Foundations of Grace by Steven J. Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not only does the New Testament tell the story of Jesus, but every page is like a road sign that points the way to salvation. This story is told by a series of godly men throughout the history of humankind and their contributions are collected in the Bible. The way that their testomonies present a unified harmony is both astonishing and is itself a testimony to the truth of their witness.
In Foundations of Grace, Steven Lawson takes each book of the Bible and demonstrates the doctrines of grace from each author’s perspective. While many think that they are 16th century inventions, Lawson shows how each are woven into the fabric of the entire testimony of Scripture.
Rather than being a cover-to-cover read, this is a perfect resource to have to supplement a Bible study or discussion on the doctrines of grace themselves. Having read it straight through, I found it impressively helpful in learning more about the depth that the doctrines run in different books and in edifying my own belief in a God who loves so deeply that he completely and effectively saves those He chooses.
[LEGAL: a copy of the book was provided as compensation for this review by the publisher.]
Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel R. Beeke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Calvinism, you say? What is that exactly?
People have varying reactions to hearing the term Calvinism. There are many strong opinions for and against the Calvinist perspective on the teaching of the Bible. Yet with the strength of opinion, and perhaps because of it, Calvinism is often misunderstood and misrepresented.
Whether or not you identify as a Calvinist, Joel Beeke does a terrific job in presenting the tenants of this Reformation era theology. In the first section he takes us chapter by chapter through TULIP, an easy way to remember the basics.
What I found most helpful was the second half, which is a real life perspective of people who lived as the first Calvinists: Puritans. These 15th century Christians are often regarded to see how the teachings of John Calvin impacted how people lived everyday life. Beeke takes us through the family structure of a typical Puritan household along with how the faith was taught and practiced.
Do not be intimidated. At first glance this book with its more than 400 pages looks too large to tackle. However, Beeke uses accessible language and strong biblical support to present a basic look at what Calvinism is and the assurance of living in light of God’s sovereignty and for God’s glory.
[LEGAL: copy of the book was provided as compensation for this review by the publisher]
With the release of his most recent book, Love Wins, Rob Bell and his theology have been a hot-button topic. Quickly after the book’s release prominent pastors and church leaders came out against Bell’s position on heaven, hell, and the eternal destiny of all people.
Being called a “universalist,” Bell firmly denied the accusation and affirmed his belief that in every human heart God’s love will win out in the end. What has been interesting about Bell and his teaching is that he sounds Scripture saturated, even with devoted study. Yet, with a well-rounded perspective firmly planted in a high view of Scripture, one can discern that Bell starts with his own agenda then redefines theological terms to both avoid heresy and appear stanchly orthodox.
Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I was just a lad I heard the story of Jesus from my pastor at the end of a week of Vacation Bible School. It was not new to me, having grown up in the church, but when he told us to “come forward if you want to receive Jesus into your heart” I thought, “Okay, if that’s what I am supposed to do!” Taking my hop, skip and cantor down the aisle, I still recall looking over my shoulder and wondering why some kids still sat. Was there something special about me? Was I smarter? Did I pay closer attention? Was my hearing just better?
Don Miller has been coming under fire a lot lately, or I can only speculate so by recent posts on his blog and the fact that he has made his Twitter account private. No doubt that even as a well-known author criticism is hard to accept. It is difficult to separate a critique of one’s most cherished beliefs from one’s own character and personality. It is hard to accept criticism from people who are inconsistent in their own beliefs.
Admittedly, in a recent post I leveled a heavy criticism against Miller’s position on God’s plan for our lives. My tactics were less than hospitable, and they were taken with much hurt by Miller who responded to me via Twitter. Don, if you are reading this, please accept my apology for my lack of tact and my rude approach. I did not mean it as a personal affront, and it is difficult for me to hear that you were so deeply offended.
In a recent post titled “Having Right Theology Does Not Mean You Know God,” Miller mentions a new material for a rerelease of his book Searching for God Knows What in which he boldly discusses how “right theology has no redemptive power at all.” He is exactly right!