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Category Archives: Multi View Books

Booklet Review: Four Views of the End Times by Timothy Paul Jones

Comprehensive and Concise Primer on End Time Events

 There are so many differing views and interpretations related to Biblical prophecy and the end times. Dr. Jones has provided a great service to the church by providing a clear, short, and very complete guide to the key Bible passages, definition of terms, key views, and the strengths and insights on four of the most popular views on the end times: Dispensational Premillennialism, Historical Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism and objectively gives the answers the following questions for each view:

What does this view emphasize?

What does this view teach according to the main proponents (historically and modern) of the view?

What Scriptures are used to support this view?

When has this particular view been popular in church history?

Who are the most prominent Biblical Scholars (past and current) who hold to this particular view?

How does this particular view interpret the book of Revelation?

There is also a printable PDF available that charts each particular view, as well as a concluding section that answers how each of the four views answer the following crucial questions related to the end times:

Will Jesus return physically?

When will Jesus return?

Do the rapture and second coming occur at the same time?

Will there be a great tribulation?

Will Christians suffer during the tribulation?

Will there be a literal 1,000-year millennium?

Who is saved during the millennial period?

When was this particular view most held historically?

If you are looking for an objective, concise, and comprehensive overview of the end time views – this is a great place to start. I especially recommend this little booklet for people who have never studied “eschatology” (the study of the end times) before. It will be a good objective guide for you to see the “big picture” and then be able to hone in on more specific studies related to eschatology when you see the major players (scholars) that hole to the particular views, so you can do more study on your own.

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How Then Should We Choose? Three Views on God’s Will and Decision Making edited by Douglas S. Huffman

Balanced and Helpful Discussion of God-Centered Decision-Making

One of the most practical things we can learn as Christians is to know how God’s revelation in the Scriptures, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and our walk with Christ help us to make decisions that are well-pleasing to God. This thought provoking multi-view book contains three distinct and sometimes overlapping views on how to know and do God’s will. This book is “about Christians making decisions in the light of God’s guidance, that is, in accordance with God’s will…and encouraging Christians toward greater freedom in their decision-making responsibilities to the glory of God who is with us.”

The strategy of this book is that each writer presents his view using biblical, historical, personal, and various practical articulations of it. At the end of each presentation the writer shows the practical ramifications of their view by articulating how they would advise people in seeking out God’s will and make the best decisions possible with reference to three case studies:

Case 1: A Career/College Decision

Case 2: A Relationship Decision

Case 3: A Stewardship Decision

The three views presented are as follows:

View #1 – The Specific-Will View – This view is presented by Henry (earned a ThM and BD from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary & has received four honorary doctorates) and his son Richard Blackaby (PhD in church history from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

The essence of this view as articulated by the Blackaby’s is this: “We have presented what some call the traditional view of God’s will. Simply put, it holds that God does have a specific will for your life and He will guide you to find it.”

View #2 – The Wisdom View – This view is offered by Garry Friesen (ThD from Dallas Theological Seminary and currently teaching at Multnomah University in Portland, OR).

The way of wisdom (in decision making) is summarized in four principles:

(1)  Where God commands, we must obey.

(2)  Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.

(3)  Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.

(4)  When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.

View #3 – The Relationship View – This view is articulated by Gordon T. Smith, president of ReSource Leadership International (PhD from Loyola School of Theology).

Gordon T. Smith Summarizes his view in these seven “Working Principles:”

(1) There must be clarity about one’s ultimate allegiance.

(2) It is essential that we attend to what is happening to us emotionally, as the history of the spiritual practice of discernment reminds us.

(3) God leads one step at a time.

(4) We need to sequence our decision making, attending to what needs to be decided first.

(5) We need to be clear about our circumstances.

(6) We need time and space to choose well.

(7) We need accountability – “We need other voices and perspectives, in part because we recognize our capacity for self-deception and rationalization.”

In concluding these seven principles Smith writes, “In all of this, nothing is so pivotal to our capacity to discern well, and then to choose well, as the character and quality of our relationship with Christ.”

I was hoping I would wholeheartedly buy into one of the views presented in this book when I began wrestling with it. After a careful reading I lean toward a blend of the Wisdom and Relational views. I think that Dr. Friesen did the most thorough job of articulating his view – especially with careful exegetical support from the Scriptures, and many practical illustrations of how the “Wisdom View” actually works in decision making. Smith’s “Relational View” was strong in its application of history and in developing a Biblical Theology of Christ and our intimacy with Him in the relational process. I thought the Blackaby’s did a better job in explaining their position and critiquing the other positions in their responses to the Wisdom and Relational Views. However, I was not convinced in any way shape or form that we can know God’s “Specific” will for us – especially in the case studies given.

Douglas S. Huffman (the editor) writes the final two chapters of the book. He does an amazing job of summarizing and articulating the views – their strengths and weaknesses, how they compliment one another, and what can learn from each of them. He also gives a very helpful chart of over 100 books on decision making from the past century and has a geometric way of showing how they are all similar or different to the three views presented in this book. He also makes a very strong case for striving for balance in the positions, and showing how different factors come into play depending on various variables (personality, maturity, emotions, etc.) and circumstances for each individual.

