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Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions (Re:Lit)

Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions (Re:Lit) [Kindle Edition]

Sam Storms

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Product Description

Product Description

Will there be sex in heaven? Are miraculous gifts for today? Does God ever change His mind? Such difficult questions often intrigue us, readily confuse us, and sometimes disturb us. Drawing on nearly 40 years of teaching and ministry experience, pastor-scholar Sam Storms answers 25 challenging questions Christians are often too afraid to ask, addressing thorny issues ranging from the eternal destiny of infants to the roles of demons and angels. The robust, thoughtful answers provided in this book offer a helpful alternative to relying on simplistic explanations, and will encourage you in the search for truth and clarity on such tough topics.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 711 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books (30 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CB1J64M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #271,496 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough Topics by Sam Storms 27 April 2013
By Jon K - Published on
"Tough Topics" by Sam Storms is a well presented, and well researched work that is appropriate for both new Christians and seasoned Christians.

Storms tackles 25 dogmatic questions that run the gamut from "What is Blasphemy?" "Are babies who die saved?" to "Can a Christian be demonized?" "Should all Christians speak in tongues?" and "Are Christians Obligated to Tithe?"

Virtually every question was addressed, some from a number of points of view, and backed by scripture. I learned a whole lot more than I thought I would. Herein lies the reason that Christians of all ages must continue to nourish their hearts and minds in their walk with Christ.

Sam Storms is a pastor of a large church in the Oklahoma City area. He bills himself as an "Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist..."

This book is not a quick read. It's based on research, and in the process, the reader will be moved to do some research of his own.

I took away several truths from this excellent resource. First, Storm's treatment of tithing brought me some new insights in that those in early Israel may have been required to tithe up to 27% of their income. I enjoyed Sam's presentation of this.

I scratched my head in a number of discussions, but found myself sharply disagreeing with but one point in the entire volume. During his discussion on whether a Christian can be demonized, I hold a firm opinion on the trichotomy of man. We are body, soul, and spirit. Dr. Storms is of an opposing position, claiming that soul and spirit are one in the same. Thus man is a dichotomous being. We'll just agree to disagree!

Other than this theological difference, I enjoyed and embraced all of Sam Storm's teaching.

When you get this book, and I certainly hope you do, be prepared to read and re-read many sentences or paragraphs to let the Truth soak in. Have your Bible at the ready, to consult scriptural passages that support the author's arguments.

This reading experience was an excellent one. I took much away from the book, and will indeed encourage others to get a copy of their own. I read this in e-book format, but plan to purchase a hard copy when it arrives on the market. Thus, I can highlight and mark up, and add my own thoughts to the margins. That is precisely how a seeker should tackle a book like "Tough Questions".

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. There are no expectations beyond that. I have no personal or professional ties to either the author or the publisher.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good answers to tough questions! 5 July 2013
By Luke Geraty - Published on
've been somewhat of a "fan" of Dr. Sam Storms since his contribution to Are Miraculous Gifts for Today, in which he provided the scholarly essay on the Third Wave position to which I hold. Storms has the ability to write for both the scholarly and the popular, a gift which I'd love to see more authors hold!

His new book, Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions, is exactly what it says. It provides Storms thoughtful responses to questions that are sometimes considered "tough" by many people. The book addresses some of the more common theological debatable subjects (e.g., Losing Salvation, Baptism in the Spirit, Original Sin) as well as some less common subjects for many evangelicals (e.g., Speaking in Tongues, Demonization, Healing in the Atonement). I was even pleased to see that he included a chapter on Infant Salvation!

What I Liked
There's much in Tough Topics that I like. Many of his answers would be essentially the same as mine. His position on Spirit Baptism, whether or not Christians can "lose" their salvation, speaking in tongues, and healing are all so close to my perspective that I might be found telling people, "See Tough Topics for my perspective on [insert topic]."

For example, when it comes to the topic of Spirit Baptism, Storms holds to the view that all Christians are "Spirit baptized" when they become Christians. In other words, all Christians are baptized in the Spirit. However, Storms leaves plenty of room for what the Scriptures call being "filled with the Spirit." According to Storms, when a person becomes a Christian, they are baptized in the Spirit and yet they can be "filled with the Spirit" many times after that conversion experience. Spirit Filling is essentially an empowerment metaphor. This is the standard Third Wave perspective and Storms is probably one of the best to clarify it's position.

Regarding the issue of whether Christians can "lose" their salvation, Storms actually spends two chapters addressing. The first covers the subject explicitly, and the second is where he covers the issue of the warning passages in Hebrews. As one who hold to Reformed Theology, I do not believe a true Christian can "lose" their salvation. However, I'm deeply concerned that some preaching within this tradition has given what I'd refer to as "false assurance" and that we need to take seriously the implications of the gospel's influence on our lives. Throughout Storms' treatment of the subject, I walked away appreciating his focus on God's work in our salvation and the necessity for Christians to bear fruit. It was exegetically, theologically, and practically very helpful.

