Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sometimes Media Bias Cuts Both Ways

Jake Tapper, ABC News' Senior National Correspondent, reported former president Bill Clinton as saying in a speech, "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

Well, that's not quite what Clinton meant. Here's the full context:
And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada — the rich counties — would say, 'OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' We could do that. But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren.
So the whole point is that it's something we should not do!

(HT: Iain Murray--no, not that Iain Murray!]

Dever to Driscoll's Acts 29

Mark Dever, speaking to Acts 29 church planters in Chicago:
Our differences are enough to separate some of my friends—your brothers and sisters in Christ—from you. And perhaps to separate them from me, now that I’m publicly speaking to you. And I don’t want to minimize either the sincerity or the seriousness of some of their concerns (things like: humor, worldliness, pragmatism, authority).

But I perceive some things in common which outweigh our differences—which the Lord Jesus shall soon enough compose between us, either by our maturing, or by His bringing us home. I long to work with those, and count it a privilege to work with those whom My Savior has purchased with His blood, and with whom I share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I perceive that we have in common the knowledge that God is glorified in sinners being reconciled to Him through Christ. This is not taught by other religions, nor clearly by the ancient Christian churches of the East, or by Rome, by liberal Protestant churches, by Mormons, the churches of Christ, or by groups of self-righteous, legalistic, moralistic Christians. And not only do we together affirm the exclusivity of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone—we agree on the sovereignty of God in life and salvation, the regenerate nature of church members, the importance of church membership and discipline, the baptism of believers alone, the priorities of expositional preaching, and evangelism, the importance of authority and a growing appreciation for the significance of complementarianism. These are not slight matters. And they only fire my desire to encourage you and cheer you on, until you cross that finish line that the Lord lays down for us.

9Marks Report Card

A very interesting approach here by 9Marks ministries: they've released a report card, grading themselves on how well they accomplished their goals last year, and what they plan for 2008. This strikes me as a very helpful thing for ministries to do--both for their own sake, and for the sake of their supporters.

In Not Of

Tullian, who is writing a book for Multnomah/Waterbrook entitled Unfashionable, recently wrote on his blog:
The great nineteenth-century evangelist D. L. Moody was once asked to describe what he thought the relationship between the church and the world ought to be. Should the church reject the world altogether — separating from it so as to avoid contamination? Or should the church embrace the world wholeheartedly — becoming just like it so as to reach the lost? The evangelist answered, “The place for the ship is in the sea; but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.”

Moody rightly outlined the proper relationship between the church and the world: Christians must be in the world but not of the world — a very difficult balance to maintain, as we will see. To be in the world but not of it assumes two extremes that need to be avoided. We need to avoid being culturally removed (failing to be “in the world”). We also need to avoid being culturally relaxed (becoming “of the world”).

To read more, see his post on what it means to be culturally removed, and more recently on what it means to be culturally relaxed. And since he's still writing the book, you can offer feedback on what you think.

Planet Narnia?

Here's the description for a new book out: Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis.
Over the years, scholars have labored to show that C. S. Lewis's famed Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance and the nature of Narnia's symbolism has remained a puzzle. Michael Ward has finally solved the mystery. In Planet Narnia, he argues convincingly that medieval cosmology, a subject which fascinated Lewis throughout his life, provides the imaginative key to the seven novels. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings (including previously unpublished drafts of the Chronicles), Ward shows that the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets--the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn--planets which Lewis described as "spiritual symbols of permanent value" and "especially worthwhile in our own generation." Using these seven symbols, Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles so that the story-line in each book, countless points of ornamental detail, and, most important, the portrayal of the Christ-figure of Aslan, all serve to communicate the governing planetary personality. For instance, in The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader," the sun is the prevailing planetary spirit: magical water turns things to gold, the solar metal; Aslan is seen flying in a sunbeam; and the sun's rising place is actually identified as the destination of the plot: "the very eastern end of the world." Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major reassessment not only of the Chronicles, but of Lewis's whole literary and theological outlook, revealing him to be a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized.
Sounds kind of goofy at first--until you see that it was published by Oxford University Press and contains the following, glowing blurbs:
"I cannot contain my admiration. No other book on Lewis has ever shown such comprehensive knowledge of his works and such depth of insight. This will make Michael Ward's name." --Walter Hooper, Literary Adviser to the Estate of C.S. Lewis

"Noting Michael Ward's claim that he has discovered "the secret imaginative key" to the Narnia books, the sensible reader responds by erecting a castle of scepticism. My own castle was gradually but utterly demolished as I read this thoughtful, scholarly, and vividly-written book. If Ward is wrong, his wrongness is cogent: it illuminates and delights. But I don't think he is wrong. And in revealing the role of the planets in the Chronicles, Ward also gives us the fullest understanding yet of just how deeply Lewis in his own fiction drew upon those medieval and renaissance writers he so loved." --Alan Jacobs, Professor of English, Wheaton College and author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis

