Saturday, December 01, 2018

Books read in December 2018

1. A Concise Calvinistic Catechism - John M Brentall.

This book is really a misnomer. A catechism is questions with answers to be learned. This is an attempted delineation of Calvinism but the five points given are not the standard one. Reprobation is there in place of total depravity. This is merely a collection of quotations, some from Scripture, some from quotable divines.

2. Jesus in Islam - Ernest Hahn

Helpful for Christians and Muslims. The Koranic references to Isa are examined to show what Muslims believe and their misconceptions concerning Jesus/Isa. Hadith are examined too. There is a surprising testimony of truth but mixed with error.

3. Islam and Christianity: 90 questions and answers by Abd-ul-Masih (Author)

Written by a Cameroonian Christian questions 1 to 78 concern Islam so Christians may have understanding of it. Questions 80 to 92 answer Muslims questions about Christianity.

4. Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present by Jonathan Gibson  (Editor, Contributor), Mark Earngey (Editor)

This has to be one of my top books of this year. I reviewed Gibson's previous book with five stars. Once again he has struck gold. I was raised in evangelical Methodism, part of a free church tradition that despised set liturgy. I believe this to be a mistaken three centuries old reaction to the Anglican legal imposition of Cranmer's prayer book in 1662. Free churches in England threw out all written liturgy. In a different reactionary spirit, that os their understanding of the regulative principle, so too the Free Church of Scotland and other conservative denominations north of the border.This has resulted in liturgical impoverishment. Here one is reminded of the rich historic liturgical resources from Reformed churches. The preface and introductory chapters are most informative. I treasure the observation that in contemporary worship too many follow the bad example of Rehoboam and pay too much attention to the young. Here is an education, a treasury of devotion and resource for contemporary liturgy. I have read it cover to cover and used it in daily devotion. Of great historic yet contemporary relevance is how the exiled Protestants in the Tudor period prayed for their rulers and for persecuted saints.

5. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan  (Author)

Refreshing to have a history that is not Eurocentric. This is really an economic history of the world from ancient times to the modern era. Very informative. I was surprised to learn of the extent of Middle eastern and beyond Christianity prior to the scourge of Islam and how t first Islamic conquest was not by the sword. However on p. 265 I found two serious errors. There are no Calvinistic priests. That may be a mere terminological mistake. But to say "The Puritans who settled in New England did so in protest against the changes that had accompanied Europe's rise and against the affluence that followed." is seriously mistaken. They fled the imposed Anglican conformity of Stuart England in search of liberty of religion. Nevertheless many insights into the driving forces in modern history.

6. The Evangelicals and the Roman Catholics - C Webber

A lecture to the Nigerian Evangelical Fellowship in Ilorin, 1968 Explained where and how the Roman Catholic Church has and has not changed. An apostate church teaching serous errors, especially the mass as a sacrifice, is explained. There will be true Christians among the RCs but evangelicals should beware the errors. The contemporary strategies for the advancement of Roman Catholicism in Nigeria are described and Evangelicals called to mission.

7. An Approach to Roman Catholics by Lilian A. Walsh (Author)

An irenic approach from a former Roman catholic. Published in 1961 it may be a little dated in places but it remains helpful telling you what not to do as well as how to bring the gospel to RCs. It makes one seemingly strange unsubstantiated claim that the gospel was preached in Britain in AD 35.

8. The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World by Peter Frankopan  (Author)

The author has it seems moved from historian to political analyst and futurologist. For him the future is Chinese. USA is in disarray largely due to Trump. Iran and Saudi are big players thanks to oil and the money it earns. The EU is not it seems so significant but beware Russia. Not the gripping informative read of his previous work.


The author and his church went from NIV to ESV. So did I and our church. A helpful distinction between literal and dynamic but that is not the reason to change. The author's were more technical than ours. We did not like the inclusive language changes in the current NIV.

10. Who are the Christadelphians? - Fred Pearce

The one think that all sub-Christian cuts have in common is faulty christology. Jesus for them is not the God man preexisting and entreated. So it proves here. Christadelphians according to this author who is one have a created Son of God, no Trinity and no original sin. They are also conscientious objectors. These are the departures from trinitarian orthodoxy delineated here. 

11. The Christian Approach To The Jew. by H L Ellison

Published first on 1958 it is therefore dated on developments in the state of Israel but otherwise is a most helpful work. The author  and his brother, Christian (a missionary in China), changed their last names from Zeckhausen to Ellison in 1925 to better assimilate into British society.Following in his father's footsteps, Ellison was an Anglican missionary to the Jews in Europe in the late 1920s and '30s. So he was well qualified to write instructing Christians in the subject. The family were coverts from Judaism. Despite a somewhat strange introductory statement saying the barrier between Christians and Jews is less a matter of religion and more of history there is a lot to learn here on the history of the Jews. I was expecting more on Christian witness to Jews but this is important contextualisation fo Christians to understand the varieties of Jews also.