A Christian can’t help but benefiting immensely from reading this book. I highly recommend this book primarily because it is very helpful in at least five specific ways:

1)    Helping you understand the process of decision-making – as opposed to making rash or whimsical decisions. I especially enjoyed the exegetical discussions from the Scriptures and the way each writer demonstrated how the principles from their unique views were used in the very practical case studies.

2)    Seeing the value of each of the writer’s views. I learned something new from each of them – in order to help me better make decisions that are pleasing to God. I was particularly helped in seeing how the emotions, how the Holy Spirit, and our relationship with Jesus are involved in the process of decision-making.

3)    They all did a good job articulating and critiquing one another’s views. It helped me to see that personalities, experiences, education, emotions, spiritual maturity, God’s plans for us, our unique relationship with Him and other elements all play major factors in decision-making – so there is no “one-size-fits-all” process of decision-making that works for all believers across the board. However, various principles and suggestions by each of the writers were very helpful.

4)    It challenged me to continue to read more especially in some of the views that I had not been exposed to before. I witnessed that oftentimes agreement and blending in the various views can help you be more balanced and less rigid in the decision-making process.

5)    I could see how sometimes I’ve made some bad decisions that could have been avoided had I previously read this book (e.g. In the “Relational View” chapter Dr. Smith talked about not making important decisions when you are highly emotional, discouraged or angry). I had a lot of my good decisions confirmed by some of the wisdom shared in this book. I was encouraged that for the most part, I’ve made a lot more good decisions than bad decisions and could see that I have used elements of each author in the process.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Perspectives On Our Struggle With Sin: 3 Views Of Romans 7 edited by Terry L. Wilder (contributors: Stephen J. Chester, Grant R. Osborne, Mark A. Seifrid, and Chad O. Brand)

Intense Exegesis For Serious Students of The Bible

One of the most difficult passages to interpret in the New Testament is found in Romans chapter 7. Was Paul writing about the experience of all Jews and Gentiles in their struggle with sin? Was it descriptive of his battle of sin in the past as an unbelieving Jew from his current perspective as a Christian looking backward? Or was he simply describing his own current struggle with sin? The answer to these questions and many others are addressed in this helpful book.

D. S. Dockery has stated the importance of a correct interpretation of this passage of Scripture in this manner, “Since the passage is located at the heart of Paul’s explanation of the outworking of one’s salvation, the view which is adopted will have a tremendous impact upon one’s theology of the Christian life.” In other words, what this book grapples with is not just at the periphery of the Christian life, but at the center. A proper understanding of our struggle with sin entails our views of justification (the doctrine upon which Christianity stands or falls – according to Martin Luther) and sanctification – which cannot be properly understood and applied without understanding our justification rightly. Therefore, what the writers of this book tackle involve “high stakes.”

The strength of this book lies in the fact that it allows the reader to consider the various views that have been carefully articulated by the biblical scholars exegesis of the passage, and from these views evaluate which argument entails the most strengths/pros and least weaknesses/cons. Scholars who have each done advanced studies on the book of Romans present the three views.

Grant R. Osborne teaches at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He argues the point that in verses 7 to 13 Paul is describing himself as an unregenerate Jew and then in verses 14 to 25 as a regenerate follower of Christ. He holds that the believer in Christ wants to do what is right, but often fails due to the ongoing battle with the flesh in its war against sin.

Stephen J. Chester is a professor at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. His view – seemed to me the most complicated of the three – is that Paul is writing in Romans 7 of his pre-conversion experiences with sin in retrospect now as a follower of Christ. He points out that Paul’s references in the passage are historical presents, which point to past experiences with sin.

Mark A. Seifrid is a professor at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Mark expresses the view that Paul refers in the passage to both regenerate and the unregenerate and vacillates between these two as human beings that are being confronted with the reality of the law. Mark articulates the reality that Paul is focusing on how our failure to obey the law confronts us with our need of Christ’s righteousness to be imputed to us by faith in His fulfilling the just requirements of the law on our behalf.

In the final analysis I agree with Osborne who states in the introduction to his essay, “A general consensus never has been and never will be reached on its meaning, for simply too many viable options seem to fit the context of Romans 5-8. All of the options presented in this work fit the data, and it would be arrogant to try to claim that only my view can be correct. This text is another of the many biblical passages where we simply have to admit that we will not know the true meaning until we get to heaven—and then Paul can tell us what he meant!”

Of all the views/perspective books I’ve read – so far, this was the most challenging. The discussions are very technical (especially in their usage of the Greek language – and theological depth). All the scholars have definitely done their homework and have given much food for thought. In my opinion I thought Seifrid’s argument was the most persuasive, followed by Osborne, and then Chester. I must say that I learned a lot from each of the contributors and they all did an excellent job on the passage. I will definitely be consulting this book again if I ever teach through Romans again (I preached through Romans for two years about a decade ago).