"Michael Ward presents an absorbing, learned analysis of C.S. Lewis's bestselling and beloved series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Readily accessible to the average reader, Ward's book reads so much like a detective story that it's difficult to put down." --Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and author of The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud

"All who have enjoyed the The Chronicles of Narnia and indeed are interested in any aspect of Lewis's imaginative work should read Michael Ward's book. He argues convincingly for a hitherto unrecognized inner structure of the Chronicles, and gives excellent reasons for understanding why Lewis should have worked in such a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. Ward has an encyclopedic knowledge of Lewis's writings and uses it to support his theory that each of the seven volumes of the The Chronicles of Narnia is based on the classical, medieval and renaissance mythography of one of the then seven planets. Even those critics who dislike the Narnia books in principle because of their implicit Christianity must consider their planetary structure and its significance. Michael Ward has made an outstanding contribution to Lewis studies." --Derek Brewer, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Cambridge

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Note on Church Discipline

Frank Turk writes a letter to Alexandra Alter, who recently published a critical piece in the Wall Street Journal on church discipline.

Well done.

How Shall We Love Our Muslim Neighbor?

John Piper outlines 9 ways that Christians should love their Muslim neighbors. Be sure to read the whole thing for Scripture references and explanation. Here's the outline:

1. Pray the fullest blessing of Christ on them whether they love you or not.

2. Do good to them in practical ways that meet physical needs.

3. Do not retaliate when personally wronged.

4. Live peaceably with them as much as it depends on you.

5. Pursue their joyful freedom from sin and from condemnation by telling them the truth of Christ.

6. Earnestly desire that they join you in heaven with the Father by showing them the way, Jesus Christ.

7. Seek to comprehend the meaning of what they say, so that your affirmations or criticisms are based on true understanding, not distortion or caricature.

8. Warn them with tears that those who do not receive Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior who takes away the sins of the world will perish under the wrath of God.

9. Don’t mislead them or give them false hope by saying, “Muslims worship the true God.”

T4G Talks

I just got word on the titles of talks for the upcoming Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference. Here they are:

Ligon Duncan: Sound Doctrine – Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry: A Joyful Defense and Declaration of the Necessity and Practicality of Systematic Theology for the Life of the Church

Thabiti Anyabwile: Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church

John MacArthur: The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability

Mark Dever: Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology

R.C. Sproul
: The Curse Motif of the Atonement

Albert Mohler: Why Do They Hate It So? The Doctrine of Substitution

John Piper: How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice

C.J. Mahaney: Sustaining a Pastor's Soul

Also note that Ligonier Ministries has been streaming the 2006 T4G videos on their site. I believe a new one is being posted each weekday. The messages will stay up for 45 days after they first air.

George Offor Is His Homeboy

Tony Reinke explains why he wants to be the 21st century version of George Offor, and the new role he has in serving alongside C.J. Mahaney.

Joe Carter on the Florida Primary

Joe Carter weighs in.

And a good post here on McCain by Ross Douthat.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Interview with Packer on Anglicanism

"In a wide-ranging interview, the Canadian Anglican theologian J.I. Packer talked with David W. Virtue about the state of the Anglican Communion at the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) Winter Conference in Dallas, Texas."

Note this line in particular: "Liberal theology, without the gospel, proves to be the smell of death rather than of life."

HT: James Grant

C.J. Mahaney: Blogger

C. J. Mahaney, with the assistance of Tony Reinke, is starting a blog.

You can read his first (and thus far only) post, which closes with these words:
I think you can anticipate a disproportionate number of posts on one topic, “Christ and him crucified” (1Co 2:2), for that, by the grace of God, is what I am most passionate about. So here would be my hope for this blog, and for the handful of you that will join my family in reading it. If I can somehow draw your attention each week to the hill called Calvary and remind you of the Savior’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for our sins, if I can draw your attention away from yourself and direct your affections to him, then this blog will have served your soul and made some small difference for the glory of God. I pray it does.
Definitely one to bookmark and return to.

