Book review: The Blue Parakeet
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Blue Parakeet Rethinking How You Read the Bible Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No Scot McKnight’s newest book is about how we should read the Bible. In The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible(Zondervan, 2008), Scot makes some bold assertions intended to challenge our assumptions.  Here’s one that will get you thinking: we all pick and choose what we’re to obey in the Bible and how we’re to obey it. (11) The more polite way to put it is to say we ”adopt” and “adapt,” but Scot prefers the more edgy view that we really do pick and choose. After seeking to demonstrate the truthfulness of his claim that we all pick and choose, Scot lays down some ground rules that help us understand why we pick and choose, and how we should pick and choose biblically – in ”a way that honors God and embraces the Bible as God’s Word for all time.” (13) Let me start out by giving Scot some credit. In this book, he faces head-on a problem that needs to be addressed, not dismissed. He exposes the hypocrisy of Christians who say they believe in the Bible without doing what it says. What good is inerrancy if you don’t…

Book review: Free Refill
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Free Refill Coming Back for More of Jesus Publisher: Standard Publishing Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes In the evangelical world variations of the following are heard with concerning frequency: “I’m in a desert place right now. “I need more of Jesus.” “I feel so far away from God.” “I need to get right with God.” In answer to these types of desperate utterances, Mark Atteberry offers a ‘free refill’ of Jesus. Or more accurately, Jesus offers a free refill of himself. Atteberry is merely a direction marker towards the thirst-quenching well for those who have lost the map. This book – this Jesus – is for the frustrated, the stressed, the pained, and the hurt, to mention but a few. Long-time pastor of Poinciana Christian Church in Florida, Atteberry has encountered these issues arising in the lives of his parishioners for decades now, and has faced them in his own life: the dryness, the lack, the distance, the woundedness. Lest you think this book will be long on therapy and short on gospel, let me assure you that Atteberry is solidly rooted in the doctrines of the Christian faith. At times he is mellow, and at…

Book review: A Man of Books and a Man of the People
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

A Man of Books and a Man of the People E. Y. Mullins and the Crisis of Moderate Southern Baptist Leadership Publisher: Mercer University Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Featured prominently on my desk are framed, black-and-white photographs of two influential Southern Baptists:  John A. Broadus (1827-95) and E.Y. Mullins (1860-1928). I admire Broadus’ passion for preaching and the legacy he left as one of the founders of Southern Seminary. I admire Mullins for his denominational statemanship and his advocacy for religious freedom for Baptists in Romania. Not too long ago, I ordered a used copy of William Ellis’ 1985 biography of E.Y. Mullins entitled A Man of Books and a Man of the People: E.Y. Mullins and the Crisis of Moderate Southern Baptist Leadership, recently reprinted by Mercer University Press. I was intrigued by the title given to Mullins: “a man of books and a man of the people.” Evangelicalism could use more pastor/theologians and theologian/pastors. We need more men like D.A. Carson, John Piper, and N.T. Wright – ministers who serve both the local church and use their gifts in the academy. E.Y. Mullins’ leadership in the early part of the 20th century…

Book review: Minority Report
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Minority Report Unpopular Thoughts on Everything from Ancient Christianity to Zen Calvinism Publisher: Mentor Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes What do commercialism, the problem of evil, Chick tracts, American Idol, and Francis Beckwith’s recent conversion to Roman Catholicism have in common? Anyone? If you couldn’t come up with an answer, not to worry. One would be hard-pressed to find an overarching conceptual category that would encompass all of these topics, not to mention creeds and confessions, anti-aging products, and the Psalms, but they all have one thing in common. At one point or another, they have all been the subject of Carl Trueman’s wide ranging interests, and they are all discussed in his most recent book, Minority Report. There is some difficulty involved in explaining the contents of a book like Minority Report. It has no overarching theme or thesis. Instead, it is a collection of essays on a wide-range of subjects, or as the subtitle expresses it: Unpopular Thoughts on Everything from Ancient Christianity to Zen-Calvinism. The author, Dr. Carl R. Trueman, is the Dean of Faculty and professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He has authored or…

Book review: Just Do Something
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Just Do Something A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will Publisher: Moody Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes To be honest, I don’t know that we really need another book—yet another book—on guidance and the will of God. Having said that, there is probably no genre of book I recommend more often than this simply because experience shows that many Christians, too many Christians, do not understand how God expects us to know his will and how we may expect him to guide us to those things that please him. We are blessed to have some excellent resources at our disposal. The best known of these is Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God, a book that many of the others depend on, but one that is perhaps a little intimidating due to its size (528 pages in the most recent edition). Dave Swavely’s Decisions, Decisions is the one I recommend most often as it serves as a useful condensed version of Friesen’s work. Similar titles have been written by John MacArthur, Bruce Waltke, J.I. Packer, Phillip Jensen and many, many others. The author who seeks to add something to this genre is entering into…

Book review: The Baptism of Disciples Alone
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Baptism of Disciples Alone A Covenantal Argument for Credobaptism Versus Paedobaptism Publisher: Founders Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Christians live in the constant tension of being in the world but not of it. As a result, the Christian life is an embattled existence. The need to fight against the principalities and rulers of this age can have a wearying effect, and so when Christians are confronted with controversy within the church, it can be easy to become disengaged and disheartened – hence the common, though false, notion that “doctrine divides.” This is why intramural discussions must be conducted in a spirit of love and care, both for truth and for the person on the other side of an issue. Fred Malone, in his book The Baptism of Disciples Alone, is a model for Christians to imitate on how to disagree with brothers and sisters in Christ while maintaining charity and compassion. This book is an encouragement first of all to Baptists who are reminded that to adopt the nomenclature “Reformed” is not a contradiction and it is an encouragement to Christians everywhere who are given the opportunity to catch a vision of what it…

Book review: The Missio Dei Breviary
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Missio Dei Breviary Publisher: Missio Dei Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Prayer seems to be something that many of us really struggle with. We do not commit ourselves to regular times of prayer, often using the excuse that our whole lives should be prayer. Now, Paul does say that we should pray without ceasing, but very few of us could say that we live our lives bathed in prayer. A life lived without conscious acknowledgement of God’s presence and activity is not a life of prayer. Morning and evening prayer has always been a mainstay of my tradition, though it seems to have fallen out of favour over the last few generations. The reason for that can be debated, but I for one realise how this lack of rhythm has hampered my spiritual life. The Missio Dei community in Minneapolis has put together a breviary for morning and evening prayers over four weeks, and reading it over the past month I found it to be a real blessing. Every morning there is a mix of repetition from the previous week and new scripture readings, along with short prompts to help deepen the reflection and prayer…

Book review: Glory Road
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Glory Road The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity Publisher: Crossway Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Glory Road author and editor Anthony J. Carter is an organizing member of the Council of Reforming Churches, and has previously authored On Being Black and Reformed and Experiencing the Truth. Carter has assembled a team of ten leading African American pastors and professors and asked one poignant question: How did you come to embrace Reformed theology? Glory Road uses their personal accounts to trace their conversion to Christianity, their introduction to and embrace of Reformed theology, and the effect of such theology on their lives and ministries. In addition to the book’s editor, Carter, Glory Road includes contributions from such notable African American Christian leaders as Reddit Andrews III, Thabiti Anyabwile, Anthony B. Bradley, Ken Jones, Michael Leach, Lance Lewis, Louis C. Love Jr., Eric C. Redmond, and Roger Skepple. It is fitting that this book should be published in the year we remember John Calvin’s five hundredth birthday. The authors are glad to consider themselves “the grateful beneficiaries of the Christ-centered, biblically-grounded theology he labored so diligently to teach and preach.” In entitling the book as they…

Book review: Your Jesus Is Too Safe
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Your Jesus Is Too Safe Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior Publisher: Kregel Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes If you were to put the books of John Piper, N.T. Wright, and Mark Driscoll in a blender, what would you get? Jared C. Wilson’s new book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel Good Savior. Jared has combined the best qualities from each of these pastors and given us a solid book on Jesus. Full disclosure: Jared Wilson is a fellow blogger friend of mine. As a blogger myself, I am cheering him on, glad to see that the blogosphere is becoming a place for aspiring writers to hone their skills and try out new ideas. But don’t think that I am recommending his book simply because he is a friend. Your Jesus Is Too Safe is a great book on Jesus for a number of reasons. First, Jared brings together the passion of John Piper, the historical sensibilities of N.T. Wright and the irreverent humor of Mark Driscoll (without the crudeness). Early on in the book, it becomes clear that Jared reads widely and is willing to glean insights from the different streams of Christianity,…

Book review: Flashforward
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Flashforward Publisher: Tor Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Flashforward, a novel by Canadian Sci-Fi author Robert Sawyer, no doubt made more popular by the ABC series by the same name, is the story of a handful of CERN scientists who are experimenting to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson particle. One moment, Lloyd Simcoe and his associates are in a CERN lab counting down the final seconds to flipping the switch to activate the huge particle collider, and the next moment they are about twenty years older.  Simcoe sees himself in a cottage in New England lying in bed with a woman he’s never met. It takes them a little while, but the scientists realize that they were not the only ones whose consciousness shifted. News reports from around the world, detailing catastrophic devastation and confusion, indicate to them that the events at CERN are directly related to the flashforwards. How can that be proven? How much responsibility should CERN assume for hundreds of thousands of deaths and destruction of property into the billions of dollars? Finding answers leads to more questions and finally to a worldwide decision to recreate the event. What I…