Introducing Your Child to God Are you helping your children know God? Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Seminary, urges parents to use the ordinary moments of life to introduce their children to God and grow disciples in the faith.
Sandbox Theology Do your children sense God's awesome power? Professor Bruce Ware, author of Big Truths for Young Hearts, encourages parents to use God's wonderful Creation and other everyday examples to give their children a sense of awe at the thought of God.
Helping Your Child Understand the Holy Spirit How, and what, do you teach your children about the Holy Spirit? Today Professor Bruce Ware helps equip parents to teach their children about the Holy Spirit in terms that even boys and girls can understand.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
This "You Are Here" video opened the Catalyst West Coast conference.
You Are Here from ItLooksGood on Vimeo.
Very nicely done.
HT: Church Matters
(PS: If anyone spots an embed code, let me know and I'll pop it in the post.)
Unlike the epistles, [Acts] gives few formal commands. Even though four Gospels, with their emphasis on Jesus' ethical instruction, have more explicitly didactic material than Acts. Most of its contents simply present various vignettes involving the characters Luke chooses to highlight. Subsequent readers frequently find themselves asking,
One fundamental hermeneutical axiom in answer these questions is to distinguish  consistent patterns of behavior from multiple contexts within the books (and within the rest of the New Testament more generally) and  patterns that vary from one context to the next.
- "What is normative?"
- "What is a positive example to emulate or a negative one to avoid?" Or,
- "Are certain events included for other reasons--perhaps just because they happened and remained important for explaining developments in the fledgling church?"
Luke, as narrator, can also give indirect clues by noting God's blessing as the result of some activity--a further way of indicating its exemplary nature.
- the causes and culprits
- the consequences
- the underlying root cause
- what this reveals about the spiritual state of high income countries (esp. in the US/UK)
- what the Bible teaches about finance, in contrast to conventional thinking
- the implications for public policy, the church, and Christians
1. Forgotten Judgments of Charity
2. A Recent Charge: The Reformed Tradition Has Neglected World Mission and Evangelism
3. A Much Older Charge: The Entire Reformation Movement Neglected Missions3.1. Undeniable Obstacles to Protestant World Missions4. Protestant Mission Began in Regions Neighboring Home
3.2. Factors Beyond Access to the Sea4.1. Foreign vs. Regional Missions5. Early Protestant Transoceanic Mission: Who Would Go?
4.2. The Protestant Reformers, with Other Christian Humanists, Saw Europe as Imperfectly Christianized5.1. The Genevan Calvinist Mission to Brazil6. Conclusion
5.3. Dutch Reformed Missionaries to Southeast Asia
5.4. The American Mission to Indians Under David Brainerd
5.5. William Carey, Father of Modern Missions
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
DG now has some of the materials from the event:
- Piper's message (audio, video, manuscript)
- Carson's message (audio, video, manuscript coming soon!)
- Discussion with Owen Strachan, Piper, and Carson (audio, video)
Two of the workshops are available in video (as well as audio):
- Thabiti Anyabwile, "The Decline of African-American Theology"
- Buster Brown, "Preaching in a Christianized Culture"
- Steven Chin, "Working Faithfully Under a Senior Pastor"
- Graham Cole, "Homosexuality and the Bible: Texts, Hermeneutics, and Pastoral Wisdom"
- K. Edward Copeland and Charlie Dates, "Mentoring Younger Pastors"
- Andy Davis, "The Gospel and Social Action"
- Joshua Harris, "Ministering in a Church-Hopping Society"
- David Helm, "Biblical Reflections on Building a Staff"
- Bill Kynes, "Complementarianism: Definition and Priorities"
- Crawford Loritts, "Staying Faithful, Staying Relevant: The Use and Abuse of Polemical Preaching"
- Tom Nelson and Matt Perman, "The Gospel and Money"
- Colin Smith, "Transformational Expository Preaching"
- Stephen Um, "On Ministry and Revolving Doors: Practical Challenges and Ideas for Ministry in a Mobile Society"
- Sandy Willson, "Gospel Mission to the World: Arrogance or Love?"
- Michael Bullmore, "The Functional Centrality of the Gospel"
- Tim Savage, "Power in Weakness: The Heart of Gospel Ministry"
- Scotty Smith, "A Biblical Theology of Worship: On Preference and Other Matters"
He is survived by his wife, Vita, and daughter, Deborah. More information can be found here, including a list of his published works.
Several of his books are available online for free under the following categories:
The Emergence of Hyper-Calvinism in English Nonconformity, 1689-1765.
I would like to express public gratitude for his early labors on John Owen. Toon's biography, God’s Statesman: The Life and Work of John Owen--Pastor, Educator, Theologian
(1973), remains the best biography available. Dr. Toon also uncovered the scant correspondence of Owen's that remains (no longer online, unfortunately), as well as Owen's Oxford Orations.
So I give thanks to God for the faithful labors of Dr. Toon.
HT: James Grant
- Mark Alan Bowald, Rendering the Word in Theological Hermeneutics
- A. T. B. McGowan, The Divine Authenticity of Scripture
- Richard B. Gaffin Jr., God’s Word in Servant-Form: Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck on the Doctrine of Scripture
- Kenton L. Sparks, God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship
You can read the whole thing here.