Trueman on Evangelicalism

A provocative new article here by Carl Trueman on the nature of evangelicalism. Here's the conclusion:
So I hope this clarifies my position on evangelicalism. I refuse the binary opposition which makes me either an evangelical first, last and only; or a denominationalist who sits in his study taking supercilious potshots at those who do their best to share the gospel with those who need to hear it. Bog standard evangelicalism: I love it; I owe almost everything to it; and I am saddened at the way it has slowly but surely been evacuated of all of its basic and beautiful theology by those who are interested in drawing pay checks and power from its institutions, and performing on its stages, while at the same time dripping spittle on its theological heritage, from the doctrine of the Trinity to justification by grace through faith as understood by the Protestant confessional consensus to basic biblical teaching on homosexuality. And, of course, the problem with these charlatans is not simply a lack of theology; it is a lack of integrity.

Review of Stott's "The Living Church"

Derek Thomas reviews John Stott's The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor.

Good Deal from Sovereign Grace

Bob Kauflin: "From February 1 through February 29, Sovereign Grace will be selling all our CDs for six dollars. With free shipping. In addition, we’ll be selling our Pursuit of Godliness books for five dollars, also with free shipping." Read his post for more info!

So You Want to Be a Writer?

Noel Piper offers some wise counsel.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Great Deal on "Putting Jesus in His Place" has overstocked the must-read book, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, by Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski (with a foreword by Darrell Bock). It's on sale for an incredible $7.96--58% off the retail price! This is a top notch book with an accessible style.

Here are some of the great endorsements it's received:

Martin Hengel Professor Emeritus of University of Tübingen, Germany : An exceedingly readable and intelligible book on a centraloand hotly debatedotheme of the Christian message. The work is based upon a scholarly, well-informed investigation of the most important Christological texts in the New Testament. It gives not only rich biblical information to the reader but also practical pastoral guidance.

Fred Sanders Biola University : You might be surprised to learn that the case for Christ's deity has actually become stronger during the past couple of decades. The average, reasonably l-informed Christian has probably missed out on the flood of new approaches, observations, and lines of argument that have been flowing from the scholarly books and journals lately. Bowman and Komoszewski's Putting Jesus in His Place has gathered the best of all this recent scholarship and put it together in one readable, memorable, and engaging volume. If you graduated from seminary twenty years ago, you need to know that your notes are out of date and that there are exciting new ways of presenting the case that Jesus is God. I know of no other book that gathers such a wide variety of different types of biblical evidence for this doctrine, organizing it clearly and making all the right connections. While reading the book, I found myself at several points thinking, It's too bad that a popular-level book like this can't afford to give the details on some of the more complicated evidence, only to discover that Bowman and Komoszewski plunged right in and provided easy-to-understand summaries of the specialist scholarship. Putting Jesus in His Place is the book I've been looking for to put into the hands of believers who want to understand how the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God.

Rev. Mark D. Roberts, Ph.D. Irvine Presbyterian Church : As a pastor with a commitment to engage in serious scholarship, and as a scholar with a commitment to communicate with non-specialists, I'm always looking for books that address pressing topics in a way that is academically solid yet available to a wide audience. Putting Jesus in His Place is just such a book. Nothing is more critical in today's world than the question of Jesus' true identity. It is often claimed that his divinity was a late invention by the church, and is not taught in the New Testament. Putting Jesus in His Place shows the folly of this claim by an exacting analysis of the New Testament data. The facts are clear: the New Testament writers regarded Jesus as God, both implicitly and explicitly. Putting Jesus in His Place will reassure Christians of the truth and prepare them to be articulate, well-informed defenders of this truth in the wider world. Anyone who reads this book will no longer fall prey to the mistaken notion of the deity of Christ as some later addition to authentic Christian faith. Instead, every reader will be challenged to acknowledge the ancient affirmation of Jesus as God, and to consider the personal implications of this confession for contemporary living.

I. Howard Marshall Professor Emeritus, University of Aberdeen, Scotland : This book is a very comprehensive study of all the material in the New Testament that testifies to or is consistent with the full deity of Jesus Christ, the sheer quantity of which may come as a surprise to some readers. There is helpful detailed discussion of many controversial passages that will be useful to students who want to go more deeply into the problems.

Craig A. Evans Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia, Canada : Putting Jesus in His Place is a reader-friendly treatment of a difficult topic, one that is often neglected in New Testament scholarship. Bowman and Komoszewski clarify the issues, focus on the key passages, and mount an impressive defense of a cardinal Christian doctrine. Anyone who wonders about the divinity of Jesus should read this book.

Paul Copan Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL : This wide-ranging yet accessible book by Bowman and Komoszewski is a splendid compilation of the evidenceoboth explicit and impliedofor Jesus' deity, which pervades the New Testament. The authors make a convincing case as they discuss biblical texts, interact with important recent literature, and present the striking significance and entailments of Jesus' divinity. A remarkable work!

