Sunday, September 20, 2009

Between Two Worlds Moving to The Gospel Coalition

My blog is now being hosted at The Gospel Coalition website. Here's the address:

If you have BTW on your blogroll, it'd be a help if you would adjust your link accordingly.

You'll have to subscribe to the new feed, as this current one will no longer be updated.

In my inaugural post at the new site I explain why I'm happy to have BTW associated with TGC. Hope to see you over there!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

Randy Alcorn's new big book on the problem of evil and suffering is now available: If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Multnomah).

You can read the table of contents and some excerpts at EPM's page, read an interview that Andy Naselli did with Randy here at Between Two Worlds, or read a review of the book by Tim Challies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Gospel-Driven Life

WTS Books is offering Mike Horton's new book, The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World (Baker), for 45% off. The offer is good for the next week and a half.

This book is a sequel to Christless Christianity, moving from "the crisis to solutions, in the hope that we will see a new reformation in the faith, practice, and witness of contemporary Christianity."

Horton explains his purpose in the opening words of the introduction:
The goal of this book is to reorient our faith and practice as Christians and churches toward the gospel: that is, the announcement of God's victory over sin and death in his Son, Jesus Christ. The first six chapters explore that breaking news from heaven, while the rest of the book focuses on the kind of community that this gospel generates in our world. It is not merely that there is a gospel and then a community of people who believe it; the gospel creates the kind of community that is even now an imperfect preview of the kingdom's marriage feast that awaits us.
You can read some free sample material from the book here.

The book is also available from Amazon.

Applying the Year of Jubilee

Kevin DeYoung first shows why we cannot appeal to Leviticus 25 to argue for government-sponsored redistribution of property and resources. Here are his five points:
  1. We are not an ancient, agrarian society.
  2. Most importantly, our property was not assigned directly by God.
  3. Our economy is not based on a fixed piece of land.
  4. Our nation is not under the Mosaic covenant.
  5. Most of us are not Jews.
But, Kevin argues, jubilee has several applications and ramifications for how we view wealth and poverty:
  1. We should find ways to give opportunities for the poor to succeed.
  2. The Bible supports the existence of private property.
  3. The Bible relativizes private property.
  4. Our God is the God of second chances.
  5. Jesus is Jubilee.
You can read the whole thing here.

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church: Congregational Vote This Sunday

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper today printed an op-ed by Tullian Tchividjian regarding the conflict at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church--which some of the members unfortunately took to the media--and the congregational vote this Sunday regarding him as senior pastor. An excerpt:
You may have read, in this paper or elsewhere, six members of our church recently circulated unsolicited letters and a petition voicing their opposition to my leadership and requesting a congregational meeting to vote on whether to keep me as their pastor. Citing things like my desire not to wear a robe when I preach, not honoring the legacy and preferences of Dr. Kennedy to the degree that I should, making personnel changes (bringing in my staff from New City), and not preaching political sermons, these six members have been working to remove me as pastor.

The saddest thing about all of this is that, because of the visibility of both Coral Ridge and my family, this conflict has taken on a national interest. The reason this grieves me so deeply is because the Bible says God wants the church to be a visual model of the gospel. He wants us, in other words, to live our lives together in such a way that we demonstrate the good news of reconciliation before the watching world.

The late Francis Schaeffer once noted that bitter divisions among Christians give the world the justification they're looking for to disbelieve the gospel. But when reconciliation, peacemaking, and unity are on display inside the church, that becomes a powerful witness to this fractured world. "Just as I have loved you," Jesus commanded, "you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

To get this matter behind us once and for all, the elders and I have called this congregational meeting and a vote will take place on Sunday. You will no doubt read about the result, but whatever it is, I want to say three things to the South Florida community that I love so much and have called home for 37 years. . . .
You can read the rest here. And please pray for Tullian and for Coral Ridge, especially regarding the vote this Sunday.

On Aborting Down Syndrome Babies

Al Mohler's latest article reflects on the combination of two disturbing developments: (1) 95% of mothers who discover the high risk of Down syndrome in their babies through prenatal screening choose to have the lives of these babies terminated. (2) New technologies for prenatal diagnosis are on their way. The almost-certain result is that there will be more prenatal testing, and therefore more termination of human life.

Dr. Mohler also cites this journal article by Dr. Brian Skotko (an expert in DS), who cites evidences that nearly 1 in 4 doctors either actively "urge" termination or "emphasize" the negative aspects of DS so as to encourage termination.

Dr. Skoto writes:
. . . health care providers have historically operated under the assumption that if a woman consents to prenatal screening or diagnosing, she must believe that having a child with DS would be an undesired outcome and wish to terminate her pregnancy if such a diagnosis were made prenatally.
Knowing that assumption is crucial. As Dr. Mohler writes: "Expectant parents should read that sentence over and over again, and so should those who counsel them."

Recommended Book for Discipling New or Renewed Believers

Stephen Smallman has given us a great gift with his new book, The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus (P&R, 2009).

It’s now the first resource I’d recommend for disciples wanting to make disciples (which should be all of us). Marked by good theology, a focus on the Bible, and a warm and winsome approach, this “discipleship for dummies” manual is just what all of us need.

Here are a few blurbs:

"This is the fruit of a lifetime of experience in ministry. I recommend this warm, practical, gospel-centered and very useful manual on discipleship."
- Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

"Lots of people have a heart for discipleship, but few have the ability to apply the gospel to a person's spiritual journey (seeker and believer alike) with the compassion and wisdom of Steve Smallman. His heart for God and for people energizes his ministry and this book."
- Ron Lutz, New Life Presbyterian Church, Dresher, PA

"Basic, clear, and biblical throughout. All who read this book will have their knowledge of the gospel deepened, and they will also learn to make better use of the gospel in their pursuit of holiness and ministry to others. May Christ continue to bless his church with books like this!"
- Milton Vincent, Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church, Riverside, CA

You can read online for free the preface, table of contents, and first chapter.

Also available from Amazon.

Give Me Jesus

Fernando Ortega - "Give Me Jesus" from Adamson.TV on Vimeo.

Tullian Tchividjian writes:

As I consider the last six months (and especially this upcoming Sunday) and how kind God has been to convince me that everything minus Jesus equals nothing, but Jesus plus nothing equals everything, I am reminded of my grandmother who passed away in June 2007. She knew Christ’s companionship like no one I’ve ever known. She reveled in the wrecking power of the gospel day in and day out. She lived life like she had nothing to lose because she knew that, in Christ, she had nothing to lose! This enabled her to live with great freedom, fearlessness, and unbounded courage.

