Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interview with McGrath on the Protestant Revolution

Gary Shavey interviews Oxford's Alister McGrath regarding his new book, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution – A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First.

New Books from Welch & Tripp

Paul Tripp and Ed Welch are authors in that special category: anything they write is good and worth reading. So it's always good news to hear when one of them has a new book out. Even better when it happens at the same time!

Welch's new book is called Running Scared: Fear, Worry & the God of Rest. (You can read chapter 1 online.)

(With regard to Welch's book, When People Are Big and God Is Small, if you don't own at least two copies you're a backslider [to steal a line from George Verwer]!)

Paul Tripp's new book is entitled A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You. (You can read chapter 1 online.)

Calvin and Missions

Ray Van Neste wrote an article on John Calvin and world missions in the Founders Journal.

(See also Frank James's article, Calvin the Evangelist.)

Halloween and Leaving the Light On

For the last couple of years on Halloween I've posted an excerpt of this great post from Tim Challies, and I'll do so again:
I am guessing my neighbourhood is all-too-typical in that people typically arrive home from work and immediately drive their cars into the garage. More often than not they do not emerge again until the next morning when they leave for work once more. We are private, reclusive people who delight in our privacy. We rarely see our neighbors and rarely communicate with them. . . . In the six years we have been living in this area, we have never once had a neighbor come to the door to ask for anything. . . .

Yet on Halloween these barriers all come down. I have the opportunity to greet every person in the neighbourhood. I have the opportunity to introduce myself to the family who moved in just down the row a few weeks ago and to greet some other people I have not seen for weeks or months. At the same time, those people's children will come knocking on my door. We have two possible responses. We can turn the lights out and sit inside, seeking to shelter ourselves from the pagan influence of the little Harry Potters, Batmans and ballerinas, or we can greet them, gush over them, and make them feel welcome. We can prove ourselves to be the family who genuinely cares about our neighbours, or we can be the family who shows that we want to interact with them only on our terms. Most of our neighbors know of our faith and of our supposed concern for them. This is a chance to prove our love for them.

The same contributor to the email list concluded his defense of participating in Halloween with these words: "One night does not a neighbor make (and one night does not a pagan make), but Halloween is the one night of the year where the good neighborliness that flows from being in Christ is communicated and reinforced. We are citizens of another Kingdom where The Light is always on."

The truth is that I have several convictions regarding Halloween. I despise the pagan aspects of it. I am convicted that my children should not dress as little devils or ghosts or monsters. But I am also convicted that there could be no worse witness to the neighbours than having a dark house, especially in a neighbourhood like ours which is small and where every person and every home is highly-visible. We know that, if we choose not to participate, the neighbors will notice and will smile knowingly, supposing that we feel too good to participate.

. . . Our door will be open and the light will be on. And we trust that the Light will shine brightly.

My encouragement to you today is to think and pray about this issue. I do not see Halloween as a great evangelistic occasion. I do not foresee it as a time when the people coming to your door are likely to be saved. But I do think it is a time that you can prove to your neighbors that you care about them, that you care about their children, and that you are glad to be in this world and this culture, even if you are not of this world or this culture. Halloween may serve as a bridge to the hearts of those who live around you who so desperately need a Savior.

(An updated version of Tim's article is here.)

Al Mohler offers a post containing his usual, helpful historical background and cultural analysis. (Upshot: "Christian parents should make careful decisions based on a biblically-informed Christian conscience. Some Halloween practices are clearly out of bounds, others may be strategically transformed, but this takes hard work and may meet with mixed success.")

Can I make a small plea? Can we try to keep any blog comments about this issue respectful, civil, and gracious? This is a topic upon which godly believers can disagree. Let's practice charity in how we interact on it.

Reformation Study Bible

As you can see from the clickable link on the right-hand column of this blog, Ligonier Ministries is offering the hardback Reformation Study Bible (ESV)--today only--for $15.17. There's no limit to the number you can order, and they can't be for resale.

A good way to commemorate Reformation Day!



Due to an overwhelming response, we have now sold through our large supply of Reformation Study Bibles. To all those who joined us in celebrating Reformation Day, thank you for supporting this one-time only event.

This was the first time we have offered a sale like this and are so pleased with the response. We look forward to future opportunities to serve the Christian community.

We are sorry if you were not able to get in early on this one-time event. However, if you would still like to order at the $15.17 price, we have decided to honor this price for the rest of today. Please note that we will not be able to fulfill these orders until February 2008.

Please call our resource consultants at 800-435-4343 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Warm regards in Christ,

Chris Larson
Director of Communications
Ligonier Ministries

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Interview with Jonathan Aitken

CT's Stan Guthrie interviews Jonathan Aitken, author of the new biography on John Newton.

Textual Criticism

Dan Wallace provides the answers to his textual criticism quiz.

Adopting Older Children

Dan Cruver interviews Mark Altrogge on the gospel and adopting older kids.

Response to Club for Growth on Huckabee

Joe Carter responds to the Club for Growth's white paper on Mike Huckabee.

I'm embarrassed that I initially relied on Andrew Roth's white paper when I formed my first impression of Gov. Huckabee. I'm even more embarrassed that others that have read this sloppy analysis believe it is a damning indictment. I've always considered The Club for Growth to be a respectable conservative organization. But their attempts to deceive their fellow conservatives by misrepresenting Huckabee's record have proven they are unworthy of such trust. Pat Toomey and his organization owe Governor Huckabee--and the rest of us--an apology for their attempted deception.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Counseling a Person Tempted to Become Catholic or Orthodox

Michael Horton's answer to the question: " What would you say to an Evangelical tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?"
Here’s how I would counsel such a person: Start with the gospel. The gospel creates and sustains the church, not the other way around. If the Evangelicalism familiar to you has been a constant stream of imperatives—moral exhortation, whether in rigid and legalistic or warm and friendly versions—the antidote is not to follow different rules for attaining justification, but a constant, life-long, unremitting immersion in the good news that Jesus Christ’s obedient life, death, and resurrection are sufficient even to save miserable Christians.

That is what the Reformation was all about, and it is why we need another one, even in Protestantism as much as in any other tradition. If our salvation depends on anything done by us or even within us by the Spirit, then our situation is hopeless.

Despite their own differences, Rome and Orthodoxy are at one in telling us in their official doctrinal statements that this message is wrong—not just in emphasis, but in the doctrine itself. According to Roman Catholic teaching, it is a serious error—heresy, in fact—to believe that we are accepted by God in Jesus Christ apart from any virtuous activity on our part and while we remain in ourselves actually sinful. Our meritorious activity must play some part in our final justification, according to both Rome and Orthodoxy.

One might hear more of God’s grace in the Mass or in John of Damascus’ The Orthodox Faith than in a month of Sundays in many Protestant churches today, even some of our own churches that are confessionally bound to teach otherwise. But in Rome’s official teaching, not to mention in its popular piety, the doctrine that we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone—apart from any inherent righteousness—remains “anathema.”

As the Vatican made clear, the Joint Declaration between the Lutheran World Federation and Rome regarding justification in no way rescinds or qualifies Trent. Only because the LWF partners no longer believe what Trent condemned could the ban be lifted.

There are many insights that we can—indeed, should—learn from the wisdom of these traditions and from ecumenical conversations. Distance breeds suspicion, while personal interaction often not only dispels caricatures but also provides opportunities for genuine spiritual fellowship even where our visible communions remain divided. We should not misrepresent each other’s views or engage in grandstanding polemics, but hope for a genuine reformation of all professing churches that will restore visible unity.

