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Enjoying God Blog


It wasn’t an easy task, but this year I’ve limited myself to the best 10 books of 2023. There are certainly several more that could easily have made my list, but these are the ones that stand out for their excellence. In this article I list the first five. Tomorrow I will cite the other five that made my list. Here are the first five, in no particular order.

Scalia: Rise to Greatness / 1936-1986, by James Rosen (Regnery Publishing). This remarkable biography of the late Supreme Court Justice is the first of two volumes dedicated to covering his life and career. It takes us from his birth to his inauguration as a Justice. Antonin Scalia’s early life is described in vivid detail. His academic success is legendary as he graduated from Xavier, Georgetown University, and Harvard Law School.

One thing that stood out to me is the depth of Scalia’s Catholic upbringing and faith. He at one time considered entering the Jesuit priesthood, but divine providence directed him into the study of law. He is probably most widely known as a vocal and persistent advocate of what is known as textualism or originalism, the belief that the words of the constitution are to be interpreted in accordance with the intent of its authors (as over against the liberal view that the Constitution is a “living” document). The task of the justice is to remain true to the text as written.

Biographies such as this can often be tedious and boring, but Rosen avoids both as he takes us on a journey of how “Nino,” as he came to be called, rose to prominence as probably the most intelligent and influential Supreme Court Justice in American history. He was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan and was sworn in on September 26, 1986. I look forward to the release of volume two.

The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle over the End Times Shaped a Nation, by Daniel G. Hummel (Eerdmans). This book has generated quite a lot of fanfare, and deservedly so. Hummel traces the development of dispensationalism from its roots in the writings of John Nelson Darby (1800-82) to the present day. The term itself “dates to 1927 and is attributable to Philip Mauro” (1).

Hummel provides a fascinating storyline in the development of the varieties of dispensationalism, from the influence of the Scofield Reference Bible to Lewis Sperry Chafer to the most notable professors at Dallas Seminary (Walvoord, Ryrie, Pentecost) to Tim LaHaye and the Left Behind series of books to what he calls the “collapse” of dispensationalism.

It is in relation to this latter phenomenon that I was surprised to find my name pop up in his narrative. After referring to my former professor, Bruce Walke, and my longtime good friend, Greg Beale, as two examples of defectors from the dispensational camp, he writes this:

“Beale’s and Waltke’s breaks with dispensationalism were confined to scholastic and intrachurch chatter. More public was the departure of Sam Storms, a pastor and theologian who graduated from Dallas Seminary in 1977 and made his way into Reformed and charismatic leadership, including John Piper’s Desiring God Ministries and the Reformed church-planting network, Acts 29. As an illustration of the diverse communities he represented, Storms also worked for a time in the charismatic Apostolic-Prophetic movement. A sprawling collection of pastors and churches headquartered in Kansas City, the Apostolic-Prophetic movement embraced charismatic theology and rejected dispensational eschatology. In fact, the movement became known for its dominionist ‘Seven Mountains Mandate’ teachings that pushed Christians to overtake the institutions and spheres in society as a preparatory work for the second coming. As a charismatic leader with New Calvinist credentials, Storms moved out of premillennial circles, which was the subject of his popular 2013 book, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative” (308).

Whereas I appreciate Hummel’s take on my contribution to the fall of dispensationalism (more on this below), Kansas City never functioned as the “headquarters” of the Apostolic-Prophetic movement. And I have never embraced or promoted any form of dominion theology, although some in the movement certainly have.

One final comment is needed. To speak of the “fall” of dispensationalism is not entirely accurate. Although it has fallen out of favor in the academy and among the majority of scholarly theologians, dispensationalism continues to exert a huge influence among average Christians. One need only note the incredible sales figures of the Left Behind series of novels and the lingering belief in a pretribulation rapture. That being said, Hummel’s work is excellent and should be studied by all who continue to have an interest not only in eschatology but in the twists and turns of American evangelicalism.

