Monday, April 30, 2007
Read the whole thing.
Read the whole post for his thoughts on the benefit of studying the Church Fathers.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
The report is now here. Doug Wilson, though saying that the report contains some "standard misunderstandings," appreciates that "the timbre of the report was judicious, and it looked to me as though the committee members did labor to understand us."
People don't earn God's approval or receive life and salvation because of anything they've done. Rather, the only reason they receive life and salvation is because of God's kindness through Christ. There is no other way.
Many Christians are tired of hearing this teaching over and over. They think that they learned it all long ago. However, they barely understand how important it really is. If it continues to be taught as truth, the Christian church will remain united and pure — free from decay. This truth alone makes and sustains Christianity. You might hear an immature Christian brag about how well he knows that we receive God's approval through God's kindness and not because of anything we do to earn it. But if he goes on to say that this is easy to put into practice, then have no doubt he doesn't know what he's talking about, and he probably never will. We can never learn this truth completely or brag that we understand it fully. Learning this truth is an art. We will always remain students of it, and it will always be our teacher.
The people who truly understand that they receive God's approval by faith and put this into practice don't brag that they have fully mastered it. Rather, they think of it as a pleasant taste or aroma that they are always pursuing. These people are astonished that they can't comprehend it as fully as they would like. They hunger and thirst for it. They yearn for it more and more. They never get tired of hearing about this truth.
-Martin Luther, Quoted in Faith Alone, James C. Galvin
(HT: Bill Walsh)
John Fonville today highlights this Luther quote:
“Christ, with most sweet names, is called my law, my sin, my death, against the law, sin and death: whereas, in very deed He is nothing else but mere liberty, righteousness, life, and everlasting salvation. And for this cause He is made the law, the sin of sin, the death of death that He might redeem from the curse of the law, justify me, and quicken me. So then, while Christ is the law, He is also liberty: while He is sin (for “He was made sin for us”), He is righteousness: and while He is death, He is life. For in that He suffered the law to accuse Him, sin to condemn Him, and death to devour Him, He abolished the law, He condemned sin, He destroyed death, He justified and saved me. So Christ is the poison of the law, sin, and death, and the remedy for the obtaining of liberty, righteousness, and everlasting life.” Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians
Philip Ryken explores a Christian response to Risk Management.
Carl Trueman is amused by the evangelical practice of domesticating radicals.
Jeremy Smith wonders why Global Warming is so popular.
Laura Miguelez (Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton College) reviews Lauren Winner's Real Sex.
Paul Helm reviews Scott Oliphint's Reasons for Faith.
Derek Thomas offers some comments on volume six of Hughes Old's series on Christian preaching through the centuries.
David Gilbert reviews Richard Phillips's commentary on Hebrews in the Reformed Expositional Commentary series.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
John Stott would like his many friends around the world to know that, having reached the age of 86 in April, he has taken the decision finally to retire from public ministry after fulfilling one final speaking engagement at the upcoming Keswick Convention in July.
He will be moving from his flat in central London where he has lived for more than 30 years, to a retirement community for Anglican clergy in the south of England, which will be able to provide more fully for his present and future needs. Dr Stott has made this decision with the strong belief that it is God's provision for him at this stage.
(HT: Adrian Warnock)
Do you agree? (SnapShot is that thing that gives you a preview window of outgoing links.) If you hate it, I'll remove it!
Speakers include the four--Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, Mark Dever--with guest speakers again including R. C. Sproul, John Piper, and John MacArthur. And Thabiti Anyabwile will be added this year as well.
The seating capacity will be doubled (to 6,000). Though the focus will be on speaking to pastors, they are welcoming women in ministry and wives of pastors to attend.
I'm thankful, therefore, to see these Wright quotes provided by Jim Hamilton which clearly affirm the doctrine. And more relevant quotes can be found in this paper.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The Lord has blessed wtsbooks.com with phenomenal growth over the past few years. This has occurred without any advertising—except our customers telling their friends about us. We have become aware that a great deal of that conversation occurs on blogs that link to our books. Bloggers have been a large part of God's blessing to us, and now we want to share some of that blessing in return!
WTSBOOKS Blog Partners Rewards
Got a blog? Like books and like to write about them? WTSBOOKS Blog Partners Rewards is a trial program that offers you the chance to earn books or other merchandise from our store while introducing your readers to quality Christian books. Participation couldn't be easier. Once you've registered for the program, simply link to our store on your blog or personal web site. Each time a total of 50 visitors to your site click on a link to us, you've earned a $10 Westminster Bookstore gift certificate! (Certificates are redeemable in our store or online.) Create as many links as you like—all click-throughs will be grouped together to contribute to your rewards. There is no limit to how much you can earn!
