Category Archives: Book Review

FINDING MESSIAH

Jennifer Rosner has written a winsome, probing, even dare I say, provocative book.

Rosner is a Jew by birth. Later, she became a Christian by believing in Jesus as her messiah. As she tells so well in this book, her love of all things Jewish did not stop when she trusted in Jesus. Just the opposite.

This book does a terrific job of challenging Christians to consider whether we properly appreciate the debt we have to the Jewish religion. Most of us have not digested the reality that the Christian faith is anchored in the Jewish world. Rosner makes a strong case that Jesus would want us to ponder more deeply how much we owe to our Jewish ancestors.

STRANGE RITES!

Burton’s book combines terrific writing, first-rate reporting, telling illustrations, and the competence of a brilliant scholar. Burton’s Oxford doctorate does not get in the way of writing in an accessible and compelling style.

As many others have said, and I certainly concur, this is a terrific resource to better appreciate the many bizarre ways people embrace the “spiritual.”

 

HOW TO GROW OLD

Princeton University Press has hit an absolute grand slam homer with these elegant and inexpensive editions of ancient classics. I have purchased several of them. My recent reads were Seneca on anger and this one by Cicero on aging.

I highlighted much of both books and made loads of notes.

Not to be missed!

SOCRATES’ CHILDREN

I have read many books by Peter Kreeft. His writing is always clear, informed, makes wonderful connections, and he peppers important truths with his signature humor.

This four-volume set is a marvel. Word on Fire puts together beautifully designed books, and it is on vivid display in this work.

I have already encouraged friends to pick up this set. Indeed, I am beginning a weekly discussion with a friend over its contents.

If you want to learn from a master communicator about matters of the utmost importance, then these volumes are highly recommended.

THE GOSPEL COALITION, CONTROVERSY, AND CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER

Those who know me would hardly peg me as an apologist for The Gospel Coalition. For those who don’t know me, they may want to consult this piece, posted almost eight years ago to the date:

A Few Thoughts for My Friends in the Gospel Coalition (by David Moore)

One tweak to that post based on feedback I received from Justin Taylor is that Denny Burk is part of Together for the Gospel not The Gospel Coalition. That correction was gladly received from Justin, but the nub of my overall concerns with The Gospel Coalition were not altered by that factual error. (My correction is also noted in the follow up post on The Gospel Coalition at the end of this post.)

Another update: Tim Challies wrote me this shortly after seeing my post:

“Denny is not part of Together for the Gospel and, I’m quite sure, has never been, unless he perhaps did a breakout for them or something. He is part of Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and a professor at Boyce College.”

Like Justin’s earlier correction, I gladly receive this one from Tim. Again, it does not alter the concerns I raised in my first post about The Gospel Coalition.

Many of you are aware of the controversy swirling around Joshua Ryan Butler’s book, Beautiful Union. I very much agree with Anthony Bradley that Butler’s publisher failed him by not offering the proper checks and balance. Granted, Butler’s book is a more popular level book, so the peer review that comes with academic works did not take place. However, given the nature of what Butler was writing, the publisher should have vetted it by utilizing scholars, both male and female, who have real expertise on the subject matter.

To keep this post short, my concern is that it is easy for all of us to dismiss and discredit a fellow believer (or Christian organization) we find in error, even and maybe especially so when the error(s) are serious. 

Even those like Scot McKnight who is certainly not to be confused as an apologist for The Gospel Coalition (!) had very favorable things to say about Joshua Ryan Butler’s earlier books. And I should add that it was on Scot’s blog that he gave me the green light to write this appreciative follow up post about The Gospel Coalition:

David Moore, TGC, Part 2

 

 

TIMOTHY KELLER: HIS SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL FORMATION

I have read eight books by Tim Keller. None have been duds, but I certainly have my favorites.

Opportunities to interview Keller have come on two occasions. The first was on his book about suffering. That interview can be found here: 

Tim Keller on Suffering

The other was an exchange of emails about preaching. That exchange was published here: 

Tim Keller Answers: How Much Prep Time for a Sermon?

And now we have a terrific book on the formative influences that made Tim Keller who he is. Here then are a few observations from Collin’s Hanson’s wonderfully conceived book:

*Many times, God uses the most unlikely people. Keller’s awkwardness socially would not have made one think he was destined to the ministry we now know him for. By the way, Keller got a C in his seminary preaching class, not an encouraging sign that he would amount to much as a preacher.

*Mentors are hugely influential. Keller had several, but Edmund Clowney was one of the most formative. Clowney’s kindness, learning, and commitment to Keller reminds me of the role Ambrose played for Augustine.

