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Recent Readings in Theology

Apr 9, 2011

Important new books in the areas of theology, biblical studies, apologetics, ethics and related fields continue to emerge, and I try to keep up with some of these volumes, at least those I consider to be some of the better ones. There is never a shortage of such works, and here I am of necessity being rather selective. But I have found these volumes to be most useful and well worth promoting.

They cover a number of fields, and are mostly all penned in the last year or two. All are quite valuable, and worth obtaining for one’s own personal theological library. Here then in no particular order are 15 new volumes which the discerning theological reader should be aware of.

Gregg Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Zondervan, 2011.
In this very helpful volume we have a combination of systematic theology and historical theology. As in the former, various particular Christian doctrines are laid out, but as in the latter, each one is in turn assessed in terms of its chronological development. In nearly 800 pages all the major doctrines of the Christian faith are carefully laid out and discussed in terms of their historical development. A terrific volume.

Michael Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? B&H, 2010.
There have been many theological systems and theologians who have argued that the church has replaced Israel. NT Wright is just one noted contemporary theologian who comes to mind here. In his theological system Israel seems to all but disappear in NT times. This volume especially examines this view throughout church history, and discusses its hermeneutical and theological bases, finding them wanting.

Barry Horner, Future Israel. B&H, 2007.
This is another volume in which replacement theology, or supersessionism, is given careful scrutiny. In this meaty volume of almost 400 pages a number of aspects in this debate are carefully discussed. He makes a detailed case that Israel very much does still have a place in God’s program, and the church has not replaced it. Whether you agree with this position or not, this book provides a very good case for it.

Scot McKnight, The Letter of James. Eerdmans, 2011.
This is the latest volume in the New International Commentary on the New Testament series. It replaces the earlier (1976) Adamson volume on James. It is one of the more substantial commentaries to appear on James, totalling nearly 500 pages. It is a first class work of scholarship and offers a wealth of incisive theological and biblical reflection.

Dennis Jowers, ed., Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan, 2011.
There are plenty of hardcore theological and philosophical issues which arise when speaking of God’s providence; issues such as divine sovereignty and human responsibility, the relationship between God and time, divine foreknowledge, suffering and evil, etc. Here four different theological perspectives, including open theism, Molinism, and classic Reformed thought, weigh into the debate in a thrust and counterthrust format.

Kenneth Keathley, Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach. B&H, 2010.
Here the US theology professor also defends Molinism as William Lane Craig did in the above debate book, but he does so in a way which modifies traditional Calvinistic thinking, especially the five-point TULIP. He counters it with ROSES: Radical depravity; Overcoming grace; Sovereign election; Eternal life; and Singular redemption. It offers a sort of theological halfway house between the extremes of Calvinism and Arminianism.

Joel Beeke, Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism. Reformation Trust, 2008.
In over 400 pages almost every aspect of Calvin and his influence are examined, in terms of both faith and practice. His theological, ethical, social, political and ecclesiastical positions are all carefully assessed and elaborated upon. Those seeking a solid introduction to his thought and influence will be advised to start here.

David Allen and Steve Lemke, eds., Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism. B&H, 2010.
Those unhappy with Calvinistic theology will welcome this volume which seeks to critically examine the key components of Reformed thought. The major five points of Calvinism are subjected to strong scrutiny, while other essays examine topics such as the problem of evil, and the sovereignty of God. Even those more in line with Reformed thinking (such as myself) will find much of value in this collection of essays, even though disagreeing much of the time!

Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope. B&H, 2010.
How are we to understand the concepts of Messiah and Messiahship in the Old Testament? In this helpful volume a professor of Jewish studies looks at the Messianic prophecies as found in the Old Testament, and shows just how important the concept of Messianic hope is to the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Mark Rooker, The Ten Commandments. B&H, 2010.
The ongoing relevance of the Ten Commandments for both New Testament times and the 21st Century is the focus of this helpful volume. The OT professor carefully examines each commandment and their OT setting, and shows how they fit both in the NT and in modern day life. A helpful look at the Decalogue and its continuing importance.

Geoffrey Grogan, The Faith Once Entrusted to the Saints? IVP, 2010.
There have been a number of challenges to biblical evangelicalism over recent years, including the challenge of open theism; the new perspectives on Paul and the issue of justification; objections to the doctrine of penal substitution; the nature of Scripture; and so on. Grogan more than adequately deals with these various new challenges, as he seeks to restate and defend the tents of classical theism. A very worthwhile volume indeed.

Norman Geisler, If God, Why Evil? Bethany House, 2011.
Geisler is one of our leading Christian apologists. He must have written close to a hundred books by now, and he has previously looked at the issue of suffering and evil in several important books. Here he offers in popular and easy to read style the case that the existence of God is not incompatible with the existence of evil. He takes on many challenges and objections in well-argued and highly-reasoned chapters. A great primer on a tough subject.

Louis Markos, Apologetics for the 21st Century. Crossway, 2010.
In this useful volume Markos draws heavily on the insights and thinking of recent heavyweight apologists such as Lewis, Chesterton, Schaeffer, Sayers and others. He draws on a broad array of disciplines including literature, history, philosophy and theology as he helps us to become better equipped to reach people with the gospel in the 21st Century. A welcome and refreshing addition to the growing apologetics library.

Bruce Longenecker, Remember the Poor. Eerdmans, 2010.
This is a detailed examination of how Paul approaches the topic of wealth and poverty, with insights from the Greco-Roman world. Contrary to the view that Paul said little about the poor, Longenecker shows that he in fact said – and did – quite a lot about this issue. He and the churches he established did much to address the issue of poverty, and concern for the poor was clearly an integral part of their gospel message.

Jason Stellman, Dual Citizens. Reformation Trust, 2009.
Christians are citizens of two kingdoms. They also live between two ages; this present evil age and the new age which is not yet fully realised. How are we to live in such a situation? Applying a Reformed perspective on these matters, Stellman offers solid devotional thoughts on what the Christian life should look like as we seek to deal with the tension of living in two different worlds simultaneously.

BTW, it will be noted that a number of these titles are published by B&H. While I did not intend this, the Broadman & Holman Publishing Company is turning out a lot of good theological works of late, and is worth being aware of. Along with the other titles listed here, happy reading!

(For Australian readers, most of these volumes can be found at Koorong Books.)

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5 Responses to Recent Readings in Theology

  • OK, not one lousy comment here! Where are all those theology lovers? Or am I the only one here?!
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • No, you are not the only one here. Some of us are busy pointing, clicking, and waiting for the truck to back up in our driveway to unload all those wonderful books! I’m starting with “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach” because of my ongoing fascination with the topic of free will/sovereignty.

    Does having a dual nature mean I’m addicted to books AND addicted to theology?

    Amy Bailey

  • Yes it sounds that way Amy. But those are two very good addictions to be straddled with. Bless you fellow reader and theology-phile.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill

    I have just got my copy of this book: Gregg Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine.
    Thank you for recommending it. I’m only 20 pages in and have read each page 3 times.
    I now understand some vital things, eg; sola scriptura.

    Bless you,
    Daniel Kempton

  • Glad to be of assistance Daniel.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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