Searching for the Original Bible
Randall Price, Harvest House Publishers, 2007, ISBN 9780736910545, 293 pages, $12.99, softcover.
Price examines the evidence that elicits the question, "Do we have a reliable Bible that has remained relatively unchanged since its inception?" When the evidence is examined by an unbiased witness, the author concludes that both our Old and New Testaments can be safely trusted as a reliable canon given by the Holy Spirit.
The writer points out that the original copies of Scripture were written on perishable materials. Over time, these originals decayed or were destroyed, but carefully transcribed copies replaced older manuscripts. Errors in copying resulted in minor variations in different copies of the same book. By carefully comparing very old copies with more recent ones, we can determine that any copyists' errors were minor and did not affect any major doctrine.
Price also addresses the problem of so-called "lost" books of the Bible. Several works are mentioned in the Old Testament but are not included in our present Bible. He claims that these books were not preserved by the Holy Spirit because they were never intended to be in the inspired text.
The so-called Gnostic Gospels questioned the origin, life, and ministry of Jesus. Writings from this sect raised questions like: "Was Jesus originally considered divine?" "Was Jesus married?" "Was Judas a hero or a villain?" "Did the Gospel of Thomas present a more accurate picture than the Gospel of John?" Price concludes that the early church rejected these writings as heretical and refused to recognize them as inspired.
The writer notes that though the original documents have all perished, we can be assured that the present canon represents the inspired text that the Holy Spirit intended.
Glen H. Jones
Type: Textual Criticism
Take: Highly Recommended
The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story
Whitney T. Kuniholm, InterVarsity Press, 2007, ISBN 9780830810987, 198 pages, $15.00, softcover.
Kuniholm said that she wrote The Essential Jesus so that readers may "discover who Jesus is and why He is so significant-even life-transforming." In each of the 100 sections the readers get a broad picture of the Lord's plan for a needy human race.
Each section follows a devotional layout: The reader is encouraged to pray about each reading, read the selected text from Scripture, read the author's reflection on the passage, apply the principles from Scripture, and pray that the Holy Spirit will use these teachings in his life.
The writer begins with John's account of the divine Jesus, the Creator of all things. She points out that Jesus is the essential truth of the entire Bible. As God Himself, He is worthy of praise, worship, and obedience.
Next, the author shows how sin entered the world, what God intended to do about it by choosing a nation through which Messiah would eventually be born. She highlights many of the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah's origin, birth, mission, and suffering.
Kuniholm shows that the New Testament further illuminates Messiah's mission. Jesus gathered disciples and taught them by parables, sermons, and miracles. He prepared them for His eventual death, resurrection, and ascension. Further sections of the book give us a look into the ministry of the apostles and the early church.
The final section of the book offers a poignant call to relationship with Christ. Kuniholm clearly wants readers to engage with the living Christ and know Him more fully.
Glen H. Jones
Type: Life of Jesus/Devotional
Take: Highly Recommended
A Practical Guide for Life and Ministry: Overcoming 7 Challenges Pastors Face
David Horner, Baker Books, 2008, ISBN 9780801091957, 283 pages, $17.99, softcover.
Horner-who has been used by God to build Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 12 families in 1978 to more than 2,500 weekly worshipers-offers hope for harried pastors. He believes balance is the key to juggling the many demands made upon pastors.
A key concept for maintaining healthy balance, Horner offers, is seeing your ministry in terms of competing weights and counter-weights: He pairs, for example, uncompromising vision vs. a teachable spirit; fixed priorities vs. flexibility; spiritual vitality vs. administrative duties; servant-minded ministry vs. delegated ministry; knowing self vs. knowing others; and discernment/sensitivity vs. logic and reason.
When any pair gets out of balance, we suffer. But Horner suggests that God uses each imbalance to call our attention to a need for change/growth in our ministries or ourselves.
Horner punctuates each chapter with discoveries drawn from his 30 years of ministry. The result is an encouraging read for discouraged pastors.
Type: Ministry Help
Authentic Spiritual Mentoring
Larry Kreider, Regal Books, 2008, ISBN 9780830744138, 223 pages, $14.99, softcover.
Larry Kreider, who has trained thousands of leaders worldwide, offers sound biblical principles for spiritual mentoring. His book contains three major parts: "The Importance of Spiritual Mentoring," "Finding a Spiritual Mentor," and "Being a Spiritual Mentor."
In Part One, the author emphasizes that every believer is called to be a spiritual mentor. Paul's advice to Timothy establishes this principle: "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). A spiritual mentor imparts spiritual truth to his "child," who in turn shares these truths with the mentor's "grandchild."
Part Three offers suggestions to the mentor. The mentor teaches his protégé to make increasingly mature decisions. The wise mentor will look for ways to release those he is helping so that they can act on their own as mentors to others.
Glen H. Jones