Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: The Evangelism Study Bible

When I agreed to review the Evangelism Study Bible, I did so out of a sense of curiosity. My perspective is that all of Scripture is about Christ, and therefore it is all evangelistic in the sense that one can get to the gospel all throughout its pages. I was curious to see how the editors would handle something that that is inherently evangelistic and make it more overtly so. I was also curious to see this Bible because it seems to me that the last thing the church needs is another study Bible.
Now that I have perused the Study Bible and read many of the notes, I readily admit my surprise at how much I enjoyed this work. Several features commend the work. Specifically, it aids in showing that the Bible is a “Jesus book.” The notes in the Evangelism Study Bible help the reader to see Christ, especially in the Old Testament.  In many ways, this is a study Bible for apologetics.  The editors address some of the hard questions and apparent contradictions that sometimes become barriers to belief.

Two additional observations are in order; one of which is practical and the second is somewhat theological. First, I would like to see this Bible offered in a variety of translations. I like the NKJV, but it is not my translation of choice. I understand that this may involve publication and copyright issues, but a wider choice would be nice.

Second, the editors continue to promote a perspective that separates salvation from discipleship. The idea that one can become an entry level Christian and later opt to become (or not to become) a committed follower of Christ has a long history and a vast following. In the notes, discipleship is presented as a costly and attractive option (see the notes on Matthew 16:24-27, p. 1070), but an option nonetheless. The goal in this is to emphasize the free grace of God in salvation, denying any mixture of human effort. This, of course is scriptural and right. But the grace that is free is not cheap. It does more than save a sinner; it transforms him. This complete transformation is taught in verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17 and receives scant comment in the notes. Perhaps if we spoke more about conversions as opposed to salvations we might come closer to the truth.

In all, I like this Study Bible. It offers a different perspective that will be useful for those who are committed to follow Christ’s injunction to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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