June & July Book Reviews

During June & July I tried to finish some of the books I had bought at the previous year’s New Wine, so that I could buy some more this year with a clear conscience.

The Message of Isaiah – The Bible Speaks Today (Barry Webb) 3/5
Isaiah is a long book that is easy to get bogged down in. This BST volume acts as a guide, helping you to recognise the beginnings and ends of sections, to fit in the prophecies with the relevant historical events and to see some of the big themes. It also provides a beginners introduction to the question of multiple Isaiahs (deutero-Isaiah etc), giving reasons why this reconstruction of authorship does not necessarily need to be accepted.

Joshua – Focus on the Bible (Dale Ralph Davies) 4/5
This commentary is a breath of fresh air. Ralph Davies has a great writing style, and after reading the chapter of Joshua each day, I found myself looking forward to see what his comments would be on it. He writes with humour, and while he clearly has a lot of excellent background knowledge, never introduces it in a dull and technical way. He never takes his eye off the need for practical application either.

Healing and Deliverance – Thinking Clearly (John Woolmer) 2/5
In many ways this book was a fascinating read. Woolmer clearly has researched well and there are lots of interesting anecdotes. I couldn’t help thinking that his theology was more influenced by experience than Scripture, although he did try to find confirmation of those experiences in the Bible. He did not address the difficult issue of the possibility of fraudulent healing claims, and while discussing death in a helpful way, did not really say much on the themes of God using suffering or illness for his own purposes.

Don’t Waste Your Life (John Piper) 4/5
Here is a book to shake you out of your apathy. We all know that we have only got one life and that we ought to make it count. But if we buy into the world’s value systems we can end up living for things that have no lasting worth. John Piper, in characteristic style urges a war mentality on us – we’re in a battle, which means willingly making sacrifices to see the victory. Doubtless some will feel that this creates a secular / sacred divide where people are to feel guilty about having “recreation” time, because it is not frontline service of God. But wherever the true balance lies, one suspects that many of us need this wake-up call.

From Orphans to Heirs (Mark Stibbe) 3/5
This book deals with the often neglected theme of adoption as a Biblical description of our salvation. Important themes like relating to God as our Father, his choosing of us, our acceptance and inheritance as his children are all dealt with. If your status as a child of God is not something that you think of very often, then have your horizons expanded by reading this book.

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