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New Books You Should Know About

By Matthew Barrett–

The Explicit Gospel. By Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson. Crossway, 2012.

Chandler and Wilson have teamed up to write a book on the gospel directed at those who have been in church but have not been exposed to the gospel explicitly. Here is what Carson and Dever have to say about the book:

That the gospel is not clearly taught in classic liberalism is disheartening but not surprising. That frequently the gospel is not taught in evangelical congregations is both disquieting and surprising. Evangelicals will not deny the gospel, but they may assume it while talking about everything else—and that is tragic. Matt Chandler issues a robust call to make the gospel an explicit and central part of our preaching, and takes pains to show what that looks like. Amen and Amen.
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Matt Chandler presents the gospel in a way that is balanced, hope-filled, and very, very serious, all the while presented with Matt’s trademark humor. Even more faithful than funny, Matt insults all of us (including himself) in a strangely edifying way, and in a way that I pray will make you treasure Christ even more.
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

Also, here are two videos introducing you to the book.


Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. By Michael J. Kruger. Crossway, 2012.

I am very much looking forward to reading Kruger’s new book on the development of the biblical canon! Kruger argues that the NT canon was not open ended but the core was there from the very start. The trajectory of Christianity was already determined, says Kruger, from very early on. Here is what Horton and Frame say in their commendations:

“This book fills a lacuna in evangelical scholarship. Rarely does academic specialization in canon studies converge with thorough commitment to biblical authority. In this work, close evaluation of the history of approaches to the canon is matched by a richly theological interpretation of what it means to call Scripture our ‘canon.’ Careful, accessible, and wise in his explorations, Michael Kruger has given us a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come.”
Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“Of all the recent books and articles on the canon of Scripture, this is the one I recommend most. It deals with the critical literature thoroughly and effectively while presenting a cogent alternative grounded in the teaching of Scripture itself. Michael Kruger develops the historic Reformed model of Scripture as self-authenticating and integrates it with a balanced appreciation for the history of the canon and the role of the community in recognizing it. This is the definitive work on the subject for our time.”
John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

And here is a short video where Kruger explains what he is arguing in his book:


Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. By Bart D. Ehrman. HarperOne, 2011.

In light of Kruger’s new book above, one should be aware of Bart Ehrman’s new book Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Do I really need to say more? The title and subtitle says it all! Ehrman is at it once again, attacking the reliability, truthfulness, and message of the Bible. Ehrman argues that texts were forged in the name of Jesus’s disciples and consequently these texts have deceived the masses. In response, please look at a couple of valuable resources. First, be sure to watch this debate between Ehrman and Daniel Wallace!

Second, you can find more responses to Ehrman at The Ehrman Project.

Third, Kruger himself has written a review of the book for Themelios, which you can find here. Kruger’s concluding word is very insightful:

In the final analysis, Forged is a book with a mix of positives and negatives. Ehrman’s helpful overview of the various kinds of early Christian forgeries and his excellent treatment of early Christian views of pseudepigraphy are bright spots in this volume. However, Ehrman’s level of confidence that the NT definitely contains forgeries is not commensurate with the arguments he puts forth to prove that thesis. In this regard, he regularly goes beyond what the evidence can sustain. For this reason the book, like many of his others, comes across as more autobiographical than academic; more polemical than historical. Ehrman still seems to be chasing the ghosts of his evangelical past. One wonders how many more books he will need to write before they go away.

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus. By Jonathan Leeman. Crossway, 2012.

In the 9Marks series, Building Healthy Churches, Jonathan Leeman’s book on church membership makes a case for why membership in your local church is important. When Leeman says church membership is neglected, I believe him, having known many Christians who have never given membership a second thought. Leeman’s book helps explain what church membership is and why it is essential.

Here is part of Michael Horton’s foreword to the book:

Regardless of whether you end up agreeing in the end, Leeman simply packs too much biblical wisdom into these brief pages for any Christian to easily dismiss. Not being a Baptist, I cannot go along with everything! However, I found myself shouting a hearty “Amen!” to the main arguments for church membership. More importantly, I found myself delighting once again in the marvelous provision of a Good Shepherd who has not only redeemed his sheep but also has figured out how to feed and lead them to the end.

And here are some commendations:

“Church leaders across many denominations will find this little book filled with practical ideas and good arguments that will help us cure Christians in our culture today of their allergy to church membership, pastoral authority, life accountability, and any limits to their personal freedom.”
Timothy Keller, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

“Brief, fresh, entertaining, and, above all, biblical. This is the explanation and defense of church membership you’ve been looking for.”
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“Practical. Convicting. Biblically faithful. Leeman reminds us that church membership is not a choice but a demand. The book is punchy and provocative, but at the same time it is permeated with the gospel of grace.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Also, listen to a sermon by Jonathan Leeman on Philippians 2 entitled Church Membership and Love. (Grace Baptist Church of Arlington)

Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus. By Jonathan Leeman. Crossway, 2012.

Also in the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series, Leeman resurrects the lost practice of church discipline. But Leeman also helps churches address cases in which no explicit case study exists in Scripture. In this book he seeks to give a biblical framework for how to discipline.

Also, listen to a sermon by Jonathan Leeman entitled Church Discipline and Love. (9Marks)

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (Oxford Handbooks in Religion).Edited by Thomas P. Flint and Michael C. Rea. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Philosophical theology “is aimed primarily at theoretical understanding of the nature and attributes of God and of God’s relationship to the world and its inhabitants.” And this volume edited by Flint and Rea is exactly that. There are twenty-six contributions/contributors and if you are studying analytical theology or philosophy you will likely need to interact with, critique, and respond to these contributors. One chapter that caught my eye is “Original Sin and Atonement” by Oliver D. Crisp.

Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University. He is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett has contributed book reviews and articles to various academic journals, and he is the author of several forthcoming books. He is married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters, Cassandra and Georgia.

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