Archives For Harry Monroe

Surviving and Thriving in SeminaryThe thought that kept recurring as I read Surviving and Thriving in Seminary was this: I wish I had read this book – or one like it – as I prepared to head off to seminary. The practical insights found here might have saved me much frustration and countless mistakes. Perhaps even more importantly, they would have helped me gain more value from my seminary experience.

The authors, Daniel Zacharias and Benjamin Forrest, of this brief book – most readers will finish it in a couple of settings — are both seminary professors and seminary graduates, and the work reflects their experiences as both students and as teachers of students. They understand the great value of seminary for preparing people for ministry, but they also understand that seminary is a three-year (or more) grind that can leave those that run the gauntlet exhausted and embittered. A fair number drop out. This work is designed to address seminary’s challenges, and the book is ideal for those either on the verge of enrolling or for those who are in their first year.

The work is…

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The word “ministry” contains within it the idea of service, and to some it may come as an unexpected surprise that even ministers struggle with the pull of seeking status or striving illegitimately after ambition as we pursue our careers  –  uh, I mean callings. However, the fact that we are ministers does not remove us from a world in which both nature and nurture often orient us in another way. In fact, having been so oriented toward the pursuit of self, we might even be prone to ignore and justify it in our ministries for Christ. In Servant of All, Craig C. Hill examines the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament regarding leadership, providing us with a biblical call to examine the way we view ourselves and ministry.

Dr. Hill, who is dean and professor of New Testament at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, laments that those studying the Bible often do so with an eye toward theology, thus missing the practical teaching related to the doctrinal…

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Shortly after beginning my first pastorate, I was called upon to help a family in the midst of making decisions about declining medical treatment. Realizing that there was some difference of opinion among family members, as well as uncertainty about what the hospital would be willing to accommodate, I knew that I would need to have clarity with regard to what my pastoral counsel should be. I would also need to be able to communicate that counsel compassionately and convincingly to a hurting family.

Of course, I had thought about those issues in the abstract, but being confronted with a real situation was different, and I have to confess that I initially felt completely lost. Fortunately, a former seminary professor answered my late night call and walked me through the issues, helping me to apply biblical truth to my specific situation. While I am grateful for that professor, it occurs to me that I could have also been helped by a book such as Introducing Christian Ethics, a newly published book written…

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Language of SalvationBook Review:  The Language of Salvation: Discovering the Riches of What it Means to be Saved, by Victor Kuligin

While leading a weekly Bible study in Namibia, Victor Kuligan saw that Paul’s letter to the Romans described salvation in rich, multi-faceted ways often missed in the modern church. Out of that conviction, he has given to us this marvelous little book, The Language of Salvation, outlining 13 different facets of the jewel that we call salvation.

Most, if not all, of the concepts that the author outlines will not be new to any knowledgeable evangelical, but Kuligan has provided a fresh look at the doctrines related to salvation by asking the reader to see them as all being of one piece. Thus, he would call us away from seeing salvation primarily in terms of, for example, the biological language of regeneration, the courtroom language of justification, or the family language of adoption. Instead, he wants us to hold all of these portrayals of salvation together in order to see the riches that God has given us in Christ.

While the book is doctrinal in nature, Kuligin seeks to be…

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practical shepherdingWhether moving into a solo pastor situation immediately following seminary studies or other preparation, or transitioning into a senior pastor position after serving on staff, many pastors have the experience of seeing their own initial sense of confidence evaporate before the demands, sometimes unexpected, of every day pastoral ministry. While some will blame inadequacies in their seminary preparation, to be fair, it is likely not possible for some things to be learned prior to being thrust into actual ministry experience. Nonetheless, those wanting to develop important ministry skills, or those wishing to improve them, can use mentors, whether personal or literary, in those early days of ministry.

The Practical Shepherding series, published by Zondervan and edited by Brian Croft, Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, seeks to help fill this need. Projected ultimately as seven slim books, most of which will be published later this year, the series begins publication with two short works that will benefit pastors in the early days of ministry, as well as their more experienced colleagues looking for either a refresher or a different perspective on ministry concerns.

Comfort the Grieving: Ministering…

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Reference works that provide information about the geography and archeological findings related to the New Testament often do not adequately relate that material to the life of Jesus in an orderly and readable manner that brings the gospel material to life. Jesus, a Visual History seeks to fill that gap, and the work has virtues that will be appreciated by many readers, though deficiencies in the work may cause many to look for other resources.

The narrative of the book is focused around a harmonization of the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. While a typical harmony of the gospels would be more lengthy and address critical issues at length, this work provides a more cursory overview while augmenting the telling of the gospel story with a vast array of photographs, pictures, maps, charts, and explanations of archaeological findings and brief histories of areas that Jesus visited. The most compelling chapters of the book, which form a parenthesis interrupting the overview of the life of Jesus, provide a history and travel guide to Jerusalem and the temple mount, covering timeframes going back to King David through the intertestamental…

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These two volumes advocate the views of the Christian Counseling Coalition, which sets out to “help us regain our confidence in God’s Word as sufficient to address the real life issues that we face today.” Mr. Kellemen, who authored Gospel-Centered Counseling and is the editor of Scripture and Counseling, is the Executive Director of that organization.

