Tim Bixby is pastor of Cleveland Park Bible Church in Spartanburg, SC. He is also my brother. Tim often has good insights that help me in my pilgrimage to heaven and I have persuaded him to let me post some of his thoughts on my blog. He did not say this, but I am sure that he would want all to know that just because he is posting here does not mean that he endorses everything that I post! We are both separatists. 😉
Tim’s Book Reviews
Title: The Preacher’s Portrait
Author: John R. W. Stott
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1961
Number of pages: 124
Purchased: December 2003, Totalcampus.com. $7.17
Review: An excellent read. Stott considers the preacher as a steward (a preacher‘s proclamation and appeal), a herald (a preacher‘s message and authority), a witness (a preacher‘s experience and humility), a father (a preacher‘s love and gentleness), and a servant (a preacher’s power and motive). There is one chapter for each portrait. The book is very expositional in nature which is what makes it so profitable. Stott gives a very careful and enlightening exposition on specific texts that portray the man of God in the “portraits” listed above.
In his chapter on the witness, Stott shows from John 15 how Christian witness is borne before the world, to the Son, by the Father (the Father is the chief witness), and through the Holy Spirit and the Church. In this same chapter he also gives a very helpful explanation of how Christ is our advocate in Heaven, while the Spirit is Christ’s advocate on earth (p 68).
Particularly enlightening was his explanation of the Trinitarian aspect of preaching from 1 Corinthians 1-2 (in the chapter on “servant”). Preaching is to be the Word from God the Father, about God the Son, and empowered by God the Holy Spirit. I found this chapter especially helpful in tying together the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians into a comprehensive, yet laconic statement on the Christian ministry of preaching.
I would highly recommend the book as very instructive and stimulating to the mind for any man in the ministry. The fact that it is John Stott (an evangelical Anglican who is now cozier with the Catholics than those in the “high church” and heirs of the Tractarian Movement) is troubling. I suggest trying to forget who the author is. If that doesn’t work, remind yourself that God uses earthen vessels, some of which are downright muddy. (It may also be helpful to know that this is the Stott of 1961, not of today.)
I liked this book because I learned so much from it–about specific passages of Scripture. It is certainly not another rehash on preaching. It is a well-drawn, artistically written portrait of what God’s preachers ought to be.
Title: For God and His People: Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation
Author: Jean Henry Merle D’Aubigné
Publisher: BJU Press
Number of pages: 268
Purchased: 3/20/01, CERM, $4.95
Review: Easy to read which is a big plus (regardless of how long it took me to finish!). He is excessively harsh on the Anabaptists, but not excessively laudatory of Zwingli, especially near the end when Zwingli forsook the cloak of a reformer and put on the garb of a statesman. “If Zwingli with his powerful voice had called on the people to humiliation before God, to forgiveness of trespasses, and to prayer, safety might yet have dawned on brokenhearted Switzerland. But it was not so. More and more, the Christian disappeared in the reformer, and the citizen alone remained” (p21). And again, “The Reformation had grasped the sword, and that very sword pierced its heart” (p217).
I was pleased, yet surprised (perhaps unjustly so), to hear his analysis of the problem: “This unnatural confusion of church and state which had corrupted Christianity after the age of Constantine, was hurrying on the ruin of the Reformation” (p 217). D’Aubigné’s opinion of the defeat of the reformed forces at Kappel is also refreshingly Biblical, “It is in the furnace of trial that the God of the gospel conceals the pure gold of His most precious blessings. This punishment was necessary to turn aside the church of Zurich from the ‘broad ways’ of the world and lead it back to the ‘narrow ways’ of the Spirit and the life. In a political history, a defeat like that of Kappel would be styled a great misfortune. But in the history of the church of Jesus Christ, such a blow, inflicted by the hand of the Father Himself, ought rather to be called a great blessing” (248).
Zwingli was a strong man, greatly used of God. His zeal and courage are remarkable. But in the end, “this very power had been his weakness, and he had fallen under the weight of his own strength” (250). We are left with an ambivalent attitude toward Zwingli, for he leaves us an example of both the glorious and the tragic. We see in him the great exploits that can be achieved by the preaching of the Gospel, and the truth that “he who lives by the sword will also perish by the sword.”
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