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A Review of Effective Bible Teaching

February 20, 2013 1 comment

Wilhoit, James C. and Ryken, Leland. Effective Bible Teaching, Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012. 193 pp. Paperback.

Wilhoit and Ryken have revised and updated a helpful training tool for Bible teachers. Whether Sunday school teachers, Wednesday night Bible study leaders, or small group teachers, Bible teachers of all ages and experiences can profit from this accessible work.

Wilhoit and Ryken have divided their work into three helpful parts: Effective Teaching, The Methods of Effective Bible Teaching, and The Bible We Teach. In Part 1, the authors set the context of contemporary Bible teaching. In Part 2, the authors discuss the actual methodology of effectively teaching the Bible. In Part 3, the authors instruct the reader on how to teach the various genres of the Bible.

As a whole, I found this book very helpful. I am sure that I will turn to it multiple times in the future as I teach the Bible to the youth at Calvary Baptist Church. I found every chapter to be well-written and -organized. I found Part 1 to be most helpful, however. I had read much of what Wilhoit and Ryken discuss in Parts 2 and 3 earlier in various books and blogs. The material in Part 1, however, was newer to me and so I profited more readily from it.

4 out of 5 stars.

I am grateful to Baker Academic for providing me a free review copy. I was not obligated to give a positive review.

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Longman’s Job Reviewed

October 3, 2012 2 comments

Longman III, Tremper. Job. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Baker Academic, 2012.

Tremper Longman III has written an excellent commentary on one of my favorite books of the Bible: Job. This commentary completes the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series (in which series Longman also wrote the Proverbs volume). In his Introduction to Job, Longman helpfully avoids speculations as to the book’s composition history; his task is to interpret the book as it has come down to us. This Longman does ably and thus defends the authority and reliability of the Bible. Longman also structures Job in his Introduction into seven sections: The Prologue (1:1-2:13), Job’s Lament (3:1-26); The Debate Between Job and His Three Friends (4:1-27:23); Job’s Monologue (28:1-31:40); Elihu’s Speech (32:1-37:24); Yahweh’s Speeches and Job’s Responses (38:1-42:6); and Job’s Restoration (42:7-17).

In the commentary proper, Longman provides his own translation of Job’s text. His translation is readable but faithful to the original languages. Before commenting on individual thought units within Job’s chapters, Longman summarized that section’s message. These sections were very helpful in clarifying the progression of thought within individual chapters. Even more helpful are the Theological Implications sections at the end of each commentated section. If not giving direct application, the Theological Implication “reflective essays” at least drew out the broader implications of any given section of Job, oftentimes pointing explicitly to how the New Testament takes the principles espoused in Job and explicates them.

Despite the commentary’s excellence, however, there were a couple of points on which I disagreed with Dr. Longman. As I have written extensively in an earlier post, I believe that Longman is wrong in identifying Job’s accuser as an angel other than the fallen angel, Satan. My other primary disagreement with Longman comes later in the book of Job. In discussing Elihu’s speech of Job 32-37, I believe Longman was, at times, too harsh in his criticism of Elihu. Yes, Elihu was wrong at certain points, but even Job acknowledged that he had “uttered what [he] did not understand” (42:3). Longman never stigmatized Job for his evident shortcomings, but although Elihu is certainly not the titular character, I do not believe him to be deserving of the measure of harshness that Longman dishes out to him.

These two caveats, though, do not prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending Longman’s Job to any teacher or preacher who wants to exposit this book of the Bible. Longman was erudite but evangelical throughout the commentary; he was academic without eschewing pastoral consideration. For this he is to be commended. This is a commentary that I will readily turn to whenever I preach or teach Job. 4 out of 5 stars.

I am grateful to Baker Academic for providing me an advance review copy in return for an honest review.

Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston

July 11, 2012 1 comment

I may not be a parent of a teen (I will be in fourteen years, though!), but as a youth minister I’m working with teens every day, so I gave Mark Gregston’s new book, Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to Get Blindsided by Your Child’s Teen Years, a read. As his title suggests, Gregston’s goal is to give parents helpful hints in raising their teenagers well. From his knowledge of present issues and first-hand experience of raising two children of his own and helping sixty teens at a time through his ministry, Gregston tells parents to show their teens grace and gradually release control as their teens become independent adults. For the most part, Gregston succeeds in his aim; however, there were some concerns that I had as I read this new book.

I couldn’t agree more with Gregston in his discussion of how devastating parents’ demands of perfection in their teens can be. He sheds illuminating insight into teens’ thought processes when he explains how relationships can trump beliefs in their lives. His insistence upon being who teens need you to be rather than doing all the activities that are out there was also helpful. He’s right that parents should be honest and, at times, humble with their kids, even asking for genuine forgiveness when necessary.

