Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bonhoeffer (Abridged) - By Eric Metaxas

Having read the unabridged Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas I was interested to see that there was an abridged version and was curious to see how the abridged version would compare to the original.  It was a nice attempt, but it definitely isn't even half as good.  For one thing, it seemed choppy at parts, for instance, at one point, the Nazi party is a small minority party in the government and then all of a sudden Hitler is in power. As far as I can recollect, It didn't really talk about the growth of the Nazis like the other one did.  I understand that in order for it to be 'abridged' lots of things would have to be 'cut', but I thought that it should have had a little bit more of the background of what was going on politically in Germany just for clarities sake.  And another example of its 'choppiness' was where Bonhoeffer declares that he won't go to the 'Fano' conference if a particular 'Reich-church' leader went too, and then we find that Bonhoeffer goes to the conference, but I didn't notice any mention of whether or not that 'Reich-church' leader was there. 

This all just my opinion, and it may just be that my knowledge of what's missing biases me towards the fuller account.  You might want to look at a review by someone who hasn't read the original to see what they thought of it, it may not seem as choppy to them.  Ultimately, you get a pretty good overview of the events of his life, and I still have the same caution towards his view of Catholicism, like I mentioned in my review of the unabridged account of his life, it seems that he may have thought that the beliefs of Catholicism were accurate enough that the people who hold to them are saved.  It makes me a bit nervous of what he actually believed about the salvation of God.  If he actually loved Roman Catholics, then he would try to explain to them what God's word actually says about there being only one Mediator between us and God, and how our works will not save us, earn us any points before God, nor will the 'merits' of the saints give us any 'clout' before God.  God Himself provided us Righteousness in His Son Jesus Christ.   

All in all, I just felt that one didn't get 'acquainted' with Bonhoeffer in this abridgement, it was more like a recounting of events in his life rather than a look at what was going on in the man himself.  But again, some people may like summaries. 
I received a free review copy of this book from the Booklook blogger program in exchange for my review which did not have to be favorable.
This book may be purchased from Amazon and Thomas Nelson's site.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Polycarp: a destroyer of our gods - by Rick Lambert

I've started a shadow blog that sounds more like a 'theological' blog than a 'cooking blog'.  I'll still keep this one up as my 'main' blog, but I do want to recommend a Christian novel that just came out, Polycarp: A destroyer of our gods - by Rick Lambert: You can read my review on my other blog, HERE 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Evangelism Study Bible

http://store.kregel.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=3404The Evangelism Study Bible is intended to help with Evangelism.  It has a lot of footnotes, commenting on the relevance of many verses to evangelism.  It also contains various charts explaining/expounding on certain topics, like the fruit of the spirit, the whole armor of God…etc.  There are many 'commentary' boxes, discussing various evangelism related topics, that are inserted throughout the Bible as well.  One in particular I appreciated dealt with the question, "Do You Have to Know the Date You Were Saved?", and it deals with the source of our assurance of our salvation being Christ, "…when Scripture speaks of salvation, it goes back to a fact, not a date.  If you are trusting in Christ alone, you are saved, regardless of when the divine transaction took place…..The one who saved us gives us security, not the 'when' of our salvation." I also appreciate that many of the footnotes remind us that, though we are privileged to serve God by giving out the Gospel, we are not responsible for anyone's conversion, salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit, He can convince/change people's hearts, and we cannot do that. 