For many, many years I have begged God to make me like her– to give me a sharp mind, a soft heart, and a steel spine like he gave her. I can only hope and pray that as God continues to strip me of everything but Him, I would become more like her.

As she used to always say, “Just give me Jesus.”

Ware on Providence: Hands of God and Men

Below are the MP3s (followed by PDFs of the handouts) for a series of a three talks that Bruce Ware gave at Mars Hill in Seattle in March of 2007:

  1. Uncertain Hands of God and Men: Providence in Process Thought and Open Theism (PDF)
  2. Independent Hands of God and Men: Providence in Classic Arminianism (PDF)
  3. Coordinated Hands of God and Men: Providence in the Reformed Tradition (PDF)
The videos (relatively low-res) are below:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unreached vs Unevangelized

Alex Chediak interviews David Sitton, President of To Every Tribe. An excerpt:
There’s an important difference between unevangelized and unreached peoples.

Unevangelized people are unconverted individuals in places where there are established churches. Unreached peoples are those that live in regions where there are no churches and no access to the evangelical gospel in their culture.

And to answer your question about the present trend; 96% of the missionary work force is still laboring in unevangelized, but not truly unreached regions. Here it is again – 9 out of 10 Christian missionaries that go cross-cultural are still going to reached places!

Here’s still another way to say it – Something like 90% of all “ministers” worldwide are concentrating on only 2% of the world’s population! We are massively overly evangelizing places where the gospel is already well planted! I believe that we need a substantial strategic redeployment of the missionary workforce to the areas where there is still no access to the evangelical gospel.
Read the whole thing.

The "Big Book" Fallacy

T. David Gordon:
The “Big Book” fallacy is the notion that anything that is said in a big book, especially a multivolume series of big books, must be, at a minimum, factually correct, and at a maximum, correct in its judgment. This is fallacious, because error is error, regardless of its domicile. Peer-reviewed error may be less common than non-peer-reviewed error, but it still exists. No editor checks the factual accuracy of every sentence he edits, and therefore, even in big books, multi-volume big books, and/or multi-volume big books with good reputations, error still exists, and we should not repeat the error without either citing the source or checking the source.
See the two examples he cites--the first from Kittel's TDNT, the second from Keil's commentary on Joel 2:28.

HT: Upper Register

The Dan Brown Sequel Generator

Slate has a nifty tool to create a plot for the next Dan Brown conspiracy-thriller-novel. Just plug in a city and a sect, and their computer will do the rest!

HT: Mere Comments

When Relationships Are Built Around the Truths of the Gospel

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson, in Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ (pp. 86-87):

When relationships are built around the truths of the gospel—the truth that we are walking in light even though we are still sinners in need of cleansing by his blood—we can be free from feelings of inferiority and the demanding spirit that is born of pride. We can pursue relationships without fear of being discovered as the sinners we are. This kind of open relationship rests solely on the realities of the gospel. We are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, and so is everyone we know. Because of this, we won’t be surprised by other’s sins. They won’t expect us to be sinless either, so we don’t have to give in to self-condemnation and fear when they see us as we really are. We don’t have to hide or pretend anymore.

The gospel also tells us that we are loved and welcomed without any merit on our part, so we can love and welcome others whose merits we can’t see. We can remember the circumstances under which we have been forgiven, and we can forgive in the same way. We don’t deserve relationship with the Trinity, but it has been given to us. We can seek our relationships with others because we know that we have been sought out by him and that he is carrying us all on his shoulders. (Yes, he is that strong!)

HT: Buzzard Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sons and Daughters

C.J. Mahaney on the new Sovereign Grace album, Sons and Daughters:
I highly recommend this album. This album is a means of preaching the gospel to yourself. It is a tool to remind yourself of God’s adopting grace. It will help convince you of God’s passionate and personal love for you. Listening to the truths of these songs will help clear away any suspicions you have of God, and help you to contemplate his love for you, evidenced nowhere more clearly than in the death of his beloved Son.
You can download for free the song “Completely Done.”

Be Like David, Not Like Mike

An excellent post by Voddie Baucham, contrasting two recent Basketball Hall of Fame induction speeches: the arrogant and self-serving speech of Michael Jordan, and the humble, grateful speech of David Robinson.

HT: Andy Naselli

2010 Crossway Academic Catalog

Here's an attractive, easy way to view Crossway's academic catalog for next year.

Dug Down Deep Film Contest

Joshua Harris's next book, Dug Down Deep, will be published by Multnomah this January. (I've read it and recommend it.)

On his blog he is having a contest, looking for 10 filmmakers who can create short videos related to the book. He explains:
It's a book about the importance of knowing Jesus Christ and building your life on a true knowledge of him. I care very much about its message and want to do all I can to spread it to people who are indifferent or unconcerned about Christian theology. I'd like to create a series of short videos that can be played online to generate interest in the book.

But I have another desire that informs what I'm announcing today: I want to encourage Christians to get involved in the arts--in particular, film. At different times and different ways I've done what I could to encourage young filmmakers to hone their gifts and use film to influence the world for Christ.

So I'm combining my need for promotional videos with my desire to make an investment in Christian filmmakers. And I'm doing this in the form of a contest.

Read more here.

When Challies Met Warren

Tim Challies posts today about his recent time with Rick Warren. Here's a taste:
Somehow just meeting Warren reinforced in my mind the challenge we face as we reconcile ourselves to a fast-paced, digital world in which a person can quickly dash off a missive that can severely impact another person on the other side of the continent. It seems that ethics and morality have been a bit slow to catch up to ability in this new digital world. As I read those three reviews I realized that in each case there would be things I might say just a little differently. I am too often prone to forget that the authors whose books I review are real people and I am too quick to ignore my conscience when I consider whether the things I write and post online for all the world to read are things I would also say face-to-face. I hope this will help me in the future as I seek to be fair and godly in all that I write.

Textual Criticism Timesaver

Those doing textual criticism in the NT will be interested in this blog post by Dan Wallace about a new web-based application that can save a significant amount of time.

Calvin Conference in Minneapolis

Registration for the DG conference (Sept. 25-27) on Calvin is still open.

In addition to the talks on Calvin, there will be a couple of additional events.

On Friday evening, Sept. 25, they will preview the 80-minute documentary, Collision, which traces the debates and conversations of Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens. The movie, which I've seen, is very much worth your time. You can pre-order the DVD from Amazon, and watch the first 13 minutes at the end of this post.

On Sunday evening, Sept. 27, there will be an eschatology discussion at Bethlehem College & Seminary, with John Piper moderating, Doug Wilson defending the postmillennial position, Jim Hamilton (SBTS) the premillennial view, and Sam Storms the biblical view. (Just a joke, folks.)

