Daniel B. Wallace

New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace explained the discovery of a first century fragment from Mark’s Gospel in this interview.  This copy of Mark was made before A.D. 100, the earliest New Testament fragment discovered yet!

Review of Douglas Bond, “The Mighty Weakness of John Knox”

Review of Douglas Bond, “The Mighty Weakness of John Knox”

by Douglas Bond

The Mighty Weakness of John Knox, by Douglas Bond (Orlando, Florida: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2011).  Pp. 152.  Reviewed by John A. Battle.

Many Christian people in America, and even in Scotland, have not heard of John Knox.  Or if they have, they know him only as a “fiery Scottish reformer” who preached damnation sermons and bullied the lovely Mary, Queen of Scots.  Little admired or even noticed in his native Scotland—his tomb lies under a paved parking lot—John Knox is fading from the national memory.  And largely ignored by the Presbyterian churches of the world, even though he is considered the father of Presbyterianism, John Knox, when he is remembered, is pictured as an embarrassing “odd uncle,” a frightfully bigoted and unpleasant fellow who doesn’t at all fit in with our enlightened and ecumenical environment.

Is it fair that we are relegating Knox to a dusty bookshelf of history, or are we missing something very important?  Douglas Bond has done us all a favor by bringing this sixteenth century reformer into the light for us to see.  Unlike the common misconception, Knox was not a fire-breathing, insensitive bully.  Rather, he was small, naturally timid, and totally lacking in self-confidence.  Yet, he managed to lead the Reformation of the church in Scotland and to establish the Presbyterian system there, from where it spread to many countries around the world.

Knox himself led a most varied and exciting life, full of danger, suffering, conflict, and fame.  As in many other books on Knox, Bond outlines the major events in Knox’s life.  From his early conversion to the Protestant cause Knox aligned himself with Reformed leaders, starting with George Wishart, carrying a claymore to defend him while he preached.  After Wishart was burned at the stake, Knox joined a group of Protestants holed up in a castle in St. Andrews and became their preacher.  French warships attacked and captured the garrison, making Knox a galley slave.  Knox rowed, chained to the oar, for nineteen months before being released.  After serving in various places in England, Knox had to flee to Geneva during the reign of “Bloody” Mary Tudor; he stayed there six years.  In Geneva Knox became the pastor of the English-speaking Reformed congregation there and grew in his knowledge and maturity under the leadership of John Calvin.

When Mary Tudor died it was safe for Knox and other Protestants to return.  He traveled throughout Scotland, preaching and promoting reformed theology and a presbyterian type of church government free from control by the monarch.  In spite of threats he continued to preach and became the leader of the Protestants in Scotland.  A short time later the Scottish parliament voted to adopt the Reformed faith and to establish the system of church government Knox taught.  During the following twelve years Knox continued his fearless preaching and refused to compromise with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots.  By the time of his death in 1572, Scotland was firmly Presbyterian, and has remained so, at least in name, until this day.

Interesting and engaging as Knox’s life is, what makes Bond’s account unique is his detailed analysis of the personality of Knox.  Unlike the more public and confrontational Luther, Knox did not seek out this open controversy, nor did he believe himself equal to the forces arrayed against him.  As Bond demonstrates most forcefully, Knox recognized his own weakness.  He sought his strength from God and relied heavily on God’s power and providence—hence the title of the book,The Mighty Weakness of John Knox.  As God said to Paul “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), so God used Knox powerfully because Knox knew his own weakness.

Bond organizes his analysis of the power of Knox’s personal weaknesses and his consequent reliance on God’s power in four chapters: his submission to Christ, his life of prayer, his preaching, and his writing.  In three chapters he reflects on the sources of Knox’s strength in God—the power of the doctrine of predestination, the divine pattern of empowering the weak, and the legacy of strength left to us who follow.  These seven chapters are the heart of the book, and they provide a mighty “sermon” to us, a tremendous encouragement to follow all that is best in Knox’s example.

The book concludes with a helpful time line of important Reformation events and events in Knox’s life and with a full printing of the Scots Confession of Faith, written by Knox and others.  Endnotes, a bibliography, and an index complete the volume.

The Mighty Weakness of John Knox is a small volume, but very rich in inspiration as well as in historical acumen.  I recommend it for anyone interested in Reformation history, especially for Presbyterians.  As a high school teacher, Douglas Bond communicates well with young people, and this book is especially useful for young people seeking to make their lives count for the Lord.

