Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Old Light on New Worship

Old LightSometimes a book comes along that ought to be read by every Christian. Old Light on New Worship is such a volume. Author John Price, a Reformed Baptist minister penned Old Light in 2005. It generated controversy in some quarters but was welcomed in others as very serious study of the role of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the church. I am among the later group and I passionately commend this book to your study.

In 2010 we published Church of Christ Music: What’s the Big Deal About a Piano Anyway? It stated our firm belief that the only instrument permitted in Christian worship is the human voice. Anything else is a human addition and novelty. Price reinforces our judgment and confirms the thesis of our article.

Price began the studies that led to this book because of a recurring question. Why, Price wondered, did some churches in his faith demand only the piano while others used a growing number of mechanical instruments? I do not think Price expected to end up in opposition to the instrument.

His conclusion is simple. Speaking of mechanical instruments Price says,

“To bring them into the church is to transgress the authority of Christ in His worship” (pg. 228).

How does Price reach such a conclusion that is so far afield of what is typically practiced among those in his Reformed Baptist denomination? He approaches the subject in 4 ways. First, Price examines acceptable Biblical worship in the Old Testament. Among the more interesting observation is that the musical instruments utilized in Old Testament worship were uniquely and specifically authorized by God; they were never adopted by the likes and dislikes of the worshipers. Speaking of the restoration of Temple worship Price writes:

“The people of God continued to look back hundreds of years to what God had commanded through David in the Scripture, and they brought only those musical instruments into worship. They understood that God regulated his worship even in regard to the specific musical instruments…They never assumed they had authority to bring any other instruments into God’s worship without clear divine command” (pg. 29)

Price is clear that while the instrument was used in Temple worship, it was tightly regulated by God.

Next, Price examines the New Testament and seeks some justification for the use of instruments in the public worship. He cannot find such authority. After searching the New Testament Price arrives at a three part conclusion:

“When we come to the New Testament, the following three truths become clear: 1) The Old Testament Temple worship in all of its outward ceremonies and rituals has been abolished; 2) We must look to Christ and His apostles alone for the worship of the church; and 3) With no command, or example, or any indication whatsoever from the Lord Jesus that he desires musical instruments to be used in His church, we have no authority for their use” (pg. 54).

Price’s third line of study moves outside inspired Scripture and examines the thinking and attitudes of the so-called Church Fathers. He continues beyond them to include a literal multitude of Biblical scholars from the 2nd century, through the middle ages and into period of the Reformation. For example, there is this quote from  the 15th century Erasmus:

“We have introduced into churches a type of laborious and theatrical music, a confused chattering of diverse voices such as I do not think was ever heard in the theatres of the Greeks or Romans. They perform everything with slide-trumpets, trombones, cornetts, and little flutes, and with these the voices of men contend. Men run to church as to a theatre , to have their ears tickled” (pg. 86).

John Calvin, well-known Reformer of the 16th century wrote:

“We are not,indeed, forbidden to use, in private, musical instruments, but they are banished out of the churches by the plain command of the Holy Spirit” (pg. 94)

In the 1880’s, noted preacher and scholar Charles Spurgeon said of the instrument:

“What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by the theatrical prettinesses of a quartette, the refined niceties of a choir or the blowing off of wind from inanimate bellows and pipes! We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it” ( pg. 133).

Price observes that leaders of almost every protestant faith group has opposed the addition of instrumental  music in the worship of the church.

In the present day, the churches of Christ stand almost alone in demanding a pure worship with simple singing that comports with New Testament teaching. But Price, a Reformed Baptist, never alludes to the churches of Christ nor quotes any of its scholars or authors. His work depends heavily on research from Presbyterian John L. Girardeau in  Instrument Music in the Public Worship and he often quotes religious leaders from throughout the protestant realm. In other words, this is not a “Church of Christ book” promoting some aspect of doctrine, but instead a man outside of any group that opposes the instrument. He reaches his decisions based upon a thorough study of the Bible.

Old Light on New Worship is hardbound with 256 pages of well documented and footnoted material. He includes an extensive Bibliography and index as well. I suspect I would differ with Price on some issues but on the matter of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the church, I fully agree. I encourage you to buy this book for yourself and also buy a copy for your preacher. It is an excellent piece of scholarship.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.

Book Review: The Road to Grace

Road to Grace

The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction
not surprisingly, is a story of a journey. Author Mike Genung was a sexual addict who struggled to find answers and release from his troubles. He records the ups and downs in this 2006 volume from Blazing Grace Publishing of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Mike’s story begins in 1991 when he accepts that he is a sexual addict. He is married to a lovely wife but finds pornography so alluring that he cannot walk away from it. His greatest struggles were the days he spent traveling as a salesman. He spent long hours, alone, in a hotel room filling his mind with pay-per-view and free porn from the television networks. Guilt and shame always followed the next day but the pull was too great, Mike was hooked.

