Into the Book


Posts by Michael Wright

  1. “What is Dr. Geisler warning the Christian community about in his book Chosen But Free? A new cult? Secularism? False prophesy scenarios? No. Dr. Geisler is sounding the alarm about a system of beliefs commonly called “Calvinism”. He insists this belief is “theologically inconsistent, philosophically insufficient, and morally repugnant.” (From the back cover) It is with that backdrop, comes a reply by one of the most well known Reformed Apologists in the field today, Dr. James White, as he sets out to paint a clear and pointed picture of what Calvinism actually is through logical process, exegetical precision and bold refutation of Dr. Geisler’s unfair and unfounded assertions. This is not a book for everybody’s tastes, but everybody should read it—especially those in disagreement or question of the Reformed system of faith.

  2. Watson, the 17th century minister of St. Stephens of Walbrook, believe he faced two great difficulties in his pastoral ministry. The first was making the unbeliever sad, in the recognition of his need of God’s grace. The second was making the believer joyful in response to God’s grace. He believed the answer to the second difficulty could be found in Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:28: God works all things together for good for his people. 

     So is written on the back cover of this wonderful little treasure, a small Puritan work in the Puritan Paperback’s collection, published by Banner of Truth. In revised and updated English, this small tome brings to light a fantastic exposition from one of the favorite authors of the Puritan era—Thomas Watson.

    Having faced persecution as he, and about two thousand other ministers were ejected from the Church of England in 1662, Thomas Watson set his mind and his heart to understanding one of the most beautiful and least understood promises of God: that all things will work for the good of God’s children. Through the lens of suffering and hardship, he took to understand Paul’s teaching, and plumbed the richest and fullest depths of it.

    Beginning with a general consideration of what “all things” are, he expounds how the good things work for the good of the elect, and how the bad work for their good. It is after addressing this wide range of subjects, he goes into the why, and it proves to be one of the richest chapters in the book.

    But Watson realized this promise was not without conditions—it is only to them who love God, therefore we must be sure we are lovers of God. The following chapters are filled with exhortations to love God, evidences of love toward God, and tests of it.

    The other condition is effectual calling, which is given one of the most gracious and God-exalting treatments in so few pages that I have read. The book ends with the verse of Romans, on God’s purpose. One thing Watson clung to in his persecution was the reality of God’s promise and purpose, and that he knew whatever would come to pass, all had a purpose—and it all worked for good.

    For those who are unfamiliar with the Puritans, this may be a good place to direct them. Even though many are unfamiliar with these writers, and their times—we are all familiar with suffering and persecution. Such is the result of living in a fallen world; and we could all use a reminder of the goodness and blessed purpose of God in all things. Though this book is short, it is rich, and will sure to be profitable to anyone who cares to take the time to peruse it’s pages.

    I give my hearty recommendation to this book, and hope you’ll find yourself a copy soon.

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  3. “To my knowledge there never has been a collection of authors of any edited volume under whose ministry I would rather sit than these. What stands out is that they are humble, holy men of God. Most of them are too old too seasoned to care about scoring points. Their lives witness to the preciousness of Christ and the importance of purity. Expect no bombast. Expect humble, measured admiration and wise application. This is a good way to meet John Calvin: in the holy hearts of humble servants of Christ. The only better way would be to read the man himself.”

     So writes Dr. John Piper on the back cover of this small, but robust collection of essays on the life and theology of one of the most well-known Reformers: John Calvin.

    Written to commemorate the 500th birthday of Calvin, this collection, written by some of the finest Bible teachers of our time, is probably one of the best introductions to Calvin, his life and thought out there to someone who is unfamiliar with him. Calvin has been subject to many caricatures and misrepresentations, as is the system that is named after him, that have over the years made him an obscure and vilified character. But this book, written by men who have gone straight to the horses’ mouth shows a different side to Calvin.

    It shows him as a humble man, a caring pastor, counselor, a stalwart theologian, devotional writer, prayerful and passionate man. Throughout the book the man himself is quoted many times from his own writings to show how he himself taught a doctrine.

    Some may be surprised that this is not a book about Calvinism. It’s not a book arguing that point, though this system does make it’s appearance, as it is necessary. The doctrines are introduced for those who may be unfamiliar with them, but they are not the central focus of the book. The various controversies surrounding the doctrines that Calvin taught are also discussed, but usually in a matter-of-fact manner that stays clear of smearing and mockery.

