Tag Archives: Joshua Press

The Voice of Faith by Peter Beck

The Voice of FaithBeck, Peter. The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards’s Theology of Prayer. Ontario: Joshua Press, 2010. 336 pp. $29.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Dr. Beck is assistant professor of religion and director of the Honors Program at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. He has become a notable scholar on Jonathan Edwards.

Summary

Divided into eight chapters, Beck offers an “internal” and “external” look at Jonathan Edwards. He begins with a chapter on the prayer hearing God before offering a chapter on the early life of Edwards. The third chapter looks at the excellent Christ while the fourth chapter gives detail on Edwards’s conversion.

The fifth chapter looks at the importance of understanding the true spirit of prayer before moving into the final third part of the external biography of Edwards – that of his controversy and dismissal from North Hampton.

The final two chapters offer insight into Edwards’s congregation, their happiness, and how all of this assimilates into a deeper understanding of what motivated Jonathan Edwards…communion with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Review

If you are interested in Jonathan Edwards, you will thoroughly enjoy this heretofore little studied aspect of the life of Edwards. I greatly appreciated the interweaving of biography with academic study. It helped to locate the theological growth of Jonathan Edwards in its proper context.

While many will know about the life of Jonathan Edwards through many excellent biographies available, not as many will have studied his prayer life. In fact, according to many of the endorsements, this is the first book that intentionally studies the prayer life of Jonathan Edwards. That alone is worth the price of the book.

Further, this book does not read like an academic paper though it is obviously that. It does elucidate many unknown qualities about what drove Jonathan Edwards and will leave a fresh imprint in the mind of the reader today to strive toward a closer communion with the Lord through prayer.

Recommendation

If you enjoy reading Jonathan Edwards and have benefited from his works, I highly recommend you read The Voice of Faith by Peter Beck. It may be more instrumental in your walk with Christ and will certainly bring to life the wisdom of Jonathan Edwards in a radical way that will cause you to reread what you have of Edwards already.

Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory Edited by Michael A.G. Haykin

Joy Unspeakable and full of gloryJoy Unspeakable and Full of Glory: The Piety of Samuel and Sarah Pearce. Edited by Michael A.G. Haykin. Ontario: Joshua Press, 2012. 248 pp. $21.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

The Classics of Reformed Spirituality series is a series designed to provide choice selections from various Reformed writers, rich in spiritual nourishment, to stir deeper insight into the Bible and to cultivate a greater desire to seek after Christ’s glory and blessed presence. The series is edited by Michael A.G. Haykin.

Summary

Samuel Pearce, a young eighteenth-century English pastor, was described by his friend and biographer Andrew Fuller as “another Brainerd”—a reference to the celebrated American missionary David Brainerd. Pastor of Cannon Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, England, during the tumultuous 1790s, and a close friend of pioneer missionary William Carey, Pearce played a key role in the early days of the Baptist Missionary Society. In the providence of God he died at just thirty-three, but in the eyes of many of his contemporaries, he seemed to have condensed a lifetime of holy and joyful ministry into a single decade.

His marriage to Sarah Hopkins was one of deep love and mutual respect, and she joined him in his passion for the salvation of sinners—both at home and abroad. Through excerpts from Samuel and Sarah’s letters and writings, we are given a window into their rich spiritual life and living piety.

Review

With the 42-page biography of Samuel and Sarah Pearce beginning the work, the reader is introduced to a largely forgotten, though very influential man of God in his life time. By looking at the chronology of his life, we quickly understand how much he accomplished in his short 33-years on this earth.

Where the work really strikes a chord is in the selections from his letters and writings which comprise the majority of the book. Here we see that his flame burned brightest for Christ and His church but also for his beloved bride, Sarah. Further, we read of Sarah’s devotion to the same.

Though there is a slight language barrier for today’s reader, one quickly adapts to the writings and finds himself immersed in the life of Samuel Pearce from his own perspective through his pen. Though most would not know much about the wives of the great men of history, Haykin has done a huge favor for the church today by including her own correspondence because she was “deeply interested in all that interested” her husband.

These letters will take you to another place and time though they spring from a love and passion for the timeless truths as found in the Word of God.

Recommendation

If you are not familiar with Samuel Pearce, I highly recommend you begin with this work. Unfortunately, not many will read this because he has largely been forgotten. To read Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory is to peer through the corridors of time and see what a genuine Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated piety looked like.

The Pure Flame of Devotion edited by G. Stephen Weaver and Ian Hugh Clary

Pure Flame of DevotionThe Pure Flame of Devotion: The History of Christian Spirituality – Essays in Honor of Michael A.G. Haykin. Edited by G. Stephen Weaver, Jr. and Ian Hugh Clary. Ontario: Joshua Press, 2013. 548 pp. $44.99. Purchase at Amazon for much less.

