CSB Apologetics Study Bible

The first book review of 2018 is … another Study Bible. This time it’s the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Apologetics Study Bible.CSB Apologetics Study Bible

This one is a gem. To begin, it is an upgraded and expanded version of the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible. It is upgraded in the sense that the text utilized is the CSB published in early 2017. The CSB is a modern English translation that employs a philosophy of translation that combines the best of Formal Equivalence and Functional Equivalence. This results in a translation that the Holman Bible Publishers term as Optimal Equivalence. (We’ll leave it to the reader to go through the four page “Introduction to the CSB” to get all the details.) The end product is a highly readable modern English translation but perhaps not ideal for in-depth study.

But what makes this Study Bible so highly beneficial is that it is enlarged from the HCSB version, itself an excellent Study Bible. It is expanded in two primary categories. The first is the “Annotated Bibliography for Apologetics,” which has increased from ten to thirteen pages. This provides a valuable resource for doing further work and research in the field of Apologetics. The second falls under the category of “Additional Features.” Many new articles dealing with various aspects in the apologetics field have been added to this new version. For example, an article focusing on Genesis 14 entitled “Did Those Places Really Exist?”, provides some valuable archaeological insight. There are over 125 separate articles placed in proper apologetic positions throughout the Bible – an extremely significant storehouse of information.

Additionally, setting the apologetics aspect aside, this is a mini Study Bible. The study notes are not extensive or highly detailed but do provide useful information on the text. You will have to go to a more complete Study Bible or commentary to get more comprehensive information on the text.

My estimation is that 85% of the material in the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible has been repeated in the CSB version. For instance, the Concordance, Maps & Charts and Study Notes are all from the HCSB. But that should not prevent one from adding this valuable volume his library. There will be many positive hours of reading and studying with it.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Holman Bible Publishers for a fair and honest review.


Classic Hymns

Certainly everyone knows that music, especially the Classic Hymns, are a vital component of worship. I realize a great quantity of these great old hymns have been eliminated from worship in a lot most churches but they also remain a worship staple for some.Classic Hymns

So, in any effort to keep alive the Classic Hymns alive, B&H Publishing Group has released the latest in its Reflect on series – Classic Hymns: Read & Reflect with the Classics. If you are a lover of “Holy, Holy, Holy,”  “Love Lifted Me” and the like, this is a volume you will thoroughly enjoy.

Now, with that in mind, this is not a book that will reveal the history of the hymn for you. Rather, it is constructed as a devotional. There are 90 Classic Hymns included in the book – three months’ worth of devotionals. Each hymn includes the complete text along with the writers of the words and music. This is followed by three separate devotional sections: Bible Study Questions, Personal Reflection Questions and Prayer.

The Bible Study segment suggests you read a Scripture selection which is pertinent to the hymn and then reflect on that Scripture by answering a couple of questions. In general the questions are thought provoking. Personal Reflection focuses on private questions that integrate both the hymn and the Scripture reading. Although some are a bit tacky, for the most part they will demand that you take a little time for contemplation.

If you are searching for good devotional material either private or in a group setting such as family, Classic Hymns will be a good resource. It will get you into both the Bible and the hymnal. It should certainly revive your interest in the great hymns of the faith.

Disclaimer: The volume was provided to me by B&H Publishing Group for a fair and honest review.

40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline

40 Questions about Church MembershipDo you think a need or mandate for Church Membership and Discipline in the Bible? And if there is, what does it look like? Those are the questions that 40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline examines in this volume.

The book is written by Jeremy M. Kimble, PhD. Kimble is an assistant professor of theology at Cedarville College. It is another contribution to the series “40 Questions About …” You can find the complete list at Kregel Publications. I have a review of a previous volume, 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, here.

The author digs deep into the subject matter – often very deep. The volume contains an abundance of footnotes which you may or may not find helpful. In all frankness I quite often felt like I was reading a topical commentary. The majority of the contents is more theologically oriented than practical in scope.

The book opens with four general questions about church membership and discipline and then deals with the two subject areas separately. There are two concluding questions pertaining to the subject matter.

Kimble’s examination of church membership is thorough although, once again, heavily laden with theology. I found chapter 8 on the history of church membership most informative. It lays a solid foundation for the need and obligation for every believer to be an active member of a local church. The practical questions on church membership are applicable but perhaps not under the heading of practical. Nevertheless, they should be considered.

In the area of church discipline the author’s contention is that discipline within the church is severely lacking. He lays out his case in a section on “Theological Questions” in which he exegetes OT church discipline from Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, and several shorter NT passages. He concludes this section with a historical rundown of church discipline. Unfortunately, the practical section does not contain enough down-to-earth information although, admittedly, it is not totally lacking. My preference would have been for more.

Even though the book relies heavily on theology, it is a highly useful volume. Pastors and elders will find that this book will serve them well as a handbook in these critical church subject areas.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Kregel Publications for a fair, honest and balanced review.

Pastoral Theology

There is an abundance of “Pastor” books. Pastoral instruction began way back in the first century when an author named Paul presented some pastoral instruction in letter form to two young pastors named Timothy and Titus. These letters, by the way, remain to this day the absolute best in their subject category.Pastoral Theology

Virtually all, if not totally all, pastoral instruction books on the market today contain a “how-to” operate in the pastorate. However, with this volume Pastoral Theology: Theological Foundations for Who a Pastor is and What He Does, the authors attempt to take a different approach. Found in the “Introduction” is the reason for the book: “While many pastoral ministry books focus on the pragmatic how-to of pastoral ministry, rarely to they address the why of pastoral ministry.”

The authors are Daniel L. Akin (preaching and theology professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and R. Scott Pace (Reverend A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry Associate Professor of Applied Ministry).

The title of the book is a direct indication of the contents with a heavy emphasis on theology. If a pastor needs a quick review of Trinitarian theology, go to Section One. If a pastor is weak on Anthropology, Ecclesiology or Missiology go to Section Two. If you want the heart of the book, go to Section Three: Practical Facilitation.

A couple of further thoughts – the first on structure: As I read this volume I came to the conclusion that it was well outlined before the actual text was written. There is a multitude of first, second and third lists. It is almost as if the contents had originally been presented as a series of sermons or as classroom instruction. It would be easy to reverse the process to produce a somewhat concise outline of the entire book.

The second on the stated goal: The authors have definitely achieved their indicated goal. There is a minimum of practical advice and counseling and all of that can be found at the end of each chapter under the heading of “Pastoral Principles.”

This book is strictly for pastors or aspiring pastors. If you need a quick, concise and straightforward review of some basic theology, this is an excellent volume. Undoubtedly this would make a worthwhile textbook for a class on pastoral ministry.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.