WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY? – Kevin DeYoung (2015)

•March 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

aI read an important book today.  It is not a weighty theological treatise.  It is not a book about spiritual formation.  And it certainly is not written to inspire.  This book is about homosexuality.  Like it or not, in our culture, the topic of homosexuality has moved from stage left to center stage.  Everyone is talking about it.  Many people are affirming homosexual relationships – liberals and conservatives alike.

I recently read Steve Chalke’s booklet, A Matter of Integrity.  The author, who happens to be a Baptist pastor, seeks to legitimize and normalize homosexuality.  The booklet is written with tones of grace and the author appears very kind.  The only problem – the book is dead wrong.  The book opposes Scripture.  And the book fails to glorify God.

Kevin DeYoung’s new book, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality addresses a controversial topic with grace but never at the expense of truth.

Part One – Understanding God’s Word

The author guides readers through a maze of texts and helps them unravel what Scripture really says about homosexuality.  His tone is gracious.  Yet he is unafraid to proclaim what God proclaims – homosexuality is a sin to be repented of.  Everyone who turns from their sin may find peace and forgiveness that flow freely from Jesus who paid to set sinners free.  DeYoung is quick to demonstrate that homosexuality is not acceptable in God’s economy.  But he is even more eager to point people to a God who forgives:

The God we worship is indeed a God of love.  Which does not, according to any verse in the Bible, make sexual sin acceptable.  But it does, by the witness of a thousand verses all over the Bible, make every one of our sexual sins changeable, redeemable, and wondrously forgiveable.  

Part Two – Answering Objections

DeYoung has left no stone unturned here.  In part two, he answers typical objections and responds with grace and truth.  All his answers are supported by the weight of Scripture.

There is much to commend here; more than one review can cover.  However, Kevin DeYoung helps readers understand what is at stake in this debate and uncovers four vital issues that every Christian should be concerned with.  I urge readers to purchase the book and study these powerful warnings:

  1. The moral logic of monogamy is at stake.
  2. The integrity of Christian sexual ethics is at stake.
  3. The authority of Scripture is at stake.
  4. The grand narrative of Scripture is at stake.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality will not be the most inspiring book you’ll read all year.  However, it may be the most important book you read.  It is a book that may cause you discomfort.  It is a book that will certainly cause you to reevaluate your position on homosexuality.    Ultimately, this book will point you to the Book.  And sacred Scripture clearly reveals God’s position on homosexuality.  Homosexual behavior, like any other ungodly behavior is sin; sin which must be repented of and forgiven.

May readers approach this subject with minds and hearts that are open to God’s revelation.  May they be challenged and moved to obedience.  And may the gospel open doors of hope so that many will find their rest in Christ the Savior!

LUTHER AND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE – Carl R. Trueman (2015)

•March 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

lutherMartin Luther was one of the bright shining stars of the 16th centuries who God used to restore reason to the church and recover the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Carl R. Trueman unpacks the Protestant Reformer in his latest work, Luther on the Christian Life.

The book is a balanced blend of biography, Reformation history, and theology.  Beginners and seasoned students of Luther will all benefit from Trueman’s work.

While each chapter is a worthy read, the fifth chapter, Living By the Word will be the focus of this review.  The author does a magnificent job of drawing Luther’s love for the Bible in these pages.  But he demonstrates how important the Holy Spirit was in Luther’s life and theological framework: “For Luther, the Spirit is only given with the external word.”  Indeed, the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to transform the people of God.  Eliminate the Spirit and the result is a dry rationalism.  Remove the Word and the result is a subjective train wreck.  Luther stressed the importance of both the Word and the Spirit.

Luther’s devotional life and approach to the Christian life is explored, leaving readers with much to contemplate and weight out.  The author contrasts Luther’s emphasis on being a theologian of the cross (as opposed to a theologian of glory):

The very essence of being a theologian of the cross is that one sees God’s strength as manifested in weakness.  The primary significance of that is the incarnation and the cross.  God’s means for overcoming sin and crushing death are the humiliation of his Son, hidden in human flesh.  Nevertheless, the cross also has a certain paradigmatic aspect to it, for it indicates that God does his proper work through his alien work.

Additionally, Luther’s approach to spiritual warfare is reviewed.  Anyone who battles melancholy stands in good company, for Luther battled the same throughout his adult life.  Truman adds, “Luther certainly regards the cultivation of despair as one of the primary tasks of the Devil … Everything hangs on this, from confidence before God to ethical conduct before neighbors, to the ability to look death in the face and not despair.”

Luther’s struggles are always held captive to the Word of God.  Ultimately, Luther’s relief comes when he rests in the promises of the gospel.  Luther says,

And so when I feel the terrors of death, I say: ‘Death, you have nothing on me.  For I have another death, one that kills you, my death.  And the death that kills is stronger than the death that is killed.’