Introduction

Michael A,G. Haykin serves as Professor of Church History & Biblical Spirituality. Dr. Haykin has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1974), a Master of Religion from Wycliffe College, the University of Toronto (1977), and a Th.D. in Church History from Wycliffe College and the University of Toronto (1982). Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel. As Russell Moore states in his foreword, Haykin’s written books take up a full shelf and a half. I have reviewed a few of his books and have even been able to interview him in the past.

Ian Hugh Clary served as a research assistant to Dr. Haykin from 2003-2006. Steve Weaver is pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY, and has served as Dr. Haykin’s research assistant since 2008.

Summary

With over 23 chapters compressed into 540 pages, the contributors, a list of who’s who in church history studies, paints with extremely broad strokes of church history.

From the back of the book:

Since the time of Christ, the church has known men and women renowned for their devotion, spiritual insight and piety. Collectively their lives portray a broad history of Christian spirituality. This volume is meant to ignite your interest and understanding of key time periods and pivotal people from various eras of church history. Instead of exploring the overall spiritual perspective of a person or period, only certain aspects of thought are dealt with. This is an approach to church history with an eye to issues of spirituality that emphasizes how today’s Christians can cull ancient sources for their spiritual enrichment and encouragement as they seek to live their lives under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Each of the exceptional contributors is knowledgeable in their particular subject area.Through extensive original research they skillfully expound the vitality and richness of the spirituality of their subjects. Introduced to these historical figures who walked closely with God, Christians will find rich application and benefit for their souls.

Review

The scope of this book is breathtaking to say the least. There is something for everyone in this work. There is a section on the Patristics to the Medieval era of church history that I found most interesting as I am not as familiar with this area of the history of the church as I am with others. The section on Reformation and Puritan spirituality is much more familiar for me personally.

Each chapter is written by a man who is fluent in the life and the period of history in which he writes. The strength of this work is to be discovered chapter by chapter as you, the reader, are introduced to over 15 different men from the history of the church and their important, though often forgotten, contributions to the theology of Protestantism.

This is not meant to be read as a passing fancy. Rather, this work is meant to be read, digested, and read again. In doing so, the reader will more than likely be sparked to an interest in an area he may have never been aware.

Finally, the book does not need to be read from cover to cover. While that is a definite possibility, and would show you a historical formation of spirituality, I would recommend picking and choosing chapters and hop around all over the 548 pages until you have read the entire book.

Recommendation

If you are interested in church history or a proper understanding of biblical Christian piety and spirituality, I highly commend The Pure Flame of Devotion. This will be a resource you purchase and read and refer to for years to come.

Great Themes in Puritan Preaching Edited by Mariano Di Gangi

Great ThemesGreat Themes in Puritan Preaching. Edited by Mariano Di Gangi. Ontario: Joshua Press, 2007. 148 pp. $18.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

After being converted by “God’s amazing grace” in 1930, Mariano graduated from Brooklyn College, Westminster Theological Seminary and received his Doctor of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Divinity School in 1965. He has served as pastor in Montreal, Hamilton, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Summary

Divided into fourteen chapters, Dr. Di Gangi looks at a number of Puritan preachers, many of which are not as well known today, and their primary concerns whenever they stepped into the pulpit. From the importance of the Infallible Word to the importance of the pastoral ministry, Mariano elucidates how the preachers used to the pulpit to teach and equip the saints for the daily battle of needing to defend their faith.

Other subjects include the revelation of the Messiah, the importance of guilt and grace and the need for radical repentance as well as the second birth. As can be expected, there are many deep theological issues dealt with. For example, justification and sanctification, spiritual conflict, the assurance of salvation and the coming judgment. Also, he deals with more practical issues like spiritual conflict and the importance of family values.

Review

If you have read the Puritans for any length of time (and I highly recommend you do!) then this little book will be both a treat and an encouragement. Far from a systematic theology of the Puritans, Great Themes takes samples from various sermons and writings to show how they shaped not only a culture then but also the entirety of evangelicalism for centuries to come.

Mariano does an excellent job of organizing these Puritanical thoughts into various themes and allowing them to talk for themselves.  His chapter on Radical Repentance is much needed for the church today. So, too, his chapter on guilt and grace.

I think what Di Gangi did more than other authors and editors have done is to show in short order why the time of the Puritans was so rich in theology and doctrine which led to a golden age of sorts for the Christian church. In the midst of persecution after the Reformation, these pastors preached their hearts out on the most important aspects of the Christian faith and Di Gangi shows this with great effect.

Further, at a mere 148 pages, this work can be read and read again by many today. This would accomplish perhaps a return to the most important aspects of the faith…a Bible-saturated theology informing every aspect of life for the believer.

Recommendation

As noted above, this is a very short book. I highly recommend this work first and foremost to all pastors and leaders in the church. These themes need to be emulated again today. Not because we idolize the Puritans. Rather, because the timeless truths they preached in 17th and 18th centuries are needed just as much now as they were then. I also recommend this resource to any Christian looking to understand what matters most in the Christian life.