In fact, Reformed and Lutheran churches consider the church fathers and, in Calvin’s expression, even “the better doctors” of the medieval church a common inheritance. Our older systems freely draw on these sources. Continuing the tradition of the apostles communicated normatively through the biblical canon, proclaiming the gospel and administering the sacraments as means of grace, appealing to everything that is conformable to Scripture in every time and place, Reformation Christianity is catholic and Evangelical.

Plantinga's Norton Lectures at SBTS

Notre Dame's Alvin Plantinga, one of the great philosophers of our time (Christian or non-Christian), recently delivered the 2007 Norton Lectures at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here are the audio links:
Update: Links fixed.

Going Bald for the Glory of God

Carl Trueman has a must-read article at Reformation21. Just a snippet:
Yet baldness is nonetheless a great gift from the Lord, in that it imposes a certain dignity on the ageing process by cutting off the various less dignified options (e.g., ponytails, which shouldn’t be sported by anyone over 30; and mullets which, frankly, should not be sported by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Period.). Of course, there are those, even Christians, who fight against this divinely-imposed dignity. Dreadful toupees abound in the church, along with frightful transplants, and the ubiquitous 'comb-over' or 'sweep.' The latter seems predicated on the false notion that, if you have six hairs to stretch across the barren landscape of your otherwise shiny pate, nobody will notice that you have gone completely bald. Or perhaps there is a belief somewhere that, in the country of the bald, the one-haired man is king. Come on, gents, parade your baldness with pride and accept the dignity which your divinely-imposed hair loss brings with it.
But really do read the whole thing, which contains serious, insightful points about youth, culture, and the priorities of the ministry.

Touchstone Forum on Evangelicalism

Touchstone Magazine posed the following questions to Russell Moore, John Franke, Darryl Hart, Michael Horton, David Lyle Jeffrey, and Denny Burk:
  • “How do you define ‘Evangelical,’ in a way that distinguishes Evangelicals from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several decades?”
  • “Has Evangelicalism matured since the 1950s, and if so in what ways?”
  • “Has it lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?”
  • “Are there any fundamental differences within the Evangelical movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?”
  • “What does your movement, speaking generally, fail to see that it ought to see?”
  • “What would you say to an Evangelical tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?”
  • “What has Evangelicalism to offer the wider world that it will find nowhere else?”
  • “What else would you like to say?”
The forum is now online.

Ryken on Union with Christ

Phil Ryken's Reformation 21 article is on justification and union with Christ.

(Check out the rest of the new edition of Reformation 21.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I've been seeing positive reviews for a new movie, Bella.

World Magazine:
Talk to the creators of Bella, a quiet new film with a pro-life theme, and their faces often get a certain look: incredulous, even wonder-struck. Most of the time, they cannot believe their humble production has come so far.

And far it has come for a $3 million movie with an executive producer who had never made films, a director who had never made a feature-length film, and a lead actor who was jobless for three years. Last year Bella won the prestigious People’s Choice Award at the world’s largest film festival in Toronto, competing against Oscar winners such as The Departed and The Queen. In the United States, it is scheduled to open in 30 cities Oct. 26. [Read the whole thing.]

Christianity Today:

Bella is beautiful to watch and hard to resist. . . . I can see why the film won a standing ovation and the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. If Bella affects others the way it did me, that's only the first in a long line of awards that are coming its way."

A review in National Review Online concludes that "Bella is one of the best movies to come along in years."

Here is the official trailer.

Levels of Happiness in Heaven

John Piper writes:
I have recorded a section of Jonathan Edwards' sermon on Romans 2:10. It lasts about seven minutes. The reason I recorded it is that I regard this section as the best thing I have ever read on the issue of varying degrees of reward and happiness and holiness in heaven. It is vintage Edwards. He has thought this through in an amazing way. It opens our eyes to the possibilities of heaven that we have never thought of before. If you want to read and ponder it for yourself, it comes from page 902 of the second volume of The Works of Jonathan Edwards.

O that more and more pastors and people would linger over the glorious truths of Scripture until they open like this.

For more on Edwards on heaven, I'd recommend Sam Storms's talk at the 2003 DG conference:
Joy's Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven.

One of the Best Endings Ever

This has to be seen to be believed. This is the last play of the SCAC title game between Trinity University and Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi (October 27, 2007)--with 0:02 left on the clock:

(HT: Scott Anderson)

"The Evangelical Crackup"

David Kirkpatrick writes a wide-range article in the NYT on The Evangelical Crackup, looking at the relationship between evangelicals and conservative politics. The 7900-word article includes quotes from David Wells, Scot McKnight, and Bill Hybels (among others).

(HT: Andy Naselli)

Update: Joe Carter offers some thoughts in response.

Update: Richard John Neuhaus responds.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interview with Doug Pagitt

For those who believe that Doug Pagitt's theology is basically orthodox, this interview makes such a proposition much, much harder to defend.

Unfortunately, the clip of the interview isn't isolated in its own audio file. Skip the first 5 minutes.

Good Movies

Steve McCoy wants me to share my three favorite albums and to tag three other bloggers. Since I'm not much of a music guy (can't remember the last album I bought), since I don't do chain letters, and since I have a contrarian streak to me--I'll just go ahead and list some of my favorite movies:

1. To End All Wars
2. Saints and Soldiers
3. Glory
4. Hoosiers
5. Cinderella Man

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hansen Files

Collin Hansen's Theology in the News article--focusing on fundamentalism--is online.

"Facing Reality"

Saturday (tomorrow) the Fox News Channel will air a documentary on women facing abortion. Kathryn Jean Lopez reviews it.

"Hanging Out" to the Glory of God

Jim Ellif offers some wise advice about being intentional and hanging out (advice I need, being on the introverted end of the spectrum!):
  1. Find a hanging out place, or several, in your area. This will be easier for some than others. I've even spent some time in the local hamburger place. For most this will have to be early in the morning before work, but others may be able to invest a bit more. The morning usually attracts the "regulars" that you will be best able to connect with.
  2. Learn the names of the people you meet. It is good to jot their names down somewhere for reference.
  3. Take your Bible and spend time reading it, writing notes in your notebook, or reading a good Christian book while out.
  4. Keep a friendly, approachable look about you. Speak to people. Introduce yourself and find out about them. Focus much of your talk on them. They'll also be curious about you.
  5. Seek to get to the layer of philosophical talk. What do these new friends believe about important issues of life and death? This makes for deeper and more significant relationships.
  6. You will find that they will be curious about you and your beliefs also. Talk freely about what you believe and how you approach life.
  7. Make friends, real friends, who will be important to you no matter what their spiritual preferences are. Love them for who they are.
  8. If you have read something interesting that you can pass on, by all means do so, especially if it has something to do with the true love of your life, Jesus Christ.
  9. Expect God to do something. Christians make a difference! You might help a fellow believer or a person who does not have a spiritual bone in his body. You never know what God may be doing. The world reacts and responds to "lighted" Christians.
Ellif also writes: "If you had just three years to make a major impact on the world, what would you do? Jesus spent His three years in constant motion, being with people as much as possible, and pulling away as necessary to pray and meditate. He gave special attention to the disciples, but, regardless, it was people that Jesus was about."

Read the whole thing

(HT: Jeff Brewer)

Pierced for Our Transgressions: Finally Available in U.S.

The book Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution is finally available in the U.S.

You can read John Piper's foreword and chapter 1 online.

Westminster Bookstore is offering a special price of 40% off (until Nov. 2).