No matter which view you currently have on this passage, or even if you don’t have a view – you will learn much from this book and it will be well worth your effort. I highly recommend this book for serious students of the Bible, teaching and preaching pastors, and scholars who desire to have a better understanding of this difficult passage. It can’t help but equip you more in your understanding of the law, sin, justification, sanctification, and in elevating your view of what Christ has done for you in His life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. Chad Brand’s concluding chapter was excellent tying in the practical ramifications of this passage and the contributions in the book for practically dealing with sin, salvation, and sanctification in the new covenant community.

 

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Book Review: Continuity and Discontinuity edited by John S. Feinberg

Great Discussion of the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments

This book contains various perspectives from leading theologians on issues related to that which continues and discontinues from the Old Testament into the New Testament.

Half of the contributors in this book would consider themselves “Covenant Theologians” – including contributions from O. Palmer Robertson, Willem VanGemeren, Knox Chamblin, Bruce K. Waltke, Fred H. Klooster,  Martin H. Woudstra, and Sam Storms. The other half would lean dispensational or in the discontinuity camp – including essays from John S. Feinberg, Paul D. Feinberg, Robert L. Saucy, Walter C. Kaiser, Allen P. Ross, and Douglas J. Moo.

The book is a tribute to S. Lewis Johnson– long time Bible teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary and Teaching pastor at Believer’s Chapel in Dallas, Texas (he went to be with the Lord on January 28, 2004). The beginning of the book and ending of the book contain some well written tributes from Sam Storms and John Sproule to Johnson and expound upon his outstanding attributes as a scholar, exegete of God’s Word, pastor, mentor, friend, and southern gentlemen – he was born in Birmingham, Alabama.

After a wonderful historical essay on the debate of continuity and discontinuity by Rodney Peterson the format of the book addresses issues related to six key areas: 1) Theological Systems and the Testaments; 2) Hermeneutics and the Testaments; 3) Salvation and the Testaments; 4) The Law and the Testaments; 5) The People of God and the Testaments; and 6) Kingdom Promises and the Testaments. Each of these six topics contains an essay from a continuity perspective followed by an essay from a discontinuity perspective.

Here are some of the issues addressed in the book:

Are Christians to see ethical dilemmas such as capital punishment and abortion enforced today?

Are Israel and the Church one or distinct today?

How do believers relate to the Old Testament law in practice today?

One of the points that became increasingly clear to me as I read this book was that the more one moves in the discontinuity direction, the more dispensational he is likely to become, and the more one moves in the direction of continuity, the more covenantal he will become.

This book is simply outstanding. It’s not an easy read – but well worth the effort. In my experience most people from both sides of the continuity/discontinuity continuum have a lot to learn from one another and this book helps people in either camp come closer to the center in balancing how to effectively understand and interpret the two Testaments of the Scriptures. I highly recommend this book to help you become a more effective interpreter of the Scriptures and lover of Jesus Christ at the center of it all.

 

 

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Book Review: Four Views On The Spectrum of Evangelicalism – Edited by David Naselli and Collin Hansen

A Scintillating Dialogue on Evangelicalism Historically and in the Present

I love the format of the “Views” books in that they allow the reader to wrestle with and think about crucial issues that oftentimes divide Christians. Instead of having the bias of one author – you get to see an offensive and defensive articulation of each view and weigh the evidence based on the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence given by each author. This new offering in the “Views” series particularly addresses important aspects that unite and divide “evangelicals.” An evangelical is someone who holds to the “good news” as declared from the Scriptures. However, what is the good news? What are the uniting factors of the good news? And what are the boundaries required in disseminating the message, and uniting around the good news in order to penetrate society with the gospel?

The reason this book and the issues are so important is that what is at stake in all of this discussion is the heart of the gospel, and if there is no agreement on the gospel than unity is ultimately a vain pursuit, and the power of the gospel is squelched in isolated enclaves, rather than in a unified front.

In this book the panel of experts specifically focus on three areas in evaluating the spectrum of evangelicalism:

1) They evaluate their views on Christian cooperation with respect to Evangelicals and Catholics in evaluating the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement led by Charles Colson and the late John Neuhaus, which began in the 1990’s. Also, they address the more recent Manhattan Declaration in order to bring more clarity to cooperation among social and theological concerns.

2) They evaluate doctrinal boundaries – what are the “essentials” that make one a doctrinally sound evangelical – specifically with reference to the recent debates over “open” theism (does God know the future).

3) They explain their specific views on key issues related to the atonement with specific reference what it means that Christ took on God’s wrath meant for sinners.

The Four Distinct Views Presented Are:

View #1: Fundamentalism – Kevin T. Bauder (Research Professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis)

View #2: Confessional Evangelicalism – R. Albert Mohler Jr. (President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville)

View #3: Generic Evangelicalism – John G. Stackhouse Jr. (Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada)

View #4: Postconservative Evangelicalism – Roger E. Olson (Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University)

After each writer presents his view there is a response from each of the others with insightful commentary on the others’ views. I found this book to be historically enriching, doctrinally thought provoking, and challenging in its ecclesiological and sociological implications. I hope this book will summon a wide reading and will help balance the thinking, behavior, and unity of all who care about being an evangelical – and more importantly getting the gospel right so that we may speak it and live it boldly in a world that desperately needs to know Jesus and what it means to be a part of His body on earth.

 

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