- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: The Good Book Company (January 1, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1784981222
- ISBN-13: 978-1784981228
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James: Wisdom for the Christian life Hardcover – January 1, 2017
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About the Author
Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary. He was pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Virginia, for nine years before founding Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.
Sam studied theology at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and has served on staff at St Ebbe's Church, Oxford, and St Mary's, Maidenhead. He is now part of the team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and also works as UK Editor for The Gospel Coalition. A popular conference speaker, Sam has written several books, including James For You, Is God Anti-Gay, and Lifted. Hobbies include reading, watching The West Wing and anything to do with South-East Asia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Allberry and Keller ask great questions and draw excellent practical implications from each daily devotional. It is recommended by the author's that you take notes and record the following for all 90 studies: (1) Record the highlight of the passage - the truth about God that most struck you; (2) Record the questions you have about what you have read and your best attempts at answering them; (3) Record the way/s you want to change on the basis of how the Holy Spirit is prompting you to change your attitudes and actions on regard to what you have read from Scripture; (4) After you have finished the study, record one sentence summing up how God has spoken to you through His Word; and lastly (5) Pray a short prayer in response to what you have been instructed to believe and do.
I highly recommend this devotional - especially for new Bible students. It will guide you into becoming a "doer of the Word" as James 1:22 instructs.
The daily entries walk through a passage of scripture by breaking it up into a verse or two mini-sections, asking probing questions, and providing brief explanatory notes. Each day closes with suggestions on how to apply the passage, and often suggestions for what to pray in response. There is a blank, lined page for notes and prayers for each entry. These studies are designed to be done with an open Bible beside your devotional, so you can reference the words on the Page.
Carl Laferton, Good Book Company Editorial Director, writes a helpful introduction (seems like a series introduction as he makes no reference to the actual passages discussed in this volume). He suggests that as you read the passage for each day you note a highlight (the truth from God which strikes you most) the query (questions about what you are reading) and the change (ways God's spirit is prompting you to change) (8). At the close of each study Laferton suggests writing a one sentence summary of how God spoke to you each day and a short prayer about what you have seen. This format is not reflected in the notes of Keller and Allberry's daily entries; nevertheless it seems like a fruitful way to approach God's word expectantly.
Because Keller and Allberry elected to write questions and notes for each verse or two mini-section, there isn't a heuristic framework for the type of questions they ask. For example, many Bible Study methods use some version of Observation, Interpretation, Application. Mostly they ask the observational questions (questions about what it says in the text) and interpretive questions (questions about what you think the passage means) for every couple verse section, saving the application questions for the whole passage.
This is a 90 day journey and I have had this in possession for about a week. I haven't been able to more than skim through it; however I read enough to get a sense of the entries for the purposes of this review. I will focus mostly on entries from Romans in my comments bellow.
The authors of this volume are both theologically conservative and this is reflected in their approach to passages and particular notes. That is to be expected, we all bring our own theological lens to scripture, but they do attend to what they read in each passage. So for example, in their discussion of Romans 1:26-32 they give a brief explanation of how homosexuality is viewed as a sin in the passage, "homosexuality is described as 'against nature' (para phusin)." But they are also careful to not turn it into a super sin as some conservative interpreters might, "But notice it comes after Paul has identified the root of all sin: worshiping something other than God. And it comes before a long list of other sins, including envy and gossiping. Active homosexuality is no more or less sinful than these—all come from worshiping the created, rather than the Creator" (104). This is perhaps a controversial passage to highlight (the only verses in this study which would address anything about homosexuality and the LGBTQ lifestyle) but it gives you a sense of how they attempt to follow the contours of the biblical text and are constrained by it. Romans 9-11 give a classic Reformed understanding of election, predestination, God's foreknowledge and the future of Israel (175-192), though not in a heavy-handed way.
The notes are not detailed. There are no footnotes or suggestions for further reading to delve deeply into the passage. Keller and Allberry give a non-technical, lay-person friendly interpretation of the passage, but if you do each daily study right, you, the reader, are doing all the heavy lifting, accessing biblical truth for yourself rather than depending on them for interpretation. Because they walk through whole books of the Bible, or sections of books in the case of John 14-17, this is much more detailed than those daily-thoughts-on-a-verse devotionals they sell at the supermarket.
Yet, because this work is not scholarly, there are the occasional lapses common to popular preachers. When they are discussing Romans 8:15-17 they write, "Abba means 'Daddy,'" I know how well this preaches (I've preached it myself), but the best linguistic evidence would just translate Abba as father or dad without the informal, familiar feel of daddy. Nothing serious but not always careful speech. I also think breaking up passages into small daily chunks, can obscure the rhetorical structure and the flow of an argument. I think a bird's-eye-view is so important for grasping an epistle's meaning (especially a theologically sophisticated one like Romans). Keller and Allberry clearly have a road map they are following through each biblical book, but like your GPS they only reveal where to turn next. They don't give you a large overview of the terrain, trajectory and destination of each book. A good orienting essay introducing the books covered would help tremendously.
I love the Bible. The upper room discourses & Jesus' high priestly prayer, the book of Romans and James, contain some of my go-to passages. If you are looking for a devotional or guided study to discover these sections of scripture, this is a good choice. It would be impossible to read through this in 90 days and not grow in your understanding of these books and their meaning. And reading this devotional, as intended, will help you hear the voice of God in the text. Keller and Allberry are good guides, by no means perfect, but this would be helpful alongside other resources which help you to engage the Bible. I give this three-and-a-half stars.
<small> I received this book via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.</small>
Keller tackles Romans and Allberry takes John and James.
These devotions originally appeared in Explore Quarterly 66, 67, & 72 and are very brief.
In the Introduction, Carl Laferton explains that these devotions are to be “open Bible” (7) – that is, the reader is to have his Bible open and apply the devotional reading – one to two pages – to the Bible – and respond on the final page of each devotional, where one has an entire page to write thoughts and questions.
Laferton suggests reading the text for each devotion and then record what struck you in the passage, questions you have, how you ought to change in response to the text, a one sentence summary, and a reflective prayer (8), but one could proceed through it in other manners.
The devotions are Socratic – statements and then questions to prompt the reader’s response. And they are well done.
My one complain with this beautiful hard-cover volume with bookmark is that the text of the Scripture is not printed in the devotion.
Despite the composition of the devotions, it is too easy for a faithless and lazy generation to read the devotion and skip the Scripture. With it before the reader, it would be more likely that these devotions would accomplish their purpose with the average reader.
That being said, this is a worthwhile volume by faithful men, and I look forward to future volumes in the series.
[This review appears on my blog and on Amazon.com. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.]