Bible-Reading Plan Now Also in SPANISH!

Read the Bible in a year, in chronological order and with each day’s reading being about the same length (20 minutes average).  The Plan can be printed out on a single sheet of paper, front and back, and used for a bookmark.  Now in SPANISH as well as ENGLISH.

Download PLAN

Review of John C. Lennox,
"God’s Undertaker"

Review of John C. Lennox, <br/>"God’s Undertaker"

By John C. Lennox

God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, by John C. Lennox (Oxford: Lion, 2009).  Pp. 224.  Reviewed by John A. Battle.

The first time I heard of John Lennox was listening online to his debate against Richard Dawkins.  Not only was he able to stand up to Dawkins’s arguments, but he concluded with a sterling appeal to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the final proof that God exists and has revealed himself to us.  Dawkins responded that he was “disappointed” that Lennox would bring that matter up in a scientific debate, but I was encouraged. Later, hearing Lennox in person speaking in Washington State, I was further impressed by his knowledge, fluency, and ability to explain complex ideas to a popular audience.

John Lennox is Professor in Mathematics in Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College.  In addition to being a leading mathematician and philosopher of science, Lennox is a committed Christian and an outspoken apologist.  In addition to debating famous atheists like Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, Lennox speaks to popular audiences to encourage their faith in God and the biblical revelation.

This recent book presents a strong case for God as the intelligent, powerful Creator of the universe.  As an expert in mathematics, including probability and chaos theory, Lennox analyzes and explains the fine tuning of the physical forces and constants of the universe, and the information richness of the genetic code. These facts point to intelligent input. Lennox does not “argue from analogy, but [makes] an inference to the best explanation” (p. 175).  This is not a “god of the gaps” argument, where, as science progresses, the need for “god” shrinks.  Rather, it is an “atheism of the gaps” argument, as each new scientific advance provides more, not less, evidence for a divine, intelligent Creator.

The book surveys the major areas of debate—the origin and design of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of the major types of life, and the information-rich content of the genetic code.  In each of these areas Lennox documents his statements well, citing leaders in each field.  He selects the strongest, not the weakest, argument of his opponents and treats them fairly.  In all these diverse subject areas, he emphasizes the issues that relate to his own strength and expertise.

Near the end of his book Lennox discusses the philosophical contribution of David Hume, who supposedly destroyed the argument for God based on the design found in various creatures.  These pages summarize and state well the fallacy of Hume, and the emptiness of modern arguments by atheists who quote him.

This book is fun to read, even though sometimes the reading is heavy.  I recommend it to all who desire to argue for the existence and work of the God of the Bible. It also is helpful to all Christians who have feared that their beliefs somehow are unscientific or unreasonable.

Review of Hoffmeier,
"The Archaeology of the Bible"

Review of Hoffmeier, <br/>"The Archaeology of the Bible"

By James K. Hoffmeier

The Archaeology of the Bible, by James K. Hoffmeier (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2008). Pp. 191. Reviewed by John A. Battle.

If you’re looking for an attractive, well balanced survey of biblical archaeology by a recognized expert, this volume would serve your purpose well.  James Hoffmeier is an experienced archaeologist, specializing in the region of Egypt where the Israelites lived and through which they traversed to the Holy Land.  Hoffmeier, unlike many modern “minimalists,” takes historical texts seriously, whether from the Bible or from Egyptian or other sources.  While he teaches at a Christian institution and holds to an evangelical view of the Bible, he openly points out where the biblical record is strongly attested by archaeology and where that record has difficulties.  He makes it clear that we do not presently have all the data, and probably never will; therefore, he says, we need to suspend judgment in some cases.

The book is well organized with an introduction to archaeology and its practice in the biblical lands.  He then goes chronologically through the major periods of Israel’s history and the times of the early church, showing the important archaeological discoveries that help to explain or illuminate the biblical text.  Since his specialty is in the archaeology of the Egyptian settlement and exodus of Israel, his contributions in these chapters are especially interesting.  He supports the so-called late date for the exodus.  The materials he includes for the study of the united and divided monarchy of Israel are especially strong and well illustrated.  The chapters on the New Testament trace the major locations and artifacts for the life of Jesus, the early Judean church, and the cities of Paul.  Since the book is fairly recent, it includes major recent discoveries
that further illumine the biblical narrative, including continuing debate on the Shroud of Turin and an interesting discussion on the disputed ossuary of James the brother of Jesus.