Carl Trueman offers a carefully thought out treatment of Luther, which includes both triumphs and tragedies.  The reader can determine which issues merit further studies.  Luther and the Christian Life is a fine contribution to the growing work on the German Reformer.

Highly recommended!

RISK IS RIGHT – John Piper (2012)

•March 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The very notion of risk is a foreign subject to most Americans.  Yet, anapiper important aspect of the Christian life can be summed up in one word: risk.  John Piper argues that risk is essential.  The title of the book is Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It.

Readers familiar with Dr. Piper’s Christian hedonism will gravitate to this book – for God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.  Piper writes,

This is what we live for, and die for: to make much of Jesus Christ and his glorious, universe-encompassing kingdom.  The heart cry of our lives, young and old, men and women, rich and poor, is the glory of Jesus Christ so that with full courage now as always Christ might be honored in our bodies whether by life or by death.

Such a notion involves risk, which the author defines as  “an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury.”  Most Americans do whatever they can do achieve the opposite.  Yet Piper argues, “It may not be loving to choose comfort or security when something great may be achieved for the cause of Christ and for the good of others.”

Piper urges readers to consider what he has coined, “risk avoidance,” which is in the final analysis, a cowardly act.  Bonhoeffer is cited in what proves to be one of the most moving quotations in the book.  Read the German pastor’s words slowly:

To delay or fail to make decisions may be more sinful than to make wrong decisions out of faith and love.

“Risk avoidance” Piper writes, “may be more sinful – more unloving than taking the risk in faith and love and making a wrong decision.”

The author presents examples of Old Testament and New Testament saints who took risks for the glory of God.

The point that Piper seeks to make is this: If you only live in comfort and refuse to step out in faith and risk, you will waste your life.  When we risk, we will be eternally satisfied in him.  Nothing will have been wasted.”

As usual, Piper always challenges presuppositions, encourages lively and Christ-centered faith and prods Christ-followers in the right direction.  The concluding sentence of the book is revealing:

But at the end of the road of risk, taken in reliance on the blood-bought promises of God, there will be fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

MEN’S INHUMANITY TO GOD – Jonathan Edwards (1750)

•March 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

jonathan-edwardsJonathan Edwards never minced words.  In his sermon, Men’s Inhumanity to God he reminds sinners that their general bent is to turn away from God, curse God, and live independent of his authority.

Doctrine

Men are wont to offer such treatment to God as they will not take one of another.

Edwards draws his text from Malachi 1:8 and develops nine points to support the doctrine above.  His argument may be summed up as he describes the natural bent of sinners:

The meanest object of their lusts is  set higher than he: he has less respect show him than a few shillings of money, or than a morsel of meat or a draught of strong drink, or a little brutish pleasure with a harlot.  The vilest of their wicked companions is more regarded, more feared and honored than the Lord of heaven and earth … They plainly show that they condemn his awful and infinite majesty and greatness, [his] spotless holiness, his justice; [they] contemn [both] his threatenings [and his] mercy.

Application

The specific application is straightforward and penetrating.  The Puritan divine encourages his listeners to make good use of the text by engaging in self-reflection, by turning to the Savior with a repentant heart, and praising God for his patience and mercy.

The sermons of Jonathan Edwards are a wake-up call for preachers in this generation to preach bold, gospel-centered messages.

FINDING TRUTH – Nancy Pearcey (2015)

•March 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Finding Truth, by Nancy Pearcey is another fine contribution thataa deserves to be read.  The author maintains with Romans 1 that all people have access to general revelation. As such:

  • We all have access to evidence for God through creation.
  • We all suppress the evidence for God from creation.
  • We all create idols to take the place of God.
  • God gives us up to the consequences of our idols to a “debased” mind.
  • God gives us up to the consequences of our idols – to “dishonorable” behavior.

Pearcey builds upon her earlier works, both of which are best sellers.  Total Truth argued for a unified view of truth and the obliteration of sacred/secular split.   Saving Leonardo   sought to help people develop skills in critical thinking.  Finding Truth  introduces readers to five principles which help make sense of competing worldviews and make a positive case for historic Christianity.  The five strategic principles are summarized below:

