Friday, September 29, 2006

Noonan on the Media

Peggy Noonan looks at Fox News, the left and the right, and our loss of standards in media.

DG National Conference

The Desiring God National Conference on the supremacy of Christ in a postmodern world begins tonight.

John Piper posts some quotes from the speakers to whet our appetite.

Tim Challies will be there liveblogging, as well New Attitude and probably others. The A-Team will also be here. (If you'll be liveblogging the conference, leave a link in the comments.) Meanwhile, Kevin Cawley--who apparently would rather read Barth than come to the conference--at least gives us a guide of where to eat and what to do in Minneapolis.

Having read David Wells's latest book and having listened to him lecture for hours on my drive up here, I want to pass along and give a hearty amen to this post that Frank Turk made a few weeks ago regarding Above All Earthly Pow'rs:

(1) If your local Christian bookstore doesn't have it, make them order you two, and give one to the owner of that bookstore. If, after a suitable amount of time has passed, they do not stock that book, just write "Ichabod" over the door and walk away.

(2) If your church is trying out "seeker friendly" or "Emergent" malarky, buy a copy for your pastor and ask him to read it. Remember to treat your pastor, who is tasked with being a preacher and teacher of the word, with double honor, not just politeness. All you can do is ask him to read it, and maybe talk about it to see if it has any impact on what he thinks the local church ought to be.

(3) You personally should read it. It is actually the last book of a 4-part treatment of the modern evangelical church by Wells. If you're really clever, you'll read all 3 -- but the real spiritual body-blows are in this book.

You think this blog is full of big ideas? That book makes this blog look like the Jon Stewart show on the Comedy Channel. Read it, and then read it again.

As far as reviews go, that's not much of a review: it's a rave. I won't review this book because then people who ought to read the book will read the review and feel like they have done their part. You read this book. You personally. Get it at the library, buy it from Amazon, whatever. You read this book.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tolkien Returns

From WorldMagBlog: "While the world awaits news on the film future of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien fans will have a new book to add to their library. Tolkien's son Christopher has spent the past 30 years working on "The Children of Hurin," another tale from the world of The Lord of The Rings. Incomplete versions of the story have been published in other collections. "It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father's long version of the legend of the 'Children of Hurin' as an independent work, between its own covers," Christopher Tolkien said in a statement. The complete work is set to be published in April 2007.

ESV Daily Reading Bible

If you want to see a sample of the new ESV Daily Reading Bible, click here.

Instead of rearranging the biblical text by daily readings (as is done in the One-Year Bibles), Crossway has retained the order and appearance of the Bible, but indicated in the margins what your reading is for the day.

To see an example of how this works, click on the Matthew sample and scroll down to p. 3. In the left-hand margin is the date indicated for that reading(January 1). You read until you come to the next date--in other words, you'd read Matthew 1-2. Then if you look down at the gray bar at the bottom of the page, you'll see listed the other readings for that day. So on January 1, you'd also be reading Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 1.

The Bible also comes with a removable calendar-schedule that allows you to use them as bookmarks and to check off your readings.

The yearlong plan guides you through the OT once, the Psalms twice, and the NT twice.

A paperback version is now available. The hardcover is coming in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Carson on the Evangelistic Strategy of Acts 17

The following is from an article by Don Carson on the evangelistic methodology of the apostle Paul as seen in his Acts 17 address:

Paul confronted a society as different in worldview to the Judeo Christian worldview as is our current society. For a start, it was a pluralistic society with many gods. It was also extraordinarily pluralistic in its wealth of worldviews (the so called 'philosophies' of groups such as the Stoics and Epicureans).

For our purposes, the important thing to note is the framework Paul establishes in the Areopagus address. He takes a big picture approach. He presents the Judeo Christian worldview and confronts their diverse Athenian worldviews, before introducing Jesus.

We can read Paul's address in Acts 17 in about two minutes. However, addresses in the Areopagus could go on for hours. This suggests that every clause in Paul's address is a point that was expounded upon at length. If we want to know what Paul would have said on a particular point, in virtually every case Paul has some treatment of that point elsewhere in his New Testament writings.

He starts by saying,

"I see that in every way you are very religious."

Paul here is neither commending nor denying their religious practices. Rather he is noting their interest in spiritual things.

He goes on to say,

"I even found an altar with this inscription: 'To an Unknown God."

In Athenian culture there were so many gods with so many domains that, in an effort to ensure they did not miss one and suffer the consequences, they had an altar to an unknown god.

Paul perceives a deeper ignorance in their worship of an 'unknown god':

"What you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you."

Paul claims that God is knowable. He is being polite, but a challenge has been cast down.

He then goes on to establish that God

"made the world and everything in it."

God, Paul says, is transcendent. Being distinct from the universe, he is not a pantheistic being. Paul is providing a doctrine of creation, thus ruling out the idea that gods make other gods who make other gods until we finally get down to a god who is willing to soil his hands by making something material. Paul is saying that we have one God who made everything.

He then says that God

"is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands."

God cannot be domesticated by religion. Paul is not denying that God disclosed himself in special ways in the Old Testament temple. What he is saying is that at the end of the day you cannot domesticate God by properly performing sacrifices and religious rites so as to squeeze blessings out of him.


"is not served by human hands as if he needed anything."

God is self-existent - not only in terms of his origins but in terms of his independence. He does not need us at all. Rather it is we who are completely and utterly dependent on God, right down to our very breathing -

"he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

This is quite a reversal of the first century pagan perspective, and of many contemporary popular perceptions of God.

He then says,

"From one man he created every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth"

- thus highlighting the fact that all people have the same ancestor. Many of the ancients thought that different races had different origins.

Paul then hints that something is wrong:

"God did this so that men should seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

This says that there is a need to seek God, but suggests that the human race is alienated from him. It also establishes that however transcendent God is, he is also immanent - he is everywhere, inescapable, and always near us.

Paul has now established an entire framework, and challenged the Athenian worldview at many points, before moving on to sin. He now deals with sin in a fundamental way. He also confronts the dominant Greek view of history - that history is cyclical. The biblical revelation speaks of history as having a beginning, then a period of time during which God does certain things, and then a finally an end. Paul says that

"In the past God overlooked such ignorance,"

but that

"now he commands all people everywhere to repent"


"he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed."

Paul at the Areopagus in Athens has established an entire frame of reference before he gets to Jesus. He has challenged the Greek worldview with his JudeoChristian worldview. If he had presented clichés like 'Jesus died for your sins' before he had established the appropriate frame of reference, people would necessarily have misunderstood what he was saying.

We too, today, in our biblically illiterate society need to establish this biblical framework. This might take five minutes, five hours or five years, but at some stage we have to do it.

Pro-Life and Pro-Democrat?

Princeton's Robert George, one of the clearest moral philosophers of our day, explains in this post why he cannot in good conscience support Democratic candidates for office. Here is his conclusion:

"So, however much one might dislike Republican policies in other areas, it’s clear that the death toll under the Democrats would be so large as to make it unreasonable for Catholic citizens, or citizens of any faith who oppose the taking of innocent human life, to use their votes and influence to help bring the Democratic party into power.

"I find no cause for joy in this. I wish that it were possible for pro-life citizens legitimately to support Democratic candidates. I wish that the party of my parents and grandparents had not placed itself on the wrong side of the most profound human rights issue of our contemporary domestic politics. I wish that the killing of embryonic and fetal human beings by abortion and in biomedical research were resolutely opposed by both parties so that we could cast our votes based on our assessments of the candidates’ and parties’ competing positions on taxation, immigration, education, welfare, health-care reform, national security, and foreign policy. It is hardly satisfactory that pro-life citizens — representing a variety of views on the range of issues in economic, social, and foreign policy — find themselves bound to the Republicans because the only viable alternative is a party that has abandoned its commitment to the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family by embracing abortion and embryo-destructive research."

(HT: Joe Carter)

9 Marks Newsletter

There's a new edition of the 9Marks newsletter now online, including a number of articles on evangelism and being missional.

Piper: What Jesus Demands from the World

John Piper's new (and excellent) book, is now available online as a free PDF (6.3 MB).

“This is now my favorite book by John Piper. In the best tradition of Adolf Schlatter’s Do We Know Jesus? and his ‘hermeneutic of perception,’ What Jesus Demands from the World has changed my life and will certainly change yours because it is based on the pure words of Jesus as revealed in the four Gospels. A must-read for every true follower of Christ.”
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Editor, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; Professor of New Testament and Director of Ph.D. Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This book is a special gift from the pen of John Piper. How long has it been since you carefully reflected upon the authoritative commands of Christ? Through these pages you will encounter the Savior and experience the transforming effects of the gospel. Few endeavors are more worthy of your time.”
C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries

“Scholars, popularists, and now even novelists are falling over each other today in a blind passion to discover an alternative Jesus to the One so magnificently portrayed in the biblical Gospels. In stark and refreshing contrast John Piper clear-sightedly grasps the obvious—the biblical Jesus is worth living for and dying for.”
Sinclair Ferguson, Senior Minister, The First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina

“This is a peculiar book. It assumes that the four Gospels are true and unified. It assumes that Jesus not only does things for us but also makes demands of us. And it assumes that Jesus has authority over everyone regardless of their religion, gender, race, income, sexuality, nationality, or culture. You will likely not agree with every point. But you will hear from a Jesus who is more than a soft-spoken, effeminate, marginalized, Galilean hippie-peasant in a dress and has the peculiar notion that he alone is Lord.”
Mark Driscoll, Pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle

“The Christian gospel is more than just a wonderful offer of saving grace; it is a demand for supreme loyalty, for surrender to the lordship of Jesus. We forget this too easily in our contemporary church, besieged as we are by a philosophy of pluralism that rejects ultimate authority and a culture of rights that scorns submissiveness. But John Piper reminds us of the real truth: obedience to Christ’s commands is our absolute duty; yet, paradoxically, in his service is perfect freedom and joy!”
William J. U. Philip, Minister, St George’s-Tron Church, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

“John Piper reveals in his ‘Word to Biblical Scholars’ his familiarity with the literature and subject matter of the life and teachings of Jesus, and in his comments on the individual demands of Jesus he applies them to everyday living.”
Robert H. Stein, Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Thinking Biblically About T.O.

Erik Raymond seeks to biblically analyze the recent news that star NFL receiver Terrell Owens has attempted suicide.


Tim Challies interviews Mark Dever.

Grade Inflation

Stanley Kurtz offers a helpful history and proposed solution for grade inflation in universities. Conclusion:

"Grade inflation is a cheap way of tricking employers (and students themselves) into believing in achievements that have not been achieved. Putting high grades within easy reach of all students undercuts everyone’s motive to work and punishes students who actually do work hard. This hurts all of us, since society as a whole would benefit from a little more work, higher achievement, and perhaps just a bit less partying, at schools that are supposed to be devoted to excellence. So let’s start a national conversation about the many existing proposals designed to combat grade inflation. Above all, let’s keep an eye on President Brown’s drive to restore class rank to the University of Colorado. Oddly, the shame of the Ward Churchill affair may ultimately end up achieving some good — precisely because the public really can do something about the problems of the politically correct academy."

Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America

This past week I read a new book entitled Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America. The author is Jeffery Sheler, contributing editor for religion at U.S. News & World Report. Sheler is a professing Christian, but not a self-designated evangelical. In his younger days he was actively involved in a fundamentalist Baptist church, then moved on to the Nazarene denomination, and has now migrated to a fairly conservative church within a mainline Presbyterian denomination (I assume PCUSA).

What sets Sheler apart from other writers in this genre is that he desires to be as objective as possible, he has done his homework and talked to the right people, he interviewed a range of folks (not just the "religious right"), and he allows his interviewees to articulate their own views--quoting them at length rather than reproducing slanted summations. As Darrell Bock noted today on his blog, "There is little new here for one who has ranged through evangelicalism, but the beauty of the book is its breadth and sensitivity."

His investigative journey took him to Saddleback (Rick Warren), Colorado Springs (James Dobson), the Creation Festival (Christian music festival), Washington, D.C. (the National Association of Evangelicals' representative), and on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. He also sat down with Al Mohler (president of Southern Seminary) and Richard Mouw (president of Fuller Seminary) to talk about the future of evangelicalism. I found the chapter on Christian music to be among the most insightful in the volume.

Along the way, he sprinkles in helpful historical background sketches of evangeliclaism. (He frequently conversed with Mark Noll throughout the project.)

"As I came to my journey’s end I realized that there had been few real surprises along the way. In my travels around the country I had met many fascinating people, and some who were inspiring. A few I had found perplexing or tedious or simply annoying. For the most part, though, the evangelicals I had met were just extraordinarily normal. Al Mohler was right: Evangelicals are not oddities. They are your neighbor, your doctor, the insurance salesman, the person who checks you out at the grocery store. They are hardworking couples and single parents, callow college students and elderly widows—ordinary people who are trying hard, like the rest of us, to find their way in the world as best they can, carrying for their families and serving God.

"Their distinctive faith obviously sets them apart from those who do not share it. But there is nothing alien or weird about evangelical Christianity. It is a faith well rooted in the cultural and theological traditions of the West. Some among them express crazy notions from time to time about how life works. But in a population of sixty million people that is to be expected. I still believe, as I did starting out, that evangelicals as a group do sometimes face unfair and inaccurate stereotypes, and some of us in the media are at fault for that. But they are not victims, at least not in the ways or as often as some would claim. Their distinctive faith aside, evangelicals are looking and acting more and more like the rest of America. They have found their way into the cultural mainstream, where they are both influencing and being influenced by the society around them." (pp. 297-298)

A pretty fair description, I think. And Sheler here taps into one of the key issues of the day: are evangelicals more influencing or more influenced.

Missing the Point

I was happy to learn this morning that the folks at Breakpoint now have a group blog, called The Point. (HT: Keith Plummer)

But I was a bit shocked to see this post on Mark Driscoll by Anne Morse, frequent co-author with Chuck Colson. Apparently only having read Lauren Sandler's hit piece in, she says that Driscoll is a "fundamentalist" who "urges women to have lots and lots of babies in order to increase the number of people who will vote for conservatives." Morse goes on: "This both objectifies women, who are viewed as baby-making machines, and values babies as a means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. This attitude makes the Christians who teach it little different from those who would create babies in order to use them for spare parts."

I wonder if she ever stopped to ponder whether or not Sandler and Slate got things right. This is one of the problems with slander: even smart people who should know better get swept into it.

(BTW, Morse may be interested in reading Driscoll's thoughts on meeting Colson for the first time, and this subsequent exchange between Driscoll and Colson.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Christ-Centered Preaching

If you've ever wanted to grow in your knowledge of Christ-Centered Preaching, you may want to listen to this free online seminary class by Dr. Bryan Chapell and Dr. Zack Eswine, on the topic of Christ-Centered Preaching: Preparation and Delivery of Sermons.

Here is the outline of lectures
Course Info
1. Word & Witness
2. What's the Big Idea?
3. Text Selection & Interpretation
4. The Road from Text to Sermon
5. Outlining & Arrangement
6A. Propositions & Main Points
6B. Workshop on Homiletical Outlines
7. Introductions
8A. Exposition
8B. Workshop on Sermon Introductions
9. Sermon Divisions & Development
10. Conclusions
11. Classification of Messages
12. Explanation
13. Why to Illustrate
14A. How to Illustrate
14B. How to Illustrate (continued)
15A. Application
15B. Application (continued)
16. Transitions & Dialogical Method
17. Methods of Sermon Presentation
18. Voice & Gesture
19. Dress & Style
20. Old Friends in New Clothes
21. Word & Spirit
22. A Redemptive Approach to Preaching
23. Developing Redemptive Messages
24. Hearing the Application of Redemptive Principles
25. Redemptive Interpretation and Biblical Genre

Tim Keller Online

I may have linked to this before, but if not, here is your one-stop-shop for finding Tim Keller's materials online.

