Review: Catching Ricebirds

27982781There are few things more inspiring than a well-written autobiography. This combination is not as easy to pull off as some might think, but when done successfully the results are nothing short of gripping. It is one thing to tell your story; it is another thing altogether to tell your story in such a way that the reader can connect with you on a personal level. Catching Ricebirds: A Story of Letting Vengeance Go by Marcus Doe has pulled off this combination masterfully.

Catching Ricebirds is a uniquely captivating story that has interwoven the gruesome reality of a young boy growing up amid the Liberian Civil War and the penetrating power of the gospel. Those in America have historically had little exposure to the events that took place at the turn of the century in Liberia. While I was only about ten years old at the time, I can’t even remember single media report covering these horrifying events. So, to enter into this world for the first time through the eyes of a young boy at the center of the conflict was quite an emotional experience.

Still, with the emotions aside, the most inspiring aspect of this book is the transparency of the author as he carries the reader into his journey of restoration and realization in the gospel. It is here that the reader will buckle at the knees with thanksgiving for the transforming power of grace and forgiveness.

Catching Ricebirds is an important story to be told in today’s politically-charged context. Marcus brings the reader into his world like a close friend. He introduces them to his family, transparently guides them through the pain and turmoil of his heart, and leads them to a place where he found restoration in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is a book that will encourage your heart and ignite your soul to see the life-changing power of the gospel in an exciting and new way! It comes highly recommended!!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: John Calvin

0664231810T. H. L. Parker is a widely respected authority on the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin. Parker is the author of numerous books related to Calvin, including, Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought, Calvin’s Preaching, Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: Studies in the Theology of John Calvin, and Portrait of Calvin. Parker’s career has in many ways been Calvin-saturated, and the present volume displays this reality extremely well.

John Calvin: A Biography beautifully chaperons the reader from the early years of Calvin’s childhood and youth, all the way unto his anonymous burial in a common cemetery. The roadmap that is traveled between the dates that would have been on Calvin’s tombstone, had he been buried with one, is both exciting and encouraging, and Parker masterfully illustrates the story as would a close friend or family member. The book itself is extremely well-written and easy to digest. Although some historical knowledge about the context is assumed by the author, and, therefore, will lack the needed explanation for some.

The reader will be hard-pressed if tasked the duty of deciding which sections of the book are to be considered most helpful, as Parker does an excellent job throughout. The book is both well documented and thoroughly researched. My only complaint is the utilization of endnotes rather than footnotes. Nevertheless, I think most readers prone to pick up a biography on John Calvin will appreciate the interwoven discussion about the development of the Christianae Religionis Institutio—more commonly known as, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Parker also has an outstanding and informative retelling of the trial and death of Servetus—another event most readers will be eager to engage with concerning John Calvin. Furthermore, Parker has also included two very important appendices dealing with the dating for various events in Calvin’s life and Calvin’s conversion story.

John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker is an authoritative, accurate, and informative representation of one of the most influential individuals of all time. Parker has displayed his knowledge of “all-things” Calvin well, and the book reads more like a memoir from a close friend than an interested biographer. While there remains to this day some several hundred biographies about the man John Calvin, few will come as close to the man himself than this. If you are looking for a concise engagement into the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin, John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker should be your first stop. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Rudolf Bultmann

27792023David W. Congdon is associate editor at IVP Academic. Congdon has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary and is the author of the massive tome The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Fortress Press, 2015), and a number of articles related to Rudolf Bultmann, his thought, theology, and relationships. In many ways, Congdon has positioned himself as the ideal candidate for the present volume in the Cascade Companions series, Rudolf Bultmann: A Companion to His Theology (Cascade, 2015).

Rudolf Bultmann is arguably one of the most important theological thinkers of the nineteenth century, if not the most important. He is a notoriously perplexing intellectual, despite his influence having penetrated nearly corner of the theological globe. Still, today, Rudolf Bultmann remains negatively characterized by many. Unfortunately, as Congdon rightly articulates in his introduction, most that have formulated such characterizations about Bultmann have done so without first seeking to understand the man within his educational and theological context. In other words, while disagreement with Bultmann may be valid and significant, it is important to remember that Bultmann was an intellectual mind birth within a historical context that shaped his thought—for better or worse. It is here that Congdon rightly positions the investigation into the theology of Rudolf Bultmann.

Congdon enters into the conversation quickly and constructs a proper historical framework for the reader to better understand the later and more mature Bultmannian thought. Congdon does well in setting the stage, introducing the players, and identifying how an eschatological foundation became the launch-pad of traditionally recognized Bultmannian thought. By starting with Bultmann’s eschatological dilemma, Congdon rightly sets the pace for the reader in seeing Bulman as a man wrestling with theological issues of his day and better positions the conversation around the issue pertaining to dialectical theology, kerygma, myth, and Bultmannian hermeneutics among other themes.

It would be beyond scope here to interact with everything Congdon has done in his examination and presentation of Bultmann’s theology, but a few highlights are worth mentioning. First, as stated above, Congdon has rightly positioned the reader to better understand and interact with Bultmann. He hasn’t cleared all the mud from the water, but he has certainly made the waters more manageable and enjoyable. Second, it is clear that Congdon has spent time with Bultmann and those within his immediate circle. Congdon’s ability to synthesize and explain the development and deployment of various Bultmannian themes to the beginning student is both astounding and uncommon. Third, while reading an introductory text such as this may result in greater familiarity with the figure or topic, only the naïve will assume there is no need for further investigation. Consequently, apart from a healthy bibliography, Congdon has provided a helpful “further reading” section to point the reader in the right direction.

It is hard to think of a more qualified individual than David W. Congdon to bring the reader into the thought and theology of one of Christendom’s most controversial biblical interpreters. Congdon has provided a provocative and engaging introductory volume that is certain to be enjoyed by both the familiar and soon-to-be familiar Bultmannian enthusiasts. In a moment of personal reflection, this is likely one of the most helpful books I have read all year. Bultmann is complex, but Congdon makes him approachable. If you are in the market for a short, well-written, and thoroughly distilled volume on one of the most important figures of the modern period, then Rudolf Bultmann: A Companion to His Theology should be at the top of your wishlist.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.