His attempt and coming clean had failed. A marriage retreat and a brief conversation with the preacher drove him deeper into humiliation and embarrassment. He felt isolated.

“I think most people still see pornography as I once did: a problem on the fringes of society, something a few dirty old men go to grimy adult bookstores in the industrial part of town to buy”

He is correct however, that porn is no longer about dirty old men.

“Today the grim reality is that porn is as American as apple pie and many Christians are feasting on it.”

Mike’s answer to his problem required disclosure. The secret had to be shattered but that was exactly what he did not want to do. He says, “Like every other man, I tried everything I could to avoid exposing my sexual sin to another.” He tried to free himself from lust but could not. On one occasion he even cut the plug off of the TV power cord in his hotel room. That failed. Before the night was over he had spliced the cords back together but accidentally crossed  the wire shorting out his entire room.

Genung tried a 12 step program and had some success. But the lust was still there. He wasn’t free. Mike realized that he had to eliminate the things that caused him lust. He had to take every stumbling block away. “We are to boldly approach the stumbling blocks of lust, viciously hack them off and throw them away, regardless of any pain or loss.”

Mike discovers that while many things can help, only God can fully remove the ugly heart and replace it with one that is new, fresh and not marred by sin.

Mike’s journey is not new. Many have struggled to find their own answers and fix their lives alone. He won’t work. Jesus can and will aid the journey.

Sexual addiction, or any addiction for that matter, is serious business. Addictions are more than bad habits. Neural pathways and brain chemistries are changed in an addicts brain. Professional help is needed. Mike Genung used resources to help him break free but in the end, the indispensible resource was the love of a Savior.

I commend The Road to Grace to all men. At 223 pages plus some back of the book resources, it’s an easy read.

[The Road to Grace was provided to the Preacher’s Study Blog free of charge with a request for a review. Clicking on the links above and purchasing the book will result in a small financial benefit to the website.]

Book Review: Radical by David Platt

Radical proves that dynamite comes in small packages. David Platt’s little book is but 240 pages but packs a wallop when it comes to living the Christian life. I don’t recall how it was I came across Radical but it was a breath of fresh air. There is no complicated theology to wade through. You don’t need two degrees and a dictionary to grasp his simple message. Platt challenges his reader to break away from our self-centered materialistic culture and reach for true happiness in Jesus Christ.

This volume challenges our complacent lives. Platt believes we are complacent about the gospel and all too comfortable in our materialistic world. It’s past time to move Jesus Christ to the top of our priority list.

Platt relates stories of successful men and women who have radically changed their lives to devote more time and money to the pursuit of evangelism and benevolence. It’s hard to read this book and not blush a bit at the wealth we enjoy versus the poverty most of the world lives in. Now Platt is not arguing for some kind of government intervention in economics and he is not political at all but he does throw down the gauntlet to challenge us to live lives more in line with our Redeemer.

There is one striking example early in the book that grabbed my attention. A newspaper writes about a large church in a major city that spent $23 million dollars to build a new facility. On the same page was a story about the same group that sent $5,000 to help refugees in the Sudan. The contrast between the $23 million and $5,000 was just to great to ignore.

“Twenty three million dollars for an elaborate sanctuary and five thousand dollars for hundreds of thousands of starving men, women and children, most of whom were dying apart from faith in Christ.

Where have we gone wrong?

How did we get to the place where this is actually tolerable?”

Radical calls upon the reader to be a better steward of his blessings. Use what you have to help others and always look toward the redemption of souls.

In a flash of frustration Platt addresses through who decline to be involved in foreign missions because they say they have a desire for their own community. That may be ok if they are really evangelizing their neighborhoods, but most, he concludes, do not.

“They are smoke screens because most of us really are not very concerned about the needs right around us. Most Christians rarely share the gospel, and most Christians schedules are not heavily weighted to feeding the hungry, helping the sick, and strengthening the church in the neediest places in our country.”

Personally, this book beat me up. I would read a chapter or two and have to stop because I had been convicted. I was convicted because I whine about my bills, I bellyache about my problems when most of the world is headed to hell. I need to do more and I will. I suspect you will be challenged too. At around $14 this is a fine book for your consideration. But be warned: It is explosive!

Book Review: Touchdown! by Kevin Elko

I promised last week that I would share some thoughts on Touchdown!: Achieving Your Greatness on the Playing Field of Business (and Life)
by sports psychologist Dr. Kevin Elko. I’ve finished the book and can offer an opinion or two.

