New Books of Note

October 15, 2014 — Leave a comment


Authors Paul Copan and Kenneth Litwak offer readers an extended analysis and exposition of Paul’s message on Mars Hill in Acts 17. Since Litwak is a professor of NT studies at Azusa Pacific University and Copan is professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic, they make a great team. They cover both the ancient setting and contemporary equivalents (chapters 1, 3, 4). They also challenge F. F. Bruce’s contention that Paul’s message was a mistake (chapter 2). They then give an overview of Paul’s speeches in Acts (chapter 5), before offering analysis of Paul’s audience (chapter 6) and gospel (chapter 7). Then, the final three chapters draw insights on persuasion, as well as how we can further apply the wisdom in Paul’s message. For readers interested in apologetics, and specifically mode and manner rather than content, this is a great resource.

Paul Copan and Kennet Litwak, The Gospel in The Marketplace of IdeasDowners Grove, IL: IVP Academic, June 2014. 201 pp. Paperback, $18.00.

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Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!


Michael Graves tackles both an interesting and important topic in his recent book. He does so by specifically looking at what we can learn from the early church’s attitudes on the topic as evidenced in their writings. Broadly, his book is divided into 7 chapters. He begins with understandings of “usefulness” and then moves to the spiritual/supernatural dimension of Scripture. Next, he covers mode of expression, historicity/factuality, and finally agreement with truth. The final chapter draws conclusions from the study. Since these are rather broad divisions, Graves very helpfully includes numbered subdivision within each chapter that present theses derived from his study. So for instance, under “usefulness” one thesis s is “Scripture solves every problem that we might put to it,” while under “mode of expression,” another is “Scripture speaks in riddles and enigmas.” There are a total of 20 of these, after presenting them all, Graves discusses what we might glean from them, as well as ways we need to respect the differences. The result is a fine study in both historical and practical theology. The worst thing I can say about this book is that endnotes were chosen instead of footnotes, but given lengthy nature of some of them, I can somewhat understand why. In the end, the book is probably more accessible, and hopefully that will lead to a wider audience.

Michael Graves, The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture: What The Early Church Can Teach Us. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, February 2014. 224 pp. Paperback, $24.00.

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Thanks to Eerdmans for the review copy!


Authors David P. Setran and Chris A. Kiesling offer readers “a window into the very meaning of adulthood in Christian perspective and also provide wisdom for emerging adult mentors in college, church, and world” (10). Setran is associate professor of Christian formation and ministry at Wheaton while Kieling is professor of human development and Christian discipleship at Asbury Theological Seminary. Together, they guide readers through both “important scholarship, a Christian theological vision, and attentiveness to concrete ministry applications” (7). They begin with two chapters specifically on spiritual formation for young adults, the latter of which more specifically focuses on how one might reverse the trend of moral therapeutic deism. In the remaining chapters readers are taken from a focus on identity to church, vocation, morality, sexuality, relationships and finally mentoring as windows into young adult development and how Christian ministry can best address spiritual growth in those areas. Given my own context, this is a valuable resource. If you are similarly engaged with college ministry or even high school ministry, this book offers practical guidance for mentoring those transitioning into adulthood.

David P. Setran & Chris A. Kiesling, Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood: A Practical Theology for College and Young Adult MinistryGrand Rapids: Baker Academic, September 2013. 288 pp. Paperback, $21.99

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Thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy!


Co-written by pastor Daniel Montgomery and professor Timothy Paul Jones, PROOF is a fresh way of explaining the doctrines of grace. The acronym stands for Planned Grace, Resurrecting Grace, Outrageous Grace, Overcoming Grace, and Forever Grace. For readers perhaps more familiar with TULIP, this way of conceiving of the doctrines is as if you rearranged the letters LUTIP and then framed them all in the context of grace. After on opening chapter explaining grace, readers are guided through the doctrines chapter by chapter. A final chapter tacklesliving in light of this grace, the connections between PROOF and TULIP, and how to not be a cage-stage Calvinist. If this weren’t enough, five appendices provide further Biblical foundations for the doctrines, as well as answer perennial questions like, “For whom did Jesus die?” “What’s the point of predestination?” and “What about free will?” The final result is my new favorite book explaining Calvinist theology. It is excellent for anyone wanting understand the doctrines of grace as well as those who might be put off by the way they are usually presented (either because of how they are framed or because of who was doing the framing). All of this to say, I would highly recommend this book to you, and even more so if you are frequently asked by high school students, “Hey, what’s your position on predestination vs. free will?”

Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Jones, PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, May 2014. 224 pp. Paperback, $16.99.

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Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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