Here are just a few of the endorsements:

“The Bible historically has been understood to teach explicitly and implicitly that Christ died as a penal substitute for sinners. That’s what this excellent volume teaches us, too. Carefully studying the primary biblical texts and then answering numerous objections, this book explains and defends the understanding that Christ died in our place, taking our penalty for us. From the biblical material to patristic quotations, from pastoral implications to present objections, this book is a responsible and comprehensive introduction. All the authors’ careful work promises to make this book the new standard text on Christ’s atoning work. Now, I can’t wait to read it again, devotionally.”
Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church

“This book is important not only because it deals so competently with what lies at the heart of Christ’s cross work, but because it responds effectively to a new generation of people who are not listening very carefully to what either Scripture or history says.”
D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“One of the most comprehensive treatments available of the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. The writing is clear and understandable to non-specialists, but its authors fully understand the technical issues, so that the book makes a real contribution to the academic discussion as well.”
John M. Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary, formerly of Westminster Theological Seminary

“This book is faithful to Scripture, knowledgeable of history, conversant with current debate, and deeply committed to seeing the church flourish in our day.”
David F. Wells, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“An important scholarly contribution to a current doctrinal debate with enormous spiritual and pastoral implications.”
Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School

“The authors defend the doctrine of penal substitution with sparkling clarity and winsome logic.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I commend this book for its comprehensive and fair scrutiny of the many objections brought against the doctrine of penal substitution in recent years.”
I. Howard Marshall, emeritus professor, University of Aberdeen

“A very significant book. The authors have carefully and convincingly evaluated the biblical material on which the teaching of penal substitution has been based and reaffirmed it.”
Peter T. O’Brien, Moore Theological College

A person’s attitude to the cross tells you much about their theology as a whole, as it is on Calvary that we see the divine response to the human predicament. Thus, the perennial attempts throughout church history to relativize and even deny the propitiatory and substitutionary nature of Christ’s sacrifice should not simply be understood as peripheral discussions; they indicate a constant tendency to revise the very essence of the Christian faith to conform to wider cultural mores and shibboleths. It is thus a great pleasure to commend a book such as this, which seeks to defend a biblical, orthodox understanding of the atonement and to reinforce the non-negotiable centrality of God’s wrath against sin and merciful grace towards humanity. Careful readers will find much here that will enable them to articulate with clarity and conviction this important gospel doctrine.
Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, Dean of Faculty, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Pierced for our Transgressions is a treasure-trove of information and analysis on the important, yet disputed doctrine of penal substitution. As a biblical scholar, I enthusiastically commend the authors for their careful exegesis of the biblical text. From this point on, critics of the biblical teaching must interact with the arguments of this book. Further, every Christian, whether aware of the debate or not, can greatly benefit from this comprehensive and penetrating treatment of this crucial doctrine.
Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College, and visiting professor of Old Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary


With Huckabee now surpassing Romney for the first time in national polls of Likely Republican Primary Voters, pieces like this will probably become more frequent. Here's a response.

Update: Tim Ellsworth interviews Huckabee.

Slate interviews Huckabee.

Podcast: "Fred Sanders and John Mark Reynolds think through why someone might or might not want to heart Huckabee."

Joe Carter and Lucas Roebuck will be on the Paul Edwards radio show today (5pm ET; click "Listen live") to discuss Fund's column on Huckabee.

The Baghdad Fabulist, the New Republic, and the Golden Ghetto

Peggy Noonan writes on the New Republic's Baghdad fabulist. (Speaking of New Republic fabulists, Shattered Glass is a good movie.)

Noonan, as she is wont to do, draws helpful broader themes from culture trends which I found insightful:
I'll jump here, or lurch I suppose, to something I am concerned about that I think I am observing accurately. It has to do with what sometimes seems to me to be the limited lives that have been or are being lived by the rising generation of American professionals in the arts, journalism, academia and business. They have had good lives, happy lives, but there is a sense with some of them that they didn't so much live it as view it. That they learned too much from media and not enough from life's difficulties. That they saw much of what they know in a film or play and picked up all the memes and themes.

In terms of personal difficulties, they seem to have had less real-life experience, or rather different experiences, than their rougher predecessors. They grew up affluent in a city or suburb, cosseted in material terms, and generally directed toward academic and material success. Their lives seem to have been not crowded or fearful, but relatively peaceful, at least until September 2001, which was very hard.

But this new leadership class, those roughly 35 to 40, grew up in a time when media dominated all. They studied, they entered a top-tier college, and then on to Washington or New York or Los Angeles. But their knowledge, their experience, is necessarily circumscribed. Too much is abstract to them, or symbolic. The education establishment did them few favors. They didn't have to read Dostoevsky, they had to read critiques and deconstruction of Dostoevsky.

I'm not sure it's always good to grow up surrounded by stability, immersed in affluence, and having had it drummed into you that you are entitled to be a member of the next leadership class. To have this background in the modern era is to come from a ghetto, the luckiest ghetto in the world, a golden ghetto beyond whose walls it can be hard to see. There's much to be said for suffering, for being on the outside or the bottom, for having to have fought yourself up and through. It can leave you grounded. It can give you real knowledge not only of the world and of other men but of yourself. In some ways it can leave you less cynical. (Not everything comes down to money.) And in some ways it leaves you just cynical enough.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Principles of Writing

IVP editor Dave Zimmerman has a helpful post on writing a book.

Interview with Dever on Healthy Churches

Gary Shavey interviews Mark Dever about what it means to have a healthy church.

Writing Book Reviews

Tony Reinke offers wise counsel on writing book reviews.

Our Conservative Choice: An Endorsement of Mike Huckabee

[Note: This post is co-authored with Joe Carter and Matthew Anderson.]

When it comes to politics, we three are pragmatic idealists. We are dedicated to the pursuit of noble principles and goals while never forgetting that politics is the "art of the possible." Because we are idealists we are choosing to endorse a candidate who most aligns with our principles and values and is most worthy of our sacred trust. Because we are pragmatists we are choosing to endorse the one candidate who we believe is most capable of defeating Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Because we are pragmatic idealists we are endorsing Gov. Mike Huckabee.

For several months we have admired the scrappy campaign of Gov. Huckabee but believed it would be a wasted effort to support him with our time, energy, and finances. We bought into the notion that he could never get the GOP nomination since conservative voters would not support him. And the reason we were told conservative voters would never support him is because he could not get the nomination. To quote John Piper (from a different context), "It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated."

We can no longer sit idly by and allow the campaign of a worthy candidate and an honorable man to flounder for lack of support.

Only after prayerfully considering the issues, the candidates, and the electoral calculus have we decided to settle on this joint endorsement. We hope that you will join us in careful deliberation of Gov. Huckabee's candidacy and that you will join us in pledging to cast a sacred vote for the office of President of the United States. Our army may go down in defeat, but it won't be because we refused to enlist in this worthy cause.

Addendum: We hope to persuade other conservatives that Gov. Huckabee is capable of not only appealing to the three legs of the conservative coalition—social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and defense conservatives—but to a broader confederation of Republicans and independents. The following is our reasons and rationale:

Social conservatives. Gov. Huckabee is by far the most socially conservative candidate running for President. He supports passage of constitutional amendments to protect the right to life and the definition of marriage; he opposes embryo-destructive research and promises to veto any pro-abortion legislation; he supports policies that ensure children receive "a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water"; he proposes a nine point Veteran’s Bill of Rights; and he emphasizes that there is a religious and moral imperative to conserve resources and protect God’s creation.

