Monday, January 29, 2018

High King of Heaven edited by John MacArthur

I've got to admit, the title for this book is fantastic (or conversely, annoying) because I had Be Thou My Vision playing in my head every time I opened this book. Talk about a catchy title!

High King of Heaven is basically a book on Christ. There are 23 chapters by 23 pastors and theologians, including John MacArthur. The book is organised into four parts: the person of Christ, the work of Christ, the word of Christ, and the witness of Christ, with each chapter focusing on a specific topic, such as Christ in the Old Testament, the atonement, Christ’s relationship with God the Father, etc.

According to another reviewer (Doug on Goodreads), these essays are from the sermons preached at the 2017 Shepherd’s Conference. Since I didn’t listen to the sermons, all the essays were new to me. And with 23 essays, there’s a lot of material in here. There are some good parts, like a clear explanation of the Arian heresy, and the chapter on how Jesus read the Old Testament using a literal-grammatical-historical hermeneutic.

Then there are some things don’t ring true. There’s a statement that there’s “no extra-biblical evidence that Caesar Augustus ever called for an empire-wide census” and that “there is uncertainty that Quirinius was a Roman governor in Syria as early as 6 to 2BC”, and the Joseph didn’t need to return argument as though these are facts when there are also arguments to the contrary. I feel that at the very least, they should present both sides.

There’s also a statement that “in the early Church, there was no political activism. Rather, there was preaching and prayer.” I suppose this depends on what you define as political activism, but religion was a very integral part of being a Roman citizen, which means that the early Church was making a political stand just by believing in Christ. So I don’t really agree with wording that makes it seem like early Christianity was 100% apolitical.

Most importantly, this book writes from the Calvinist viewpoint, which isn’t disclosed (it might be in the introduction but that wasn’t in my review copy). This was most obvious in the chapter of definite atonement, which completely leaves out general atonement. Unsurprisingly, this was the most unconvincing chapter to an Arminian like me.

Given the narrow theological perspective here, I wouldn’t recommend this book as the book on Christology or even an introductory book to Christology, even if you are a Calvinist because I believe it’s important for us believers to know about Christianity as a whole because people do ask about these differences. It is, however, a pretty decent book on the subject and contains some good points, so I would recommend reading it along with other books.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. Thank you for your insightful review, Eustacia. This isn't a book for me, but I am always on the lookout for possible books my in-laws might enjoy. I don't think this would be a good fit for them either, I'm afraid.

    1. It's heavy with theology, which doesn't really make it a good gift-giving present (unless you're giving it to a seminary student).


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