I haven't read/looked at many topical Bibles, and I don't really like the concept of a topical Bible.  I think that they have the tendency to distract from what the various texts of the Bible are actually saying, and rather than exegesis, I think they probably promote more eisegesis  .  I have found my misgivings justified by this Evangelism Bible.  Here are some examples:  in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul writes:  "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:  On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside…"  The footnote for theses verses reads, "We are to give financially to promote God's work.  Some of those finances should be specifically designated for evangelism.  Jesus taught a basic principle in Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34 - our hearts follow our treasure.  Investing in non-Christians encourages a heart that cares for unbelievers."  Paul said nothing about evangelism in these verses, rather, he is talking about caring for the needs of fellow believers.  The emphasis of the Scriptures is on loving our fellow believers in  Christ, and cultivating that love, and this is emphasized so much that it appears that it ought to be our priority, rather than our love for unbelievers.  We love unbelievers of course, but our priority is to love our family in Christ, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another. (Joh 13:35)

And a second example, in their comments on Phil. 1:6 which says, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;"  They write, "'You' is plural.  Paul was not referring to their individual spiritual growth, but rather to their work together in spreading the gospel.  We should keep this perspective in mind in our own evangelistic efforts - working together produces greater results than working alone."  Huh?  That sounds to me like a ridiculous conclusion.  Of course 'you' was plural! He was writing to the Philippian church which consisted of several people, not just one person.  That does not mean that Paul was not speaking about their spiritual growth/sanctification/work of salvation.    The editors of the notes in this Bible may be a bit too biased on the 'theme' of this Bible, or, to put it in an odd way, too focused on Evangelism, which makes me wary of their ability to truly exegete the Scriptures. And I'm sure that this would be the case for me in in regards to any topical Bible. 

All in all, I've not seen anything about this Bible that changes my opinion on topical Bibles.  It's okay, but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. 

Many thanks to Kregel Academic and Ministry for sending me a free copy of this Bible for me to review (My review did not have to be favorable.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

HCSB Large Print - Personal Size Reference Bible(Brown Leather-touch)

The first time I remember hearing about the HCSB translation was in John Macarthur's book: 'SLAVE: The hidden truth about your identity in Christ', in which this translation is used because it translates 'doulos' literally as 'slave' rather than the less accurate translation of 'servant' or 'bondservant'.  That made me curious to take a better look at the translation.  This translation uses "Optimal Equivalence" as the translation method which they consider to be a careful cross between formal equivalence an dynamic/functional equivalence.  Also, the translators do not give in to gender neutrality, as they mention in their 'introduction':  "…the translators have not changed 'him' to 'you' or to 'them,'  neither have they avoided other masculine words such as 'father' or 'son' by translating them in generic terms…" 

There were some specific things that I looked for, in particular the usage of other translations of the Old Testament for textual criticism.  In Genesis 4:8 instead of the verse reading , "And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field…"( ASV) it relies upon the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, Syriac and Vulgate and reads, "Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' And while they were in the field…"  Including that statement there is added clarity, and, though not in the Masoretic text, it has numerous supports in other available texts.  They support their translation choices/sources with footnotes explaining where the variants are taken from and also to give alternate readings that are not found in the Masoretic text of the OT.  I did appreciate that, unlike the NIV, at Isaiah 7:14 where it says "the virgin will conceive…" they do not have a footnote saying "or young woman".  But I didn't like that, unlike the NIV, in Psalm 40 where they follow the Masoretic wording of "my ears you have opened" they don't include a footnote mentioning that other ancient translations like the LXX read "body you have prepared for me".   

It reads in a sort of cross between modern English and a more literal style, though I think it is leaning more towards a literal translation which I appreciate.  But overall, I think I like the translation.   Oh, I also liked how they converted measurements into feet, inches, miles…etc.  It makes it easier to picture. 

And now, as for the external/material things,  the binding of this version was silky smooth, and I like the simple yet decorative cover.   On the inside the font is nice and large and easily readable, even the footnotes are a nice size.  This Bible has a topical concordance at the back and at the beginning a summary of God's plan for salvation in which I particularly liked some of their wording for instance, "First, God says we must repent.  The word 'repent' means a change of direction.  This means when we turn to God, we are turning away from sin and giving up on the attempt to make ourselves right before God." 

Many thanks to B&H publishers for sending me a free copy of this Bible to review!(My review did not have to be favorable)
This Bible may be purchased on Amazon and on the B&H Publishing Group website