The Archaeology of the Bible is printed on high quality glossy paper, and the photography and graphics are excellent, making this book a good choice for a class or Bible study.  Hoffmeier manages to cover a lot of material in fewer than 200 pages, and consequently many items are mentioned without much detail.  This is a necessary tradeoff, and can be overcome by looking online for more details on any particular item.  A helpful index makes looking up any particular city or event or artifact easy.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in biblical history or archaeology, especially to see the broad sweep of archaeology’s contribution to the study of the Bible.

Review of McGrath,
"Christianity’s Dangerous Idea"

Review of McGrath,<br/>"Christianity’s Dangerous Idea"

by Alister McGrath

by John A. Battle

What, exactly, is the essence of Protestantism?  Alister McGrath, professor of historical theology at the University of Oxford, concludes this large work with his definition, Protestantism is more than a set of doctrines; it is a method of doing theology and the work of the church.  It is the dangerous idea that every individual Christian may go back to the original (Christ and the Bible) and reformulate, revise, and adapt the historic faith to fit his own culture and setting, to his own understanding.  Thus he titles his book Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution—A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First.

This pattern is observed in the original Protestant reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Rather than a single united Protestant movement, it was a conglomeration of several different “Protestantisms” growing in various places, adapting patterns and thinking from those places.

While some Protestant traditions currently have “frozen” the positions of former generations, others have kept the method more open, and have adapted quickly to their settings.  This second group more consistently reflects the genius of Protestantism, according to McGrath.

The book is divided into three major sections.  The first section, “Origination,” traces the history of the Protestant movement from the early German, Swiss, French, and English Reformers, especially Luther and Calvin, through the challenges of European culture and history, to its expansion into America and the world up through the nineteenth century.  Necessarily, the survey is quick and often superficial.

The second section, “Manifestation,” surveys the primary beliefs and positions taken by Protestants.  Various chapters deal with theological views of the Bible, major teachings regarding man and salvation, the church and sacraments, the Christian’s relation to culture, politics, and society, and the way Protestantism has interacted with science and the arts.  Again, the book quickly summarizes these important and detailed points.  I think his discussion of Protestantism and science was especially helpful.  Since Protestants include such a wide variety views on these subjects, it is hard to determine a center for each.  McGrath sees unity more in the idea of the method of theology (individual judgment from Scripture) than in the results in each of these areas.

The final section, “Transformation,” emphasizes the more recent history of Protestantism in America and in the “Global South,” that is, the Southern Hemisphere.  Especially important is the development and tremendous growth of Pentecostalism, whose adherents now outnumber all other Protestants put together.  McGrath sees this development as a natural outcome of the genius of Protestantism—the reinterpretation of Scripture by each generation, adapted to its own time and place.  He sees a bright future for Protestantism, viewed as a method with a very narrow agreed-upon base of doctrine, even if the older denominations decrease and fade away.  Not only is Protestantism able to adapt doctrinally to new situations, but, perhaps even more helpfully, is able to adapt the structure and worship of the church to different times and cultures.  This capability, he believes, makes the future of Protestantism impossible to describe, but it makes its future existence and growth more probable.

McGrath writes well, and in spite of the book’s length and subject matter, it becomes a real page-turner.  The area he covers is vast, and even with his expertise as a historical theologian, he is not able to cover many details in a more than cursory fashion.  I believe his statements regarding the history of conservative Reformed theology (the area I work in) sometimes show a lack of deep understanding.  Some of his criticisms seem unjust.  Likewise, he often fails to distinguish what I would consider to be orthodox from heterodox ideas.  He includes all parts of the spectrum—liberal and conservative—as Protestantism, and treats all as equally authentic versions.  In my view this detracts from the usefulness of the book.  Of course, he views this historically, without making judgments on the rightness or wrongness of the various positions, only their pragmatic successes or failures.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is its wideness, and the abundance of references to more detailed works in the extensive endnotes.  Also important is his defense of the methodology of Protestantism, as an answer to the Catholic criticism that there is no central authoritative magisterium.

Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution—A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First, by Alister E. McGrath (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007).  Pp. 552.