How to Get Started
In order to participate in our Blog Partners Reward program you must register your site with us. Send the complete URL (Internet address) of the home page of your site to email@example.com with a subject line of “Blog Partners Program.” We will confirm your site's eligibility (see below) by return email. Once you've received confirmation from us, create links on your site to www.wtsbooks.com or any of our product pages. That's it! You will receive an email report from us once a month listing your total clicks to date and rewards you've earned. Any gift certificate's you've earned will be emailed to you at the end of each monthly period.
The audio for John Piper's opening address--The Gospel for 11-Year-Olds Plus--is already online.
Alex Chediak is live-blogging the talks.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
New! Best of WTS Sale!
As our local customers know, our retail store on the campus of Westminster Theological Seminary has been closed for several weeks now due to some major reconstruction needs. While our web and phone customers have been keeping us busy, there is no doubt that loss of the retail store has impacted our sales.
Frankly, we need your help. So from now until the store reopens, Westminster Bookstore will hold the first major price-slashing sales in the history of our webstore. Each week Check the "Best of WTS" link on our webstore after each newsletter for the latest sale. Each sale will be built around a theme, with specially selected books at reductions of up to 45% off list price!
Bono Still Hasn't Found What He's Looking For (Ryan Anderson, First Things)
In this article, Anderson comments on the foolishness of spending $100 million in advertising to raise a mere $18 million for Africa, and shares my general sentiments regarding the consumeristic ego massaging nature of Bono's campaign:Buying overpriced luxury items—the true meaning of the Parable of the Good-Looking Samaritan. Anyway, it’s been a year now, and the results seem poor. Unhappy with the Advertising Age report, the CEO of (RED) issued a public response. It makes some valid points: The money was going to be spent on product advertising anyway, so we might as well raise awareness about AIDS in Africa and raise some money at the same time. Certainly the sick in Africa aren’t sneering at the $18 million. For many, it has been the difference between life and death.
But there is something wrongheaded—even repulsive—about the approach. Turning the life-and-death plight of an entire continent into just another advertising strategy. Making charitable giving a matter of satisfying consumerist desires. Attempting to solve African need by Western greed.
It reminded me of one of Bono’s earlier endeavors: the ONE Campaign. Bono titled this “the campaign to make poverty history.” Its strategy was simply to rally Americans to call upon President Bush to allocate one additional percentage point of the U.S. budget to fighting extreme poverty across the globe.
Surprisingly, they never ask for any direct contributions: “ONE isn’t asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice. ONE does not accept donations. Instead, we hope that you’ll take action with ONE by contacting Congress, the President and other elected officials and ask them to do even more to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty. We encourage you to sign the ONE declaration and help by spreading the word about the ONE Campaign by talking about it with your friends, family and co-workers. Additionally, you can show your community that you support ONE by purchasing ONE merchandise on our website.”
Just sign our petition! Just call President Bush! Wear our wristband! That’s all it takes to make poverty history! You don’t even need to give a dime!
What a bizarre method. Why not appeal to our consciences directly and ask every American to donate 1 percent of our personal budget to the poverty-fighting charity of our choice? The ONE Campaign made significant inroads with the religious communities—having them demand more from the government. Why not ask for a tithe? Why not call for personal contributions instead of political noise-making?
But that would require sacrifice. And that wouldn’t sell. Nor would it be trendy. It’s so much easier to say we can fight AIDS by buying Armani and Gap. It’s so much easier to say we’ll end world poverty by telling Congress to do something about it. My “good-looking” “fine self” sleeps so much better at night knowing that my (RED) purchase has bought pills for someone in Africa, that my signature on the ONE declaration means I’ve done my part.
Many people got fed up with this. They thought it was just an attempt to ease our consciences about being so well off. To give until it feels good, not until it hurts.
Anderson also links BuyLessCrap.org. Though their approach is a greatly improved approach to the glam-clad RED campaign, Anderson notes the weakness of their approach as well:Giving money will never be the focus of the real solution. This simplistic view assumes that Africa’s only ailment is material lack. But this is to mistake the symptom for the cause. A materialistic understanding of the causes of poverty—at home and abroad—will never suffice. Real answers need to address culture and its institutions.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
In India, the use of sonograms has penetrated even poor areas, and brought the beginnings of a demographic crisis: Families anxious for sons have been altogether too willing to abort female babies. And given the sensibility of the time, the disposition of the government in India has not been to ban the killing of babies based on their gender, but rather to forbid clinics to make the information available. Of all things, we are hearing denunciations of these multinational capitalist firms, like General Electric, which do such underhanded things as to produce the equipment that gives people such information about their unborn children.
The next plausible move, then, is to bring back the scheme of banning any abortion performed on the basis of the sex of the child. My hunch is that that position, too, would command a large level of support in the public, comparable to the level of support for banning partial-birth abortion, and it too would recruit people who call themselves “pro-choice.”
But if legislators could take that modest move of banning abortions on the basis of sex, the public mind could be prepared for reasoning about the next step: barring abortions based on the disability of the child. In surveys in the past, more than half of the public were opposed to aborting a child if the child was likely to be born deaf. The opposition seemed to be invariant by the period of gestation. My own reading was that, if people thought it was wrong to kill someone because of his deafness, they did not think that the wrong varied with the age of the victim.
