Tough Topics (a short review by Matthew Sims)September 16, 2013
Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions (Crossway, 2013) (a short review by Matthew Sims; he blogs at www.graceforsinners.com).
Sam Storms desires to answers tough questions believers ask. He does so pastorally and carefully. He says,
Sadly, many believers walk away from church or from a friend or even from a pastor, frustrated that such issues are either answered badly or met with an “I don’t know,” or perhaps even ignored altogether. My aim in this book is to overcome that frustration by looking deeply, not superficially, at what Scripture says and deriving clear and persuasive explanations for these thorny matters. (p. 12)
Also, he writes with “the educated layperson in mind” (p. 12). Sam walks through each issue not just to discover the truth but to convey it in love. He writes with a pastors heart.
What I loved. Sam answers these tough questions thoroughly. As quoted earlier, these aren’t easy questions and his answers reflect that. Most chapters include a brief survey of the most popular answers to the question and Sam seeks to include the biblical evidence for even the opposing opposition. Related, he roots his answers in the biblical text. He builds texts, stories, and passages to provide solid biblical grounds for everything he teaches.
Second, I love that Sam says, “In other words, the ultimate aim of this book isn’t knowledge; it’s worship” (p. 13). There are a lot of good books which tackle the tough passages in Scripture but a lot of these are more academic. Nothing wrong there. I’m glad there’s a resource now which seeks to dialogue with the average Christian by encouraging them to worship God in the midst of what could be intense trials, doubts, or struggles.
Last, I’ll share my favorite chapters out of the book. I loved Chapter 3 “Does God Ever Change His Mind?” He handles this topic masterfully. A very full discussion of a hard passage. Also, Chapter 8 “Are Those Who Die in Infancy Saved?” Again a full discusion with a major pastoral implication. It’s a questions nearly everyone will encounter directly or indirectly in their life. Chapter 15 “Can Christians Lose Their Salvation.” What I appreciate in this section is the Trinitarian focus. He lay the theological groundwork for his position then explores the implications of the opposing position on each person of the Trinity. Chapter 19 “What Is Baptism in the Spirit, and When Does It Happen?” He examines all positions and lays out the biblical evidence for each position.
If you’re a Christian with doubts or questions and one of these topics hits home you won’t find a more readable and Biblical rooted resource than Sam Storms’s Tough Topics.