Helpful Book Reviews 01-12-13

Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern-Day Experiences of God’s Power by Tim Stafford – Beyond this larger question, the average Christian often has to make tricky decisions in real life scenarios. They are confronted with a claim to a miracle in the life of someone they know at work or in their church. They are pressured to come to a Pentecostal revival where they can’t help but be skeptical of the outlandish behavior and incredible conclusions made by their friends. Just how are we to think about miracles, when we pray for them on behalf of our family and friends every day? We all know God can heal, and we want his healing touch, but we just aren’t sure that we should expect it, or what to do when we think we’ve really seen it. – Bob Hayton

Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America by Linford D. Fisher – In 1990, archaeologists unearthed the grave of an eleven-year-old Pequot girl who died around 1700. Accompanying her remains were two objects of ceremonial value: a bear paw, and a page fragment from a King James Bible, which contained a verse from Psalm 98: “The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen.” To historian Linford Fisher, the funereal juxtaposition of a traditional Native American talisman and a piece of Old Testament poetry illustrates the complex religious world of Native Americans in 18th-century New England. – Thomas Kidd

The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity by Stephen R. Holmes – The Quest for the Trinity is an exemplary work of historical theology. In the space of 200 pages, Holmes, senior lecturer in systematic theology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, surveys the history of trinitarian doctrine, carefully interacting with primary sources (past and present) and cognizant of the best historical scholarship on the Trinity produced in recent years. Eschewing the now widely refuted historiography of early Christian theology’s corruption by Greek metaphysics (the “Hellenization thesis”) and of a perennial breach between Eastern and Western models of the Trinity (the “de Régnon thesis”), Holmes demonstrates the broad consensus on central elements of Trinitarian orthodoxy (helpfully summarized on pp. 146, 199-200) that held sway in the church’s doctrinal imagination until the end of the 18th century. Of special significance to evangelical readers, Holmes is attentive throughout to the exegetical provenance of doctrinal concepts that would come to control the church’s faithful reasoning about God. – Scott R. Swain

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