This Week’s Book Notes: Grace, Gospel, and Reformation
By Matthew Barrett
By Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011.
If you are a Christian parent then you know, as I do, how easy it can be to just set down the rules to be obeyed for your kids and then leave it at that. Too often we communicate to our kids that what Mommy and Daddy really want is for them to just behave, be good, and not get into trouble. No drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll translate into successful parenting. Or do they? Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson show us in their new book, Give Them Grace, that if we only set down the rules then we have failed as Christian parents. Rather, parenting is about showing and giving your children the grace of the gospel. Outward conformity is insufficient. What we are really after, in light of the gospel, is inward transformation. We need the gospel to not only transform our children but our parenting as well! I highly recommend this book as it is a tremendous reminder that parenting is about the gospel. (I also recommend Susanna Brown’s review on Credo’s “reviews and interviews” page.)
The Reformation: Faith and Flames. By Andrew Atherstone. Oxford: Lion, 2011.
I love books with pictures. If done well, grown-up picture books can be a feast for the eyes. Many times the assumption is that if there are pictures then it cannot be a serious or even academic book. But this is not the case. Pictures in a book, especially a historical one, can be a tremendous aid in bringing the reader into the world of a past century. One book that does this very well is Andrew Atherstone’s The Reformation. Atherstone looks at the Reformation of the 16th century from a variety of vantage points and not only covers the traditional figures (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, etc.) but branches out into the English Reformation as well. Each chapter is colored by an array of Reformation art. If you have read books on the Reformation, now you have a book that puts faces to the people, places, and events. I also like how Atherstone recognizes the central issue of the Reformation: “What must I do to be saved?” Too often Reformation historians disregard or deny this and make the Reformation about political and cultural agendas. But Atherstone argues that the issue of salvation was at the center of debate. “The evangelical reformers,” he says, “re-examined the Bible texts” and “they came to the conclusion that salvation was a free gift from God, received through faith alone in Jesus Christ.” He goes on, “This theological rediscovery was the founding principle of the European reformation and had massive implications for the Christian church. Tens of thousands lost their lives, and nations went to war, over the question ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Catholics and evangelicals offered incompatible answers, but all were agreed on the eternal significance of this most important of questions.” I agree! And, of course, I think the reformers were in the right, articulating the doctrine of salvation according to Scripture.
By Dan Phillips. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011.
You may know him from his Pyromaniacs or Biblical Christianity blogs, but now Dan Phillips has written a book as well. His new book, The World-Tilting Gospel, argues that while the first generation of Christians turned the world upside down with their gospel message, today we have allowed the world to turn the church upside down. Phillips argues how up-side-down this really is, especially in light of the great opportunities Christians have to impact the world for Christ with social media and tech-gadgets. Phillips brings us back to the story of redemptive-history, reminding us of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. His goal is to show that the gospel makes a difference in our everyday lives. There is much “world” in our worldview. But what we really need is more “biblical” in our worldview.