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I think the first thing  a new disciple should ask themselves or be taught is “what am I to do with the Old Testament and all of those laws”. In some churches the Old Testament is used as an inspirational manual, in others certain laws are used to curb subjective morality (clothes, tattoos) in some denominations the law is supposedly strictly adhered to (until you get to the stoning, real obedience to the sabbath, having mixed fabric clothing), some more solid brothers cancel 2/3rds of it and only uphold the Decalogue, some say those laws aren’t binding but borrow much from it to make certain points and then comes New Covenant Theology. I am of this persuasion and we teach that “All Old Testament Laws are Cancelled” thus consistently pitting the two covenants, the two mediators and work and grace against one another.

Mr Gibson does a really good job giving us a brief and decoded “theologically speaking” work on New Covenant Theology. The thesis of the book is simple and clear:

All Old Testament laws are cancelled, and all New Testament laws are for our obedience. But, you don’t have to agree with me to fellowship with me. If you know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s good enough for me. pg. 7

The book is laid out quite simply. The author provides 24 reasons why. In simple number format, supported with charts, scriptures, ending with a couple of appendices and scripture index.

Mr. Gibson provides numerous verses which describe the Old Covenant commandments and the attitude of these laws by the New Covenant writers. One of the simplest but most important distinctions is found on page 62 in where he shows the distinction between Regressive and Progressive Revelation. New Covenant Theologians believe that “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed. The Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed”

Mr . Gibson also does a brief overview of Christ’s statement “I did not come to abolish the law” in pages 41-55. This is a very brief discussion and would really take a few hundred pages to deal with extensively. Mr. Gibson does however try to squeeze a bunch of truth into those 15 pages, but again this is not the intent of the book so it is treated with as many pages as the book allows.

In pages 81-89, he deals with defining and discussing the 10 Commandments as the Decalogue which really can’t be separated from the rest of the Old Covenant Law. Regardless of what my Covenant brothers say the Ceremonial, Civil and Moral are not biblical terms. John Reisinger in his work “The Tablets of Stone” does an unbelievable job thoroughly working through the definitions and exposing the false dichotomies of the Law.

Mr. Gibson finishes with what I think to believe Covenant Theology’s weakest point. That is the law and sanctification. Sanctification for a Christian is Christ Centered. That is because the power is from Christ and the ability to obey is intertwined within the New Covenant while the Old Covenant is what it is “a ministry of death”. Mr. Gibson also shows that the 10 Commandments are thoroughly insufficient in how we are to love one another (the one another’s) while the New Covenant Law of Christ gives us direct commands on how to live this out and the power to do it.

There are a few setbacks. For an introduction Mr. Gibson spends very little time contrasting Dispensationalism, though this is not the intent of the book it would have been good to see how we differ. Mr. Gibson also does very little exposition on the many verses he provides. Because the book is more illustrative I believe this is why this occurs. But it would be good to have provided some good exposition on some of the key verses (Hebrews 8, the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 7, 2 Corinthians 3).

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know briefly what New Covenant Theology believes and why we have a radical discontinuity with the Old Covenant as a “gracious covenant” as many of my Covenant Theologian brothers would say.

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Viola Frank. The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament . Destiny Image Publishers , 2005. pp. 208. $10.04
Frank Viola author of Pagan Christianity, Rethinking the Wineskin and now Reimagining Church has provided the Body of Christ a Gem in this work. The book sets out to put the New Testament in Chronological order, filling in gaps, and helping the reader of the New Testament to see, smell, touch and hear what our 1st century brothers and sisters would have experienced during the time the “Church” is being built by Jesus Christ through the work of the Spirit in the lives of the Apostles and others.

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Carter, Anthony. Experiencing the Truth:Bringing the Reformation to the African-American Church. Crossway Books , 2008. pp. 192. $12.99

Anthony Carter, Ken Jones and Michael Leach are all pastors. Anthony Carter pastors East Point Church in East Point (Atlanta) Georgia, Ken Jones pastors Greater Union Baptist Church   and Michael Leach pastors All Saints Redeemer Church located in Decatur (Atlanta) Georgia. Anthony Carter also published another ground breaking work titled “On Being Black and Reformed”.

The purpose of the book can be easily indentified in the sub-title “Bringing the Reformation to the African American Church”. The authors feel that if the Gospel is going to advance amongst those of the African American community it is imperative that the current practice be reformed. The authors go through and clearly explain exactly what this means (Biblical Theology Chapters 1-2) and what it should look like (Chapters 3-5). Anthony Carter sums the book up with an appeal for the Doctrines of Grace to be embraced amongst those of the African American community and the book ends with an appendix pack full of very practical ways to flush out a Reformed Worship Service.

