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What Pastor Blair Has Been Reading (from April 2018 through June 2018)

What Pastor Blair Has Been Reading

(from April 2018 through June 2018)


Brand, Chad. Flourishing Faith: A Baptist Primer on Work, Economics, and Civic Stewardship. Grand Rapids: Christian’s Library Press, 2012.


This book is within a series on how various denominations view the concepts of work and government. Brand writes from the standpoint of a committed Baptist. He provides an adequate historical overview of a theology of work, wealth, government and political economy. And at the conclusion he surveys the Baptist understanding of these topics. However, the chapters read much like a presentation at a conference. They are a broad overview with the author’s own select interpretation of events. I have no problem with that, but the chosen examples while supportive of his argument are vague enough to be interpreted differently. At a few points he sounded more like conservative talk radio that a scholar. I think I will need to read the other books in the series before assessing the merits of this one.


Gonzalez, Justo. The Story of Christianity: Vol. 2, The Reformation to the Present Day. New York: Harper One, 2010.


This is the new revised and updated version of Justo Gonzalez’s Story of Christianity. After using the older version, I read through this newer one as I taught Church History at Legacy Bible College. It is just as dependable as the previous edition. God’s design for history is much more intricate than we casually observe and Gonzalez captures that idea. He draws out the political as well as the theological. The author writes very well in way that the laymen can understand. In my opinion, Gonzalez is still the standard in reasonably priced two-volume historical surveys.


Fuller, Andrew (ed. Michael A.G. Haykin). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Vol. IV: Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Pearce. Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin, 2017.


This edition is the fourth volume in the new The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller published by De Gruyter. Among his writings, perhaps only The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation ranks higher than Fuller’s memoir of Samuel Pearce. The book was very popular throughout the nineteenth century. And the reasons why are very apparent in Fuller’s account of his friend. The biography reads as well today as it did when it was originally published. Samuel Pearce (1766-1799) was the pastor of the Cannon Street Baptist Chapel in Birmingham, England. He was celebrated for his exemplary preaching. Few could match his pathos for the exaltation of Jesus Christ. But he was most noted for his tireless support of Baptist foreign missions. At one point he had designs to be a missionary to India, but his friends counseled him to remain in Britain as he would serve the cause better by raising support. As he was contemplating his decision, he kept a private journal. Fuller includes excerpts of the diary that reveal the heart of a man who desired to see the gospel preached in the unreached places. Pearce consistently resolved his soul to the disposal of the Lord so that God might be glorified among those who did not know him. He taught himself Bengali, writing, ‘the thought of exalting the redeemer in this language is a spur to my application paramount to every discouragement for want of a living tutor’. Fuller confesses after reading the journal, even his friends wondered if they had made a mistake in requesting that he remain at home. In addition, the biography contains correspondence between Pearce’s friends that demonstrate his pastoral heart. There are letters to church members, fellow pastors, missionaries and even those who were struggling with their faith. Pearce was passionate about the Bible, passionate about missions, passionate about souls and most of all passionate about his savior.


Leahy, Frederick. The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Suffering of the Redeemer. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2015.


Frederick Leahy was the professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological College in Belfast. This book is exactly what the title suggests- mediations on Christ’s sufferings. There were several ideas that the author raised in my mind that I had not considered. Probably the greatest was the sheer brutality of the Sanhedrin toward Jesus. I had never considered just how wicked their actions and how great their hostility directed at our Lord when at the worst should have been compassion for a man they considered to be deranged. But, alas, such is the darkness of man’s heart toward God. While I appreciated the sentiment of the book, I found the authors over use of quotations to be very distracting. There were so many that at times I longed for an original thought from the writer.


Mahaney, Carolyn & Nicole Whitacre. True Beauty. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.


What is beautiful and who defines beauty? Those are the questions that Carolyn Mahaney and her daughter, Nicole Whitacre seek to answer in this book for women. Ladies are bombarded with images and concepts that tell them this is ideal. And yet, that standard is always changing in the eyes of society. But there is one who never changes. And he is the one that gets to define beauty. Mahaney and Whitacre point to God and they remind us just how beautiful He is in all His ways. This a timely and brief book for women. It is highly engaging. Sharon Moorhead gave me this book and told me I might like to read it for my daughters. I am so glad she did. This is a book I highly recommend for family.


