Book Reviews

Books are available from the publishers shown (or from John Ritchie in the UK or Gospel Folio Press in N. America), and NOT from Precious Seed Publications. The divorce dilemma John MacArthur. Paperback, 104pp. Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ. Price £5.00. ISBN 978-1-846251-07-8.

In a world that has come to regard divorce as the norm and marriage for life the exception, a book that offers guidance on this most difficult of subjects should be welcome. Similarly, in a book authored by a renowned Bible teacher such as JOHN MACARTHUR it was hoped that there might be a level of spiritual wisdom and insight of help to leaders amongst the people of God. However, much of this book is a disappointment.

MACARTHUR indicates the line that he intends to take early in his book. From page 7, he commences his long treatment of the so-called exception clause of Matthew chapters 5 and 19. It is sad that it is only when he gets to chapter 5 of the book that he mentions the parallel passage in Mark chapter 10, but then he does not explain why that exception clause should be absent from this passage. Equally, the author’s treatment of such a fundamental passage as Romans chapter 7 is superficial and wholly unsatisfactory, reading into the passage what is not present rather than explaining how his view can be reconciled with this portion of scripture. In chapter 3 he makes the statement that ‘the Greek word “separate” (chorizo) always carries the meaning of divorce, not a mere separation’, and he cites 1 Corinthians chapter 7 in this context. An expansion of this assertion could have enabled a more thorough treatment of that Bible passage.

Although this is not a book that this reviewer could recommend, there are sections that would be useful in other contexts. In chapter 5, MACARTHUR tackles the question, ‘Is singleness the best option?’ In chapter 6, he looks at ‘Marriage in a troubled society’, and, in chapter 7, he considers ‘Divine guidelines for singleness and marriage’. It is a great pity that the author’s treatment of the subject of divorce was not set against the background of these chapters as it might have helped us to take his ideas a little more seriously.

For Zion’s Sake Paul Richard Wilkinson

Paperback 308 pp. Published by Paternoster, 9 Holdom Avenue, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK1 1QR, UK. Available from the author, Paul Wilkinson, Hazel Grove Full Gospel Church, 68 London Road, Hazel Grove, Stockport, SK7 4AF, UK. Price £10.00 + postage. ISBN 978-1-84227-569.

What should be the attitude of the Bible-believing Christian towards Israel today? PAUL WILKINSON recognizes that, in much of Christendom, Christian Palestinianism is the prevailing view. This has resulted in some elements of the church attacking Christian Zionism as ‘a powerful force which fuels the Arab-Israeli conflict’ as ‘a totally unbiblical menace’, and as ‘the road-map to Armageddon’.

The author tackles such criticism head-on. He cuts through the confusion and misinformation which surrounds such views, and takes his readers beyond politics and back to the Bible’s own teaching concerning Israel. He is unashamedly pre-millennial, and sees J. N. DARBY’s eschatology as providing a consistent and accurate understanding of God’s purposes for Israel. In answering those Christian scholars who have attacked DARBY, he has restored DARBY’s reputation, and has recognized his vital contribution to Christian Zionism, noting that the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ for His church is at the heart of DARBY’s eschatology.

Recognizing that Christian Palestinianism is a coalition of ‘strange bedfellows’, he challenges those who have fallen for the propaganda which, sometimes in strident tones, promotes the cause of Christian Palestinianism. He is forthright in identifying the well-spring of this coalition, ‘Christian Palestinianism is theologically rooted in Reformed, covenant theology which has re-defined Israel. Consequently, the church is said to be the real Israel, the Israel of God’.

In taking his readers through this complex and emotive subject, the author gives ample evidence of painstaking research (the bibliography runs to thirty-seven pages), and mastery of his subject. His style is sometimes trenchant. In countering the charge that Christian Zionism has subordinated Christ and the church and elevated Israel, he replies, ‘On the contrary, its focus on Israel is thoroughly Christ-centred, interpreting Israel’s restoration in the light of Christ’s return … it has uncovered the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, reclaimed Israel from the theological dustbin of Reformed theology, and unveiled the “blessed hope" or rapture of the church’. Furthermore, he has exposed the well-organized Palestinian propaganda machine, Sabeel, the Palestinian Ecumenical Theology Centre, which, he claims, has established itself within mainstream Christianity.

The reader of this invaluable volume must be prepared to master a few technical terms. The effort will be well rewarded. Although this review has concentrated on the first four chapters, chapters five to eight are no less stimulating, particularly when the author notes the promise of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the subsequent betrayal of the Jewish people during the period of the British Mandate, and then ponders the collapse of the British Empire and the sorry state of the UK today. A stimulating and courageous book, long overdue, ably vindicating J.N. DARBY’s eschatology and articulating the Bible’s teaching about Israel and its place in the divine plan.