Wells on the Disappearance of Theology

David Wells, lecturing on the Disappearance of Theology in 1992:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4a
Part 4b
Part 5a
Part 5b
Part 6

Romney for Prez

Russ Moore asks: Are social conservatives and evangelicals ready for a Mormon President?


British philosopher Roger Sructon scrutinizes the political rants of Noam Chomsky in this profile. Conclusion:

"Prof. Chomsky is an intelligent man. Not everything he says by way of criticizing his country is wrong. However, he is not valued for his truths but for his rage, which stokes the rage of his admirers. He feeds the self-righteousness of America's enemies, who feed the self-righteousness of Prof. Chomsky. And in the ensuing blaze everything is sacrificed, including the constructive criticism that America so much needs, and that America--unlike its enemies, Prof. Chomsky included--is prepared to listen to."

Also worth noting is his observation, as a Brit, that America is "the only country in the whole world that rewards those who denounce it with the honors and opportunities that make denouncing it into a rewarding way of life."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Big Mike

The NYT Sunday Magazine yesterday ran a lengthy (10,000 word+) profile of Michael Oher. It's an incredible story of how God used a Christian family--and a Christian school willing to take a risk--to turn around the life of a young man with an incredibly bleak future.

(HT: Hugh Hewitt--who rightly says, "If you have no reaction, you have no heart.")

Tactics for Being a Good Ambassador

Gregory Koukl offers some advice on being a good ambassador in sharing the gospel: "These eight tactics will remove some of the obstacles that often get in our way, making it easier for our neighbors to focus on the message, not our methods. The irony is that when our method is skilled, it disappears from focus. But when it is lacking, it becomes the focus instead of the truth we are communicating."

Here's the outline:

1. Be ready.

2. Keep it simple.

3. Avoid religious language and spiritual affectation.

4. Focus on the truth of Christianity, not its personal benefits.

5. Give reasons.

6. Stay Calm.

7. If they want to go, let them leave.

8. But don’t let them leave empty-handed.

For the details, click here to read the whole thing. (You have to do a quick, free registration to access it.)

Letter to the Religious Right

Joe Carter pens a thoughtful letter to the religious right in the US.


If you want to listen to some excellent audio interviews--with the aim of helping to "bridge the gaps between the intellect and the affections, evangelical scholarship and the local church, and the church and contemporary culture"--then you may want to check out the Pensees: Faith Seeking Understanding program, headed up by Keith Plummer. It doesn't like like new interviews for a year or so, but the archives are still up and very helpful.

Elliot Greene and Tyrannus Hall

Rev. Elliot Greene--Assistant Professor of Biblical Languages at Westminster Theological Seminary (Texas Campus) and Assistant Pastor/Missionary at New St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church--is now principal for a new organization, the Tyrannus Hall Foundation for Pastoral Development. The goal of Tyrannus Hall is to train pastors to shepherd the body of Christ.

Here are some quotes from the website, setting forth the vision and the curriculum:

"America is still a ripe mission field, especially in African American and Hispanic communities. As these communities continue to grow, they will be mission fields that will need well-trained, skilled tillers and harvesters."

"Many minority pastors who are laboring in the fields of their communities are unable to attend seminary, away from their families, congregations and, for some, their jobs. Yet they desire growth in their calling and skills. For them, the traditional model of seminary training will not accommodate their life situation.

Their training should be personal and flexible. Instead of requiring them to travel to be trained, the training must travel to them. There are three advantages to this.

(1) The costs involved with seminary training are beyond what many pastors can afford. If the a church has multiple pastors who desire training, the costs escalate even more.
(2) Acculturalization--many minorities (and for that matter foreign Christian ministerial candidates) have had difficulty adjusting to the different culture [of seminary] rather than operating within familiar surroundings.
(3) The rote learning model of traditional education is not conducive to a fruitful learning environment for many minority pastors and church leaders.

seeks to bring near to these men excellent and scholarly theological training in a pastoral/discipleship-oriented way. Although the primary venue for Tyrannus Hall’s ministry will be in America, as the Lord permits, the ministry will embrace opportunities overseas (such as but not limited to Japan, the Philippines and Mexico).

TYRANNUS HALL Foundation for Pastoral Development is committed to:

* To disciple and train ministers who serve in the Spirit of God and who are scripturally learned, doctrinally sound (Reformed), and who are of a relational/disciple-making mindset.
* To provide the training in the context of the pastors’ own ministries in familiar surroundings where overhead costs for teaching facilities are reduced tremendously.
* To produce and supply the ministers with the necessary library resources both for their own learning and for teaching their congregations.
* To provide a forum for follow-up that the ministers could access for encouragement, advice and prayer.
* To instill a vision of expanding the kingdom through planting churches, more specifically and precisely planting other pastors. Some of these pastors can be supported and sponsored by Reformed denominations, such as the PCA.
* To unite pastors in covenant groups to support each other with brotherly love, to pray for each other and to shepherd younger ministers in the same manner and theological vein as they were taught through TYRANNUS HALL.

Four cities have been selected as ministry venues for TYRANNUS HALL. The plan would entail visiting each ministry venue once per quarter doing intensive seminars. Each quarterly visit will involve 18–20 hours of instruction over the course of four days. The quarterly visits will last three years, providing a total of 216 hours of personal instruction.

* Dallas, Texas - Mercy Street Ministries

* Clarksville, Tenn. - First Missionary Baptist Church

* Jackson, Miss. - Redeemer Presbyterian Church

* Sacramento, Calif. - Jubilare Evangelistic Ministries

This seems like a ministry worth supporting and encouraging. (To support them, click here.)
(HT: Reformed Blacks of America)

Amazing Grace

Some early (mixed) reviews are starting to come in for the film, Amazing Grace (on Wilberforce).

Free Enterprise Welfare Program?

That's what it looks like Walmart is trying to do. They've chosen 300 generic long-term drugs and are making them available for $4/month. And Target is now matching the deal.

(HT: Veith)


Some excerpts from Andrée Seu's new WorldMag article on forgiveness:

"Forgiving is the hardest thing you will ever do. That's why most people don't do it. We talk about it, cheer for it, preach on it, and are sure we've practiced it. But mostly the illusion of having forgiven is that the passage of time dulls memory. The ruse will come to light with hair-trigger vengeance when fresh offense hurls in to empty out the gunnysack of half-digested grievances."

"O my brothers, you cannot imagine the exquisite verbal retaliations I have hatched in the idle hours, each more perfect than the last: theologically impeccable, legalistically faultless, poisoned prose polished to a lethal point. Must I now relinquish these? Must I kill the little darlings? Are they not to see the light of day? Such a waste.

"Forgiveness is a brutal mathematical transaction done with fully engaged faculties. It's my pain instead of yours. I eat the debt. I absorb the misery I wanted to dish out on you, and you go scot-free. Beware the forgiveness that is tendered soon after injury; be suspicious. Real forgiveness needs a time lag, for it is wrought in private agony before it ever comes to public amnesty. All true acts of courage are thus done in secret."

Review of "Who Can Be Saved?"

Jim Hamilton reviews Terrance Tiessen’s book, Who Can Be Saved?

Hamilton concludes his lengthy review in this way:

"In my estimation, Accesibilistic Inclusivism [Tiessen's position] is based on extra-biblical considerations, demands that unbiblical theological categories be introduced, denies what the Bible affirms (e.g., that all are without excuse because of general revelation), and affirms what the Bible denies (that people can be saved apart from conscious faith in the promises of God, and now that the Messiah has come, in Jesus the Messiah). Let us take every thought captive to the knowledge of Christ,
and let us take the gospel to the ends of the earth."

This review will appear in the spring 2007 issue of the Trinity Journal.

Goldwater's Legacy

Russell Moore looks at a new documentary about Barry Goldwater--a successful conservative but not a successful father.

Calvinism in the SBC

LifeWay Research recently looked into how many pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention are Calvinists. Here are some of the results.

