Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review of UNDERSTANDING BIBLICAL THEOLOGY by Edward W. Klink III, Darian R. Lockett

When it comes to "biblical theology," there are varying opinions on exactly what that term is describing. There have been varying approaches to biblical theology, so it's important to grasp the different ways this term is understood. UNDERSTANDING BIBLICAL THEOLOGY by Edward W. Klink III and Darian R. Lockett seeks to shed some light on the confusion presented by doing biblical theology. The authors begin by tracing the history of the term itself, then outline five ways biblical theology has been approached. The five ways are:

Biblical Theology as Historical Description
Biblical Theology as History of Redemption
Biblical Theology as Worldview-Story
Biblical Theology as Canonical Approach
Biblical Theology as Theological Construction

The authors spend each of the chapters breaking down each of the models of biblical theology. The concepts that are broken down for each of the models are the same in each chapter, which is very helpful for study. The authors use a specific theologian for each model to show their adherence to the approach. The models differ in how much they appeal to either the academy or the church. 

I've always been interested in biblical theology, but I didn't realize the varying opinions of what biblical theology was until I picked up this book. This book does a great job of outlining the similarities and differences between the approaches and is great for readers interested in theology and study of the Bible.

Review copy provided by Zondervan Academic through AcademicPS

Photo Credit: Zondervan Academic

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review of JUDGES FOR YOU by Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller garners a lot of respect from many people in the evangelical community for the way that he takes biblical concepts and applies to real life. In JUDGES FOR YOU he tackles one of the most difficult books of the Bible, one that we would be hard-pressed to find any sign of hope in because of its content. The book of Judges records a dark time in Israel’s history when everyone did what they wanted, and Keller says that this couldn’t be more relevant to our modern times.

Keller draws the ultimate hope out of this dark book. The book is obviously full of flawed people, and Keller looks at those people, but he shows that in the book of Judges there is only one hero. It’s not Samson. It’s not Gideon. It’s not Deborah. God is the hero of this book. Keller shows God moving in the midst of his flawed people, and it’s an incredible picture.

JUDGES FOR YOU is a perfect book for personal Bible study or for use with teaching others. It’s not a technical commentary on the book of Judges, but it does provide some great insight.

Review copy provided by the Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews

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Review of CHRISTIAN HISTORY by Alister McGrath

CHRISTIAN HISTORY by Alister McGrath takes readers on a journey through the history of Christianity from its inception to modern day. McGrath is quick to point out that this book isn't simply a history of the church, but a history of Christianity, its development, and its impact throughout the various cultures human history has gone through.

The book looks at the spread of Christianity into various areas. The spread of Christianity is of particular interest, and the way that McGrath writes is compelling and, almost as if you were reading a novel, keeps you turning pages. Another area of significance is the period of the Reformation and time leading up to it, as well as the implications following it. I enjoy how McGrath paints a picture for us of the cultures he is describing.

CHRISTIAN HISTORY is a great introduction to the story of Christianity and its spread over the last two thousand years. I don't know of a writer who handles the subject of Christianity's history better than Alister McGrath. This book, ideal for seminarians but also for the non-professional Christian, is an incredible resource for helping Christians understand where our faith comes from, how it has developed and spread and survived as long as it has. Ultimately, this book is a great picture of the story of God working to advance his kingdom in the midst of broken humanity.

Review copy provided by Wiley-Blackwell

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Review of HISTORICAL THEOLOGY by Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath has a significant way of taking theological topics, which could easily be dry and unengaging, and make them leap off the page. His way with words makes him one of the best writers to go to in the areas of theology and the relationship between science and faith. In HISTORICAL THEOLOGY, McGrath brings his writing skill to the area of the development of theological thought throughout Christian history.

McGrath begins with an overview of the different ways to approach theology with emphasis on the importance of historical theology. While theology comes from a study of what the Bible teaches, some of the foundational doctrines within Christianity weren't spelled out explicitly in the pages of the Bible. Concepts such as the trinity were wrestled with by various theologians for the first couple hundred years of Christian history before the orthodox doctrine we know today was officially landed on.

McGrath's book traces the key theological developments of Christian history. He covers four periods: the Patristic period, the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the pre- and post-reformation periods, and the modern period from 1750 to today. He discusses the key theologians of each of these periods and the theological developments that took place. An especially helpful part of the book is the case studies at the end of each section.