Review of David VanDrunen, "Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms"

by John A. Battle

            During the last few years a new controversy has come to conservative Reformed circles.  Historically Reformed and Presbyterian writers believed that secular nations should be ruled by natural law, which people can derive from nature, history, and conscience.  This law is basically the same as the “moral law,” the Ten Commandments, especially those commands regarding our duty to our fellow human beings.  According to these early writers, God rules over the nations of the world in his sovereignty, and holds them responsible to obey and uphold this natural law with the power of the sword.  Jesus, as the Son of God, is sovereign in this way, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

            On the other hand, earlier Reformed writers recognized Jesus Christ as sovereign over his special kingdom, the church.  The church is guided by the Bible as a whole, and enforces the will of Christ by its spiritual authority, not by physical force.  Jesus, as Messiah and Mediator of the new covenant, is sovereign over this second kingdom.

           According to this traditional understanding, the civil laws of the Old Testament were directed to national Israel under the theocracy.  They were not intended for the other nations, nor are they applicable today, except as they are tied to natural law.

            David VanDrunen believes that this traditional scheme is biblical and correct.  He further demonstrates in this book that this was the view of mainstream theology in the church, from the times of the church fathers, through the Middle Ages, through the Reformation times, and since then through the nineteenth century.

            However, in the last century many Reformed writers have attacked this position, and have taught in a single kingdom of Christ, denying the two kingdom and natural law teachings.  VanDrunen traces the main spokesmen and varying approaches of this movement, including Abraham Kuyper, Karl Barth, Herman Dooyeweerd, Cornelius Van Til, and other writers.  He sees two different lines of development from Van Til: Greg Bahnsen, who denies the two kingdoms and natural law, and Meredith G. Kline, who tends to support those teachings.

           VanDrunen’s book contains a wealth of footnotes to the scholarly literature, and represents a massive amount of study.  His collection and summation of the various writers’ positions seems accurate and well documented.  This book was not designed to support the doctrine biblically (another book of his that will attempt this task, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, is due out later this year), but the passages and arguments quoted from many Reformed theologians and from Reformed and Presbyterian creeds certainly make his position formidable at the outset.

           One criticism I have is the poor writing style of the book, including unnecessary repetition.  A careful perusal of the classic Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White would greatly aid the author in future works (of which I hope there will be many!).

Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought, by David VanDrunen (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010).  Pp. 466.

Review of Fazale Rana, "The Cell’s Design"

Review of Fazale Rana, "The Cell’s Design"

The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry, by Fazale Rana (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008).  Pp. 332.  Reviewed by John A. Battle.

During the last decades several books supporting Intelligent Design have appeared.  Their basic argument usually has been this—living components and structures are so complex and specified that they never could have appeared by mere chance.  Therefore, they must be the result of Intelligent Design.  This basically is a negative argument: there is no way to explain this apart from some divine intervention.

Critics call this the “God-of-the-gaps” argument.  If there is a gap in our knowledge, then God must account for what we see.  The obvious problem with the God-of-the-gaps argument is that similar gaps in the past often have shrunk and then disappeared as scientific knowledge has increased.  Now that natural causes are known, we no longer are required to use the “God” explanation.

Microbiologist Fazale Rana, an openly Christian scientific apologist, is keenly aware of this weakness in the traditional ID argument.  Yet, he also is aware of even greater positive evidence for design in living systems.  He seeks a positive argument from the data to design.

Recent science in cellular biology and chemistry has made astounding leaps and discoveries about the inner working of the basic building block of all life, the living cell.  All cells of plants and animals are basically the same in their components and method of operation.  Yet they are ideally suited in their differences for the different kinds of organisms and the different tasks the cells must perform within each organism.

Rather than starting from apparently inexplicable complexity, Rana starts from actual examples and types of human design.  Recently it has become apparent that the cell’s processes are largely mechanical and electrical, as the various proteins interact with each other within the cell.  This is biochemistry at its most basic level.  In the last few centuries humans have developed technology using these same forces on a larger scale.

Rana builds a positive argument, using “abductive reasoning.”  Wikipedia defines this type of reasoning as follows: “Abduction means determining the precondition.  It is using the conclusion and the rule to assume that the precondition could explain the conclusion.  Example: ‘When it rains, the grass gets wet.  The grass is wet, it must have rained.’  Diagnosticians and detectives are commonly associated with this style of reasoning.”  As the definition states, abduction is most useful when explaining why the present circumstance is the way it is.  This is the situation when we wonder about how living things got the way they are.

