Category Archives: Books

Book Review: “A Different Kind of Poison – How Legalism Destroys Grace” by Kevin Pendergrass

This book is a journey from legalism to grace through the life of Kevin Pendergrass. I was unaware of Kevin’s story and his transformation until I read his book and I would like to make you aware of this resource.

Kevin group up as many of us did – contending for the faith (which meant contending for the 1950s Church of Christ). He was a fighter…a debater. He knew who was right and wrong and what verses to proof text to prove it. He is very open about the hypocrisy that was in his life during those years as he struggled with various things all the while calling on others to perfection.

He was an insider…speaking all over the country and working with ministries that had high visibility in our fellowship. He was an active participant in correcting and reproving various people and groups on a regular basis in a very public way. He openly admits he was dogmatic and self-centered. Something needed to change.

This book is engaging. Kevin is a great storyteller and kept me interested the whole way. Not only is he a good storyteller, he is a good thinker. This is what got him as far as he did in his previous way of thinking. I am glad God changed his mind to re-engage his thoughts and gifts into a healthier, more biblical approach to things. We are blessed and benefited from the strength of his mind and ability to think through doctrine and inconsistencies on the path to a better way that some never find

His journey is something many of us can relate to but fewer find a path to something healthier. He talks about what changed his mind and how he came to a better understanding of the grace of God. This takes up the first 36 chapters of the book.

He makes a turn at chapter 37 through the end of the book to move from autobiography to instruction. From that point on he does a biblical exposition of the topics that helped him move to a better place in his life and theology:

  • Chapter 37 – Understanding God’s Holiness and Love
  • Chapter 38 – The Gospel
  • Chapter 39 – Is Heaven Really that Small?
  • Chapter 40 – Using the Law Lawfully
  • Chapter 41 – Not Enough Points
  • Chapter 42 – Accessing God’s Grace
  • Chapter 43 – But What About Works?
  • etc

He not only desconstructs legalism, he reconstructs a more biblical theology that still has room for obedience but puts it in its proper context with an emphasis on grace and the love of God for us.

Chapter 49 is his “Aha” moment that I won’t spoil for you but mention it to say that I believe this book will set off some “aha” moments for those who read it.

Here is why this book is important – Churches of Christ have had some identity issues. Once we figure out that legalism is poisonous we struggle to know what to replace it with. This book helps illustrate an answer to that problem that I found helpful and I think you will too.

Thanks to Kevin for being vulnerable and I am sure this puts him in an awkward position with some people but what he has done will prove helpful for many people.

Book Review: Jesus’ Economy by John Barry

John Barry was a chief editor at Logos/Faithlife Bible software. He ended his stint with Faithlife in order to work with the poor all over the world and create sustainable business models to help get people out of poverty. He started a non-profit called Jesus’ Economy and has now combined his ministry with his writingContinue Reading

Book Review – Paul: A Biography By N.T. Wright

430 pages of text. Less than ten citations of contemporary secondary sources. Roughly a dozen extra-biblical ancient source citations. Another dozen intertestamental/apocryphal citations. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of scripture citations. All of that to say Wright’s book, “Paul: A biography” is scholarly but not written in direct conversation with various theories of what isContinue Reading

“Poured Out” By Leonard Allen

I just reviewed Leonard Allen’s recent book on the Holy Spirit called, “Poured Out: The Spirit of God Empowering the Mission of God” over at Wineskins. This is a book that everyone in Churches of Christ and beyond needs to read. The review is thorough. See if it interests you –

Book Review: “Paul – An Apostle’s Journey” By Douglas A. Campbell

A few weeks ago a friend recommended I read Douglas Campbell’s work on Paul. Since that time I have worked my way through his book “Paul – An Apostle’s Journey” and want to share some insights on the book, Campbell’s views, and the positives and negatives of the book as a whole. The first thingContinue Reading

My Top 5 Eugene Peterson Books

In the wake of Peterson’s death I want to take a moment to mention some of my favorite books he authored. Under the Unpredictable Plant – Peterson’s attempt to wrestle with and through a moment of personal ministerial turmoil through studying the life of Jonah. This is a move from career to true, God-given vocation.Continue Reading

Recommended Reading to Gain a Better Understanding of the Old Testament

For those of you who asked about what one can read to gain a better understanding of the Old Testament, here are some resources to consider: The first thing to do is spend time reading the actual Old Testament. One way to make that simpler for beginners is a good children’s Bible – If youContinue Reading

Book Review: Renewed – Clothed with the Wealth of Jesus in a Tattered Land by Bruce Morton

I have really been enjoying teaching through Colossians the last few Sunday mornings in my adult Bible class. Paul’s letter is so relevant for us today in helping us understand how the things we believe as Christians are different from the belief systems of the world. There is an analogy Paul uses in Colossians 3Continue Reading

Brief Review of a Not so Brief Book – Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N.T. Wright

I started this book months ago while on jury duty and finally finished it last week. I have a hard copy but decided to read this via the kindle app on my iphone 4S. That was brutal! I think I would have to read this book several times to really get out of it halfContinue Reading

Building a Theological & Ministry Library Part 4 – Bible Background

Learning the background of the world around Bible times is critical to good Bible study. There are a number of excellent books to choose from to get you closer to their world. The better you understand their world the better you hear the words from scripture. So here are a few books to consider inContinue Reading


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