Defense conservatives. Gov. Huckabee vows to remain vigilant in the "world war" against Islamic extremism and says that "this threat is one that we cannot negotiate, accommodate, or placate—it is one which we must eradicate"; he supports the Powell Doctrine of using overwhelming force to accomplish a mission; he believes that "Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror" and is committed to defeating Al Qaeda there in order to bring stability to the country; he supports a regional summit so that Iraq’s neighbors become financially and militarily committed to stabilizing Iraq now rather than financially and militarily committed to widening the war later; he is a strong supporter of Israel, "the only fully-functioning democracy in the Middle East, and our greatest friend in that region"; he believes that securing the border is a national security measure and must be done immediately.

Fiscal conservatives. Gov. Huckabee is a candidate that should appeal to fiscal conservatives. He has signed the Presidential Taxpayer Protection Pledge which binds the signer to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates"; he supports the FairTax, which would abolish the IRS and replace the Internal Revenue Code with a consumption tax; he believes in free trade (that is, fair trade) and claims that "globalization, done right, done fairly, can be the equivalent of a big pay raise by allowing us to buy things more cheaply."

Some of us were initially duped by the white paper on Huckabee that was released by the Club for Growth. Even though the CFG is slightly outside of the mainstream on conservative fiscal policies (CFG is to fiscal conservatism what the Christian Coalition is to social conservatism), we respect the organization and appreciate their valuable work. Nevertheless, we were dismayed by their report that was at times misleading, if not outright dishonest.

We acknowledge that the Club for Growth believes that state sales taxes should never be increased to pay for such entitlements as education, Medicare, highways, and economic development. We understand that this is the reason that they oppose Gov. Huckabee’s record. But we believe that most Americans—and most conservatives—are not minarchists. We do not think the fiscal conservative bona fides of a man who cut taxes and fees almost 100 times, saving the taxpayers almost $380 million, and left a surplus of nearly $850 million should be denigrated because he took such actions as implementing a 1/8-cent sales tax hike. Although we respect the CFC, we are dismayed at the disingenuous means that the group has used to smear the Governor’s character. (We plan to issue a point-by-point response to the white paper in a future post.)

Of course, Gov. Huckabee is not a perfect candidate. No candidate ever is or ever will be. But we believe that he possesses qualities that should be appealing and encouraging to all branches of conservatives.

Just as importantly, Gov. Huckabee has the ability to appeal to non-conservative voters. He’s charming and charismatic, a gifted speaker with a quick wit and disarming sense of humor. He is the anti-Hillary.

In many ways, Gov. Huckabee is also an antithesis of President Bush. He has a real chance of being the successor, at least in one aspect, to the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan. Conservatism—and the country—have been deeply hindered by President Bush’s inability to communicate the conservative vision. "Huckabee is something that the party needs," noted David Brooks of the New York Times. "He is a solid conservative who is both temperamentally and substantively different from the conservatives who have led the country over the past few years."

As Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek, recently wrote:

The GOP is in a deep hole and keeps digging. Even after Mike Huckabee won big among attendees at last week’s "Values Voters Convention," many evangelicals have been telling the former Arkansas governor—and onetime Baptist minister—that they like him but won’t back him because he can’t beat Hillary Clinton. They have it exactly backward. He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.
Some of the reasons include the weakness of the other candidates, especially Rudy Giuliani: "[The Mayor's] positions on Iraq, S-CHIP and the need for anti-abortion Supreme Court justices are all deeply unpopular in Blue States and would be hung around his neck next fall." He is also unacceptable to social conservatives and other religious voters. Mitt Romney is considered too slick, too corporate, too calculating, and too Mormon. And Fred Thompson, as Alter notes, "is not ready for prime time."

Huckabee also has an engrossing personal story. Alter continues:

Voters in general elections are less ideological than in primaries and more intrigued by a compelling personal narrative. Huckabee’s story hits closer to home than any other. After chest pains and a diagnosis of diabetes, he lost more than 100 pounds with diet and exercise. He tells the story with wit and grace (as well as the one about his wife’s cancer diagnosis many years ago) and would kill on Oprah. When Huckabee talks about broader health-care issues he does more than brag about Arkansas’s success under his leadership. He speaks in a folksy and comprehensible way that would match up well against Hillary’s facts and figures or Obama’s abstractions. The same holds true on education; his support for large-scale federal support of art and music programs to improve creativity (and thus competitiveness in the global economy) would resonate with millions of voters.

Even on faith and politics, Mike is easy to like. From afar he seemed extreme because he raised his hand in a debate when the candidates were asked en masse if they believed in evolution. But when Bill Maher pressed him to justify that view on his HBO show, Huckabee responded with a nuanced and presentable discussion of the origins of the universe that seemed to pacify even the atheist host. (I found this as well when we discussed the subject some months ago.) He has surely said some wacky right-wing things that could be used against him, but no more than any of the others in the Republican field.

For these reasons and more, we have become persuaded that Mike Huckabee can indeed win the general election for President of the United States. Again, quoting Jonathan Alter of Newsweek: "He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November."

But he cannot win the general election if he does not first win the Republican nomination. Up until now, there have been few who have believed this is possible. But this is starting to change. David Brooks recently wrote, "It’s quickly clear that Huckabee is as good a campaigner as anybody running for president this year. And before too long it becomes easy to come up with reasons why he might have a realistic shot at winning the Republican nomination."

Gov. Huckabee cannot win the nomination without our votes and without our support. Now is the time to act. If you care about the three legs of the conservative stool—social conservatism, fiscal responsibility, and strong defense—and if you do not want four (or eight!) years of Hillary, then you should join us in supporting Mike Huckabee for President.

Make a donation to the Huckabee campaign.

Textual Criticism 101

Dan Wallace posts on Textual Criticism 101.

You can start by taking his 10 point multiple-question quiz on the topic. He promises that answers are forthcoming.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Remains from the "First Temple Period" Found

Leen Ritmeyer is perhaps the world's leading expert on the first century temple mount in Jeruslaem (see his magnum opus, The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem).

Dr. Ritmeyer has a helpful blog, including news today that remains from the first-temple period have apparently been unearthed on the temple mount.

Todd Bolen has more.

Frame on Christ and Culture

John Frame on the transformationalist view of Christ and culture.

For more by Frame on this, see his lectures (in MS Word) on Christ and culture.

Does the Shoe Fit?

David Kotter offers gracious, thoughtful interaction in response to David Gushee's challenge to complementarians.

(HT: Buzzard Blog)

Beowulf the Book

This looks like a nice new adaption of Beowulf for the younger crowd, from the creative folks at Portland Studios.

(HT: Scott Anderson)

Rules for Cultural Engagement

Joe Thorn suggests six thoughtful rules for engaging our culture.

Prestige Colleges

Some wise words from Thomas Sowell on why choosing a big-name university may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Huckabee Interview

Newsweek interviews Huckabee.

(HT: Josh Harris)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Instone-Brewer Responds

David Instone-Brewer responds with some thoughts on the interaction with Piper.

The Case for Mike

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter:
The GOP is in a deep hole and keeps digging. Even after Mike Huckabee won big among attendees at last week's "Values Voters Convention," many evangelicals have been telling the former Arkansas governor—and onetime Baptist minister—that they like him but won't back him because he can't beat Hillary Clinton. They have it exactly backward. He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.

Huckabee? Yes, Huckabee. [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing.

I'm coming to the position that Alter is spot on here. Huckabee has a better chance of beating Hillary than he does beating the rest of the Republican pack. The problem, of course, is his lack of funds.

Here's a summary line that seems to get it right: "Huckabee comes across more hopeful than Giuliani, more believable than Romney, more intelligent than Thompson and fresher than McCain."