Here's Piper on why Calvin matters today:

And here's the beginning of the Collision film:

COLLISION - 13 min VIMEO Exclusive Sneak Peek from Collision Movie on Vimeo.

Powlison on Marital Intimacy

Part 3:

Christian Music Radio

Paul Butler:

There are thousands of radio stations across the country today which play Christian music. A recent study looked at Christian Music Radio to determine what sets it apart from its mainstream counterpart. But the study didn’t look at the music itself, but what was said between the songs—and what they found may surprise you.
You can listen here to the feature with Mark Seignious (Associate Professor of Electronic Media Communication at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN) and Ripley Smith (Professor of Communication at Bethel University, also in St. Paul).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

5 Purposes of Moral Education

J. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know: A Guide, pp. 114-115 [my emphasis and formatting]
Moral education serves at least five purposes.
It reinforces what we know, because the mere fact that we know something is wrong is not enough to keep us from doing it.

It elicits what we know, because we know many things without knowing that we know them.

It guards what we know, because although deep conscience cannot err, surface conscience can err in all too many ways.

It builds upon what we know, because only the most general and basic matters of right and wrong are known to us immediately, and second knowledge must be added to first.

Finally, it confronts us about what we know, because sometimes we need to be told "You know better."

Norman Borlaug (1914-2009)

He may be responsible for saving more physical lives than any other human being in history. He died on Saturday, and few people know his name.

You can read more about him here.

HT: Joe Carter

Scenes from the Life of Christ

This sounds like a wonderful CD from Ligonier:
Scenes from the Life of Christ is the newest recording from Ligonier's music division. For composer Tom Howard, the music emerged after meditating on the Scriptures, where the emotional impact of each passage inspired themes, melodies, and textures. Hear the composer's heart for these timeless stories expressed in vivid and dramatic musical settings with Scripture narrations by Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and Derek Thomas.

This recording of original chamber orchestra pieces is a survey of musical landscapes played through selected biblical accounts by top Nashville musicians including Phil Keaggy, John Catchings, and Sam Levine.

Our hope is that the combination of beautiful interpretive music and the plain reading of the Word will engage listeners in a devotional way.
Here's the list of readings and narrators:
The Annunciation
Scripture Reading by Alistair Begg
Luke 1:26–38

Feeding of the 5,000
Scripture reading by D. A. Carson
John 6:1–15

Cleansing of the Temple
Scripture reading by John MacArthur
Mark 11:15–19

The Transfiguration
Scripture reading by Sinclair Ferguson
Luke 9:28–36

Temptation in the Wilderness
Scripture reading by R.C. Sproul
Matthew 4:1–11

Jesus, the Healer
The Raising of Lazarus
Scripture reading by John Piper
John 11:1–6, 17, 32–33, 38–44

Parable of the Shrewd Manager
Scripture reading by Albert Mohler
Luke 16:1–13

The Last Supper
Scripture reading by Ligon Duncan
Luke 22:14–23

Scripture reading by Derek Thomas
Matthew 26:36–46
You can go here to listen to some of the musical samples, read the liner notes, and/or order.

Powlison on Intimacy in Marriage

Part 2 of David Powlison talking about marriage--particularly, how to talk to others about our marriage:

Marks of a Spiritual Leader

Some more good quotes from John Piper's article on spiritual leadership:
  • "If you want to be a great leader of people you have to get away from people to be with God."
  • "Spiritual leaders have a holy discontentment with the status quo."
  • "Leaders must be able to digest depression because they will eat plenty of it."
  • On tactfulness: "There is a big difference between saying, 'Your foot is too big for this shoe" and 'This shoe is too small for your foot.'"


As usual, a thoughtful article here by Alex Chediak on thinking about singleness from a biblical perspective.

Here's the conclusion:
An essential aspect of loving singles is being open to helping them in the process toward marriage, while recognizing:
  • our relationship with Christ is more important than our marital state
  • some singles are uniquely gifted to remain single for greater kingdom effectiveness
  • many singles struggle profoundly with loneliness, lust, fornication, and the like, and welcome (or should welcome) loving, gracious, and balanced input on the process toward marriage from Christians who care about their souls and their bodies
  • for most, marriage will be a means of profound sanctification, and they ought to responsibly (and diligently) move in this direction even as they embrace other adult responsibilities
  • just as God ordains the ends, He ordains the means. The means may include overcoming your fear and telling a girl how you feel. They may include giving a guy a chance, even though you grew up seeing your parents go through a divorce, and you've closed your heart like a shell.
In community with God's people, singles can discern their calling and (where appropriate) pursue marriage honorably.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Carl Trueman on the White Horse Inn

Carl Trueman is the latest guest on the White Horse Inn.

Three Questions about the Mosaic Law in Paul's Theology

It's a pleasure today to interview Dr. Jason Meyer, assistant professor of religion (New Testament and Greek) at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana. His new book, published by B&H Academic, is called The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology--a dissertation completed at SBTS under Tom Schreiner. At the end of the interview I've reproduced some of the blurbs from Schreiner, Seifrid, Piper, and Porter, among others.

1. Tell us a bit about the methodology you employed in seeking to answer the question, “What is the character of the Mosaic covenant in the theology of Paul?”

One's methodology has a decisive effect upon the formation of one's conclusions. Some studies of "covenant" in Paul restrict the object of study to the eight occurrences of covenant (diathēkē) in chronological order (Gal 3:15, 17; 4:24; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6, 14; Rom 9:4; 11:27). James D. G. Dunn is a notable proponent of this approach. Evangelical scholars would add Ephesians 2:12 to this list, while others categorically exclude this text from consideration because they classify it as "deutero-Pauline."

Frankly, I am a little surprised that scholars still adopt this approach in the present era of biblical studies. Remember that this present era prides itself on its linguistic advances over previous generations. It is a generation that supposedly came to the point of wholesale repentance over their linguistic fallacies because of the expose of James Barr and his book The Semantics of Biblical Language.

Dunn's approach, however, proves that the "word equals concept" fallacy is alive and well. This fallacy would essentially say that a concept only appears in Scripture when a particular word appears in Scripture. For example, where would someone look when studying the cross of Christ in Paul's thought? It may be helpful to start with the places where Paul uses the term "cross" (stauros) or "crucify" (stauroō), but it would be just that – a starting point. This study would require the student of Paul to examine an expansive set of terms that collectively contribute to our understanding of the concept of the cross in Paul. The next set of terms to study would include words like "death," and "blood." A fuller study would be forced to examine even metaphors like "the circumcision of Christ" in Colossians 2:11 (which many think is a metaphor for his death) or phrases like "for sin" (peri hamartias) in Romans 8:3 (which many believe refers to Jesus' death as a sin offering). Christians read texts like Romans 8:3 and instinctively know that it speaks of God sending His Son to die for our sins, even though they are hard pressed to answer which word conveys the concept of death or sacrifice for sin.