Daniel B. Wallace Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts : Finally, here is a book that lays out the case for the deity of Christ in clear, compelling, memorable language. Putting Jesus in His Place fills a huge gap by converting the best of biblical scholarship on the subject into language that anyone can understand. This book is a feast for the mind; the endnotes give the reader a glimpse of the meticulous work the authors went through to make the reading so palatable. The acronym HANDS is an ingenious memory device to help any Christian know the basic teaching about Jesus' deity. When you learn what it means, youill never forget what the New Testament affirms about the divinity of our Lord. I thank God that Bowman and Komoszewski have combined their talents on this supremely important topic and well-written book. The church of the 21st century is in their debt.

Craig L. Blomberg Denver Seminary : The one thing we have no record of Jesus of Nazareth ever saying is iI am God,i though countless charlatans and madmen over the centuries have used precisely these words. As a result, some people, including some Christians, think the case for Jesus' deity rests solely on the half-dozen passages in the New Testament where others directly call him "God." Bowman and Komoszewski here offer massive disproof of this minimalist notion. While a sizable majority of the texts they survey afford implicit rather than explicit evidence for the deity of Jesus, and while it is possible to dispute the implications they derive from certain passages, it is impossible to dismiss the cumulative case that the first Christians, following Jesus' own lead, viewed him as God incarnate, and that the New Testament is replete with dozens of texts that attest this conviction. The book itself is remarkably clear and uncluttered, but detailed endnotes interact with almost all of the significant, recent relevant scholarship as well. Warmly to be commended.

Craig J. Hazen Biola University : Rarely have I seen such a comprehensive and deeply scholarly presentation in theology at such an accessible leveloand on one of the most important topics anyone can study: the deity of Christ. Bowman and Komoszewski obviously know this topic as well as anyone in the world because it takes that depth of knowledge to present a case like this in language that can be grasped by non-scholars in every walk of life. I predict this will be a standard textbook on the subject and a much-used resource for anyone who wants to make the case for Jesus' deity to unbelievers such as Muslims, Mormons, Jehovahis Witnesses, New Agers, and skeptics in this generation.

Ravi Zacharias Ravi Zacharias International Ministries : Putting Jesus in His Place is a meticulously researched and brilliant book on a subject that continues to remain significant even after 2000 years. Robert Bowman and Ed Komoszewski have given readers a unique and unparalleled resourceoand one with life-changing implications. I commend this volume to you with much appreciation for their work.

Richard Bauckham St. Mary's College, University of St Andrews : Bowman and Komoszewski do a splendid job of showing that the divine identity of Jesus is not confined to a few key texts, but presented throughout the New Testament in a wide variety of ways. Their arguments are fully based on the best of recent scholarship, and explained in a way that all serious readers of the New Testament will appreciate.

Murray J. Harris Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Deerfield, IL : An exciting, compelling and user-friendly investigation of the full range of New Testament evidence for the unique divine identity of Jesus Christ, admirably suitable for the non-specialist reader, yet with detailed up-to-date specialist notes.

Thomas R. Schreiner Southern Baptist Theological Seminary : The deity of Jesus Christ is central and foundational to the gospel. Bowman and Komoszewski show that Christis deity pervades the New Testament and is not limited to a few proof texts. Those who have eyes to see will find it everywhere, and if your eyes are deficient this book is just the corrective you need. The work is convincing, clear, and scholarly. Most of all, the book is glorious, reminding us that Jesus is to be worshiped as our Lord, Savior, and God.

Larry W. Hurtado University of Edinburgh, Scotland : This book gathers up admirably the results of a number of recent studies that combine to show how remarkably early Jesus was reverenced as somehow ring a divine status, and how this reverence was exhibited overtly in a whole range of confessional terms and devotional actions. Whether or not one shares the authors' own particular stance on some matters, they have provided a readable and well-informed summary of a large body of scholarly work showing a very early and very high view of Jesus, not as something emerging by slow evolution, but as an explosively quick and remarkable phenomenon.

Kenneth Boa Reflections Ministries, Atlanta, GA : Putting Jesus in His Place is the finest and most comprehensive apologetic for the deity of Christ that I have yet encountered. The material is rigorous yet highly accessible because of the transparency of the structure and the directness of the style. It is my hope that this book will become a standard resource for educational institutions and for people who desire a clearer vision of the Lord Jesus.

Cletus, Take the Reel

If you want a little diversion, here's a parody of the country song "Jesus Take the Wheel". . . .

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening

Crossway has just published a new, attractive, TruTone versions of Spurgeon's classic, Morning by Morning and Evening by Evening.

This edition has been edited by Alistair Begg and uses the ESV. Begg uses some slight updating in punctuation and spelling and the like, but seeks to keep the beauty of Spurgeon's original prose.

