Tuesday, January 3, 2012

5 Short Book Reviews

John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man by Carl Trueman

John Owen is perhaps one of the most influential Puritans.  The Puritans are always interesting.  Carl Trueman is a great writer.  Carl Trueman knows the Puritans (especially John Owen) very well.  Add this all up and you get an unbelievably awesome book on John Owen, correct?  Nope.  Perhaps it is Trueman’s audience (perhaps scholars that argue about Latin words), I am not certain.  But this book is a snoozer.  Sorry.  I was excited about it.  I thought it would be awesome, but I found myself beating my head against the wall trying to finish it (I had to for a class).  It’s a small book.  It’s 39.95 on Amazon—cheaper than some other sedatives but very expensive for a 132 page book.  Owen scholars need to read it.  Anyone else, I would humbly suggest you look elsewhere.

A Hill On Which to Die by Paul Pressler

The good news: you can buy this used for a penny on Amazon.  The bad news: I’m not sure I’d want to pay the 3.99 for shipping.  If you are looking for a historical narrative of an insiders view of the Conservative Resurgence within the SBC then this is an interesting book.  If you are looking for something that would make a conservative like myself repulsed at the politics and ridiculously lofty claims about the resurgence then this book is also for you. 

To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson

There is a reason why this book is 5 stars on Amazon.  Adoniram Judson’s life is an amazing testimony of the faithfulness of God.  Judson was the first North American missionary to take the gospel to Burma.  This is the exciting journey of how all of that came about and what it looked like once Judson hit the shores.  There are chapters of extreme heartache—chapters that make you wonder how Judson could carry on.  There are also chapters of extreme joy.  You see in the life of Judson a man that was very much like the apostle Paul; though he suffered great hardships he knew that the gospel was prevailing and so he was able to rejoice.  This is perhaps the best biography of Judson and a must read for anyone desiring to learn about foreign missions, Judson, or desiring to shape the world through the life changing message of Jesus Christ. 

The Church Leader’s Handbook: A Guide to Counseling Families and Individuals in Crisis by William Cutrer

If you are a minister you will deal with crisis.  You also should probably buy this book.  This is a short book but it covers a ton of material.  The first part of the book develops a basic strategy for thinking through crisis care.  Then Cutrer deals with 12 specific crisis issues covering everything from STD’s to Cancer.  He then ends the book with three preventive measures to avoid crisis.  How many pastors have had a family in their office struggling through pregnancy loss, or infertility issues?  How many family ministry pastors have had teenagers dealing with eating disorders or suicide?  This book deals with about any specific crisis you can think of, and Cutrer does it with practical advice and gospel-centrality.  Pastor, you really should own this book.

The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce W. Longenecker

I was assigned this book for my New Testament I class.  Usually books that teach you about the historical setting of the Bible are a tad on the boring side—even for nerds like me.  But this book does something very novel; Longenecker paints a picture of the first century world using a fictional account that is based on quite reliable historical information.  In other words, none of this probably happened but it very easily could have.  Based on Revelation 2:13 Longenecker tells the story of Antipas (an eventual Christian martyr) through various letters between he and his contemporaries.  It’s so well written and engaging that some (myself included) may even get a little teary eyed at the end.  A wonderful resource and excellent tool to teach about the first century world. 

A helpful (for me) tip: If you ever decide to purchase a book that I have reviewed be sure to click the link and buy from there.  Anytime you see borrligh-20 in the URL that means that I get a little kickback from Amazon as a referrer.  It doesn’t cost you anything, it doesn’t add any steps to your order, but it helps me out considerably.  If enough people buy books referred from this website then I have enough to buy books each semester.

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