Tom Ascol has some reflections on this.

(HT: Challies)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Piper on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Here's a brief audio clip of John Piper introducing the new book on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.

President Clinton

I think Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace may--just may--have found an issue that touched a nerve with former President Clinton.

Call me a cynic, but I have to wonder if this angry lashing out at Fox News and Chris Wallace was designed to bolster his wife's presidential run in the eyes of the lefty "Netroots."

Update: Bill Kristol offers some thoughts on why Clinton did this. (Alas, he doesn't HT me for point #2!)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Eschatology Charts

If you want a helpful overview of dispensationalism, historical premillenialism, postmillenialism, and amillenialism, then these charts (prepared by Mark Vander Pol) should be helpful.

MegaChurch Planter

Frank James has a good article here about a successful church planter who started a number of reproducing megachurches.

Do You Love the Church?

"Do you love the church of which Christ has called you to be a member? For all its flaws and frictions, do you have hope that you and your brothers and sisters will one day shine brightly in the beauty of holiness? When your congregation or denomination seems to suffer one spiritual setback after another--'by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distress'--are you tempted to give up on the organizational church and go it on your own? Do the so-called saints you rub elbows with on Sunday seem to be obstacles rather than aids to your friendship with Christ and your growth in his grace? Then look again at the church through Jesus' eyes, and in the bright light of her final destination. Jesus' eyes see all the churches' blemishes and bruises, yet our defects do not diminish his love for us or dim his eager expectation for the day when he will present the church to himself 'in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkel or any such thing' but rather being 'holy and blameless' (Eph. 5:27). When we glimpse the bride through the eyes of her Groom, it lifts our head in hope and calms our frustrated hearts for persevering love for one another."

Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, p. 343.

The Puritan Study

Tony Reinke has been doing some helpful work over at The Puritan Study, examining the question of how to use the wealth of Puritan literature in expositional studies.

(Part 1) The Delights and Pains of a Puritan Study
(Part 2) The Rules of a Puritan Library
(Part 3) The People of a Puritan Library
(Part 4) Why our effective use of the Puritans begins with our Bibles
(Part 5) Print book searches
(Part 6) Electronic searches
(Part 7) Using the Christian Classics Ethereal Library
(Part 8) To Quote or not to Quote?
(Part 9) The Strategy of Building a Puritan Study
(Part 10a) Concluding Thoughts

Owen Online for Logos is now making available for Logos Bible v.3 all 18 public domain writings of John Owen. You can download the individual title at their site, you can download it all in one install package, or one zip file.

They have also done this with Jonathan Edwards's writings as well.

(HT: The Shepherd's Scrapbook)

Lawrence Wright on the Master Plan of Al Qaeda

If you want to get a history of Al Qaeda, the key players, and their plans for the future, it seems that Lawrence Wright is the man to listen to. His material is accessible in a number of different ways: (1) you can read his new book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11; (2) you can read his 7,000+ word essay in The New Yorker; or (3) you can read the transcript from Hugh Hewitt's two-hour interview with Wright. [Those who think that talk radio can't be informative and intellectually stimulating should definitely check out the latter!]

In his online essay, Wright summarizes Al Qaeda's chilling 20-year plan, as expressed in Fouad Hussein's “Al-Zarqawi: The Second Generation of Al Qaeda," which Wright says is "perhaps the most definitive outline of Al Qaeda’s master plan."

Phase 1 ("The Awakening") began on 9/11/01. This lasted until 2003, when the US entered Baghdad.

Phase 2 ("Eye-Opening") will last until the end of 2006, where Iraq will be the breeding ground for recruitments of terrorists against the US. These terrorists will then go back to their own countries.

Phase 3 ("Arising and Standing Up") will last from 2007 to 2010, focusing on Syria and Turkey, but also beginning to confront Israel directly.

Phrase 4 will be from 2011 to 2013, seeking to bring about an end to Arab governments. America will be continually weakened by having to continually expand its circle of confrontation. Al Qaeda will propose gold as the medium of exchange, bringing about the collapse of the dollar and the rise of an Islamic government.

Phrase 5 will take place from 2014 to 2016 and will see the changing of the international balance of power, with the collapse of Europe and the Islamists forming new economic allies like China.

Phrase 6 (2017-2019) will be "total confrontation," and "definitive victory" will be achieved, they predict, in 2020.

Wright's materials on Al Qaeda are well worth reading for those wanting to understand one of the main enemies confronting us today.

Orwell's Rules for Clear Writing

Here are George Orwell's six rules for clear writing, from his famous essay on Politics and English Language:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to
seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of
an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Frank Beckwith: Tenured

The A-Team Blog is reporting the great news that Francis Beckwith of Baylor--recently denied tenure to a wave of criticism--has now been granted tenure.

Friday, September 22, 2006

White Interviews Renihan

James White recently interviewed Jim Renihan, of The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies. They "discussed the London Baptist Confession of Faith, John Owen, and all sorts of related topics, including the active and passive obedience of Christ."

HT: Jeff Downs

Update on Ligonier

Two public statements were issued today by Ligonier Ministries: one by the senior management, and one by CEO Tim Dick. They explain, in part, that they are dropping their lawsuit against blogger Frank Vance. In addition, Don Kistler has categorically denied that Ligonier Ministries defrauded Soli Deo Gloria Publications.

(HT: Challies)

CT Cover Story Online

Collin Hansen's CT cover story on the Young, Restless, and Reformed is now online, along with a short summary of Calvinism.

Owen on Justification

Reformed Heritage Books has just released an unabridged paperback edition of John Owen's classic work on The Doctrine of Justification by Faith. You can order it online here. Below is the copy from the back cover.

"John Owen presents one of the most rigorous defenses of the Reformed doctrine of justification ever written. This reprint of The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, taken from the 19th century edition produced by the Presbyterian Board of Publications, will serve as a welcome improvement for many readers. Latin and Greek quotations have been moved to footnotes, and English translations are given for those large blocks of material that Owen left untranslated. It also contains a new introductory essay by Carl R. Trueman, which analyzes Owen's treatment of justification in light of the highly charged debates of his day. While Owen's work is technical and challenging, this edition is an effort to make his profound exposition more manageable."

From Trueman's essay, drawn from his forthcoming volume on Owen:

"John Owen's treatment of justification is a classic example of Reformed Orthodoxy at its best: rooted in the ongoing Anti-Pelagian trajectory of Western theology and operating within the established Protestant consensus, Owen yet demonstrates the ways in which that consensus was itself under strain, exegetically, theologically, and socially, in the seventeenth century, and how it was necessary for doctrinal formulation of the doctrine to undergo careful elaboration in order to respond to such. In particular, his defense of the imputation of Christ's active and passive righteousness and his vigorous rejection of Baxter's accusations that his theology was antinomian and demanded a doctrine of eternal justification, points towards the covenantal/Christological heart of his theology. As such, he is an example of how federal theology could be deployed to set the Protestant confessional consensus on a much firmer conceptual foundation than was the case in the early Reformation; and also how Reformed Orthodoxy's theological structure is highly elaborate and irreducibleto soundbites about dogmatizing; rather, Owen's treatment exhibits the typical Reformed attention to the exegesis, doctrinal synthesis, and church consensus, and is one more piece of evidence as to how and why the Reformed faith becomes more elaborate in its argumentation during the course of the seventeenth century."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Owen on Sin and Temptation

You can now read online John Piper's foreword, my preface, and Kelly Kapic's introduction to John Owen's Overcoming Sin and Temptation, an edited, annotated, unabridged edition of his classic works. I'll be having more to say about this in a couple of weeks, where (Lord willing) I'll post an offer for how to get it for a good price.

Truth with Love

There's a new book coming out soon on Francis Schaeffer's apologetics, entitled Truth with Love. You can read the introductory material online for free.