HISTORICAL THEOLOGY is a great book for seminary students or any just interested in theology. McGrath covers a lot of material in a relatively short book, and he keeps it interesting throughout.

Review copy provided by Wiley-Blackwell

Photo Credit: Wiley-Blackwell

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review of FIGHT by Preston Sprinkle

FIGHT by Preston Sprinkle is a frustrating and challenging book. It challenges many of the assumptions that some Christians have when it comes to things like violence, war, self-defense, and the death penalty. I've never had any strong opinions about these issues. At least that's what I thought until I started getting pretty far into this book.

Sprinkle looks at the issue of violence throughout Scripture, and despite the often violent context of the Old Testament, Sprinkle effectively shows that nonviolence is God's ideal for people in the world, especially those that follow him. He shows the very radical nature of loving our enemies as Jesus did. This challenges the idea that it's okay to kill in self-defense or kill the attacker that's breaking into your house to kill your family. I couldn't help but get frustrated as I read what the Bible clearly points to. But I do come away believing that we have a responsibility to fight to prevent evil as much as we can, and I think this means stopping a killer with nonlethal means. It raised the question for me of it would be considered violent to shoot an attacker in the leg or the shoulder or some way that disarms him, but doesn't kill him.

The book faces some very difficult questions, and I'm glad Sprinkle had the courage to face them head-on and with Biblical integrity. You might not agree wity everything he says, but every Christian should read this book to at least engage in thr conversation.

Review copy provided by David C. Cook

Photo Credit: David C. Cook

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review of THE JUDGMENT STONE by Robert Liparulo

In THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE, Robert Liparulo told a thrilling story of immortal vigilantes who believed they were doing God's will by killing sinners. Now, in THE JUDGMENT STONE, Jagger Baird, the protagonist of THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE, must face a new, more ruthless group of immortals called The Clan. The Clan hates God and want nothing more than to cause him pain. Enter the Judgment Stone, a piece of rock broken off of the original Ten Commandments broken by Moses. The stone reveals a blue beam radiating from Christians praying to God, and gives the Clan ample opportunity to cause God pain by killing his faithful. Jagger must find a way to stop the Clan.

I loved the first book in this series, and Liparulo has created another compelling premise with this book. Jagger learns to deal with his own immortality, but struggles with a deep need to protect his wife and son. The Clan is an interesting and formidable antagonist. The book also looks deeper into the back stories of some of the most interesting characters of the first book.

Robert Liparulo knows how to tell a thrilling story that wrestles with deep questions of faith. THE JUDGMENT STONE is another great page-turner by a great author.

Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze

Photo Credit: Thomas Nelson

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review of BOUNDARIES FOR LEADERS by Dr. Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud is one of my favorite writers when it comes to leadership. His insights are incredible. In his newest book BOUNDARIES FOR LEADERS, Dr. Cloud draws from some important insights in neuroscience. Cloud seeks to help leaders be great leaders of people and be intentional about tapping into what drives people to do things.

Cloud talks a lot about the responsibility of leaders to shape the culture of the organizations they lead, and this requires interacting with people in our organizations in ways that drive them to give their best. Leaders need to foster unity among their people and inspire people to action. If leaders want results, they must do what it takes to drive healthy environments that produce results.

BOUNDARIES FOR LEADERS is another great leadership book from Dr. Henry Cloud. It is one that anyone who sees themselves as a leader of people should work their way through.

Review copy provided by HarperBusiness through BookSneeze

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Review of THE IN-BETWEEN Audiobook by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins has come a long way as a writer. From building a dedicated audience through his blog to writing two books, his story is one to learn from. In his newest book THE IN-BETWEEN, Goins shares much of his story, as well as an important insight he has learned from the various threads that make up his story. People seem to always be after the next big thing. We live for the big and important events in our lives. This makes sense, but Goins suggests that it's not in the big moments that we're shaped into who we are. It's in the in-between moments. The moments of waiting. These are the moments that we're always so quick to rush by. We hate waiting. We want to get to the next big thing. But Goins suggests that we need to slow down and learn to appreciate the in-between moments. These are moments that shape us, sometimes much more than the big events in our lives.

