Book Review : The Moody Handbook of Theology

moodyhbIn order to become a true student of the Bible, it is necessary to take advantage of the wide array of study materials available today. A casual glance around most any book store will reveals shelves upon shelves of resources such as commentaries, handbooks, gospel harmonies, maps, charts, and concordances. Each of these resources is beneficial in their own way and serves to advance the biblical knowledge of the student. One particular work, The Moody Handbook of Theology by professor Dr. Paul Enns is celebrating its twenty-fifth year of circulation.

Dr. Enns has arranged his book in an easy to follow and find system. The nearly 800 page single volume is divided into five major parts:

1. Biblical Theology – the study of God’s revelation of Himself to man through His written Word. Subjects covered in this first part include Introduction to Old and New Testament Theology, Theology of the Patriarchal, Noahic, Mosaic, and Monarchial Eras, and Theologies of the Synoptics, Acts, Paul, Hebrews, and John.

2. Systematic Theology – the discipline of Christian study that compiles an orderly account of the Christian faith. Subjects covered in this second part include Bibliology, Theology Proper, Christology, Pneumatology, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology.

3. Historical Theology – the development of Christian theology throughout the centuries from its inception. Subjects covered in this third part include Ancient, Medieval, and Reformation Theologies.

4. Dogmatic Theology – the examination of the Christian doctrine in a systematic way through the lens of a specific church or theological position. Subjects in this fourth part include Calvinistic, Arminian, Covenant, and Dispensational Theologies.

5. Contemporary Theology – the study of Christian doctrine taking into account modern influences and trends. Subjects in this fifth part include Liberal, Socialist, Catholic, Conservative, Charismatic, Postmodern, and Reformed Theologies.

I really enjoyed this book. First, Enns’ choice of organizational style allows the reader to readily access a particular area of interest quickly. Second, he has included charts throughout the book that give a summary of the doctrine he is discussing; often in side-by-side format. This is helpful. As far as negatives, I would like to have seen more detail given to certain areas. This could have been a multi-volume work. It is that good. The final part, Contemporary Theology, could have been expanded. That being said, Enns told the reader in the preface that it would be impossible to deal exhaustively with the covered content. At the end of each section, Enns offers a “for further study” list of resources for deeper study. Enns’ work is solid and trustworthy. This book should be on your bookshelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review : Exploring Christian Theology

exploreWhen it comes to the word theology, images of dusty books, seminary classes, and Greek/Hebrew translation come to mind. Volumes upon volumes have been written in an attempt to explain and understand the nature of God. Dallas Theological Seminary professors Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel has offered a contribution with their joint effort, “Exploring Christian Theology; The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End Times”. The goal of their book is to make the very basic tenets of theology available to everyone. Their choice of doctrine to explore includes the church, sanctification, and end times study.

Exploring Christian Theology is written in two parts: Spiritual Growth and the Church (Holsteen) and End Times (Svigel). Each part is subdivided the same way containing the following elements: High Altitude Survey, Passages to Master, Retrospect, Facts to Never Forget, Dangers to Avoid, Principles to Put into Practice, Voices from the Past, and Shelf Space. What I enjoyed most were the Retrospect, High Altitude Survey, and Passages to Master sections in each part. The authors did a nice job of laying the proper historical groundwork so that a modern application could be made. Holsteen and Svigel’s commentary on the most prominent and familiar scripture passages within the section of writing was very helpful. Although this is a theology book, the authors chose not to use difficult language which makes the books very readable. This is a plus.

I had some minor issues with the book. The format of the book is counterproductive. It appears the authors desired to include as much information on their material as possible. The inclusion of unnecessary peripheral material takes away from what they set out to do. For example, there are 31 pages of quotes from authors, scholars, and church leaders from the time periods of their writing. The section on recommended and further reading could have been left out as well.

My greatest issue with this book is the simply the choice of subjects to be covered. Their goal was to cover the basic tenets of theology. For the time, space, and length of work the authors chose, I believe the three that were chosen are not the most basic of tenets. Doctrines such as Theology Proper (God), Christology (Jesus Christ), Harmatology (Sin), Soteriology (Salvation), and Pneumatology (Holy Spirit) would have been preferable if the goal was to provide the basics. As a pastor, if I were asked to recommend a theology book, it would not be this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Worth Repeating : James Montgomery Boice

“…if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. …Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father; and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.

Any gospel that talks merely of the Christ-event, meaning the Incarnation without the atonement, is a false gospel. Any gospel that talks about the love of God without pointing out that his love led him to pay the ultimate price for sin in the person of his Son on the cross is a false gospel. The only true gospel is of the ‘one mediator’, who gave himself for us.”