Rana’s argument is abductive rather than negative.  We see humans designing mechanical and electrical items all the time.  What thinking and processes do they go through when they design and manufacture these items?  The products they make are the actual fruits of design.  Rana describes many of these features of design in the main part of the book, taking one chapter for each main design feature.  He introduces the chapters with paintings by famous artists, each of which makes an interesting and pointed illustration of the design feature being discussed.  Along with mechanical and electrical design, Rana sees artistic expression as well in the cell’s workings (“the Creator’s artistry” is part of the subtitle of the book).

The heart of the book takes these various design features and shows how they are employed in the makeup and workings of every individual cell.  Cells show even more exquisite design and precision than the best human engineering and technology.  Rana writes for a mature reader who can take time and effort to learn some details of microbiology.  He explains these processes as clearly as possible for those of us not trained in biology.  There are many well drawn illustrations.  An introductory chapter helps a lot by explaining the basic parts and workings of the cell, and a glossary in the back is handy for checking the technical terms.  Many of the processes Rana describes are complicated, and sometimes are difficult to follow; but Rana’s explanations are as clear as can be expected in view of the complexity of the subject.  Sometimes I had to read a section several times before getting the main point, but the effort was worth it!

It will be interesting to see how The Cell’s Design will be received.  Will it simply be disregarded as a disguised ID or creationist work, or will evolutionary scholars interact with the actual positive examples of design?  Many think that the very idea of allowing the possibility of God’s design in creation denies the scientific method.  However, if God really exists, how can such a presupposed position lead to the truth about the cell’s design?  To follow the evidence, using sound logic, is the best way to reach the right conclusion.  Rana provides an excellent case for an intelligent, skilled, and artistic Creator.

Parkening and Hendrix – Teaching and Preaching

Many years ago Christopher Parkening, the famous classical guitarist, came to perform a concert here, at the newly renovated Pantages Theater in Tacoma.  My wife and I admire Parkening.  He not only is a great artist, but he is an openly evangelical Christian.  Prominent music critics have praised him as “the leading guitar virtuoso of our day, combining profound musical insight with complete technical mastery of his instrument” and “America’s reigning classical guitarist, carrying the torch of his mentor, the late Andrés Segovia” (the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times).

When we arrived at the theater, the line of people waiting to get in extended all through the lobby area and out onto the sidewalk, several blocks long.  I’d never seen anything like it here.  When the concert began, we saw him modestly walk on stage; there was a single chair on the stage, with a microphone on the floor in front of it.  Parkening sat down to play.  All the pieces were solo.  The music was subdued at first, a piece by Bach.  Gradually the program expanded as he played other works in various styles.  There were no stage gimmicks, yet he held us all enthralled for a lengthy concert, with several encores.  It truly was a memorable evening.  Parkening had a way of playing with perfect fidelity to the piece and a simplicity that made the hardest technical passages seem clear and easy.  The beauty of the music was, if anything, understated.  I was convinced that Parkening was the ultimate guitarist.

A few years later in a class here at seminary I mentioned my estimation of Parkening, and one of my students dared to contradict me!  He said the greatest guitarist was Jimi Hendrix!  I was, and still am, pretty unfamiliar with his music.  I’ve never liked rock music and have very little knowledge of it.  Besides, Hendrix played a different instrument, the electric guitar—so how could he be compared with Parkening?  I remembered what that student said, but thought little about it until a few months ago, when I came across Hendrix’s music itself.

Someone on Facebook sent out a link showing Jimi Hendrix playing at Woodstock in 1969—the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Curious, I clicked on the link and watched and listened to the clip on YouTube.  My first reaction was, “This is weird!”  I watched it twice.  I couldn’t process it; it was mesmerizing.  Hendrix used the guitar in ways that broke the mold of guitar literature.  The image and sounds of his version of the anthem have remained with me since.

Walking to seminary this morning, I thought about a famous line from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, when Catherine says, “I am Heathcliffe.”  While she loved Linton and planned to marry him, she confessed that her love for Heathcliffe was more basic to her.  Heathcliffe had grown into her heart, had become a part of her.  In the end, her love for Heathcliffe destroyed her and her husband.  Then it occurred to me that the relation of Hendrix to his guitar was like that.  You could say, Parkening mastered his guitar, but Hendrix was his guitar.