His book shines regarding grace, but I found it lacking regarding discipline. He offers this central argument in his book’s last section: “Authority can’t be forced” (73). “Don’t force them to have to choose to follow your authority,” he explains; “instead, lead them to an understanding of your authority through the healthy, loving relationship you established with them” (77-78). Relationships are important, don’t get me wrong, but the Bible consistently defines the parent-child relationship in terms of authority, both inherent and exercised. Yes, authority should be exercised lovingly, but it must be exercised, even if a teen refuses to obey it, which he or she very well may even if he or she has a “healthy, loving relationship” with parents.

Similarly, although I agree that successful parenting of teens gradually increases their independence and gradually allows them to make their own decisions, I believe Gregston goes too far in this freedom he suggests:

When they’re seventeen years old and come downstairs on Sunday morning and say, “I don’t want to go to church today,” don’t shame them or make them feel second-class for not choosing what you want. Instead, let them know, “Sure … why don’t you meet us for lunch so we can spend some time together?” You must give your older teens the opportunity to exercise their freedom to choose and trust what you have taught them about the need for spiritual nourishment. (142-143)

Fathers are to raise their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), which includes holding their children accountable to “not neglecting to meet together” (Heb. 10:25), which most churches observe on Sundays. It’s the Christian parent’s responsibility to ensure their children are churched and thus instructed in the Lord, and this responsibility doesn’t end until children have become adults. (Even then, parents can encourage their grown children to be involved in church!)

As a whole, this book was a helpful read. I agreed with many of Gregston’s principles, but I disagreed with him almost twice as much on his specific applications as I agreed with them. Consequently, I do not recommend this book. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

I thank BookSneeze for providing me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

A Book Review of The Preacher’s Portrait

June 30, 2010 3 comments

John Stott is an Anglican Clergyman and author of The Preacher’s Portrait. This book offers a transcription of a series of 5 lectures that Dr. Stott delivered in the 1960s. Although Dr. Stott’s opinions on the roles of men and women within the church are not ideal, his views on preaching could not be better. In his five lectures, Dr. Stott analyzes five aspects of the Christian preacher as revealed in Scripture: the preacher as steward, herald, witness, father, and servant.

Dr. Stott’s exegesis of certain biblical passages is superb and well-delivered. Consider what Dr. Stott remarks of the preacher’s stewardship: “The expository preacher is a bridge builder, seeking to span the gulf between the Word of God and the mind of man. He must do his utmost to interpret the Scriptures so accurately and plainly, and to apply it so forcefully, that the truth crosses the bridge” (p. 28). I cry with Dr. Stott, “May God make us faithful stewards!” (p. 32).

Dr. Stott then concludes rightly in his final chapter that “sermons are not intended to be ‘enjoyed’. Their purpose is to give profit to the hearers, not pleasure. … A sermon is never an end in itself, but a means to an end [which is the end of] ‘saving souls’” (p. 102). That statement was applicable in the 1960s; so much more so is it applicable now! Rather than give in to the world’s demands for less-than-biblical expository preaching, the minister’s “manner must conform to his matter; he must deliver God’s Word in God’s way” (p. 119).

Nowadays, preachers are largely discouraged from taking a biblical text and explaining it verse-by-verse. There are notable exceptions to this—notably John MacArthur and Mark Dever, to name two—but by and large, biblical preaching has fallen on hard days and even harder ears. This is a large problem, and one that Dr. Mohler tackles in his book, He Is Not Silent, which will most likely be the next book I review this summer.

Also, if you have any suggestions for future posts, I welcome any and all suggestions. You can email me at thingsthatareabove@gmail.com, or you can message me on my Facebook fan page.

Book Review: The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

March 10, 2010 1 comment

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., is a wonderful book about, you guessed it, the gospel and personal evangelism. I recently read this book and loved it. I had previously read 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, also by Dever, and was edified by that book, as well. The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is certainly in keeping with Dever’s other work and does not disappoint. In fact, it challenged me while still inspiring in such a way that few books are able to do nowadays.

Mark Dever, over the course of this short book, asks and answers seven leading questions. He concludes at the end:

“You and I aren’t called to use our extensive powers to convict and change the sinner while God stands back as a gentleman, quietly waiting for the spiritual corpse, his declared spiritual enemy, to invite God into his heart. Rather, we should resolve to preach the gospel like gentlemen, persuading while knowing we can’t regenerate anyone, and then stand back while God uses all his extensive powers to convict and change the sinner.

Thank you, Mr. Dever, for challenging me—and all Christians—to evangelize. And thank you for reminding us that while we are the ones who evangelize, it is God alone who saves sinners.

You can purchase this book at http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Personal-Evangelism-Mark-Dever/dp/1581348460/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268274399&sr=8-1.

You can learn more from Mark Dever 9 Marks.

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