Kevin Elko is in the business of helping athletes and business leaders achieve their best both on the playing field and in life.He has worked with some of the biggest names in both collegiate and professional sports. He is a proven leader. His intent in Touchdown! is to offer some of his wisdom to average guys like you and me. Although his work is primarily with sports organizations, the book is not overly athletic. There are many anecdotes from various great teams but the material included is still very useful for every day application. I can assure you that you needn’t know a down from a dime to gain from reading this short book.

Continue reading Book Review: Touchdown! by Kevin Elko

Book Review “The Case for Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is a well known author who has penned many classic volumes on the subject of Christianity and Christian living. “The Case for Christianity” is perhaps his shortest book and is a very easy read. It is a nice introduction to this author as well as a pleasing read of the thoughts that flow from a former atheist.

The ten chapters reflect ten radio broadcasts made by Lewis while living in Great Britain. The [esvignore]56[/esvignore] pages are basically a transcript of those broadcasts.

The talks are divided into two sections. The first is entitled “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” This is basically a beginners discussion of the moral argument for the existence of God. You can find deeper and more in depth discussions of this powerful apologetic elsewhere but for most people this book will provide a solid background on the basics of the argument. Let me say that in my judgment, the moral argument is at least as strong as the other two, namely the Cosmological and the Teleological arguments.

The second part is simply called “What Christians Believe.” Lewis tries to stay in the mainstream of Christendom and deliberately seeks to avoid some of the disagreements among the church and the denominations. He does a pretty good job. He will deal largely with the idea of a sacrificial death as a means for the redemption of men. He acknowledges that this seems to be an odd concept for the person outside of Christ. But he explains how the process makes sense to him as a reformed atheist.

Inasmuch as this is a very basic, foundational book on a subject of import to Christians; and because C.S. Lewis is a noted author and highly respected; the Christian should own a copy and read it. I highly recommend The Case for Christianity by C.S. Lewis to you.

Book Review: People of the Lie

people of the lieM. Scott Peck is a psychiatrist and well known author. His first success was The Road Less Traveled. Most recently he penned Glimpses of the Devil in 2005 which is a consideration of demonic exorcism from the perspective of a psychiatrist.

In People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, written in 1983, Peck gives us the first real view of his interests in demonic possession. Although I had a brief interest in Road, I came to People of the Lie first because of the issue of evil. I am presently reading Glimpses and will review it soon.

His stated goal in authoring People of the Lie is to begin a discussion on the merits of scientific investigation into the claimed phenomenon of demonic possession. Peck had come to the conclusion that there were some people, encountered in psychotherapy, who did not fit into any established psychopathic category but were nevertheless very ill. He came to believe that some of these people were themselves evil. Continue reading Book Review: People of the Lie

The Beasts of Revelation 13

Articles on the subject of Revelation and prophecy accrue many hits to Preacher’s Study. I’ve come across an article that you should read if this area interests you.

Wayne Jackson discusses both Revelation beasts and offers careful study to help understand them.

Jackson mentions a couple of books in his article. I would add Simon Kistemaker’s Exposition of the Book of Revelation as another well balanced view of this great book. Jesus gave the message of Revelation to John with the intent that John should write ot down and give it to us. Let us carefully study this great book.

Book Review: Creating Optimism

Happiness seems in short supply today. There are many reasons for the surliness of the world including financial worries, health concerns, declining morality and troubled relationships on every hand. Plenty of reasons to frown to be sure. If I were a worldly person I would probably be sad too.

The shortcomings of culture are being laid bare daily. It does not and cannot fulfill our deepest needs. Living for God and looking for the coming of Jesus Christ in glory is the best answer for happiness I know. But on a purely secular level there is a book you might come across for reading. Let me give you a quick rundown of Creating Optimism, a book designed to help you increase your happiness in this life as task at which it falls a bit short. Continue reading Book Review: Creating Optimism

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia on Sale

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is on sale now at Christian Book Distributors. Click on this link to see the order page.

ISBE is the encyclopedia I have mentioned recently and I would encourage you to add it to your libraries. It will give you great insight into many of the personalities we have studied in the Bible. There are lengthy articles about the various Bible cities as well.

Sometimes, CBD sells this even cheaper, like in the $50 range. But at $79.99 it is still cheaper than what you will find at Amazon at $129. You can find it at ebay for about $115 unless you buy a really old damaged set.

I think you will be very pleased by having this in your library. It will serve you for many years to come.There are 4 volumes with reasonably sized print. If you want to see my copies just ask.

It’s important to have a tool that will bring together historical and scientific material from outside the Scriptures. The authors and editors have done a fine job of bringing all  that material together.

Let me know if you have questions.