Christians live in a world growing more hostile to their distinctive message by the day, but the cultural opposition has not yet progressed to the sort of persecution other Christians throughout the world experience. American believers are being made fun of, not imprisoned or beheaded.
The church of Asia Minor was similar, writes Southern Seminary professor and Texas pastor Juan Sanchez in his new book 1 Peter for You. State-sponsored persecution had not yet reached the Christians of Asia Minor, but they were getting publicly reviled and lived in a culture hostile to the Christian message.
Sanchez walks section-by-section through the book of 1 Peter, commenting on the meaning of every passage and applying it to the reader. Each chapter of the book analyzes the passage thematically and concludes with a series of reflection questions. The book seeks to explain each section of 1 Peter, but avoids the technical jargon with simple, easy-to-grasp prose, and helps the reader think through the meaning of the text thoroughly and faithfully.
— Andrew J.W. Smith
(The Good Book Company 2016, $22.99)
In the newest installment of Zondervan’s Counterpoints: Bible & Theology series, Four Views on Hell, four evangelical scholars offer their interpretation of biblical teaching about hell, including Boyce College professor Denny Burk, who wrote the chapter endorsing the traditional eternal, conscious torment view.
Edited by Preston Sprinkle, Four Views on Hell claims to articulate four evangelical views on the doctrine of hell: eternal, conscious torment, terminal punishment (annihilationism), purgatory, and evangelical universalism.
Burk’s chapter on the eternal, conscious torment view explores 10 biblical texts buttressing the traditional interpretation from Isaiah to Revelation. Burk finds three themes in each of these passages that contribute to the traditional view: final separation, unending experience, and just retribution. He argues Christians should not build their theology of hell around visceral and emotional responses, but exclusively on the biblical text, which he says overwhelmingly affirms the traditional view.
— Andrew J.W. Smith
(Zondervan 2016, $18.99)
Seminary graduates trying to communicate from the pulpit or new students trying to grasp unfamiliar yet essential words can both benefit from Southern Seminary theology professor Gregg R. Allison’s The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms.
“This dictionary has a specific use,” Allison writes. “My hope is that readers, when reading a theology book, listening to a lecture about some theological topic, or hearing a sermon on Christian doctrine, will consult this dictionary for the definition of terms that are not explained.”
With 600 theological terms defined in 100 words each, this resource is a trustworthy guide for navigating studies at any level. The book provides definitions of terms related to doctrine, philosophical concepts, church councils, and historical figures.
Cross-references at the end of many entries and word origins are an added bonus to this stellar resource. At $9.99, this book is a must-have addition to your library.
— S. Craig Sanders
(Baker 2016, $9.99)
Traversing through the biblical canon, Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, and SBTS Ph.D. candidate Brent Parker set out to show how, through the progression of the covenants, one can navigate to a mediating point between a dispensational view of scripture and a covenantal view. Building this argument from the previously released Kingdom Through Covenant, in Progressive Covenantalism Wellum and Parker have edited a work of 10 essays arguing for a middle ground between covenant theology (CT) and dispensational theology (DT).
The skeletal outline of the book takes pivotal passages to both DT and CT, and then looks at them through the lens of the entire canon and proposes a middle ground: Progressive Covenantalism (PC). This work, though scholarly in nature is a great resource to someone curious about the distinctions of DT and CT. In the effort of proposing a middle ground they expose weaknesses of both DT and CT and show how PC can mediate theological positions.
— Sean W. Corser
(B&H Academic 2016, $32.99)
With over 1,000 Southern Baptist churches closing their doors each year, many aspiring pastors will undoubtedly find themselves in some form of church revitalization. Louisville pastor Brian Croft, who is senior fellow of the SBTS Mathena Center on Church Revitalization, points to the popular methods of the pragmatist and the purist. Between those two, Croft writes, is the biblical method which “rests its full weight on the truth that God’s spirit working through His word is the only way to bring true lasting spiritual life to a local church.”
“Men gifted for pastoral ministry need to be trained in a specific, unique way to be able to persevere in this difficult, unique, and noble work,” Croft writes. Biblical Church Revitalization is built upon what Croft calls the three-legged stool: pastoral theology, healthy ecclesiology, and personal soul care. Drawing from years in the trenches of revitalization, Croft is particularly equipped to write on this work and helps the reader determine the preparation for this hard and noble calling.
— Sean W. Corser
(Christian Focus 2016, $11.99)
Growing up in this culture is hard, particularly the many challenges facing junior high and high school kids, from distractions keeping them from growing in their faith to unstated expectations that they act younger than their age. There are also few theologically robust Christian resources applying biblical wisdom to help girls and boys grow into spiritually strong men and women of God.
In Live Smart, Dan Dumas winsomely appropriates the profound and practical wisdom of the book of Proverbs to young people in the church. Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary, shares his unique burden for the younger generation and wants to see them develop lifelong habits of God-fearing discipline.
The book invites young believers to cultivate deeper relationships with their Lord, their parents, their peers, and themselves. It can help kids resist the urge to do the easy things of life and commit to heavy lifting in their pursuit of godliness.
— Andrew J.W. Smith
(Bethany House 2016, $10.99)
Eight Women of Faith represents a unique collection of biographies of influential women of faith between the 14th and 19th centuries. Michael A.G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Seminary, seeks to recognize the importance of women’s roles throughout church history.
This book provides an engaging look at the lives of each woman, using written texts including journal entries and letters. These texts support the character development in each narrative, creating an easy-to-read sketch of history and making the biographical stories come to life.
While not an all-inclusive explanation of every woman who has impacted the Christian faith, Haykin dives deeper into the lives of these eight women in order to portray them in a personal, honest way. This personal account of history paired with short chapters is enough to satisfy readers at every level. This book is a great resource for readers seeking to grow in their love for history.
— Annie Corser
(Crossway 2016, $14.99)
In his latest book, In The Arena, SBTS preaching professor David E. Prince models a critical engagement with sports that promotes Christian discipleship and character.
“God kindly provides us the windows of smaller arenas where we can be challenged to demonstrate the virtues necessary for faithfulness in the ultimate venue of our lives before God, our Creator and Sustainer,” Prince writes. “Athletic competition provides practice games for life, whether experienced by participation or observation, but to benefit fully, we must be intentional about the lessons it can teach us.”
Prince explores issues like sports fandom, spiritual warfare, and building godly character. He also provides guidance for parents on how they can be intentional in using sports for character building. His pastoral application in each chapter and his call for churches to be strategic in their relationship to sports display a sincerity and thoughtfulness no one has yet to apply to this realm of cultural awareness.
— S. Craig Sanders
(B&H 2016, $16.99)