The two devotionals are sold separately, as Morning by Morning and Evening by Evening. You can also purchase them as a set.

Photos courtesy of Tony Reinke, who has more shots of the books here.

Do Hard Things

Here's a blurb I recently wrote for Alex and Brett Harris's forthcoming book (which will also be an abridged audio CD):
In writing this wise and compelling book, the Harris brothers model their very message: a competent, Christlike, collaborative effort that casts a vision for rebelling against the culture of “teenage” low expectations. Along the way, readers are introduced to a growing group of ordinary rebelutionaries who are doing hard and extraordinary kingdom work. I thank God for this book, and I warmly recommend it to teenagers and parents alike.

Rick Love Responds

Rick Love responds to John Piper's queries regarding the Common Word documents.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Three Legs, Three Candidates

My brother reflects on the three legs of the conservative stool and the three main GOP candidates left in contention.

African-American Imagination and Theology Project

Here's a post from the guys at RBA about the creation of an exciting new initiative with RTS. I'll reprint the post below:
Reformed Blacks of America, Inc. (RBA) is pleased to announce in partnership with Reformed Theological Seminary – Orlando (RTS-Orlando) the creation of the African-American Imagination and Theology Project. The African American Imagination and Theology Project with its corresponding scholarships seeks to unearth and impregnate a generation of Black seminal thinkers to reflect upon and interact with the experiences, thoughts and lives of Black people and the world theologically.

We are thoroughly excited about the creative energy taking place. Several students who are enrolled in RTS-Orlando from across the country are already participants in this project. For those interested in biblio-critical thought and desire to be a constructive agent in the theological and cultural landscape, the African-American Imagination and Theology Project is for you!

Here is an official RTS-Orlando video from the Founders of RBA introducing a portion of this project:

If you are interested or know someone who might be a fit for this project, please email us at with "African-American Imagination and Theology Project" as the subject of the email, including relevant contact information (e.g. email and phone number).

McLaren's Ahistoricism

Interesting point here by Books & Culture's John Wilson:
McLaren is particularly misleading when he's suggesting, as he does quite emphatically at times, that somehow the church went off the rails early on, and that only now are (some) Christians beginning to understand what Jesus was really saying. While McLaren occasionally adds nuances and qualifiers, this ahistorical account runs through the book. In this respect, his message is oddly reminiscent of the ahistorical narrative of church history that dominated the evangelical/fundamentalist churches of my youth. Between an idealized first-century church and the present moment, when the preacher was calling on you to make a decision for Christ, there loomed a great wasteland—all those centuries in which the church failed to heed the plain words of Scripture.

Hansen on Obama's Social Contract

Collin Hansen has a helpful and insightful article today: Obama's Social Contract: Abortion and the candidate's commitment to freedom and equality.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Good Quotes on Preaching

Martin Luther [update: apparently a paraphrase of/commentary on his perspective]: "Because heresies threatened the living apostolic message, it had to be recorded in a book to protect it from falsification. Preaching reverses this process of conservation again, allowing the Scriptures of the past to become the tidings of the present . . . The Gospel has been committed to lifeless paper; fresh words can transform it into glad tidings again."

William Ames: "Next to the evidence of truth, and the will of God drawn out of the Scriptures, nothing makes a sermon more to pierce, than when it comes out of the inward affection of the heart without any affectation. To this purpose it is very profitable, if besides the daily practice of piety we use serious meditation and fervent prayer to work those things upon our own hearts, which we would persuade others of."

[I don't have the bibliographic information for either of these; if anyone has this, feel free to leave it in the comments.]

Audio Books: Stott and Mohler

Just received in the mail a copy of audio books that readers of this blog may be interested in: The Cross of Christ, by John Stott, and Culture Shift, by Al Mohler. You can listen to samples by following the links to the Christian Audio website.

Talk with Sam Storms

Sam Storms will be the guest tonight (Jan. 24, starting at 10pm EST) on the Converse with Scholars program, talking about his book: Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards' "Religious Affections."

Click here to find out how to join the online conversation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Videos on "When Sinners Say 'I Do'"

Sovereign Grace Ministries has set up a YouTube page of videos related to Dave Harvey's book, When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage. Here are the videos:

Why I Wrote This Book
Why a book on marriage? And why talk so much about sin? Dave Harvey explains.

What determines the quality of your marriage? Dave Harvey explains in this overview of chapter one: "What Really Matters in Marriage."

Chapters 2-4
Often the deepest conflict is the one we're not aware of, and our fiercest enemy is within our own hearts. Dave Harvey points us to the only hope for victory in this overview of chapters two through four.

What actually causes conflict in marriage? You may be surprised at the answer in this overview of chapter four.