A final and poignant shortcoming of the book is that its vaunted center, historical criticism, is actually not amenable to Sparks’s deployment of it. He may try to Christianize it, but it is much bigger than he is and will recognize him as a scholar only to the extent that he bends the knee to its rules and internal logic. . . . Troeltsch, . . . did not invent historical criticism. But he codified its rules— criticism, analogy, correlation—and articulated its worldview. Historical criticism as generally affirmed by biblical scholars worldwide assumes those rules and requires that worldview. Otherwise, it is not “historical criticism” in the sense that nearly all of the “historical critical” scholars whose authority Sparks adduces would affirm. It is totalitarian in its conception, claims, and demands, all of which completely and utterly rule out the intellectual validity of historic Christianity as in any sense a revealed religion.Sparks valiantly tries to argue around Troeltsch. . . . I think Sparks is resourceful and correct in his refutation of Troeltsch and applaud his efforts here. The problem is that Troeltschian historiography rules the roost in mainstream biblical scholarship. That is what “historical critical” means, or even “historical” when used by “historical critical” scholars (Bart Ehrman is an excellent example). It means radical doubt of the (biblical) source, analysis using the tool of analogy, and reconstruction under the principle of correlation. It is a radically immanent enterprise—divine causation is not allowed. I think Sparks is instinctively sensitive to this; it may be a reason (see the first weakness above) why the concept “Jesus is Lord,” the most fundamental of all cognitive Christian affirmations, plays no active role that I can recall in the formation of knowledge in this book. Jesus’ lordship is irrelevant and must remain so for historical criticism to operate. Believe it privately as you wish, but the moment it affects your scholarship, you have left the nurturing bosom of historical criticism.
Dorothy Sayers's insightful point about the unpopularity of teaching on something that Jesus taught about often:
[T]here seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the 'cruel and abominable medieval doctrine of Hell' or 'the childish and grotesque medieval imagery of physical fire and worms . . . '
But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘medieval’: it is Christ’s. It is not a device of ‘medieval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from ‘medieval superstition,’ but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it. . . . [O]ne cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.
Here are a few of the blurbs:
“This is as fine a book on prayer that you will ever read, but it is so much more. It is the story of our struggle to actually live like we believe that our Heavenly father really does love us. If we did, nothing could keep us from being committed to the day by day hard work of prayer. Paul exegetes our struggle in a way that is convicting, insight giving and encouraging. This is a book on prayer that actually makes you want to pray!”
Paul David Tripp
“Paul Miller refuses to separate the spiritual life from the rest of our daily living. In A Praying Life, he shows the difference that constant communication with Christ makes in the everyday experiences of life, especially the life of the family. Reading this book will help you make prayer a more important part of your own life story by integrating prayer into the daily routines of life.” -
“A Praying Life is a deeply moving testimony to God’s power in prayer. Paul Miller shares his life and biblical wisdom to instill in us, his readers, a “heart that becomes a factory of prayer” - that is, a passion to speak to God honestly and in a way that will change our life and the lives of others for whom we pray.”
Tremper Longman III
“In my library, I have perhaps twenty different volumes on prayer, but none has so captured my heart or propelled me into fresh communion with our Father as much as A Praying Life. Finally, a book that applies the radical implications of the gospel of God’s grace to prayer! With childlike wonder, sage-like wisdom, and heartfelt candor, Paul shows us that to pray is to see Jesus more clearly and meet him more regularly in every single aspect and moment of the day. Thanks, my friend, for calling me back to what really matters.”
“Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Paul Miller’s superb book calls us back to this “greater work,” reminding us of the joy we find in our Lord’s presence and equipping us with practical insight on how to recapture the intimacy and power of a praying life.”
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I haven't yet seen a copy of the book, but it's on order and I'm looking forward to benefiting from Professor Peterson's work!
We all declare for choice; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word choice may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor. While with others the same word may mean for some men [and women] to do as they please with others, and with other men's labors. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name--choice. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names--choice and tyranny."See also John Piper's post from earlier this year making the same connection between arguments against slavery and against abortion.
I’ve been trying, like many Americas, to think this thing through. There is the altogether practical question did torture help us? Did it make America safer? Was the information really good, helpful, in thwarting terrorists? Did it actually in fact spoil pending plots? Frankly, the evidence is mixed.The essay ends in this way:
But I really don’t care. Whether torture “worked” or not as an interrogative tactic is far from the main question. I’m a pastor. I think as a pastor, which is to say as a parish theologian. I don’t care if these guys shrieked like little girls on the playground and blubbered out plots for everything from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to knocking over Bagdad candy stores as juvenile delinquents. Torture is morally wrong. It is morally wrong, theologically speaking, because it is an attack upon the imago Dei, upon the image of God inherent to every human life.
Read the whole thing.
