Book reviews 11/24/13

It’s high time I threw together some book reviews today so I can clean them off my desk!

cost_discipleshipThe Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

This book, written by anti-Nazi German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer just before WWII, sets out to evaluate the cost Jesus talks about in Luke 14:

27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Luke 14:27-28 (ESV)

It was a very thought-provoking read, especially coming from someone living in the proverbial lion’s den, later even taking part in a plot to assassinate Hitler for what he was doing.  The only reason I don’t rate this five stars is due to the heavy focus on works against (at the same time) finding rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.


intolerance_toleranceThe Intolerance of Tolerance (D. A. Carson)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

D. A. Carson has become both one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite theologians over the past several years.  In fact, if you ever get the chance, check out his great God Who is There video series (we have a copy if you want to borrow it any time).  This particular book lays out a very convincing argument that today’s cult of tolerance, where we all have to be "tolerant" of each other by accepting and even at times embracing all our different beliefs without any judgment, is in fact intolerant itself.  In other words, those saying Christian beliefs are intolerant (due to the exclusivity of the claims of Jesus Christ) and therefore should not be tolerated in public forums, are simply being intolerant themselves.  Of course, my attempt at summarizing this book do not do it justice, so check it out yourself.


temple_church_missionThe Temple and the Church’s Mission (G. K. Beale)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Honestly, I don’t recall exactly why I put this book on my wish list.  I also don’t remember all the reasons I did not appreciate this book, as I have apparently blocked much of it from memory.  I can only recall vague, frequent thoughts of, "yeh, I’m really not buying what this guy is selling."  I would provide you some examples, but it would require me to scour the book again for several of them, and I just don’t think it’s worth the time.  Perhaps I will jot down examples as I read future books, since I tend to wait too many months between reviews!


learning_theology_fathersLearning Theology with the Church Fathers (Christopher A. Hall)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Over the past several years, I have been spending some time here and there reading through many of the early church fathers writings, but there are so many it is often difficult to know what and who to read from on any given topic.  So, I took a shot with this book to see what kind of summary it provided.  It turned out to be a very nice summary, hand-picking several topics of Christian theology and hand-picking some writings from a couple church fathers on each of those topics.  This, of course, results in a very non-exhaustive book, yet provides a nice branching point for jumping into their original writings if interested in the topics presented in the book.  The reason I give the book four stars instead of five is that it was simply too short.  I would have much preferred additional topics as well as pointing off to additional writings for each of the topics rather than limiting to just a few of the most prominent ones.  Anyway, if you have never been interested in the writings of the early church fathers, perhaps a brief read through this introduction would spark some interest.


aquinasAquinas: A Beginner’s Guide (Edward Feser)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

A couple years ago, I got a hold of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and Summa contra Gentiles in a package of Logos Bible Software resources and quickly set out to read through them.  Well, let’s just say attacking the hundreds of pages making up the first epic work before getting a short course in what I was about to read led quickly to failure.  This book was an outstanding introduction to Aquinas’ writings and how he lays out his arguments.  I now feel much better prepared for round two of taking on his life’s work.  Maybe in a couple years, I’ll let you know how that went. :)


whyWhy?: Answers to Weather the Storms of Life (Vernon Brewer)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Vernon Brewer is the founder and president of one of my favorite Christian charities, World Help.  I happened to stumble across this organization only a couple years ago when watching an online sermon from a church, and have been fairly impressed with them since then.  Anyway, Vernon provides a good discussion regarding the question of why God lets storms enter our lives.  He has been through several himself throughout life, especially his difficult struggle with cancer, and so he is not simply some theologian developing a thesis to answer the question, but is one with plenty first-hand experience.  Definitely one to check out if you find yourself asking the same question over and over again.


archaeology_bible_vol1Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: Volume 1 (Amihai Mazar)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

This is a fairly interesting book, providing an overview of archaeological discoveries in the land of the Bible dated theoretically between 10,000 BC and 586 BC (the time of the Jewish exile).  However, I’ve seen far more interesting material online or through archaeological magazines like Bible and Spade.  These keep me more up to date, and are much better founded in the Biblical text, as they come from organizations basing their study on the assumption that God’s Word is true.  This book did not represent that position, and was also filled with far too much detail on pottery.  Yes, that’s much of what they have to go on in terms of dating finds, but still does not seem to be compelling evidence in many cases for some of the conclusions made in archaeology.  Anyway, I would look elsewhere if you’re interested in the subject.

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One thought on “Book reviews 11/24/13”

  1. Wow, if only I could asimilate all this info and not have to actually read the books!! However a couple of them sound intriguing!

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