Here the legislatures could invoke the body of their laws dealing with discriminations against the disabled. And then perhaps they could get to the point of banning abortions after the onset of a beating heart. One survey recently found that about 62 percent of the public would support that kind of restriction. It is worth noticing, too, that in none of these cases except that of the beating heart would the legislation start offering protections based on trimesters or the age of the child. There would be no need to play along, and confirm, the perverse fiction that the child becomes more human somewhere in this scale of age, or that it is legitimate to kill smaller people with reasons less compelling than the reasons we would need in killing larger people.
In the most curious way, then, a decision so narrow, so begrudging and limited, may invite a series of measures simple and unthreatening, but the kinds of measures that gather force with each move. We need to remind ourselves that we have seen such things before. We may recall, in that vein, the Emancipation Proclamation. It was limited, as a war measure. For Lincoln did not have the authority to strip people of what was then their lawful property in slaves. The Proclamation freed only those slaves held in areas that were in rebellion against the government. It did not cover the slaves held in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri. And yet ... it was understood instantly and widely in the country that this measure had an “anti-slavery impulse.”
The decision on Wednesday, in Gonzales v. Carhart, was severely limited and diminished in its practical effects. But rightly or wrongly, there may be a sense that the decision opens the doors now; that it invites legislators and political men and women to deliver themselves from the reign of judges, and set their hands to this task once again.
N. T. Wright does not like Pierced for our Transgressions, as he explains HERE. Some have already responded to him HERE and HERE. While we are grateful for constructive criticism, Wright is mistaken at several important points. We offer a brief response.
First, N. T. Wright takes exception to our criticism of Steve Chalke and Alan Mann’s The Lost Message of Jesus, a book which he continues to endorse. He tries to argue that the now-notorious reference to ‘cosmic child abuse – a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed’ (Lost Message, p. 182) was never intended as a description of penal substitution itself (which Wright assures us that Chalke believes), but was rather an attack on a caricature of the doctrine.
We would be pleased if that were the case, but this reading of Chalke is simply impossible. Wright seems to be unaware that Chalke clarified his position in an article in Christianity magazine entitled Cross Purposes (September 2004, pp. 44–48, available as ‘Redeeming the Cross’ from the Oasis Trust website HERE; reprinted with slight revisions in Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters, ed. S. Barrow and J. Bartley [Darton, Longman & Todd, 2005]), written in response to the controversy triggered by The Lost Message. Here Chalke makes it plain that it is the classic doctrine of penal substitution itself, not merely its caricatures, that he finds objectionable.
‘In reality, penal substitution (in contrast to other substitutionary theories) doesn’t cohere well with either biblical or Early Church thought. Although penal substitution isn’t as old as many people assume (it’s not even as old as the pews in many of our church buildings), it is actually built on pre-Christian thought.’
‘In The Lost Message of Jesus I claim that penal substitution is tantamount to “child abuse – a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed.” Though the sheer bluntness of this imagery (not original to me of course) might shock some, in truth, it is only a stark “unmasking” of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology.’
If Chalke has given private assurances to Wright that he wishes to retract his previous denials of penal substitution, we hope that he will realise the importance of making this public.
Secondly, Wright’s central objection to our work seems not to be directed at any of the specific biblical or theological arguments we have advanced in support of penal substitution. Rather, his quibble is a methodological one: he complains that we have not set our whole discussion within the framework of a narrative-theological exposition of Israel’s history as it reaches its fulfilment in Christ. He even goes so far as to assert that we ‘ignore the history of Israel’ (italics original), which seems at best overstated. For example, we set the Passover in the context of the Abrahamic covenant (pp. 35, 41–42), the Levitical sacrifices in the context of the preceding Exodus narrative (pp. 42–43), God’s curse on sin in the context of Israel’s exile (pp. 93–95, 122), the life of Jesus in the context of Israel’s role in God’s purposes (pp. 134–135).
However, there is a difference between the kind of narrative theology project in which Wright has been engaged for so many years, and the approach of classical systematic theology, which looks to provide an integrated picture of the Bible’s teaching on particular themes. Surely both are helpful and appropriate. A book professing to summarise the message of John’s Gospel must begin with the whole structure of his narrative, the place of the signs, and so on. Conversely, the section on John in a systematic work on the Trinity will necessarily – and rightly – focus on those specific passages which have most to say about the Father-Son relationship, the sending of the Spirit, etc.
Wright accuses us of ‘sifting’ the Gospels for material relevant to our subject, and indeed that is exactly what we were trying to do! That does not mean that we are free to abstract ‘proof-texts’ from their contexts, but we took pains to avoid that. But Wright censures us for failing to hit a target we were not aiming at. We did not profess to answer the question, ‘What do the gospels teach about Jesus?’ nor even, ‘What picture of the atonement emerges from the gospels as a whole?’ Our aim, as we explain in the introduction to our exegetical section (pp. 33–34) was more modest. We are trying to establish simply that penal substitution has a place in this bigger picture.
