As 2007 comes to a close, it’s really amazing to look back on all the excellent Christian books published this year. In the past I’ve held a suspicion with the Christian publishing world but I find that suspicion being replaced with a thankfulness for all the new good books out there. And 2008 promises to be another excellent publishing year!
But before getting into 2008, I want to add a few more volumes that will close out the contenders for the 2007 TSS book of the year contest. Last week I promised to pass along details on the Banner of Truth’s two new volumes (and I’ll add a fresh title from Reformation Heritage to the list, too). Here are my notes:
The Works of Andrew Fuller (Banner of Truth: 2007)
- Fuller (1754-1815) was a preacher, theologian, missions board secretary, and apologist. His multifaceted gifts make his works quite diverse and broad in their value, too.
- This volume is loaded with various theological treatises, letters, and sermons.
- The text is a facsimile from the 1841 edition.
- Michael A.G. Haykin, writes in the introduction that Fuller, “was the greatest theologian of the late eighteenth-century transatlantic Baptist community.”
- Charles Spurgeon considered Fuller’s expositional sermons on Genesis to be “Weighty, judicious, and full of Gospel truth” and “one of the very best series of discourses extant upon Genesis.” And apparently Spurgeon said Fuller was “the greatest theologian” of his century although I could not confirm this reference anywhere in Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, Autobiography or Sword and Trowel archives. I would be interested if anyone has the source for this Spurgeon quote.
- A fairly extensive topical index in the back will make the various theological treatises accessible. The Scriptural index is a bit skinny and less helpful.
- The weight (100-ounces!) and size of this volume make it a bit awkward to handle and read.
- At first it appeared this mammoth volume was simply glued binding. The Banner publishing cloth-covered glue binding? Never. Indeed, the closer I looked I could see the pages were Smyth-sewn in a very fine way. The binding is therefore excellent. Look at the close-up picture to experience the beauty for yourself.
- Overall a durable volume that will certainly find wide acceptance and use among those interested in Fuller.
- 1,012 pages; extra large cloth cover; ISBN: 9780851519555; buy from Banner of Truth
The Loveliness of Christ: Extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford (Banner of Truth: 2007)
- Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600-1661) is worth reading, but he struggled with brevity. For all his value, he is one of the toughest Puritans to read. So this is a great concept – take some short excerpts of the Letters and publish them in a short book more accessible to the church.
- This edition is actually a retypeset edition of a book that appeared 1909. Sinclair Ferguson has written a nice little introduction to the new edition.
- The binding has a nice leather feel to it with embossed lettering. I hope the Banner uses this cover on future volumes. Very attractive!
- The book is comprised of very short excerpts pulled out from the original Letters. There are some very good quotes and a great many of them will cause the reader to stop and meditate further on the preciousness of our Savior.
- Unfortunately, this volume retains the old language of the original Rutherford. Take this one: “God hath called you to Christ’s side, and the wind is now in Christ’s face in this land; and seeing ye are with him, ye cannot expect the lee-side or the sunny side of the brae” (p. 2). I think I generally understand the point here, but the rough language barrier certainly intrudes upon the ‘devotional’ expectation of the excerpt. In the glossary in the back I find that “brae” means “the side of a hill.” By leaving the archaic language and expecting the reader to consult the glossary frequently, I’m afraid this little volume misses its full devotional potential.
- A few of the letters have language that will appear very harsh. For example: “I know my Lord is no niggard: he can, and it becometh him well to give more than my narrow soul can receive” (p. 52). Again, I think changing the language could have improved the devotional quality here.
- Overall, I really liked the volume but I must attribute this to my familiarity with Rutherford’s language. By retaining the archaic language I’m afraid some readers (especially those with less experience with Puritan literature) will be a bit disappointed.
- 108 pages; leather-like cover; ISBN: 9780851519562; buy from Banner of Truth
Reformation Heroes: A Simple, Illustrated Overview of People Who Assisted in the Great Work of the Reformation (Reformation Heritage Books: 2007)
- Written by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn, this volume was written for kids. It has the feel of Meet the Puritans, except it covers the men and women of the Reformation in a style more appropriate for “older children and teens.”
- The book’s intention is three-fold: (1) Help the reader grasp a general understanding of the Reformation and the events leading to the Reformation, (2) present the Reformers as role models for the reader, and (3) to present the doctrines of the Reformation at an age-appropriate level.
- The book closes with a chapter on the influence of the Reformation in the areas of education, politics, economics, and of course religion.
- The pages are glossy and the various portraits and pictures throughout the volume are black-and-white.
- A nice and extensive glossary of terms in the back is helpful and there is an excellent bibliography for further reading on the individuals and events covered in the book. A detailed timeline inside the boards is very helpful, too.
- Reformation Heroes will be a very helpful resource to introduce children, teens – and even adults – to the legacy we enjoy today from the tumultuous days of the Reformation.
- Dr. Sinclair Ferguson writes: “In a day when there are idols in abundance, but few heroes, this beautifully written and illustrated book will do much to stir questioning young minds to probe the purpose of their own lives. Diana Kleyn and Joel Beeke have once again found a way to make history both interesting and challenging. By grace, Reformation Heroes is a book that will help capture young minds and hearts for Christ.”
- 240 pages; extra wide hardcover; ISBN: 9781601780287; buy from Reformation Heritage