Ten Commandments, Rooker

Mark F. Rooker, Ph.D., The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century, published 2010. Rooker is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book is very readable, follows the same format each chapter (Introduction, Old Testament, New Testament, and some other insights, Conclusion), very conservative man who believes the Bible to be God’s word, but has some technicality from Hebrew throughout, limiting the readership.  His quotes from others, especially the early fathers, is very helpful. What is astonishing is that he does not mention abortion or homosexuality. Mildly dispensational. 240 pages.

Natural Law Ethics (?)

Craig A. Boyd, A Shared Morality: A Narrative Defense of Natural Law Ethics. This is a very heavy philosophical work from St. Augustine to today, and it nuances every conceivable aspect of a theoretical ethic. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Its strength to me was the survey of so many modern views, but its weakness is how little it is based on Scripture. Boyd self-consciously tries to build an ethic on who man is rather than who God is. My position is that we can argue for biblical ethics without using the Bible but not without assuming the Bible and that our ethic must be based on who God is. Indeed, it is necessarily the case that all ethic is based on Him whether we recognize it or not.

Original Sin

A very interesting book on original sin that surveys various persons and cultures is Alan Jacobs, Original Sin (New York, NJ: Harper Collins, 2008). This is not just a pragmatic approach, but he delves into various secular and Christian theories, along with great insight into how cultures stand or fall with their view of original sin. Highly recommended; Jacobs is evangelical.

Ten Commandments, Hazony

David Hazony, The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life, 2010. Hazony is an orthodox Jew, and though there are some keen insights here and there, for the most part he promotes pelagianism, salvation by our own efforts, completely misses the Messiah in the Old Testament, relies heavily on Jewish tradition and on the wisdom of the rabbis, and in general is not very helpful for Christians.

Bible and Homosexual Practice

Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, published 2001, over 500 pages. This is without a doubt the best book on the subject. Gagnon is a very competent scholar, and he delves into Greek from Plato to Philo and to Josephus. He also researches what the Jews believed, not only in the Old Testament but also between the Old and New Testaments. He quotes dozens of sources demonstrating that “natural use” and “against nature” in Romans 1:26 were set phrases that referred to heterosexual and homosexual respectively. There is nothing left to be said once he is done. The one draw back to the book, if one can call it that, for most people is that if you don’t like hundreds of quotes from scholarly literature and cannot handle serious Greek grammar, you’ll parts of it tedious reading, yet you’ll still benefit from it.  From a biblical perspective, there is nothing left to say.  Dr. Gagnon leaves no stone unturned, and he address such arguments as to say homosexuality is sin is unloving, saying, rather, it is the most loving thing one can do.  As I’ve taught and preached for years, and as I’ve said to a doctor and a nurse, to pretend someone does not have a terminal disease that is curable every time the medicine of the gospel is applied is the most unloving thing one can do.

 

Death of Right and Wrong

Tammy Bruce wrote The Death of Right and Wrong (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003). Ms. Bruce denies that she is a Christian, and is says she is pro-choice and a feminist. She was once heavily involved in the National Organized for Women and in leftist causes. Thus her insight from an insider’s view is not only revealing, but her sense of right and wrong is usually on target, testifying to the remnant of the image of God within her. Sadly, though, she has no solution to the evils that plague our society, for that lies only in Christ. Only He can change people’s hearts to want to practice the commandments of God, which change is a product of the Gospel, trusting in the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins and in His bodily resurrection. Ms. Bruce speaks of the “core values” of Christianity as ethics, which is typical of those who do not want a supernatural God. The theological core is hidden from her, which is the Holy Trinity and the person and work of Christ. The moral ethics of Christianity is secondary to Christ Himself. She does not see that her approval of murdering babies and her lesbianism are violations of God’s law, and that she needs to be delivered from these by trusting in Christ. My heart goes out to her, but it is an easy and good read.

Ten Commandments, Patrick Miller

Patrick D. Miller, Ph. D., The Ten Commandments, was published in 2009. Dr. Miller taught Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. These days one wants to ask if anything good can come out of Princeton, and Miller demonstrates that the answer is Yes. This is 500 pages of very scholarly but usually readable material that is full of exegetical insights, and still remains conservative. One drawback: if he dealt with abortion or homosexuality, I did not see it. I can’t image how one could write 500 pages on the Ten Commandments and not address the worst ongoing killings of our society and the worst ongoing sexual sins.