The Expansion of Evangelicalism: the Age of Wilberforce, More, Chalmers, and Finney
John Wolffe, InterVarsity Press, 2007, ISBN 9780830825820, 280 pages, $23.00, hardcover.
This is the second volume in the five-part series: A History of Evangelicalism. This book begins by detailing the Clapham Sect, which inspired William Wilberforce's tireless efforts to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain. This has recently been given well-deserved attention by the film Amazing Grace. The moral impetus of that success spread across the Atlantic to forge the robust character of early American religion.
The book tells how Charles Finney's "New Measures" revivals energized religious life. These shifted emphasis away from the many sects taking shape in a newly settled region and focused it where it belonged, on the Savior and His ability to shape lives.
You can see the contrast between the women's movement of the nineteenth century and today's in this book. The pioneers of women's rights were Evangelical women. They worked to better society without losing focus on home and family, which were thought crucial to national welfare. Great female writers in that era were influenced by Evangelicalism, including Hannah More, the Bronte sisters and George Eliot (Marian Evans) and most notably, Harriet Beecher Stowe.
This author compressed stacks of material into a small space-you will not find a fluffy page. History often seems dry and unappealing. But careful reading of this book will reward you with a firm sense of how valuable Evangelicalism was to the development of our national character and renew your confidence in our faith.
Target: History Buffs
Type: Church History
Heresies and How to Avoid Them (Why It Matters What Christians Believe)
edited by Ben Quash and Michael Ward, Hendrickson Publishers, 2007, ISBN 9781598560138, 148 pages, $16.95, softcover.
Soon after the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, heresies began to creep into the early churches. While the apostles were alive they refuted these false teachings-largely by letters which now comprise the bulk of the New Testament.
However, when the apostles were dead, false teachers came in and tried to change the historical teachings of Christ and His apostles. Sometimes these apostates were well meaning; others purposely tried to impose their "knowledge" over that of revealed truth.
The major heresies addressed by the editors are Arianism (which taught that Jesus was a created being, not co-equal with God), Docetism (the holy Lord Jesus could not be human, since human flesh is inherently wicked), Pelagianism, which denied original sin, and Gnosticism, which taught a "higher truth," open only to initiates. The authors also discuss the Free Spirit heresy.
It is worth noting that all of these heresies persist in one form or another to this day.
Type: Church Apostasy
The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary
Tim LaHaye & Ed Hindson, gen. editors, Harvest House Publishers, 2006, ISBN 0736916903, 557 pages, $24.99, hardcover.
LaHaye and Hindson, both known for their premillennial, pre-wrath rapture position, have joined forces on this commentary on fulfilled and yet-to-be fulfilled prophecy.
Messianic prophecy begins in Genesis 3:15, which they see as an overview of God's war against humanity's sin, by promising a coming Redeemer. This prediction promises salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ and the eventual defeat of Satan and his forces at the end of the age.
The writers carefully distinguish between the blessings promised to Israel (the Jews) and those to the Church. They examine the New Testament passages that show God's purpose in temporarily setting aside the nation of Israel while He carries out His program through the Church. During this Church age God calls out a people until this dispensation has run its course. When the Church is taken out of this world (the rapture), the authors believe God's calendar will resume and He will purge the sins of Israel and visit judgment on those who have opposed and rejected His merciful offer of salvation.
The reader will find enlightening commentary on Daniel's Seventy Weeks, the revelation to Ezekiel concerning the eventual return of a Jewish remnant to the Promised Land, Isaiah's vision of the millennial blessing to Israel, and Zechariah's vision of the Messianic Kingdom.
LaHaye and Hindson understand Jesus' Olivet Discourse as speaking primarily of Israel in the Tribulation after the Church has been (raptured). Shortly after this the Antichrist will make his appearance, set up a world government under his control, require everyone to receive his mark, and demand worship as God.
The final chapter, the authors conclude, will be when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to destroy Satan's works and to judge the unbelieving world. After an unprecedented one thousand years of peace and prosperity, Messiah (Jesus) will bring in everlasting righteousness. Sin will be no more. Redeemed humanity will spend eternity worshiping and serving God.
Take: Highly Recommended
Cross Purposes (Discovering the Great Love of God for You)
D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, Multnomah Publishers, 2007, ISBN 1590529693, 191 pages, $16.99, hardcover.
D. James Kennedy, who recently went to be with the Lord, and his associate, Jerry Newcombe, have collaborated to produce a series of short articles on our life in Christ. The articles elaborate on the meaning of the free gift of God's grace in response to humanity's sinfulness. to God's justice to the work of Christ in our redemption.
The writers show our need for redemption, commencing with Adam and Eve. God's justice demands a penalty for sin-of which all are guilty. The Holy Spirit inspired Old Testament writers to predict the way out of this dilemma: God Himself would come to earth, in the person of His Son, to bear the sin of humanity. Later, New Testament writers showed that the Jewish Passover was a precursor of Christ our Passover.
The Passover lamb had to be without blemish. Christ, our sinless Passover Lamb, fulfilled that Old Testament type, and when His enemies put Him to death on a cross, they unwittingly fulfilled God's plan to redeem humanity.
The Lord Jesus demonstrated by His work then and now that He indeed is "the way, the truth, and the life." All other gods and religions pale into insignificance.
Take: Highly Recommended