Echoes of Exodus (book review)

Alastair J. Roberts and Andrew Wilson
Echoes of Exodus
Crossway, 2018

echoes of exodus

Carl Trueman once wrote a critique of biblical theology where he said that we’re in danger of fulfilling the old joke about the Christian fundamentalist who, when asked what was grey, furry, and lived in a tree, responded that ‘It sure sounds like a squirrel, but I know the answer to every question is Jesus’. For Roberts and Wilson, the answer to every question is the Exodus. They see its pattern everywhere in Scripture. Sometimes this leads to new insights you haven’t thought of before – and other times it leaves you saying: ‘really’? For example, they comment on Gen 26:16 that ‘The Philistines have blocked all of Abraham’s wells, which might remind us of the blocked wombs they experienced when Abimelech took Sarah into his harem’. Even if it was the same word in Hebrew (it’s not), that seems a bit of a stretch.

Even when the connections they trace seem more legitimate, I was at times left wondering whether the instance they cite really was an echo of the Exodus, or whether the similarities were just due to the fact that both God (eg he tends to raise up the needy) and human nature don’t change. And even if the patterns are legitimate, it doesn’t seem like many of them would preach. Surely we would rather be saying ‘Doesn’t this remind you of Jesus’, than ‘Doesn’t this remind you of Moses’.

Of course, you don’t have to go along with every single one of their connections to enjoy the book. The book will give you a renewed appreciation of the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament, which simply aren’t there in what is claimed as further revelation today (eg the Book of Mormon). It will also help show that when the psalm writers look back to the Exodus, they aren’t just looking back to one historical event, which needs updated now Jesus has come – they are singing of the ongoing pattern of God’s saving power. Overall though, while they are some nice insights, this isn’t a must-read.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Spurgeon on the Christian life (book review)

Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ
Michael Reeves
Crossway, 2018

9781433543876

One of the strengths of Crossway’s ‘Theologians on the Christian Life’ series has been in the authors with which they’ve matched the theologians. This combination of Reeves and Spurgeon is a particularly good example. Just watch his talk with the same title at the Banner UK ministers’ conference and you’ll see the relish he has in sharing some of the quotations. A ‘doom and gloom’ Christian couldn’t have done justice to Spurgeon – and Reeves is anything but that. Nor could a pretentious one; both the theologian and his biographer realise that ‘To think that difficulty of style is an indicator of depth of substance is only the mistake of the intellectually proud’.

One of Reeves’s concerns is that outside Baptist circles, Spurgeon is treated merely as a ‘fund of delicious but disconnected proverbs’. This book provides plenty of these ‘delicious proverbs’ – but it does also help see how they fit together. Spurgeon and Reeves are healthy correctives to gloomy, graceless, speculative, non-Christ centred Christianity.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Great start to a book review!


“Unless you are a member of a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA, “the Covenanters”) or another similar denomination, in all probability the way your congregation worships today is not much like the way Reformed and Presbyterian congregations worshiped in the 16th and 17th centuries. If, however, you are like most other P&R Christians, you probably are not aware of that discrepancy. You might assume that the way your congregation conducts its public worship is the way the P&R churches have always done but, in fact, that assumption would not be justified.”

R Scott Clark reviews Reformation Worship

Faith. Hope. Love. (book review)

Faith. Hope. Love.: The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace
Mark Jones
Crossway, 2017

9781433555664

The trailer for one of Crossway’s most recent releases, The Gospel Comes with a House Key, shows a family sitting round the dinner table singing psalms. It’s not exactly the sort of thing you expect from a publisher like Crossway, which leans more towards New Calvinism than Old. Not quite as eyebrow-raising, but still pleasantly surprising, is a book that advocates paedobaptism (and the hope we can have for the salvation of our children) and the threefold division of the law, has a chapter on the Lord’s Day, commends the psalms as Trinitarian and modern worship as not emotional enough in comparison, and advocates parenting in light of the indicatives and imperatives of the gospel. As well as that, the book has Jones’ usual Christ-centred and Trinitarian emphases, and is chock-full of quotations from church fathers, Reformers and (particularly) Puritans. The book contains 58 short chapters, each starting with a catechism-style question and answer that the chapter then fleshes out. A good few of them started life as Reformation 21 articles, so if you followed Jones before his writing got too controversial for the Alliance, you’ll recognise some of them. It’s surprising the variety of topics that can somehow be tied in to the themes of Faith, Hope and Love.

What’s not to like? 58 chapters is a bit excessive, even if they only take 5 minutes to read. They would be good pump-primers before your devotions, but 30 or 40 might have been sufficient. He also advocates lying in some circumstances as a form of love. On the whole though, this is a really strong book. I didn’t like it quite as much as his previous one, perhaps because it took so long to plough through. Both books however have the advantage of being modern works, but quote so much from a wide-variety of Puritans that you don’t feel as if you’re choosing the 21st century over the giants of the past.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Making All Things New (book review)

Making all things new: restoring joy to the sexually broken
David Powlison
Crossway, 2017

Making all things new

Tony Reinke, who I have a lot of time for, ranked this as the 8th best book of 2017. At the same time, the title and author combination might sound familiar to those who’ve read Crossway’s ‘Sex and the Supremacy of Christ’ (2005), where Powlison had a chapter by the same name. So is this a chapter’s worth of good content bulked out and marketed, or is it a worthy book in it’s own right? For the first half of the book I’d have said the former, and for the second half I’d have said the latter.

In this book Powlison attempts to address both the sinner and the sinned-against – those tempted to/committing sexual sin, as well as those whoare the victims of sexual sin. This is done from the conviction that the same gospel applies to both, which I wholeheartedly agree with – however I don’t think Powlison’s attempt to combine the two works, and two separate and shorter books would have been better.

I found the most helpful part of the book to be when he showed the sexual sin is usually symptomatic of something else, and he is good at showing both those struggling, and those counselling them, how to get to the sin behind the sin. As he puts it ‘The bible is about behaviour, but it is never only about behaviour’.

Not a revolutionary book, but helpful nonetheless.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.