Mr. Kellemen, as well as the other authors represented here, is concerned that the church has unwisely turned over the care of souls to professionals outside the church. They contend that this capitulation to the philosophies and methodologies of modern psychology has at its root a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of scripture to provide what is necessary for life and godliness. While it is not denied that secular psychology produces research and ideas that can be valuable to the church, it is argued that it is important to recognize that many of the approaches developed by modern psychology rest on assumptions that contradict Christian teaching. As a result, while Christian counselors almost always claim to be integrating psychological insights with biblical Christianity, one often finds inundation rather than integration. With many well-meaning…

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Commentary SetPreaching pastors and Bible students should be thrilled with this update of what already was an exceptional Bible reference resource. Now a five volume work (with the last volume supplying a number of helpful indices), Zondervan and revision editor Moises Silva have produced in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE) what could become a go to reference resource for any pastor preparing to preach or teach from a New Testament text. While this is a solid academic work, the updated organization of the materials makes this a most useful work for the pastor’s study.

Indeed, while pastors will look to NIDNTTE primarily for New Testament exegesis, much use could be made of it for preaching from the Old Testament, as well. In providing careful studies of New Testament Greek words, the work covers the use of the same terms in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced in the second century B.C.). Thus, the scripture index takes just over 100 pages to list references in this work to the Old Testament.

Originally published in German, this work first appeared in English in…

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Biblical Portraits of CreationWhile perhaps understandable, it is also unfortunate that many Christians and churches only take on the biblical topic of Creation for the purpose of debating the relationship between the Genesis account and scientific views of origins. The result of that focus is that many Christians lack an awareness of the subject of creation as a source of worship of the Creator, as well as a foundation for understanding much of God’s work in redeeming us and ultimately making all things new. In Biblical Portraits of Creation, Walter Kaiser and Dorington Little seek to correct that deficiency with a series of short essays glorifying our Creator God.

Anyone opening this book looking for a technical response to challenges from evolutionists or higher critics will be largely disappointed. For the most part, these short pieces ignore that ongoing argument and instead focus on various texts dealing with Creation that inspire the reader to worship God and appreciate His work of Creation and all that it entails. Only two of the 19 chapters give primary focus to the early chapters of Genesis. Others focus on texts that deal with Creation…

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Gods Super ApostlesA team of trained Alpine skiers scaled Mt. Everest in an effort to rout the throne of a demon thought to have territorial control over a large swath of planet earth, and another group climbed the hill famous for the “Hollywood” sign in southern California while reciting a “divorce decree” intended to separate another demon named Baal from control over the entertainment industry. While these stories may tempt the reader to simply dismiss those involved as cranks, doing so would be a mistake. As documented in the soon to be released God’s Super Apostles by journalist Holly Pivec and theology professor R. Douglas Geivert, the New Apostolic Revolution (NAR) is a worldwide movement with the support of churches and organizations with as many as 3 million people in the United States. Pastors should be aware of the teachings and dangers of this movement.

Central to the NAR is the notion that churches and Christians must submit to the authority of modern day apostles and prophets if they are to be included in God’s plans for the expansion of His kingdom. These apostles, self-described as generals, and…

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Forgive UsAs American culture has become less deferential, not to mention at times more hostile, to traditional Christianity, a variety of theories as to what has gone wrong and how it should be fixed have been set forth. The four authors of “Forgive Us” – Mae Elise Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Troy Jackson, and Soong-Chan Rah — suggest that the anger that many have for the American church is justified. In that vein, they have penned this work as an expression of repentance, asking both God and people to forgive the church for various sins.

While such a call to repentance and confession is not entirely unusual, their particular vantage point may be to many readers, as “Forgive Us” expresses repentance from the perspective of the evangelical left. Over the last several decades, those of evangelical faith who hold more liberal political views have been frustrated by the dominance of the religious right in public awareness of evangelical political engagement. Recent years have brought more awareness to the fact that some evangelicals hold liberal political views and tend to engage the culture in more collectivist terms, with a greater…

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Book by BookThose readers who have attended Bible college or seminary will likely have used a New Testament or Old Testament introduction. Such books provide a survey of each book of the Bible, considering questions of date, authorship, occasion for writing, an outline and overview of the contents, and so forth. Such works, which are frequently academic in nature, typically give significant space to technical matters related to critical theories regarding date and authorship.

Except for that last item, How to Read the Bible Book by Book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart is very similar to those types of works, but the fact that it doesn’t spend time discussing academically oriented technical issues makes it extremely useful for both lay readers and pastors. Please don’t misunderstand: all evangelical pastors should know about and be able to defend scriptural authority in light of critical theories. As such, this book should not be the only reference work consulted by Bible readers and teachers. However, for many, this may be the first that would be consulted. By not focusing on critical theories, Fee and Stuart have provided a concise, readable volume that provides…

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