Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review: Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography by Herman Selderhuis

You'd be forgiven if you thought you knew a fair bit about Martin Luther, especially now at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. But Luther was a different kind of man; bombastic yet understanding, harsh yet kind, over the top yet pastoral. He is a difficult man to understand. We think we know him with the plethora of Facebook memes and the numerous tidbits from historians lately. But like any other historical figure that has initiated world changing events, the man must be studied and like any other man, he was a man of his time. At this point we can thank Herman Selderhuis for his biography of Luther, Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. The mysteries of the man who changed Christendom forever have been mined and his story told.

Many see Luther as the man at ground zero of Lutheranism and moreover, the Reformation. Indeed, he was. However, his life's story is more convoluted, more variegated and more wrought with strife than most of us can imagine. His time was much different than ours. His world was one of sickness & disease, the plague, where church and government was inextricably intertwined, where excommunication was far worse than perceived today, and where going against the Roman Catholic Pope could get one killed. He persisted with his theology which focused on justification by faith; something we in the Reformed world today almost take for granted but it was miles away from what the church taught at the time. Rarely a kind word for those who opposed him, even friends could fall under his wrathful pen or spoken word if they dared to disagree with him.

Unlike Calvin, Luther wrote much about himself, both the happy times and those of strife. From these written words we know much about Luther and his struggles. Selderhuis has written a fascinating account of his life outlining his troubles and joy in both his personal and public life and quotes often from his works. Selderhuis doesn't candy coat his story, though. Luther was often harsh with his words, both written and spoken, and was not afraid of anyone, including those who could take his life. When issues arose he would travel to preach, speak at disputations and write volumes on issues needing change and explanation within the church. At any one time in his later years Luther could be preaching, writing, teaching, attending meetings and answering correspondence on a myriad of subjects. He was often exhausted. His home life was made enjoyable thanks to his wife Katharina who managed the household well. Luther loved her and his children much, however home life could be chaotic. Money always seemed to be an issue and their home was always filled with friends and lodgers. Katharina held it all together managing their money and vegetable gardens well. These various aspects tell the story of Luther's life, much the average Christian doesn't know, and Selderhuis does it well.

Selderhuis' writing is direct, enjoyable, and informative. In 350+ pages he shares the life of a man that changed history and to who every Christian is indebted. 

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Looking for other works on Luther? Check out this link at Reformed Renegade.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation by G.K. Beale

G.K. Beale is a well known author with many works on Biblical studies under his belt. Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation is quite informative and and an easy, enjoyable read.

The purpose of this handbook is to provide a short guide to the use of the OT citations and allusions in the NT. The intended audience is serious-minded Christians, students and pastors, with the hope that even scholars might benefit. (pg. vxii)

A more detailed volume that is co-authored by Beale, is linked below. Though an introductory work on the subject, the work is still detailed enough to keep even the novice Bible reader interested.

Chapter Headings

A quick run through of the contents gives the would be reader an idea of the span of this work.

1. Challenges to Interpreting the Use of the Old Testament in the New
2. Seeing the Old Testament in the New: Definitions of Quotations and Allusions and Criteria for Discerning Them
3. An Approach to Interpreting the Old Testament in the New
4. Primary ways the New Testament Uses the Old Testament
5. Hermeneutical and Theological Presuppositions of the New Testament Writers
6. The Relevance of Jewish Backgrounds for the Study of the Old Testament in the New: A Survey of the Sources
7. A Case Study Illustrating the Methodology of This Book

This is not a straight forward subject as the author asserts several times. Yet, Beale does point out the value of his methodology. Chapter three is the main concern, as the author states, of this handbook and indeed is the highlight. A nine fold approach is offered to answer the all important question, what method should be employed for interpreting how the NT uses the OT? (pg. xviii). This chapter alone is worth the price of the book even if it is the only chapter read.

Overview of Chapter Three

The nine fold approach:

1. Identify the OT reference
2. Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs.
3. Analyze the OT context both broadly and immediately...
4. Survey the use of the OT text in early and late Judaism that might be of relevance to the NT appropriation of the OT text.
5. Compare the texts (including their textual variants).
6. Analyze the author's textual use of the OT.
7. Analyze the author's interpretive use of the OT.
8. Analyze the author's theological use of the OT.
9. Analyze the author's rhetorical use of the OT.

