Review of ‘What Does the Bible Say About Suffering?’ by Brian Han Gregg


Brian Han Gregg, What Does the Bible Say About Suffering? (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016). “Suffering is one of the great universals of human life,” Brian Han Gregg writes in What Does the Bible Say About Suffering? For the Christian, the experience of suffering poses a difficult theological question: “Why has my God, who is both wholly good and completely powerful, allowed this to unfold?” To answer that question, Gregg turns to the Bible and outlines its response. Or perhaps I should say responses (plural), for Gregg argues that “there is no single way forward,” as far as the … Continue reading Review of ‘What Does the Bible Say About Suffering?’ by Brian Han Gregg

Review of ‘Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?’ (revised edition) by John Fea


John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction, rev. ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2016). Few questions in American politics generate as much controversy as the relationship between church and state. On one side are … Continue reading Review of ‘Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?’ (revised edition) by John Fea

Review of ‘Growing Young’ by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin


Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin, Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016). “Multiple studies highlight that 40 to 50 percent of youth group seniors—like the young people in your church—drift from God and the faith community after they graduate from high school.” Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin cite this statistic at the outset of their new book, Growing Young. The statistic alarmed me both because I am a minister concerned about trends that affect the church and also because I am a father … Continue reading Review of ‘Growing Young’ by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin

Review of ‘Does God Love Everyone?’ by Jerry L. Walls


Jerry L. Walls, Does God Love Everyone? The Heart of What Is Wrong with Calvinism (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2016).  The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of Calvinism among American evangelicals. This resurgence is especially evident within the Southern Baptist Convention, which historically has been and still is divided over the issue. However, it has also made its presence felt in Pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God, which do not have historic ties to Calvinism. By Calvinism, I mean specifically the doctrine of salvation that is commonly explained by means of the acronym, TULIP: T = Total … Continue reading Review of ‘Does God Love Everyone?’ by Jerry L. Walls

What I’m Reading Today


American Views on Terrorism: 15 Years after 9/11 “When asked how likely they think they would be the victim of a terrorist attack, most Americans believe they are either “not really” (52%) or “not at all likely” (20%) to be victims. However, almost a quarter believe it is “somewhat likely” (23%). This is a relatively large number…” ‘Consensus Statement’ to Force MDs to Kill/Abort With Wesley J. Smith, I’m flabbergasted by a recent bioethicists’ statement that suggests physicians should not be given a conscientious exemption from participating in euthanasia and abortion, where those practices are legal. Massachusetts: Churches may be … Continue reading What I’m Reading Today

The Radical Impermanence of the World and the Permanence of Christian Love


Today is the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. The Friday after 9/11, I wrote this devotional for my church. Providentially, in this devotional, I was working my way through 1 Corinthians 13 that week, Scripture’s “love chapter.” I’m reposting that devotional today because, fifteen years later, it still expresses my heart and mind in the light of that horrific event. OPENING PRAYER This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! O God, grant us a vision of this city, fair as it might be: a city of justice, where none shall prey upon the other; … Continue reading The Radical Impermanence of the World and the Permanence of Christian Love

Review of ‘Mission in the Early Church’ by Edward L. Smither


Edward L. Smither, Mission in the Early Church: Themes and Reflections (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2014). The aim of Mission in the Early Church is “to begin a discussion about early Christian mission that will impact how we think about and approach mission today” (p. 1). Its author—Edward L. Smither associate professor of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina—pursues this aim by providing “an introductory reflection on some prominent marks of Christian mission in the early church” (p. 5), including suffering, evangelism, Bible translation, contextualization, word and deed, and the church. Smither’s treatment of these themes is … Continue reading Review of ‘Mission in the Early Church’ by Edward L. Smither

Review of ‘NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible’ edited by John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener


NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, ed. John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). One of the fundamental rules of biblical interpretation is that the Bible should be read in context. A corollary to this is that taking the Bible out of context is a great error. Bible readers should strive to do the former and avoid the latter. Context changes everything, you see. The problem is that our cultural context is not the cultural context of the Bible’s original writers, hearers, and readers. For example, the story of Abraham (Genesis 12:1ff.) took place 4,000 years … Continue reading Review of ‘NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible’ edited by John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener