Helpful Book Reviews – 03-09-13

The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that will Crash the American Church… and How to Prepare by John S Dickerson – Dickerson compares the state of Evangelical Christianity in America today to the days before the recent financial recession that shook our country. Evangelicals in America have long been assumed to be a powerful juggernaut – a force to be reckoned with. Various polls put our numbers at between 25 and 40% of the population. But this sense of health and vitality is misplaced. Dickerson points to several pollsters who from a variety of perspectives and with independent measures all place the size of Evangelicalism at between 7 to 8.9% of the population — about 22 million strong. What makes this picture all the bleaker is that the Church is losing a high percentage of its young people and failing to keep pace with the growth of the general population. – Bob Hayton

Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice by Edwards W. Klink III and Darian R. Lockett (page 61) – The book is structured very simply. Allowing and recognizing varieties within these major categories, Klink and Lockett provide first a definition / description and then an examination of a representative spokesman for each of these approaches. The relation of OT and NT, the unity and/or diversity of theological content, sources (Scripture only or backgrounds also?), subject matter, and disciplinary location (Is BT a churchly or academic field?) — each of these topics is taken up under the consideration of each approach before surveying the work of the given representative scholar. In the end, Klink and Lockett have provided a helpful summary-introduction to this complex field of study. – Fred Zaspel

The Intolerance of Tolerance by D. A. Carson (page 70) – There is a interweaving of biblical, theological, and cultural awareness that is an example of scholarship and exactly what one would expect from Carson. Chapter eight, “Ways Ahead: Ten Words,” is worth the price of the book for those who are seeking the way ahead. Many will be interested in this book who have yet to grasp the issue, but feel the uncomfortable tension when they are charged with “intolerance.” This volume will wonderfully assist them in understanding what is at stake, expand their knowledge of the history of thought and how we arrived at such a place, and provide them numerous examples that demonstrate how this new tolerance is working itself out in our culture. There will also be those who already understand the issues, but have not completely worked through the implications for the Christian faith or how to respond in a loving and biblical manner. Again, this volume will be an invaluable resource to these people, and Carson’s “Ten Words” will provide counsel and encouragement to those who want be bold in the face of challenges to the exclusivity of Christ and his claims. – Nate Wood

C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath – The prolific and well-known Christian apologist McGrath can obviously identify with the tensions felt by Lewis and other public intellectuals. Popular academic writers will and should come under special scrutiny – they must abide by the same scholarly standards that got them into an academic position, while writing in such a way that the general reading public can appreciate their work. But especially among Christian scholars, we certainly need those who are willing to bridge the gap. Unlike many of Lewis’s Oxford colleagues, we should give those who attempt to reach a broader audience the benefit of the doubt. Reliable public intellectuals are essential for cultivating the Christian life of the mind, a task at which Lewis labored heroically. – Thomas Kidd

Killing Calvinism by Greg Dutcher – Greg Dutcher is a Calvinist pastor who is concerned about some of what he sees in today’s New Calvinism. Calvinism is “in” today; this is a cause for joy for those who, like me, believe that Reformed theology is a pure and accurate expression of New Testament theology, but with Calvinism’s trendiness come certain dangers and challenges. – Tim Challies

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