    All in all, I enjoyed this book, as it gave another look at Calvin the man. After reading With Calvin In The Theater of God a couple years ago, I began to appreciate the Reformer for the expositor and pastor that he was, this book only enhanced that appreciation. Most of the chapters are written by pastors, who deal every day with the pains of their flocks, and in their study and reading of Calvin have seen how he expressed his pastoral concern over matters of counseling, and matters of doctrine. I think there’s something we can all learn from this book, looking back on a man who lived over 500 years ago.

    Is Calvin perfect? No. Is Calvin the only person who could interpret Scripture? No. He made mistakes, he made bad decisions—but he was human, what are we to expect? That does not mean we cannot learn from the life and writings of Calvin. I think this book, will help whet your appetite for learning more from this Reformation leader.

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  4.  Now, you can probably tell from the title what this book is about. It is about the controversy between the famous Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, and those who take the position commonly called “hyper-Calvinism”. The subtitle of the book really tells you more about it though, and that reads: “The Battle for Gospel Preaching.”

    Murray starts this book off in a very interesting manner, introducing those who may not know the dear man, to a preacher by the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an English particular Baptist of the late 1800’s. The first thirty-odd pages are spent giving us an introduction to this renowned preacher, sketching briefly his life and ministry, and letting us know of the man behind the controversy. The rest of the book, however, is not spent on quaint considerations of his life, which is filled with excellent accounts of the evangelistic exploits, triumphs of faith, the suffering, both physically and mentally endured by the man, but rather on a controversy in which he was engaged against some of his other brethren. This is the controversy of Hyper-Calvinism.

    For those who aren’t familiar with this term, Hyper-Calvinism differs from general Calvinism, in regards to the extent that the doctrines of grace (commonly called the five points) are exercised. They hold that we should not hold forth a general invitation to those who we do not believe to be elect. This greatly differs from general Calvinists, who believe that the Gospel should be generally proclaimed to all, and urged upon any who will believe, knowing that those who are elect will respond efficaciously to the particular calling of God. Spurgeon was of the latter type, and he stood against those who declared that his general call to unbelievers ought not be practiced.

    The book is filled with excerpts from Spurgeon’s writing and preaching in response to the men involved in this controversy. It lists their names, disagreements, and responses, just as well as it lists Spurgeon’s view—but the focus of the book is the man Spurgeon, his love for the doctrines of Grace, and the free declaration of the Gospel of God.

    The book is centered around the four areas that were central to Spurgeon’s preaching: the Universal Gospel Invitation, The Warrant of Faith, Human Responsibility, and The Love of God—essentially this, how the Gospel should be declared to lost and dead men.

     The more I read about Spurgeon, the more I enjoy and appreciate the impact he has made upon evangelicalism today. His writings that he has left to us are a testament to a man consumed by the Gospel, even through the harshest of afflictions. This book is another revelation of the man who was used by God. 

    Iain Murray has done his homework on Spurgeon and the times for this, and it shows through on these pages. Whether you are a Calvinist or not, this book would be good for you to read, because it shows the difference between the true Calvinist and the Hyper-Calvinist, a difference rarely made by some, and it shows that true Calvinism always centers around sovereign grace, freely offered to all.

     I give it five stars.

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  5. “The greatest measuring rod of love in the life of a Christian may be forgiveness, because God showed His love to us in terms of forgiveness.” – John MacArthur. What is forgiveness? What does it mean to us in our world, and how does it affect us and those who surround us as we move about on this earth? How can we be forgiven? What must we do to be forgiven? How do we forgive others? (more…)

  6. Robin Laughlin (aka. Failstate) is in a reality show to become an official, licensed superhero. But when one of his competitors is murdered, can Robin find justice? Or will his lunk of a big brother ruin everything?

    My thoughts: I can understand if someone is a bit wary of reading this book, at first. The cover art, though talented and meaningful, is a bit cheesy in concept and, let’s face it, cartoon-ish. But once it’s cracked open, it is not nearly as bad. With a wonderful writing style similar to Travis Thrasher’s, Mr. Otte captures the reader’s attention and holds it in place.

    The plot was mostly well-planned, and didn’t appear too cliche at the end. In fact, it was a bit harder to predict than many sci-fi/mystery titles. However, near the middle, Otte begins to lose the reader’s intrigue, by confusing them with so many details, and they don’t know what to do with them all! Each person could be the true criminal, and the reader is left throwing his hands in the air, because they are all suspect. He must simply read on, not caring as much as before.

    To end on a positive note, Otte did a great job incorporating Scripture into key parts of the book. When Rob would attend a youth group lesson, or talk with fellow Christians, there was always something he needed, which is likewise important to us.

    This book was provided free by the publisher, in conjunction with Team Novel Teen. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

    ~ Noah

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