Each step is elaborated with details to apply the steps outlined.

Though this review has focused on chapter three, the rest of the volume is well worth reading and comprehending. The balance of the book further elaborates on each step. The book is well foot noted, full of examples, has an extensive bibliography, author index, and ancient writings index.

For the serious minded student of Scripture, this book won't let you down. I heartily endorse it.

For further and more in depth study look into

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Great Book on Prayer - Reformed Forum

Glen and Camden at Reformed Forum discuss Ole Hallesby's book, Prayer. This is an older work that provides much wisdom on the subject and duty of prayer.  Don't miss this episode and follow the link to purchase the book.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: How to Read & Understand the Old Testament Prophets by Peter Gentry

Many Christians struggle to make sense of the Old Testament. If you fall into this camp, you're not alone. Its not easy, let's face it. Peter Gentry's new book, How to Read & Understand the Old Testament Prophets is a great read and one that can assist the Bible reader with comprehension of the O.T.

This is not a scholarly work. It is written in simple language that even the newest of believers will understand. It will open the door to some of the most difficult passages to wrap your head around and perhaps provide a new perspective on some of those same passages.

...reading and studying the Bible may not be straightforward for readers with a modern and Western background in culture and language. The biblical texts in origin are ancient and Eastern— they come from a different culture and a different time. Kindle Location 168). Crossway.

One of the highlights of the volume is acquiring an understanding of the difference between modern western literature and that of ancient Hebrew literature. There is a vast chasm between the two that most readers today are unaware of. Moreover, Hebrew authors employed the recursive approach.

The normal pattern of Hebrew literature is to consider topics in a recursive manner, which means that a topic is progressively repeated. Such an approach seems monotonous to those who do not know and understand how these texts communicate.  (Kindle Location 172). Crossway.

Grasping these two points will do much to enhance the reading and study enjoyment for the modern Bible reader.

As Gentry continues, he offers specific and valuable examples from the O.T., often from Isaiah. These examples will do much to increase the reader's grasp of the prophets. Word pairs, triplets, typology, metaphors, symbolic language and especially apocalyptic language are subjects covered with enough clarity that the reader will derive an enhanced ability to engage with the OT authors.

Of most import, why was this written for us? What was the ultimate purpose? major purpose of the Old Testament prophets was to bring the people back to faithful love and loyalty to Yahweh in the covenant relationship established at Sinai (Exodus   19– 24) and renewed at Moab (Deuteronomy). (Kindle Locations 446-447). Crossway. 

I can recommend this book with great enthusiasm. Not all of Scripture is perspicuous and this book will be an indispensable aid to those who wish to delve further and more deeply in the study of the O.T.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

For further reading and study

Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation by G. K. Beale

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by D. A. Carson & G.K. Beale

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Writing Your Book Review

We'd like to encourage all our readers, both here on the blog and our Facebook page, to start writing reviews of the Reformed books you've read. Reviewing reading material is a great way to share your thoughts on a work (new or old) and its not a bad way to make new friends in Reformed circles.

Don't know how to get started? Below are some links to writing a book review. There are many styles of reviews so pick one that suits you and get writing.


UNC Writing Center

Purdue Online Writing Lab

Writing World

The Pen and Pad

Dalhousie University

Got a question? Jump over to our Facebook page and ask.

We look forward to reading your reviews.

Just for the record, we do not endorse any of the above websites. They do, however, contain some good information.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Authors Trueman and Gordon Speak at Reformation Conference

Authors Dr. Carl Trueman and Dr. T. David Gordon spoke at the Remembering & Renewing Reformation Conference in Hudson, Ohio. Click here for the audio and please share. Don't forget to check out their books, too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Authors Trueman and Gordon to Speak at Reformation Conference

Redeemer Church in Hudson, Ohio will be having two well known authors speak at it's upcoming Remembering & Renewing Reformation Conference in June. Authors and speakers Dr. T. David Gordon and Dr. Carl Truman will highlight the conference. Presentation topics include Preparing for a Reformation, Luther’s Reformation, and Contemporary Reformation. The first 50 registrants receive a signed copy of Truman's Luther and the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom. For more information and to register, please check the website for the conference.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: No Uncertain Sound

I guess it was in 2008 or so that I had been looking on the internet for something to listen to. Any good Reformed sermon or lecture would do. At the time at I had an annoyingly long drive to work and detested the waste of time. I would find a sermon and burn it to a CD (that's as high tech as I could get then). At some point I came across the Reformed Forum podcast. I remember thinking this is what I've been looking for - some well educated, well spoken guys recording their theological conversations. Eureka! I was hooked. Since that time I have had the privilege to watch Reformed Forum grow into a multi-faceted, multi-platform ministry to aid the discipleship of Reformed Christians worldwide.