12. Herbert W Armstrong & w/w Church by Walter Martin (Author)

Mine is titled Herbert W Armstrong and the Radio Church of God, 1968. Herbert W. Armstrong (July 31, 1892 – January 16, 1986) founded the Radio Church of God which was incorporated October 21, 1933 and was renamed Worldwide Church of God on June 1, 1968, as well as starting Ambassador College (later Ambassador University) October 8, 1947.  Armstrong preached what he claimed was the comprehensive combination of doctrines in the entire Bible, in the light of the New Covenant scriptures, which he maintained came directly from the Bible.These theological doctrines and teachings have been referred to as Armstrongism by non-adherents. His teachings included the interpretation of biblical prophecy in light of British Israelism, and required observance of parts of the Mosaic Law including seventh-day Sabbath, dietary prohibitions, and the covenant law "Holy Days".In the years after Armstrong's death in 1986, Worldwide Church of God leaders came to the conclusion that many of his doctrines were not biblical.These doctrines were subsequently rejected and the church is now in full agreement with the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. In light of these doctrinal changes, in April 2009, the denomination changed its name to Grace Communion International (GCI) to better reflect its New Testament, grace-centered teaching. I know of no other cult which came back to biblical orthodoxy. So this booklet is more of historic interest to those who remember Armstrong's broadcasts pn I suspect Radio Luxembourg when there were no commercial stations in UK.

13. Special Gifts for a Special Age: A Scriptural Analysis of Tongues and Spiritual Gifts by John H Skilton

A concise statement of the cessationist position argues solo from Scriptures showing the extraordinary gifts were to authenticate apostolic ministry. Both have ceased.


I found this to be a curate's egg - good in parts. At first I found it excellent showing it is baptism into the Spirit everywhere in Scripture. My first query was the bold statement that baptism is immersion. That I question as do most non-baptists. His warnings are apt but it seems this is an experience for after conversion, it is not equated with something that happens to all at regeneration. IMO Prince is describing the filling of the Spirit. baptism, by definition is an initiator experience, into Christ and into the Spirit. 

15. The Ten Commandments by J. I Packer  (Author)

Introduction to and exposition of the Decalogue. Instruction for Christians and helpful hints fir preachers.

16. The Law of Promise - William J U Phillip

A paper from the Proclamation Trust showing how the Law functions with the world of God's grace.  The law reveals the character of God, the covenant God. Covenants always come with laws. We reap the consequences of Adam's law breaking. We are saved by the last Adam who fulfilled the law . Now out of love for him we long to keep God's law.

17. God's Law in Christian Ethics - Lewis Neilson

This is subtitled, A reply to Bahnsen and Rushdoony so is a response to their theonomy. The author particularly takes issue with the teaching that the civil magistrate should enforce Mosaic law concerning false religions. I think this is a rather long winded refutation of theonoy. I would merely want to expound the Westminster Confession's statement that we are now only to follow the general equity of the civil law. The theonomists have failed to go with the flow of redemptive history from nation to church.

18. As it was in the beginning - Jan H Boer

The first volume of a projected twelve entitled Window's on God's World. Thirty one daily meditations on Genesis 1written to awaken Nigerians to the implications of the cultural mandate and wean them off a pietistic, dualistic Christianity which fails to apply the faith to all of life. This is Kuyperian theology for Africa.

19. Living in Dangerous Times - Marano Di Gangi

An address to the annual meeting of the Committee for Justice and Liberty in Toronto 1968. The dangerous nature of contemporary times are delineated. Similar to and differing from today. He calls for realism in assessing the situation and living according to Biblical revelation as the solution. 

20. Life in the Kingdom - K C Sewell

An address given at the 1973 Easter conference of the Reformed Church of Christchurch New Zealand. A plea for Christians to realise the kingdom of God is more than the institutional church. Christians should be active applying the rule of Christ to all of life which at present is in the grip of secular humanist thought. We have a cultural calling in all of life - politics, education, labour relations included. A proper biblical Kuperian approach.

21. The Dooyeweerdian concept of the word of God by Robert A Morey (Author)

Published in 1974 I found this a surprising critique. I have read with appreciation several books by those called Dooyeweerdians. Dooyeweerd himself I have found somewhat beyond my comprehension as is much of the discussion on the mailing list Thinknet which I read. I had no idea that these writers propagated an unorthodox theology of the Word of God. Allegedly they believe the scripture is not propositional truth in the realms of science, history, theology or ethics. That is a serous charge but I have not seen it. Certainly the author accuses them of heresy but admits that the first generation heretics often lead exemplary lives but their fruits become evident in their seed. Apart from some departures from orthodoxy over sexuality I have not seen this from the next generation on Thnknet.