[Our thanks to Ed Hotchin, Hucknall, Nottingham, England, for this review]

Under God’s smile Derek Prime

Paperback, 122pp. Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ. Price £5.00. ISBN 978-1-84625-059-0.

This book is subtitled The Trinitarian Blessing of 2 Corinthians 13.14 and is an up-dated version of an earlier book published in 1994 and entitled Let’s say the grace together. Though the verse, ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen’, is frequently quoted in prayer the author asks if the words are really understood and if we appreciate what we are actually praying for? These questions are addressed in this book.

There are three main sections to the book, corresponding to the three parts of the benediction. As an example of the writer’s approach, the first section focuses on ‘The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’ and under that general heading contains five separate chapters on such themes as the grace of His forgiveness, His presence and His strength. The chapters are short and easily read and each concludes with a series of ‘Points to reflect on’. The writer frequently draws upon other passages of scripture to illustrate his teaching and it is good to see how those passages are considered contextually. All scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version.

While this is a book to uplift, encourage and comfort, nevertheless readers should be aware that it seems the author believes in ‘covenant theology’ and although that does not impinge greatly upon the content of the book, mention is made on pages 87- 88 of ‘the covenant of redemption’ a covenant that it is asserted was made between the Father and the Son.

[Our thanks to Richard Catchpole, South Norwood, England for this review]

Opening up Proverbs Jim Newheiser

Paperback, 186pp. Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ. Price £8.00. ISBN 978-1-84625-110-8.

All Bible students recognize that Proverbs has a special place in the canon of scripture and the author of this introduction to the book writes as one who believes that to study the Proverbs and to live by them is the key to ‘success in every aspect of … life’.

The first nine chapters of Proverbs as well as the concluding one are dealt with in an expositional manner, the writer giving a general overview of their contents and teaching. The intervening chapters are dealt with topically rather than in an expository fashion, the writer focusing upon such themes as ‘The theology of Proverbs’; ‘Wisdom at work’; ‘Financial wisdom’; ‘Wise words’; ‘Wise child training’ and, ‘Wisdom for leaders’.

Like Proverbs itself, this commentary is both practical and challenging. The writer exposes many of the ills of modern society and the sound counsel that Proverbs gives in addressing the very same issues. For maximum benefit this book needs to be read alongside an ‘open Bible’ to facilitate easy reference to the many scripture passages the reader is referred to. All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible. As the title indicates, this book is intended to be only an introduction to Proverbs, something that the author has effectively and most helpfully provided.

[Our thanks to Richard Catchpole, South Norwood, England, for this review]

Same-sex Marriage. Is it really the same? Mark Christopher

Paperback, 125pp. Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ. Price £6.00. ISBN 978-1-84625-163-4.

It might seem strange to many that a book with such a title should be reviewed within the pages of this magazine. However, this quote from MARK CHRISTOPHER’s introduction puts the issue into perspective, ‘The concerted onslaught of the mainstream media, hedonistic Hollywood, liberal scholars, radical activists … and pragmatic politicians have all blitzkrieged our senses to make the unthinkable thinkable’. Against that background the writer presents a cogent and well-researched argument against the tide of moral and social drift.

His four ‘non-negotiables’ are: that the argument is not about hate but debate; in the Bible, homosexuality isn’t necessarily worse than other sexual sins; his authority is the Bible, the word of God; and who the biblical God is. From these axioms, CHRISTOPHER covers such subjects as, ‘What is the divine purpose for marriage?; what presuppositions motivate the same-sex marriage lobby?; the cultural creeds that led us to our current situation; and, is change really possible?’

Perhaps the most valuable chapter in this incisive exposé of current trends is entitled, ‘How should the church respond to SSM? A scriptural strategy for the church’. In it the writer makes a number of very telling points. He argues that ‘shepherds must begin feeding their flocks on all the vital issues and true doctrines concerning marriage and family’; ‘shepherds must take sexual sin of any nature seriously’; ‘shepherds must take divorce and remarriage more seriously’; ‘shepherds must teach what the Bible says about gender distinctions and gender roles’; and ‘shepherds must equip their people adequately to prepare their children for the sexually saturated world’. Just under half of the book is taken up with three appendices. The most valuable of these is entitled Questions and Answers, and covers some searching but pertinent issues with thoughtful and biblical responses.

This book is not comfortable reading, neither is it as thorough a book as it might have been. However, MARK CHRISTOPHER has done a considerable service in providing a powerful rebuttal of the arguments for same-sex marriage. While these dangerous trends indicate the imminent return of the Lord, it is important that elders are ready to fulfil their responsibilities in preserving the flock of God.


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