James Montgomery Boice

Worth Repeating : D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“God is not a subject for debate, because He is Who He is and What He is. We are told that the unbeliever, of course, does not agree with that; and that is perfectly true; but that makes no difference. We believe it, and it is part of our very case to assert it. Holding the view that we do, believing what we do about our God, we cannot in any circumstances allow Him to become a subject for discussion or of debate or investigation. I base my argument at this point on the word addressed by God Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-6). Moses had suddenly seen this remarkable phenomenon of the burning bush, and was proposing to turn aside and to examine this astonishing phenomenon. But, immediately, he is rebuked by the voice which came to him saying, ‘Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thy standest is holy ground.’ That seems to me to be the governing principle in this while matter. Our attitude is more important than anything that we do in detail, and as we are reminded in the Epistle to the Hebrews, God is always to approached ‘with reverence and with godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:28 and 29).

To me this is a very vital matter. To discuss the being of God in a casual manner, lounging in an armchair, smoking a pipe or cigarette or a cigar, is to me something that we should never allow, because God, as I say, is not a kind of philosophic X or a concept. We believe in the almighty, the glorious, the living God; and whatever may be true of others we must never put ourselves, or allow ourselves to be put, into a position in which we are debating about God as if He were but a philosophical proposition.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones from Preaching and Preachers, quoted by Jared C. Wilson in The Pastor’s Justification

Some Needed Structure

I enjoy writing. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others. Sharing what God is doing in my life as a pastor, husband, father, and student is the reason why I started The Road Less Traveled. Personally, I need structure. I need a schedule. I need something to keep me on track and focused. I guess that you could say that I need routine in my life. I don’t function well in its absence. Ask my wife. I order to be more disciplined in the craft that I love; writing, I am putting a sense of structure in place here. I hope to follow this “schedule”.

Monday. I will begin a new blog series entitled Missional Mondays. Each week I will share a story, church missions project, an article, a resource, or highlight some missions organization that is making a kingdom difference.

Tuesday. I am dedicating Tuesdays to book reviews. I enjoy reading immensely. I review books for several publishing companies (Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Waterbrook Press, and Bethany House to name a few). To keep a sense of order and expectation, I’ll post my reviews on Tuesday unless the review calls for a certain date.

Wednesday. Throughout the course of my reading, both recreational and in sermon preparation, I come across words that are “worth repeating”. Wednesdays will be dedicated to this discovery.

Thursday. Random thoughts. Maybe.

Friday. I enjoy giving away books that I have been given to me. As I have the opportunity, I will continue Free Book Fridays. I will also continue my devotional thoughts as a part of Friday is for Scripture.

Saturday and Sunday. Random thoughts. Maybe.

It is my prayer that you will be encouraged, blessed, challenged, enlightened, or inspired by something you read here at The Road Less Traveled. Thanks for stopping by.

Worth Repeating

“There are very few that ever gave this book of God, the grand character of salvation, one fair reading through: though we profess to have assented to the truth of scripture, as our Lord said, ‘In them we think we have eternal life,’ yet most read them as they would a proclamation, a romance, a play, or novels, that help only to bring them to the devil, but choose not to read God’s book, which is to be our guide to glory; ‘they are they (says Christ) which testify of me: ‘Lord God, convert and change our hearts.’” However, this was spoken in reference to the Old Testament, and certainly shews us, that Christ is the treasure hid in that field, yet, as there are equal proofs of the divinity of the New Testament, the word Holy Scriptures include both, especially as Christ is the antitype of all types, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of all divine revelation.”

George Whitefield, 1714-1770

A Must See Message

Back in January I was able to attend the Pastors Conference at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The theme for 2012 was “God in the Life of the Pastor”. This is a conference that I look forward to each year. The quality and calibre of the speakers enlisted is top-shelf. It has been my experience that the some of the most gifted and passionate pastors, seminary presidents, seminary professors, church planters, missionaries, convention presidents, mission board presidents, and evangelists have shared the stage in order to encourage hurting and discouraged pastors and layman who have made their way to FBC Jacksonville to be encouraged, motivated, loved on, and cared for. I know this for a fact. I have been one of those pastors who has limped into this conference just needing to be preached to. This year was no different. I have heard some great sermons at this conference. Adrian Rogers, Junior Hill, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, Mac Brunson, Johnny Hunt, Paige Patterson are just a few of the men who have blessed my heart tremendously. This year, I believe I heard one of, if not, the best message I have ever heard. Dr. David Allen, Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary delivered a message entitled “The Pastor and His Preaching”. As I sat and listened, I was amazed, encouraged, challenged, thankful, and hopeful. Below is Dr. Allen’s message from that day. I pray you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you Dr. Allen and Dr. Brunson.