If the Republicans somehow nominate Huckabee and the cash flows his way, I think the Republicans have a good chance of beating Hillary. But if the Republicans nominate Romney--much less the other guys--I think we may be in for a rout.

(HT: Bros Harris)

New Attitude and Humble Orthodoxy

The New Attitude site has posted a new video explaining why Na exists, what it's doing to promote "humble orthodoxy," and why it's tied so closely to the local church.

Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, Joshua Harris, and Eric Simmons converse about these issues.

Blogger Conference Call with Huckabee

Press release:
Presidential Candidate and Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will host a media conference call on Monday, Oct. 22, 2007 at 5:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. CT {correction: 6:00 p.m ET / 5:00 p.m. CT} to discuss his first place showing in the on-site “Values Voter” Straw Poll in Washington D.C. and his strong performance at the Republican Presidential Debate in Florida. To reserve a place on the call, please RSVP to by 4:30 p.m. ET/3:330 p.m. CT on Oct. 22.

Kostenberger Interacts

Thanks to all of you who left comments and questions on this blog regarding Andreas Kostenberger's blog post on Piper, Instone-Brewer, divorce, and remarriage.

Kostenberger has read your comments and tries to address the substantive ones here.

Value Voters Summit

Joe Carter offers his Reflections on FRC Action's Values Voter Summit.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

More on Huckabee

Matthew Anderson has a Huckabee roundup, along with a quote from Markos, the hyper-partisan leftist and the most popular blogger:

You want to know who the strongest GOP candidate would be, the one that would make me lose sleep at night?

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The guy is a scary good politician and the more Republican voters see him around the country, the more support he’ll get.

Update: From what I understand, one tip on reading polls is to ignore Gallup and Zogby and only pay attention to Rasmussen (the only poller right now screening for likely voters). Rasmussen has Huckabee moving into the top tier in Iowa--and with Brownback out, those votes should now go to Huckabee too. Dean Barrett has more.

Value Voters Straw Poll

Bryon York:
The results from the Values Voters straw poll are in. As I suggested yesterday, there is a significant difference between the tally that includes Internet ballots and that of just those people who actually attended the conference. Of the conference attendees, Mike Huckabee won with 51 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney was second with ten percent. Fred Thompson was third with eight percent, followed by Tom Tancredo, Rudy Giuliani, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Sam Brownback and Ron Paul.

Looking at the tally that includes Internet voting, Romney won with 27.62 percent of the vote, with Huckabee very close with 27.15 percent. Ron Paul was third with 15 percent, followed by Thompson, Brownback, Hunter, Tancredo, Giuliani, and McCain.
And here's National Review's editor Rich Lowry on Huckabee's speech:
Wow. Let me repeat: Wow. What an incredible communicator. His message has gotten stronger with the accent on Buchanesque nationalist/protectionist notes, and he speaks the language of these kind of voters better than anyone. I found myself getting goose-bumps near the end of his speech when he invoked a long series of Biblical underdogs, beginning with David and his five smooth stones. He made as strong a case as possible for putting all pragmatic considerations aside and going with him. And no one could mistake the shots at Romney, including a reference to candidates who have as many positions as Elvis had sizes to his waist-band. Watch out in Iowa.

Interview with Vanhoozer on Reading Culture

Kevin Vanhoozer is interviewed about the new collection of essays (actually student papers!) he edited, entitled Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends.

Here is one of Vanhoozer's answers from the interview:
Just as we learn how to read step-by-step, you have to teach the basic steps to reading culture. You should start by asking questions of a culture that you would ask of a text. Such as,
  • Who is the author of this?
  • What is the author trying to accomplish?
  • How is this structured?
  • What does the structure tell us about the intent of the people making it?
  • What is it saying, what is it doing, what effect is it having on people?

We need to start asking a barrage of questions.

For more, see this excerpt, or another one: The Gospel According to Safeway

See also the Resurgence interview with Vanhoozer: part 1, part 2.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Billy and Johnny

I was with some friends recently in North Carolina and came across a picture of Billy Graham and Johnny Cash. It's such a great shot, I couldn't resist passing it along:

Whether You Eat or Drink

The GirlTalkers have posted some very helpful interviews on a biblical perspective on eating.

Kostenberger on Divorce, Remarriage, Piper, and Instone-Brewer

Andreas Kostenberger interacts with the Piper/Instone-Brewer articles on divorce and remarriage.

Interview with Piper on Wright

Here is a seven-part interview (audio and transcript) of John Piper on N. T. Wright and justification.

Jesus' Teaching on the Law of God

Outstanding, edifying, illuminating blog post here from Lee Irons on the continuity and newness of the law of Christ.

Keller's "The Reason for God"

Tim Keller explains why he's written a new book (due out on Valentine's Day, 2008). Excerpt:
I've been working for some time on a book for the ordinary (which means very sharp) spiritually skeptical New Yorker. Ever since I got to New York nearly two decades ago I've wished I had a volume to give people that not only answered objections to Christianity (what has been called 'apologetics') but also positively presented the basics of the gospel in an accessible yet substantial way. I had some books that did the one and some that did the other, but only one did both—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. As you know, I think Lewis' book is peerless, and foolish would be the author who tried to replace him!

However, the issues in the public discourse around Christianity have become much more complex than they were in the mid and late 20th century. The questions are now not just philosophical (e.g. Is there evidence for God's existence?) They are also now cultural (Doesn't strong faith make a multicultural society impossible?), political (Doesn't orthodox religion undermine freedom?) and personal. Also fifty years ago, when C.S. Lewis was writing, there was general agreement that rational argument and empirical method were the best ways to discover truth. That consensus has vanished. Today there are deep disagreements over how we know things and how certain we can be about anything. Most of the older books presenting Christianity now are only persuasive and even comprehensible to a very narrow range of people.

All this means that there is a great need for new literature that speaks to our time and says, "Christianity makes sense."

Top 5 Books on the Civil War

Allen Guelzo offers his top 5 books on the civil war.

David Brooks on Mike Huckabee

I consider the NYT's David Brooks to be one of our most astute cultural and political critics, so I think this article is a significant development in Mike Huckabee's candidacy for the presidency:
The first thing you notice about Mike Huckabee is that he has a Mayberry name and a Jim Nabors face. But it’s quickly clear that Huckabee is as good a campaigner as anybody running for president this year. And before too long it becomes easy to come up with reasons why he might have a realistic shot at winning the Republican nomination:

1. Republican voters here and in Iowa are restless. That means that there will be sharp movements during the last 30 days toward whoever seems fresh and hot.

2. Each of the top-tier candidates makes certain parts of the party uncomfortable. Huckabee is the one candidate acceptable to all factions.

3. Huckabee is the most normal person running for president (a trait that might come in handy in a race against Hillary Clinton). . . .

4. He is part of the new generation of evangelical leaders. . . .

5. Though you wouldn’t know it from the past few years, the white working class is the backbone of the G.O.P. Huckabee is most in tune with these voters.

6. He’s a former governor. He talks about issues in a down-to-earth way that other candidates can’t match.

7. He’s a collaborative conservative.
Read the whole thing. Conclusion:

Huckabee has some significant flaws as a candidate. His foreign policy thinking is thin. Some of his policy ideas seem to come off the top of his head (he vows, absurdly, to make the U.S. energy independent within eight years).

But Huckabee is something that the party needs. He is a solid conservative who is both temperamentally and substantively different from the conservatives who have led the country over the past few years.

He’s rising in the polls, especially in Iowa. His popularity with the press corps suggests he could catch a free media wave that would put him in the top tier. He deserves to be there.

