Book review: Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God Publisher: InterVarsity Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes When it comes to evangelism, it seems that Calvinists have quite a poor reputation in the church today. Most of the largest and seemingly most successful mission organizations were founded by Arminians and continue to be based around Arminian theology. Arminian churches seem to grow much faster than churches based on Calvinist principles. It seems that part of the reason for this is that Calvinists have such a high view of God’s sovereignty that it is easy for them to assume that there is no reason for Christians to evangelize. After all, if God truly is sovereign, if He does control absolutely everything, what reason is there to evangelize? If God has ordained someone will be saved, they reason, that person will be saved regardless of my efforts. Perhaps evangelism is even sinful, for is it possible that it actually denies God’s sovereignty? It is against this backdrop that J.I. Packer wrote Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God, a classic study on the relationship between God’s sovereignty and the necessity of evangelism. A short but exceedingly powerful book, Packer shows that rather…

Book review: Three
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Three Publisher: WestBow Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Having read almost fifty books so far this year which were predominantly theological in content, I found myself craving some mindless fiction for a Saturday afternoon. Following a brief trip to the local Christian bookstore I came away with Three by Ted Dekker. I remembered reading a positive review of this title shortly after it released and thought I would give it a try, despite knowing nothing about the author or the story. Three has all the elements of your standard psychological/cop thriller novel – a genre I used to read far too often so know quite well. The book moves very quickly and is guaranteed to keep the reader turning the pages. Both my wife and I read and finished it the very day I bought it and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. I hesitate to say much about the plot since almost any information would begin to give away the story, but it all begins with Kevin Parson driving home from seminary only to receive a call on his cell phone telling him there is a bomb in his car and that three minutes from that…

Book review: Pure Gold
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Pure Gold A New Biography Of The Olympic Champion Who Inspired Chariots Of Fire Publisher: Discovery House Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Because of the surprise hit Chariots of Fire, the world knows the name Eric Liddell. Most people also know about the stand he made for his beliefs as he refused to run an Olympic race he was favored to win simply because the race was scheduled for Sunday. Those who have seen the movie know that it ends shortly after he wins an Olympic gold medal in an event in which he had barely trained. But in Pure Gold, a biography of Liddell weighing in at 333 pages, the race is complete by the ninety-eighth page. There is much more to Liddell than the movie portrays. Eric Liddell is a man who was sold out to God. He regarded his own desires and his own comforts as secondary to God’s. Raised as the son of a missionary, he grew up away from his parents, for in those days children were left in their native country to receive their training, often seeing their parents only once every six or seven years. There was a…

Book review: Feminine Appeal
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Feminine Appeal Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother Publisher: Crossway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I do not always choose the books I review. Sometimes I am able to request specific titles from publishers but other times titles arrive unannounced. This provides me with the opportunity to review books that I would not, under most other circumstances, read. Such is the case with Feminine Appeal, written by Carolyn Mahaney. I left the book in my shelf for several weeks before I dared to open it up. I was gratified to see that it was endorsed by many men far more godly (and masculine) than myself, so if someone is going to laugh at me for reading it, they will also have to mock John Piper, Josh Harris, Mark Dever, Wayne Grudem, Dennis Rainey and Randy Alcorn. I feel that I am in good company, and so much so that I can even admit that I found the book tremendously enjoyable. Feminine Appeal is, of course, written primarily for women. Having prepared several audio tapes which examined Titus 2, Mahaney was challenged (apparently by Mark Dever) to publish these presentations in book format. Nancy Leigh…

Book review: Singing and Making Music
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Singing and Making Music Issues in Church Music Today Publisher: P&R Publishing Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Paul Jones, organist and Music Director at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is, by all accounts, a very talented individual. He was privileged to serve alongside James Boice (who once said "Paul is everything I ever prayed for in a music director") and now works closely with Philip Ryken in serving one of America’s foremost Presbyterian churches. Singing and Making Music, subtitled "Issues in Church Music Today" is Jones’ attempt to distill and share some of his years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge. Singing and Making Music is not a traditional book, emphasizing an argument that moves logically from introduction to conclusion, but is a collection of essays dealing with the common theme of worshipping God through music. To some extent this leaves the book feeling a little bit disjointed and without a consistent flow. At the same time, this format allows the author to cover a wide range of topics without having to bridge one to another. I feel that this is a suitable format for such a book book. Jones covers a great deal of ground through…