I haven't yet read it, but look forward to doing so. Here are the blurbs:

“Truth with Love powerfully demonstrates that while Schaeffer’s thought stands up to scrutiny, it is his distinctive style that enabled him to herald the Christian message with such compelling power.”
William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

“More than a thoughtful assessment of Francis Schaeffer’s apologetics. An encouragement to Christians to love people around them and to bear witness of the truth of the gospel.”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois

“By skillfully and graciously responding to Schaeffer’s critics, Follis reveals how extraordinarily powerful and relevant Schaeffer’s ideas are.”
Rev. Ranald Macaulay, Coordinator, Christian Heritage, The Round Church, Cambridge

“The best introduction to Schaeffer’s apologetics. Follis captures the unity of commitment to the Christian message and a life that lives that message faithfully—a unity that characterized the ministry of Francis Schaeffer.”
Jerram Barrs, Resident Scholar of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary

“The real Francis Schaeffer—Reformed apologist, youth evangelist, lover of God and of people—is here profiled and celebrated. The best appreciation of Schaeffer and his legacy yet written.”
J. I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College; author, Knowing God

Blog Redesign

Thanks for the kind words about the blog redesign. I can take no credit for it, however. Dave Bish, from the Blue Fish Blog and Beginning with Moses, sent me a kind note a few days ago suggesting a couple of tweaks on the site. Because I have no technology skills—e.g., I never know what to do when someone writes to tell me his RSS feed is broken!—I told Dave that I’d be glad to give him the keys for a while and let him come in and rearrange and redesign the blogofurniture. And that’s what he’s done. Feel free to give us some feedback. And thanks, Dave, for graciously giving of your time and skills!

Keller on Being the Church in Our Culture

Here is Tim Keller's call, in a nutshell, for how the church should rightly effect the culture for Christ:

"We need more Christians (1) living long-term in the cities, (2) with a deeper grasp of the gospel, (3) who are creating dynamic counter-cultures inside the city, (4) integrating faith with work, (5) pouring themselves out sacrificially for the common good of the whole city, and (6) contextualizing."

For the details, you can listen to his lecture from the Resurgence Conference on Being the Church in Our Culture.

The other lectures by Keller are on Preaching the Gospel and Doing Justice.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design

Douglas Groothuis reviews Jonathan Wells's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design.

"This book is ideal for the neophyte who wants to get to the bottom of the debate. However, the more seasoned ID reader will also benefit from some new ideas he might have missed in his other reading, as well as from the sheer cognitive pleasure of reading such a well-crafted, courageous, and timely presentation."


Stop the Madness

Van Til Is My Homeboy:

Four Indispensable Books on the War

Hugh Hewitt recommends four essential books for understanding the war with with Islamism fascism.

"Anyone who actually reads these four volumes will certainly be serious, informed, and resolute. They will know the score, long before the next awful thing happens. And we need many such people."

Church Discipline vs Invasion of Privacy

If a church member commits adultery and the elders enact church discipline, informing the congregation, is that an invasion of his privacy? That's the issue in a couple of churches in Texas that have found themselves sued for this issue.

(HT: Thabiti Anyabwile)

Update: Thanks for the correction, Gregory!

Insert Bible

Stephen Smith points us to a free plugin called Insert Bible that allows you to insert the text of the ESV into Microsoft Word alongside the original Hebrew (MT), Greek (LXX, NA27), and Latin (Vulgate). It looks like a handy little tool. Here is what it looks like:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So You Wanna Be a Writer?

Here is the advice of Larry Woiwode--in my opinion one of the great prose writers of the late-20th/early 21st-century:

"Some readers by now are looking for my theory of the way to produce Christian art or write Christian fiction, since theories are what people believe govern the world. They don't, and I have none. I am working out my aesthetics (and perhaps salvation) with each book--with this one--and each book poses unique problems. But I can assure you that you will not begin to form your own aesthetics or way or writing unless you first belong to a church that teaches you fellowship and unity within Christ, and then begin to see writing as your daily humble job within that community. . . .

"The time has come for Christian artists in their communities to begin building that City on a hill again,and I hope that one young student, or even a middle-aged one, will understand what I'm saying and perhaps at this moment sense the stirrings or a first novel. If that student takes scripture seriously, he should know that the more he immerses himself in a particular communion and comes to understandthe ways in which each person within it is essential, the more distinctive and original his writing will be. And I hope that some young woman has begun to visualize her lifework, a shining series of interlocking narratives that will provide the material to repair some of the buildings of the centuries-old tradition of Christian writing. These were left unfinished when the writers of my generation turned aside to imitate our culture rather than turning first to the community that always should be available in Christ."

Larry Woiwode, Acts (Harper Collins, 1993), pp. 74, 75-76.

Piper on How to Respond to Muslim Outrage over the Pope's Recent Comments

John Piper recently addressed the question of How Christians Should Respond to Muslim Outrage at the Pope's Regensburg Message About Violence and Reason.

The whole thing is well worth reading. Here is the outline of his ten points:

1. Admit that the Christian church has often been too entangled with civil governments, with the result that violence has been endorsed by the church as a way of accomplishing religious, and not just civil, goals.

2. Make clear that the use of God-sanctioned violence between Israel and the nations in the Old Testament is no longer God’s will for his people.

3. Admit that there are many Muslims today who do not approve of violence in the spread of Islam.

4. Point out how Islam, in its most sacred writings and authoritative teachings, belittles Jesus Christ, not just occasionally in the news, but constantly by its dominant claims.

5. Point out that, in response to this constant defamation of Jesus Christ, there are no public threats or demands for apologies.

6. Do good to those who hate you—and, of course, those of other faiths who don’t hate you (Luke 6:27).

7. Seek to win others to saving faith in Jesus by persuading with words, not imposing with force.

8. Always be ready to die, but never to kill, for the sake of commending Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for sinners and rose again as the Lord of the universe.

9. Pray for the salvation of all those who belittle Jesus Christ.

10. No matter the cost, continue to exalt and commend Jesus Christ as the great and only Savior that he is.

What "Race" Does Not Explain

Speaking of race, Thabiti explains What "Race" Does Not Explain.

Here is an excerpt:

"The economical explanatory shortcut that the construct suggests is powerful and seemingly intractable. For once you enter into 'race as explanation' for whatever you're discussing, it is almost certain that you will never emerge with a solution premised on anything but 'race.' In other words, you can't solve problems associated with 'race' by thinking about them racially. In my experience (as a trained psychologist focusing on racial identity attitudes, as a student of African and African-American history, as someone who has put in his time working on 'racial' justice at grassroots and national policy levels), 'race' is a trickbag that tears away at the more fundamental anthropology revealed in Scripture from Gen. 1:26,27 to Acts 17:26a."

Race, Covenant, and Corporate Responsibility

Readers may be interested in an exchange Phil Ryken and I have been having on race, covenant, and corporate responsibility. See:

Bible Mapper

Here's a very helpful online program for map development and research, Bible Mapper:

"Bible Mapper is a fully interactive, highly accurate Bible mapping system that helps you quickly and easily create customized maps of the Holy Lands or study a particular period and aspect of Bible history. Bible Mapper enables you to select exactly which types of objects you want to appear on your map (mountain peaks, rivers, contours, political boundaries, etc.) and what terrain imagery (relief and elevation, satellite land cover, etc.) to include. You can also choose which biblical eras to display on the map, and Bible Mapper will correctly include only those cities and boundaries that existed during the selected period. You can tailor your map even further by adding your own comments right on the map. Once you have customized your map, you can print it, save it as a Bible Mapper file and load it back into the viewer later, export it as a bitmap, or copy it to the Windows® clipboard. Bible Mapper can even tell you the exact distance between two points on a map or help you find a certain city or other object on the map. Bible Mapper is the ideal tool for studying and creating maps of the Holy Lands that are customized to your specific needs."

Theology for All Conference

I thought I had posted on this previously, but looking back, my post was truncated, so I'll provide a fuller version here.

Readers in the UK may be interested in the upcoming "Theology for All" Annual conference, which is on Saturday, 30th September, from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm. Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary will address the theme of "Church and Theology Today: What is Really at Stake?"