Chapter 6: Forgiveness, Full and Free
Is restoration possible after sin devastates a marriage? Hear one couple's story in this overview of chapter six.

Growth in holiness is not a solo project. In this overview of chapter seven, Dave Harvey explains how to humbly, patiently, and courageously lead your spouse to repentance.

God's grace doesn't just bring you to conversion, then leave you on your own. In this overview of chapter eight, Dave Harvey explains how the grace of God provides staying power for your life and your marriage.

Sex. It's a topic that has everyone's attention. But it's easy to forget that this topic has God's attention as well. In this (G-rated) overview of chapter nine, Dave Harvey explains what the gospel has to do with this part of marriage.

It's been said that all we need to do is live long enough, and we'll be bereaved. In this overview of chapter ten, Dave Harvey talks about maintaining hope when "death do us part" actually happens.

Obama and Faith

Christianity Today interviews Barack Obama.

Obama and Abortion

An important post here by Jonathan Last on Barack Obama's statement on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Read Obama's statement carefully. Last is right: there is "nothing here but a full-throated defense of abortion on demand."

(HT: James Grant)

Sermon Series on Emotions

Brian Borgman is the founding pastor of Grace Community Church in Minden, Nevada.

A few years ago he preached a unique sermon series on what the Bible says about the emotions. I’ve heard great things about this series. For example, Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, recently wrote: “I love listening to God's word expounded by Pastor Brian Borgman. Brian studies hard, he has much God-given insight, and the articulation and delivery of his messages is both instructive and moving. His sermon series on our emotional life is enormously helpful and wise. I recommend these messages to both men and women alike, and I look forward to the book that will come from this series.”

Click on the link above for the audio of these sermons (as well as an interview with Borgman).

Here is an outline of the series:
Biblical foundations (3 parts)
Sanctification and our emotions (3 parts)
Mortifying ungodly emotions (3 sermons)
  • Anger
  • Fear, anxiety, and worry
  • Depression
Cultivating godly emotions (11 sermons)
  • Jesus, our Father
  • The devotion and delight of Jesus
  • The compassion of Jesus
  • The love of Jesus
  • The symmetry of Jesus
  • Renewing our minds
  • The emotions and worship
  • The emotions and preaching (2 parts)
  • The Word, prayer, and our emotions
  • Reading, meditation, and the emotions

Piper on "The Common Word" and Response

John Piper discusses "A Common Word Between Us and You" and the response to it from 300 Christian scholars.

For those who want a fuller unpacking of Piper's views of these issues, I would recommend his essay, Tolerance, Truth-Telling, Violence, and Law: Principles for How Christians Should Relate to Those of Other Faiths, written in 2002.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Number of Children Aborted in the U.S. since 1973.

This graphic helps us try to visualize the stunning numbers.

(HT: Mirror of Justice)

Fasting for the Little Ones

Here is a chapter from John Piper's excellent book, A Hunger for God.

An excerpt:
But I wonder if many of the young scholars and activists (now in their forties and fifties!) whom [Francis Schaeffer] inspired need to hear a balancing word about the power of prayer and fasting, not as an alternative to thinking and acting, but as a radical foundation that says, “The victory belongs to the Lord, even if the horse (of scholarship and politics) is made ready for the day of battle” (see Proverbs 21:31). Listen to the books crying out for evangelical renewal and reformation in the life of the mind, the restoration of Truth in the place of technique, the recovery of church social compassion from government powerlessness, the taking of moral high ground in the environmental cause, and many other causes. Is there a sense in each of these that the root issues are so intractable to human suasion that the call for fasting and prayer would not only be fitting but desperately needed? I am commending such a call.
Read the whole thing.

Reclaiming the Center

As you can see from the ad below, Crossway decided to offer a one-week special (35% off) on the book, Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times. It was co-edited by Millard J. Erickson, Paul Kjoss Helseth, and yours truly.

Contributors included D. A. Carson (who reviewed Stan Grenz's Renewing the Center), Douglas Groothuis (on defining and defending truth), J. P. Moreland and Garry DeWeese (on foundationalism), R. Scott Smith (on language and epistemology), A. B. Caneday (on language games and speech-act theory), Steve Wellum (on biblical authority), Kwabena Donkor (on an African perspective on postconservatism), William Travis (on pietism and the history of American evangelicalism), Paul Helseth (on the "fundamentalistic" characteristics of postconservatism), Chad Owen Brand (on defining evangelicalism), and James Parker III (on whether it's time to write a requiem for postmodernism), and Millard Erickson (on what post-postmodernism will look like).