However it was initiated—all the lawyerly vetting that went on, and all the jabber about military necessity and keeping America safe—Khalid’s torture ended up being nothing more than torture, and only that. Somewhere well before the one-hundred eighty-third trip to the waterboard, torture was no longer merely an unproductive means of coaxing information from a suspect. It became an impersonal bureaucratized process that swiped his individuality. It was a form of mental murder.
Along with an account of Khalid’s crimes also must come an account of his humanity. Personhood carries an elementary dignity, even when the person carrying it is one of our cruelest enemies.
[O]ne must distinguish between, on the one hand, the gospel as what God has done and what is the message to be announced and, on the other, what is demanded by God or effected by the gospel in assorted human responses. If the gospel is the (good) news about what God has done in Christ Jesus, there is ample place for including under “the gospel” the ways in which the kingdom has dawned and is coming, for tying this kingdom to Jesus’ death and resurrection, for demonstrating that the purpose of what God has done is to reconcile sinners to himself and finally to bring under one head a renovated and transformed new heaven and new earth, for talking about God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, consequent upon Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Majesty on high, and above all for focusing attention on what Paul (and others—though the language I’m using here reflects Paul) sees as the matter “of first importance”: Christ crucified. All of this is what God has done; it is what we proclaim; it is the news, the great news, the good news.Read the whole thing.
By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel.
In The Love of Wisdom: A Christian Introduction to Philosophy Spiegel and Cowan first provide a general definition: "Civil disobedience is generally defined as conscientious, public, and nonviolent resistance to unjust public laws or policies." Fair enough. But "unjust" in what sense? This is where some helpful distinctions can come into play:
First, some legal systems are unjust because they require evil. . . .In other words, someone might ask you if you believe in "civil disobedience," but it helps to know what form of injustice requires disobedience--is it when the government prescribes evil, promotes evil, permits evil, or prohibits the good?
Second, some legal systems are unjust because they promote evil. . . .
Third, a legal system may be unjust because it permits evil. . . .
Finally, a legal system may be unjust because it prohibits good acts. . . .
Cowan and Spiegel then point out that "for Christians, only one category is noncontroversial: disobeying laws of the first variety where evil actions are mandated." But this then raises another distinction:
Passive civil disobedience involves a refusal to do what the law requires.So the point of this post is not necessarily "civil disobedience," but rather the importance of thinking carefully and distinguishing judiciously.
Active civil disobedience involves doing what the law prohibits.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Torture, of course, is back in the news. Christopher Tollefsen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina, has now written a clear and helpful piece from a natural law perspective. He argues that if torture involves intentionally damaging someone's bodily or personal integrity, then it is intrinsically wrong, which means that no consequentialist arguments for it can be valid. Read the whole thing to see his arguments and qualifications. It's an important essay.
1. Restructure the curriculum, beginning with graduate programs and proceeding as quickly as possible to undergraduate programs. . . .Read the whole thing to see why he thinks the university needs restructured reform and rigorous regulation, and for more details on his alternative proposal.
2. Abolish permanent departments, even for undergraduate education, and create problem-focused programs. . . .
3. Increase collaboration among institutions. . . . .
4. Transform the traditional dissertation. . . .
5. Expand the range of professional options for graduate students. . . .
6. Impose mandatory retirement and abolish tenure. . . .
- Addition of The Tinder Box and The Workshop, places where songwriters can post their songs for the church
- New donation-based ordering. Everything on the site can be downloaded or ordered for free
- New contact page that lets you contact individual contributors directly
- Pop-up MP3 player that lets you build a playlist of your favorite songs
- A better search feature which searches everything in the posts, including song credits like original author
Here's the table of contents:
- Editorial, by D.A. Carson
- Minority Report: A Lesson from Peter the Barber, by Carl Trueman
- The Embattled Bible: Four More Books, by Robert W. Yarbrough
- How Far Beyond Chicago? Assessing Recent Attempts to Reframe the Inerrancy Debate, by Jason S. Sexton
- Divine Retribution: A Forgotten Doctrine? by Andrew Atherstone
- Calvinism and Missions: The Contested Relationship Revisited, by Kenneth J. Stewart
- Pastoral Pensées: Power in Preaching: Decide (1 Corinthians 2:1–5), Part 1 of 3, by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
- Book Reviews
Today’s prevailing social consensus about pornography is practically identical to the social consensus about tobacco in 1963: i.e., it is characterized by widespread tolerance, tinged with resignation about the notion that things could ever be otherwise. After all, many people reason, pornography’s not going to go away any time soon. Serious people, including experts, either endorse its use or deny its harms or both. Also, it is widely seen as cool, especially among younger people, and this coveted social status further reduces the already low incentive for making a public issue of it. In addition, many people also say that consumers have a “right” to pornography — possibly even a constitutional right. No wonder so many are laissez-faire about this substance. Given the social and political circumstances arrayed in its favor, what would be the point of objecting?Read the whole thing.
HT: Kathryn Jean Lopez
The Bible says that we are to "Outdo one another in showing honor" (Rom. 12:10), to give "honor to whom honor is owed" (Rom. 13:7), and to give continual thanks to God for fellow believers (2 Thess. 2:13). So I thought it'd be appropriate to give a public word of thanks to Ben Peays, executive director of The Gospel Coalition. Remarkably, Ben is TGC's only employee, and was able to coordinate a richly edifying conference of several outstanding speakers and 3300 attendees.
