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Kevin DeYoung’s May Book Briefs

June 2, 2011

The list of books Kevin DeYoung read this May:

Andrew FergusonCrazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College (Simon & Schuster, 2011). A humorous and surprisingly informative look at the college admissions process. With a breezy style and a knack for turning a phrase, Ferguson explores the madness behind college rankings, the FAFSA application, and the great lengths parents will go to get their children into elite schools. In an act of heroic participatory journalism, Ferguson even retakes the SAT. This book is fun to read, and you’ll learn a lot. Highly recommended for parents and teenagers alike.

Kevin Harney and Bob BouwerThe U-Turn Church: New Direction for Health and Growth(Baker Books, 2011). Kevin and Bob are ordained pastors in the Reformed Church in America. They have both pastored large evangelical churches in our denomination. Although I am not influenced by Willow Creek as they are and am more inclined to see a connection between message and methods than they might be, this is still a helpful book with a lot of passion for reaching the lost, for theological fidelity, for prayer, and for releasing churches from unnecessary traditionalism. Kevin and Bob are good leaders who love the Bible and the local church. Every pastor should find some cause for encouragement (and courage) in this book. Even if you don’t agree with every example (and the authors probably wouldn’t want you to), it’s worth reading something from Reformed pastors who run in some different circles.

C. John CollinsDid Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care(Crossway, 2011). With a cover story from Christianity Today on the same topic, this is a timely and needed book. Collins, a professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, is a scholar who writes with an eye to edifying the church. An expert in Hebrew linguistics and the intersection between faith and science, Collins is the right person to address this important topic. Although I didn’t find the logical flow of the book very intuitive, Collins succeeds in presenting a strong case for the historicity of Adam and Eve. According to Collins, a historical Adam makes sense of the biblical storyline, the first chapters of Genesis, and the references to Adam in the rest of the Bible and in the literature of Second Temple Judaism. Believing in a historical Adam, Collins claims, also makes existential sense, historical sense, and (significantly) is not precluded by the changing findings of science. Personally, I find it hard to see how anyone can reasonably conclude that Jesus, Paul, and the biblical authors did not believe in the historicity of Adam and Eve. If you want to disbelieve in a historical Adam, you have to say the Bible got something wrong.

As much as I appreciated this book—its scholarship, its honesty, its pastoral touch–I have one caution. I was surprised to see Collins quickly dismiss (in one paragraph) the traditional view that Adam and Eve were the first members of the genus Homo (122). Although he believes Adam and Eve were historical persons and the result of “special creation,” he seems very open to the idea (following Stott and Kidner) that Adam and Eve were created from existing hominids and somewhat open to some form of polygenesis (i.e., the original population size of the earth included more than just Adam and Eve). In the end, Collins leaves a number of important questions unanswered, which made an otherwise good book less satisfying.

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