My methodology self-consciously attempted to build upon Stanley Porter's excellent essay on the concept of covenant in Paul in which he argued for an approach that looked at the wider semantic domain of covenant. He also advocated analyzing the uses of "covenant" in each context in which it appears in order to see if other covenant terminology would come to the forefront. I added three other factors for consideration, which resulted in a five-fold methodological focus: (1) semantic domain, (2) immediate contextual usage, (3) grammatical links between terms or concepts (i.e., "covenants of the promise" [Eph 2:12] or expressions like "ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit" [2 Cor 3:6]), (4) Old Testament precedents (i.e., awareness of prior semantic links like the connection between "law" and "covenant"), and (5) multiple attestation (i.e., instances where Paul draws a connection more than once between two terms or ideas).

2. In what sense did Paul see the Mosaic covenant as “old”?

I argue that Paul conceived of the Mosaic covenant as "old" in the sense that it is fundamentally non-eschatological in contrast to the eschatological nature of the new covenant. In other words, Paul declares that the Mosaic covenant is now old because it belongs to the old age, while the new covenant is new because it belongs to the new eschatological age. The fact that the "old" covenant belongs to the "old" age has enormous implications for determining its character. The old age is transitory and impotent and therefore the Mosaic covenant is both temporary and ineffectual. It called for the right things like internalizing the law ("These things that I am commanding you today shall be upon your hearts" [Deut 6:6]; "circumcise the foreskin of your hearts" [Deut 10:16]), but it lacked the power to create that for which it called. Therefore, Paul can say that "the letter kills" (2 Cor 3:6).

3. In what sense did Paul see the “new covenant” as “new”?

In contrast to the temporary and ineffectual nature of the old covenant, the new covenant is both eternal and effectual because it belongs to the new age and partakes of the power of the new age, the Holy Spirit. We are not looking for a "newer" new covenant to come along in order to fix the problems with the present "new" covenant. This consideration takes us back to methodology. When I began my research on this topic, I was surprised that the available studies on the contrast between the old and new covenants in Paul did not take the time to examine the other "old" versus "new" contrasts in Paul in order to see if they shared a common approach or perspective. In each of these contrasts, I would argue that Paul's eschatology created the contrasts between what he labels as old and new. I found a great quote from Geerhardus Vos in this respect. He says that “the comprehensive antithesis of the First Adam and the Last Adam, sin and righteousness, the flesh and the Spirit, law and faith” are “precisely the historic reflections of the one great transcendental antithesis between this world and the world-to-come.” Paul contrasts the old and the new because the new age has come. This invasion of the age to come into the present evil age creates eschatological contrasts.

Another way to state the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant is as follows. As the eschatological covenant, the new covenant consists of what one could call “eschatological intervention,” while the old covenant does not. God intervenes through His Spirit in the new eschatological age in order to create that for which he calls in the new covenant. The Mosaic covenant lacked this power to produce what it demanded. One could illustrate this point in the following poem attributed to John Berridge:
To run and work the law commands,
Yet gives me neither feet nor hands;
But better news the gospel brings:
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Jason, thanks for answering these questions. May God bless the work of your hands, and may he cause many to pick up and read your book!

Thank you, Justin, for giving me the opportunity to share these thoughts on your blog, which has been such a blessing to me and so many others.

* * *

Here are the endorsements for this book:

John Piper:
For the last forty years of my ministry no biblical issue has proved more recurrent or more vexing than the nature of the Mosaic law as it relates to the gospel and the New Covenant. The pastoral implications for how you preach the gospel, aim at sanctification, comfort strugglers, give assurance, and admit people to membership in the church, are huge. Jason Meyer is a good guide. I found myself writing ‘YES!’ in the margins repeatedly. And there were enough ‘Aha’ moments of fresh discovery to make me want to keep going. I thank God for this younger scholar. His book is a precious gift to the church.
Mark Seifrid:
In this careful study, Jason Meyer decisively shows that the “newness” of the “new covenant” is that of the age-to-come and the eternal life that God has brought into this world through Jesus Christ alone. The implications of this truth for the life of churches, for Christian preaching, and for Christian living are inestimable. I hope that Dr Meyer’s work will have wide influence.
Tom Schreiner:
We will fail to understand the larger storyline of the Bible if we do not grasp the significance of the old covenant and the new covenant. Jason Meyer in this careful exegetical study unpacks the meaning of the new covenant over against the old covenant. One of the virtues of this work is the elegant clarity that characterizes Meyer’s study. He defines terms succinctly and clearly so that readers are not lost in a forest of obscurity. Even more important, Meyer advances his case with in-depth and convincing exegesis. New Testament scholars are known for their exegetical skills, but Meyer’s exegesis is coupled with theological rigor and insight which one finds too infrequently among biblical scholars. The work concludes with perceptive practical and theological implications. To sum up, we can be grateful for Dr. Meyer’s assistance in understanding the whole counsel of God.
Charles Quarles:
I read The End of the Law with regret—that this book was not available before now! Whether one has studied Pauline theology for years or is just beginning to mine the depths of Paul’s thought, this book will serve as a reliable guide. Dr. Meyer’s synthesis of Paul’s theology of the old and new covenants is grounded in careful and thorough exegesis of Paul’s writings, is clearly expressed, and is informed by the most recent research on the subject. The book provides a helpful model for guiding others in the task of developing a truly biblical theology. Dr. Meyer does not merely study Paul for academic purposes. He worships over the New Testament text. This combination of scholarship and worship makes The End of the Law immensely readable and instructive.
Bruce Ware:
To read Jason Meyer’s The End of the Law is to enter into the thrill of seeing the abundance of grace and power God has unleashed through His radical new covenant in Christ and the Spirit. With excellent scholarly support and clear and persuasive argumentation, Meyer defends his thesis that the new covenant both replaces and surpasses the ineffectual and transitory old covenant of Moses. To see the new covenant for what it is—God’s answer in Christ and the Spirit to the intransigent sinful rebellion of His people—is to celebrate the greatness of the gospel and the surpassing richness of God’s gift to His people in His Son and in His Spirit. What joy to know that the law has ended and new life in Christ has come. Meyer’s development of these themes, so central to the gospel, is simply superb.
Stanley Porter:
The covenant in Paul is an important topic that continues to be discussed widely by scholars. One of the limitations of much previous study has been the failure to advance discussion methodologically. In that respect alone, Jason Meyer’s work is to be warmly welcomed. By taking up and developing the kind of approach that opens up, rather than closes down, possibilities, Meyer shows that there is much still to do in understanding Paul’s notion of the old and new covenants. As a result, he pursues several new areas of exploration and puts forward an eschatological approach that certainly merits consideration.

