Mini Reviews #3

July 7, 2011

Here’s another batch of mini-reviews, taking care of some books that have occupied my nightstand (and travel bag) this summer:

Lions of Kandahar by Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from cover to cover. It was a bit of a diversion for me as I usually read books on theology or Christian living or biography. I selected this book to review through Amazon Vine because I wanted to stretch myself a bit. Consider me stretched. What I love about this book is that Rusty Bradley, an active-duty Special Forces Commander and Kevin Maurer, an AP journalist, carefully take us through an epic firefight in Kandahar province. For someone who knows little about military lingo or strategy, this book was a delightful read. The authors were explanatory of situations, protocol, weapons, etc. It gave me such an appreciation for the men and women who risk their lives in places like Afganistan. I also appreciated the cultural sensitivity the soldiers demonstrate in fighting alongside the Afghan National Army. This is a thrilling, educational, and exciting read. My only caution is that, like most war books, there is some salty language.

Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman.

I picked this book up at the Gospel Coalition National Conference. As a preacher of the Word, I had great hopes for this book. I am grateful for the ministry of 9Marks, who co-published this book. Mark Dever and 9 Marks have done excellent work on church polity. Many pastors rely on their expertise and counsel.

I’m delighted to read books that spell out the powerful effects of gospel-centered preaching of the Word of God. So I agree with it’s premise. I believe it’s a needed book for our times.

But I must say that I was slightly disappointed in the tone that Leeman took at times. He took big swipes at the evangelical Church in America, leaving the reader with the impression that very few churches preach the Word, most are interested in attractional and hollow methods, and that only a select few get it right. This wasn’t helpful. Where Jonathan clearly spells out the theology and methodology of delivering the Word, the book was powerful and strong. But where Jonathan critiques other churches, the book is weak, in my view. Weak in that it seems to unnecessarily hammer churches who don’t do it exactly as he would have them do it. Believe it or not, churches may differ slightly in style, and there are many where the Word is not primary, but there are also many who faithfully preach the Word.

This may not have been the intent and perhaps this is only my opinion, but I felt the book would have been stronger had the author stuck to a positive prescription for advancing the Word in our churches, affirming the many pastors who labor weekly and encouraging churches big and small toward greater faithfulness to the Scriptures. Still this is a good read by a terrific ministry.

Politics According to the Bible – Wayne Grudem.

I was excited when this book came out, because knowing Grudem’s thorough style and reputation as a trusted teacher of theology, I was sure we would be getting a book that applied the Scriptures to today’s political issues.

In many places this is the case. For instance, Grudem’s chapter on capitalism is terrific, advancing the idea that in a fallen world, the best among flawed systems seems to be capitalism. He offers biblical wisdom from across the Scriptures. In many cases and in many issues, this is the case.

But I must say I was highly disappointed at the partisan nature of this book. I think it slightly mars what could be a powerful resources. I wish he would not have included a chapter on the current President. I felt he injected highly personal views here. I was hoping Grudem would have simply laid out the biblical arguments on the issues and let the reader decide. I was also disappointed that Grudem seemed to inject personal opinions in areas where the Bible is unclear, specifically immigration policy and other more gray areas. The title says, Politics According to the Bible. With Grudem’s considerable reputation as a stalwart of faithful evangelical theology, folks will assume that all he says here is straight from the Scriptures. In most places that is the case, but in some cases, especially at the end, you will see it is merely politics according to Grudem. I fear that those who disagree politically with the Republican Party might not consider this book because of its overt advancement of one party’s agenda. That being said, it is still a worthwhile resource, something I’m glad to have in my library and something I recommend every pastor purchase.