The Review

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Okay I am over half-way through the book. It started a little rough for me, given the fact that I am not covenantal though some of my favorite teachers are, including Ken Jones. I want to tell you that Mr. Carter’s chapters on preaching and worship are worth the price of the book alone. I am going to give a few quotes. Please pick this work up. There are things that I will disagree with but I will leave that for the final review which is to happen this weekend. God willing! Also please check out the Council of Reforming Churches also. You can get information on the authors of this book and other Reformed and Biblically Sound African American Pastors and the work they are doing to spread the Supremacy of Christ to the entire world.

“Christians in too many of our churches today are far more interested in being served rather than serving. When they go to church, they are more interested in what they get than what they give. They are more concerned with being entertained than being edified. Subsequently, the sad state of affairs is that more often than not entertainment has replaced worship. yet we need to under that worship is not entertainment” (Carter pg. 83)

“Thus when we come to church, we want what we so readily receive all week long–fast-paced, up-to-the-minute, quality, graphic entertainment. Unfortunately, too many places on Sunday morning are eager (emphasis mine) to give people what they want in an effort to reach them, or more accurately, to woo them in to membership” (Carter pg 86)

On preaching he says:

“Biblical, experiential preaching begins with a commitment to the Bible as the Word of God. The preacher who would have any long term creditability will be the preacher who consistently demonstrates that the Bible is the source of divine revelation and information. It is the place where he derives his authority and the place where his authority is checked” (Carter page 65)

On preaching the 5 Solas he says this of preaching Grace (which gave me goose bumps)

“We belittle grace and deny our people the best when we offer them financial security, self-esteem, positive-thinking, and even family values instead of the all-satisfying grace of God. Money will not satisfy when the doctors want to pull the plug on the life-support systems. People need Grace. Positive thinking will not satisfy when a child drops out of school and joins a cult. People need Grace. Family values won’t satisfy when she files for divorce papers because she wants no part of the faith. People need Grace”. (Carter pg. 75)

This is just a teaser. The book is jam packed with this type of Christ exalting information. The book is written by some pretty heavy reformed guys so some of the stuff you may not agree with, but the quotes above over populates the pages. I will provide a review by the weekend.

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Justification and Regeneration

I just wanted to recommend a wonderful book by Charles Leiter. This book deals scripturally (a bunch of scriptures and footnotes to scriptures that are a great help) with both Justification and Regeneration. I believe one of the most overlooked and under-emphasized doctrines of the bible is regeneration. There has been about 3 big theological works in the last year or so dealing with justification but regeneration has been mostly ignored. I believe this is why Romans 7 is so widely viewed as the “wretched Christian” verses (once again another blog post). However I believe Regeneration is more important and I believe the bible deals with it just as much as Justification (this book will prove that scripturally). Most Christians really don’t understand what Paul means when he says “put off the old man” and “put on the new man” both pivotal in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4.

So on to the book there are so many great quotes that I didn’t want to do the book a disservice by quoting them. However the first half of the book deals with Justification and the latter half Regeneration. The book has a few appendixes one being a expositional work on Romans 7 and the wrethced man which is worth the book alone. Mr. Paul Washer does the preface and really has your mouth watering with anticipation. Mr. Leiter does an unbelievable job using the bible to deduce his conclusions and not Christian “experience” (which is where a lot of books I read miss as it relates to sanctification/regeneration).

Finally the book is very reasonable. I have had it for, well… I actually preordered it a while ago. Anyway, buy this book it is unbelievable for new believers and brothers or sisters struggling with their faith. The number one reason is because it is not wordy, it is very simple and quotes the bible extensively. Please purchase this book rather a new believer or a seasoned vet, I believe the justification the latter will find quite simple but the regeneration portion may be a huge challenge and for those who continually quote Romans 7 as a believer it could definitely cause you to rethink that position. God bless.