Trinity and Gender

Here's the audio from a discussion at SBTS on the Trinity and what the implications of authority and submission within the Godhead for discussions about human relationships between men and women. The panelists are Randy Stinson, Bruce Ware, and Gregg Allison.

Some further resources for those interested:

Now Here's a Real Apology

A couple of months ago, customers were buying copies of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Amazon for their Kindle, and it turns out that such editions were unauthorized. So Amazon deleted them from purchasers' Kindle devices and credited the money back. An outcry ensued.

But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offered an apology for the way in which they handled the situation. It's a nice model of admitting fault and accepting blame. It's short and to the point, with no sugar-coating or predictable passive platitudes of qualification (i.e., "we regret if anyone was offended...").

Here's what he wrote:

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

HT: Joshua Sowin

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship

Jonathan Dodson's new e-Book, Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship, is now available for free at The Resurgence.

Here's a description:
If you’ve struggled to follow Jesus by veering away from the gospel into duty-bound legalism or moralistic indifference, then this book is for you! Fight Clubs is a radical call to fight the fight of faith in the strength of the gospel. Jonathan Dodson calls us to join the fight against sin, legalism, and license by looking to Christ and His gospel. Fight Clubs equips us to fight the fight of faith by exposing the fleeting promises of sin and drawing us into the grace-saturated promises of God. Displacing defective forms of discipleship, Dodson keeps the gospel central by tapping into various layers of biblical motivations that promote joyful obedience to Christ. The book also provides a strategy to fight sin as the church---small fighting communities called Fight Clubs. Read this book; form a fight club; and start fighting in the strength of the gospel.
Here's the Table of Contents:

1. Why Fight?: The Call to Fight

2. Fighting for the Church: The Failure of Accountability

3. How to Fight: Motivations for Discipleship

4. Fighting with the Church: The Three Conversions of the Church

5. Fight Club: Practical Gospel-centered Discipleship

Appendix 1: Gospel-centered Questions to Ask

Appendix 2: Gospel-centered Resources

Finally, here's an interview that Doug Wolter did with Jonathan about the book and the concept.

The Prodigal God

Award-winning Christian songwriter and singer Brian Doerksen is working on a new musical that will retell the story of the prodigal son. It's called "Prodigal God: The Musical Tale of Two Brothers and One Wastefully Extravagant Father." The site takes a while to load, but you can listen to samples of the songs and download a free EP. Looks like they are currently doing auditions and raising funds. The project has been seven years in the making, and doesn't have anything official to do with Tim Keller's book, The Prodigal God.

Speaking of Keller: last night I was able to watch some of the DVD of Keller teaching this material. It is very well done (hats off to Zondervan). It is not a "talking head" type video, or one of Keller speaking live before an audience. It would be great to watch in small groups or Sunday School classes, or for your own edification. I highly recommend it. It's called The Prodigal God: Finding Your Place at the Table.

You can watch a couple of "trailers" here (not embeddable.)

(I haven't yet seen the discussion guide, but I would expect it to be helpful as well.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Pall of Acrid Smoke

"The world’s idea that everyone, from childhood up, should be able at all times to succeed in measurable ways, and that it is a great disgrace not to, hangs over the Christian community like a pall of acrid smoke.”

--J.I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah, p. 206.

HT: Dave Harvey

New Images from the Hubble Telescope

Slideshow of 10 images here. "NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in action following a much-needed upgrade after astronauts repaired its intricate machinery from space in a daring mission in May. NASA has provided an array of marvelous images showing off the telescope's new capabilities."

The heavens are declaring the glory of God, the handiwork of God, and the righteousness of God (Ps. 19:1; 50:6). Look and listen.

Tchividjian Update

I recently posted about Tullian Tchividjian speaking at College Church this weekend; the event has been canceled as Tullian's father is in the hospital, in critical condition following liver transplant surgery. I know he would deeply appreciate your prayers at this time, and writes movingly today about the prospect of losing his dad.

Lectures on the Expository Ministries of Calvin, Bunyan, and Lloyd-Jones

Some talks from the Edinburgh Expositors Conference Audio:

Steve Lawson

Ian Shaw

Iain Murray

For more, click here.

Lessons Learned from Three Decades of Leading

C.J. Mahaney talks with Jeff Purswell and Bob Kauflin at the WorshipGod 09 Conference. The video is about 70 minutes in length:

Lessons Learned from Three Decades of Leading from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

(RSS readers may have to click through to view.)

You can also listen to the audio, or see a couple of blog excerpts here:

Recommended Productivity Tools

Matt Perman just completed a series recommending the best non-electronic productivity tools. You can access the whole series here, which contains the following posts:
  1. Recommended Productivity Tools: An Introduction
  2. The Tools You Need to Have (And Where to Keep Them)
  3. Recommended In Boxes
  4. Recommended Capture Journals
  5. Recommended Pens
  6. Recommended Pencils and Paper Pads
  7. Recommended Staplers, Staple Removers, and Tape
  8. Recommended Scissors, Letter Openers, and Post-Its
  9. Recommended Paper Clips and Super Glue
  10. Not Recommended: Desktop Organizer Things
  11. Recommended Chairs and Waste Baskets
  12. Recommended Labelers and File Folders
  13. Recommended File Cabinets and Bookshelves

Authentic Spirituality: Finding God Without Losing Your Mind

Regent College Publishing has just reprinted Josh Moody's book on Authentic Spirituality. (Dr. Moody, the senior pastor at College Church in Wheaton, is also the author of Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment: Knowing the Presence of God, his PhD dissertation at Cambridge, and the popular-level The God-Centered Life: Insights from Jonathan Edwards for Today.) Here's a description of the book on spirituality:
Is it possible to believe in God without throwing away your brain? What does it mean in practice to follow Jesus? Why is Jesus the "authentic spirituality" as opposed to any other religious option? The answer to these questions lies in the Bible's teaching about how we can really know the Almighty God ourselves.

Like an espresso, this concentrated message surveys the great minds behind contemporary secularism, the historic Christian views on how you can know God, and most of all what the Bible says about what it means to encounter the most influential person who ever existed: Jesus the Christ.

First published as the fruit of extended reflection at Cambridge University on Christianity's response to postmodernism, this book provides a map to help us navigate contemporary spirituality.
For those in Chicagoland, Dr. Moody will be contributing to the "Timothy Series" talks at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school on October 20 and 22.

