HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
This week I am reviewing two books which I highly recommend to all who are interested in gaining a clearer understanding of original Christianity as set forth on the pages of the New Testament. The first is a very scholarly work; the second is written in popular language that will grab and hold the reader’s attention from start to finish.
The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today was written by Dr. Everett Ferguson, retired Professor of Bible at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX. Ferguson holds both the S.T.B. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. His book was published in 1996 by William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, and is one of the finest books on the church written by an uninspired man that I have ever read. I obtained my copy in February 1997, and when I finished reading it I wrote on the title page, “This is Dr. Ferguson’s Magnum Opus.” (He since has produced an extensive study of baptism which I have not read.)
In the title of his book Dr. Ferguson does not have in mind a sectarian or denominational concept when he speaks of “the Church of Christ.” It is not, as some might be prone to say, “a ‘Church of Christ book.’ ” Rather, as the subtitle indicates, it is a thorough study of biblical ecclesiology (the ecclesia [church] of the New Testament.) Every biblical facet of the church is covered; no stone is left unturned.
Brother Ferguson discusses in great detail the Old Testament antecedents of the church, the nature of the church, salvation and church membership, worship, the continuing ministry of the church, and the church as the new way of life. The chapter on “The Church and Her Savior: Salvation and Church Membership” is a masterful presentation of salvation from the standpoint of seeing the human need, appreciating God’s action, making the proper human response, and what that response consists of.
Dr. Ferguson deals extensively with the biblical text as it relates to the church. The book contains a Subject Index and a twenty-three and one-half page Scripture Index, listing every scripture used in the text of his book.
The book is both thorough and scholarly. It cannot be read and digested in a day or two. And it is not a cheap book; it sells for $40.00. But if one is interested in a serious and complete study of the New Testament church, this book is a must-read. Information on how it can be obtained appears below.
Muscle and a Shovel was published by Michael J. Shank in 2011. Written in easy-to-read every-day language, the book tells the fascinating and true story of the conversion of a young computer technician and his wife from denominationalism (the Baptist Church, specifically) to New Testament Christianity and the church of which one reads in the New Testament.
Over a period of several months, Mike was lovingly and patiently challenged to question his religious beliefs and his denominational affiliation by a fellow worker”Randall.” Together Mike and Randall studied the Scriptures. Mike talked to various denominational preachers, questioning them as to the origin of their churches, their doctrines, and why they taught as they did, but never received a real Bible answer to his questions.
The more he read and studied the New Testament for himself the more he began to see the error of his way: thinking he had been saved by saying the Sinner’s Prayer, believing he had been saved at the age of eight though not baptized until five years later, the one-man pastor system, the notion of “once saved, always saved,” the failure to partake of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, instrumental music in Christian worship, and a host of other things commonly accepted in modern religious circles.
Becoming disgusted with his childhood religion, Mike and his wife began visiting a Community Church, only to be charged with legalism when in a Bible class he simply read a passage of scripture (Ephesians 5:22-33) dealing with the relationship of husbands and wives. He was told he would probably be happier attending a different class.
As the back cover of the book says,
“Muscle and a Shovel is a true story about a pair of young newlyweds who move to the city to chase the American dream. In the middle of their pursuit they are befriended by a man who turns their beliefs about God, their church, and their faith upside-down. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Community Churches no one is spared when Truth is at stake and their new friend Randall isn’t concerned about political correctness or religious tolerance. This raw, uncensored story grabs you and doesn’t let go! Prepare to have your intellect, emotions, and existing beliefs set on fire.”
One Baptist preacher whose name was withheld by request said of the book: “This story provoked me on spiritual levels I didn’t know existed! Everyone who reads this story should be prepared to ‘fight or flee.’ Muscle and a Shovel is one of those rare books that will raise your blood pressure. You’ll either give it to everyone you know or put it into a shredder; there’s no middle ground. This book just might turn the religious world on its ear!”
According to the last report I saw, as a result of reading this book between six and seven thousand people have been baptized for the remission of their sins, thus being saved and added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47). I challenge all of my denominational friends, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, et. al., to read this book. Surely there is nothing for them to fear in reading it and weighing its message in the light of the Bible. The price of the book is $15.95.
Both books are available at:
Gospel Advocate Company
1006 Elm Hill Pike
1-800-251-8446 (Toll Free)
To purchase the second book directly from the author at discounted pricing, go on line at http://muscleandashovel.com.
March 25, 2014