To make his point, Goins shares several snapshots of his life. These are examples of in-between moments in his life. He paints these pictures of times that he often would have wished he could have rushed through, but discovered that he learned much from these moments. He shares stories of traveling, meeting and marrying his wife, waiting the birth of their son, his grandfather's death-bed conversion to Christ, and many others. They're great stories that he tells very well.

I've been following Jeff Goins' blog for a couple years now, and THE IN-BETWEEN is a great opportunity to learn more about what drives him and the wisdom he brings to the table. If you find yourself being all about the big events in life, this book will encourage you to slow down and learn from the in-between moments.

Review copy provided by


ZEALOT: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS OF NAZARETH by Reza Aslan is definitely a controversial book. Aslan seeks to reveal the "historical Jesus," whom he believes is a completely different and much more accurate figure than Christianity's Jesus the Christ. Interestingly, Aslan recounts his conversion to Jesus the Messiah as a teenager before discovering what he came to believe was the historical Jesus. Once this happened, Aslan returned to Islam. Aslan's interest in Jesus didn't end, however. Aslan has spent his life studying religions, and this book dives deep into the world Jesus inhabited.

The book is controversial because it proposes a lot of perspectives on the life of Jesus that have largely been rejected by Christians and other New Testament scholars. He makes the claim that there is "no evidence" that the Gospels were written by who they are traditionally attributed to or even written within the first century. He goes on to say that there is "no evidence" for many of the events that are attributed to his life. Aslan sees Jesus as a zealous revolutionary who got himself killed just like many other self-proclaimed messiahs of the first century. The problem is that many New Testament scholars and Christian philosophers have presented compelling evidence of Christianity's validity, including the authorship of the Gospels and the date of their composition. The work of William Lane Craig has been very illuminating in this regard. Aslan loses credibility when he claims there is "no evidence" for what Christianity proposes for the life of Jesus.

People could see this as an attack on Christianity and take offense at it. Or they could engage with it and discover some things about the world Jesus inhabited. While some of Aslan's arguments make a lot of logical sense, given the time I've spent studying the works of those who have looked into the evidence before him, I'm not convinced ZEALOT paints an accurate picture of who the real Jesus was. However, I did find the book a very interesting read, and I felt that I learned much about the violent first-century Jewish context that Jesus was in.

Review copy provided by Random House through NetGalley

Photo Credit: Random House

Review of AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE by Erwin McManus

Erwin McManus is probably one of the most innovative church leaders in the world. McManus has a clear love for people and helping them to connect with God in a way that changes their lives and helps them to tap into their unused potential. In AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE, McManus paints a picture of what the church is meant to look like. Having read many books on church leadership and culture, McManus' book is easily my favorite. I love his heart for innovation, the stories he shares, and his vision for a church that honors God and exists as a movement that impacts the world.

One of the most helpful parts about the book is McManus' focus on the culture or ethos of a church and how that ethos is shaped. He gives some great guidance on how to be a cultural architect. His chapter on change in the church is extremely helpful. McManus embodies an incredible trust in Jesus to bring about change in people, and AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE is about creating the environment and stepping back to watch God do his work.

AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE is an outstanding book on shaping a Christ-honoring church that sees people as incredibly loved by God. I can't recommend this book enough.

Review copy provided by David C. Cook

Photo Credit: David C. Cook

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review of FORMED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD by Kyle Strobel

Kyle Strobel has given us some incredible insight into the thought and teaching of theologian Jonathan Edwards in his recent books on him. In his latest book FORMED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD, Strobel gives us an accessible and practical look into the specifics of Edwards' spiritual disciplines. The book looks at Edwards' thoughts on spiritual formation, as well as his approach to his own role in his sanctification.

Strobel suggests that modern-day Christians can learn much from Edwards' spiritual practices in their own pursuit of being formed more and more into the image of Christ. He pursues important concepts in the work of Edwards, such as the role of our affections, spiritual disciplines as a "means of grace" in our walk with Christ, and the importance of self-evaluation as we pursue becoming more like Christ. Strobel then looks at some of the specific spiritual disciplines Edwards put into practice.

FORMED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD seeks to make Jonathan Edwards accessible, as well as allowing Christians to draw on the wisdom of someone who made it a practice to walk with God intentionally. Kyle Strobel has given us another great book on the work of Jonathan Edwards that acts as a practical guide in helping us draw nearer to Christ.