Update on the Northwestern College Controversy

In October 2008 I posted an entry, asking, What's Going on at Northwestern College? (in St. Paul, MN). CT had a helpful article on the controversy in November 2008. In January 2009 I pointed out that the student government called for the President's resignation, based on "irrefutable evidence that President Cureton has committed grievous sins as our president, ranging from deception and lies to slander."

In response, the NWC promised to hold accountable those found at fault--whether the President, the students, or both. They appointed a "Special Master" (an investigator to review documents, interview the relevant parties, etc.). However, the Board seems to have stopped this investigation in June 2009 before it was completed.

Dallas Jenkins, a concerned alumni involved with the controversy, writes:
So many have said, "Where's the evidence? How can you say things like this when you don't know? If there's evidence, show it." We have refrained from that to respect the process, but the process ultimately did not live up to its intent or its promise to either side or perspective in this controversy.

You can read every document presented to this point over the past year, as well as the newly provided documents outlining the student government's evidence and their presentation to the board of trustees, at Login: northwestern, password: truth. You can decide for yourself if the questions raised have been fair or if the evidence presented demanded a verdict.

When this process began, we genuinely had no agenda or "side" other than a desire for truth and clarity regarding conflicts and questions being raised that we felt were legitimate. It wasn't until these questions, and those asking the questions, were dismissed, ignored, condescended to, or given contradictory answers, that we began to be as disturbed and upset as we are.
Here is the upshot from their report of the evidence:
Dr. Cureton has clearly committed slander and, by his own definition, broken state and federal employment laws. The pattern of discussing inflammatory and often inaccurate issues in a deceptive or even illegal way with faculty, staff, Board members, alumni, and students was extraordinarily disturbing to Student Government.
I don't post things like this lightly, but if in fact the law has been broken and slander committed without repercussion, it seems appropriate for the wider Christianity community to know of this most unfortunate situation.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chandler: Two Questions for Sanctification

From Leadership 's interview with Matt Chandler:
Sanctification here at The Village begins by answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ? And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds heartbreaking.

The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong, but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid. If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ. I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him. . . .

We want our people to think beyond simply what's right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir their affections for Jesus Christ and, as best as they can, to walk away from things that rob those affections—even when they're not immoral.

You can read the whole thing here.

HT: Mike Miesen

[Italics mine.]

What Happens If You Preach a False Gospel?

The gospel: distorted;
God: deserted;
the preacher: damned.

(Gal. 1:6-9)

The Gospel-Centered Life: Small Group Curriculum

Here's a new small-group curriculum that looks very helpful: The Gospel-Centered Life: A Nine Lesson Study, published by World Harvest Mission. You can sign-up for a free full-length review copy by email; or download a sample lesson, the table of contents, and/or the introduction.

Here are some endorsements:
"This is a rich gospel-centered small group curriculum that I am really excited to see published."
--Mark Driscoll

"I have not seen a better resource for training people in the implications of the gospel. It communicates both to the new Christian and to the seasoned pastor, much like the gospel itself."
--Darrin Patrick

"With simple and direct language, The Gospel-Centered Life helps people understand and effectively apply the gospel to their lives, regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey. It's one of the few resources out there that explicitly challenges others to reach out with the gospel, even as it is growing deeper into their own lives. I highly recommend it!
--Steve Childers

"The phrase 'gospel-centered' has become a popular buzzword in Christianity. But just because you talk about the gospel doesn’t mean you’re being transformed by it. I’m familiar with both the publisher and the authors of The Gospel-Centered Life, and I know they are profoundly aware, first and foremost, of their own need for gospel renewal. That’s why I’m so excited to recommend this material to pastors, leaders, and Christians everywhere who long to see gospel transformation in themselves and in their churches."
--Daniel Montgomery
HT: Michael Johnson

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

David Powlison on Marital Intimacy: Part 1

An 8 minute video of David Powlison talking about some common issues that come up in counseling married couples.

I recommend reading Powlison's booklet, Renewing Marital Intimacy: Closing the Gap Between You and Your Spouse (also available in 5-packs).

(RSS readers may need to click through to view.)

Tullian on the White Horse Inn and at College Church

Tullian Tchividjian is the latest guest on the White Horse Inn, talking about his book Unfashionable.

For those in Chicagoland, Tullian will be speaking this weekend at College Church in Wheaton. From 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 11, he will talk about how Christians should be "in the world." From 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 12, he will talk about how we should not be "of the world." Then on Sunday morning he will preach at College Church.

Timothy George on John Calvin in CT

Timothy George has the cover story in CT: John Calvin: The Comeback Kid. See also his two sidebar/mini-articles: The Reluctant Reformer and Calvin's Biggest Mistake.

Good Books on Good Writing

A good list by Andy Naselli.

Beckwith-George Dialogue on Catholicism and Evangelicalism

The video of Frank Beckwith and Timothy George is now online at the Wheaton Media Center.

HT: Joe Carter

Here is Collin Hansen's write-up on the evening.

Christian Publishing's Gigantic Conspiracy of Misdirection

From the last page of J.I. Packer's 1973 classic, Knowing God:
We have been brought to the point where we both can and must get our life’s priorities straight. From current Christian publications you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that -ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture, or what have you. But our line of study makes the present day concentration on these things look like a gigantic conspiracy of misdirection. Of course, it is not that; the issues themselves are real and must be dealt with in their place. But it is tragic that, in paying attention to them, so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, and is, and always will be, the true priority for every human being. That is, learning to know God in Christ.
Fred Sanders writes: "Thirty-six years later, I don’t think this complaint about 'current Christian publications' needs any updating; neither, of course, does the solution."

Cf. Packer's comments in another work:
. . . whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God. Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour. We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters. Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us. But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.
Packer, A Quest for Godliness, p. 215 (chapter 12).

Starting a Church Adoption Fund

Here's an upcoming webinar (seminar on the web) on how churches can help families meet the financial challenge to adoption costs.


Well-Read Christians Reading Well

Rick Ritchie, from a 1994 article in Modern Reformation: "There is so much to be gained from reading, but my call is not merely for Christians to read, but to read more, to read more broadly, to read more broadly together." Read the whole thing here.

What Is a Good Teacher?

John Piper's article The Marks of a Spiritual Leader (written in 1995) is well-worth reading slowly and carefully, especially for those entrusted with spiritual leadership.

