Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review - A Well-Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church by William Boekestein and Daniel Hyde

If you are looking for a good book to use in Elder Training on the nature and function of the church and order in the Church, than your search stops here.

If you are new to the church and wondering how it is all supposed to work, then this book would be an excellent pace to start.

The book is divided into four parts: Identity, Authority, Ecumenicity, and Activity.  Each chapter concludes with questions relevant to the material in the chapter and suggestions for further reading. Reference is frequently made to scripture and includes material from both the Westminster Standards and the Continental Standards. There is a helpful Appendix summarizing foundational principles of Reformed Church government.

Identity: The author rightly point out that how we view our identity has a big impact on the decision we make in living as a community of faith. Here it is made clear that Christ owns the church, is head of the church and is the basis for unity in the church.

Authority: In this section Divine Revelation and Office Bearers are discussed as they relate to authority for living as church members.

Ecumenicity: In this section the question of how we related to churches both inside and outside our denomination is discussed. The question “How do we appropriately express the catholicity of the church?” is answered.

Activity: This section is the longest of the sections and covers a number of questions that have risen a number of times in my experience with each of the churches I have been a member of. What really is the central mission of the church? How does the mission of the church relate to the particular mission of individual Christians? Are we spending our individual and corporate resources of time and money in the right places? In separate chapters what it means to be a worshiping church and a witnessing church is paired with chapters on the practice of each characteristic. Two other important topics covered are what it means to be a teaching church and what it means to be a repenting church.

These sections are followed by a concluding chapter on the need for God-glorifying Church governance.

Michael Horton provides a concluding word which is an extended commendation of the scriptural approach the authors made in presenting the ecclesiology outlined in the book.

I received this book from Evangelical Press via Cross Focused Reviews and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review - Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

This is one of those books that is a pleasure to read aloud with someone else. There is a variety of original artwork mixed with photographs, drawings and illustrations.

The story of Marie Durand’s imprisonment is supplemented with an Epilogue containing relevant history of France and the Protestant movement after Marie Durand’s death. There is also a useful timeline, pronunciation key, additional facts in an interesting “Did You Know” section and a reproduction of a wonderful handwritten letter from Marie to her Niece, Anne.

This book is not a quick read, set aside kind of book. The variety of formats requires engagement with the book and I found myself going back to reread and ponder the person and the history, wondering what response I would have had in similar situations.  History tied to a person is much more memorable than straight facts. For this reason this makes an excellent book for teaching history to young children.
This book is part of the “Christian Biographies For Young Readers Series”

I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review – Passing Through: Pilgrim Life in The Wilderness by Jeremy Walker

As if Jeremy Walker could anticipate the recent monumental Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling and my reading his book, he begins the book with the poem “Passing Through” by Horatius Bonar, which aptly describes the way I increasingly feel about living in this world, but yearning for the Kingdom.  In true Puritan like fashion, Jeremy Walker gives extended precise theological grounding and extended sound practical suggestions for living in this world but not being of the world.

The book begins with the key observation that your sense of identity determines your modes of activity and that both need to be examined in the light of scripture. The rest of the book then proceeds to draw this out primarily from scripture but also with numerous references to Reformed Christian thought.

I loved the format of the book. Each chapter takes a look at one aspect of being a Pilgrim. Within each chapter there are four sections: introductory remarks, the scriptural framework, summary thoughts, and specific counsels. Within these sections main points are italicized. So while for the modern reader the book may seem a little precise and nuanced, the form makes it easier to read.

This book is a very encouraging read. I found the chapters on understanding the environment, knowing the enemy, fighting the battles and respecting the authorities most relevant to living in today’s culture and world. I was reminded that I too easily dismiss our enemy the devil as if he did not exist or had little power. I was instructed on the importance of respecting the authorities while being able to stand firm, without being offensive, on those things which are non-negotiable.

A timely and helpful book.

I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.