Sunday, December 1, 2013

Putting Jesus in His Place [Review]

When it comes to books written on Christology and in particular the deity of Christ, there tends to be two categories. The first, a rather dry and stodgy academic affair wherein the author(s) seek to make their mark and argue for or against biblical orthodoxy. The second is that work in which the author is quite passionate about the subject, and even may have some insights, but in the final analysis doesn't really deliver the goods. What category does Putting Jesus in His Place fall into? Neither. Bowman and Komoszewski have created a category all their own.

Bowman and Komoszewski have provided a work which not only aptly demonstrates the case for Christ's deity, but they have done so in a book that is eminently readable, enjoyable, memorable, and scholarly at the same time! It begins by introducing a keen acronym that serves to enable "people of different backgrounds to remember and explain the biblical evidence for identifying Jesus as God."[1] The acronym "HANDS" identifies that Jesus shares the honors, attributes, names, deeds, and seat of God. This acronym serves as an outline to the book, which also includes a Recommended Resource page and a Scripture Index.

Throughout Putting Jesus in His Place, the authors engage often in biblical exegesis, thereafter making known the theological implications of the bible's teaching regarding the identity of the Son of God. So too, arguments to the contrary are considered and dealt with carefully and biblically. As I read this book I found myself often pouring through the prolific amount of endnotes, finding enlightenment in the copious commentary and citations of everyone from James D. G. Dunn and Greg Stafford to F. F. Bruce and Daniel Wallace. Those endnotes function in two ways: 1) they serve as a valuable source of information for the reader, and 2) they serve to impart a constant annoyance to the reader who must place his thumb in the corresponding page so as not to loose his spot. Needless to say, I am praying that Kregal releases the second edition with footnotes.

It is not so much the subjects covered that makes this book so terribly good, it is rather how things are approached and articulated. The authors have a way of engaging the reader that makes you feel genuinely involved in what is nothing less than a world-class treatment on the doctrine of the deity of Christ. This is a book you won't want to put down, and nearly six years later, I still find myself grabbing it off my bookshelf regularly.
1. Bowman and Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place, 23.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Jesus Only" Churches [Review]

"Jesus Only" Churches is part of a fifteen volume series entitled The Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements, which published from 1995 through 1998, seeks to document and respond to some of the most prominent world religions and cults facing historic orthodox Christianity. Perhaps you might ask, "After so many years, why a review of this volume?" The answer is two fold: The material present in this book is still highly relevant, and the format in which the material is covered makes "Jesus Only" Churches a useful reference tool.

Beisner is best known for his work with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a biblical worldview ministry. However, in 1985 he and the late Dr. Walter Martin were participants in the oft cited discussion/debate with Oneness Pentecostal leaders Robert Sabin and Nathaniel Urshan. Perhaps this is what lead Alan Gomes to choose Beisner to write "Jesus Only" Churches. Whatever the reason, Beisner was an excellent choice, as he has produced and outstanding resource that has stood the test of time.

The format of the book is unique in that it is comprised of five clearly labeled sections; Introduction, Theology, Witnessing Tips, Bibliography, and Comparison Chart. Each section contains a subsection which presents a particular area of importance pertaining to its heading. For example, the Introduction section includes subsections entitled "Historical Background," and "Vital Statistics." The Historical Background section provides a brief synopsis of the origin of Oneness Pentecostalism, and even its schisms. The Vital Statistics section is perhaps the most out-of-date material in the book,[1] since it provides a list of denominations, their constituency, and their para-church organizations.

Most valuable within this work is Beisner's exposition on the theology of the movement and his apologetic response. He deals honestly with primary sources in a concise and scholarly manor. His refutations are equally concise and easy to apprehend. While I certainly don't affirm every detail of his apologetic, especially in light of more modern treatments of certain subjects, overall Beisner's treatment is spot-on.

For anyone who is interested in a primer to familiarize themselves with the movement and is seeking for a sound biblical defense of historic Christianity, "Jesus  Only" Churches remains a desirable resource.
1. Beisner's numbers were considerably low even for the time of publishing. His projection that, "Oneness Pentecostalism is expected to grow to about 1,513,000 members by A.D. 2000" (p. 9), is not at all accurate- then or now.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith [Review]

Not all that long ago I had the pleasure of listening to Michael Reeves' lecture series "Enjoying the Trinity." I came away from that series feeling like I had been met with one of the greatest presentations on the subject that I have ever heard. Reeves has the uncanny ability to communicate profound biblical truth using an enjoyable and easy to comprehend style- the mark of a truly great bible teacher. Thereafter I enthusiastically ordered a copy of Reeves book, and upon its arrival I greedily consumed it. This 145 page book positively made my heart sing. Reeves presents to his reader a truly delightful and refreshingly lovely God. And, he does so with a joy that is absolutely infectious. Having read innumerable books on the subject, I have yet to come across one that communicates the Trinitarian faith with such a lucid, and downright pleasurable style.

Ironically, what separates Delighting in the Trinity from many of its contemporaries is that Reeves presents the Trinity by means of an intensely biblical portrayal. He doesn't begin with a discourse on epistemology, and he doesn't first appeal to a sophisticated philosophy. Rather he begins by dispelling the popular myth that the Trinity is a "cold and stodgy" "irrelevant dogma," or even a "spooky" mystery. I can only imagine his uninitiated readers shaking their heads in agreement, that is, until Reeves presents them with a God who is unrelentingly Father. Reeves presents the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in that order, and intersperses each chapter with interesting and relevant vignettes on everything from patristic writers to medieval monks and puritan theologians. Throughout the book, the Trinity is presented in such a way so as to make known its actual theological and practical ramifications. That is, Reeves teaches the reader really good theology and praxis. No surprise here really, as Reeves is a systematician by trade. 

Delighting in the Trinity is an outstanding contribution in every sense, and it ought to be a key resource for discipleship in every Christian church.