The Oxford Handbook of Jonathan Edwards, edited by Douglas A. Sweeney and Jan Stievermann (Oxford University Press). It wouldn’t be a list of best books coming from me that didn’t include at least one volume devoted to my theological hero, Jonathan Edwards (1703-58).

This volume is incredibly rich in the wide range of topics it covers and the collection of Edwardsean scholars who contribute to it. Among the 37 chapters in this huge book (596 pp.) are those that focus on his family life, the sources of his thought, his view of God and the Trinity, the person of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, predestination, sin and evil, the issue of free will, Edwards’s ecclesiology and theology of the sacraments, aesthetics, his philosophy of nature, spirituality, his sermons, and the global reception of Edwards in North America, Britain, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Latin America.

The final chapter, written by Sweeney, lists the state of Edwardsean studies worldwide, where centers for the study of his life and thought are found at Yale University and in such countries as Poland, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Japan, and in several cities/universities in the United States.

Following the publication in 2017 of The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans), this more recent collection of essays contributes even more to the enduring legacy of Edwards and the remarkably diverse emphases in his theology.

Seeing as Jesus Sees: How a New Perspective can Defeat the Darkness and Awaken Joy, by Alan Wright (Baker Books).

Perhaps the best way to describe Alan’s book is to cite the endorsement I wrote for it:

“Alan Wright’s new book is a refreshing and utterly eye-opening perspective on who Jesus is and how he sees. “Seeing as Jesus Sees” will go a long way in reshaping and correcting your false notions about who Jesus is and what he thinks of you. Saturated with Scripture and alive with true stories of how Jesus changed lives that we might otherwise have considered beyond all hope, this book will encourage and inspire you to begin asking in every situation, with every individual you meet, “How does Jesus see?” The answer to that question could be life-changing!”

Follow the Healer: Biblical and Theological Foundations for Healing Ministry, by Stephen Seamands (Zondervan).

This short book (158 pp.) is an excellent treatment of the subject of divine healing. If you are unfamiliar with the ministry of healing, this is a good place to begin. Here is the endorsement I provided for it.

It’s unfortunate that most books on divine healing gravitate to one extreme or the other. Some argue that believers are entitled to complete healing in the present age, while others are so skeptical of claims to healing that they virtually deny that any occur. This excellent and insightful book by Stephen Seamands is a much-needed corrective to both extremes. It is thoroughly biblical, pastorally sensitive, and does an excellent job of tethering the healing ministry of Jesus to the kingdom of God and the already/not yet of life in the present age. Seamands provides us with no easy, simplistic answers and does not avoid the mystery of why so many for whom we pray are not healed. And he does this in a way that fills the reader with expectancy each time hands are laid on the sick and prayer for their healing is taken to the throne of grace. If you’re still looking for a book on healing, stop. Get this one. You won’t be disappointed.”



My take on Benny is the same as reading 1 & 2 Corinthians that the Holy Spirit spread the gifts through folks who were imperfect unbalanced and totally fallable. I just bought his book Mysteries of the Annoiting and had the Holy Spirit draw me to the mood or the spiritual purity of the books intent. My personal history is being born again in the Baptist church converted to charismatic thought through a Southern babtist quarterly teach on tongues. I was to teach on Sunday school out of the quarterly and in my study the Holy Spirit revealed to me that tongues were in the church the body of Christ. Ended up under the ministry of John Wimber who had the biblical path. I hate that we bring our flesh and lack of knowledge to our walk but it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t minister life through us. I’m not attached to men but to a sense of that God is speaking at that moment to me through the truth that’s being spoken. God Bless us all we all fully need His help daily to stay the course.
Do you still believe con man Benny Hinn is a believer? If his fruit is greed, and his fruit is greed, along with manipulation and twisting of the Bible, isn't that telling? If we are to know people by their fruits, don't we know Benny is a wolf? I do. The man is not a follower of Jesus. Maybe a mental believer but that's it. He knows he's a wolf too.

He sure has you fooled. As did Bickle. But Bickle had me fooled too.

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