Here's a section where he seeks to give some of the essential characteristics of a good teacher.
  • A good teacher asks himself the hardest questions, works through to answers, and then frames provocative questions for his learners to stimulate their thinking.
  • A good teacher analyzes his subject matter into parts and sees relationships and discovers the unity of the whole.
  • A good teacher knows the problems learners will have with his subject matter and encourages them and gets them over the humps of discouragement.
  • A good teacher foresees objections and thinks them through so that he can answer them intelligently.
  • A good teacher can put himself in the place of a variety of learners and therefore explain hard things in terms that are clear from their standpoint.
  • A good teacher is concrete, not abstract; specific, not general; precise, not vague; vulnerable, not evasive.
  • A good teacher always asks, "So what?" and tries to see how discoveries shape our whole system of thought. He tries to relate discoveries to life and tries to avoid compartmentalizing.
  • The goal of a good teacher is the transformation of all of life and thought into a Christ-honoring unity.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Alter on LIteralism and Effective Bible Translation

Literary critic Robert Alter on the importance of literal translations--or "semantic precision"--for understanding the order and choice of Hebrew wording in the OT :
My notion of effective translation of the Bible involves a high degree of literalism--within the limits of reasonably acceptable literary English--both in regard to representing the word choice and the word order of the Hebrew. . . . [T]he precedent of the King James Version has played a decisive and constructive role in directing readers of English to a rather literal experience of the Bible, and . . . this precedence can be ignored only at considerable cost, as nearly all the English versions of the Bible done in recent decades show.
Robert Alter, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel (W.W Norton, 1999), xxix. HT: Leland Ryken, Understanding English Bible Translation

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Shack, Fiction, and Non-fictional Characters

Trevin Wax reviews The Shack, finding it better than some have said, and worse than others have said!

I thought this was an insightful point with regard to the challenge of using non-fiction characters in a fictional book:
When you deal with non-fictional characters, you inevitably open yourself up to criticism.

Let’s say you meet an author who wants to use your grandparents as the main characters in a novel. The author tells you that the narrative will be fictional, but that your grandparents will have the starring roles. Sounds great! you think.

But when the manuscript arrives in your hands, you discover that the story does not accurately represent the personalities of your grandparents. The relationship between them is all wrong too. Grandma berates Grandpa. Early on, they run off and elope (which is totally out of character). At one point, they contemplate divorce.

When you complain, the author responds, “Remember? I told you it would be fictional.”

“Yes,” you say, somewhat exasperated, “I knew the story would be fictional, but I thought you would get my grandparents right. The grandparents in your story aren’t anything like my grandparents.”

“Who cares?” the author responds. “It’s a work of fiction.”

“Well, I care,” you say, “because people will put down this book thinking that my grandparents were like the way you portrayed them.”

My biggest problem with The Shack is its portrayal of God. I understand that the book is a work of fiction, not a theological treatise, and therefore should be treated as fiction. But the main characters are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are actual Persons. To portray God in a manner inconsistent with his revelation to us in Scripture (and primarily in Jesus) is to misrepresent living Persons.

When people put down The Shack, they will not have a better understanding of the Trinity (despite the glowing blurbs on the back cover). They will probably have a more distorted view of God in three Persons.

You can read the whole review here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Clover Sites: Websites for Churches and Ministries

I mentioned recently on Facebook that if your church or ministry needs to get a new website (as our church does), Clover Sites is the best option I've found so far. They set out to make it beautiful, intuitive, and affordable.

Here's a helpful one-minute promo (RSS readers may have to click through to view the videos):

Clover 60 Second Video from Clover on Vimeo.

Here's a more in-depth (6 minutes) walk-through:

Clover Walkthrough Video from Clover on Vimeo.

Here are the top 10 features they have identified:

1. Beautiful Websites

You can finally step proudly into this decade with the most clean, current, and engaging designs on the market.

2. Designed Specifically for Ministries
Clover was created specifically for ministries. No more trying to force-fit a tool into your specific needs. Clover is for you.

3. Instant Delivery (Get your website today!)
There is no waiting at all. Within seconds of purchasing your Clover site you can begin editing.

4. No Training Required
Clover does not come with an instruction manual. No one has ever asked for one. Proof? Demo everything today.

5. Have Sermons, Videos, and Resources on Your Site
All the functionalities you would expect from a website are available to you through Clover.

6. Online Calendar
Engage your community with a current (and easily updatable) calendar of events and gatherings.

7. Easiest Content Management Tool Ever
Every Clover website comes with our custom designed, revolutionary site editor, The Greenhouse. Beauty meets brains.

8. Optimized for Search Engines
Clover websites are optimized for Google, Yahoo, and all the search engines out there. If people are looking, they'll find you!

9. Easily Change Colors, Page Layouts, Photos and Text
Once you've used The Greenhouse, you'll wish every piece of software worked like this. You have to see it to believe it.

10. Priced for Ministries
We created a tool for ministries that real people can afford.
$1000 one-time fee, plus $20/month for hosting and support.

Over at their site you can demo their product for free.

Apologetics Primary Source Reader

Here's a new book out that looks great: Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader, edited by William Edgar and Scott Oliphint (Crossway, 2009).

This, the first of two volumes, goes up to 1500 and is in two parts: (1) The Early Church: The Struggle for Vindication; (2) The Middle Ages: The Church Becomes Established.

At WTS Books you can get some sample pages, which contain the table of contents and the introduction.

It's a 500-page hardcover. Each major historical section contains a preface, a time, and a map, then an introduction to each apologist and their primary material. Each source text is then followed by questions for reflection/discussion. I'm not aware of anything quite like this on apologetics.

Here are the blurbs:

"The texts here assembled are 'classics'--not in the sense that they answer all legitimate questions about Christianity, but that, when they were written, they made their readers think hard about the faith, and that they continue to do so today. This is a most worthy collection."
- Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"For years I have wanted a book of primary sources in apologetics to use in my classes. Now we have an excellent one in this volume. Editors Edgar and Oliphint have made good choices in the selections used. A number of them are fascinating pieces rarely considered today, but timely, such as Raymond Lull’s critique of Islam."
- John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

"In an age of historical amnesia such as ours is, nothing could be more helpful than to know how the church, in its long march through time, has addressed the opponents of Christian faith. This collection is superbly done and will bring much needed wisdom to our own times."
- David F. Wells, Distinguished Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Understanding apologetics as explicating, affirming, and vindicating Christianity in the face of uncertainty and skepticism, Edgar and Oliphint have skillfully selected the best pre-Reformation sources to introduce us to this ongoing task. Their volume, the first of two, fills a gap in scholarly resources and highlights the strength, wisdom, and solidity of defenders of the faith in earlier times."
- J. I. Packer, Board of Governors Professor of Theology, Regent College

"This reader on the classical traditions of Christian apologetics is, to my knowledge, unmatched in basic compendia. It will equip and encourage thoughtful Christians to develop equally compelling defenses of the faith in our post-Enlightenment, post- Romantic, post-Postmodern era where global interdependencies plunge many into new varieties of suspicion, contempt, and hostility that demand reasonable and faith-filled encounter, dialogue, and debate."
- Max L. Stackhouse, De Vries Professor of Theology and Public Life Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Bill Edgar, one of evangelicalism’s most valued scholars and apologists, has given us in this work with Scott Oliphint a classic destined to be used for generations. I highly recommend it to all who are called to defend the faith."
- Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship

The book is also available from Amazon.

