Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century (27/9)

The mission of God brings the missions of God. This is the crux of the message of this book. Timothy Tennent has written what would be a standard text for anyone interested in missiology.

Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first CenturyWhat is unique about this book is how Tennent grounds all aspects of missions into the Mission of God. This is then further broken down by Tennent into the mission of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I am especially thankful that Tennent has written a textbook that looks into the trinitarian aspect of missions. This has been one aspect that has often been overlook in the study of missions but Tennent (and Chris Wright) has rightly pointed out that missions exist because God’s mission exist.

I also liked how Tennent traced the idea of missions throughout the old and new testament. I found that this really helped me ground my understanding of missions on the what the word really has to teach about missions. This I think, is one of the clear strength of the book. Some other chapters however will be slightly more difficult to comprehend and will need more than one reading for readers who are new to missiology.

I think this book will be really helpful for those who are thinking about missions or evangelism. Tennent has helped me understand deeper that missions is not just about evangelising to people across country/culture. Rather missions is really bring to gospel to everyone in a way that is relevant and understandable to them.It has broaden my understanding of missions to see how I can do missions at where I am currently.

In addition, pastors will be interested to know that this book will help broaden their understanding of missions and be able to see their outreach at church more holistically. This will help them see that missions does not just lie outside the border of the country you are in, but lies outside the borders of the church wherever it is.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their Writings (4/1)

Seminary classes often do not have time to cover each and every chapter and verse of the bible in class and usually what seminaries gives students an overview or survey of the various testaments. The pros of such an arrangement is that students are given a cliffsnotes edition to what each book of the bible is about. The cons however only equips students with the bare essentials of what the text is about. One can seem knowledgeable, but not really knowing their material well.

What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their WritingsThis books seems to want to fill this gap. Rather than dealing time dealing with the authors, dating and purpose. This book mainly deals with the purpose and flow of each book in the New Testament. What is unique about this book is how the chapters are grouped. They are divided into authors then books. As such, Luke-Acts comes before John, and John is followed by the Letters of John and Revelation. Although I appreciate how the editors have arranged the chapters. It was not clear how grouping the books by the author made significant contribution to the overall content. Each chapter could still be read alone, and there was not much interaction between the books written by the same biblical author (or maybe for Luke & John).

Having said that, this book will help anyone wants to see the structure and the flow of each of the book in the New Testament. Since the book does not dwell much on the technical stuff, I have found that this book can be marketed for any layperson who wants to grow in their grasp of the New Testament. Furthermore, I have found that the book contains plenty of pictures/charts/maps that will be refreshing for anyone who’s reading it. In the review copy I was given, I did noticed that one of the the picture was repeated with different captions (A scribe’s tools, pg 25; Qumran, Cave 4, pg 30). I’m not too sure if this error is present in the copies for sale. If so, future reprints should take note and rectify this error.

For seminary students, this may be the first book they read for their NT survey, but this book alone will not suffice and would need to be supplemented with other books that discuss more on the technical stuff. Pastors who have good knowledge of the New Testament might not need this book, but might be able to refer this book to their congregation for something that is more structured than a study bible, but leaves out on almost all of the technical stuff.

Rating: 3.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. As an supplement, you might want to consider An Introduction to the New Testament,  get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – For the Love of God’s Word: An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (17/10)

Christian are often told to love the Word, but the Word is often a difficult book to read and understand. This book however will be a helpful book for any christian. This book aims to be a substantial introduction for christians teaching them to do basic hermeneutics and exegesis.

For the Love of God's Word: An Introduction to Biblical InterpretationWhat readers should know is that this book is an abridgement of the thicker volume Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature and Theology. This book will help serious christian learnt he nooks and crannies of studying the bible.

First the authors helps readers understand the three perspectives that the authors want readers to understand. These are literature and theology. They showed how each of these topics helps a christian understand the bible better.

The difference between this book and the thicker volume lies is what is being covered in the history section. This book does not elaborate too much on this aspect, however they help readers see how history is important to interpreting the bible.

