I wish I could have read more while in the UK, but the schedule was tight. Still, there are a few new books to mention.
Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin, 2014). With less than 350 pages of prose, this briskly paced narrative history tells the sordid story of fifteenth century England. I was not as familiar with the names and places as a Brit would be, but reading the book while living just south of London Bridge certainly made the story much more vivid. As a student at the University of Leicester, I was especially interested in the last few chapters which chronicle the short and violent reign of Richard III.
Sinclair Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (Crossway, 2016). My blurb: “As fascinating as this work is as a piece of historical analysis, it is even more important as a careful biblical and theological guide to the always-relevant controversies surrounding legalism, antinomianism, and assurance. I’m thankful Ferguson has put his scholarly mind and pastoral heart to work on such an important topic.”
Aaron Garrett and James A. Harris, Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume 1: Morals, Politics, Art, Religion (Oxford University Press, 2015). Yes, the book is dense and imposing, but one can’t properly understand Edwards, the rise of evangelicalism, or even the Marrow Controversy, without knowing something about the intellectual currents swirling through Scotland in the eighteenth century. This will be a useful resource for academics and serious students of the Enlightenment.
S. Donald Fortson III and Rollin G. Grams, Unchanging Witness: The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition (B&H Academic, 2016). The two parts of the book almost could have been two different books. Part I looks at the witness of the church from the Fathers to the Middle Ages to the Reformation to the present, while Part II is an exegetical and theological look at the biblical passages related to homosexuality. Perhaps because I wrote a book more like Part II, I purchased this book looking for what is included in Part I. The book’s strength is in showing how the catholicity of the church is at stake in this debate. It’s only been very recently, and only in some parts of the Western church, that the biblical position on homosexual behavior has been questioned. There really has been an “unchanging witness” over two millennia of the church’s history.
Harry G. Frankfurt, On Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2015). As a professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton, it should not be surprising to find that this is a philosophical book (instead of an economic or political one). What is surprising is the length—only 102 pages, and that’s with a small trim size and lots of white space. In other words, this is a philosophical book that can actually be read. And the thesis? Frankfurt categorically rejects the idea that economic equality has any inherent or underived moral value. This doesn’t mean he opposes all efforts to ameliorate inequalities, only that his support for these efforts are based on contingent and pragmatic considerations (65-66). A short, provocative book.