We were thankful that noted leaders from both the more left-of-center and right-of-center streams of evangelicalism appreciated the book. For example:
“For those evangelicals who—like myself—are increasingly troubled by extravagant claims made by various evangelical scholars about the nature of the ‘postmodern’ challenge, as well as by earnest calls to develop new epistemological and theological perspectives in response to this challenge, the writers of these essays shed much light. This book is must-reading for everyone who wants to promote a clear-thinking evangelicalism for our contemporary context.”

Richard J. Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Seminary

“Compromise and confusion stand at the center of evangelicalism’s theological crisis, and a clear-headed and convictional analysis of the problem has been desperately needed. Thankfully, Reclaiming the Center has arrived just in time. . . . My fervent hope is that it will open evangelical eyes, humble evangelical hearts, and awaken this generation to the peril of accommodationism.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Finally, I'd make one clarification/qualification: this isn't a book about the emerging church movement per se. Rather, it's a book about some of the key ideas that have been foundational to this conversation.

Reclaiming the Center

The Third Wave of the Prolife Movement

John Ensor writes at the DG blog:

"The end of abortion as a business is in sight when the prolife movement is not only joined by, but led by, the African-American and Latino Christian Community. I call it the Third Wave."

Read the whole thing

Monday, January 21, 2008

This Is Abortion

More on "Embryo"

Marvin Olasky interviews Robert George and Christopher Tollefsen about their new book, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life.

Scott Klusendorf provides an overview of the book.

Obama to Appear on Evangelical Talk Radio

Senator Barack Obama is scheduled to do a 20-minute interview on the Calling For Truth radio program on Tuesday, Jan. 22nd. The show goes from 1pm until 2pm, EST.
If you want to submit a brief question, email They will select from the questions submitted.

To listen to the program live go to (select the "listen live" button in the top right hand corner). The program is also webcast live on An audio archive of the program will be available immediately afterwards in the Audio Archive section of their website.

Roe v. Wade, 35 Years Later: An Interview with Robert P. George

Robert P. George is a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and is the director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton. His most recent book, coauthored with Christopher Tollefsen, is entitled Embryo: A Defense of Human Life—a book I highly recommend.

Tomorrow (Jan. 22, 2008) is the 35th anniversary of the decision for Roe v. Wade. In view of that anniversary, I conducted the following interview with Professor George.

* * *

I know that you greatly object to the conclusions of Roe v. Wade from a moral standpoint, but I wonder if you could summarize some of the legal problems with it?

The legal problem with Roe v. Wade is simple: The Supreme Court's decision to invalidate state laws prohibiting or restricting abortion lacks any basis in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution of the United States. The late John Hart Ely, a famous legal scholar who himself supported legal abortion as a matter of public policy, said that Roe v. Wade "is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be." The justices who manufactured a right to abortion in Roe violated and dishonored the very Constitution they purported to interpret by substituting their own moral and political judgments for those of the elected representatives of the people. Their ruling was a gross usurpation by the judiciary of the authority vested by the Constitution in the people themselves, acting through the constitutionally prescribed institutions of republican democracy. As dissenting Justice Byron White put it, Roe was nothing more than an exercise of "raw judicial power." It was not merely an incorrect decision, but an anti-constitutional one.

Is it true that many abortion-choice defenders also think that Roe v. Wade was a poorly reasoned legal opinion?

I would venture to say that most constitutional scholars who support legal abortion basically (if all-too-quietly) agree with Professor Ely. Roe is an embarrassingly poorly reasoned opinion. Of course, some pro-abortion scholars believe that the result in Roe could be justified by a different form of constitutional argument, and there is something of an industry among them in "re-writing Roe." Justice Harry Blackmun, in his opinion for the Court in Roe itself, claimed that restrictions on abortion for the sake of protecting fetal life violate the provision of the 14th Amendment forbidding any state from depriving any person of "life, liberty, or property without due process of law." Frankly, that's ridiculous, and almost all legal scholars know that (even if some won't say it publicly). The most notable effort to place the holding in Roe on a more plausible constitutional footing involves the claim that abortion restrictions deprive women of "the equal protection of the laws" (another 14th Amendment guarantee). There are various reasons why that approach fails, too, but many of Roe's supporters at least find it less embarrassing.

What was the upshot of this decision with respect to abortion? Is it true that it functionally abolished any meaningful restrictions on abortion at any time of a pregnancy?