*Keller’s ability to synthesize material, commitment to listen well to others, free people up to use their own gifts, but most of all, his humility, are things God has honored.

*There is no Tim Keller as we know him today without Kathy Keller. If you have a spouse who is a partner in ministry (I am graced by God to say that I do), then thank God for that blessing. If you are single and looking for a spouse, be diligent to find someone who shares the vision God has laid on your heart.

*If I were asked to list a couple of specifics that make a minister used of God, I would list true piety, humility, ability to keep loyal friends over the long haul, and courage. For the latter, Keller had a powerful model in a pastor who preceded him. He is a long-forgotten name, but you will be inspired by getting to know William E. Hill Jr. I’m glad Collin regularly brought in obscure figures who had a big impact on Keller.

*I mentioned above that I have read eight books by Keller. Making Sense of God is probably my favorite. I am glad that Collin gave some attention on the need to write such a book. My review of Making Sense of God is here: 

Tim Keller’s Newest

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AIR WE BREATHE

I have read many books on apologetics and how best to engage the culture. I have read and, in some cases, reread classic works by Augustine, Pascal, Chesterton, and Lewis. Contemporary folks like Keller, both of the two big books by Charles Taylor, Sire, Guinness, Schaeffer, Pearcey, and Moreland have been very helpful. You get the picture. All these have been terrific, but the book that now tops my list is Glen Scrivener’s book, The Air We Breathe.

In relatively short compass Scrivener winsomely, wisely, and wonderfully showcases that we do as Flannery O’Connor said, live in a Christ-haunted world. (She said a Christ-haunted south, but I am expanding on her words.)

If you are looking for a well-written and compelling resource that makes it crystal clear that many of the things we love and take for granted like freedom are a result of Christianity, then this book is for you. If you are not looking for a resource like this, you should be!

REVELATION FOR THE REST OF US

It is wonderful that Scot McKnight is inviting others to collaborate with him on certain writing projects. Scot wrote the popular book called Tov with his daughter and he has brought folks in on a variety of projects. In this particular case, Scot teams up with Cody Matchett. Such apprenticeship, especially by an established scholar, is most encouraging.

In lieu of a typical book review, I like to depart at times from that format and list a handful of insights or implications that I appreciated most from my reading. Here we go…

*Years ago, I remember thinking if the blessing at the beginning of Revelation (1:3) is true, then the book can’t be too difficult to understand. It didn’t make sense that Revelation would be impossible to understand and at the same time say, “Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Emphasis mine) Frankly, it would be cruel if God instructed us to obey a book that is beyond our comprehension.

The authors do a terrific job of showcasing that Revelation’s meaning is clear and that its message is indeed life-giving. I should add that Revelation being “clear” is not at odds with the need to read carefully, something the authors greatly help us with.

*I regularly call our country “speculation nation.” We live in a toxic time where many of us drink a deadly cocktail of ignorance and arrogance. We may not know much, but others better listen to us!

Revelation for the Rest of Us consistently and winsomely reminds us to steer away from speculation. And speculation is big business for the book of Revelation! Instead, McKnight and Matchett model an attractive form of attentively listening to the text and locating the gems that are hiding in plain sight.

*If one appreciates the history of the church, then one can’t help but be a bit suspicious that a certain dispensational reading of Revelation is correct. What about Catholic, Orthodox, and many Protestant denominations who disagree? What about the recency of dispensationalism? Dallas Theological Seminary is one of the seminaries I attended. Even there it was admitted that dispensational was recent.

Revelation for the Rest of Us should cause many to reconsider whether a dispensational reading is accurate.

*Speaking of history there are several terrific insights from both the ancient context and some from the more recent past. These do a good job of illuminating Revelation. For example, there is Tacitus talking about Nero and from the more recent past, Howard Thurman reflecting insightfully reflecting on Negro spirituals.

*There are helpful reflections on how to apply the book of Revelation in the most practical ways imaginable. The authors help us to understand the big picture of this book which offers great motivation to apply it to the details of our life. Lives, as the authors say so well, embodied as dissident disciples.

*What are you expecting from reading the book of Revelation? A decoder ring to tell you how various symbols point to things in our own day? If that approach has led you to a veritable cul-de-sac, then Revelation for the Rest of Us will offers much clarity and sanity.

David George Moore is that author most recently of Stuck in the Present: How History Frees and Forms Christians.

Stuck in the Present: How History Frees and Forms Christians: David George Moore, Carl Trueman: 9781684264605: Amazon.com: Books