Books Read in January 2006

Reading was a bit light in January. The first three weeks were taken up with cramming for my Hebrew exam, and afterwards sorting out the things I left undone. So I think I have an excuse. Having said that I seem to have a number of books on the go at once which I suppose will all fall out in February. So, I have two books to report on:

Transforming Keswick by Charles Price & Ian Randall (OM Publishing, 2000). 268pp.

Interesting book, written from the point of view of two seasoned supporters of Keswick. One thing I learned from this was that a ‘convention’ is concerned with an object (in this case to promote practical holy living) whereas a ‘conference’ is concerned with a subject (e.g. ‘a study in the book of Romans’). I had not appreciated the distinction before.

The book traces the history of the Convention from its beginning in 1875 through to the present day. The influence of Keswick has been substantial in UK evangelicalism in the 20th century so it was interesting to see how it has changed having had to deal with various influences over that period (e.g. the Weslyan holiness movement, Pentecostalism, post-war Calvinism of Packer and others, the charismatic movment of the ’60s and ’70s.) In doing so, it also covers other issues such as its influence on world mission and the role of women in ministry.

For me the most interesting chapters were those giving more detailed examinations of Packer’s criticisms of the Keswick view of sanctification, and on the various interpretations of Romans 6, with particular emphasis on John Stott’s controversial exposition in 1965.

Not a hard book, but useful in getting the flow of evangelicalism in the UK in the 20th century.

Faithful God by Sinclair Ferguson. (Bryntirion Press, 2005). 157pp.
This is the fruit of a series of expositions of the book of Ruth at the EMW Conference in Aberystwyth in 1996. Therefore it is short, it is kept simple and clear and does a good job of keeping the main things the main things. He strikes a marvellous balance between the personal lessons that can be learned and keeping in view the much broader purposes of God in redemptive history. From what I understand there are two dangers we can fall into in reading a book like Ruth,

  • First, to look for examples of how to live. The obvious one in Ruth is what do we learn about dating/courting.
  • The second is to see it in allegorical terms. This is not so popular I think since it is not very “how-to”. The allegory is Boaz=Christ, Ruth=Church. Of course this simply fails to treat the Bible as history, but instead some abstracted code of truth which must be deciphered.

Ferguson avoids both of those dangers, as you might expect. Well worth the read.

Books Read in January 2006