He'd probably be a bit embarrassed at this post, but readers might be interested in a little bit of background on Ben:
- Ben and his twin brother John were standout wide receivers at Westlake High School in their hometown of Austin, TX, catching passes from their quarterback and future NFL player Drew Brees.
- Ben and John both went to Wheaton, where they played football. Ben graduated from Wheaton in 2000, with a double major: business/economics and Bible/theology. In track he was 4-time All Conference and the 2000 team MVP; in football he was 4-time All Conference, and an All-American Honorable Mention, leaving with a second-place school record for all-purpose yards.
- From 2000-2002 he worked for a hedge fund in the financial industry. Feeling called to ministry and convicted that he couldn't serve both God and money, he quit his job and moved to Budapest, Hungary, to observe a church planting consulting group.
- In 2002 he realized he needed to pursue further education, so he went to Trinity and received an MDiv in 2004.
- From Trinity he went to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a ThM in 2005.
- After helping to write a business proposal for the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding and successfully receiving a substantial grant, he moved back to Deerfield in 2005 to serve as the first Managing Director for the Henry Center. At the same time he began pursuing his PhD in Theologial Studies in Systematic Theology under Kevin Vanhoozer. He is done with his coursework but still has to write his dissertation.
- On January 1, 2008, he was named the first Executive Director of The Gospel Coalition.
- Ben, his wife, and their two young sons are members of CrossWay Community Church in Kenosha, WI.
"Amid the growing literature on Francis Schaeffer's legacy, this book by historian Barry Hankins offers a fresh look at the man and his times. While covering a wide range of issues, Hankins is particularly concerned to understand Schaeffer's relation to American fundamentalism. Brilliant, fascinating, provocative, critical, the volume will leave no reader indifferent. I recommend it highly as an important contribution to understanding these defining years in American religious history."You can read online for free a PDF containing the table of contents, introduction, and the first chapter.
- William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Evangelicals have been doing great work on this issue in recent years--most significantly and famously the reference work, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (ed. Beale and Carson). But surprisingly, there really aren't many solid books on this issue at an understandable, introductory level. (One of the few, and still worth reading, is S. Lewis Johnson's out-of-print book, The Old Testament in the New: An Argument for Biblical Inspiration, written in 1980.)
Nicole's essay is also still worth reading, and serves as a helpful primer. It's divided in three parts:
1. Range of OT ReferencesIn the third section he takes up the issue of the form of the quotations. He suggests several principles--recognizing that not all of them apply in all cases. But he expresses his view that either singly or in combination, "they provide a very satisfactory explanation of apparent discrepancies in almost all cases, and a possible solution in all cases." Here's an outline of his points:
2. Authority of OT References
3. Accuracy of OT References
1. The New Testament writers had to translate their quotations.
2. The New Testament writers did not have the same rules for quotations as are nowadays enforced in works of a scientific character.a. They did not have any quotation marks, and thus it is not always possible to ascertain the exact beginning, or the real extent of quotations. . . .3. The New Testament writers sometimes paraphrased their quotations.
b. They did not have any ellipsis marks. . . .
c. They did not have any brackets to indicate editorial comments introduced in the quotation. . . .
d. They did not have any footnote references by which to differentiate quotations from various sources. . . .a. Under this heading we might first mention certain cases where we find a free translation of the Hebrew rather than a real paraphrase. . . .4. The New Testament writers often simply alluded to Old Testament passages without intending to quote them. It was quite natural that people nurtured and steeped in the oracles of God should instinctively use forms of language and turns of thought reminiscent of Old Testament Scripture.
b. Slight modifications, such as a change of pronouns, a substitution of a noun for a pronoun or vice versa, transformations in the person, the tense, the mood or the voice of verbs, are sometimes introduced in order to better suit the connection in the New Testament. . . .
c. There are cases in which the New Testament writers obviously forsake the actual tenor of the Old Testament passage in order to manifest more clearly in what sense they were construing it. . . . .
d. In certain cases the New Testament writers do not refer to a single passage, but rather summarize the general teaching of the canonical books on certain subjects in phrasing appropriate to the New Testament, although as to the essential thought they express indebtedness to, or agreement with, the Old Testament. . . . .
e. Finally, we must consider the possibility that the writers of the New Testament, writing or speaking for people well acquainted with the Old, may in certain cases have intended simply to refer their readers or hearers to a well-known passage of Scripture. . . .a. Only a quotation which immediately follows such a formula is to be certainly considered as a formal citation. . . .5. The New Testament authors sometimes recorded quotations made by others. Not all quotations in the New Testament are introduced by the writers themselves for the purpose of illustrating their narrative or bolstering their argument. Sometimes they record quotations made by the personalities who appear in the history, as by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, Stephen, the Jews, and Satan. . . .
b. Even when a definite formula points directly to an Old Testament passage, we may not expect strict adherence to the letter of the source when this quotation is recorded in indirect rather than in direct discourse. In such cases we often find remarkable verbal accuracy, but we cannot criticize departure from the original when the very form of the sentence so naturally allows for it.
c. When what may appear to be a citation is introduced by a form of the verbs “say” or “speak,” it is not always certain that the writer actually intended to quote. Rather, the possibility must at times be taken into consideration that we are facing an informal reference to some saying recorded in Scripture. . . .
