Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quick Summaries of New Releases for April 2013

Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 
These are reviews for when you don't have all day 
to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.


Dykas, Ellen, editor. Harvest USA. Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2012. 199 Pages. $17.99. www.newgrowthpress.com (LHP)

+ Intended more for a guided group study than an individual reflecting on her own, Sexual Sanity for Women is a resource from Harvest USA for women struggling with sexual identity, co-dependency, and sexual sin. Wisdom from God's Word is the main focus, yet author Ellen Dykas shares common sense (that isn't always common) and some guidance from sociology and psychology. So many resources about sexual sin focus on men. Women struggle with sexual sin and temptation, too. I've learned over the years that "Boys are gross and girls are complicated." This is a necessary resource in our day and age. I can see this as a very helpful resource for a pastor or deaconness in ministry to women. Recommended!


Richards, Larry. The Full Armor of God: Defending Your Life from Satan's Schemes. Minneapolis: Chosen, 2012. 186 Pages. Paper. $12.99. www.chosenbooks.com (LHPN)

- Demons exist. Christ is stronger. He and has authority over demons and His Christians do, too, in His Name. This title is QBR's second experience with the writings of Larry Richards. We like his informed, yet conversational tone.  We reviewed a six-volume fiction series of his, unfavorably from the Lutheran confession of the Christian faith. The same theological differences between us remain with regard to demonology and angelology. In I am troubled by the teachings and practices of the Deliverance Movement (cf. 102, 137, et al) particularly this insight from David Powlison: "Although the practice of exorcism has enjoyed popularity at various times and places in church history, the use of exorcism as a means of accomplishing sanctification — or creating conditions for successful evangelism — is a recent innovation." Well said! While there is much to appreciate in how winsomely Richards teaches Ephesians 6, I cannot give this book our recommendation.


Cannings, Paul. Making Your Vision a Reality: Proven Steps to Develop and Implement Your Church Vision Plan. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2013. 170 Pages. Paper. $12.99. www.kregel.com (N)

- Author Paul Cannings makes an effort to put the church growth fad of "vision" into a Biblical context. Often, Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) is used to justify the practice: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." Many fall into this trap. Lutherans have been quick to point out that "revelation" or "God's Word" is what "vision" refers to in the verse, the very opposite of a man-made vision. I am not opposed to common sense. Good parking, lighting, and being friendly could help every Christian congregation. I take issue with most theologies of worship, because the focus on the Christian's response rather than God's action in Christ and the delivery of Christ's Gifts. (cf. 62ff). I have a problem with an overemphasis on what we do as Christians to grow the Church. Consider the words of C. Peter Wagner: "I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with the church-growth principles we've developed, or the evangelistic techniques we're using. Yet somehow they don't seem to work." (Ken Sidey, "Church Growth Fine Tunes Its Formulas," Christianity Today, June 24, 1991, p. 47). God gives the growth when the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us Christians by means of Word and Sacrament. There very well might be a book out there that can help my guide my congregation to plan for its current and future mission and ministry, but this is not it.


Rogers, Michael Allen. Foreword by Bryan Chapell. What Happens After I Die? Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 288 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

+ There are so many books we have so little time. What Happens After I Die? is one of the best on death, heaven, and the Last Things that I have read. This is the resource to buy and read to counter all of the "what heaven is really like" books that seem to have become a cottage industry among those who claim to have had near-death experiences. Personal, informed, comforting, and Biblical, Rogers' book is a great resource for pastors, Christians, and hospice ministry. He is a Calvinist, so I was intrigued by his Appendix reference to Calvin and Luther: "Calvin has had four centuries of sweet heavenly fellowship with his fellow-reformer Martin Luther (and we assume they solved their dispute over the Lord's Table moments after meeting at the feet of Jesus" ( parentheses original, 268). Theology is always solved quickest when we hold to what Jesus said rather than what we think He meant. Ultimately, whether we die, or are alive, Christians are "in Christ" (201). Highly Recomended.


Miller, Thomas A., M.D. Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? A Surgeon-Scientist Examines the Evidence. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 176 Pages. Paper. $16.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

+ Also commended to you for your education and edification is another Crossway title by Dr. Thomas Miller. The short answer to the title's question is, "Yes." It is relatively common for lawyers (cf. 116ff) to write books on apologetics (sometimes after beginning a project to "refute" Christianity). I loved reading this apologetic written by an M.D. Readers will appreciate the diagrams (e.g., 74) and the author's helpful clarification that "hand" in the ancient world also included the wrist (74). This book is not merely clinical or medical. The author presents the death and Resurrection of Christ for the reader's own forgiveness, life, and salvation (147ff, passim).


More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 



The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.