Editors’ note: On average, we publish around 150 book reviews a year at The Gospel Coalition. Ecclesiastes 12:12 rings true: “Of making many books there is no end.” It’s impossible to read, let alone review, each one. But in addition to our steady line of reviews, we want to highlight other books you should know about. This is our monthly installment of brief book notices from Fred Zaspel. You can check out more book notices, reviews, author interviews, and book summaries at Books At a Glance.
Translated and edited by Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons
Reformation Trust, 2017
Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is known as a classic work of theology, but what isn’t always recognized is that chapters 6 to 10 of Book 3 offer a genuine treasure of instruction for faithful Christian living. This fresh translation, set in small book format, makes these chapters available and accessible to a new generation of readers.
Reading through it again I was struck with the thought: I don’t know where a Christian could find better life-shaping guidance. Warm, rich, comprehensive, challenging, delightful, and faithful. I could hardly recommend this little book more enthusiastically. Easily accessible and valuably instructive for all Christian readers. Read and enjoy!
Joel R. Beeke and Michael A. G. Haykin
Reformation Heritage Books, 2017
“Why should I bother reading church history?” is a great question, and in this popular-level booklet, Beeke and Haykin provide answers—plural. History shows us how God has been working and stirs a sense of awe at what he has done—it’s an aid to worship, believe it or not. It teaches us valuable lessons for today. It creates a sense of humility and gratitude. It often sheds light on our own circumstances and experiences. It enables us to glean from the wisdom God has given others. It inspires Christian service. Beeke and Haykin demonstrate all this and more with engaging historical illustrations. If you’re not interested in reading of God’s work in the past, this little booklet just may cure you of that strange malady.
Tentmaker Publications, 2017
As one of solid fundamentalist stock myself, I couldn’t resist reading this book—in one sitting and with great interest. Confessions of a Fundamentalist is written from the perspective of an insider (Aaron Dunlop)—a sympathetic insider who wants to offer some constructive critique. In his words, “I do not question the fundamentalist idea, or the theological verities that the fundamentalist defends. I take issue with certain methodologies and excesses that have evolved within parts of the movement.”
My own acquaintance with fundamentalism is in its American context; Dunlop’s is primarily in Northern Ireland, but his analysis works for both contexts. Though his spirit is sympathetically, even lovingly irenic, his assessment is unmistakably accurate. His suggested “way forward” could hardly be questioned and offers genuine hope. Those within—or without—the movement will find it a stirring read.
James E. Adams
If you feel a tinge of embarrassment when you read the imprecatory psalms, would it help to know Christ is the speaker—the one pronouncing these curses? In the main, that is the approach James Adams takes in this book, now in its second edition. In my view there are other considerations necessary to a right understanding of these psalms, as Greg Beale demonstrates in The Morality of God in the Old Testament (see my brief remarks here), but Adams provides one key. The preacher who works through the Psalms with his congregation will undoubtedly benefit from Adams’s important emphasis.
Wipf & Stock, 2006
This little book (booklet, actually: about 65 pages of text) goes back a few years (1960), but it has received little notice. I just stumbled on it recently. It’s vintage Morris—a careful tracking of the language and theme of “judgment” throughout Scripture. It’s not a book on the eschatological judgments only; the purview is larger. Typical of Morris, he traces the vocabulary of “judgment” through the Old and New Testaments with precision, carefully noting various nuances of meaning and significance with regard to human and divine judgment. He doesn’t miss the fact that the judgment theme is larger than just the specific vocabulary. As you would expect from the sterling Australian New Testament scholar, it’s an excellent resource—you’d have a difficult time finding something else like it.