Saturday, April 25, 2009
If you take one thing home from this conference let it be a determination and commitment to read, re-read, live in, and live and minister out of the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).I was especially helped by his section on how Paul's material in these letters helps us to avoid two errors from opposite sides of the spectrum:
One of the reasons that it is hugely important that we let the Pastorals influence our mode of ministry and the shape of our church life is that two huge errors have bedeviled the Western church for closing in on two hundred years now.
- The first error says that the message must be changed if we are going to reach our culture.
- The second error says that our methods are the key to reaching the culture and our methods are not essentially related to our message.
- The first error is the error of classical liberalism.
- The second error is that of modern evangelicalism.
But the Bible teaches that God will build his church, that he has given us Gospel message and Gospel means, and the Pastorals shows us how our methods flow out of and are connected to that message and those means.
- The first error says: The church can’t be built unless the message is changed.
- The second error says: The church can’t be built unless our methods are changed.
Does this mean that all creativity in ministry is bad? No! There is no such thing as an “unsituated” or “uncontextualized” ministry. We are all situated.
Traditionalists and Progressives both make mistakes in this area.
But we [should] want neither an ossified traditionalism nor a faddish progressivism. Our contextualization must be consistent with our theology or we will subvert our own message.
- Traditionalists tend to assume culture and unwittingly impose their cultural assumptions.
- Progressives tend to adopt culture and unwittingly impose their cultural adoptions.
- Tim Keller, "The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry" (Acts 19:21-41)
- John Piper, "Feed the Flame of God’s Gift: Unashamed Courage in the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:1-12)
- Phil Ryken, "The Pattern of Sound Words" (2 Timothy 1:13-2:13)
- Mark Driscoll, "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:14-26)
- K. Edward Copeland, "Shadowlands: Pitfalls and Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry" (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
- Bryan Chapell, "Preach the Word!" (2 Timothy 3:10-4:5)
- Ajith Fernando, "Gospel-Faithful Mission in the New Christendom"
- Panel Discussion: Tim Keller, John Piper, Ligon Duncan and Crawford Loritts (chair: Stephen Um)
- Ligon Duncan, "Finishing Well" (2 Timothy 4:6-22)
- Don Carson, "That By All Means I Might Win Some': Faithfulness and Flexibility in Gospel Proclamation" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Clearly, the Lord is at work. He is creating new conditions for the future. In the 90s, we had nothing of the magnitude of The Gospel Coalition, Together For The Gospel, Acts 29 and other obvious indicators of a new movement of God. We did have, say, Promise Keepers, which helped many. But PK was not explicitly gospel-centered, not aggressively theological. Its impact was unsustainable. But now the Lord is giving us something new, something better. Let's be thankful to him. This doesn't come along every day. Let's steward the blessing well. If we bungle this, I doubt we will see it again in our time. But if we are wise, not intruding our own self-centered complications but humbly keeping Christ first, the blessing will grow. And maybe, in the mercy of God, we will see awakening in our time.Though it appears to be out of print, some readers may be interested in getting their hands on Ortlund's book When God Comes to Church: A Biblical Model for Revival Today.
Here is a brief video overview on him from Mars Hill Church:
You can also listen to or read John Piper's talk on Cowper: Insanity and Spiritual Songs in the Soul of a Saint.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Tony Reinke has a link and a summary for Clarkson's 37-page sermon on 13 "soul idols," originally published in 1864.
If you want a far better version of the message your getting from me right now, you might want to look up an old worthy Puritan named David Clarkson whose three volume set of works was published by the Banner of Truth a long time ago. In the second volume Clarkson has an unbelievably thorough, typically-Puritan, sermon called “Soul Idolatry Excludes Men out of Heaven.” . . . He says, honestly, physical idolatry, bowing down with your body to a physical image, is not really all that different and a lot less prevalent than the real sin which is what he calls “soul idolatry”—bowing down to some thing that probably doesn’t have a physical image, in your heart. In other words you can make anything into an idol—anything at all. Doesn’t have to be a statue. It almost never is.
We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. . . . A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle!
He is inspired, and yet he wants books!
He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books!
He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!
He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!
He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!
He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!
The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "Give thyself unto reading." The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.
Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service. Paul cries, "Bring the books"—join in the cry.
- Take steps to avoid becoming a mere quartermaster.
- Beware of the seduction of applause.
- Fight with every fiber of your being the common dichotomy between objective study of Scripture and devotional reading of Scripture.
- Never forget that there are people out there—people for whom Christ died.
- Happily recognize that God distributes different gifts among scholar-pastors as he distributes different gifts among various groups.
- Recognize that students don’t learn everything you teach them.
- Make the main thing the main thing, not only by not merely assuming the gospel, but in every domain of life.
