• In this work, author Travis James Campbell sets forth an extensive and well-argued case for the "traditional Augustinian and Calvinist approach" to the questions of God's sovereignty, unconditional love, and human freedom. Lexham Press, as always, has done a great job on the design, and the book looks great and is a delight to read. Totaling just over 350 pages, it is thorough and extensive, though readable for non-scholars. Part of its size is due to 50 pages of appendices and a 20 page bibliography. Both of these features, especially the appendices related to sub-topics of the doctrine of sovereignty and election, are quite helpful. This work sets forth a biblical, theological, historical, and logical argument; it is tightly reasoned and carefully researched. Campbell interacts with an impressive array of sources, both contemporary and historic. Commendable is the fact that he is dedicated to providing his opponents with fair consideration: the author labors to lay out solid representations of competing views (i.e., Arminian and Molinist), referencing up-to-date sources and arguments. Additional interaction and argumentation is provided in the vast number of footnotes throughout the work; many readers, including myself, will appreciate this dense trove of notes, though others may skip over them and still absorb the chief ideas and arguments. Also noteworthy is the fact that the author draws in not only Protestant sources, but also Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Jewish works. Campbell's book touches on a wide array of topics, though the central question remains present throughout the entire work. While not agreeing with every single point, I found myself convinced by the primary thrusts of the author's argument. This is the best, most well thought defense of the traditional Augustinian position on this topic that I have read. Campbell articulates his assertions clearly, and presents a case that is not merely theological and logical, but exegetical, as he deals directly with numerous biblical texts, even interacting with the original languages. He has a rare ability for bridging exegesis and biblical theology with philosophic and theological reflection. One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading this book, though, was Campbell's pastoral passion and purpose. He writes as a pastor, and his personal testimony of pain, suffering, and doubt proves that this is not an abstract question for him, but one with which he has wrestled deeply. While theologically convincing and very informative, I also found the book spiritually edifying, walking away even more assured of the magnificent, beautiful, sovereign love of the Triune God. I will definitely return to "The Wonderful Decree" in the future, and eagerly recommend it to anyone who is motivated and interested in the topic, whether in the church or in the academy. *Note: I received this book for free, courtesy of Lexham Press, but was not required to give a positive review.*
    1. This amazing collection of Puritan prayers is beautiful, convicting, and edifying. The title takes its inspiration from a quote by Thomas Watson: "That prayer is most likely to pierce heaven which first pierces one's own heart." With the book itself, Lexham Press has done a great job in providing a splendid design, fitting for the contents within. The book comes in a gorgeous dark blue hardback, adorned with golden lettering and ornamentation on the outside. The typesetting is wonderful as well, with a readable font and each prayer containing nicely divided paragraphs and spacing. The result is a text that is a delight to read overall. When it comes to the contents, the prayers are helpfully divided into topics under certain subheadings. For example, some of the categories are: Help Me Through My Doubts; Help Me Endure Temptation; Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated. Along with the individual titles assigned to each entry, these are helpful for finding relevant prayers on a certain topic. Another great feature is that each prayer is followed by the name of the author. Unsurprisingly, the best parts of this book are the prayers themselves; each prayer is simply beautiful. It is impossible to walk away from this book without being moved, captivated by the wonders and glory of God. Whether rejoicing in the gospel, repenting of sin, exulting in God's glory, pleading for mercy, or petitioning for divine help, these Puritan prayers are passionate and rich expressions of total commitment to faith in the Triune God. One helpful feature of this collection is that the language has been updated for modern readers; this, however, does not at all take away from the experience of interacting with these several-century-old prayers. Another great touch is the short biographies of each author included at the end, as well as the author index. The only disappointment I had with this book was that the spread of sources used was rather lopsided for particular writers. For example, based off the index in the back, I would estimate that of the 32 Puritans included, 7 of them make up for about 80 percent of the prayers; famous Puritans such as John Owen, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, and others have only a handful of prayers included in this book. Ultimately, however, this fact is not a major issue, since every single prayer included is certainly worth reading. Overall, this work was a joy to read. Having gone through "Valley of Vision" regularly in the past, I am eager to revisit "Piercing Heaven" for many years to come. After working through this book devotionally, using several of its prayers each morning and evening in my own prayer time, I can truly say that the prayers within are "heart piercing," and I hope that, by God's grace, they become "heaven piercing." *Note: I received this book for free, courtesy of Lexham Press, but was not required to give a positive review.*