Review copy provided by InterVarsity Press

Photo Credit: InterVarsity Press

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review of COVENANTAL APOLOGETICS by K. Scott Oliphint

I've always been interested in Christian apologetics. I get energized by the scientific and philosophical arguments for the existence of God and the validity of Christianity. COVENANTAL APOLOGETICS by K. Scott Oliphint takes a different approach to apologetics that is a helpful reminder of what defending the faith is all about. This approach starts with the authority of Scripture and a firm belief that how God describes reality is the way things really are. Christianity is true, and any other worldview that an unbeliever seeks to create is an illusion. Oliphint argues from Scripture that all people instinctively know God, but unbelievers suppress this knowledge. Our goal as Christian apologists is to help others see that Christianity is true and no other worldview measures up to the way reality really is.

While I still have an appreciation for evidential apologetics, I think Oliphint's approach is one that more people need to put into practice. It's putting faith in God as creator and trusting that what we propose to unbelievers is genuinely true. Oliphint's book breaks down what covenantal apologetics actually looks like in the context of real-life conversations with unbelievers. 

COVENANTAL APOLOGETICS is an important book in the area of apologetics and will be a great help for people to make a biblical defense of Christianity to unbelievers.

Review copy provided by Crossway Books

Photo Credit: Crossway Books


How do Christians relate to the Old Testament Law? Are we required to obey all of it? Part of it? To understand the relationship between believers and the Mosaic Law, we have to have a clear grasp of what the Bible is communicating through the concept of covenant. A. Blake White approaches the question from a New Covenant Theology perspective in his book THE LAW OF CHRIST: A THEOLOGICAL PROPOSAL. New Covenant Theology seeks to let the Bible speak for itself and avoid the errors found in Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology. 

White launches into a thorough study of how the new covenant instituted by Christ affects how Christians live in relation to the Old Testament Law. He shows that the new covenant is truly a new covenant and not a renewal of the Mosaic covenant. He shows that Jesus came to fulfill the Mosaic Law and give a new "law" by which new covenant believers are to live. Because we aren't under the old covenant, we aren't under the law that is tied to that covenant. However, this doesn't mean that there isn't some overlap between what Paul referred to as the Law of Christ and the Mosaic Law. White is very helpful in showing how God's "natural" law was partially and temporarily reflected in the old covenant law and more fully in the new covenant law of Christ. The Law of Christ in the new covenant includes the indwelling Holy Spirit who helps us obey.

White's book includes many footnotes, which shows the incredible depth he's gone to in his research to be faithful to the Scriptures. After reading this book, I understand our relation to the Mosaic Law better and feel I have a better appreciation for how God has worked in the world throughout history. There are still some implications I need to wrestle with when it comes to New Covenant Theology, but I highly recommend this book as a study in the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

Review copy provided by New Covenant Media

Photo Credit: New Covenant Media


Throughout the redemptive history recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, covenants made between God and humanity seem to be a driving force for the story's narrative. But how are Christians to approach the idea of covenants? In THE NEWNESS OF THE NEW COVENANT, A. Blake White explores each of the covenants that God made in history as recorded in the Bible. He shows how each of the covenants made toward Israel were ultimately pointing toward a new and life-giving covenant that would be ushered in by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

White espouses New Covenant Theology, which avoids the errors made by dispensationalism and covenant theology. He shows how there is both continuity and discontinuity. Most of all he shows God as the loving pursuer of people that he is through the new covenant. White's book shows God working in history, progressively revealing his plan to humanity until the moment Christ walked on the scene. It shows God as one who makes promises and keeps them, and it shows God as one who keeps promises in a way that our finite minds couldn't comprehend.

I'm just exploring New Covenant Theology for the first time, and I'm finding White's writing to be compelling, helpful, and most of all, an arrow pointed toward Jesus. I highly recommend this book as an exploration of the biblical covenants.

Review copy provided by New Covenant Media

Photo Credit: New Covenant Media


David Williams takes a humorous and helpful look at the intersection of faith and science in his book THE BELIEVER'S GUIDE TO THE MULTIVERSE. The book is an exploration of some of the findings in quantum mechanics that point to the possibility of many parallel universes running alongside our own. Rather than seeing this as an evidence against the existence of God, Williams sees this as a glaring evidence for an all-powerful Creator.