Next, they move to the literature portion which really helps readers understand the literary aspect of the bible. First they give a rough overview of each of the testament, next they showcase each of the genres found in both testaments, and give pointers on how to read, understand and exegete the different genre.

Lastly, the authors bring in the importance of theology in the pursuit of understanding the bible and shows how our theology should be derived from the Word, and not of anything else.

Having read the thicker volume, seminary students or pastors are certainty recommend to read that volume. However, if you are a lay christian, or someone who is motivated to take up a substantial book, this will be one that you can turn to. The authors are able to explain and distill their knowledge in an easily understandable format, but being a book that is more than 400 pages, you need to be discipline and motivated to make full use of this book. This book is good for those who are new to this topic. For those who are familiar in this area, they are recommended to turn to the larger volume.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I would also recommend Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook as a companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (40 Questions & Answers Series) (31/8)

Two of the most “divisive” things within the christian church is that of the understanding of the Lord Supper and baptism. This has been an issue of contention since the reformation and has never been truly resolve ever since then. So what makes this book different from others on it?

40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord's SupperThis is part of the 40 questions series, taking 40 questions to uncover a specific topic in the christian faith. Essentially they are similar to books that gives a basic introduction to the various topics but discusses about them slightly more in-depth.

What this book does is it gives you a picture of what the major denominations, including the catholics believe about this 2 sacraments. The authors interact with both scripture and the theological understanding of each of the denominations giving their comments and opinion on what they believe. Essentially they present their understanding of both sacraments based on their understanding of scripture and of their traditions.

What I found especially helpfully is how this book helps pastors think about the practical aspect in these 2 sacraments. For example, the authors discuss about when a child should be baptised (albeit the authors does not hold on to pedobaptism). An immensely practical question for pastors to consider who have very young children who wishes to baptism. Similarly, for the Lord Supper, the authors discuss about questions like how often the Lord Supper should be observed, should unleavened bread be use, is it fine for leaven bread to be use? What about the wine? Is grape juice a suitable substitute? I found these discussion very stimulating in thinking through these issues and am grateful that the authors decided to add these in.

If you want a substantial introduction to these two issue, this is a book to go to, especially if you are interested in dealing with the theological issues in this two topics. This is also a book suitable for the layman since the authors seek to explain the terms as they talk about the issue. For those who wants a Baptist view and evaluation of the Lord Supper and Baptism, this would be a good book to explore.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you are interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook (27/6)

Be a Christian long enough and you will being to realise that the Prophets — though they take up a substantial portions of the Old Testament — are often not preach or studied at within the church. Part of the reason is that the prophets often contain genre that we’re unfamiliar with and are hard to understand. This handbook however will help us in this aspect.

Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical HandbookGary V. Smith has written a handbook that specifically wants to help us understand the prophetic books and he does so in a way that’s easy for anyone to gasp. First, Smith explains the nature or the genre of the prophetic books. This I found was one of the most helpful sections of the book, he shows with examples the different sub-genres you find as you read the Prophets and tell us how to interpret such text and teaches the readers how to read and appreciate the various literary works found in these books.

Next, he gives the readers the “bird’s eye view” of each of the prophet books showing the major themes found in the Prophets and shows the flow of the text within the each book. Next, he presents the historical backdrop of each of the prophets, highlighting that different prophets were prophesying at different eras and that we should be careful to interpret the books according to their historical background. Lastly, he shows the readers not only how to understand the text, but also how to teach it and to gather applications from the Prophets.

As mentioned earlier, having tackled such a difficult genre, Smith does an excellent job in trying to explain it to the lay-people. Most will not have a problem reading this book and it should really help pastors or teachers to be equipped to handle the prophetic books. This handbook will surely be of great use to those who wants to understand the Prophetic books better.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching (3/6)

Books on preaching generally falls into two camps, one that is primarily more theoretical or the other more practical. I have found this book to the on the more practical side, which I found was very helpful to me.

Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical PreachingSo far, I have read about 3-4 books on preaching. Much of these books talks about the more theoretical side of things. Often after reading these books, I go away agreeing with what has been said but also with a wonder of how I can really preach better. Randal E. Pelton has written this book to fill this gap.

Within the book Pelton wants readers to preach Christ-centered sermons, but he does not just shows the readers the importance or reasons for it, he shows them how this can be done practically. In essence, this really is a short book on simple exegesis and sermon preparation. Pelton teaches pastors with simple skills that works for every sermons, but always keep in the context in mind.

Pelton reminds pastors that 3 contexts should always be in mind when preparing for a sermon. The textual context, the immediate context and also the canonical context. The book  is littered with helpful illustrations and exercises that helps to drill in the principles used within the book.

I foresee that new preachers will find this book extremely helpful.  Those who finds it hard to prepare sermons from texts will also find this book extremely helpful in their sermon preparation. In fact, if you wish to teach simple exegesis, this book will also be helpful. I hope seminaries would consider using this book to teach the “how to” for their homiletical lessons.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution (22/4)

My church studied the book of Genesis last year. Knowing the controversies involved in the book of Genesis, I armed myself with books that I would read to keep myself updated with the issues raised in Genesis. But if I only have one book to recommend about the issue of creation, I would certainly recommend this book.

40 Questions About Creation and EvolutionEver since Darwin, evolution and creation has been debating about how man and the world has come about. And since then Genesis 1 and 2 has been re-interpreted several times over. Crucially the questions about creation lies in the way we understand Genesis 1 & 2. While I appreciate the amount of scholarship done in this area. I must say the scope of it has been rather staggering. There are at least 6 views to the days of creations, 3 views to the age of the earth, 2 views on Noah’s flood.

For one to be able to be thoroughly acquainted with all the nuances would mean one would have literally read through stacks of books. But now, this pertinent issue can be resolved by reading this book. Within this book, authors Mark F. Rooker  and Kenneth K. Keathley presents all views as fairly as they can, and examine each of them against what the bible has to say. They raised the strengths and weaknesses of each view. Given the complexity of this topic, both authors also urge readers not to make quick judgement or be too dogmatic about their views.

While this book will not be a walk in the park, I have found this book to be very edifying in helping me understanding the different views and issues within Genesis 1 and 2. For another who intends to dive into the issue of creation vs evolution, the age of the earth, the days of creations or just wants to be familiar with the arguments within the book of Genesis, I would recommend them to turn to this book first. This will be an excellent introduction for anyone working on these topics.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you are interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Shepherding God’s Flock: Biblical Leadership in the New Testament and Beyond (10/3)

One of the role of the pastor is to shepherd his flock. But what does it mean? So far, to my mind, I can think of Shepherds After My Own Heart by Timothy Laniak and Shepherding God’s Flock by Jay Adams, which are books related to this topic. However now having read this book, I do think there’s one more worthy book on this topic, though this book is not a book teach you how to shepherd, this is certainly a book that teaches you what it means to be a leader of a church.

Shepherding God's Flock: Biblical Leadership in the New Testament and BeyondShepherding God’s Flock is a book written by Baptist theologians but it is definitely not just meant for those who belong to the baptism denomination. Two clear strengths can quickly be identified from this book, first, it aims to show the readers what the bible has to say about the church leadership, next it aims to compare and show the differences each denominations has in regards to the structure of how they shepherd their flock.

4 chapters are devoted to finding out what church eldership is according to the bible. One chapter compares the differences between the old testament usage of the word elders, and the new testament definitions of elder. Another chapter was devoted to the gospel, looking at how Jesus shepherded his disciples. The next chapter then focused on Acts and Paul’s letters to the church, while the remaining chapter focused on general epistles and Paul’s pastoral epistles.

In the next section, different denominations are examined in regards to their governance. It was a delightfully surprise to see that this book has also included 2 chapters on the Catholic church. Given the long history of the Catholic church, it was a good decision to spilt this into two separate chapters.