- Pray and work.
- Love the church.
- Avoid lone-ranger scholarship.
- Be at least as interested in the work of others as you are in your own.
- Take the work seriously but not yourself.
You can read the Contents and the Introduction and Chapter 1 online for free.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Dr. Ware and ask him a few questions about the book.
Can you tell us the origin of this book as you and Jodi were raising your two girls?
I recall one evening when Jodi and I were trying to get our two giggly girls -- who were about 8 and 4 at the time -- to settle down and go to sleep, thinking to myself, "Since they don't want to go to sleep, why not co-opt the time and teach them some theology at their bedside?" So, I started then a pattern that we followed most nights that I was home, of my spending about 15 minutes with each daughter at their bedsides going through the major doctrines of the Christian faith. Of course, since Jodi eventually home schooled both our girls, they got much additional rich teaching from her. But I relish those "bedside theology" conversations, coupled with many other such discussions at family devotions or in the car, cultivating in our children a big view of God, a clearer understanding of the magnitude of their sin and the glory of the cross, and why it mattered to know and trust in God for all of our lives.
So how did it come about to do this as a book?
Bethany and Rachel -- Rachel in particular -- had the vision for this book. For the past several years, Rachel would periodically come to me and ask, "Dad, are you going to write Bedside Theology? -- her name for what is now Big Truths for Young Hearts. I put her off a number of times, feeling badly about doing this. It was clear that Bethany and Rachel really wanted me to do this. They saw the potential help this book could be to parents, and dads in particular, to have a simple and clear way of helping their children grow in understanding the broad range of the glorious truths of the Christian faith. And God used their vision for this book to give me a vision for it also. Kindly, Crossway was willing to take this on, and so I went to work writing.
What was the writing process like?
What a joy this writing was! It brought back to mind our own family times together, and gave me the opportunity to share rich biblical and theological truths that have meant so much to me in my own life, truths meant by God to shape and re-shape who we are.
How central is the gospel in your book?
The gospel is clear throughout the book, since I know how much this means to all of us Christian parents. If children and their parents grow to understand better how great and gracious God is, what a glory is the Christ and the cross of our salvation, and learn more reason why their hope and joy should be in Him alone -- then this book will accomplish what it is meant to do.
How do you envision the book being used?
The main purpose, clearly, is for use by Christian parents in the instruction of their own children at home. As I was writing, though, I often thought of those parents themselves, many of whom have not had the privilege I've had to study and teach theology. Perhaps parents will benefit first, as they then teach these glorious truths to their children.
Besides this, the book is also quite appropriate for use in home school settings, Christian school classes in Bible and theology, and for any new believer (hence the name "young hearts" in the title, including those young in the faith) who wants an overview of the whole of the major teachings of the Christian faith.
One friend who kindly read some early chapters to his own children commented that he would love to use this with new believers in China, where he serves as a missionary. So, I think that those who could benefit from a clear and simple treatment of Christian doctrine -- children as well as others young in the faith -- may find this book helpful.
I suspect that most parents are more comfortable teaching their kids Christian ethics (love God, don’t love the world, tell the truth, don’t cheat or steal, etc.) than they are teaching them Christian theology (how can God be three and one? How is Jesus God and man?). Why is it important for parents to learn good theology and pass it on to their kids?
The Christian faith is not moralism. Yet, we can (wrongly and dangerously!) pervert the Christian faith into this, in our homes and our churches. Our lists of "do's" and "don't's" can become the sum and substance of our understanding of the Christian faith, and in this self-esteem saturated culture, this ends up redounding to the glory of the "self," not the glory of God. So, we need (all of us, Christian parents and children alike) to understand glorious theological truths --
- who God is in his eternal fullness as the triune God,
- who God is as Creator of all that is,
- who we are as created in his image,
- what sin is and has done to us,
- why Christ came, who Christ is,
- what he accomplished,
- how we receive the benefits of his work on the cross,
- what God provides for us to grow as his people,
- what these communities of faith called "churches" are and what they contribute,
- and what hope we have for life now and forever
Only when moral teachings flow out of a correct understanding of the character and purposes of God and a relationship with him by faith in Christ can we see how our lives are meant to be transformed by God's work within us, reflecting his character and redounding to his glory above all else.
And what are some of the most important things they need to keep in mind when learning and teaching theology?
The core of the Christian faith is the God of the Christian faith -- the one and only true and living God, who as Father, Son, and Spirit, is the eternal, self-existent, self-sufficient Creator of heaven and earth, the Provider of every good and perfect gift, and the Redeemer of sinners from deserved wrath and condemnation. Without question, getting "God right" is the single most important area to understand rightly. To go wrong here is to go wrong on everything! How we understand ourselves, our value, our purpose in being and living, the nature of our sin, the need for redemption, our resource and goal in sanctification, and our ultimate ends as God's redeemed people -- all of this depends on understanding rightly who God is.
But then, all these other areas matter also so very much. Getting "ourselves right" -- as those created in God's image but terribly marred and deformed due to our fall, with Adam, into sin -- is so very crucial for understanding the glory and grace of our salvation in Christ.