Thirdly, Wright criticises our exegesis of Romans and Galatians. Interpretation of these epistles must reckon with the ongoing debates over the so-called New Perspective on Paul, in which Wright himself is a central figure. Not wanting to privilege exclusively either side, our approach in Galatians was to demonstrate that penal substitution follows from both the traditional and the New Perspective approaches; we even devoted a section to a (sympathetic) discussion of Wright’s narrative reading of the curse as exile in Galatians 3 (pp. 93–94).
In Romans we took care to avoid conclusions that depend exclusively on either framework (p. 80). Wright objects that we should have said more about the meaning of ‘the righteousness of God’ and its relationship to the Abrahamic covenant. But he himself concedes that these things are controversial, and since they are not necessary to establish the more general points (on which all can agree) that God is angered by sin (Rom. 1–3) and that Christ’s death turned aside his anger (Rom. 3:21–26), it seemed wise to omit them.
Wright is clearly dissatisfied, and wants us to make his way of reading the Bible our controlling hermeneutic; anything short of this he deems ‘sub-biblical’. But to base our case solely on a position that continues to be hotly debated in New Testament Studies would have been counterproductive. As it is, our aim was that our exegesis should stand ‘regardless of which path is taken with respect to the issues of recent controversy’ (p. 89).
As a postscript, we should say something in reply to Wright’s surprise that we ‘omit all mention or discussion of Anselm.’ The reason is simply that, contrary to (popular?) belief, Anselm did not teach penal substitution. Yes, he brought to prominence the important vocabulary of ‘satisfaction’, which became important in later formulations. But in Anselm’s feudal thought-world, it was God’s honour that needed to be satisfied by substitutionary obedience, not his justice by substitutionary penalty. Thus his omission from our list of those who have endorsed penal substitution was not accidental.
Monday, April 23, 2007
If I were to identify what I think is the most frequent mistake of the writers of bad writing we receive, I would say that it is the same that most of us have with speaking: we express ourselves without first thinking clearly and carefully—and with brutal self-criticism--about what we are going to say and how we are going to say it. We have the impression that our minds are pregnant with valuable thoughts that really must be heard without recalling that unless exercise the labor and discipline necessary to put them in a form that can be understood by others, as thoughts-to-be-shared they remain sterile. This is why writing is an art--a rhetorical art--and a process that, while it depends on good thinking, should be thought of as another thing entirely. For while good thinking depends on the internal coherence of the thought itself, good writing, like good speaking, is the art of word-use and knowing the mind of one’s audience.
Read the whole thing--especially if you are a student or an aspiring writer!
I highly recommend it. Here are the closing, insightful paragraphs:
I do not detail these things because I have not benefited from Wright’s book. Far from it. But it appears that Wright’s powerful and imaginative mind is stronger in the domain of constructive systematic theology than in the domain of exegesis. He is stronger in understanding what the resurrection is about than in understanding what the cross is about. Or, otherwise put (as Douglas J. Moo once suggested), where Wright is right (and he often is), he tends to background what the biblical texts put in the foreground and foreground what they put in the background.See also Adrian Warnock's interaction with a new Wright article. And Jim Hamilton offers some measured thoughts and asks some good questions.
Finally, a few merely annoying things. (1) Why is it that everyone else’s understanding of the atonement can be repeatedly dismissed as mere abstract theories of the atonement, while his own presentation escapes the rubric? Are not the (other) “theories of the atonement” grounded, in their writers’ minds, in what actually happened, in what God actually accomplished? And does not Wright’s own understanding of what God actually accomplished constitute another “theory of the atonement”? The shift in terminology is merely a way of dismissing the views of others and sanctifying his own. (2) More broadly, Wright has a penchant for replicating the Elijah syndrome: “And I, even I only, am left.” To offer but one of many examples: “The trouble with imagining the future world is that we’ve all been given the wrong impression” (114). Well, I suppose we should be grateful that we have now been given the Wright impression.
--Quoted in San Francisco Chronicle.
(HT: Denny Burk)
InterVarsity Press launched three new blogs on its website that are intended to give readers an inside look at the publishing process as well as the discussions that take place as books are developed and sold. Combined, these discussion boards give an unprecedented glimpse into the thoughts and practices of a successful editorial department in the Christian book industry.
Behind the Books will deal with publications in the IVP Books line, and will include the thoughts and comments of editors Al Hsu, Cindy Bunch and Dave Zimmerman, as well as others in the editorial department, as they consider issues, trends and news related to the general publishing program. . . .
Andy Unedited will be written by IVP's editorial director for twenty-two years, Andrew T. Le Peau, and will include his thoughts on the publishing industry in general. According to Le Peau, the reason for the creation of the blogs is threefold: "We want to give readers and authors and folks in the industry a behind-the-scenes look at IVP, help create stickiness for our website, and increase customer loyalty and interest in our books. I also look forward to hearing what others have to say as we discuss our interests in publishing, books and the world of ideas."