Lastly, three protestant denominations were examined individually, the Anglicans, Presbyterians and the Baptist. These chapters certainly argued for the Baptist position, yet they were able to present the denominations in a fair and accurate way. It was a joy to read through these chapters as they present the history and the structure of the different denominations.

The last 2 chapters then helps the readers to consolidate what has been covered in the book and to practical-ise them. First the theology of church leader is presented, and next some practical advice and suggestions are given to the present leaders.

I found this book to be very informative and helpful in understanding this topic. Even if you are not a baptist, you still can give this book a read. This book would be helpful to young pastors as this is not like a perspectives book, which give you a picture of what different denominations has to say about church leadership, it also packs within it, many biblical truths from the bible to teach the readers what the bible has to say about being a elder.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Library) (8/2)

Currently, my church is doing a series on Exodus, so when I was given a chance to review this commentary, I took up the offer eagerly. And I must say, I am not disappointed with this commentary.

Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Commentary)Daune A. Garrett has written an excellent exegetical commentary on Exodus. In his introduction, Garrett not only goes through the usual issues of authorship and composition, he also highlights to the reader the importance of the geography of the land, and also a in-depth history of the Egyptians. While I found the introduction to be a bit too long, I must say that the introduction was comprehensive, and very accessible even to people who are new to the issues surrounding Exodus.

Two clear strengths can be found in this commentary. First Garrett always deals with the text honestly. Garrett always wrestle with the text iteslf, and at times, is even willing to take the step to disagree with conservative scholars.

An example can be found in Ex 4:24-26, a very difficult passage. Here Garrett sticks to the reading of the hebrew text and shows very clearly that Moses was not mentioned anyone within these verses, only a generic him is used. Having gone through the various views, Garrett comes out with what he thinks should be the most faithful understanding of this passage. I found his answers to be well-articulated and well-thought through.

Do note that as this is a technical commentary, knowledge of both greek and hebrew is required to be able to make full sure of this commentary. Overall, I found this commentary to be excellent and pastors or scholars should add to their collection. This commentaries offers many helpful observations to the readers and should be consulted often.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Organic Mentoring (14/9)

Are there any significant difference between those who grow up in the modern and post-modern era? I’m sure most people will say yes to this question. But what if I asked you, whether there would be any difference between the way we mentor those living in the modern and post-modern times? Would you be able to separate out the differences? How would your mentoring method be different? Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann is here to show us the differences and the changes we will need to make in order to better mentor the current generation.Organic Mentoring

The book is spilt generally into 2 parts, first it explains and shows why there is a need for a new method of mentoring. This half is generally descriptive, telling us about the post-modern generation and how it is different from the modern generation. In the 2nd part, Edwards and Neumann then shows how their new approach of mentoring looks like and what they would potentially accomplish.

On the whole, I felt that the first half of the book could have been shorter, and although Edwards and Neumann does show their depth of research, based mostly on qualitative research findings for the entire book.

One big drawback of this book is the lack of deep biblical teaching. Biblical teaching on mentorship only start substantially at almost halfway through the book, and even so mostly are not exegetical in nature, and deriving application from there, but it seems to be more of this is what the bible say and how we think it fits our model.

However, nearing to the end the book, on the chapter of digital connections, the authors did a superb job in handling this chapter. First they gave a description of how the post-modern generation has been shaped by the digit gadgets they use everyday. Next they showed how the modern generation ought to understand and even use such gadgets to their advantage in mentoring, and lastly the dangers of such gadgets for the post-modern generation. I felt that this was the most well-written chapter in the whole book, it was written in a balance way, highlighting the pros and the cons of the particular topic. Other chapters were more or less tilting to the side of pros and the cons were not well elaborated.

Overall, if you’re interested to have a better idea and picture about how the current generation is different from the previous generation, do read this book. But if you’re looking and hoping to find deep biblical truth in support of it, you will need to supplement it with other books.

Rating: 3 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping).