, and this stirs us up and encourages us to respond as we ought.” (99)

The book ends with an excellent and brief appendix presenting seven arguments for expository preaching.

Pick up this book, read the appendix, and then dip into a chapter for some insights. If the sustained argument didn’t quite carry me along, I still feel I benefited from the loving work of a careful brother.

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Christian Focus
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845504649
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Purchase the Book: The Priority of Preaching

Mark L. Ward, Jr., Ph.D. is a recent graduate of the BJ Seminary New Testament Interpretation program and has for five years worked at BJU Press as a high school Bible curriculum author and Biblical Worldview Team member. Before that he spent five years at a research center in the Mack Library. He blogs at βλογάπη.

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