Their latest foray is a small tome entitled, No Uncertain Sound. It is a small collection of essays that "...set forth the salient features  of our Reformed identity" (pg. 3). Each chapter, authored by a podcast regular, is concise, well written, easy to understand, and well edifying.

Chapter Highlights

In chapter one, Camden M. Bucey, president of Reformed Forum, gives the reader the origins and impetus for Reformed Forum. It is now well beyond its humble beginnings.

Lane G. Tipton authors chapter two and begins the theological background necessary for comprehension of their Reformed identity. In "Jesus in the Old Testament," Tipton considers the Christocentric and Christotelic understanding of Christ in the Scriptures. Don't let those theological terms scare you off.
At stake in the debate is whether the church receives the Christ who is revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments by the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit, or whether we are to receive the imaginative construal of the religious experience of ancient Hebrews or Second Temple Jews (pg. 22).
Camden M. Bucey explains the necessity of Biblical and Systematic theology to work in harmony, rather than independently,  in chapter three.
Systematic and biblical theology are not antagonistic. Both rely upon exegetical theology, and they mutually contextualize, regulate, and inform each other. Systematic theology should never be engaged apart from biblical theology, and vice versa (pg. 30).
Jeffrey C. Waddington takes the next chapter where he "...unpacks[s] the meaning and significance of union with Christ..." (pg.32).

"Communion with God in worship is of the very essence of the covenant and goal of man's eschatology" (pg. 52)  writes Glen J. Cary in chapter six with a view of Covenantal worship.

In chapter seven James J. Cassidy explains the relationship that believers have in this world vs. the next.
Heaven is your home. Heaven is your city. And heaven is where you have your citizenship (pg. 73).
Jeff Waddington returns to author chapter eight on Reformed Covenantal Apologetics. Waddington clearly lays out the basics and elements of a Reformed Covenantal Apologetics method.

Other Observations

It is difficult to take issue with this work; either in content or format. It is well footnoted and has a listing of related podcasts at the end of each chapter. The work concludes with a recommended reading list and Scripture index.

I heartily recommend No Uncertain Sound. It would be an outstanding work to add to any church library and one to hand out to members and visitors. Get it now. The first printing is almost gone.

The author has provided a complimentary copy of this book. The views expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Guest Post by R. Andrew Myers: Book Review: Godly Conversation

by R. Andrew Myers

Distinct from the ordinary or regular elements of worship prescribed by Scripture -- such as prayer, reading/hearing/preaching the Word, singing of Psalms, and the administration of/participation in the sacraments -- there are other spiritual ordinances, duties or disciplines which the Bible commands, both public and private means of grace, sometimes with overlap, such as extraordinary vows, meditation, fasting and godly conference.

The last three are among the most neglected and misunderstood aspects of Puritan piety. Meditation is a preparative to prayer and the best way to retain what is read or heard in the Word. Matthew Henry said: "Meditation is the best preparative for prayer, so prayer is the best issue of meditation. Meditation and prayer should go together, Ps. 19:14." Religious fasting is an extraordinary act of worship, and a discipline that helps to draw body and soul nearer to God; in the words of William Secker: "By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body." These disciplines are largely unknown among professing Christians today, or poorly understood and infrequently practiced. The last, godly conference -- defined by J.I. Packer in the foreword simply as "edifying conversation, that is, about spiritual things" -- is also little known and poorly practiced by Christians today, even among those who follow the Puritan tradition. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I would introduce readers to Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference by Joanne J. Jung (Reformation Heritage Books, 2011).