There are many other chapters that I appreciated and liked.

What I Would Challenge or Disliked or Questioned
I'm not sure "challenge" is the right word here. I'm also not sure I'd go with saying there were parts I didn't like. That's the thing about Storms - even when I don't agree with him, I appreciate the way that he writes so much that I even enjoy reading what I don't agree with! So these are areas I had questions:

I would liked to have seen a bit more interaction on the subject of inerrancy with some of the more recent challenges (e.g., Peter Enns or maybe Christian Smith). Storms' chapter seems to be one of those chapters that was written to people who already believe the same thing that he does. I can see why this is helpful when one is catechizing and I'm certainly not opposed to writing to those we agree with. I just think that the chapter on inerrancy would have been more relevant for today if it had some interaction with current objections. His interaction with Daniel Fuller is helpful, but a bit dated. Storms is obviously familiar with some of the recent scholarly literature of those who advocate inerrancy (e.g., John Frame), but seems to ignore opponents.

My reason for thinking it would have been better to address them specifically was because I know of a lot of people who are being fed certain ideas from challengers of inerrancy, both from within the church (Enns, Smith) and outside (Ehrman).

Furthermore, as someone who has read many of Storms books, essays, and website articles, I was a little disappointed that I'd read much of this book before. That might be a bit trivial, but I think my disappointment is actually a positive thing. I enjoy reading Storms so much that I wanted to read stuff I'd not already read because I find him so thoughtful. Maybe this "question" is a bit selfish?!?

What I Really Liked
Storms' chapter on the issues of whether there was healing in the Atonement, why God doesn't always heal people, and whether Christians were required to tithe were fantastic. I loved them.

As I already stated, I really appreciate that Storms is exegetical in his interaction. I appreciate that he's theologically thoughtful. When you read his chapters, you'll generally read him engaging with a variety of possible answers that he interacts with. You'll also see that all of these tough topics have practical implications. It's theologically with skin. All of these positive aspects of his writing is evidence that Storms has been in both the scholarly academic world and evenly planted within the life of the church.

In conclusion, I'd recommend this book to both "mature" Christians and those who are new to the faith. Some may not agree with Storms' epistemological assumptions, but I think he adequately represents what some would call the "Reformed Charismatic Evangelical" approach to theological issues. I found it both enjoyable and helpful in many ways!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 8 May 2013
By Mathew Sims - Published on
4 out of 5 Stars
Author: Sam Storms
Publisher: Crossway/Re: Lit
Buy Tough Topics
Reading Level: Easy

Sam Storms desires to answers tough questions believers ask. He does so pastorally and carefully. He says,
Sadly, many believers walk away from church or from a friend or even from a pastor, frustrated that such issues are either answered badly or met with an "I don't know," or perhaps even ignored altogether. My aim in this book is to overcome that frustration by looking deeply, not superficially, at what Scripture says and deriving clear and persuasive explanations for these thorny matters. (p. 12)
Also, he writes with "the educated layperson in mind" (p. 12). Sam walks through each issue not just to discover the truth but to convey it in love. He writes with a pastors heart.

What I loved. Sam answers these tough questions thoroughly. As quoted earlier, these aren't easy questions and his answers reflect that. Most chapters include a brief survey of the most popular answers to the question and Sam seeks to include the biblical evidence for even the opposing opposition. Related, he roots his answers in the biblical text. He builds texts, stories, and passages to provide solid biblical grounds for everything he teaches.

Second, I love that Sam says, "In other words, the ultimate aim of this book isn't knowledge; it's worship" (p. 13). There are a lot of good books which tackle the tough passages in Scripture but a lot of these are more academic. Nothing wrong there. I'm glad there's a resource now which seeks to dialogue with the average Christian by encouraging them to worship God in the midst of what could be intense trials, doubts, or struggles.

Last, I'll share my favorite chapters out of the book. I loved Chapter 3 "Does God Ever Change His Mind?" He handles this topic masterfully. A very full discussion of a hard passage. Also, Chapter 8 "Are Those Who Die in Infancy Saved?" Again a full discusion with a major pastoral implication. It's a questions nearly everyone will encounter directly or indirectly in their life. Chapter 15 "Can Christians Lose Their Salvation." What I appreciate in this section is the Trinitarian focus. He lay the theological groundwork for his position then explores the implications of the opposing position on each person of the Trinity. Chapter 19 "What Is Baptism in the Spirit, and When Does It Happen?" He examines all positions and lays out the biblical evidence for each position.