22. A Hole in the Dike - Carl Bogue

The author studied under Berkouwer. This is subtitled, Critical aspects of Berkouwer's theology. Not an easy read but he lists departures from historic Reformed orthodoxy. VanTil accused him of moving to ne0-orthodoxy and his Kantian distinction of noumenal and phenomenal seems to bear this out. If you read Berkouwer this book will be of help.

23. Wine in the Bible and the Church by G.I. Williamson (Author)

Writing in 1876 the author's background was the old United Presbyterian Church of North America. His first contention is that the so call temperance movement, in reality a total abstinence movement which culminated in the disastrous Prohibition, was never based on Scripture. When the church passed motions on alcohol being injurious to the best interests of society. Drink was evil and to be shunned. He establishes that this is not the Biblical teaching about wine that gladdens the heart of man. One weakness id that though he shows wine is necessarily alcoholic he does not define strong drink. Was it made with stilled spirits? One interesting minor point is he demonstrates the temporary nature of the Jerusalem synod prohibitions. For around five years later, Paul does not tell the Corinthians to avoid meat offered to idols. The only thing I would add to this written argument is that the practical result of binding Christians with rules against alcohol is blatant hypocrisy. I have seen an ordinary church member disciplined while one who was a stet governor opened a brewery without church discipline.

24.  The Millennium - Jonathan Edwards

A sixties reprint from The History of Redemption  with additional quotes from twelve other authors quoting from apostolic father up to the last century. The are strong statements in favour of post-millennial hope. However when I read of what Edwards expected during the millennium, like Christian schools and books published in Africa I judge that we can be said to be in the millennium now.

25. People and Lands: A Personal Reflection on the State of Israel - Andrew Kirk


26. Christian Handbook for Defending the Faith by Robert Morey (Author)

A very concise introduction to apologetics which could serve as a primer for someone wanting to witness to the truth of the faith. The author seems to have been influenced by Van Til and Schaeffer. He deals with presuppositional and evidential approaches. A Christian world and life view is articulated and applied to ethics, art, history, psychology and marriage. Objections are refuted.

27. Arminianism: Another Gospel - Ergattes

My copy is by the same publisher but a Donald MacLean writes the foreword but is not the author. Publication is in 1965 and of 30pages. The first part seeks to establish Arminianism as akin to Roman Catholicism as evidenced by Stuart Anglicanism led by Laud. It then moves on to John Wesley with an unsavoury tale of his libelling Toplady. It fails to distinguish Wesley from Laud's position. Then Moody is castigated by Kennedy including the irrelevant use of musical instruments in his evangelism.Then having given the negatives there is a reasonable exposition of whey Calvinism is the Biblical system.

28. The temple of Ezekiel's prophecy: Being an enlarged and revised edition of an explanation of the nature, character, and extent of the building which is ... as " a house of prayer for all people. " by Henry Sulley  (Author)

Mine is 'A house of prayer for all people', a 1963 paperback,reprinted from the first 1906 edition of the longer title. The author, a Christadelphian, teaches that Ezekiel's temple will be literally rebuilt according to the Scripture on the return of Christ. Sacrifice will be re-established looking back to Christ's. Wtitte n while Zionism was still a dream this forces a restored Israel in Palestine.The whole idea fails to see the movement in the history of redemption from literal Israel to spiritual church. He also denies eternal punishment. Cultic heresy.

29. The Art of Divine Meditation by Bishop Joseph Hall (Author)

Mine was purchased in 1968. Ten rules are given as to the way of Christian meditation. These are then applied in an extended meditation on death followed by 85 topics for meditation outlined by Hall. e was bishop of Norwich under Charles I and imprisoned under the Commonwealth.

30. Understanding the Scriptures - A De Graaff and C Seerveld

The Dooyeweerdian concept of the word of God by Robert A Morey was reviewed earlier. This is what Morey complained about. De Graaf gives his perspectives on how to teach and not to teach the Bible. Then Served looks at Mum 22-24 and critiques three usual ways of reading it which he characterises as the literalistic fundamentalist, the critical neo-orthodox and the scholar tradition reformed. He then gives his view which he calls biblically Reformational. I am happy with is critiques of the traditional and his Reformational approach. But I remain unhappy with De Graaff denying that the Bible gives propositional truths. True it is not a book merely to teach morality but theology and morality it does teach. Statements like, 'The Scriptures know nothing about God's essence of about his incommunicable and communicable attributes' is simply wrong like saying Trinity is not taught because the word is never used. God is spirit and his essence belong our comprehension. But Scripture does enable us to speak of his attributes.  Or, 'The Scriptures contain only on Directive, and that is the great commandment'. This is wrong.

31. 365 Days with Newton by Marylynn Rouse (Author)

The daily quotes are it seems wholly from Newton's sermons, many unpublished. I was surprised that his letters were not utilised as he id famous for the letters. Sometimes the language for over two centuries ago is not the clearest. Most delightful are the poetic postscripts. These I presume are from the Only Hymns but regrettably there are no citations.

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