Come On, People

Al Mohler recommends the new book, Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, by Bill Cosby and Harvard University psychiatrist Alvin F. Poussaint.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Grudem: Why Evangelicals Should Support Mitt Romney

Wayne Grudem explains why he believes evangelicals should rally behind Mitt Romney's campaign for President of the United States.

He will also be a guest tonight on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

Update: The transcript is here.

Al Mohler on Bob Jones on Mitt Romney

Hugh Hewitt interviews Al Mohler concerning Bob Jones III's endorsement of Mitt Romney for president.

Adoption Interview

Here's some information on a recent radio interview with Voddie Baucham and Dan Cruver about adoption.

Willow Creek Repents

A multi-year qualitative study of Willow Creek reveals that their program-driven philosophy of ministry is not leading to spiritual growth, and Bill Hybels responds: "We made a mistake."

Bill Hybels:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.
Read the whole thing.

(HT: Zach Nielsen)

Justification and Union with Christ

You can listen to or download the audio of Phil Ryken's breakout session from the Gospel Coalition on justification and union with Christ. As the Resurgence site explains, "Dr. Ryken explains just what the imputation of Rightousness means and its direct implications on our relationship to and will Christ. From there, he set out in a theologically rigorous explanation of common-held current-day objections to the traditional Reformed view of justification and where he sees those objections falling short."


Joe Carter provides a 60-second review of the new IVP book, Ex-gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation by Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse.

Piper Responds to Instone-Brewer

John Piper writes on Tragically Widening the Grounds of Legitimate Divorce. Conclusion:
My experience with the issue of divorce (and with the New Perspective on Paul) is that people who talk this way do not generally see the meaning of the New Testament as clearly as those who focus their attention not in the extra-biblical literature but in the New Testament texts themselves. For the ordinary layman who wonders what to do when scholars seem to see what you cannot see, I suggest that you stay with what you can see for yourself.

In sum, what I am pleading for here is that Jesus’ standards for marriage were higher than the rabbinic schools. He is radical, not accommodating. The world we live in needs to see a church that is so satisfied in Christ that its marriages are not abandoned for something as amorphous as “emotional neglect.” The deepest meaning of marriage is to display the covenant-keeping faithfulness of Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:25). And Christ will never divorce his wife and take another.

The Gospel Coalition

Collin Hansen writes in CT about the Gospel Coalition.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reliable Carriers of God's Word

Tullian suggests some questions to discern whether or not a preacher or teacher is a reliable carrier and conveyor of God's Word.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Techno Fasting

Mark Driscoll also posts on fasting from technology (especially during vacations). Here's the conclusion:
I know in years past I too have been guilty of these same digital sins against God, my family, and my own well-being. Now that I see it as a sin that destroys silence, solitude, fellowship, prayerful listening, and meaningfully and attentive friendship, I am deeply convicted that there is a new spiritual discipline of fasting from technology to be mastered. In this way, we can enjoy the life and people that God puts in front of us rather than ignoring them while we peck away with our thumbs and chat about nothing, which in the end is rarely as important as the people we are ignoring all around us.

T4G Ad (R.C. Sproul)

Westminster Bookstore: Relaunched

The Westminster Bookstore (one of my favorite places to get discounted Reformed books) has a redesigned and restructured website that is worth checking out.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Tim Challies reviews Joel Osteen's Become a Better You.

Michael Spencer offers some reactions to the 60 Minutes program last night.

Mohler on Renewing Minds

Al Mohler summarizes and reviews David Dockery's new book, Renewing Minds. Conclusion:
Renewing Minds is a genuine and helpful contribution to evangelical scholarship. Furthermore, it comes from one who leads a major Christian university and has earned the credibility to set forth his vision. This book should be read by pastors, parents, educators -- and all who share a passion to see the renewal of Christian minds in this generation.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Info-Techno Sabbath

Joe Carter has an excellent article here on taking info-techno Sabbaths. Here's the conclusion:
Ask yourself when the last time was that you went an entire day without the tools of information technology. Most of us have an easier time fasting from food than from information. Yet such pauses are desperately needed for understanding and processing the information we receive. Reflection and rest is the only way that we can sift through the stockpiles of data to find kernels of wisdom.

Why not take an info-techno Sabbath this weekend? No doubt your synapses will scream from the perceived dehydration. After drinking from the firehose of information a day without info tech will seem like a year long drought. But by unplugging the god of Technology you might just find something new in the pause — a still small voice sharing the information that truly matters.

Russell Moore

Robert Sagers honors his boss, Russell Moore.

60 Minutes, Osteen, and Horton

James Grant:
Michael Horton will be on 60 Minutes tomorrow night, October 14. White Horse Inn has the information here.

I also noticed that Westminster Seminary California has a collection of article from Horton written after his interview with 60 Minutes. It is titled, “Joel Osteen and the Glory Story: A Case Study.” You can find the collection here, which includes these articles:

Commentary on the NT Use of the OT

Baker Academic has posted online the introduction to, and an excerpt from, the forthcoming Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. The introduction is by the editors, D. A. Carson and G. K. Beale, and the excerpt is by I. Howard Marshall, on Acts 1-2.

Carson and Beale explain that they asked each contributor to discuss the following areas related to each quote/allusion: (1) NT context; (2) OT context; (3) Jewish use; (4) textual factors; (5) nature of the NT connection; (6) theological nature of the NT use of the OT quote or allusion.

The contributors and their assigned books are as follows:
  • Craig Blomberg on Matthew
  • Rikki Watts on Mark
  • David Pao and Eckhard Schnabel on Luke
  • Andreas Köstenberger on John
  • I. Howard Marshall on Acts
  • Mark Seifrid on Romans
  • Brian Rosner and Roy Ciampa on 1 Corinthians
  • Peter Balla on 2 Corinthians
  • Moisés Silva on Galatians and Philippians
  • Frank Thielman on Ephesians
  • G. K. Beale on Colossians
  • Jeffrey Weima on Thessalonians
  • Philip Towner on the Pastoral Epistles
  • George Guthrie on Hebrews
  • D. A. Carson on the General Epistles
  • G. K. Beale and Sean McDonough on Revelation
A couple of endorsements:
"Beale and Carson have given us a volume that will certainly become a standard for all serious Bible readers, ministers, and scholars. We are in their debt. As a preacher, I would especially encourage other preachers to use this volume in honing their understanding of God's Word and in leading their congregations to better understand the Old Testament, the same Scriptures that Jesus taught his disciples. I'm even planning on using this to help select appropriate Scripture readings for public services." --Mark Dever, pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC

"There has been a great need for a comprehensive study of the New Testament's use of the Old Testament. This arduous task has now been accomplished by very competent New Testament scholars, resulting in an excellent reference work. It is well thought out and the style makes it easy to use; a must for every serious student of the Bible." --Harold W. Hoehner, Dallas Theological Seminary
My only disappointment is that--as far as I can tell--the work remains at the inductive level (which is, of course, absolutely essential). I just wish there was also an essay by Beale and Carson that sought to draw some conclusions and suggest some general principles.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Trinity 101

At the DG blog I try to explain the Trinity in the simplest possible terms.

Joe Carter on the Pro-Choice Election Dilemma

When Joe Carter writes, I listen.

Here's his response to the notion of voting for Giuliani, should he be the Republican nominee: "I am a political realist, which is why I am an incrementalist. Because I'm a political realist, I also believe than in the long run electing Rudy Giuliani will be even more detrimental to the pro-life cause than would a Hillary Clinton presidency."