Addenda & Errata will focus on the IVP Academic line, and will include contributions by academic and reference editors Dan Reid, Joel Scandrett, Jim Hoover and Gary Deddo. In explaining the function of this blog, Reid states, "Academically speaking, blogs are the faculty lounge or student commons-informal venues for exchanging ideas, catching up and even engaging in the occasional friendly debate. Editors inhabit this chattering world as comfortably as penguins on an iceberg-and while we may not be as cute, we can talk with style."
With over sixty years of combined academic publishing experience, there should be a great deal to talk about.
Registration for T4G 2008 opens soon.
The book built from the 2006 conference--Preaching the Cross--is now available.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
As we mourn with the students and families directly impacted by the tragic killings at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute on April 16, 2007, we who are believers in the one, true God turn to His promises for comfort (Psalm 119:50).
With the hope that we might assist those struggling with the questions and feelings raised by this horrific event, Ligonier Ministries humbly offers for your reading the feature articles and columns from the April 2007 issue of Tabletalk magazine, which, in God’s providence, discusses the subject of grief.
We pray that these resources, in some small way, will help you find comfort in the arms of our sovereign God and will help you look for the day when He will “wipe away every tear” from the eyes of His people who rest assured in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:4).
April 2007 Tabletalk Articles:
- Sin, Death, and Grief by Burk Parsons
- A Grief Observed by R.C. Sproul
- From Grief to Glory by Jim Coffield
- Mourn with Those Who Mourn by Archie Parrish
- Good Grief? by Anthony Carter
- True Shepherding by Joel R. Beeke
- Hope by R.C. Sproul Jr.
- A Tale of Two Funerals by Gene Edward Veith
In all the years I've been chronicling the media, I have rarely seen the tidal wave of resentment that has washed over television organizations that showed the now-infamous Cho video. In the minds of many Americans, this was a horribly offensive act, and no amount of explanation about the obligations of journalism is going to change that view.
Exegesis itself is impoverished when specialization and professional pressures in the academy inculcate into faculty and students a model of biblical interpretation that aborts the process short of application, depriving it of its sweetest fruit.
. . . Just as interpretation without proclamation in the Academy is fruitless, so proclamation without sound interpretation in the pulpit is rootless.
We need to rediscover the church’s older insight, drawn from the Bible itself, that the purpose of understanding Scripture is nothing less than to believe and obey its Author, and the purpose of preaching Scripture is to ground hearers’ faith and life in the depths of wisdom, justice, and grace hidden in Christ and unveiled in infinite variety on every page.
I've only read portions of this book thus far, but based on what I've seen, I would encourage every seminarian and pastor (and others!) to purchase and digest this excellent book!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
This Easter a clear line was drawn in the sand in British Evangelicalism. For years, whenever the word “evangelical” was mentioned, people in the UK would think almost immediately of Spring Harvest — easily the UK's largest Christian conference. Part of that package has been Word Alive, a distinct all-age event run by UCCF (who owns the UK-based Intervarsity Press) and the Keswick Convention in partnership with Spring Harvest. At the heart of Word Alive has been a separate student track with up to 2,000 students. Beginning in 2008, there will be no more Word Alive at Spring Harvest.
Read the whole thing.
Steve Chalke has made his dislike of penal substitution very clear by likening God's act of punishing Jesus in our place to a cosmic child abuser. In good conscience, we simply could not allow Steve to teach during the Word Alive week. We're very sad that after 14 years of fruitful ministry, Spring Harvest has decided to end the Word Alive partnership because we feel unable to shift on this position.
What do you think?
Update: John Mark Reynolds weighs in. An excerpt: "They have the right to do it, but it was not right to do it. . . . NBC should not be censored by the government, but any good person censors self. Freedom to do a thing (which NBC should have) does not make it right or keep the rest of us from making the proper judgment that NBC was wrong."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Robert Gagnon responds: Rowan Williams’ Wrong Reading of Romans (also available in PDF).
Bloomberg: "The law, which has never taken effect, is the first federal abortion restriction since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established the constitutional right to end a pregnancy."
Here are some articles from Stand to Reason about partial-birth abortion:
- Partial-birth Abortion Isn't about Abortion
- Paritial-birth Aobrtion: Objections and Misunderstandings
- Nothing Hidden in D&X
Hillary: 'Erosion of our constitutional rights'...
Giuliani: 'I agree with it'...
Obama: 'I strongly disagree'...
Romney: 'A step forward'...
McCain: I'm very happy...
Edwards: 'I could not disagree more strongly'...
