Sunday, August 20, 2017

Finally, a Zondervan Kids' Study Bible I can recommend

The Zondervan NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible boasts over 700 images. They range from pictures of historical places, objects, and animals; drawings; infographics; timelines; etcetera. Even as an adult it is neat to see what the Biblical places really look like, and the summary graphics like “Big Ideas in [book]” and “Key Words in [book]” help readers of all ages get a better grasp of what they’re reading. There were a few Wordle-like graphics such as Titles of Christ, which includes both the titles and the verse references. There was also a neat cartoon depiction of grafting a wild olive shoot onto a domesticated olive tree in Romans 11.

The study notes average about two or three per page. That seems appropriate for young children and preteens. My five-year-old enjoyed reading a few of the introductory notes to Mark, and I anticipate having her use this Bible more and more as they start using the Bible more in Sunday school.

The last time I reviewed a Zondervan children’s study Bible I was terribly disappointed over the undercutting of traditional Christian teachings about the age and origin of Scripture, promotion of egalitarianism, and a strong stance against Calvinism. This Bible offers no qualifications when it says Luke wrote the book of Acts and Paul wrote the Pastorals. In Romans 9 the notes read “God chooses people. Paul said that God has the right to grant mercy to whomever he chooses,” and, “The example of a potter making pottery. This was aa way of showing that God, like a potter, is in control of his creation and makes choices about the world and people.” The notes do leave it open on the question of whether women can teach and exercise authority over men, but it is only one note that I can find.

Overall I would recommend the Bible for children between the ages of 5 and 12.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MacArthur on Paul's Gospel

One of the things I have come to appreciate from John MacArthur's preaching and teaching ministry is his commitment to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. He can sometimes seem like a cranky grandparents when he goes on the attack, but when he talks about the gospel he is right on point. I have enjoyed many of his books, but none that I have read has been so focused on explaining the basic gospel message as much as his recent book, The Gospel According to Paul.

In it MacArthur zeros in on the historical event of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He takes a look at Romans to establish that we are all sinners, and explains that we can only be saved by faith in Christ. Looking at Ephesians he shares what it means to be “in Christ” and the role of good works in the life of a believer. In addition to his expository treatment of key New Testament passages, he offers a lengthy defense of the substitutionary atonement in the appendices and some sermons by both himself and the great gospel preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

MacArthur has proven himself to be a capable Bible expositor. Those who find themselves agreeing with much is the elegy will enjoy this return to the basics. Those who find themselves at odds with him on occasion will have less of a reason to do so in this volume if they hold to the one gospel all Christians are called to proclaim.

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of providing this review.