Book Reviews – January

Take a look at this range of titles to kickstart the new year.

BOOK OF THE MONTH: ‘Walking Toward the Dawn’, Jeremiah Montgomery (2021) 

This booklet is aimed at Christians who struggle to believe that they are really saved, even after many years of following the Lord. The author, who is a minister, speaks from his own experience and therefore shows that these doubts are not confined to new, weaker, or less well-read believers. He uses five theological truths and three practical steps to help those who struggle with doubts about their own salvation. I shared the booklet with someone who has struggled with these doubts on and off throughout their Christian life and asked for their thoughts. They replied that doubt is very tenacious but that the author is equally tenacious in addressing it. That is a good recommendation for those who are struggling with doubt to invest a little time in reading 35 pages of biblically-centred thoughts on the subject. 

This book is available from Banner of Truth

Duncan MacPherson, North Harris Free Church 

‘The Seed of the Woman’, Nana Dolce (2022) 

Nana Dolce’s thirty narratives of Old Testament women offer a gospel-centred overview of how each of these women fit within the overarching story of the Bible. The purpose of her book isn’t to focus attention on the women, but rather to explore the myriad of ways the lives of these women reflect or point forward to Jesus.   

The strength of Dolce’s book lies in her Biblical rootedness and her ability to summarise complex stories simply, without compromising Biblical truth. Her writing is easy to understand but never shallow, packed full of theological truths and backed up with endnotes where appropriate. Each story includes enough background that anyone can follow along, but there’s plenty here to encourage those who have been Christians for many years (especially in her discussions of little-known women like Rizpah or the Levite’s Concubine).   

The downside of the book, however, is that, at just 180 pages, each woman’s story lasts only six pages. The shortness of the chapters makes the book feel more like a daily devotional, rather than an in-depth study. The stories also tend to be quite descriptive, often beginning with pages of background information and leaving little space to focus on exactly how the woman’s story relates to Christ. The connection to Jesus was typically made at the conclusion of each chapter but it would have been more effective if it was woven throughout each story in a more thematic way.   

As the introduction states, this is “a book on women that is ultimately about a Man.” While slightly longer chapters would have helped flesh out the stories, it is a tremendous encouragement to see how the lives of these thirty Old Testament women point forward to our Saviour.   

This book is available from

Rachel Horrocks-Birss, St Andrews Free Church 

‘Therefore The Truth I Speak’, Donald Macleod (2020) 

Donald Macleod is known throughout the world for his writings on systematic theology.  For the past 30 years, his books have helped many to gain a clearer understanding of the rich theological truths revealed by God in Scripture.  But alongside theology, Macleod is also a superb teacher of history, particularly Scottish Church History, and in Therefore the Truth I Speak, the wider public now has the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of Macleod’s many years studying the Reformed Church in Scotland.  

Focusing primarily on the famous names from the Scottish Church, Macleod takes the reader back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and leads us through the lives of men like Knox, Rutherford and Dickson.  In doing so, Macleod gives a wonderful introduction to the lives and influence of these men, but perhaps most importantly of all, the book explains the theological issues that each one grappled with during their lives.  

The result is that the reader not only has a better understanding of what happened in the church then, but you also gain a clearer understanding of what we still believe now.  Indeed, one of the book’s many strengths is that Macleod also discusses recent objections to what the Scottish theologians believed.  

As always, Macleod writes with a superb combination of clarity of language and depth of thought.  As perhaps the longest book that Macleod has written, the number of pages makes it a weightier book to pick up, but what’s written on the pages makes it very hard to put down.       

This book is available from Mound Books

Thomas Davis, Carloway Free Church 

‘The Christian Focus Story Bible’, Carine Mackenzie (republished 2021) 

This wonderful book tells 75 stories through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation – yes even a story about Patmos! The illustrations are some of the best that I have ever seen in a children’s storybook.  They have imagination, fluidity of movement and surely the best must be the great fish looking immensely surprised at the sight of a human about to slide into its mouth! A bonus was not seeing pictures of Jesus in the New Testament stories, yet somehow the artist managed to convey His presence on every page which makes a child’s imagination work harder.   

The stories were simply conveyed, and the language is appropriate for preschoolers right up to Primary 1-2. All the stories point towards Jesus following the Biblical precedent with a simple question posed at the end for the reader to ask, stimulating further discussion. This is a great book for all young children and would suit family devotions well.   

This book is available from Christian Focus

Ruth Aird, Bruntsfield Evangelical Church, Edinburgh