Fantastic book. Pennington not only serves up good, thoughtful, precise, and insightful scholarship and guidance on reading the Gospels well, but he does so in an incredibly engaging, enjoyable, and understandable manner. I highly recommend this book for any serious student and/or teacher of the Bible wanting to increase his or her reading of, not only the gospels, but all Biblical narrative.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is written to those who are Protestant, in an effort to help them sense the theological chasm between Protestantism and Rome. As such, it is not written as much with an eye towards Catholics, to help them understand Protestant convictions or arguments.
Almost all attention is given to unpacking Catholic thought. Protestant views are only mentioned occasionally in so much as to provide a contrast. But they are not expanded upon.
The above is not a critique of the book, just a clarification that if you are looking for a book that contrasts Protestant and Catholic belief, simultaneously making a case for Protestantism, for example, this is not your book. Sproul, rather, is detailing Catholic thought with an aim of depressing inappropriate ecumenical tendencies (i.e., blowing off differences with Rome) among protestants.
As he proceeds towards this aim, Sproul does a fair job presenting Catholic views. He is charitable, and avoids caricatures, which are all too common among protestants. He gives the needed nuance to Catholic views. He wants to help protestants genuinely understand Catholic theology, and to see it’s rationale.
This book is to be recommended for those looking to understand Catholicism better, specifically on those key subjects where it differs most significantly from Protestant thought.
Good, substantive discussions (minus Richards, see below).
Laney provides a great survey of the texts, although I wish he had engaged the main “issues” more.
Heth is on point. Superb scholarly work here. (Note: Heth later changed his view, so lots of respect for this guy given his willingness to go where he thinks the text leads despite the sacrifice involved — his previously scholarly stand, e.g., his contribution here.)
Edgar is a juggernaut of destruction, ripping other authors and arguments to shreds. He’s good; but his tone is unfortunate. He also succumbs to building lots of straw man and frequently overstates his case. (Laney and Heth rightly take note of this.)
Richards… Oh, Richards. I don’t know how his piece made it past the editor. How did this guy get invited to contribute to this project? He only cites two sources… two endnotes! (compare that to Heth’s 106 endnotes). Seriously. Horrible exegesis. Loads of eisegesis.
He basically argues (and this is no exaggeration) that all divorce and remarriage is wrong, but people can do it anyway and we shouldn’t judge since that’d be legalistic. … Antinomianism would be a better title for his position!
Besides Richard’s though, lots of good stuff here.
(The following evaluation of each author’s contribution is not necessarily reflective of whether I agree or disagree with their position, but is based on the quality of their contribution, regardless of whether I agree with them.)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Content — good.
Tone — could be improved at points, particularly when dealing with those with whine he disagrees (typical Jay Adams).
Sometimes a little simplistic in its handling of things.
Sometimes the opposite: stances were so, “If this, then that… If this, than that… If this, then…” (etc.) that things felt several levels removed from the text itself, and one began to feel suspicious of their legitimacy.
But, all in all, an impressive little treatment — cuts through a complex issue with a lot of clarity (even if being in danger of a little over-simplicity at times).