In our harried, individualistic, fragmented society, as Dr. Jung notes (pp. 157-159), too many Christians today walk on their pilgrim way isolated from other believers and consequently, in large measure, deprived from the benefits of mutual edification. Just as in our culture few neighbors actually seem to really know one another well, and are involved in one another's lives, so likewise in the church, believers often assemble to worship God together on the Lord's Day and yet fail to share the joys and burdens of life with one another during the rest of the week. The evangelical importance attached to an individual's conversion and salvation seems overemphasized to the point of neglecting the corporate aspect of the Christian life. The need for small group Bible study and activities is known and efforts are made to fill this void in the Christian experience, but perhaps poorly employed. The fact that the Puritans recognized this need and practiced this discipline so diligently is largely unknown, not only within the church at large, but also among modern Puritan scholarship, making Dr. Jung's study a valuable contribution to what she refers to as "piety's forgotten discipline."

Dr. Jung, who has written about this topic elsewhere as well, begins with an overview of Puritanism and Puritan piety, drawing on modern scholarship, notably that of Dr. Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, to emphasize the point that Puritan piety, though it speaks first to the communion between the believing soul and his God, was also corporate. Biblical piety, is not confined to the individual but permeates all of our relationships in the spheres of family, church and society. As much as the even the unbelieving world understands and appreciates man's need for companionship in life, Puritans also recognized that Christian fellowship is even sweeter, and indeed needful. The communion of saints is a doctrine taught by the Westminster Assembly, and in an age of "lone wolf" Christianity, where relationships between believers are often limited and superficial, or even purely virtual (online only), it is no wonder that this chapter of the Westminster Confession receives comparatively little attention from even those who follow the Puritan tradition. But as Dr. Jung quotes (pp. xiv, 12-13) from a New England Puritan, Jonathan Mitchel in his "Letter to a Friend," appended to A Discourse of the Glory (1677), pp. 15-16:
If you have a friend with whom you might now and then spend a little time, in conferring together, in opening your hearts, and presenting your unutterable groanings before God, it would be of excellent use. Such an one would greatly strengthen, bestead, and further you in your way to heaven. Spend now and then [as occasions will permit] an hour [or so] with such a friend more then ordinary [sometimes a piece of a day, sometimes a whole day of extraordinary fast, in striving and wrestling with God for everlasting mercy]. And be much in quickning conference, giving and taking mutual encouragements and directions in the matters of Heaven! Oh! the life of God that falls into the hearts of the Godly, in and by gracious Heavenly conference. Be open hearted one to another, and stand one for another against the Devil and all his Angels. Make it thus your business in these and such like ways, to provide for Eternity while it is called today.

After an overview of Puritan piety, including a discussion of the place of conference as it served to mutually edify the saints, Dr. Jung traces the history and origin of conference as practiced by Puritans from the European continent and the British isles beginning with the exercise of prophesyings. Grounded in the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Cor. 14.29-31 and 1 Thess. 5.20, prophesying -- that is, a method of training ministers by regularly gathering them together to expound the Word of God in each other's hearing -- began in Zurich as early as the 1520s, where "two or three" "nongraduate clergy" would exegete the Scriptures in the original languages, after which sermons were given on those texts for the attending laity. And in Geneva weekly meetings took place outside of stated worship wherein the pastor would discuss doctrine with all church members where the laity were free to speak openly and ask questions. Thus were the seeds planted that were to cross-pollinate across the North Sea by way of the Marian exiles and ultimately flower in England following the Elizabethan settlement. Dr. Jung (p. 125) categorizes this type of ministerial conference as either professional (clergy expounding Scripture to their peers) or pastoral (Scriptural exposition with lay-auditors present, often involving a question-and-answer format).

But in addition minister-to-minister consultations and exhortations, and to speaking with one's own minister, it is private conference (layman-to-layman, within families or without) that particularly augments the spiritual benefits of public preaching for most Christians. "Private conference would contribute much to our profiting by public preaching" (Matthew Henry on Matt. 13.24-43). "Besides the secret worship performed by particular persons, and the public services of the whole congregation, there may be occasion sometimes for two or three to come together, either for mutual assistance in conference or joint assistance in prayer, not in contempt of public worship, but in concurrence with it; there Christ will be present" (Henry on Matt. 18.15-20). This is a duty and a help for families on the Lord's Day following the public sermons ("and the publick worship being finished, after prayer, [the head of household] should take an account what [the family] have heard; and thereafter, to spend the rest of the time which they may spare in catechising, and in spiritual conferences upon the word of God" -- Scottish Directory for Family Worship, 1647). And it extends to women as well as to men (and children), as Dr. Jung notes, pp. 146-153. All saints are to admonish, exhort and provoke one another to love and good works, Mal. 3.16; Col. 3.16; 1 Thess. 5.11, 14; Heb. 10.24 (see Robert Shaw's remarks on the Westminster Confession of Faith 26.1-2). 