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Last week I had the privilege of participating in the Sovereign Grace Leader's Conference. What a fire hydrant of grace, encouragement, truth, conviction, and fellowship. RC. Sproul spoke on the holiness of God and the holiness of Christ, David Powlison helped us apply the doctrine of indwelling sin without getting morbidly introspective, and C.J. Mahaney spoke to us on the final night on "Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry" from 2 Cor. 13:14. You can download the messages by R.C., David, and C.J. for $8 at the Sovereign Grace website.
Bob also posts some reflections by Josh Harris on planning your Sunday-morning meetings.
[The Children of Hurin,] released today by Houghton Mifflin, is a publishing event: It is the first new book by the creator of "The Lord of the Rings" in 30 years. The publisher calls it the culmination of an effort to bring to the public the vast body of work J.R.R. Tolkien had left unpublished, and largely unfinished, when he died in 1973.
Tolkien began writing "The Children of Hurin" 99 years ago, abandoning it and taking it up again repeatedly throughout his life. Versions of the tale already have appeared in "The Silmarillion," "Unfinished Tales" and as narrative poems or prose sections of the "History of Middle-earth" series.
But they were truncated and contradictory. Outside of Tolkien scholars and Middle-earth fanatics, few read them.
These works were, after all, largely unreadable dense, hard to follow histories and legends of Tolkien's vast, imaginary world, crammed with complicated genealogies, unfamiliar geography and hard-to-pronounce names. Readers who took up such books hoping for another Rings saga or charming yarn such as "The Hobbit" abandoned them after a few pages.
"The Children of Hurin" is the book for which these readers have been longing.
It is the fruit of 30 years labor by Christopher Tolkien, the author's son, who has devoted much of his life to editing and publishing the work his father left behind. By meticulously combining and editing the many published and unpublished versions of the tale, he has produced at last a coherent, vivid and readable narrative. . . .
Christopher Tolkien says that in reconciling the various versions of his father's story, he added no new material, save for an occasional transition. The words, he says, are virtually all his father's.
For a summary, see the rest of the article.
(Inquiring minds want to know: has Tim Keller read it yet, and if so, what does he think?)
The Council of Reforming Churches (CRC) exists to impact the black church and greater black community with biblical theology which has its fulfillment in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to see reformed theology planted, take root and eventually flourish within and among the black community, for Christ, the Church, and the Truth.
Who They Are
The Council of Reforming Churches is an association of churches subscribing to the historic five solas of the reformation, the core doctrines of grace commonly known as the five points of Calvinism and the system of theology summed up in such catechism/confessions as the historic Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, The Westminster Confession of Faith and Heidelberg Catechism.
Our purpose is to see biblically reformed theology sown, take root in, flourish among and eventually become the dominant theology within the black church and African-American community.Why They Exist
- CRC exists to fill the vacuum created by the absence of any institution dedicated to the promotion and practice of biblically reformed theology within the African-American community.
- CRC exists in light of the increasing rejection of sound biblical preaching and teaching among a significant number of black churches.
- CRC exists to address the black community's need to be instructed properly in the historic truths of reformed theology.
- CRC exists to engage the increasing secularization of the black church and subsequent danger to our Christian witness.
Monday, April 16, 2007
1. Don't talk about race.
2. When you do talk about race, don't tell people you're "color blind."
3. When you do talk about race, be sure to empathize wherever you can.
4. When you do talk about race, be sure to call injustice injustice.
5. When you do talk about race, be honest.
6. When you do talk about race, be patient.
7. When you do talk about race, please fight against the tendency to stereotype.
8. When you do talk about race, accept legitimate responsibility but refuse illegitimate guilt.
9. When you do talk about race, go ahead and offend.
10. When you do talk about race, root the conversation in the Gospel.
Read the whole thing.
Publishers Weekly: New Osteen Book at Three Million by Lynn Garrett. "The next book from megaselling pastor Joel Osteen—Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life—will have a first printing of three million and a one-day laydown on October 15. According to Free Press publisher Martha Levin, the house upped the ante from two million just this week, in response to "the enthusiasm of the accounts," she said. "We've been going at full tilt with this book since January, and in talking to people it became clear that two million wasn't going to be enough." The Osteen first printing is believed to be the highest for a hardcover book in S&S history, said spokesperson Adam Rothberg. Osteen made big news last year (PW Daily, Mar. 15, 2006) when he jumped the Warner ship for Simon & Schuster for a deal worth some $13 million, according to informed sources, though S&S denied that figure. Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now, was published by Warner Faith (now Hachette's FaithWords division) in 2004 and has sold more than four million copies to date, with a constant presence on the bestsellers lists. S&S will publish Become a Better You simultaneously in Spanish-language and audio editions.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Today I learned that my favorite seminary professor passed away peacefully last night after a long illness. He taught me much about the covenantal and typological structure of the Scriptures. Most of all I will miss his sweet joy and his childlike trust in the inheritance-earning merit of Christ. It is wonderful to know that his longing to imbibe the glory of God in the New Jerusalem is already beginning to be satisfied. Though now asleep in Jesus, he will rise in the parousia-day of Christ, changed into his indoxated likeness.(HT: James Grant)
Here is the Theopedia entry on Professor Kline. And here is a page devoted to all of Kline's writings.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Google has teamed up with the
US Holocaust Memorial Museum to highlight the Darfus crisis using Google Earth:Google Earth has added a Global Awareness layer to its maps program that lets you learn about the crisis in Darfur. By selecting the Global Awareness layer (in the lower left-hand corner of Google Earth) you can fly over enhanced satellite images of the war-torn region. Sprinkled over the map are icons that link to photographs, data, videos, and narratives of eyewitnesses to the genocide.