Williams spends some time explaining what the multiverse is, and then he very compellingly shows how the existence of the multiverse could possibly solve many of the tensions we find in the Bible, such as the tension between human responsibility and divine sovereignty. The book gets a bit technical in places, but the style it is written in makes it a very refreshing read.

I don't know that I believe that there is a multiverse, nor do I agree with all the conclusions he makes, but this book definitely presents a lot for me to think about. I also like the multiple conclusions at the end geared toward the different readers who might read this book.

Review copy provided by Shook Foil Books

Photo Credit: Shook Foil Books

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review of FEARLESS by Mike Dellosso

A nine-year-old girl named Louisa suddenly shows up in the middle of a house that's on fire and rescues the man inside. She has no idea how she got there and no recollection of where she came from or who her family is. Jim and Amy Spencer, a couple coping with the miscarriage of their first child only months before, reluctantly take the girl in while local police try to piece together her back story. Louisa is no ordinary girl. Somehow when she prays for God to heal someone, God actually listens. The whole town wants a piece of the mysterious power she seems to have, and they'll go to incredible lengths to get it. As all this is going on, a serial killer is on the loose in Virginia Mills, and it won't be long before Louisa's ability draws the attention of the killer. 

FEARLESS is a new thriller novel by Mike Dellosso. I've read all of Dellosso's book except for The Hunted. With each story, I find I'm more and more drawn in by Dellosso's storytelling ability and grasp of human nature in a struggle with God. FEARLESS was a relentless story, both emotionally and in its action. The killer is a psychopath bent on bleeding respect out of his victims. Louisa is a mystery, an almost-perfect child, and the interaction between her and Jim makes you wish she really was his daughter. Amy's struggle with loss brings up the questions we so often struggle with in a world where bad things happen even though God is good.

The story ties several threads that run parallel throughout the length of the novel, and I thought Dellosso did an excellent job with this. For awhile I thought the identity of the killer was quite predictable, yet Dellosso still surprised me in the end with something I failed to see as i was reading. The end comes with much heartache, yet the story ends beautifully. I love a story that leaves me feeling hopeful, and this one did.

If you've never checked out a Mike Dellosso novel, this is a great place to start, and his other novels are great as well.

Review copy provided by Charisma House

Photo Credit: Charisma House

Review of ETERNITY by Randy Alcorn

Jesus told a story about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus that has become very well-known in the two thousand years since he told it. The story is of the two men dying and the nature of their existence after death. The story has much to teach us, and author Randy Alcorn has tapped into the storytelling medium of the graphic novel to draw out the implications of this story.

ETERNITY is the first graphic novel by Alcorn. In it he expands the story Jesus told and highlights some of the key points we can take away from it. But the story isn't simply to teach. It's a captivating story, and with the incredible visuals throughout, I found myself wrapped up in this story. It was almost as if I was watching a movie. I loved the way Alcorn connected this story to an event in the ministry of Jesus and how Dives, the rich man, died. Of course, we don't know that is how it happened, but it's an interesting speculation.

I've been a fan of Alcorn's work ever since I read his book Heaven, and ETERNITY brings some of the key ideas from that book to life in a very visual way. Overall, I think this book would be a great way to introduce anyone to the concept of a biblical idea of the afterlife. And it's a great book to get people excited about Jesus and the place he prepares for those who follow him.

Review copy provided by Kingstone Comics

Photo Credit: Kingstone Comics

Review of SOFIA THE FIRST by Cathy Hapka

SOFIA THE FIRST by Cathy Hapka is a colorfully illustrated children's book based on the popular Disney Junior television series Sofia the First. The book is an adaptation of the show's story showing how Sofia became a princess. Sofia is a normal girl until her mother marries King Roland. Suddenly, Sofia is a princess in a vast kingdom, but she doesn't know the first thing about being a princess. Though she hopes her new stepsister Amber will help her, Amber struggles accepting the new family members who have been thrust into her life. When something goes wrong and freezes everyone at a welcome ball King Roland was throwing to welcome Sofia to the family, Sofia finds help from a surprising source-Cinderella. Cinderella encourages her as a princess and gives her advice on how to deal with Amber.

