Book review: Dandelion Wine
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Dandelion Wine Publisher: Bantam Spectra Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes It’s been said that great writers are born, not made. One such writer is Ray Bradbury, the eminent author emeritus of American Science Fiction. Not being a fan of Science Fiction, I did not truly enjoy or appreciate Bradbury after reading some of his short fiction, but his semi-autobiographical work Dandelion Wine changed all that. Dandelion Wine is the story of Douglas Spaulding, a twelve year-old boy, who, in the summer of 1928, discovers that he is alive. I distinctly remember the summer of 1995, when I discovered I was alive. But a sixteen year-old in 1995 comes to much different realizations of aliveness than a twelve year-old in 1928. This is a narrative told in images and sensations, spanning the three summer months of June, July and August. The stories are only loosely connected; Douglas doesn’t figure as the protagonist in every single one. But this is merely incidental because a twelve year-old boy’s memory isn’t necessarily a chronological log of events. Rather, events, feelings, sensations and images all ball up into a series of interconnected experiences consociated by the fact that they were all…

Book review: Ruby Slippers
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Ruby Slippers How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes After being married for almost ten years, I realise that I know very little about women. (I also know that I will always know very little about women). This is somewhat disheartening. I figured after I had grown up with two older sisters (and thus had three mums growing up) I would be able to understand them, at least a little. Yet I am still amazed at how different women are from men. I also want to make clear that I like it this way. It would be rather boring if I could understand my partner completely. We have a deep bond, but to be surprised still is something I cherish. So as I picked up the book Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Grace Fincher, I was expecting to gain a bit more insight into how women interact differently with God, and I was not disappointed. At times it felt as though I was eavesdropping on a confidential conversation between a two women deeply committed to figuring out how God is remolding them into his image. Fincher leaves no…

Book review: A Body of Divinity
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

A Body of Divinity Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion Publisher: Solid Ground Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes The last several decades have witnessed the publication of a wealth of classic theological treasures.  Some of these, such as Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology (P&R) and Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (Baker Academic), are translations, making these classic works available in English for the first time.  Others are reprints of volumes that have been out of print for decades, or even centuries.  Publishers such as Banner of Truth, Soli Deo Gloria, and Reformation Heritage Books have been at the forefront of this recent effort to bring back long out-of-print works.  In 2007, another of these publishers, Solid Ground Christian Books, reprinted a true classic, A Body of Divinity by Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656).  Probably best known for his work on biblical chronology, Ussher was a highly regarded Puritan leader and theologian.  In 1615 he drew up the Irish Articles of Religion, which were later to become a source for the divines who wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith.  In 1625, Ussher was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, and he remained in this office until his death….

Book review: A Proverbs Driven Life
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

A Proverbs Driven Life Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships Publisher: Shepherd Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes One of the things I love about God is that he did not leave us to grope in the dark when it comes to knowing how to live as He intended us to live. He has given us his perfect Word for our protection and instruction. But too many times we choose to follow our own wisdom.  In A Proverbs Driven Life, Anthony Selvaggio explores what the Bible teaches regarding six common issues.  Part One: Foundations A Proverbs driven Life values wise living and wise speech as essential and inseparable.Part Two: Work A Proverbs driven Life practices a faithful work ethic and faithful ethics at work.Part Three: Wealth A Proverbs driven Life understands the place and purpose of material wealth.Part Four: Friends A Proverbs driven Life knows that friendship is intended to be redemptive.Part Five: Marriage A Proverbs driven Life embraces marriage as the most significant of relationships and guards it jealously.Part Six: Children A Proverbs driven Life accepts the calling to raise children as a task delegated and directed by God. Based on the…

Book review: Justification and Regeneration
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Justification and Regeneration (Expanded Edition) Publisher: Granted Ministries Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes At the very heart of the gospel, at the very heart of the Christian faith, are two great miracles, two inseparable miracles, through which a dead man is brought to life. The first miracle is justification; here a condemned sinner is made right in the eyes of a perfect judge. The second miracle is regeneration; here a hater of God and a hater of good is transformed into a lover of God and a lover of all that is good and right. Despite the importance of these two, confusion reigns, even among Christians, about what they are and what they mean. In Justification and Regeneration Charles Leiter sets forth a biblical understanding of each of these, the similarities, the differences, the misconceptions, the truth. He begins the book in the most obvious spot, focusing on sin as man’s ultimate problem. After all, it is sin that makes both justification and regeneration a tragic, though wondrous, necessity. He says, rightly, that sin is the ultimate and only problem of humanity. He turns next to a brief explanation of how a man can be…