How can you compare them?  Each artist is superb, but in a different way.  Parkening shows us the composer’s work.  He is self-effacing; we see the beauty and design the composer intended.  Parkening’s life and career continue, his work continues to grow.  Parkening, as a Christian, lives first for God; his music is not his identity; he can live without it.

Hendrix gave a personal vision of his music.  When he played, people saw him and his vision; the composer was nearly lost in the originality and brilliance of the performance.  Hendrix died at the age of twenty-eight, only a year after his Woodstock performance.  His death under suspicious circumstances ended his brief, tempestuous life.  Hendrix lived for music, for his guitar; it consumed him.  The lives and lifestyles of these two men could hardly be more different.  

They provide an analogy.  Theology professors and preachers—they can be as different as Parkening and Hendrix.  The teacher, like Parkening, calm and disciplined, directs his students to the composer—to God as shown in his Word.  The classroom disappears.  The best teachers are clear, not showing themselves, allowing the students to see through the classroom to the truths of Scripture.  Thoroughness and balance are key.  On the other hand, the preacher, like Hendrix, consumed by God and personal in his faith, shows the work of God in him through his preaching and person.  People see how God changes and makes a man.  The best preachers are moved by God, and move others.  As Paul, they can say, “Be followers of me, as I am a follower of Christ.”

Is there an overlap?  Certainly—teachers preach and preachers teach.  Which is better?  God has made us all different, with different gifts.  We complement each other.  That one is better who uses those gifts best for the glory of God.  God will judge on that account.  May we learn from this analogy of both musicians—may we live for Christ, show him in all his glory, and be wholly consumed by him.

Review of Barry Horner’s "Future Israel"

Barry E. Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Academic, 2007). Pp. 394. Reviewed by John A. Battle.

Barry Horner, pastor and author, believes that the conservative Christian church of our day—in particular, the Reformed branch of that church, to which he belongs and with which he is most familiar—has mistakenly absorbed the false notion that the Christian church has replaced the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people. Consequently, there is no longer a special place of blessing or privilege for the Jewish people or nation. This belief, “replacement theology,” as it is called, became predominant in the early church by the fifth century, and was accepted and passed on by the early Protestant Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin, as well as most of their successors. Horner contends that this teaching is non-biblical, and that it has led to historical anti-Semitism and its horrific consequences.

Having come to an appreciation of the Reformed faith by his own study and reading, Horner is convinced that strong exegetical arguments support the doctrines of grace. On the other hand, he says, the arguments supporting amillennialism and replacement theology do not share that strength; nor is replacement theology required by the Reformed doctrines of salvation. That being the case, he has maintained his premillennial beliefs, along with the belief that national Israel is still the “beloved enemy” of God and his people. He states that his particular study of Ezekiel, Hosea, Zechariah, and Romans has confirmed him in this opinion. Scattered throughout the book are lengthy discussions of these passages, along with substantial quotations from earlier sympathetic writers, such as Jonathan Edwards, David Baron, Horatius Bonar, C. H. Spurgeon, J. A. Seiss, H. C. G. Moule, J. C. Ryle, and C. E. B. Cranfield. He also produces statements that favor portions of his argument from such authors as J. B. Lightfoot, G. C. Berkouwer, and W. D. Davies.

Future Israel is organized fairly well; however, there is much repetition, and a more succinct case would, I think, be more effective. After a personal testimonial, Horner begins by quickly surveying the history of replacement theology, starting particularly in the time of Augustine. Christian hostility to Judaism and the Jewish people, Horner consistently maintains, was largely due to the replacement theology enshrined by Augustine in his City of God. The Christian church is the kingdom of God promised in the covenants of the Old Testament; the unbelieving Jews have no part in the covenants now; nor does the future hold any promise of a national restoration.

Over a hundred pages follow in which Horner traces the history of anti-Semitism in Europe and the New World. He spends much time showing the connection between replacement theology and the anti-Jewish stance of European Catholics and Protestants, including the extreme statements of Martin Luther. These attitudes helped set the stage, not only in Germany, but throughout Europe for the general persecutions of the Jewish people for many centuries, and may have led to the complicity of many nominal Christians to their terrific sufferings in the Holocaust. He also traces the history of the Zionist movement, the establishment of Israel, its relations with various types of Christians, and its threats from fanatical Islamic states. He points out that evangelical Christians, especially premillennial ones, have been the best friends of Israel.

