Book Reviews


Book Reviews

Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World by John MacArthur, Jr.; 1993, 253 pp. Crossway Books, $17.95 Reviewed by Thomas Ascol

No one has ever accused John MacArthur of skirting around important issues. His Gospel According to Jesus exposed the easy-believism and cheap grace that has permeated much of modern evangelicalism. In it he warns against huckstering the gospel as if it were a bargain-basement sale item, and he calls us back to a more biblically based, Christ-honoring, historically orthodox doctrine of salvation.

A reformation in soteriology will not last, however, if there is not also a commensurate reformation in ecclesiology. For the same humanism that putrefies the former equally spoils the latter. Good seed will not grow in rocky soil.

So it is with great delight to see the publication of this new volume which addresses evangelical church life. MacArthur’s basic impulse is the conviction that “the church his imbibed the worldly philosophy of pragmatism, and we’re just beginning to taste the bitter results” (xii). “What works?” has replaced “What is true?” in the church’s priorities and the results are a loss of confidence in the gospel.

This book pulls no punches in exposing the harmful excesses of the church growth movement. With careful documentation, clear reasoning, and firm yet kind rebuke, MacArthur demonstrates how many church growth “experts,” despite claims to the contrary, have made truth negotiable in the quest for numerical success. George Barna’s church marketing philosophy is scrutinized in the light of biblical instructions on church life and ministry.

In the chapter entitled, “The Sovereignty of God in Salvation,” MacArthur writes, “What does God’s sovereignty have to do with the subject of this book? Everything. The very reason many contemporary churches embrace pragmatic methodology is that they lack any understanding of God’s sovereignty in the salvation of the elect. They lose confidence in the power of God to use the preached gospel to reach hardened unbelievers. That’s why they approach evangelism as a marketing problem” (157).

MacArthur uses Spurgeon’s “Downgrade” controversy as the backdrop for his argument. Just as modernism began to infiltrate evangelical churches in the late 19th century, so pragmatism has taken root a century later. Both are an attack on Scripture-the former on its authority, the latter on its sufficiency.

This book should be placed into the hands of every Bible-believing pastor and church leader in our nation. It promises to be one of the most controversial books of the decade. May God, by His grace, also make it one of the most heeded.

Linguist’s Software Language Bible Study Programs, Prices vary. Reviewed by Ken Puls

Since the advent of computers the ability to study, search, and even translate the Scriptures has enormously advanced. From finding verses to doing word studies, what once took hours of searching through concordances now can be done in a matter of seconds with the aid of a computer.

Many software companies have appeared in the past several years offering programs that help in the study of Scripture. One such company which is of special interest to Bible translators and students who work with the Greek and Hebrew texts is Linguist’s Software of Edmonds, Washington.

Linguist’s Software is best known for their fonts. They offer the ability to write in Hebrew, Greek, Chinese, Cyrillic, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and a host of other languages including even Egyptian hieroglyphics. The letters are well organized phonetically on the keyboard to corresponding English letters and are easy to learn.

Linguist’s Software offers two Greek fonts:

GRAECA which has a type style like the United Bible Society edition of the Greek New Testament:

SSUPERGREEK which has a typestyle like the Trinitarian Bible Society edition of the Textus Receptus:

[Romans 8:29-30]

Two Hebrew fonts are also available. The one of interest to Bible students is HEBRAICA, which has the type style of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia:

[Psalm 57:11]

Both Hebrew fonts come together with a “bidirectional Hebrew Resources Installer for English Systems.” This program reverses the direction of the cursor so you can type right to left. Without this program installed cutting and pasting Hebrew texts is quite frustrating.

Linguist’s Software also offers the Old Testament in Hebrew (the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia – $59.95) and the New Testament in Greek (the U.B.S. Greek New Testament – $59.95) on disks. Both come with text only. (No textual apparatus is included.) Other versions of the Scripture offered are the KJV, RSV, NIV, the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint (each $59.95). The Hebrew and Greek Scriptures come in three possible formats:

  1. As the Greek or Hebrew text only. Each book is formatted as a document in your word processor. (You specify what word processor you use when ordering.) Because you can remain in your word processor, this format is useful for cutting and pasting portions of Scripture into papers or articles.
  2. As an Interlinear text ($79.95). This format is useful for those less familiar with the Greek and Hebrew language.
  3. As a machine readable text with each word grammatically tagged ($99.95). The machine readable text can be used with a program developed by Linguist’s called the Any Text Bible Search Engine. This program can perform word searches in the Greek and Hebrew texts by textual form or root, and can also create concordances. On Macintosh computers the search engine is a Hyper-Card based program.

Also offered by Linguist’s Software are Greek and Hebrew dictionaries ($49.95 each) containing all the textual forms found in the Scriptures. These are intended to prevent the spell checker in your word processor from stopping at each Greek or Hebrew term it does not recognize. Greek and Hebrew Grammar books are also available on disk for those who wish to learn the languages.

Linguist’s Software’s programs and fonts are available for both IBM (including Windows) and Macintosh computers. For the Macintosh most fonts are available in True Type or Post Script formats.

For more information on these programs and fonts write to:

P.O. Box 580
Edmonds, WA 98020-0580
(206) 775-1130