The Works of John Bunyan; 3 Vols. Edited by George Offor; 1991, Banner of Truth, $116.95 Reviewed by Tom Ascol
Bunyan is best known for his ageless classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress. His literary genius in this work that people are prone to forget that this tinker from Bedford was first and foremost a Pastor and preacher.
That “Prince of Theologians,” John Owen, said this to King Charles in Bunyan’s defense: “Could I possess the tinker’s abilities for preaching, I would willingly relinquish all my learning.”
Banner of Truth has done a great service to the Christian church by making available once again the works of Bunyan. In these 3 volumes are included not only some lesser known, yet valuable allegorical works (The Holy War, Heavenly Footman, Life & Death of Mr. Bad Man), but also many of Bunyan’s sermons and expositions.
This set is not inexpensive, but its 2300 pages are bound in the typical high quality, Banner style and its spiritual, doctrinal and devotional content is priceless.
A Journey in Grace: A Theological Novel by Richard P. Belcher; 1990, 154 pp. Crowne Publications, $8.95
Reviewed by Donna Ascol
A Journey in Grace, Dr. Belcher’s first novel, combines a stimulating story line with a wealth of theology. The story involves a young theological student, Ira Pointer, who is challenged by a pulpit committee with the question, “Young man, are you a Calvinist?” Ignorant of Calvinism, Ira begins a biblical and historical search to discover exactly what the “doctrines of grace” are and how they relate to his life and ministry.
Dr. Belcher has managed to outline and explain the historical and doctrinal aspects of Calvinism while capturing the reader’s attention through the captivating events of Ira’s life and personal relationships. Though the story is fictional where the characters are concerned many readers may see similarities in their own journeys in grace.
This book not only introduces and expounds the five tenets of Calvinism, but goes on to lay them bare before the scrutiny of the Scripture. An honest reader cannot help but examine his own doctrinal beliefs as well as any preconceived notions he might have concerning the practical outworkings of historical Calvinism.
Through this novel many less-studied readers have been afforded an opportunity to read and understand the theological intricacies of the doctrines of grace. Each chapter is short and concise with the important doctrinal points biblically explained.
A Journey in Grace has been one of the best selling books on our church’s book table. It is excellent for new believers as well as for Christians who want to grow in the understanding of their faith. Because it is inoffensive and enjoyable to read this book is a great way to introduce others to the doctrines of grace.
A Journey in Purity: A Theological Novel by Richard P. Belcher; 1990, 213 pp. Crowne Publications, $10.95
Reviewed by Ted Manby
Church discipline. These words bring many different reactions to the average member of a local church. Dr. Belcher’s second novel cuts to the heart of the issue as the story of First Baptist Church of Collegetown unfolds in this sequel to Journey in Grace. Pastor Ira Pointer accepted the call to this church with deep concern that only sixty of the thousand members were active. While he is faithfully teaching the obedient remnant, the sleeping giant of nine hundred inactive members awakens and tries to swallow both the pastor and the faithful members. Seventy of the inactive members form an opposition party with the ability to draw three hundred other inactives to any business meeting. The struggle for survival is on.
This exciting novel is full of surprises with many twists and turns. Once I began reading it, it was nearly impossible to put down. In the midst of the struggle, Pastor Pointer takes his deacons through an expositional study of a number of New Testament passages on church discipline. Thus, after you have read this book, you will not only enjoy an exciting story and be acquainted with the personal pain carried by all faithful pastors, but you will also be very familiar with biblical church discipline.
This is a book for everyone. Pastors and their wives will devour it and identify with the Pointer family throughout the story. Christians will enjoy it and learn some needed truths. Even older Christians who would be unwilling to read even a pamphlet on church discipline will read this work from cover to cover. Mature Christians will read it with tears of concern over the ruthless tactics of lost church members towards God’s people and with tears of joy as they see God, in His sovereign grace, reach down and save sinners who are the least likely candidates to human eyes for grace.
With our local churches being filled with unregenerate and often hostile inactive members, this is a needed book for our undisciplined age. Our churches need to begin and/or continue on their journeys in purity. May God raise up a host of Pastor Pointers who will pay the price to follow the Scriptures in shepherding God’s flock.