The central portion of the book deals with hermeneutics, the interpretation of Scripture, especially as it touches upon the relation of the Jewish people and nation to prophecy and the church in our dispensation. Horner particularly summarizes the anti-Jewish nature of much of this hermeneutics, as it spiritualizes and allegorizes promises to the nation, while it treats the judgments and condemnations literally. A more consistent hermeneutic will recognize both the material and the spiritual nature of the promises to Israel.

Horner then builds his positive case for a “pro-Jewish” theology. He discusses several passages of Scripture, especially Romans 9-11 and its Old Testament links, arguing that the land of Israel is still promised to the Jewish nation. As he examines these key passages, he interacts with representatives of replacement theology. I believe chapters 9-11 are the theological heart of Horner’s book. Although in their unbelief they have been scattered across the globe, God still recognizes them as his chosen people, and promises to restore them to faith and possession of their land. In the mean time, Christians should recognize them as “beloved enemies” (Rom 11:28). Just as we might regard unsaved members of our own families, so we should regard unsaved Jewish people. We have been grafted into the stock of Israel; all Israelites are our “brothers” in that sense; they belong to our adopted family; we need to witness to them in love, and pray for and work for their salvation.

The final chapter is an appeal to Christians to recognize our position as the “prodigal son” in Jesus’ parable, but that, when the Jewish nation returns to faith in the last days, the positions will be reversed. At that point, we should not be reluctant to receive the believing Jews back into their own family. As Paul says in Romans 11, we should not boast against the cut-off branches. He concludes with encouraging examples of effective Jewish evangelism.

Several appendices add valuable content to the book. Two of them deal with the theologies of Jonathan Edwards and J. C. Ryle as they relate to the Jewish nation. The third discusses grace and law, as related to the Abrahamic covenant. The fourth summarizes the writings of Melanie Phillips, a British journalist and author of Londonistan, who relates the growing anti-Semitism in the Church of England to replacement theology and the growing power of Islamic militancy. The final appendix is a lengthy annotated bibliography of books related to this topic—a very helpful list. The book also contains three indices, for authors, subjects, and Scriptural references.

Being a Reformed premillennialist myself, I find much in Horner’s book with which I agree. I think his discussion of Romans 11 is especially helpful. Also, I was not aware of the extent of anti-Semitism in the history of the Christian church, even in its Protestant branches. When learning in seminary of the work of Luther, for example, I heard no mention of his virulent attacks on Jewish people and their liberties.

I do have a couple criticisms. While not being too specific, it appears that Horner believes that the system of Jewish worship in the Old Testament will be reestablished in the future millennium. I believe that this idea is not necessary, that the promises of that restitution were conditional in that time. Since Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, there is no need to reestablish animal sacrifices and the related worship. Horner seems aware that his position could be classified as dispensational, but he does not clearly define what he means by that term, and whether he includes himself in that category. He does not discuss eschatological details that might clearly indicate dispensationalism, such as the timing of the rapture. It would have been helpful for him to show the relation of his opinions to these well established systems. This is especially true if he desires to harmonize Reformed theology with premillennialism and a positive attitude toward the Jewish nation.

Another criticism is that he seems to judge the truth of a doctrine on the basis of whether or not it is “pro-Jewish” or “anti-Jewish.” If the doctrine under investigation results in hostility to the Jewish nation, then it must be false. A stronger argument is whether or not the doctrine is based on solid exegesis. The results of a doctrine, especially if that doctrine can be abused, do not prove its truth or falsity. The Israelites were to exterminate the Canaanites; that does not mean the revelation given to them by God was false. Replacement theology, as such, does not require hostility to Jews or persecution of Jews; rather, it was abused to lead to those evils. In a similar way, the fact that a doctrine makes it harder to witness to Jews is not proof that the doctrine is wrong. Horner does make a good point, that Paul and other in the Bible are “pro-Jewish” in their sentiments and approach.

In spite of these criticisms, I believe the main purpose of the book is well achieved. The exegetical discussions of the biblical passages are helpful; the history of the relation of the church to the Jewish people is enlightening; and the exhortations to love and witness to our “older brothers” are inspiring.