SBTS Panel on Wright and Justification

A panel moderated by Al Mohler, with Denny Burk, Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, and Brian Vickers, on September 3, 2009 (at Southern Seminary):

CBD Sale

Just noticed that their weekend sale has the ESV Study Bible (hardcover) for 50% off, and John MacArthur's The Truth War (hardcover) for $3.99.

If You Only Read One Thing on Health Care

Lots of people are saying that the best piece on health care is now this 10,000+ word essay by David Goldhill entitled How American Health Care Killed My Father, published in the September 2009 issue of The Atlantic. I don't know anything about Goldhill except that he is a Democrat and a business executive. But the piece will definitely inform you and cause much food for thought. Here's The Atlantic's summary:
After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here’s a radical solution to an agonizing problem.
Here is how David Brooks opens his op-ed in today's NYT:
If I were magically given an hour to help Barack Obama prepare for his health care speech next week, the first thing I’d do is ask him to read David Goldhill’s essay, “How American Health Care Killed My Father,” in the current issue of The Atlantic.
Joe Carter at First Things:
The forthcoming issue of the Atlantic includes one of the most sensible and pragmatic articles on the health care debate you’re likely to ever read.
John Schwenkler , who says this may be the best piece he's ever read on the issue and that it's "absolutely worth reading carefully and in its entirety," tries to identify the top 10 points in the 10,000+ word piece:
  1. We treat “health insurance” and “health care” as synonymous, but they shouldn’t be.
  2. There is a massive moral hazard problem.
  3. We’re the only ones who can pay.
  4. Governments can’t do enough [to] reduce costs.
  5. Regulation limits competitiveness.
  6. Medical providers work to serve the people who pay them, not the people in their care.
  7. The costs of medical technologies are vastly inflated.
  8. The present push for “comprehensive” reform will do nothing to solve the underlying problems.
  9. The proper response is a shift toward consumer-driven care, with subsidies for the poor and a single program of truly catastrophic insurance available to all.
  10. We spend too much money on health care.

Read Schwenkler's post for a summary of each of these points.

Goldhill was recently on NPR's Morning edition, and you can view or listen to the transcript and audio.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

How 20 Popular Websites Looked When They Launched

"From Google to youtube, from craigslist to flickr - how some of today's biggest sites looked back in the early days of their existence"--here.

Praying for Muslims during Ramadan

If you want to use the month of Ramadan (when Muslims fast), here's a day-by-day prayer guide on various peoples you can learn about and pray for. May God draw many to himself through the gospel.

HT: Susan Gingrich

Shopping for Time: Free on Kindle in September

Crossway and Amazon are giving away for free, in the month of September, the Kindle version of Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and Not be Overwhelmed, by Carolyn Mahaney and daughters.

Here's the publisher description:
Overwhelmed. Miserable. Exhausted. These are often the words women use to describe their high-demand lifestyles. How are women who are always on the go expected to cope with the demands of work, family, and ministry? Carolyn Mahaney and her three daughters, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore, and Janelle Bradshaw, draw biblical principles from God’s Word to give women practical advice on how to fulfill and excel in their daily responsibilities.
HT: Challies, Crossway Blog

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Google Books and Scholarship

Some good cautions about relying on Google Books for research.

HT: Scott Clark

Tongues of Fire

In looking at pictures like this of the fire in LA, my mind keeps going back to the Apostle James's statement about the power of the tongue to cause great damage: "How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!" (James 3:5)

Mohler Statement on the NIV2011


Promoting the Gospel

This October Paul Tripp, Tony Rose, and I will be the speakers at the Promoting the Gospel Conference at LaGrange Baptist Church in Kentucky.

On Sunday morning I'll be preaching at the church on defining and displaying the gospel, and on Sunday evening I'll be talking about adoption. On Monday at the conference I'll talk on the gospel and the internet, and on Wednesday I'll talk about defining and defending the gospel.

Doug Wolter sent over a few questions for me in advance of the conference, and you can read our conversation here.

(Fixed the link. Sorry.)

New Godawa Book on Story and Imagination

Brian Godawa is the screenwriter of one of my favorite films, To End All Wars, and the author of a good book, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment (IVP, 2002).

His new IVP book is Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination, just published.

Here are a few endorsements:
"Brian Godawa is that rare breed--a philosopher-artist--who opens our eyes to the aesthetic dimension of spirituality. Cogently argued and fun to read, this book analyzes the rich variety of literary genres found in Scripture itself. Godawa shows convincingly that God interacts with us as whole persons, not only through didactic teaching but also through metaphor, symbol and sacrament."

—Nancy R. Pearcey, Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar, World Journalism Institute, and author of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity

"This is must reading for anyone interested in the huge question of the use of words and the legitimacy of images for theological and apologetic discourse. Brian Godawa has left no stone unturned. Moving insightfully through the Bible, Luther, Calvin, Tolkien, Lewis and, of course, films, Godawa lays to rest the many fears about images and imagination. More than that, he encourages Christians to get involved in the media, with a view to transforming them rather than hiding behind the safe wall of 'Christian art.'"

—William Edgar, professor of apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

"Brian Godawa's book is an exploration of the literary nature of the Bible. It is a spirited and balanced defense of the imagination as a potential conveyer of truth. There is a lot of good literary theory in the book, as well as an autobiographical story line. Pervading all this wealth is a sense of the author's energetic mind. The thoroughness of research makes the book a triumph of scholarship as well."

—Leland Ryken, Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English, Wheaton College, and editor of The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing

"Accessible and engaging, Word Pictures introduces readers to the popular discourse among religious conservatives about visual culture in a mass-mediated society. The strength of Word Pictures lies in the author's fresh explication of biblical passages, 'literarily' situating them in both generic and cultural contexts and then drawing interesting parallels for thinking about contemporary popular art."

—William Romanowski, professor of communication arts and sciences, Calvin College, and author of Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture
You can read the Table of Contents and chapter 1, Confessions of a Modern.