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Fall 1991 · Vol. 20 No. 2 · pp. 159–60 

Book Review

The Power of God in a Broken World

Erwin Penner. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1990. 196 pages.

Reviewed by John Vooys

Our age, fascinated with human power and yet frustrated by an inability to solve many of the world’s ills, needs to be reminded of The Power of God in a Broken World.

Erwin Penner, chairman of the Bible/theology department at Ontario Bible College, has traced the theme of God’s power through the Ephesians Epistle. The result is an insightful, readable, and challenging expositional commentary.

Typical introductory issues-the text’s date, recipients and author, are given only brief treatment. Penner holds to the traditional view of Pauline authorship. He comments, “The burden of proof remains with those who contest [this]” (p. 7). As to format, the commentary sections follow themes, such as “God’s Power and a Dynamic Church,” rather than chapter divisions. Each exposition begins with the NIV text, and concludes with several subjective questions ideal for personal or group study.

Penner has done particularly well with three portions of Ephesians. First, the ideas of election and predestination (Eph. 1:4-6) are dealt with in a refreshing way. They are to be understood not in some impersonal theological fashion, but as expressions of God’s grace. “Although these concepts about God frequently raise theological debate and challenge our intellect beyond its limits, we must nevertheless appreciate them as rich blessings from God” (pp. 14-15).

Secondly, the reality of the Christian’s involvement in spiritual warfare is given the importance it deserves. He writes, “One great cause of spiritual failure among Christians is that we do not realize we are at war” (p. 151). Penner describes the powers as “personal spiritual powers. . . including also impersonal political, economic, cultural, etc., forces. . .” (p. 71) which may be evil or used in evil ways.

Another area treated with practical sensitivity is the husband/wife relationship (Eph. 5:22ff). Certain segments of the evangelical church still promote the notion of the husband’s “rule” over his “submissive” wife, a “chain of command” supposedly evidenced in verses 22-23. Penner reminds us that Paul focuses the bulk of his discussion on the behavior of husbands to their wives. His conclusion: “Genuine love will always move a husband to treat his wife as an equal companion, as her ‘head’ he would rather die than see her reduced to {160} any kind of subservience, least of all subservience to himself” (p. 140).

The Power of God in a Broken World is a helpful addition to the literature on Ephesians. It is more “user friendly” than most commentaries, and as enjoyable as Stott’s God’s New Society. I highly recommend it for use by Bible college students, pastors and other informed adult readers.

John Vooys, Instructor
Columbia Bible College
Clearbrook, British Columbia

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