What an excellent use of internet technology to educate users about a crisis that many people probably don’t fully understand. Grab a copy of Google Earth and read more about the project at the Holocaust Memorial Museum website. I’m eager to see what other educational uses will be found for Google Earth and similar tools in the future.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
With the great demographic shift to the southern hemisphere in terms of evangelical Christianity, the issue of listening to the voices of brothers and sisters from these newly significant areas is a pressing one. But I want to raise some concerns.
1. Culture and geography are only two ways of dividing up the world and the church -- ways that are arguably increasingly arbitrary; and their very trendiness makes them attractive at this point in history. Yet class would seem to be just as significant. Calls for us to listen to voices from other parts of the world should not be used to crowd out the voices of the poor and the working class in the West.
2. The demographic shift may be to the south, but the economic power of Christianity lies stubbornly in America. This is significant for several reasons:
- it means that theological education, for better or worse, is likely to remain controlled by America (institutions, books, journals, magazines all require money -- and if you don't have the capital, sheer numbers of people are less relevant).
The answer? Well, I'm a Reformation academic. I could not credibly be so without being able to operate in four or five different modern European languages (not well, but well enough) and a few ancient ones. It would be absurd for me to lecture my students on listening to, say, German scholars, if I could not read some German. I also have to attend, on occasion, meeting where the medium language is not English, and which are run by, say, the Dutch, the French, or the Germans. Those church leaders who are rightly called to lead us in listening to our Third World brothers and sisters but who wish to avoid looking like old-style imperialists need to show their commitment and integrity by backing this up with a few linguistic skills in the appropriate areas, and perhaps by surrendering their organisations and their status to these brothers and sisters. Only when such leaders learn a few relevant languages and sit humbly and quietly at conferences organised by "the Other" will their words begin to possess that most elusive quality: authenticity.
- it means there is a very great danger of the old imperialism and paternalism of previous generations simply co-opting the language of cultural sensitivity while continuing with business as usual. Cultural sensitivity, like all cultural phenomena, can easily be processed through the three c's of the modern West: commercialisation, commodification, and consumerism. When it does this, it ceases to be a critical force and becomes simply one more product in the cultural marketplace, internalised and emasculated. Thus, putting "Worldwide" or "International" in the title of an organisation which is funded by Americans and basically run by Westerners does not make the organisation truly international or worldwide. There seems to be a problem when church leaders give lectures on listening to brothers and sisters from the Third World when said leaders have never taken the time or had the courtesy to learn the languages of those to whom they claim to be listening, and who assume that this "listening" should self-evidently go on in organisations founded by -- you guessed it -- Westerners, funded by Westerners, and run by Westerners. There is a real danger here of paternalism: yes, we want to listen to you; but you first have to learn to speak our language and come to our conferences.
For a segment on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, John Mark Reynolds compiled a list of thirty books that every college student should read. Since John Mark is the founder of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University its not surprising to see that his list contains many of the standard works common to a "great books" programs. Indeed, while I might quibble over a few of the selections (Satre's No Exit? Really?) it would be difficult to improve on the excellent selections he's chosen.
Reading the list, though, got me to thinking about what books should be read after those thirty. What works should the young collegian or autodidact turn to next? Because I think the primary need of young adults is to learn to think critically and creatively I've chosen fifteen pairs--presumably to be read together--to help them on that task.
Here is Joe's list.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post:
On any given day, one isn't likely to find common cause with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's a dangerous, lying, Holocaust- denying, Jew-hating cutthroat thug -- not to put too fine a point on it.
But he was dead-on when he wondered why a once-great power such as Britain sends mothers of toddlers to fight its battles.
. . .Why the West has seen it necessary to diminish motherhood so that women can pretend to be men remains a mystery to sane adults. It should be unnecessary to say that the military is not a proper vehicle for social experimentation but is a machine dedicated to fighting and, if necessary, killing.
For more on this, see Albert Mohler's commentary.
Richard Ovenden, the keeper of special collections at The Bodleian in Oxford (a copyright library, and considered one of the greatest libraries in the world), says, "I think in the 21st century Google Book Search will be regarded as one of the great historical enterprises. It's not the only one, but it's up there."
Monday, April 09, 2007
#8 Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and of sweet communion with Christ. It was the first sin committed and lies lowest in the foundation of Satan’s whole building, and is with the greatest difficulty rooted out, and is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts, and often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself.