Book review: The Politics of Disaster
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Politics of Disaster Katrina, Big Government, and A New Strategy for Future Crises Publisher: W Publishing Group Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Hurricane Katrina was a national disaster that was played out on an international stage. In this age of instant and graphic communication where there is an increasingly thin line between news and entertainment, the whole world watched while the hurricane bore down on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The world watched with sick fascination as pictures of death and devastation flashed across their television screens. Untold millions watched as the New Orleans levies let go, inundating the city with water. And the world saw the response which was both impressive in its speed and frustrating in its disorganization. In The Politics of Disaster, Marvin Olasky, professor of journalism at the University of Texas and editor-in-chief of World magazine, takes a look back at this disaster and looks forward to the inevitable "Katrinas" of the future. "This book examines incidents, some partially preventable, that have a major negative impact on the ability of an entire community to live peaceably." Olasky dissects the disaster and gazes into the future. He begins by asking what…

Book review: Rise of Lakewood Church And Joel Osteen
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Rise of Lakewood Church And Joel Osteen Publisher: Whitaker House Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No Biography: An account of a person’s life written, composed, or produced by another. Hagiography: A worshipful or idealizing biography. I suppose it is not always easy to determine where biography ends and hagiography begins. But in the case of The Rise of Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen, I am quite certain Richard Young has crossed the line. Lakewood Church was founded by John and Dodie Osteen on Mother’s Day 1959. A former Southern Baptist pastor, Osteen left the Convention after adopting charismatic beliefs. A leader in the charismatic movement and author of many books, he continued to pastor this church until his death in 1999. Without a successor in place, John’s son Joel decided to try his hand at preaching. And the rest, as they say, is history. Lakewood has risen to become the largest church in America with tens of thousands of people attending services every weekend. The services are broadcast around the world on television and through the Internet to millions more. Osteen’s first book, Your Best Life Now became a New York Times bestseller selling millions of copies….

Book review: A Long Way Gone
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes A Long Way Gone begins this way: "My high school friends have begun to suspect I haven’t told them the full story of my life. ‘Why did you leave Sierra Leone?’ ‘Because there is a war.’ ‘Did you witness some of the fighting?’ ‘Everyone in the country did.’ ‘You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?’ ‘Yes, all the time.’ ‘Cool.’ I smile a little. ‘You should tell us about it sometime.’ ‘;Yes, sometime.’" In this book, that has spent a couple of months near the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers, Ishmael Beah tells about it. When he was only twelve, with his country of Sierra Leone thrown into a long and bloody civil war, his village was attacked by rebels. He was forced to run for his life knowing that if he was caught he would be forced, upon pain of death, to join the rebel army. For months he and his friends ran, successfully evading the rebels as they systematically destroyed the nation, raping, pillaging and…

Book review: The Complete Gathered Gold
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Complete Gathered Gold A Treasury of Quotations for Christians Publisher: Evangelical Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes John Blanchard collects quotes–"pithy statements that summarize important truths of express valuable insights in memorable ways." Eventually he began to arrange this collection into an indexed system and from that system came a book titled Gathered Gold. That was followed by More Gathered Gold and then by Sifted Silver, each of which had some 5,000 entries. Those three volumes have now been gathered together into The Complete Gathered Gold. It is a 700 page volume with 16,000 entries. They are arranged topically from Abandonment to Zeal and came from the lips or pens of communicators going back for over 2000 years. The majority of the quotes come in at around ten or twenty words. Here are a few examples, chosen at random: "Man does what he can, and God what he will" (John Ray). "No soldiers of Christ are ever lost, missing or left dead on the battlefield" (J.C. Ryle). "To deny the fact of Satan is to deny the truth of Scripture" (John Blanchard). "God prepares his elect for hearing, and gives them ears for that purpose"…

Book review: Misquoting Truth
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Misquoting Truth A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s Publisher: IVP Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus was a surprise bestseller. Released in late 2005, it quickly climbed its way onto the bestseller lists—an interesting feat for a book dealing with textual criticism. Ehrman is a renowned New Testament scholar and chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has both an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary where he studied under Bruce Metzger, one of the pioneers of textual criticism. Though he once claimed to be a Christian and even attended Moody Bible Institute, he has since renounced the faith and is now agnostic. Much of Ehrman’s career has been dedicated to proving a rather unorthodox thesis: that history has been incorrect in suggesting that it was heretics such as Marcion who were responsible for tampering with the texts of the Bible. Rather, he suggests and attempts to prove, it was those who professed faith in Christ who sought to change the Scripture to force it to adapt to their beliefs. In the past decade he was written extensively, though the…