This is a well-researched study of a spiritual discipline important to Puritans, which surveys the writings of such men as Joseph and Richard Alleine, Isaac Ambrose, William Ames, Richard Baxter, Lewis Bayly, John Beadle, Richard Bernard, Nicholas Bownd, John Bunyan, John Downame, Richard Greenham, Arthur Hildersham, Thomas Hooker, Cotton Mather, John Owen, William Perkins, John Preston, Richard Rogers, Timothy Rogers, Thomas Shepard, Richard Sibbes, Henry Smith, Thomas Watson, and many other sixteenth and seventeenth century divines, as well as modern secondary literature concerning Puritan piety. 

There is counsel from Baxter (pp. viii-ix) as to how such spiritual conference should be conducted: 

Let the matter be usually, 1. Things of weight, and not small matters. 2. Things of certainty, and not uncertain things. Particularly the fittest subjects for your ordinary discourse are there: 1. God himself, with his attributes, relations, and works. 2. The great mystery of man's redemption by Christ; his person, office, sufferings, doctrine, example, and work; his resurrection, ascension, glory, intercession, and all the privileges of his saints. 3. The covenant of grace... 4. The workings of the Spirit of Christ upon the soul... 5. The ways and wiles of Satan, and all our spiritual enemies... 6. The corruption and deceitfulness of the heart; the nature and workings, effects and signs of ignorance, unbelief, hypocrisy, pride, sensuality, worldliness, impiety, injustice, intemperance, uncharitableness, and every other sin; with all the helps against them all. 7. The many duties to God and man which we have to perform, both internal and external... 8. The vanity of the world, and deceitfulness of all earthly things. 9. The powerful reasons used by Christ to draw us to holiness... 10. Of the sufferings which we must expect and be prepared for. 11. Of death...and how to make ready for so great a change. 12. Of the day of judgment... 13. Of the joys of heaven... 14. Of the miseries of the damned... 15. Of the state of the church on earth, and what we ought to do in our places for its welfare. Is there not matter enough in all these great and weighty points, for...conference?

As to its importance to believers in centuries past as well as today, consider the words of Richard Sibbes from his expository sermons on the Song of Solomon, quoted by Dr. Jung (p. 97): "Next to heaven itself, our meeting together here, is a kinde of Paradise, the greatest pleasure of the world is, to meet with those here, whom we shall ever live with in Heaven." 

What was true for Christian in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" is true for all believers. As Dr. Jung notes, "In John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, private conference is what makes Christian's journey practicable. Time and again, as destruction is imminent, the advice and comfort of a fellow pilgrim enabled him to press on" (p. 12). Happy is the man who has a fellow pilgrim there to help him up when he falls with a word of encouragement and comfort (Ecc. 4.9-12). 

In the spirit of Dr. Jung's book and in the words of J.C. Ryle, "Let us resolve to talk more to believers about the Bible when we meet them. Alas, the conversation of Christians, when they do meet, is often sadly unprofitable! How many frivolous, and trifling, and uncharitable things are said! Let us bring out the Bible more, and it will help to drive the devil away, and keep our hearts in tune. Oh, that we may all strive so to walk together in this evil world; that Jesus may often draw near, and go with us, as He went with the two disciples journeying to Emmaus!" 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

R. Andrew Myers is married to Jessica, and is the father of five precious children. He lives in Elkton, Virginia, and has studied at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He edited The Matthew Poole Project (2006-2012); published an essay on "The Puritan Legacy Considered" (2009, MPP); served as a transcriber and research assistance for the Westminster Assembly Project (2009); contributes to the website Reformed Books Online; blogs at Virginia is for Huguenots, a site focused on church history and devotional matters from a Puritan, Covenanter and Huguenot perspective; and is an avid reader and student of church history.  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Book Review: ReSet: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray

I suppose it can happen to all of us. Well, it can happen to any of us - Burnout. Burnout can manifest itself in a number of ways and be triggered by a number of reasons. It's not black and white. It's multifaceted and can be affecting any of us without us realizing it, at least not a first. We may recognize many of the symptoms but be clueless to their origins and how we may resolve the issues we're experiencing.

