Thursday, September 04, 2008

Book Reviews

On the Other Hand, Protestant Courage
(by Albert Mohler)

David F. Wells is, hands down, one of the most insightful analysts of contemporary Christianity. Well known as the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Wells is a theologian best known for four courageous and important books, No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing Our Virtue, and Above All Earthly Pow'rs.

Now, in The Courage to Be Protestant, Wells offers what amounts to a fifth volume in his series--a capstone to his argument.
In The Courage to Be Protestant, Wells bravely criticizes those who would offer theological and spiritual reductionism in the name of marketing as well as those who would steer the Evangelical movement toward the postmodern embrace of the "Emergents."

Looking at present-day Evangelicalism, Wells sees shrinking doctrine and a disappearing church. It takes no courage to "sign-up" as a Protestant, he argues, but it takes considerable courage to believe and act as a Protestant.
The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World is must reading. After reading this book, go back and read Wells' previous four-volume series.
An excerpt:

Traditional Christian faith holds to the outside God who stands over against us. He is known not because we have discovered him, but because he has made himself known in Scripture and in Christ. We are not left to piece together our understanding of him. He has unveiled and defined himself for us. He has broken his concealment. He has come into view and has told us who he is and how we are to live.
The inside god of this contemporary spirituality is different. He emerges out of the psychology, the inner depths, of the seeker. He is known through and within the self, and we piece together our knowledge of him (or her, or it) from the fragments of our experience coupled with our intuitions. In so many ways this god, this sacred reality, is indistinguishable from how we experience ourselves.

I discussed this important book with author David Wells on the June 5, 2008 edition of The Albert Mohler Program [listen here].

Whiter Than Snow
(Review by Nathan Williams)

The story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah, her husband, stands as one of the saddest instances of sin in the Bible. How could such a man of God fall so far and so hard? The truth is that without the story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah, we would not have one of the most magnificent Psalms contained in the pages of Scripture. I would imagine that multitudes of Christians throughout the centuries have returned time and again to the words found in Psalm 51 to help express their own sorrow for sin and their own desire to experience God’s mercy.

Paul Tripp understands that the story of David and Bathsheba is really the story of every Christian. We may not sin in the exact same way in which David did, but we all constantly sin and we are all in need of constant mercy. With this in mind, Tripp wrote this short book entitled Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy. In it he gives 52 short meditations which are all taken from the words of Psalm 51.

The themes of these meditations center on sin and mercy. As one reads this book, he will uncover the depths of sin contained within his own soul, but will also come face to face with the limitless mercy God provides to overcome sin. The meditations are short and helpful, each one is only a couple of pages long. Tripp uses a variety of approaches to meditations including several long poems concerning the topics of sin and mercy.

One of the most helpful aspects of this book is the example it will provide the reader of how to meditate on the Word of God. Most of us read our Bibles and don’t push ourselves to think deeply about it. Tripp has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about Psalm 51. He draws thoughts out of the text through meditation on the context, the background, and the words used in Psalm 51. He discusses the great biblical themes presented in Psalm 51 including sin, mercy, God’s grace, and forgiveness.

At the end of each meditation, Tripp provides 2 questions dealing with how the reader can further apply to daily life the truths learned. These questions are thought provoking and challenging and will also help in the process of learning how to meditate on God’s Word.

Obviously, this devotional should be read slowly, only one or two meditations per day. Each meditation conveys a kernel of truth or a challenging thought which the reader can dwell on throughout the rest of the day. Tripp writes clearly and with great insight into the human condition and the grace of God. I found this book to be an encouraging and convicting at the same time.


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