Short Review of Michael Fabarez’s “Preaching that Changes Lives”

October 20, 2008

Overall, I really appreciated Michael’s book – though it was quite eclectic, it was a refreshing read and a good reminder of the task that God has given to those of us who are called to preach.

In his introduction, Fabarez gives the reasons for his book, stemming from the fact that “Jesus’ goal in preaching was to produce a ‘life-changing’ experience” (p. xi). How is this seen in Jesus teaching, Fabarez believes in the simple statement, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” But what Fabarez fails to see is he is trying to take statements directed at the listener to be statements directed at the preacher. If anything, Jesus is not saying “Preachers you need to preach for change,” rather, “Listeners, I just gave you the Word, so now the choice is yours, to believe it or not.” Even when Fabarez quotes from James about being doers and not just hearers, again the statement is toward the listeners, but Fabarez makes it out to be to the preacher. Fabarez then back-pedals slightly by saying that “Some of the blame for this failure in preaching can be rightly attributed to the hardness of the pew-warmer’s hearts” (p. xii). He later goes on to say, while Jesus assumed the message being rightly presented in his parable about the soils, “its proper presentation certainly cannot be assumed today” (p. xiii). But why not? Did Jesus get it wrong? Is the message so complex or difficult? I think Spurgeon had it right (in a quote in this book no less!), “It seems to be that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher” (p. 154). Fabarez eventually gets it right, but I think he could have done a better job at making his case for the book.

A second problem I had with the book (I am focusing on problems, but overall, it was a wonderful read!) this statement: “Since effective preaching rarely springs from manuscripts or memorized scripts, there is always a certain amount of spontaneity in one’s vocabulary….Pray that God’s Spirit will govern your words” (p. 74). I really do not think that is true. Many preachers preach from manuscripts – did not Jonathan Edwards read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”? And why must God be limited to directing extemporaneous preaching? Can God not direct the words of a manuscript, hours before the message is given? I do not feel any biblical mandate to never preach from a manuscript, and many times I feel many a preacher would do well to use one, because their thoughts are so jumbled, and their words so vague. I am not advocating that a sermon be delivered without passion, no in fact great passion should be shown, for it is life or death! But whether God can influence the words coming out of my mouth, or the words written on a page is a foolish argument to make a preacher preach extemporaneously.

I was greatly encouraged by Fabarez’s advice to “interlace” (p. 72) prayer into my sermon preparation. To schedule prayer in, as it were, to the various parts of preparation is a wonderfully practical idea, and will be used.


Review of Richard Pratt’s “Every Thought Captive”

October 10, 2008

[Another short review of an Apologetics book] What a breath of fresh air!  I thought Pratt did an excellent job at communicating his view on apologetics, and while I might not agree with everything he said, I respect him for thinking things through enough to be as clear as he was.  It takes a lot more work, I believe, to be clear, than to just write in a way that only you can understand; so in his field, I think Pratt has risen to heights none of his predecessors had. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Van Til’s “The Defense of the Faith”

October 9, 2008

[Another short review of an Apologetics book] I must say, Van Til had a mind.  To be honest, it was a little much for me.  He dealt with issues that perhaps a philosopher interacts with, but as a student of God’s Word I have not really even heard of, or in many ways I do not really have an interest in knowing.  It was amazing to me, for someone who is presented as founding his “apologetic” on the Word of God, that he found it so easy to go page after page without even mentioning the Bible!  He really was too steeped in philosophy to be of much benefit to me personally.  But with that being said, I did have a few questions about what he wrote. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Greg Bahnsen’s “Always Ready”

October 8, 2008

[Another short review of an Apologetics book] Dr. Greg Bahnsen was a smart man, and as such, a lot of what he said went over my head.  I am not all that into philosophy and all the argumentation that is involved in such circles, but I will comment on those parts which I found helpful, and or had an issue with.
His first section on neutrality was excellent (p. 9), and really eye opening.  It made me wonder if modern apologetics was not over-reacting to post-modern thought.  Just as in the first “apologetic” ventures the Church really was over-reacting to philosophy and its stance that Christianity was barbaric, maybe current “apologetics” is over-reacting to post-modernism, in the fact that as a post-modern, neutrality is upheld as essential to understanding.  To be honest, my understanding of the apologetic world is not all that comprehensive, but I enjoyed Bahnsen’s remarks on the fact that giving neutrality was giving too much.  We must look to Scripture – never coming to Scripture with a system and look to prove it. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Steven Cowan’s Five Views on Apologetics

September 3, 2008

 

I was grateful to have read Cowan’s work, being that there are so many views on Apologetics, it was very interesting to have them all together, and have them all interact with each other in the same book.  But, I will say I was somewhat disappointed with the fact that it seemed some of those he chose to represent certain positions were not necessarily in line with that position as it had been traditionally represented in the past.  But given the nature of the work, it seemed like the contributors were looking for as much “dirt” as possible on each other, so maybe accusations that someone did not line up with “tradition” should not bother me.  Read the rest of this entry »


A Critical Review of “Christology: A Global Introduction” by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

February 21, 2008

A Critical Review of “Christology: A Global Introduction” by Veli-Matti KärkkäinenThis book seeks to introduce Christology as it has been viewed over the past two thousand years throughout the globe. The first section of the book explores the Biblical perspective, the second section looks at the early church through the mid-twentieth century. The second half of the book begins with the third section which covers twentieth-century Christologies; this really seems to begin the major focus of the book as Kärkkäinen moves from the well-known Western theologians to the fourth part of the book that covers contextual Christologies such as Process, Feminist, and Third World views from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Read the rest of this entry »


“James” by Richard Bauckham Book Review

January 5, 2008

“James” by Richard BauckhamI just finished reading this book for the upcoming winterim at my seminary. The full title is “James: Wisdom of James , disciple of Jesus the sage”

To be honest, the book was a bit dry for my taste, though the prologue and end had some interesting parts. Most of the book was obsessed with trying to figure out correlations between the style with which James wrote and other people in history. Even his content was compared with others. For me, not really all that helpful, or important. But it was interesting looking at some of the old writings of Jewish history that I had never read before. Read the rest of this entry »