1. Theology and Everyday Life: The Reformation and Beyond
2. Contemporary Challenges to Theology and Church life
3. What should a theological church look like?

Duke Street Church, Richmond, West London.

Cost £10.00 TFA members / £15.00 non-members
Lunch and refreshments are provided.

For Details and Booking (required) contact:
Theology for All Conferences
(01223) 566601

Location and Directions can be found at

*Theology for All is the new name for the Tyndale Fellowship Associates.

Gathercole on the Preexistent Son

Simon Gathercole, senior lecturer in NT at Aberdeen University, has an important new book coming out from Eerdmans: The Preexistent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Here are the blurbs:

“In New Testament studies few issues are as important as that of the line of movement from God to human beings. Major emphasis is placed on that line, for example, in the Fourth Evangelist’s affirmation of Christ’s preexistence and his being sent into the world by the Father — the dynamic incarnation — with the specific mission of accomplishing the world’s redemption. Can something similar be said of Mark, Matthew, and Luke? Often answered in the negative, this question is reexamined by Gathercole in a study that is as thoroughly exegetical as it is theologically sensitive. Doubly important, then, is the well-founded conclusion that, when the synoptic Jesus frequently says he has ‘come’ for a stated purpose, a prior intent and will of the heavenly and actively preexistent Christ is implied. Indeed, instructed by Gathercole, we find even in the Synoptics the affirmation of a volitional relationship between the Father and the Son before the sending and coming of the latter into a world that is under the control of the servants of Satan. This is a book as important for systematic theology as for Biblical studies.”
— J. Louis Martyn Union Theological Seminary

“Simon Gathercole’s newest book, The Preexistent Son, is an excellent piece of work. It investigates and sheds considerable light on an important but neglected theme. Gathercole, who has emerged in recent years as a major player in New Testament scholarship, demonstrates mastery of the relevant primary and secondary literature. I am impressed by the way he sifts through a great deal of complicated material and presents it in a clear and compelling way. Gathercole has thrown down the gauntlet, and it will be interesting to see how scholars respond. I recommend this book enthusiastically.”
— Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College

“Simon Gathercole makes a strong case with scrupulous attention to the evidence and the views of others. The ramifications of this timely study are numerous and powerful.”
— Larry W. Hurtado, University of Edinburgh

“Simon Gathercole confronts us with the challenging thesis that the Synoptic ‘I have come in order to’ sayings of Jesus imply a christology of preexistence. Through an overwhelming array of examples from ancient Jewish literature, extending from Daniel and Tobit up to Tanhuma and Midrash Mishle, he demonstrates that the closest parallels to these sayings are found in angelic announcements to human addressees. This striking analogy will make it impossible for New Testament scholarship any longer to restrict preexistence christology to John among the canonical Gospels.”
— Friedrich Avemarie, Philipps-Universität Marburg

“Gathercole takes a fresh look at the 'I have come' sayings of Jesus, and makes an excellent case for reading them as referring to the preexistence of Christ. This is an important contribution to the case for 'high' Christology in the Synoptic Gospels. ”
— Richard Bauckham, University of St Andrews

NT Intros and Outlines: Dan Wallace

Dan Wallace, NT professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has written introductions and outlines to each book of the NT. I've found these very helpful in the past.

"The Pope, the Prophet, and the Crisis of Truth"

Al Mohler provides a helpful overview on The Pope, the Prophet, and the Crisis of Truth.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Driscoll and Mars Hill

Mark Driscoll's latest blog post is well worth the read. It's a combination of reflections on recent criticism (including the drive-by hit piece in and an update on where Mars Hill is at after 10 years. Here's the conclusion:

"I know a lot of people, especially idealists with blogs and small churches, think they know what we should teach and what we should do. All I can say is that we are working hard and trying to figure it out, but to be honest, it’s not an easy task. We’re all a bit tired, humbled, and honored that Jesus would use us.

More than ever, I really love Mars Hill. There is no desire in me to do anything but what I'm doing with the people I'm doing it with. I often tell my people that I am giving them my life and intend to preach my own funeral and then climb into my coffin and shut the lid to go see Jesus. The work is hard, we are stretched beyond our limits right now, and I'm actually home sick with the flu after some really long work days lately along with the other elders and deacons. But, deep down I'm really happy. I have seen my kids born in Mars Hill, seen the lives of everyone in my family changed by Mars Hill, and seen myself been transformed by my brothers and sisters in Mars Hill. Not to denigrate any other church, but this is a special place and I'm honored and humbled to be here. And I'm having a lot of fun.

It does sadden me when I see cheap shots taken at our people because, in some ways, they are just getting some of the stray bullets that missed me. I'm sure we'll be here again soon and before long it will seem more normal. I guess I've been taking hits for so long that I'm more accustomed to it. This is one glimpse into the tough and sometimes darker side of the job that I wish I could shield my people from. In some ways, I must confess that I do bring it on myself because at times I do cross lines and I have not learned the art of subtlety.

We're not a perfect people and this is not a perfect church led by perfect men. But we worship the perfect Jesus and He promises to make everything perfect in its time. These seasons are the means by which He sanctifies us to be more like Him if we lean into them with gladness and trust that God is loving and works out all things for our good and His glory.

In conclusion, if anyone wants to pray for us in this crazy season, please do. I would especially appreciate the prayers of our critics because some of their criticisms may in fact be accurate and we are straining to keep up with the wildfire that God has set ablaze in our midst. After ten years we have certainly not figured it all out. But we are sure having a lot of fun together with Jesus and every day is quite an adventure."

Hyper Calvinism

Best line of the day: "There are more pro-life, stay-at-home moms involved in Planned Parenthood than Hyper-Calvinists in the SBC."

If you're one of those who think that the SBC (and the broader Reformed movement) contain a bunch of "hyper-Calvinists," you'll want to read Nathan Finn's post.

Remember, two cardinal rules to debating Calvinism: first, while some Arminians are Armenians and some Armenians are Arminians, Armenians and Arminians are two very different groups. Second, while it's true that some Calvinists can be a bit hyper, that doesn't make them Hyper-Calvinists.

For a good introduction to Hyper-Calvinism--what it is and isn't--check out Spurgeon Vs Hyper Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching by Iain H. Murray. Finn's post also contains a helpful summary by Timothy George.

And if you hear professors referring to the evangelical Reformed movement as "hyper-Calvinism," you can be sure that they are either operating in ignorance or taking cheap shots. Hyper-Calvinism is real--but it's an ugly doctrine that distorts the gospel, and it's not being promoted by today's Reformed teachers.

(HT: Michael Haykin)

Matthias Media: USA

I received the following email from Marty Sweeney, who is heading up the North American division of Matthias Media (originally out of Australia). They brought God-centered resources, including the gospel tract Two Ways to Live, which I blogged about here. Many of you asked how to order these resources in the US:

I'm posting his note with permission:

* * *

The motto of our Six Steps to Encouragement DVD course is “God’s Word changes us; through us, it can change others too.” That’s also a good summary of the publishing goal here at Matthias Media. In God’s grace, our resources aim to be biblically faithful so that God will change you through his Word, and then equip you to share his ministry of salvation with the world.

A benefit in having Matthias Media here in North America is that we’ll not only be able to provide you with the resources, but also with training, guidance and support in using them.

Finally!!! This can happen. After a long delay, our shipment of resources have arrived. This means that Matthias Media (USA) is officially open to serve you. We are excited to offer our North American customers cheaper shipping, speedy delivery and customer service and support that doesn’t require you to call at 1am.

We still have some work to do on our North American website. However, you can visit the site now ( for ordering information, a downloadable order form, and contact details. On the website you can also find a list of our in-stock resources and their $US prices. Further, check the site on a regular basis for up-to-date information on Matthias Media (USA) and our resources.

For now, the best way to place an order is to call me on 1-866-407-4530 or fax your order, shipping and payment information to 724-498-1658. We hope to finish our webstore soon so that you can place your orders online. We accept personal checks, Visa and MasterCard.