Seeing Christ for who he is, and understanding the nature of his atoning death, are crucial for knowing our new identities as his redeemed people, who have come to him by faith alone, through God's grace alone.
And then catching a vision for what kingdom living is meant to be, for all of us, regardless of the specific vocation each of us has, is crucial for seeing the significance of each day lived to the glory of God.
And understanding the certainty of God's victory over Satan, sin and death, in Christ, is crucial if we are to have hope that sustains through trials and persecution, as God's people.
In short, every doctrine of the faith plays a crucial place in forming our minds and hearts, to become and live in ways that fulfill God's purposes for us and bring glory to his name.
You can download for free chapter 8, on the Book of Acts. Also, B&H is offering a very nice feature for professors. If you adopt the book for your classroom, you can get nicely designed Power Point slides to accompany the book (one set is designed for a one-semester course, and another set is designed for a two-semester course). You can download for free the slides for chapter 4, on the Gospel According to Matthew.
"Among the finest such studies of recent decades in classic matters of New Testament introduction. What sets it apart includes: (1) attention to theology and the history of interpretation; (2) extended presentation of the history of New Testament times and the rise of the canon; (3) appropriate rigor; (4) frequently creative layout features; and (5) conceptual clarity. Beyond an impressive digest of scholarship, it is an appeal to faithful appropriation of the New Testament's message."Between this volume and Carson and Moo's standard, An Introduction to the New Testament, evangelical students are very well served indeed!
--Robert W. Yarbrough
"Clear, thorough, up to date, and engaging all the contemporary alternatives people are putting forward . . . discerning and judicious. Well done and highly recommended."
--Darrell L. Bock
“Among available New Testament introductions for theological students this one stands out for meticulously thorough coverage, bibliographical fullness, attention to canonical issues, juicy pastoral reflections, and lashings of masterful common sense. I recommend it highly, as a leader in its field.”
--J. I. Packer
"The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown is an outstanding introduction to the New Testament, which should be warmly welcomed not only by teachers and students but by anyone desiring an up-to-date, comprehensive, judicious survey of the historical, literary, and theological context of the New Testament. Among the user-friendly features of this volume are clear objectives for different levels of study, helpful review questions, recommended reading lists, numerous sidebars, and an extensive glossary. I expect to turn to this volume and recommend it to others for years to come."
Thursday, April 23, 2009
His related book comes out this fall: Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters.
Audio and video of all the talks will soon be available at Christianity.com.
One of the problems however with some of Bart’s popular work, including this book, is that it does not follow the age old adage--“before you boil down, you need to have first boiled it up.” By this I mean Bart Ehrman, so far as I can see, and I would be glad to be proved wrong about this fact, has never done the necessary laboring in the scholarly vineyard to be in a position to write a book like Jesus, Interrupted from a position of long study and knowledge of New Testament Studies. He has never written a scholarly monograph on NT theology or exegesis. He has never written a scholarly commentary on any New Testament book whatsoever! His area of expertise is in textual criticism, and he has certainly written works like The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, which have been variously reviewed, not to mention severely critiqued by other textual critics such as Gordon D. Fee, and his own mentor Bruce Metzger (whom I also did some study with). He is thus, in the guild of the Society of Biblical Literature a specialist in text criticism, but even in this realm he does not represent what might be called a majority view on such matters.
It is understandable how a textual critic might write a book like Misquoting Jesus, on the basis of long study of the underpinnings of textual criticism and its history and praxis. It is mystifying however why he would attempt to write a book like Jesus, Interrupted which frankly reflect no in-depth interaction at all with exegetes, theologians, and even most historians of the NT period of whatever faith or no faith at all. A quick perusal of the footnotes to this book, reveal mostly cross-references to Ehrman’s earlier popular works, with a few exceptions sprinkled in—for example Raymond Brown and E.P Sanders, the former long dead, the latter long retired. What is especially telling and odd about this is Bart does not much reflect a knowledge of the exegetical or historical study of the text in the last thirty years. It’s as if he is basing his judgments on things he read whilst in Princeton Seminary. And that was a long time ago frankly.
