Friday, October 1, 2010
Book Reviews From My Summer Reading
An Introduction to the New Testament by Carson and Moo
I found this volume super helpful. Carson and Moo did a great job of handling the arguments and controversies. I walked away feeling that I had been given all of the necessary information. The authors were not only careful to give all sides of the argument, but they were also careful not to make assertions without backing them up. My copy is filled with highlighter marks and comments. I'm certain that I will be referencing this book for years to come.
An Introduction to the New Testament by David deSilva
Another great volume. Dr. desilva's strength is in giving an incredible amount of background and context information. In this regard I would rate deSilva's introduction higher than Carson and Moo's (to be fair to the authors they did state that it wasn't their purpose for the volume).Where I wouldn't rate deSilva's volume as high as Carson and Moo's is in its use of assertions without adequate substantiation. In other words, I heard what he was saying, but I didn't understand why his view was right or wrong, since opposing arguments were not always given. All-in-all I think that deSilva's and Carson and Moo's introductions work will in tandem.
Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns
This volume was disappointing. Dr Enns comes right out in the beginning of his book asserting that it isn't intended to be academic, but rather to aid and encourage students who were looking for direction. This might have been my greatest frustration with his book. Is it responsible teaching to make assertions about such important issues without including any challenging arguments? I don't find this approach helpful since it recruits adherents who don't know all of the information, and attempts to make those who disagree feel ridiculous. Inspiration and Incarnation is entirely one-sided, and demeaning of mainstream evangelical scholarship. For a book that boasted a desire to be helpful to the discouraged, I don't think that Dr. Enns took enough care not to discourage students who might deal with the evidence and come to different conclusions.
A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren
This book is both properly and improperly titled. What McLaren is propagating is not new, but it is different; so different that I wouldn't call it Christian at all. McLaren's view of Scripture is so nebulous that I don't think that he could really assert anything meaningful from the Biblical text (even to support his own world-view). He denies human depravity, the fall, the existence of hell, and even the exclusivity of Christ. In the end of the book he questions whether "Christianity" is even a helpful term. I think for McLaren it isn't. For the most part McLaren's book is old liberalism repackaged for a post-modern audience. I would rename this book "A Generous Unorthodoxy" or maybe as one scholar has, "A New Kind of Apostasy." (I know that this is a harsh review, and it is not my intention to mock Brian McLaren. I do think that this book is unorthodox and harmful, and for that reason I have used as plain of language as I could to call it as I see it)
Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
I found this book to be insightful, though the title can be a little bit deceiving. The volume is indeed about the Emergent church, but it's about more than just that. DeYoung and Kluck did a great job of engaging the issues and controversies of contemporary and post-modern church life. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for clarity about what church should and should not be, and about what Christians should and should not be about. I have to note though that I enjoyed DeYoung's chapters more than Kluck's. As the author's note in the introduction, Kluck's chapters are there to help people who think DeYoung is boring, get through the book. Kluck at times came off as a bit antagonistic to me, and I thought DeYoung's portions were interesting enough. Not to say that Kluck didn't contribute to the book, I think he did, but I related better to DeYoung.