My daughter loves Sofia the First and adores this book. She's four years old and loves the Disney princesses, and this show and book are great in that they are aimed toward more toward her age. The book is a quick read and great to read to my daughter before bed. It's a cute story that teaches important lessons on being caring and giving people second chances.

SOFIA THE FIRST is a great book for little girls and a great introduction to the stories in the television show.

Review copy provided by Disney Press

Photo Credit: Disney

Review of HOLY WAR IN THE BIBLE from InterVarsity Press

Like many Christians, I've always found many parts of the Old Testament to be quite disturbing. It's a truly violent book, and it covers the history of a people who often seem to be led by a violent God. The Old Testament is often one of the biggest hurdles for a skeptic to get over. It seems like there have been many books that seek to address this issue. HOLY WAR IN THE BIBLE from InterVarsity Press is one of those books. I picked up the book because Paul Copan is one of the editors, and I've greatly appreciated his work on properly interpreting the Old Testament. 

This book looks at the issue from many different perspectives. For example, how have the violent texts of the Old Testament inspired violence by Christians in events such as the Crusades? Can the wars in Israel's history be properly called "holy wars"? Do the biblical texts endorse the use of violent action by believers? There are also the questions of whether or not to take the Old Testament texts as authentic pictures of God. Personally, I think the Old Testament is an accurate depiction of Israel's history with God, but we must be careful what we deduce about God just from these texts.

Not all of the authors in HOLY WAR IN THE BIBLE are in agreement, but the book is a good exploration of the issues involved. Christians often live as if the Old Testament is irrelevant, but it's important to face the difficulties head-on and hopefully come to understand the God who the New Testament describes as "love" better.

Review copy provided by InterVarsity Press

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Review of LOVE, FREEDOM, AND EVIL by Thaddeus Williams

In LOVE, FREEDOM, AND EVIL, Thaddeus J Williams tackles the problem of evil and specifically explores the validity of the free will defense. Does authentic love require free will? Through philosophical arguments and biblical exploration, Williams exposes many of the weaknesses of the free will defense for the problem of evil. Williams espouses the compatibilistic view of human free will. I come to this book as one who holds to libertarian free will, but I must admit that Williams’ arguments seem solid and give me much to think about.

Compatibilistic free will on the surface does make sense. People are responsible for their actions if what they are doing is in accord with what they want to do. They’re not forced to do something they don’t want to do. Williams argues for this pretty convincingly. On the surface, obviously people do what they most desire. But there’s obviously times where there is some deliberation between competing desires. I don’t think compatibilistic free will can deal with this deliberation or explain why someone chooses one thing one time and something else another time if their nature determines their desires.

I actually enjoyed this book a lot because it forces me to think hard about what I believe. It also raises a lot of questions in my mind about what determines what people do. Because responsibility seems to require people doing the thing that they most desire, I have questions about desires being a coercive force that bends a person’s will toward it.

While I still hold to a libertarian view of free will, I really enjoyed the writer’s style and how he approached the issues. He handles opposing views with humility. I would recommend this book as a catalyst for thinking deeper about the issues of human freedom and divine sovereignty.

Review copy provided by Rodopi

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Review of THE MYTH OF JUNK DNA by Jonathan Wells

One of the primary arguments against Intelligent Design is that much of our DNA is "junk DNA." Leading proponents of Darwinian evolution believe that the existence of junk DNA must mean that the evolutionary process is the best explanation for our origins. After all, why would an intelligent designer allow the human genome to have so much useless DNA. But Intelligent Design advocate Jonathan Wells tackles this issue head-on in his book THE MYTH OF JUNK DNA. As the title suggests, Wells believes that what many people have termed "junk DNA" isn't junk at all. Wells uncovers a host of scientific evidence showing that so-called junk DNA actually does serve a useful purpose. While this doesn't definitely prove his position of ID, it certainly gives credibility to that position. He argues that many scientists are simply ignoring the evidence that is right in front of them while operating from Darwinian presuppositions. 

The book is understandably quite technical, but it seems to be a great resource in defending the validity of ID, while showing Darwinian evolution to be false.

