Category: tolle lege book reviews

Tolle Lege: “Growing In Holiness” and “Sanctification”

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I was super excited to get a copy of “Growing in Holiness” by the late R.C. Sproul and saved it as my flight read to the recent G3Conference in Atlanta.  Not only was I expecting it to be the perfect appetizer to all the teaching on worship I was about to receive but I fully expected it to fill in the lonely airport hours like an old friend would. Yes, the subject of holiness is EXACTLY where my heart needed to be planted in preparation for that conference. But no, I never found that friendly, familiar voice within those pages.  “Growing in Holiness” might well be taken from Sproul’s lectures on the same subject, and the information is well organized, easily digestible, and theologically sound, but it wasn’t Sproul doing the telling.  If you, like me, were impacted for life by “The Holiness of God” do not expect the same kind of force from “Growing in Holiness.” It’s good, but it’s not the knock-you-off-your-feet-never-view-God-in-the-same-way-again-buy-a-copy-for-every-one-you-know kind of good that “The Holiness of God” was.  Therefore, I was disappointed.

Interestingly, another book just came out by Sproul’s good friend, John MacArthur on holiness’ twin subject.  “Sanctification” packs a powerful 64 page punch.  The tone is very pastoral, recognizing first “The Good Shepherd’s” goal for His flock. This was the perfect place to start for me.  For some reason, hearing the “why” of our sanctification made me desire that which Christ desires for me more than I ever had before.  MacArthur then turns his attention to pastors, including the apostles own interactions with the the early church. Wo to pastors who don’t have the same goal for the flock as our Good Shepherd!

Because MacArthur’s book is so short and really lays the ground work for Sproul’s, I recommend reading “Sanctification” first, then fleshing out the practical details with “Growing in Holiness.”  Together, you have a well-rounded read on a subject that is far too neglected by evangelicals today.

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Tolle Lege: To Be A Christian by J.I. Packer

In a day when the evangelical church is breaking doctrinal fetters in pursuance of wokeness, intersectionality and progressivism, “To Be a Christian” reads like a breath of fresh air.  I’ve been told more than once not to “put God in a box.”  But I’ve lately come to realize that Scripture already has.  Sound doctrine forms the parameters by which our infinite God is to be known and worshipped and taught.  Confessions, creeds, and catechisms, are an historically reliable way to teach those parameters.

In “To Be a Christian” the Anglican Church aims to catechize its members, both young and old, in the basic tenants of the Christian faith.  It does this by means of the traditional Question/Answer format and often in an eloquent manner well-deserving of quoting and memorization. For example, #5 under Salvation reads:

“Can you save yourself from the way of sin and death?  No. I have no power to save myself, for sin has corrupted my con- science, confused my mind, and captured my will. Only God can save me.” (25)

What makes this catechism unique from others in the reformed tradition is that it is written by Anglicans for Anglicans.  This becomes overtly apparent in the section, “Concerning Sacraments”  i.e. #149:

“What is absolution?  In absolution, a priest, acting under God’s authority, pronounces God’s forgiveness in response to repentance and confession of sin.” (62).

Now if that ain’t the Anglicanist thing you ever did hear!

I’m going to shelf this one for reference, but wouldn’t recommend it for use in family worship or instruction.  Unless ye be Anglican, of course.  Still, it was a comfort to read that in the essentials of the Christian faith, the Anglican Church seems to be upholding and instructing sound doctrine to its members.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher but am not obligated to write favorable review.

Tolle Lege: A Bible Story

img_5778The tiny Bible pictured above is the second of its kind I owned.  The first, which my husband gifted to me on the occasion of the birth of our first child, proved the perfect size to hold in one hand and read aloud to a nursing infant.  Alas, it’s greatest strength proved it’s fatal flaw.  That Bible accidentally ended up in the laundry immediately following the birth of our fourth child, the unfortunate victim (I mean the Bible, not the baby) of its own diminutive size versus the mountains of laundry a family with 4 boys under the age of 6 is bound to produce.  The birth of our 5th son warranted the purchase of a nearly exact duplicate which I found equal to the task of being easy to hold with one hand while reading aloud to a nursing infant.  Precious hours of nourishment for mommy and baby both.

In 2016 I marked the New Year with a new Bible and a new resolve to read through it again.  This time I wasn’t bound to a baby in a rocking chair and opted for one of those new fangled clunky ESV Journaling Bibles that Crossway was becoming famous for.  Finally, I had plenty of space in which to sloppily scrawl my notes, making my Journaling Bible the least Instagram worthy in all of Bible Journaling history.  With that kind of reckless abandon you can only read through your Bible a couple times before it just becomes an illegible mess, such as is highlighted in the picture below.img_5771

So in 2019 I was thrilled to start the year with a complete set of Crossway’s ESV Scripture Journals.  Now I could study a single book and mark it up to my heart’s content and not ruin a whole Bible in the process.  Because each book of the Bible is bound individually it’s so convenient to carry whichever one your studying from or memorizing with you wherever you go.  They also make great gifts.  We gave away a number Gospel of Johns to folks we were evangelizing and who were shy of tackling the whole Bible.  To just be able to hand the book of Philippians to a sister who is in the pit of discouragement and say “hey, read this little book” made it so easy to get the Word of God into other people’s hands.  The downside to these Scripture Journals (pictured below) is that being individually bound you’re not likely to be carrying around the whole Bible with you in that format.

Enter 2020.  And a whole new chapter in my Bible story.  Yesterday I received in the mail the brand new ESV Journaling New Testament, Inductive Edition.  A mouthful to be sure but title aside it has all the space for notes as the Scripture Journals, only in a completely different format, but it’s bound in a single volume.  At least half of it is.  Apparently they’ve only published the New Testament so far and I’m dying to get my hands on a companion OT.  Hurry up Crossway!  I really, really like that the space for taking notes is in between each line instead of just in the margins like the Journaling Bible or on the opposite page like the Scripture Journals.  Take a look below at all those clean, luxurious blank spaces for me to mess up with my embarrassing sloppy scrawling.  Or maybe I should take a cue from Steve Lawson and take up writing everything neatly with a fountain pen.  After all it is a new decade.  No better time to start strange new habits than the present.