Archive for the ‘Matthew M. Barrett’ Category

The Historical Adam Barrick

 (Available on Amazon)

For the last few years the historicity of Adam has been a topic of controversy and debate within Evangelical academia.  It comes at no surprise that Zondervan would come out with a book in their Counterpoint series addressing this topic.  Four views are given a hearing in this book represented by Denis O. Lamoureux (Evolutionary Creation View that denies the historical Adam), John Walton (Archetypal Creation View), C. John Collins (Old Earth Creation View), and William D. Barrick (Young Earth Creation View).

Normally I’m cautious about these Four Views book either because I feel better contributors could have been selected or space limitation didn’t allow justice for the complex subject at hand.  With these expectations I must say I thought the book did a better job than I expected.  I’m happy to see some improvements over the years with this genre. The four scholars selected are highly qualified representative of their respective views.  In previous works the format feature the chapters by each school followed by the responses by the other schools; I appreciated that this work also feature a rejoinder to the other schools’ responses, a plus in my opinion in seeing what a counter-rebuttal looks like.  I also appreciated the editors’ decision to have two pastoral reflections that discussed what the implication of the discussion of the historicity of Adam means practically for the Christian (although I must say it seems Gregory Boyd’s essay ended up being more on why Christians should welcome those who deny the historical Adam as brothers and sisters in the faith even in our disagreements).  The two contributors selected for this part were excellent:  Both Gregory Boyd and Philip Ryken are well known for being pastor-scholars.  I thought the pastoral reflection also made their contribution to the discussion of which view one should take on the historical Adam question, and these two essays must not be overlooked or dismiss because its pastoral in nature; in particular I had in mind how Ryken’s essay laid out what an historical or non-historical Adam means theologically for the Christian experience and Gospel witness.

I imagine not many will change their views from reading this book and yet I would say this book is still important and worth buying because it provide a concise summary of each perspective’s argument.  Never had I read a book in Zondervan’s Counterpoint series in which the contributors footnoted their own work as much as they did in this volume but I appreciated this as helpful for those who want to do further research.  One can’t really blame the contributors for footnoting themselves so much since this is a much more complicated subject than most topics in this series since there is immediate question of Adam’s existence and also the undercurrent of one’s understanding of the role of modern science/evolution in interpreting the Genesis 1-3 that formulate one’s conclusion to the Adam question.  Really, this book had only one contributor (Lamoureux) who denied the historical Adam while the other three believed in a historical Adam; and yet all three who agreed on Adam didn’t arrive to their conclusion by the same method necessarily given their divergent view of the role of extra-biblical data (Modern cosmology, science, evolution, Ancient Near East studies) in interpreting Genesis 1-3.

Dr. Barrick has one of the most exegetically rich chapters in the book, and readers will appreciate his grammatical and syntactical observation brought out from Genesis 1-2.  The contributor with the strongest scientific background is Lamoureux but appeared to be the most exegetically weak, where in the responses the other three contributors harped on him for his take on the Hebrew word Raqia and his misleading translation of this term as “firmament.”

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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What is Regeneration

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This is a good short work on the doctrine of regeneration.  At first I wasn’t sure why the beginning of the book focused on the difference between the Gospel call versus effectual call.  The author demonstrated how the Reformed distinction of Gospel versus effectual call avoids the contradiction between the Bible’s description of resistible and irresistible calling and the case was quite compelling.  This led the author to observe that in both instances, the Gospel is present and that it’s not merely the presentation of the Gospel that lead someone to salvation; here the doctrine of regeneration enters the picture to explain why certain individuals do come to salvation.

The book gave a good definition of regeneration in a long and nuance paragraph.  In short, regeneration is “the work of the Holy Spirit to unite the elect sinner to Christ by breathing new life into that dead and depraved sinner…”  It’s important to define our terms in theology since the actual Greek word regeneration is palingenesia and is used only twice in the New Testament in Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5.  As the book pointed out, it’s only in Titus 3:5 that we see the more narrow and technical sense of regeneration being used.  But as any mature believer who have wrestled with the Trinity knows, deriving theology from the Bible is more than searching for certain theological terminology used in the Bible; one must ask whether the concept is communicated in the Scriptures using other motifs and terminology.  The rest of the book provides an excellent survey and study of the passages used to establish the doctrine of regeneration.  The book looks at Old Testament passages as well as the New Testament.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Old Testament references in support of regeneration.  I appreciated the author’s note of the grammar of the verses he examined to prove his point such as the use of the passive voice indicating that regeneration is the work of God and not of us.

This short work is an adaptation from the author’s longer work titled Salvation by Grace.  I suppose if one wants a deeper treatment on the topic of regeneration and effectual calling they can read this other work.  However I would say that there is still a place for the shorter work, especially for new believers, discipleship or devotionals that serve as a quick reminder for the believer.  I recommend this booklet.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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