Author David Murray, is a pastor, teacher, speaker, and blogger at Within the pages of ReSet he reveals the origins of burnout and as the reader progresses through the work is taught methods of effectively dealing with it. Murray calls it living the "Grace-paced life." We spend much time and effort in many worthwhile pursuits, but are they always beneficial?

Early on Murray calls the reader to a Reality Check as we miss many of the warning signs, Murray provides us with a list of warning signs to beware of or perhaps already experiencing. One should carefully review the warning signs and realize that part of the grace-paced life is slowing down from the "over-paced life."

In the following chapters Murray covers an array of areas wherein the reader should focus:

-What the cause(s) may be
-The need for sleep
-The need for routine mixed with play
-The need for exercise and rest and quietness
-Realizing our true identity
-The value of failure and the necessity to accept change
-Rethinking our purpose
-Eating right
-The need for proper and regular devotions

And much more.

Burnout is real and can affect any of us differently. My suggestion is to take this book seriously and consider the implications on your life. Consider if you are burned out. Murray offers much sound biblical advice from his own life experiences and from those he has counseled. I firmly commend this book to all men, especially those who are weary. There is much hope and value to be gleaned from its pages.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

David Murray is also the author of Christians Get Depressed, Too and Jesus On Every Page. I can heartily recommend both of these works to the reader as well.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: "The Covenant of Works: Its Confessional and Scriptural Basis" (Recovering Our Confessional Heritage)

Author Richard Barcellos has given us a small, informative primer, The Covenant of Works: Its Confessional and Scriptural Basis. You may already think you have a good theological understanding of the COW however Barcellos brings out numerous historical and theological aspects as they relate to the Second London Confession of Faith of 1689 and as the 2LCF relates to the Westminster Standards (Confession, Larger and Shorter Catechisms).

The author reviews the history of the LCF with a definition of the COW - good stuff.  And though I disagree with some of the content, there is valuable information that can be gleaned and used for further study. At only 137 pages, this could be read quickly and used to kick start a study of the subject.

However, what I thought was going to be an interesting and informational book on the Covenant of Works turned out to be a difficult read. The book is chock full of parenthetical statements and references making the flow difficult and a time consuming read. Though well footnoted, numerous foot notes simply refer to the reader to the author's other books for fuller explanations. At times, as in chapter one, lesser known Latin theological terms are defined as a preface to what follows (well done), other terms are not defined and it leaves me wondering who the intended audience is. It appears to be written for the layperson but with the difficulties outlined above, I'm unsure if a good, introductory grasp of the COW can be obtained. A different,  more helpful approach to the subject could have been taken. A larger, but yet still slim volume eliminating the issues outlined above would have made this a much better read.

My main disagreement with this volume is that I don't believe the author has made a good case for the covenant coming after Adam's creation. I would hold  to the view that Adam was created in covenant. With that statement being made, I'll leave it to the reader to decide.

Perhaps, as the author states in his conclusion, this book can function as a launch pad for further study. I suggest this to be the case as I was left with more questions unanswered rather than answered.

The author has provided a complimentary copy of this book. The views expressed are my own.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: A New Song: Responding Poetically To The Psalms by D.P. Myers

It's really tough to find quality, Reformed devotional material. I'm always on the look out for it. A New Song: Responding Poetically To The Psalms by D.P. Myers is just such a book. Consisting of over 170 poems, most corresponding to the Psalms, Myers allows the reader to enter in to his lengthy study of the Psalms and his poetic response.

The Psalms can be our response to God in all of life's situations, particularly to affliction and for praise. I return to the Psalms often in times of darkness and light. Myers encourages us to do that and to see past the words to their true meaning.