  1. Identify the Idol.  Anything which is presented as eternal and unchanging is an idol.  This principle helps us get to the heart of mankind’s propensity to erect idols and bow down to them.  By way of contrast, Christianity refuses to begin with creation and an epistemological starting point.  Rather, the beginning of knowledge rests in a transcendent Creator who is sovereign over all things.
  2. Identify the Idol’s Reductionism.  Pearcey notes, “The link is that idols always lead to a lower view of human life … When one part of creation becomes deified, the other part will be denigrated.”  Reductionism, is therefore, a fool’s errand as the creation is elevated to a status that God never intends.
  3. Test the Idol: Does it Contradict What We Know About the World?  Since idols always fail to satisfy, people will begin to realize that they cannot live according to the logic of their presuppositions.  They are either forced to live in the real world – which is to oppose their worldview or they live in accordance with their worldview which contradicts reality.
  4. Test the Idol: Does it Contradict Itself?  The competing worldview, at this point becomes self-defeating.  The author notes, “Everyone who proposes a reductionist worldview must make a tacit exception for his own thinking – at least, at the moment he is stating his claims.  But that too, creates a logical inconsistency.”  Thus the worldview fails.
  5. Replace the Idol: Make a Case for Historic Christianity.  As it becomes apparent that a competing worldview fails, the apologist must make a strong case for the viability and truthfulness of the Christian worldview.  “By identifying the points where non-Christians are free-loading, we can be confident that we are addressing areas where they sense the need for something more.”

Finding Truth is an essential toolbox for thinking Christians.  Pearcey does a dual service for readers as she not only instructs them to analyze and demolish competing worldviews (2 Cor. 10:5); she encourages readers to go deeper in the Christian faith which is informed by biblical reality and rock-solid facts.   A more accurate description, however, would be a treasure chest.  This is required reading which will only enrich one’s Christian life and effectiveness in the marketplace of ideas!

5 stars

I received this book free from the publisher.   I was not required to write a positive review. 

BELLA’S GIFT – Rick and Karen Santorum (2015)

•March 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

She had a 10 percent chance of survival at birth.  Ninety percent of Asantsurvivors don’t live to see their first birthday.  Yet Isabella Santorum is a fighter.  In May of 2015, she will celebrate her 7th birthday!

Bella’s Gift is the heart-gripping tale of Rick and Karen Santorum and their daughter, Isabella.  This little princess was born with Trisomy 18, a rare condition that means she has an extra chromosome in every cell of her body.

Rick and Karen Santorum share how this little girl changed their family for the better and how she has inspired all who know her.

The Santorum’s don’t sugarcoat this story.  They lay the raw details on the table and express the pain they have experienced and the heartbreak they have endured.  Yet, God’s gift of Bella to the Santorum’s  helped transform their priorities and revolutionize their family.

Such a story is yet another indication that Rick Santorum is the kind of man that needs to occupy the White House in 2016.  America is ready for a leader of faith; a leader who values family, and a leader who is unashamed to draw bold lines for the good of a nation.

4 stars

I received this book free from the publisher.   I was not required to write a positive review. 

FALLEN: Out of the Sex Industry and Into the Arms of the Savior – Annie Lobert (2015)

•February 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

annie lobertFallen is her alias.  Fallen is also the name of her memoir – a heartbreaking tale of a woman imprisoned in the human trafficking industry, sinful excess, and substance abuse.

When I learned that Annie Lobert had written a book that described her descent into human trafficking and her radical conversion through the Lord Jesus Christ, I was eager to hear this incredible redemptive tale.  Her husband, Oz Fox is the lead guitar player in the band that I’ve followed since the mid 80’s, so Annie Lobert’s book in my mind became required reading.

Fallen is an extremely difficult book to read.   Annie Lobert tells the sad tale of her journey into darkness where she is manipulated, beaten, bruised, lied to, and abused.  The book is an inside look at what the German’s refer to as the zeitgeist – the spirit of the age.  Lobert unveils a worldly system that most people are captivated by.  She refers to this worldly system that reeled her in as “a new, rich lifestyle that commanded my attention, and ultimately my worship.” Behind the glitz and glamor, however,  is a vicious worldview that lures the unsuspecting.  Shrouded behind the veil lies a plethora of pain, suffering, suicide, horror and tragedy.  Herein lies the greatest strength of the book.  The author paints a true portrait of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Fallen is a vivid reminder of the truthfulness of Proverbs 16:25.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

A series of circumstances drew Annie to the Savior, where she repented of her sin and accepted the free gift of salvation from God through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some doctrinal difficulties emerge in the book that are influenced by some charismatic teaching that cannot be supported by Scripture such as receiving the Holy Spirit subsequent to one’s initial encounter with Christ.  Scripture clearly tells us, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

Ultimately, Fallen is about the redemptive work of Christ which took root in Annie Lobert’s heart.  For this God receives all the glory, not only for her salvation and deliverance from the chains of sin but also for her ministry that she currently has in Las Vegas, which ministers to sex trafficking victims and prostitutes.  Lobert’s testimony is a reminder that no one is out of the reach of God’s amazing grace!

I received this book free from the publisher.   I was not required to write a positive review. 

 

 

 

 
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