Book Reviews by Brian Holda

Who Chose the Gospels?: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy, by C. E. Hill, published by Oxford University Press, 2010.

In my opinion, this relatively short book gives a series of knockout punches that can help rid Christendom of current nonsense that the early church was involved in a conspiracy to “choose” the 4 gospels they liked, while rejecting other legitimate gospel claims. The author’s writing is easy-to-read, engaging, succinct, and surprisingly funny, while the content provided is commendably researched. By the time the reader finishes, they should recognize that our earliest relevant records indicate that the church has always endorsed the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (and no more) as authoritative, gospel-truth (pun intended). Of course, as the author points out, simply reading the gospels for themselves has been–and will always be–the ultimate convincer to those seeking truth.

A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness, by Gene Edwards, published by Tyndale House Publisher, 1992.

I read Gene Edwards’s, A Tale of Three Kings, in one evening. This was partly because its length is so short (27 chapters fit into 94 pages), but largely because the story was so compelling.

The book is written as a sort of parable that uses the Biblical account of Saul, David, and Absalom—three people who pursued kingship in Israel in vastly different ways—to teach Christians about submission and leadership, and offer counsel to ones who have had “spears” thrown at them by others.

I would recommend this book for its powerful storytelling, profound truths, and convicting challenges to all believers. However, I disagree with its seeming teaching that God does not desire believers to challenge, confront, and overturn ungodly leadership at times when we experience it (consider 2 Cor. 11:19-20; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 2:2; etc.).

New Approaches to Jesus and the Gospels: a Phenomenological and Exegetical Study of Synoptic, by Royce Gordon Gruenler, published by Baker Book House, 1982.

This work is fairly technical, a bit dated (though still relevant), and intended primarily for Bible scholars. Nevertheless, its message is incredibly important for everyone.

Essentially, Dr. Gruenler (a one-time liberal Bible scholar who has since turned back to a conservative approach) argues that humble belief in God’s inerrant word is an intellectually consistent approach to gospel criticism, and the only one that will make true progress in biblical scholarship. This confronts the sad trend, as Gruenler points out, of scholars who esteem man’s opinions and ideas above God’s words. Even sadder, he shows multiple examples of ostensibly “evangelical” and “conservative” authors falling into this (as he once did himself).

I would recommend this book for those interested in an approach to biblical scholarship that maintains the integrity of God’s inerrant and infallible word.

Martin Luther, God’s Man of Destiny, by Basil Miller, published by Zondervan Publishing House, 1942.

Martin Luther “was to be the most significant man in spiritual history since Paul,” says Basil Miller in this 1942 tome (p. 13). Regardless of your attitude towards Martin Luther, wouldn’t you agree?

This biography of such an important historical figure is well-written, concise, and, I believe, supported largely by facts. The author passionately affirms Martin Luther and his causes, which sometimes may lead him to paint the Reformer in overly-flattering light, but I thought their fire (Luther’s and this biographer’s) was refreshingly contagious.

Finally, though the events of this book happened more than 400 years ago, I saw multiple parallels to the challenges facing today’s Western church. For instance, we are still fighting attacks against the absolute authority of Scripture, and the desire for “man’s wisdom” to usurp God’s wisdom, even from within the “church”. Perhaps God is looking for new “Luthers” to rise up today…

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