On a personal note, do you remember Victor Kiam’s famous tagline about his Remington razor company? He said about Remington, “I liked it so much, I bought the company”. Well, Matthias Media (USA) didn’t begin exactly that way, but his line captures the idea. After using the whole range of Matthias Media resources for many years for myself and in pastoring a church, I became convinced that North America needed to have easier access to this publishing ministry. So, I began talking to and working with the good folks in Sydney about how we could meet this need. A year later, we hope the fruit of these labors – Matthias Media (USA) - will benefit you and your church.

I remain convinced of this ministry, not because I want to sell books, but because I’ve witnessed what God can do when people are engaged in his Word on a regular basis - he changes lives. We pray that for God’s glory, Matthias Media will aid you and your church in hearing and obeying the life-giving Word of God.

Please keep us in prayer as we begin this new venture. And spread the word to your friends!


Marty Sweeney
Ministry Director
Matthias Media (USA)
US phone: 724-498-1668
Toll-free: 1-866-407-4530

Monday, September 18, 2006

What Jesus Demands from the World

Here's an audio clip by John Piper, explaining why he wrote What Jesus Demands from the World.

"Head-in-the-Sand Liberals"

Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, is a bona fide liberal: "I'd like to see taxes raised on the wealthy, drugs decriminalized and homosexuals free to marry. I also think that the Bush administration deserves most of the criticism it has received in the last six years — especially with respect to its waging of the war in Iraq, its scuttling of science and its fiscal irresponsibility." Which makes his comments about liberalism and radical Islam all the more pertinent: "Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies. "

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Burbs Blog

Albert Hsu--IVP editor and author of the new book The Suburban Christian--has a blog by the same title. On the blog he writes:

"Suburbia can be a challenging environment for Christian life and ministry precisely because people's spiritual needs are not always immediately apparent, and the forces at work are much more subtle, often invisible and attitudinal rather than structural. I remember back when I was a kid, during the Cold War '80s, people worried about Soviet communism threatening Christianity. And I thought, never mind communism - our Christianity is already being challenged by suburban secularism, deism, isolationism, materialism and consumerism. We just have a harder time noticing those things. Which means that suburbia needs savvy suburban Christians who will think missionally and herald the gospel and presence of the kingdom of God in ways that connect with suburban people."

Interpretation in the Communion of Saints

Michael Horton: "The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider 'communion of saints' down through the age."

Larry Woiwode
: "There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What Jesus Demands from the World

John Piper's 400-page tome, What Jesus Demands from the World, is coming soon. Here is the book description, along with the blurbs.

The four Gospels are filled with demands straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ. These demands are Jesus’ way of showing us who he is and what he expects of us. They are not the harsh demands of a taskmaster. For example, the demand that we come to Jesus is like the demand of a father to his child in a burning window, “Jump to me!” Or like the demand of a rich, strong, tender, handsome husband to an unfaithful wife, “Come home!” What Jesus demands from the world can be summed up as: “Trust and treasure me above all.” This is good news!

In What Jesus Demands from the World, John Piper has gathered many of Jesus’ demands from the four Gospels. He begins with an introduction that puts the demands in a redemptive-historical context, then concisely examines each demand. The result is an accessible introduction for thoughtful inquirers and new believers, as well as meditative meat for veteran believers who want to know Jesus better.

“The Christian gospel is more than just a wonderful offer of saving grace; it is a demand for supreme loyalty, for surrender to the lordship of Jesus. We forget this too easily in our contemporary church, besieged as we are by a philosophy of pluralism that rejects ultimate authority and a culture of rights that scorns submissiveness. But John Piper reminds us of the real truth: obedience to Christ’s commands is our absolute duty; yet, paradoxically, in his service is perfect freedom and joy!”
William J. U. Philip, Minister, St George’s-Tron Church, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

“John Piper reveals in his ‘Word to Biblical Scholars’ his familiarity with the literature and subject matter of the life and teachings of Jesus, and in his comments on the individual demands of Jesus he applies them to everyday living.”
Robert H. Stein, Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This is now my favorite book by John Piper. In the best tradition of Adolf Schlatter’s Do We Know Jesus? and his ‘hermeneutic of perception,’ What Jesus Demands from the World has changed my life and will certainly change yours because it is based on the pure words of Jesus as revealed in the four Gospels. A must-read for every true follower of Christ.”
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Editor, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; Professor of New Testament and Director of Ph.D. Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This book is a special gift from the pen of John Piper. How long has it been since you carefully reflected upon the authoritative commands of Christ? Through these pages you will encounter the Savior and experience the transforming effects of the gospel. Few endeavors are more worthy of your time.”
C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries

“Scholars, popularists, and now even novelists are falling over each other today in a blind passion to discover an alternative Jesus to the One so magnificently portrayed in the biblical Gospels. In stark and refreshing contrast John Piper clear-sightedly grasps the obvious—the biblical Jesus is worth living for and dying for.”
Sinclair Ferguson, Senior Minister, The First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina

“This is a peculiar book. It assumes that the four Gospels are true and unified. It assumes that Jesus not only does things for us but also makes demands of us. And it assumes that Jesus has authority over everyone regardless of their religion, gender, race, income, sexuality, nationality, or culture. You will likely not agree with every point. But you will hear from a Jesus who is more than a soft-spoken, effeminate, marginalized, Galilean hippie-peasant in a dress and has the peculiar notion that he alone is Lord.”
Mark Driscoll, Pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle

You can read online the following:

Friday, September 15, 2006

ETS 2006

The program schedule for the Evangelical Theological Society is now online. Hugh Hewitt and J. Budziszewski will be among the plenary speakers, addressing "God-blogging" and "true tolerance and the failure of liberal neutrality" respectively

Those interested in politics may want to check out the papers by Wayne Grudem ("The Bush Presidency: An Assessment of the First Six Years in the Light of Biblical Principles"), James Beverley ("Bill Clinton’s Life and Thought: An Evangelical Assessment"), and Stephen Nichols ("Jesus on the Right Wing: Evangelicalism and Politics in America"). Papers by Denny Burk ("The 'Fresh Perspective' on Paul: A Theology of Anti-Americanism") and Anthony Bradley ("Beyond Bono and Jim Wallis: Politics and Economics For Post-Conservative Social Justice") also look interesting.

John Hammett plans to look at patterns of leadership in emerging churches, while Brent Kunkle will explain the essential concerns with the ECM.

There is a whole session devoted to NT exegetical method, based on the forthcoming book, Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis,
ed. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning.

Scott Hafemann, Robert Yarbrough, Jeffrey Niehaus, and Frank Thielman will be examining Yarbrough's The Salvation Historical Fallacy? (2004)

John Piper will be delivering a special guest lecture on William Tyndale and the Vernacular Bible.

Ken Barker will argue that the TNIV is superior to the NIV.

The ETS members will also vote as to whether or not to approve the following resolution:

“For the purpose of advising members regarding the intent and meaning of the reference to biblical inerrancy in the ETS Doctrinal Basis, the Society refers members to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978). The case for biblical inerrancy rests on the absolute trustworthiness of God and Scripture’s testimony to itself. A proper understanding of inerrancy takes into account the language, genres, and intent of Scripture. We reject approaches to Scripture that deny that biblical truth claims are grounded in reality.”

Jonathan Edwards Blog

Some interesting developments over at the JE Blog:

"Praying" Reviewed

Derek Thomas reviews J. I. Packer's new book on prayer. "Praying, then, is a major Christian classic destined to become one of the all time great books on prayer."

Trueman on Owen

If you want an introduction to John Owen's theology, here is a series of five lectures by Carl Trueman on Owen:

The Bible 2.0

David Van Biema of Time Magazine writes about the Bible 2.0, discussing the work of

Sing and Hide the Word

Here's a great way to memorize Scripture: listen to songs that use the exact words from the Word. See, for example, these Scripture memory songs by Mark Altrogge. Sovereign Grace Music's Hide the Word series now has over 120 Bible passages set to song.

The ESV blog interviewed Altrogge last year about this project.

Felt Needs vs. Real Needs

Al Mohler looks at the problem of preaching to felt needs.