Read the whole thing. Here's the conclusion:
I can only speak for myself but I want to make the message clear: If Republicans choose to spurn the field of pro-life candidates, choose to spit on the values of social conservatives, and choose to remake the GOP into the "party of death", they will do so without me. This isn't a bluff; it’s a statement of principle. I'm a pro-life conservative who will never cast a ballot for a pro-abortion liberal.

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. And God help this country if social conservatives aren't willing to stand with me.

Hillary on Abortion

Paul Kengor, presidential historian and the author most recently of God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life , was recently asked in an interview about Hillary and abortion:

If you’re a pro-lifer, and if no issue is more important to you than the right of an unborn child to have life, then nothing could be more calamitous than a President Hillary Clinton. I don’t know of any politician who is more uncompromising and extreme on abortion rights than Hillary Clinton. I know this well and don’t state it with anger or hyperbole. Her extremism on abortion rights was the single most shocking, inexplicable find in my research on her faith and politics. I couldn’t understand it. No question. It is truly extraordinary. Nothing, no political issue, impassions her like abortion rights. For Mrs. Clinton, abortion-rights is sacred ground.

By the way, speaking of Catholics, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II saw this abortion extremism in Hillary, and both confronted her on it repeatedly, especially Mother Teresa, right up until the day she died. I have a chapter on this in the book. It’s a gripping story.


Red-Letter Christians

Stan Guthrie explains why he's not a "red-letter Christian," and Tony Compolo responds.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Unelectable Hillary

First Things' Joseph Bottum writes on the presidential candidates (scroll down). Regarding the Democrats, he writes:
. . . on the Democratic side, at least, the race appears over. Hillary Clinton has locked up the nomination. Short of catastrophe, she can’t be over­taken in the primaries. Which means (as near as I can tell, a year out from the election) that she will roll like a juggernaut into November 2008 and lose. Just lose. Hillary Clinton is not electable, and any Republican short of Ron Paul should be able to beat her.
By the way, for those who think that Ron Paul could beat Hillary Clinton, I began to compile a list of events that are much more likely:

1. John MacArthur prophesying in tongues.
2. Mark Dever baptizing babies.
3. John Piper laughing uncontrollably at one of his own jokes during a sermon.
4. Mark Driscoll wearing a tuxedo with a pink bow tie and cummerbund.

"Communion with the Triune God": Now Available

I'm very happy to see that Westminster Bookstore is now carrying John Owen's Communion with the Triune God--for 34% off the retail price!

I can't remember whether or not I ever posted John Piper's endorsement of Owen's book. Here it is:
“Among English-speaking theologians and pastors, John Owen and Jonathan Edwards run neck and neck for the first place in profound, faithful, fruitful displays of the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. Not only that, they are both running for first among the ranks of those who show practically how that glory is experienced here and now. Owen may have the edge here. And Communion with the Triune God is his most extraordinary effort. No one else has laid open the paths of personal fellowship with the three persons of the Trinity the way Owen does. What an honor it would be to God if more of his children knew how to enjoy him the way Owen does.”
John Piper, Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis
Westminster Bookstore has also posted the foreword (by Kevin Vanhoozer), the preface, and chapter 1 as a PDF.

Transracial Adoption

Dan Cruver has conducted another very helpful interview with a black pastor on issues related to transracial adoption.

Pseudepigraphy and Pseudonymity in the NT

Matt Harmon has a helpful summary post on the issue of pseudepigraphy and pseudonymity in the NT (the idea that some NT books were falsely attributed to a well-known person, like Paul).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Biblical Foundations (en Espanol)

Andreas Köstenberger's blog, Biblical Foundations, is now available in Spanish:

I think this is a significant development for a number of reasons:

(1) I love the idea of serious biblical scholars blogging; may their tribe increase. I consider Dr. Kostenberger's blog a "bridge blog," helping to close the gap between the academy and the church. I think his blog is a model of how this should be done. His posts are focused. They are meaty yet accessible. I also appreciate that they are not overly lengthy or numerous.

Furthermore, I am a fan of Dr. Kostenberger's work on the family.

I think his book God, Marriage, and Family is a landmark work. In other words, I agree with the blurbers:
“In breadth of coverage, thoroughness of learning, clarity of analysis and argument and, I think, soundness of judgment, this solid, lucid, pastorally angled treatise has no peer. Evangelicals who research, debate, teach, and counsel on gender, sex, marriage, and family will find it an endlessly useful resource. The easy mastery with which the author threads his way through forty years’ special pleadings gives this compendium landmark significance, and I recommend it highly.”

J. I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College

“A generation ago the most influential book on marriage for me was God and Marriage by Geoffrey Bromiley. Now I have been married over 35 years and have sons who are near where I was in their marriages. For them—and for a whole generation under assault on the meaning of marriage and family—I am now looking to Andreas Köstenberger’s new and larger God, Marriage, and Family to do for this generation what Bromiley’s book did for mine. Unlike Bromiley’s book, Köstenberger’s book takes on the challenges of the present explicitly. That is more necessary now than it was 25 years ago. The special value of this book lies again in its pervasive exposition of Scripture. We are adrift in a sea of speculation without this. I am thankful for the book. I plan to give it to my grown children.”
John Piper, Pastor for Preaching, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis

All to say, it seems to me to be a wonderful gift for the church now to have this blog available in Spanish!

Piper on the 50th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged

John Piper writes:

Today, October 10, 2007, is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. As I write this on October 9, 2007, the book is ranked 237 at Amazon. That is phenomenal for a 1,200-page novel that contains philosophical speeches, one of which stretches to 90 uninterrupted pages. The book has sold over six million copies. In one survey from 16 years ago, Atlas Shrugged was ranked second only to the Bible as the book that influenced people most.

My Ayn Rand craze was in the late seventies when I was a professor of Biblical Studies at Bethel College. I read most of what she wrote both fiction and non-fiction. I was attracted and repulsed. I admired and cried. I was blown away with powerful statements of what I believed, and angered that she shut herself up in what Jonathan Edwards called the infinite provincialism of atheism. Her brand of hedonism was so close to my Christian Hedonism and yet so far—like a satellite that comes close to the gravitational pull of truth and then flings off into the darkness of outer space.

Read the whole thing.

Keller on Risks for Evangelicals

Darryl Dash posts an extremely helpful set of notes on a recent talk by Tim Keller in the UK on the risks for evangelicals. Here are the highlights:
  • Evangelicalism used to occupy the middle ground between fundamentalism and liberalism. It was orthodox, pro-scholarship, and facing the world. Recently, evangelicalism has become more hostile and condemning of culture. A younger generation has given up on evangelicalism as a middle ground and are looking for a new consensus. This group goes by a number of names, such as post-evangelicals or the emerging church.

  • A new gospel is being preached about the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ overcoming the evil powers forces of injustice in the world. The pendulum has swung the other way.

  • To respond, evangelicals must understand and practice biblical repentance as a result of believing the gospel. This will allow evangelicals to admit their sins, even if they disagree with 80% of the criticisms from the post-evangelicals, and even if the remaining 20% is expressed poorly. To the degree that we understand the gospel, we will be able to freely admit our shortcomings as an evangelical movement.

  • Don't ever think that we can respond to legitimate criticisms of our practice by defending our doctrine. In defending our doctrines, we have not responded to the criticisms of our practices. Orthopraxy is part of orthodoxy.

  • It is necessary to draw boundaries. What really matters is how we treat the people on the other side of those boundaries. People are watching. We're going to win the younger leaders if we are the most gracious, kind, and the least self-righteous in controversy. The truth will ultimately lose if we hold the right doctrines, but do so with nasty attitudes and a lack of love.

