Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Berenstain Bears Collection

It seems like all the companies are banking on our nostalgia these days. Why not something wholesome like the Berenstain Bears? Stan and Jan Berenstain first started producing the books in 1962, and now their son Mike is continuing what they started. These new books are pretty faithful to the art style of the originals, but Mike uses more overt references to the Bible and Christian teaching.

I love that Zondervan is releasing the books in 5-in-1 collections. My kids never want me to read just one story, so having a multi-volume book like this means we can snuggle longer. The Friendship Blessings Collection includes stories about following mom's instructions, working hard and persevering, being faithful to our friends, being nice to people who are younger than us, and valuing people with disabilities. The first story strays from the usual format by using a rhyming scheme throughout like Dr. Seuss. It's somewhat silly, but my kids loved it. Sometimes the stories include Bible verses or someone explaining what the Bible teaches. It usually feels forced to me, but the message is positive and it gives parents a chance to talk about their faith, so I can live with the occasional moment of awkward dialogue.

I loved reading the Berenstain Bears as a kid, and I'm happy to share them with my own children.

I received this book from the publisher in order to complete my review.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A book on the Reformation that left me satisfied, with six measures left over!

Since 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, we can expect to see a good number of books about this period coming out over the next few months. I expect that Reformation Theology will vie for first place amongst them. This book is massive—over 750 pages, but as girth does not always equate to worth, it's the contributors that make this volume a must have for any serious student of the Reformation.

Matthew Barrett, a capable scholar in his own right, as editor leads an all-star cast of theologians and scholars who take you doctrine by doctrine through the eyes of the various figureheads of the Reformation like Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Bullinger, Calvin, Beza, Cranmer, and more. Many of their works and writings are cited, including ones most of us have probably never read, making the Reformers that much more accessible to us today.

"Introductory" materials (about 50 pages) take a step back to consider what we are celebrating this year and bring us back to the principle of reformation itself. From there the book launches into a "brief" (about 80 pages) look at the development of theology in the few centuries before the Reformation, as well as the Reformers themselves. Had the book ended there, I would have been happy and full with what I had gleaned, but then I was invited to the banquet itself and left with six measures more than I could have expected: 17 chapters on doctrines from Sola Scriptura to End Times.

This is not a book most (including myself) will sit down and read cover to cover, at least, not in one go. There's only so much one can digest at a time! But it is a book that I do plan to read cover to cover, a chapter here, a chapter there. I've already read through a good portion of it, and skimmed over a few more sections. It's well worth the read, and well worth having.

I received this book from the publisher in order to provide this review.