It is not sufficient to reply that Bart is writing for a popular audience and thus we would not expect much scholarly discussion even in the footnotes. Even in a work of this sort, we would expect some good up to date bibliography for those disposed to do further study, not merely copious cross-references to one’s other popular level books. Contrast for example, my last Harper book What Have They Done with Jesus? The impression is left, even if untrue, that Ehrman’s actual knowledge of and interaction with NT historians, exegetes, and theologians has been and is superficial and this has led to overly tendentious and superficial analysis. Again, I would be glad to be proved wrong about this, but it would certainly appear I am not. This book could have been written by an intelligent skeptical person who had no more than a seminary level acquaintance and expertise in the field of NT studies itself. And I do not say this lightly, for this book manifests problems in all areas, if one critiques it on the basis of NT scholarship of the last thirty or so years. There are methodological problems, historical problems, exegetical problems, theological problems, and epistemological problems with this book, to mention but a few areas.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Here's the opening:
As the twentieth century of Christian history draws to a close, I believe that we can safely conclude the church is at a low point in terms of artistic accomplishment. The golden days of church leadership in music, painting, literature, drama, and architecture are a thing of the distant past. Perhaps gone as well are the days when we Christians could entertain realistic hopes for a recovery of our leadership position in the arts. Therefore, two pressing questions loom for the church mired in an aesthetic malaise as the third millennium commences: what went wrong? And what can we do to make things better? The first query has been addressed ably by Christian scholars. Credible answers to the second question, however, have been sparse.Spiegel defends the legitimacy and necessity of aesthetic objectivism by looking at the foundation of aesthetics: God's beauty and creativity. He shows that the Bible addresses the issue of art by both example and direct injunction. He then sketches a rudimentary Christian model of aesthetic virtues: technical excellence, veracity, originality, moral integrity, and intentionality. These are contrasted with the aesthetic vices: laziness, banality, artificiality, authentic utilitarianism. Finally he looks at "art as worship" and then "art in worship."
Curing the aesthetic ills of the Christian community will be a mammoth task, if it is to be achieved at all. In this essay I shall discuss the theological foundations of a Christian aesthetic and make some concrete applications, specifically to the matter of worship. First, I will develop a biblical theology of beauty and the arts. Second, I will spell out a particular practical approach to the arts implied by this theological aesthetic framework, giving special attention to the matter of worship. Evangelicals tend to be nervously suspicious of secular art, rigidly utilitarian in their approach to Christian art and apathetic about developing a biblical aesthetic. These prevailing attitudes represent so significant a deviation from a properly biblical approach to the arts that I am tempted to suggest that the church is guilty of what might be called the “aesthetic heresy.” But, alas, there has never been an official church aesthetic or doctrine of the arts, and without theological orthodoxy there can be no true heterodoxy. Still, the dominant view is grossly unbiblical, and recognition of this fact is the first step towards recovering a biblical aesthetic.
Here's the conclusion:
The Christian church, once the leader of the arts, is now scarcely taken seriously in artistic communities. Worse yet, the formal worship of Christians is compromised by mediocrity in this area. Our problem, however, is not for lack of inspiration, as the scriptures are brimming with aesthetic instructions, from the Genesis creation account to the hymns of Revelation, not to mention the nature of the Biblical writings themselves. We must recapture a truly Christian vision for the arts, and strive mightily to be aesthetically virtuous. The duties of the church pertain not only to goodness but to beauty as well.The whole thing repays careful reading.
Stage 1: Desire. "The objects of most of our desires are not evil. The problem is the way they tend to grow, and the control they come to exercise over our hearts. All human desire must be held in submission to a greater purpose, the desires of God for his kingdom." (p. 85)
Stage 2: Demand. ("I must.") "Demand is the closing of my fists over a desire. . . . I am not longer comforted by God's desire for me; I am threaten by it, because God's will potentially standards in the way of my demand. . . . The morphing of my desire changes my relationship to others. No I enter the room loaded with a silent demand: You must help me get what I want. . . ." (p. 86)
Stage 3: Need. ("I will.") " I now view the thing I want as essential to life. This is a devasating step in the eventual slavery of desire. . . . To 'chriten' desire as need is equivalent to viewing cake as I do respiration. . . ." (p. 86)
Stage 4: Expectation. ("You should.") "If I am convinced I need something and you have said that you love me, it seems right to expect that you will help me get it. The dynamic of (improper) need-driven expectation is the source of untold conflict in relationship." (p. 87)
Stage 5: Disappointment. ("You didn't!") "There is a direct relationship between expectation and disappointment, and much of our disappointment in relationships i s not because people have actually wronged us, but because they have failed to meet our expectations." (pp. 87-88)
Stage 6: Punishment. ("Because you didn't, I will. . . .") "We are hurt and angry because people who say they love us seem insensitive to our needs. So we strike back in a variety of ways to punish them for their wrongs against us. We include everything from the silent treatment (a form of bloodless murder where I don't kill you but act as if you do not exist) to horrific acts of violence and abuse. I am angry because you have broken the laws of my kingdom. God's kingdom has been supplanted. I am no longer motivated by a love for God and people so that I use the things in my life to express that love. Instead I love things, and use people--and even the Lord--to get them. My heart has been captured. I am in active service of the creation, and the result can only be chaos and conflict in my relationships." (p. 88)
So what do you do when desire has morphed into demand into need into expectation into disappointment into punishment? The first step must be vertical, not horizontal. Because relationship problems are rooted in worship problems, James's solution, Tripp rightly notes, is "Start with God":
- "Submit yourselves therefore to God" (James 4:7).
- "Draw near to God" (James 4:8).
- "Cleanse your hands . . . and purify your hearts" (James 4:8)
- "Humble yourselves before the Lord" (James 4:10).
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Other bloggers are talking about various features of the book on this "blog tour." An audio version of the book is soon on its way, but I thought some readers might be interested in a sermon series preached by Tullian January-March 2009 entitled, "The Makeup of an Unfashionable Church":
- Introduction (1 Cor. 1:18-29)