  • We need to approach the controversies with a repentant heart corporately and say, "Despite all the bad things that are being said here, there's a core of truth here and we need to deal with it."
You can read the complete notes here.

Guiliani vs. Clinton: What Should Pro-Lifers Do If It Comes Down to Two Pro-Choice Candidates?

Denny Burk explains why he will not vote for Rudy Giuliani if Giuliani receives the Republican nomination.

And while John Piper hasn't specifically addressed the Giuliani issue, it's clear from this article that Piper is a one-issue voter (abortion) who would never vote for a pro-choice candidate.

Also advocating the single-issue voter model and specifically applying it to Giuliani is Joe Carter. Joe is "an unabashed single-issue voter -- and that issue is justice." In response to the notion that the "perfect can become the enemy of the good," Carter responds: "Indeed this has often been all too true. Politics is the art of the possible, which sometimes requires the sacrifice of the ideal. But we must not compromise too easily or too willingly, lest we forget that the 'good' can become the enemy of the 'just.'"

On the other hand, John Podhoretz (a Jewish conservative commentator) has recently written, "A third-party candidacy on the Right undertaken by even a minimally serious person will, it is true, almost certainly doom any GOP chances in November 2008." Podhoretz goes on:
The purifiers really do face a very stark reality going forward — if they pull the trigger against the GOP and the Democrats win by not much, they will bear the responsibility for the election of someone who will be worse for their issues.Therefore, it should stand to reason at this point that conservatives fearful of a Giuliani candidacy should be rallying behind Thompson. And yet James Dobson has spoken insultingly of Fred and others don't seem particularly excited by him either.The conduct of Religious Right leaders has been entirely baffling. They've have several candidates they could have rallied around as a matter of principle — Huckabee and Brownback in particular. But they haven't done so. It's almost as though they're paralyzed.
As someone who is passionate about the cause of justice for the unborn, I frankly admit that I am conflicted on the issue of what to do if it comes down to two pro-choice candidates in the general election. I think there are compelling arguments on both sides.

I'm inclined toward Melinda Penner's football analogy:
A pro-life candidate gives us the touchdown option. But given the possible scenario of the two main parties having pro-choice nominees, the touchdown is off the table. Pro-lifers can only choose between tying with a field goal or losing the game. A third party candidate doesn't offer the chance for a touchdown . . . .

It would be much better if one of the main candidates is pro-life and offers the winning option. Go for the touchdown, of course. But if our alternatives are lose or draw, I'd prefer to go for the field goal and stay in the game. Stay on the field rather than stand on the sidelines and watch a pro-choicer nominate the next Supreme Court justice.

Here are a few thoughts I have in trying to work through the issues:

  1. I do not want Giuliani to be nominated for the Republican ticket. For those who are convictionally pro-life and want to see justice for the unborn prevail and Roe v. Wade overturned, it seems difficult to support Giuliani's candidacy at this stage when there are other viable pro-life candidates.
  2. The ballgame changes if the race comes down to a pro-choice Republican vs. a pro-choice Democrat.
  3. One has to ask whether or not it can be reasonably ascertained if one pro-choice candidate would be better than the other in terms of the cause of life. The key word, I think, is reasonable. We're not talking infallibility here.
  4. The next president will undoubtedly get to nominate justices to the Supreme Court. No one doubts that Hillary Clinton will nominate judges with a judicial philosophy at odds with constructionalism and originalism.
  5. I think there are good reasons to believe that Giuliani would appoint constructionalists and originalists, as he has promised to do--in part because I think he will want to placate the Republican base. (Even if he does this for only one term in order to win reelection, which I think is doubtful, then the next point still stands.)
  6. One must recognize that if it comes down to Guiliani vs. Clinton, a vote for a third-party candidate will undoubtedly guarantee a Clinton presidency (likely for the next eight years). Read that sentence again. Now read it one more time. I think it's incontrovertible, and I'm not sure some pro-lifers have sufficiently recognized this.
  7. The irony, then, is that being a single-issue voter on the cause of justice for the unborn can actually lead to increased injustice for the unborn.
  8. At the end of the day, perhaps we can categorize the two positions as (1) principled pro-life purity and (2) principled pro-life pragmatism.
  9. It seems that the Religious Right (by which I mean the James Dobson Republicans--the elite evangelical political influencers of soccer moms and the like) are in a pickle: Mitt Romney is a Mormon, Fred Thompson doesn't seem like a Christian, and Mike Huckabee doesn't seem electable. From my seat in the bleachers, it seems like they should pick one and stick with him.
  10. It is a valid, legitimate point that if the Republicans nominate a pro-choice candidate, then this precedence opens the door for the nomination of pro-choice Republican candidates in the future.
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What Is Orthodoxy?

Here is a two-part post by Mark Dever that is well worth reading.

He looks at the essentials of Christianity--those basics we must agree upon. He gives three ways that we learn what we must agree upon, gives a fourfold test you can put on a doctrine to discern its importance, and then gives three things ("the essentials of the essentials") that we must agree upon to have meaningful cooperation as Christians.

Part 1, Part 2.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Global Warming

If you're confused (like me) about what to believe and what not to believe regarding global warming, you may find (like I did) Bjorn Lomborg's WaPo op-ed piece to be a helpful primer.

Here's the upshot of his research: "It's wrong to deny the obvious: The Earth is warming, and we're causing it. But that's not the whole story, and predictions of impending disaster just don't stack up." "We must accept that climate change is real and that we've helped cause it. There is no hoax. But neither is there a looming apocalypse."

Interesting quote: "According to the first complete peer-reviewed survey of climate change's health effects, global warming will actually save lives."

The Kyoto Protocol will save just one bear a year and will reduce the malaria risk by just 0.2 percent over the next century. If all the countries signed on to all aspects of Kyoto and stuck with it for the next century, it would only postpone the effects of global warming by 5 years. Lomborg suggests that this amounts to spending "enormous sums of money doing very little good for the planet a hundred years from now."

Wallace on Moule

Dan Wallace offers a lengthy, informative remembrance of his friend and mentor, C. F. D. Moule, whom Wallace calls "the last of the gentleman scholars."


An excellent post here by Joe Thorn on learning to "unplug" from tech stuff and to be more "present" in the real world.

Divorce and Remarriage

David Instone-Brewer has a helpful summary article here on divorce and remarriage.

Here's the upshot:
Putting all this together gives us a clear and consistent set of rules for divorce and remarriage. Divorce is only allowed for a limited number of grounds that are found in the Old Testament and affirmed in the New Testament:
  • Adultery (in Deuteronomy 24:1, affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19)
  • Emotional and physical neglect (in Exodus 21:10-11, affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7)
  • Abandonment and abuse(included in neglect, as affirmed in 1 Corinthians 7)
In thinking through these issues it may be helpful to consult the following chart, adapted from Andreas Kostenberger's excellent book, God, Marriage, and Family. The chart reflects the majority evangelical view on divorce and remarriage (which I also hold).

Differences of ViewsShammaiHillelJesus
OT background texts for marriageDeut. 24:1-4Deut. 24:1-4Gen. 1:27; 2:24
Meaning of porneiaImmodest behavior or sexual immoralityAny instance where a wife did something displeasing to her husbandImmoral behavior on the part of the spouse, including, but not restricted to, adultery (majority view; see Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3, 6, 8, 9)
Divorce for porneiaRequiredRequiredPermitted
The application of the standard for divorce and remarriageMen onlyMen onlyBoth men and women

(Thanks to Tim Challies for helping me to recreate this chart in HTML!)