Review copy provided by Discovery Institute Press

Photo Credit: Discovery Institute Press

Review of ARMINIUS SPEAKS edited by John D. Wagner

The Calvinist-Arminian debate has been raging for centuries, and though I think both sides have some serious flaws, I've always noticed that Arminius himself seems to be a misunderstood figure in the history of the church. Modern-day Arminianism doesn't seem like what Arminius himself had in mind. ARMINIUS SPEAKS is a collection of Arminius' most important writings on the topics of election and predestination compiled by John D. Wagner and presented in English.

This book is great because it gives us some of the teachings of Arminius in his own words. Arminius is an interesting figure because of his proximity to Calvin himself and Calvin's successor Theodore Beza. Arminius came to believe that God's grace isn't irresistible and that God's predestination in the Calvinistic framework was a threat to God's goodness.

For anyone interested in what Arminius had to say about salvation, ARMINIUS SPEAKS is an incredible resource.

Review copy provided by Wipf and Stock

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God's existence, as far as we know now, can never be definitively proven. Yet many have pointed out some compelling evidences throughout history that point in the direction of the existence of a God who created everything in the universe. Philosopher William Lane Craig has been one of the foremost apologists in arguing for the existence of God, and one that I have benefited greatly from in my own Christian journey. In THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT, Craig explores the history of what he believes to be one of the most compelling arguments for the existence of God. Interestingly enough,

I wasn't aware of the history of this argument and its development by some Islamic philosophers. In Part 1 of the book, Craig covers the history of the argument and shows that these Islamic philosophers were actually developing an argument that pointed to the existence of the God revealed in the Christian Bible. Part 2 is Craig's development and defense of the argument. The argument goes:

1. Everything that begins to exist must have a cause for its existence
2. The universe had a beginning
3. The universe had a cause for its existence

Craig seeks to argue the second premise that the universe did have a beginning. This part gets very technical as he argues from philosophical logic and appeals to scientific evidence. Basically, he argues that there cannot be an infinite regress of events in the past. There must have been a beginning point. He argues that the Big Bang represents the point at which God brought the world into existence.

THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT seems to be a pretty solid argument for God's existence. Though I know it won't convince everyone, I would suggest everyone read this book by William Lane Craig and many of his other works on the existence of God.

Review copy provided by Wipf and Stock

Photo Credit: Wipf and Stock

Monday, August 5, 2013


I've read a lot of books on writing. Most of them are helpful, but not all them are very interesting. SHAKESPEARE FOR SCREENWRITERS by J.M. Evenson is both immensely helpful and interesting. I loved reading the Shakespearian plays when I was in high school, and I remember them being highly suspenseful. Evenson's book reveals why people find Shakespeare to be so compelling. Shakespeare mastered the storytelling techniques we know and love today and put them to great use in his writing.

Evenson's book is broken up into two parts. The first part takes a look at individual plays by Shakespeare and breaks down what made each of them so good. Part two looks deeper into the techniques that Shakespeare used and illustrates how modern storytellers can use those techniques as well. As an added bonus, the author makes many comparisons between scenes in Shakespeare's works and scenes from popular movies that use similar techniques.

SHAKESPEARE FOR SCREENWRITERS is an excellent resource for writers who want to draw on the storytelling wisdom of someone who clearly knew his craft. I greatly recommend this book.

Review copy provided by Michael Wiese Productions

Photo Credit: Michael Wiese Productions

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review of THE FIRST 20 HOURS by Josh Kaufman

THE FIRST 20 HOURS by Josh Kaufman is a book about learning skills quickly. What's great about this book is that it explores how people learn most efficiently. Kaufman shows that most skills that we want to learn, such as guitar playing, windsurfing, and software programming, are actually a combination of several smaller subskills. He argues that if we spend 20 hours practicing on each of these subskills, actually putting them into practice, then we'll learn skills much faster.

I like the example he uses early on in the book about learning how to speak Spanish in a classroom versus learning how to speak Spanish by actually practicing speaking Spanish with people. Real-world practice helps people learn much more than classroom theory. Kaufman spends the rest of the book sharing how to learn some new skills.

This is a great book for people who want to learn some new things but feel like they don't have the time. Kaufman breaks the learning process down into something much more manageable.

Review copy provided by Portfolio Hardcover

Photo Credit: Portfolio Hardcover