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Here are some more endorsements for Suffering and the Sovereignty of God:

With courage and honesty, this book squarely faces some of the toughest challenges for Christians. The writers combine utter faithfulness to Scripture with unassuming authenticity. They write as people whose minds have been shaped by God's Word and whose lives have been formed in the crucible of suffering. This book will challenge you to believe that God is truly sovereign, not just in the safe haven of theological inquiry, but also in the painful messiness of real life. You will be encouraged to live more consistently by God's grace and for His glory.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Pastor, Irvine Presbyterian Church


Most Christians readily rationalize away God’s role in personal and human suffering. In an effort to protect God’s moral nature and His being the source of only that which is good, an understanding of His sovereignty is diminished as well as the glory He derives when we recognize His victory over all that is evil. John Piper and Justin Taylor have collaborated with a number of other writers to communicate a refreshing perspective on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. This is not another theological volume that complicates what appears to be an irreconcilable paradox; it is a book that grows out of practical experience and applies Scripture to a realistic world where we all live.

Jerry Rankin, President

Southern Baptist International Mission Board

For all who don’t live a charmed life, for all who have given themselves to the point of exhaustion, for all who have been betrayed by pious back-stabbers, for all who wonder if they can even go on, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God will be green pastures and deep, still waters. The wisdom of this book stands forth like a kind friend, pointing us to the Crucified and Triumphant One, who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.

Senior Pastor

Christ Presbyterian Church

Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thabiti on Driscoll

Thabiti Anyabwile likes Mark Driscoll.

And have I mentioned that I like both those guys?

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Today I saw the first copies of the new book, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.

You can read the following online:

We were honored and humble to receive the following very kind endorsement of the book by Al Mohler:

"The experience of human suffering has perplexed minds ever since the Fall. For Christians, the question of suffering rises to a new level of importance because of our belief in the sovereignty of our loving and merciful God. In Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, John Piper and friends tackle some of the hardest and most significant issues of Christian concern, producing one of the most honest, faithful, and helpful volumes ever made available to thinking Christians. It is filled with pastoral wisdom, theological conviction, biblical insight, and spiritual counsel. This book answers one of the greatest needs of our times-to affirm the sovereignty of God and to ponder the meaning of human suffering. We need this book."

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

New Testament Theology

Here is G.K. Beale's view of the overriding idea of NT theology:

"Christ's life, death and resurrection through the Spirit launched the end-time new creational kingdom for God's glory."

Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians, p. 23

The Other Side of the Prosperity Doctrine

Carl Trueman on the prosperity problem:

"What always challenges me about prosperity doctrine is that many of us who repudiate it in theory still practice it in reality. Every time we suffer a minor setback and are tempted to curse God in our hearts, that's practical prosperity doctrine. Every time we measure our success by the size of our churches, or the near-eschatological importance of our conferences by the number of attendees and the calibre of the speakers, or our self-worth by the Reformed megastar names we can drop in conversation, we make ourselves vulnerable to accusations that we too are committed to a form of the prosperity doctrine, more subtle and all the more deadly precisely because of that subtlety.

"We are what we are in Christ, nothing more, nothing less. And in his final hours, Christ was friendless, an embarrassment to his disciples, with the fair weather followers and even his closest friends having long since abandoned him; and then, to cap it all, he was crucified. We shouldn't be complacent about the prosperity doctrine; it's not just a problem for 'them'; it's a problem for us too."

The Ambiguously Cured Soul

Tim Challies links to one of my favorite articles by David Powlison, entitled The Ambiguously Cured Soul (originally published in The Journal of Biblical Counseling and reprinted in Powlison's book, Seeing with New Eyes).

In my own experience, this article was extremely helpful in shaping a more biblical view of counseling, sin, and the human condition. I highly recommend it.

Powlison reprints the personal testimony of a married woman (called "Amelia") who struggled for years with lesbian fantasies. After significant Christian counseling she interpreted her experience as the result of having a father who both physically and sexually abused her, and a distant mother who could not love or protect--hence, in her need of unmet love, she played our scenarios of intimacy with other women. Her counselor helped her to see how this caused her current problems and pointed her to God as the only source to meet her deepest love needs.

Powlison, rejoicing for the fruit in this woman's life, nevertheless believes that this counselor has taught her a faulty view of human history (our past is determinative) and a faulty view of the human heart (it's the passive receptable of unmet needs, rather than the biblical picture of the “active-heart-vis-à-vis-God”).

One of the most illuminating parts of the discussion--at least it generated a "ah-ha" moment for me--was when Powlison showed that multiple scenarios could be explained by the history of abusive-dad and distant-mom. For example, the counselee might live an immoral heterosexual lifestyle because of her longing for an intimate relationship with men; she might marry a man just like her dad because she's drawn to that which hurt her; she might isolate herself from the world since she can trust no one; she has a godly marriage having determined to avoid her parents' mistake. Etc.

What follows are some quotes from the article that I've found helpful. Again, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.

History Is Determinative vs. History Is the Context

"When we look at Scripture and lives lived, it is clear that painful life experiences never determine why people think, want, and behave the ways they do. Temptations and trials do not pattern our sins or make our hearts empty. Instead, the past (like both the present and the anticipated future) offers contexts where, when, and with whom the active, will-full heart reveals and expresses itself."

"experience does not finally constrain the heart’s bent and habits."

"the consequences of personal history are infinitely malleable. History explains anything, everything…and nothing."

"Knowledge of a person’s history may be important for many reasons: compassion on sufferers, sympathetic understanding, locating the present within an unfolding story, knowledge of characteristic temptations, and so forth. But it never determines the heart’s proclivities and inclinations."

"Any theory that claims to explain sin actually falls prey to sin’s intellectual effects, and wriggles away from both theological truth and psychological reality."

"Sin is its own final reason. Any theory that claims to explain sin actually falls prey to sin’s intellectual effects, and wriggles away from both theological truth and psychological reality. Sin is the deepest explanation, not just one more problem begging for different and 'deeper' reasons."

The Passive Heart vs. the Active Heart Explanation

Powlison argues against the view that the "heart is a repository of unmet needs, an unfilled void, a passive receptacle determined by painful life experience." "The core motivation theory—the heart as essentially empty, needy, longing, wounded, disappointed in love—derives its structure from secular psychodynamic psychology, and runs counter to the Bible and reality."

"Only the active-worshiping-heart-responsible-before-God finally explains and causes any particular way of life."


"Amelia seems to be a sincere sheep, wanting her Shepherd’s presence, and wanting to put secret sin to death. My criticisms are not about her or the genuine work of a faithful God. But it is sad that one-and-a-half years of counseling engendered two significant strands of false consciousness and two significant gaps in selfunderstanding. It appears that her counselor nourished her with a mixture of Bible truths, half-truths, and fictions. That the Holy Spirit animated the biblical truths and bore fruit in her life anyway is to the praise of God’s glorious grace. That He works despite each of our failings as counselors is always to His credit. But that is no reason for counselors and counseled alike not to put aside the half-truths, fictions, and blind spots mediated by the Therapeutic. My intention in saying all this is not to quibble with what the living God has really done in Amelia’s life. But I do wish to voice disagreement with the interpretive map others placed over her life experiences, and into which she was discipled to think and trust."

"Amelia is an ambiguously cured soul. Her story captures the Therapeutic in action, when it mingles with Christianity into a syncretistic psychotherapy. This is what the ministry of the Word competes with. The Therapeutic is more than ideas to critique. It mispatterns and misdisciples the hearts of Amelias, God’s sheep who need better and more wholesome nourishment. Ministry of the Word must reach Amelias. Yes, we need skills to do broad philosophical and cultural apologetics, but we need other skills, too. The cultural apologetic paints broad strokes in the background, but both preaching and counseling must also do personal apologetics. They must reach into the details of lives lived in the foreground. They must reach Amelia—and her counselor. May Christ make us, each and all, increasingly clear and unambiguous as we grow up in His image!"

You can also read Challies' commentary on the article.