Five Easy Pieces

A number of good new books have landed on my desk over the last few weeks.


John Macleod, Scottish Theology in relation to Church History.  These are lectures given at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1939.  They have been available for man years but are republished here with a new foreword by Ian Hamilton, and with footnotes that help the reader better understand Macleod’s allusions.  Macleod was one of a number of Free Church of Scotland students who left the denomination in the early 1890s over the Declaratory Act which watered down the terms of confessional subscription.  He later returned to the post-1900 Free Church once the Act was no longer in force.   A leading student of Free Church history once told me that Macleod was a brilliant man who had committed intellectual suicide because of his refusal to read literature that might not reflect his own theological commitments.  Nonetheless, he was a learned man within his limits.  Certainly, this is no scholarly tome but as a good read which gives an overall understanding of Scottish theology since the Reformation, it is worth a purchase.


Brandon D. Crowe. The Message of the General Epistles in the History of Redemption (P and R).   This book by my New Testament colleague, is a great devotional book and fine popular study of the General Epistles, often treated as the poor relations to Paul and Hebrews.   The volume would work well for private study and also for small group discussion.  Preachers will find the practical, down-to-earth approach very helpful for thinking about how to expound these letters for congregations.  He strikes just the right balance between indicative and imperative.


Lynette G. Clark, Far Above Rubies: The Life of Bethan Lloyd-Jones (Christian Focus).  I met Mrs L-J a few times in the eighties when we both worshipped at the same church in Cambridge.  She seemed a very sweet and godly lady.  This is her story.  Married to the greatest preacher since Spurgeon, she was nonetheless a very humble woman who gave up a career in medicine to be a pastor's wife, living a life that was marked by prayer and service for the church.  She was a remarkable wife, mother and woman of God and  great example of the fact that sacrifice for God is no sacrifice at all.  I gave a stack away at church and have received nothing but positive comments on the book.


Kevin DeYoung, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden (Crossway).  I read this over breakfast last Sunday and I have to say it is quite the best ‘big story of the whole Bible’ children’s book I have ever seen (not that I have seen too many, you understand).  Lavishly illustrated, drawing lots of redemptive-historical connections, written in a gentle, conversational style, and with enough of the gory bits to hold the attention even of your typically amoral and psychotic under-ten year old, this is well worth a purchase.  I gave a whole box away in church on Sunday.  As soon as the service ended, the Cornerstone Under Tens Militia descended on me in a virtual recapitulation of the eighth plague. Thankfully, I had nearly enough copies to satisfy them, and so was able to escape with my life -- though I have had to submit an order for more, under threat of reprisals if I fail. I expect this to be a staple of books giveaways in the future.


Andrew and Rachel Wilson, The Life You Never Expected: Thriving While Parenting Special Needs Children (IVP UK).  While I like all the books on this list, I have perhaps saved the best till last.  Andrew is a pastor in the UK and he and Rachel are parents to two severely autistic children.  This is a moving account of their family life, with short chapters offering both narratives of their experience and penetrating reflections upon how the Bible speaks to them in their various circumstances. It is not a story of simplistic answers and trite happy endings.  Rather, it is the story of their sometimes agonizing struggle to find biblical contentment in the place and circumstances where God has placed them.  To be honest, you need to read the book for yourself.  It would merely cheapen it for me to offer an anemically pious summary of such a passionate, heart-wrenching and yet deeply hopeful story.  It will benefit not just parents facing similar issues but all pastors, elders and church members who are called to love and support families facing such difficulties and yet who foten feel ill-equipped to do so.  Sadly, US readers will have to wait until next summer to get theior copies, when Crossway will issue an edition under the slightly different title The Life We Never Expected.