Book Reviews: Beyond Left and Right

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Beyond Left and Right by Amy E. Black (Baker Books)

In one small volume, Wheaton College political scientist Amy Black provides both a theological/ethical discussion about Christians’ involvement in politics and a brief primer on American government.

She contends believers tend to fall into the habit of society by labeling people and certain political views rather than thinking deeply about difficult concepts and problem-solving ideas in our culture. If one is to engage in politics and political discussion for the sake of the common good, listening and respectful interaction must take place. After all, politics is about compromise, and one has to consider others’ views with humility and patience.

Black also helps the reader understand how the U.S. political system works. In one instance, she reminds the reader that it is Congress, not the president, who makes the laws—a basic fact many Americans seem to forget come election season. Under-standing how the legislative, executive and judicial branches work makes all the difference in making informed voting decisions.

For the Christian, politics is ultimately a part of the biblical call to love God and love our neighbors.

Greg Bowman

Minister to students

First Baptist Church




Baptists and the Lordship of Christ by Charles W. Deweese (Baptist History & Heritage Society)

In a day when Baptists, like all Christians, can easily allow other lords to take charge of their personal or corporate lives, either subtly or through deliberate choice, Charles Deweese has written an extremely well-documented booklet regarding the lordship of Christ. Among his list of present-day lords are arrogant individualism, blind traditionalism, rigid fundamentalism, undisciplined liberalism, stifling creedalsim, freedom-denying authoritianism, war-driven militarism, hatred-based racism, modern-day Gnosticism, science, technology and high-tech gadgetry. After listing these and many others, he then raises the question, “If Christ is not every Baptist’s Lord and all Baptists’ Lord, then who or what is?”

Deweese also includes four motives for writing the booklet with the fourth motive being the most poignant—a battle with cancer from July 2007 into the late winter of 2008. That battle forced him to “reflect on the meaning of Christ’s lordship in deeper ways than ever before.”

The result is an examination of the lordship of Christ as one looks at its role in the New Testament, in Baptist confessions of faith, in Baptist church covenants, in Baptist hymns, and in published statements made by global Baptists at 19 Baptist World Congresses held between 1905 and 2005.

Because of the extensive research and documentation, the booklet is valuable to church leaders, church historians, apologists, hymnologists and ethicists. He closes the booklet with the following sentence, “If, as renowned Baptists worldwide have suggested, Christ’s lordship represents ‘the deepest impulse of Baptist life,’ and if it functions as ‘the essential Baptist principle,’ and if it serves as ‘the presiding conviction of the Baptist community,’ then Baptists possess a serious opportunity and obligation to affirm Christ’s lordship in every arena of life.”

Randall Scott, pastor

Immanuel Baptist Church, Paris



A Glimpse of Heaven, compiled by Richard Leonard and JoNancy Linn Sundberg (Howard Books)

If you were researching a book on any aspect of heaven, this book could save you hours.

Richard Leonard and JoNancy Linn Sundberg have carefully categorized the subject into 12 chapters written by authors who range from classical theologians to contemporary contributors. In general, they have based their collection on questions ordinarily posed by people who think about writing or speaking on heaven.

Another unique format design places the year of the direct question by the names of the authors who reply.

The compilers keep each question concise, and they aptly describe their book as “A Glimpse of Heaven.” In reality, there are 135 actual glimpses, covering the gamut from early Christianity to current writers.

This small collection could become a standard for considering many aspects of heaven.

Ed Spann

Retired dean

College of Fine Arts

Dallas Baptist University, Dallas


“What Does Jesus Say About …”: Christ Speaks to Us Today by Cecil Price (AMG Publishers)

“What Does Jesus Say About …” is a unique and helpful resource for any serious Bible student who wants to hear what Jesus said without having to process the comments of others.

Cecil Price has compiled the words of Jesus alphabetically without commentary, but simply placing each use of that word in the setting where it was spoken. This setting will couch the meaning in ways that help the reader feel the impact of the teaching of Jesus in new light.

These words take on a personal and special meaning when the reader enters into the setting where Jesus spoke them. By considering the settings in the order they were encountered by our Lord, you can feel the deepening truths of what Jesus was sharing with his followers. Price references the places where the words are quoted from the Old Testament authors as well as when these words are quoted by the writers of the New Testament. When this volume is used in study, it will allow you to read each statement in its setting without having to move back and forth through the gospels and other books of the Bible.

Price also has included three appendices that bring another level of usefulness to this volume. Appendix A is a healthy presentation of the gospel message of salvation. Appendix B is a good resource for additional studies. A unique map showing the places of the major teachings of Jesus brings another insight for the Bible student in Appendix C.

“What Does Jesus Say About …” is a great tool and addition for serious Bible students and anyone wanting to better understand the teaching ministry of Jesus. It is not a book you will sit down to read but one that will stir your imagination of sitting at the feet of the Master and processing what you hear. I highly commend this book for your consideration.

Leo Smith

Executive director

Texas Baptist Men, Dallas


Ephesians and Colossians by Charles H. Talbert (Baker Academic)

In the first entry of the new Paideia Commentary series, Baylor University religion professor Charles Talbert has written a serious work for serious students of the New Testament. The commentary does not require readers to be fluent in biblical languages, but it is aimed at Bible students with at least a working knowledge of theology, textual criticism and literary analysis.

The commentary’s great strengths lie in Talbert’s familiarity with ancient literature, and in his ability to set the letters to the Ephesian and Colossian churches in literary and historical context. Many readers will disagree with Talbert at some key points, such as his conclusion that the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians likely were written by students of Paul rather than by the apostle himself. Readers who disregard this commentary be-cause of a disagreement at that point will miss incredible in-sights about ancient literature, biblical backgrounds and history available in this volume.

Talbert’s treatment of the troublesome household code in Ephesians 5:22-6:9 may be particularly helpful to modern readers who struggle with its teachings that seem to teach male dominance and the submission of women, as well as sanction slavery.

Talbert sets the code in its historical and social context, viewing it as an organizational chart for a family business, not a model for modern Christian marriage. He also sets the passage about slavery within the larger context of a biblical narrative that sees slavery as a product of fallen humankind and sin—not part of God’s perfect plan.

Ken Camp

Managing editor

Baptist Standard


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