Book review: Feel
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Feel The Power of Listening to Your Heart Publisher: Tyndale House Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes In light of the current discussion at Justin Taylor’s blog over the role of emotions in the Christian life, I thought it mete to post this placeholder review of Matthew Elliott’s book Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart. Reviewer Bob Kellemen is in process of composing a far more thorough and infinitely more expert review of Dr. Elliott’s book, which we will be highlighting as a feature review in coming days. In this humble review, I will merely register my initial thoughts about the book, which I found to be quite unlike any other book I’ve ever read. Historically, different understandings of the role of feelings in Christian life have ranked among the chief polarizing causes of the divide between charismatics and more fundamentalist Christians. Rows upon rows of books from the former camp rely upon readers’ feelings of “victory” and “breakthrough” with which to gauge spiritual growth, while volumes published by the latter view feelings with suspicion: “emotions leave us in a fog and cloud our thinking…in order to live a godly life, we must control our emotions…following…

Book review: The Bible Among the Myths
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Bible Among the Myths Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Theological books that truly capture one’s attention are few and far between. A book’s ability to entrance the reader depends on its intrinsic subjective interest to the reader, as well as its objective stylistic qualities. I am happy to report that John N. Oswalt’s book The Bible Among the Myths heartily and handsomely delivers on both counts, at least where this particular reader is concerned. John N. Oswalt’s publishing pedigree is impressive. To date he has written three or more commentaries on Isaiah for the NIV Application series and the NICOT series, is a member of more than one major Bible translation team, has consulted for the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, and has written a few other smaller books on the side. Formerly a student and faculty member at Asbury Theological Seminary, he is ten years into a tenure at Wesley Biblical Seminary. I have said it before and I will say it again: whatever you think of their theology, Methodists are among the finest Christian writers, bar none. The Bible Among the…

Book review: Counsel Your Flock
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Counsel Your Flock Fulfilling Your Role as a Teaching Shepherd Publisher: Day One Publications Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Editor’s note: This review encompasses not only Paul Tautges’ book Counsel Your Flock, but his two other related counseling books, entitled Comfort Those Who Grieve, and Counsel One Another, respectively. Identical reviews to this one are posted under those titles. Since Pastor Paul Tautges’ biblical counseling trilogy seamlessly moves from lay counseling for sin, to lay comforting for suffering, to pastoral counseling and shepherding, one all-inclusive review is possible. Though all published in 2009, there seems to be a logical order to the writing (and the reading). All three volumes share in common a staunch commitment to an expository, exegetical examination of counseling as presented in God’s Word. In fact, Counsel Your Flock and Comfort Those Who Grieve (to a lesser extent) are comprised of sermonic material (sermon manuscripts re-edited into book form). Fortunately, Pastor Tautges is a fine preacher, for in other hands sermons-into-books have not always resulted in readable literature. Defining Biblical Counseling: What Makes Biblical Counseling Truly Biblical? It is in Counsel One Another that Tautges lays the theological foundation for biblical counseling. He…

Book review: The Unquenchable Flame
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Unquenchable Flame Discovering the Heart of the Reformation Publisher: B&H Academic Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I have been waiting a long time for this book. Published last year by Intervarsity Press, The Unquenchable Flame was initially released only in Europe. It has taken until now for it to make its way to North America, courtesy of B&H who secured the rights for this side of the ocean. The book is, quite simply, an introduction to the Reformation. That puts it in the company of plenty of similar titles, but this one is unique in its accessibility and its liveliness. Michael Reeves tells the story of the Reformation and he does so in a way that is really and truly enjoyable. So what is there to say about the book’s content? It is, after all, a 180-page account of a well-known period of history. There are no great surprises here–no new theories, no new facts that have been recently uncovered. It is just a straightforward telling of the Reformation. Reeves begins by setting the stage in the medieval era, telling of the state of the medieval church and introducing the pre-Reformers Wycliffe and Hus. He…

Book review: The Celtic Way of Evangelism
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Celtic Way of Evangelism How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again Publisher: Abingdon Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes It seems a tad odd to be reviewing this decade-old book a month before its revised anniversary edition releases, but I have read what I have read (Editor’s Note 3/17/2012: the new edition is now out). Besides, I would prefer to do right by the kind and patient people at Abingdon Press, who so kindly sent me a copy at my request well over two years ago now. The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George Hunter III is a book that has generated plenty of buzz in its first ten years. And I, for one, believe that buzz to be well-deserved. As Hunter notes more than once, Celtic things are all the rage at the moment, and the interest does not seem to be dissipating but increasing. In the 1990s a spate of Celtic-tinged worship albums emerged, accompanied by volumes of books, both religious and secular, on the Celts and their way of life. His thesis is that understanding the Celtic methods and modes of evangelism can provide the contemporary Western church with new inspiration and impetus…