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I once thought of writing a book about a year or two ago called “Barbershop Theology: How to Defend the Faith in Urban Culture” I actually had begun to write some stuff on my old blog along those lines and was going to get it edited and shop it around. Well it didn’t come for two reasons. 1. God decided to use Eric Redmond instead” 2. I don’t think I could have got Piper to endorse it! LOL

On a more serious note. I just finished reading the book and wanted to post my review/thoughts. This is my first book review so give me grace as I start to grow in this area…

Pastor Redmond  (who pastors Hillcrest Baptist Chruch in Maryland) has wrote a very brief, narrowed and concise book in this book. The book works like a conversation. There are 9 days and then a few appendices at the end. The book totals about 100 pages or so so it only took me about two and a half hours to read over two days. Each day there is a question by the “brother” and Pastor Redmond responds biblically, gently, and persuasively while avoiding using theological terms (academic ones anyway), avoiding just overlooking the importance of the question and avoiding letting the brother off the hook. Each of the questions are relevant and each answer is biblical.

Pastor Redmond definitely has his ear to street or at least is engaged in the local barbershop. These questions made me laugh as I thought about the 100’s of conversations I have had with my barber of 7 years and whenever I have to sit in at a shop when I missed my appointment. Everyone seems to be barber chair theologians, politicians and sports experts, two of the three I can care less about. I usually find myself in the middle of some pretty philosophical conversations, typically because I can’t sit back and allow someone to ridicule the Christian Faith. This book will be a help two three types of people.

1. The person who really doesn’t know how to defend the faith has very little theological training.

2. A person who has barber who loves to talk about spiritual matters but you know to be thoroughly clueless. This book would be a nice gift for them. So buy it for them

3. You are a person who has stumbled along this site and want to no more about the Christian faith but in a way that is relevant to your life experience.

The nine questions are:

1. Isn’t the church full of hypocrites

2. Wasn’t the bible written by men?

3. Isn’t the church geared towards women?

4. Isn’t the preacher just a man?

5. Doesn’t Islam offer more for black men?

6. Aren’t some churches just after your money?

7. Is organized religion necessary?

8. Jesus never claimed to be God (big one here folks)

9. What to look for to find a good church?

Appendix A: Christ fulfillment of OT prophecies and

Appendix B: The church does not welcome homosexuals

Some quotes:

The fact that God worked with men to give his Word to us is not a slight against the Word of God but is an example of the great kindness of God to trust us with His word

Mere human writers would definitely have removed fornication, adultery, gluttony, stealing, lying, gossiping, and greed from their list of Sins! Most certainly, mere human writers would not have made us responsible for the crucifixion of the Son of God!

The lack of challenge from the the pulpit to women to hold their tongues, be busy at home, submit to their husbands and show respect to their husbands (in the Chapter Isn’t the church geared towards women)

It is because you, and many brothers like you are needed to fill places at church and take their God-given, Scripture-prescribed roles as leaders-as pastors, elders, preachers, teachers, deacons, older men who are respected, wisdom-giving example-setters, disciple-makers, loving husbands, and nurturing fathers, So go take your place…..

Ordination is a process in which a candidate for ministry should be tested on his Bible knowledge, theological depth, giftedness for ministry, ministry experience, and wisdom in decision-making.

The preacher, as one responsible for teaching the Scriptures, the Word of God–God’s very own words–should have the ability to explain clearly the meaning of passages of Scripture when he preaches. That meaning should be derived from the meaning God intended in the passage.

Only expositional preaching of the Scriptures has the power to transform and strenghten one’s soul, for God will be speaking

Churches, however should maek an ordination process the clergy’s equivalent of the Bar Exam, Professional Engineer Exam, or Medical Board Certifying Exam.

However, as with any religion, it is up to each individual to practice what he believes. A lack of practice on the part of some does not discredit the entire religion. Even for Islam, people do not reject it because some members of the Nation of Islam assassinated Malcom X or because some Muslims are terrorists.

The there is the persistent appearance that the preacher is getting rich off people, driving a luxury car, living in the best home in the suburbs or exurbia, and dressing himself and his wife int he finest clothes.

Organized institutions and industries offer far greater benefits and protection, and less confusion, than unorganized institutions or equivalents. Unorganized religion would work the same way as other unorganized institutions. Or, to turn the images around, organized religion speaking now only for the church intends the god of every individual

Those are just a few quotes. My only struggle was an emphasis on theological education in which it seems like the theological education was strictly institutional versus other methods of getting theological training. This may be a personal hang up of mine but that is what is seemed like in the chapter “Isn’t the preacher just a man”. But I thoroughly enjoyed the book and wanted to review it before Fathers Day but at least I made the Father’s day deadline. Buy this book as a late gift for your friends or loved ones. Or take $30 dollars buy three copies and leave them strategically at barbershops, beauty salons, or even give them to a co-worker. Don’t forget family reunion time is upon us so this would be a good way to reach out to our lost loved ones. God bless and hope this was  a fair presentation.

 

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