Murray, John. O Death, Where Is They Sting? Philadelphia: Westminster Seminary Press, 2017.


Rarely does a book live up to the hype, but this one does. John Murray was a Scottish theologian and one of the founders of Westminster Seminary. Recently, the school found some of Murray’s sermons from the 1950s and had them transcribed to be published in this book. Scholars familiar with Murray’s work have praised these new findings. They are rare gems indeed. Murray captures the depth of the New Testament teachings and brings glory to Christ. I found myself challenged, uplifted and exalting my savior as I read these sermons. I can see why Murray was influential to so many men during this period.


Needham, Nick. 2000 Years of Christ’s Power: Vol. 4, The Age of Religious Conflict. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2016.


When I first heard of this Christian history set, I was somewhat skeptical. It was being touted as a great resource for home schoolers and I thought it might be beneath the professional historian. I was wrong. This is a well-designed survey covering the major events of Church since the first century. I was able to use it to supplement material for the college class that I teach. I doubt that the series will supplant Gonzalez or Woodbridge in academic use, but it is certainly the best survey for home use. [My review is based upon the fourth volume. I haven’t read the other three volumes yet but I presume they are equally well done]. I highly recommend this work.


O’Donnell, Douglas Sean. The Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.


This book is from the Preaching the Word expository commentary series edited by R. Kent Hughes. The format of this commentary are sermons that were preached through an entire book of the Bible. After reading O’Donnell’s book on Wisdom last year, I was really looking forward to seeing how he preached through the Song. I was slightly disappointed. I know in a public setting like a worship service the author could not be as explicit as the Hebrew text. But O’Donnell avoided a good bit of it entirely. And at times, though he presented practical advice, he did not always draw his opinion from the text. I had higher hopes.


Roseveare, Helen. Count it All Joy. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2017.


Helen Roseveare was a missionary in the Congo. She had the privilege to suffer many trials in the cause of Christ. And when she came home, she spent the rest of her life encouraging others to go in to missions. She died in 2016. And this is her last book. I had read many of these anecdotes in other books. But this time she told them through the lens of James 1:2, ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds’. She writes with brutal honesty about her experiences. Sometimes the joy was not immediate (she even speaks of feeling guilt for not having it). But now, over a lifetime, she can look back and see the joy of God working through her and in her. This is a short, but vastly encouraging book that I commend to you.


Vaughan, Curtis. Colossians and Philemon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980.


Recently, I took over a Sunday School class to teach Paul’s letter to the Colossians. I pulled out my old copy of Vaughan on Colossians to assist me (This should not be confused with the authors other commentary on Colossians within the Expositors Bible Commentary series). I am glad I did. It was like reading an old friend. Vaughan is conservative in his approach and very practical. It is easy to read and accessible to the layman. It demonstrates why Vaughan was a vanguard of inerrancy at Southwestern Seminary in the 1980s. If you can find a copy, I would highly suggest having it on your shelf.


Washer, Paul. The Gospel Call and True Conversion. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2013.


This is the second volume of Paul Washer’s Recovering the Gospel series. Washer has assembled sixteen sermons that answer what is regeneration and what should be its effects. The book is divided into three parts; how one is called by the gospel, the new heart of the converted and what it means to be the legitimate people of God. The author is highly theological and Biblical in his reasoning. He completely demolishes any sense that mankind participates in his own salvation. It is a thorough examination of the subject and will be a blessing to anyone who struggles with assurance (I doubt someone who is not converted will suffer through it).


Witmer, Timothy. The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2010.


This is one of the better books on what it means to be an elder within the church. In the first section first surveys the Biblical and historical foundations of eldership. Then he outlines the four main tasks of what an elder – to know, to lead, to food and to protect the Lord’s sheep. And in the final section he gives practical advice in how to implement this strategy. It was well written and easy to comprehend. I was very encouraged by Witmer. It will be a valuable resource in training new elders.