From the book jacket we read

A New Song is both a devotional and a guidebook. As a devotional, the reader is offered a glimpse into Myers' multi-year journey through the Psalms resulting in writing over 170 poems. Each poem, when read alongside the accompanying Psalm, can help the prayerful reader to consider the ways in which God may be speaking through each Psalm As a guidebook, A New Song briefly discusses our innate creative nature and then offers suggestions which, when illustrated by Myers' examples, will encourage you to find your own creative voice with which to sing a new song unto the Lord.

Of course, I turned to some of my favorite Psalms that have offered me the most comfort and instruction over the years.

From the response to Psalm 35

Repentant is my weeping heart,
     Always longing for your touch,
Your breath of life, a fresh new start,
     I need these Lord, so much.

And again from Psalm 54

Still I sit in darkest night
    In my isolation's pain,
Waiting when for me you'll fight
   So I'll see the dawn again.

From Psalm 90

To lift me from the dark pit
   Of muck and death and sin,
Leading me so far from it,
   This hellish life I'm in.

To search out your grand measure
   Through all my years and days
And find no greater pleasure
   Than seeking all your ways.

Then be taken home one day,
   The castle of the King, 
Where your glories will be shown
   And sinner cleansed will sing.

Myers demonstrates that poetry has a way of taking us from an instructional mode to a contemplative mode. When we meditate on a Psalm and corresponding poem we can regain the perspective we often lose that the Lord wants us to have. In the Psalms the full range of emotions are found and can be expressed to the Lord on prayer. And there we can gather our thoughts and revel in God's glory and majesty.

This book has quickly become a favorite devotional tool for me. Let us remain diligent in our time with the Lord by reading, meditating, and praying. A New Song is a wonderful companion to the Psalms to do so.

The Reformed Book Cellar received a complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review: No Little Women by Aimee Byrd

...if we are serious about the distinctiveness of men and women, and if we really do believe that women are created to be necessary allies, then above all we should want to equip competent, theologically minded, thinking women, which has been the theme of this whole book.

The male-female dynamic has been much in the news lately, so much so that when I saw that Aimee Byrd's new book, No Little Women had been published, I was anxious to get my hands on it and dig in.

Aimee Byrd is a wife, mother, church member, author, and co-host of the Mortification of Spin podcast. Well known in many Reformed circles, she is intelligent, thoughtful and a capable writer. Her style is provocative and well worthy of reading.

Byrd's theme is as we find it above from page 138. With that in mind, she sets out to demonstrate that women are indeed the ally to men. Through several chapters she outlines the approach we should take offering correctives and concluding several chapters directed to church officers.

Much of the focus of this book covers the bad theology so often pandered to women in its many forms but especially in books. One need only to wander around the local Christian book store or search Amazon's website to see the latest drivel aimed at the female Christian demographic.

In many cases, women's ministry is the back door for bad doctrine to enter the church. (pg. 22)

And it comes on the heels of doctrine promoted in these books.  Can this be changed? Yes, by women with discernment learning good theology with recognition and care from their church officers. Byrd offers the necessary insight to reach this needed goal.

We  are to recognize that women are created in the image of God as necessary allies to men carrying out his mission. Because of this, women are to be good theologians with informed convictions. We are to take this call seriously and invest quality time in our theological growth and Bible study within the context of our local church as a foundation to our service and contributions to the church, our families, and society. The church is to recognize this and help to equip competent women as necessary allies. (pg. 178)

I was particularly interested in how Byrd would address the plethora of bad theology published to and for women. I wasn't disappointed. In chapter 8 she describes how to chose a book and author, how to read a book, and of utmost importance, how to be discerning. She gives examples from these books by authors such as Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, Sarah Young and others so that the reader may learn and practice discernment. Well done.

No doubt, No Little Women will evoke some visceral responses but I urge the reader to thoughtfully and Biblically think through what Byrd is advocating.

This book abounds with wisdom - for women and men. I strongly urge men and church officers to read, digest and apply what is found within it's pages. Women, if you are reading these false teachers that offer religion through sentimentality, please ween yourself from that rubbish. Invest in quality reading material that teaches the truth as found in God's Word. It is all that will ever satisfy your soul. Make a good start by reading No Little Women.

(I would give this book a 5 Star rating but the author does not like that rating system so pretend you didn't read this bit.)

P&R Publishing has provided a complimentary copy of this book.