Treat Books Well


Book Review: A God Entranced Vision of All Things – The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards


I have started reading ‘A God Entranced Vision of All Things – The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards,’ with John Piper and Justin Taylor as the general editors of the book. It was published in 2004 by Crossway Books and has 275 pages.

This book is a collection of studies on Jonathan Edwards – his life, ministry and legacy. Each chapter investigates some facet of Edwards and each chapter is penned by a different author. The authors of these studies include John Piper, J. I. Packer, Paul Helm and Sam Storms, names widely recognized in reformed circles. The studies are expansions of messages delivered at a Desiring God Ministries conference in October 2003, celebrating 300 years since the birth of Jonathan Edwards.

In my journey through this book, I have thus far reached the end of chapter 2. What I can say is that this book is very easy to read, but difficult to put down. It has the readability that many books associated with Desiring God Ministries have, yet the weightiness of the subject matter does not allow one to just move through the book without serious reflection.

The book doesn’t leave you contemplating the past and Jonathan Edwards in particular, but the God of Jonathan Edwards and leads the reader to a serious contemplation of the glorious God who is all. Edwards life was about God and his enjoyment of Him, and this is the subject of chapter 1, ‘A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards 300 Years Later,’ by John Piper. Chapter 2 gives an overview of the life and legacy of Jonathan Edwards in ‘Jonathan Edwards: His Life and Legacy,’ by Stephen J. Nichols. With chapter 3, ‘Sarah Edwards: Jonathan’s Home and Haven,’ by Noel Piper, the subject matters of the first section of the book is dealt with brilliantly, ‘Part 1 – The Life and Legacy of Edards.’ Certainly I can speak to the first two chapters as having achieved that and I have little doubt the third will compliment the first 2.

The treatment of the guiding principles of Edwards’ life and the brief overview of it, leads the reader to the God of Jonathan Edwards and this would surely be the legacy that Edwards would have hoped for.

History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent – Volume 1, by George Bancroft


I have been working on getting this volume onto the Tracing our History – History website for some time. I did have about three chapters on the site in HTML format, but have now begun getting the volume up in PDF format. This is taking some time, especially with the large number of footnotes in the text, which I am seeking to have available quickly via links to the footnotes and links that return to the text from the footnotes. The time being spent on this will allow a very good and useful ebook when completed I think. I do have plans to make the entire set of volumes on the History of the United States available over time.

I would recommend the volume I am currently reading (volume 1) as a very good treatment on the European discovery and colonization of the United States. For those outside of the United States (like me) – and quite possibly many within the United States – this work provides a very easy to read and informative history of this period. For those interested in further research, the footnotes provide plenty of material for further reading and investigation, drawing on a wealth of historical material and treatments.

‘Calvin for Armchair Theologians,’ by Christopher Elwood


I have now read this book and have found my earlier thoughts sadly confirmed. My first comments on this book on this Blog at:

https://atthebookshelf.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/calvin-for-armchair-theologians-by-christopher-elwood/

So I not only agree with my earlier thoughts on the book, but have even more to say about it. The illustrations (cartoons) I found to be completely inappropriate and the attempts by the author to justify them as irrelevant. There is just no place for the comical depictions of God given in the book.

The treatment of Calvin’s life is disappointing, with not enough detail given to it and some of the important events/incidents in his life are not treated or merely glossed over. It would have been better to have settled on the summary of the Institutes or do a full biography of John Calvin.

I also found the conclusions toward the end of the book disappointing and would suspect Calvin to be turning in the grave as a result of them.

The summary of the Institutes was probably not too bad, but I would have been better served to have read the Institutes rather than this book.

In summary – a very disappointing book that I would not recommend to anyone else to read.

Changing the World: December 1 – AIDS Prevention and Treatment


Today’s suggestion is probably one that most people wouldn’t think a great deal about these days. In the Western World, the issue of AIDS is probably somewhat on the backburner so to speak, though that would depend on the community you live within or deal with on a daily basis.

Though AIDS remains a major health threat in Western countries, the real frontline is in the Third World, where entire countries are under serious threat from AIDS/HIV and/or the consequences of the disease on the economy, the community, the family, etc.

So helping to prevent AIDS and to assist in the provision of treatment for AIDS/HIV, as well as caring for those left in it’s wake are all very important.

Some web sites with valuable information:

www.unaids.org

www.aids.net.au

www.afao.org.au

A response to reading ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton

‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin


As readers of this Blog would know, I have been reading ‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin. I have now completed this book and maintain that this is a book that should be read by all Reformed believers. It is a brilliant treatment of both the Reformers and those who sought a more ‘radical’ reform, in order to bring the church back to that which was modelled on the New Testament example.

Verduin deals with many of the disputed areas between the Reformers and the Stepchildren, and in so doing shows how the Reformers chose to go only so far in their work of reformation and indeed how some chose to back peddle in some areas. As much as I respect many of the Reformers (if not all), I have always been saddened by their refusal to fully reform the church/separate from it, and to set up a church based on the New Testament model, which was something the stepchildren also sought. The Reformers treatment of the stepchildren will always be a blight on their legacy also.

Read this book without being biased either way and allow the truth of the Scriptures to determine the path on which you walk. There is much food for thought in this book and a real challenge for Reformed believers throughout.

Changing the World: November 18 – Combat Terrorism


OK – this is a suggestion I’m all for. Wouldn’t the world be a so much better place with no terrorism? Certainly – now what can I do. I can be ‘alert, but not alarmed,’ as the Australian television add of a couple of years ago told me. But what more? Can terrorism be eliminated?

I doubt terrorism will ever be completely eliminated – but it would be great if it could be. We can certainly reduce it greatly and that too would be good.

The suggestion in the book ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton is a little disappointing here. Sure, I don’t agree with torture and unlawful detention, etc. However, the suggestion is a little too ‘polite’ toward terrorists for my liking. I have no time for terrorists and they need to be rooted out and, well, they will probably get hurt during the process – I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them I must admit.

The suggestion is for combating terrorism without the erosion of human rights while doing so. As I said – I don’t want to see human rights eroded. I also don’t want to see terrorists given soft treatment – they chose to forego that when they became terrorists in my book.

‘Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin – An Update


 

As visitors to ‘At the BookShelf’ would know, I have been reading ‘Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin. I have now started chapter four and progress through the book may appear slow and you may think this is a reflection on the quality of the book. That would be a mistaken assumption however.

In reality I am finding the book a brilliant treatment of the differences between the ‘partial reformers’ (such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc) and the more ‘radical reformer’ who sought a complete transformation of the church to that which more accurately reflected the New Testament model.

The ‘slowness’ of my reading is more a reflection of my reading half a dozen or so books at the same time. Reading so many books at any given time is fairly normal for me – in fact, I would call normal (for me) reading far more books at any given time, but I am trying to reign myself in a little here. I just love reading – I am a bibliophile and bookworm remember 🙂

The third chapter of Verduin’s work has to do with the lack of true church discipline in the churches of the Reformers and their indifference (generally speaking) to ungodliness in the church (remembering that their churches basically included all in a given location or region).

The third chapter presents a very clear case of the real time contradiction of the Reformers and the reform they were bringing to bear on such places as Geneva, Zurich, etc. To a large extent their work of reform didn’t go anywhere near far enough to satisfy their ‘stepchildren,’ who when they tried to go further were branded as heretics, with their efforts at a more thorough reform being identified by the reformers as evidence of their heresy.

It is a very engaging chapter I believe and one that is helpful for shedding light on Christianity even to this day.