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.

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