#10 If at any time you fall into doubts about the state of your soul, in dark and dull frames of mind, it is proper to review your past experience. But do not consume too much time and strength in this way; rather apply yourself, with all your might, to an earnest pursuit after renewed experience, new light, and new lively acts of faith and love. One new discovery of the glory of Christ’s face will do more toward scattering clouds of darkness in one minute, than examining old experience, by the best marks that can be given, through a whole year.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
It made me think of Isaiah 40:
18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20 He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
To put it bluntly and plainly, if Christ is not my Substitute, I still occupy the place of a condemned sinner. If my sins and my guilt are not transferred to Him, if he did not take them upon Himself, then surely they remain with me. If He did not deal with my sins, I must face their consequences. If my penalty was not borne by Him, it still hangs over me. There is no other possibility.--The Cross in the New Testament by Leon Morris
(HT: GospelDrivenLife via Thabiti)
"From the time that Saint Augustine finished On Christian Doctrine until the end of the Middle Ages, this book was considered by Christians to be one of the most important ever written. Challenging at times though surprisingly relevant for the modern reader, Augustine's book discusses the interpretation of Scripture. It remains valuable for church leaders and serious lay Christians alike."
Receive this quality recording as a free download by going to christianaudio.com and using coupon code: APR2007
(HT: Travis Carden)
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The cultivation of serendipity, of this alchemy, is an option for anyone, but—so I wish to argue—for Christians living in conditions of prosperity and security and informational richness it is something vital, perhaps even necessary. To practice "accidental sagacity" is to recognize that I don't really know where I am going, even if I like to think I do; that if I know what I am looking for I probably don't know what I need; that I am not master of my destiny and captain of my fate; that it is a very good thing that I am not master of my destiny and captain of my fate; that the more often I succumb to the temptation to say "I am my own" the more completely I close off the possibility of a blessing that comes from beyond my own desires and self-love. The cultivation of serendipity is at once a self-abnegation, a disciplining of technological power, a form of trust in God, and an expression of solidarity with the vast multitudes of Christians from all generations whose poverty and powerlessness made it impossible for them to think even for a moment that they could control their own lives. An accidental sagacity is the form of wisdom I most need, but am least likely to find.
Follow the links on her post for more edifying material on this topic.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Paul Helm has posted an excellent little piece on what definitions do and don't do. Despite its brevity, it is a helpful meditation that can go a long way to clearing away some of the confusion.
A few quotes:
"Berkhof’s definition is not an attempt to replace the language of the Psalms or of any other language, or to be cleverer than Scripture. His definition does not take us beyond Scripture, making Scripture second-rate. It is a skeleton, not the entire body."
". . . definitions do not describe, they protect and safeguard."
"Where we are not understanding the scriptures with the skeleton of systematic theology in place then our ‘body of divinity’ will be flabby and misshapen. . . . We ‘participate’ in sound definitions when they engender confidence that they have captured the relevant bit of the skeleton."
"Calling exact, propositional theology rude names like ‘theoretical’ or ‘foundationalistic’ does not alter anything."
Upshot: "So definitions are not imperialistic. They are not the work of theological know-alls. And the theoretical versus practical issue is a red herring."
Read the whole thing!
Then there's The Red Wheel. People who've never heard of that may have heard of August 1914. That's the first installment of The Red Wheel. There's so much to say that I have to be brief. Of 20 volumes of the collected works of Solzhenitsyn in Russian, 10 are on The Red Wheel--it's that big of work. It's half of his total production; it's a consecutive work of fiction that takes more than 6,000 pages. (Tolstoy's War and Peace is a skinny work by comparison!)
We know in English August 1914 and November 1916--our reader has a few chapters apiece from those. But it has more chapters from the other two full volumes that S wrote: March 1917 and April 1917. You can see taking them together--running from 1914-17--that he is showing how the ground was prepared for the revolution which takes place shortly after these particular timeframes.
It will take a generation for people to come to some terms--some serious terms--with the literary worth of The Red Wheel. Solzhenitsyn placed an enormous bet on the distant future--not the the next-year future--that sooner or later this monumental work in terms of its scope would be seen as monumental in terms of its importance. Well, I'd like to say, "We'll see about that"--but I won't see about it, and I don't know if my children will. I now have a grandson--maybe, maybe he will. It's an absolutely amazing thing that he decided to do with his life.
People who haven't read it have determined that this is not a good work. It would nice to hear from people who have read it--and someday that will happen. And my hope is that there's enough of The Red Wheel in the Solzhenitsyn Reader to whet the appetite and encourage the publisher's project to roll and maybe we'll get this translated and published someday. It is, as far as Solzhenitsyn is concerned, his great work.
Why do adult bookstores and strip clubs cover their windows? The obvious answer is so you can't see in. But is there more to it than that?
Listen to John Piper suggest why they really don't want windows--and then offer a way to defeat lust that you may not have thought of.