If you're a Christian with doubts or questions and one of these topics hits home you won't find a more readable and Biblical rooted resource than Sam Storm's Tough Topics.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity in the Storm of Controversy 8 Jan 2014
By David P. Craig - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sam Storms has a name that is an oxymoron if there ever was one. His writing is anything but stormy. He writes more like the "calm" before the storm. This is exaclty how he handles difficult questions: calmly, rationally, theologically, and biblically. There's hardly anyone who will agree wholeheartedly with his answers to the 25 questions raised in this book, but irregardless you will benefit from his skill as an exegete, practical wisdom, pastoral encouragement, theological acumen, and passion for God's glory exhibited throughout the book. In each chapter he gives ample biblical, theological, and practical support for his answer to each question. He also provides a list of 2-5 recommended resources on each topic at the end of each chapter for those who want to study the topic in greater detail.

The book isn't divided systematically or topically. Almost all the questions stand alone. If I were to organize the book I would organize the book in the following manner:

(1) Theological Questions - (a) Is the Bible Inerrant?; (b) What is Open Theism? (c) Does God Ever Change His MInd? (d) Could Jesus Have Sinned? (e) Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of Original Sin? (f) What can We Know about Angles? (g) What Can We Know about Satan? (h) What Can We KNow about Demons?

(2) Exegetical Questions - (a) What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, "Judge Not, that You Be Not Judged?" (b) What is the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? (c) Does Hebrews Teach that Christians Can Apostasize? (d) What was Paul's Thorn in the Flesh?

(3) Practical/Pastoral Questions - (a) Are Those Who Die in Infancy Saved? (b) Will People Be Condemned for Not Believing in Jesus though They've Never Heard His Name? (c) Can a Christian Be Demonized? (d) Can Christians Lose Their Salvation? (e) Will There Be Sex in Heaven? (f) What Is Baptism in the Spirit, and When Does It Happen? (g) Should All Christians Speak in Tongues? (h) Is There Healing in the Atonement? (i) Why doesn't God Always Heal the Sick? (j) What is Legalism? (k) Are Christians Obligated to Tithe? (l) Does Satan Assign Demons to Specific Geopolitical Regions? Are There Territorial Spirits?

Sam Storms has done a wonderful job of tackling each of these questions. I highly recommend this book as a resource that all Christians can use for life. My hope is that this is just the first of a series of more question and answer books to come. As a pastor-theologian Storms is more than qualified to tackle the most difficult of questions in truth, with love, gentleness, and respect.

*I was provided with a copy of this book for review by the publisher and was not required to write a postive review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storms address 25 tough topics Biblically 23 May 2013
By Chris Land - Published on
It is no question that there are many things in Christianity that some just cannot get a grasp on. There are many questions to the Christian faith that has caused some pastors to become too scared to address. Some pastors want to teach on the issues of Christianity that are easy and make a good sermon, especially a quick one when they put off studying at the last minute. Yet, it is the job of all Bible teachers, not just preachers, to address this hard issues and study them as best we can.

Sam Storms in Tough Topics talks issues he has encountered over the years he has been in ministry. The goal of this is not to attain knowledge, but to worship God. Storms goes on to say that "we need to wrestle with the hard texts and the tough topics in Scripture. Only then will our thinking skills be honed, our minds expanded, our spirits enriched, and our hearts filled with joy and delight to understand the mysterious ways of our great God and Savior" (pg. 13).

The subtitle of the book says that Storms addresses "Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions." Those 25 questions are:

1 Is the Bible Inerrant?

2 What Is Open Theism?

3 Does God Ever Change His Mind?

4 Could Jesus Have Sinned?

5 What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, "Judge Not, that You Be Not Judged"?

6 What Is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

7 Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of Original Sin?

8 Are Those Who Die in Infancy Saved?

9 Will People Be Condemned for Not Believing in Jesus though They've Never Heard His Name?

10 What Can We Know about Angels?

11 What Can We Know about Satan?

12 What Can We Know about Demons?

13 Can a Christian Be Demonized?

14 Does Satan Assign Demons to Specific Geopolitical Regions?
Are There Territorial Spirits?

15 Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?

16 Does Hebrews Teach that Christians Can Apostatize?

17 Will There Be Sex in Heaven?

18 Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?

19 What Is Baptism in the Spirit, and When Does It Happen?

20 Should All Christians Speak in Tongues?

21 What Was Paul's Thorn in the Flesh?

22 Is There Healing in the Atonement?

23 Why Doesn't God Always Heal the Sick?

24 What Is Legalism?

25 Are Christians Obligated to Tithe?

Storms goes through each of these issues Biblically in a way that the average church attender will be able to understand. At the end of each chapter, Storms gives a list of books to read that goes deeper in the issues he is addressing. I appreciate Sam Storms writing this book for Christians will be introduced to the subjects that many Christians just do not understand. This is a book also for preachers and teachers to use as a reference in addressing these tough topics.
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