BOOK REVIEWS · Discipleship · Leadership

CHURCH PLANTER – Darren Patrick (2010)

Church Planter, by Darrin Patrick is an insightful look at one of the most important activities for Christians living in New Testament times.  The author carefully organizes his book in three broad categories: The Man, The Message, and the Mission

THE MAN

In part one, Patrick makes a strong case for men who are biblically qualified to plant and pastor New Testament churches.  This man, of course, must be a Christian.  He must be called of God.  He must meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  He must humbly rely upon God.  He must be a uniquely skilled man.  He must have a passion to shepherd the people of God.  And he must be a determined man.  The author faithfully explains each of the above qualifications – qualifications that must be met by an aspiring church planter.

THE MESSAGE

Part two focuses on the “meat and potatoes” that church planters serve the flock; not just any kind of food.  Rather, a qualified church planter must commit himself to the biblical message of the gospel.  The essence of the message must be consistently Christ-centered, sin-exposing, and idol-shattering.  His emphasis on smashing idols is especially helpful: “The way to deal with sin and idolatry is to repent of them and believe the gospel.”  Patrick hammers the necessity of getting the message right and articulating the gospel with skill and clarity.

THE MISSION

After exploring personal qualifications and theological boundaries in the first two sections, the author moves to the philosophical arena, which describes the mission of the church planter.  He argues that pastors must demonstrate compassion.  They must contextualize the message for the culture they are trying to penetrate.  And he makes it clear that the gospel must be delivered in a way that communicates hope to hurting people who are enslaved to sin.

Darren Patrick has written a book that is helpful and practical.  But most important, his work is biblical.  Emergent types on the prowl for pragmatic methodology and downplaying theology should look elsewhere.  Church Planter is a solid effort and should make a huge splash, especially among young, Reformed evangelicals.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism · Theology

PILLARS OF GRACE – Steven J. Lawson (2011)

Pillars of Grace by Steven J. Lawson is the second installment in his series, A Long Line of Godly Men.  In volume one, Lawson walked readers through every book of the Bible and demonstrated how the doctrines of grace emerge on every page of Scripture.

Volume two also alerts readers to the precious doctrines of grace.  However, this volume shows how these God-centered doctrines emerge in the writings of the early apologists, church fathers, medieval theologians, and the Protestant Reformers.

The author quickly reveals his purpose for writing at the outset: “As we trace this long line of godly men from the first century to the sixteenth century, may the Lord use these pages to raise up new messengers who will sound the trumpet of His distinguishing grace.  In this hour, may He prepare a new generation of renewed minds and passionate hearts to proclaim these glorious truths of Scripture.”  Lawson accomplishes his goal in this weighty book, which spans over 530 pages.

From the beginning, the book has a sort of predictable cadence.  The author presents a brief historical overview that helps set the stage for introducing a given historical figure.  Next, the author includes helpful biographical data that concerns the historical figure under investigation.  Specific writings are introduced and briefly evaluated.  The most helpful section includes a discussion how the historical figure under consideration interacts with the doctrines of grace.  Issues include the sovereignty of God, radical depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, particular redemption, perseverance of the saints, and the doctrine of reprobation.  Finally, Lawson concludes each chapter with a challenge that is directed to the reader, and is specifically directed to pastors and professors.  Each challenge beckons readers to hold forth the doctrines of grace, to courageously proclaim the truth of God’s Word, and contend earnestly for the faith.

Three specific  things mark Dr. Lawson’s work:

Pillars of Grace promotes the doctrines of grace

I applaud Dr. Lawson for courageously proclaiming and promoting the truth of God’s Word.  Some of the truths contained in this book are very unpopular.  But truth is never dictated on the basis of consensus, relevance or popularity.

Pillars of Grace introduces readers to the great heroes of the faith

Dr. Lawson introduces readers to heroes that one might expect – heroes like Augustine, Wycliffe, Luther, Tyndale, and Calvin.   But he also focuses his attention on the lesser knows – men like Isidore of Seville, Gottschalk of Orbais, and Bernard of Clairvaux.  These lesser known figures are a tremendous encouragement for anyone who is investigating the development of the doctrines of grace.

Pillars of Grace is a filled with encouragement for pastors

While Lawson’s work is theological and historical in nature, it reads like an in-depth, theologically charged devotional.  It is filled with God-centered citations and motivating examples of godly living and courageous Christian conduct.

Pillars of Grace is a theological tour de force.  It is essential reading for pastors who seek to integrate historical theology into the regular preaching menu.  It is essential reading for students who are investigating the roots, depth, and breadth of the doctrines of grace.  Pillars of Grace is a crucial antidote, especially in a culture that has caved in to the musings of Pelagianism.  Pillars of Grace upholds the truth of sovereign grace in a winsome, biblical, and God-centered way!

Soli Deo Gloria

5 stars