When Roe is taken together with its companion case of Doe v. Bolton, which was handed down on the same day and incorporated by reference into Roe, the result is indeed the severe restriction of the authority of any state to protect the life of the child in the womb at any point in gestation—even during the third trimester. Some people fail to understand this because they don't know about, or haven't paid close attention to, the Doe ruling. Roe prohibits restrictions on abortion for the sake of protecting fetal life in the first two trimesters, but says that the states may (not must, mind you, but may) protect fetal life in the third trimester. Doe, however, undercuts this permission. It says that states may not restrict abortion even in the third trimester—all the way up to birth—if an abortion is judged to be necessary to preserve maternal "health." Then it defines “health” expansively to include mental or psychological health, as well as physical health, and to note that "emotional" and "familial" factors must be taken into account in assessing whether an abortion is required for the sake of "health."

Do you believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned someday?

Yes, I do. Just as Dred Scott v. Sanford, the infamous decision protecting slavery, eventually fell, Roe will someday fall. It will not fall due to a civil war, as Dred Scott did, but rather under the pressure of scientific facts and the conscience of the American people. The development of sonography is already making a huge difference in people's attitudes toward abortion. Moms and dads, and brothers and sisters, and grandmothers and grandfathers now observe the baby before he or she is born. We view the complex and beautiful life of the child in the womb, as if he or she were on television. Parents typically even name their baby while he or she is still in utero. It is no longer possible to believe that abortion is merely "removing some tissue." It is plain that abortion is the killing of a human being. The hard work and unceasing prayers of pro-life Americans have already saved many lives. Ultimately, they will result in the overturning of Roe and a regime of law far more protective of human life.

How do you respond to those who say that overturning this decision will have little effect?

I direct them to the brilliant analysis of my former student, Ramesh Ponnuru, in his great book, The Party of Death. It is true that overturning Roe will be only a first step toward the goal of making our society one in which every child is "welcomed in life and protected by law." But it is a necessary first step. Important work will remain to be done in the cultural as well as the political domain, but I have faith that pro-life Americans are up to the task. Ours is a nation, as Lincoln said, "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Our country has never perfectly lived up to its high ideals, but our ideals are the right ideals and they are worth struggling to live up to. Our history shows that we are a people who can live with grave injustices for only so long. Just as we abolished slavery and eventually overthrew segregation and Jim Crow in order to honor the dignity and rights of our brothers and sisters of African descent, we will eventually restore to our tiniest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters the protection they, as members of the human family, deserve.

Some are reasoning that a president has little effect on whether or not abortion is legal, and that electing an abortion-choice candidate would not significantly damage the pro-life cause. How do you respond?

Presidents have a profound role in shaping policy pertaining to abortion and other pro-life issues, such as human embryo-destructive research and cloning. Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn't thought about the question. Presidents nominate federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. Presidents can propose and fight for pro-life legislation at the federal level. Presidents play an important role in determining whether taxpayer dollars are used to fund abortions overseas and embryo-destructive research here in the United States. Anyone who is serious about the pro-life cause will care a great deal about who is elected president.

This blog has a wide variety of readers—professors, students, pastors, stay-at-home moms, business men, etc. What are some practical things we can do and support to help to create a culture of life in America and to work toward the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade?

First and foremost: Pray. Pray for the unborn victims of abortion and for women who are, so often and in so many ways, truly abortion's "secondary victims." Do not judge them, but rather pray for them and love them. Pray for those who have dedicated themselves to working in politics and the culture for the pro-life cause. Pray for our leaders at the state and federal levels—including judges—whose actions will literally determine who lives and dies. Pray for those whose hearts have been hardened against the unborn, and who defend and even promote abortion. And pray for those who perform abortions. God has already turned the hearts of some such people. Bernard Nathanson, a prominent abortionist and one of the founders of the pro-abortion movement in the United States, was converted to the pro-life cause by the loving witness and prayers of pro-life people. Who knows how many other abortionists and defenders of abortion will follow his path? Let's give up on no one. Let us treat everyone, even our opponents in this profound moral struggle, with respect, civility, and ungrudging love. Loving witness is something all of us can give. And lovingly witnessing in our churches and communities to the sanctity of human life is something all of us are called to do.

And there is more that we can do. Pro-lifers do a wonderful job in pregnancy centers around the country in reaching out in love and compassion to pregnant women in need. These pro-life heroes need our financial and moral support. Moreover, they can always use another pair of hands, so I hope that many people will join those volunteering in these efforts. They save lives, and they bring God's healing and practical assistance to our sisters in distress. Politically, we need to use our clout as citizens of a democratic republic to influence policy in a pro-life direction. The fight against abortion and embryo-destructive research should be put at the top of the priority list in evaluating candidates for state and federal offices. We should support pro-life candidates with our money as well as our votes. Moreover, I hope that some who read these words will take the very practical step of running for office themselves. We need more people who are dedicated to the defense of human life to step forward as candidates for Congress, the state legislatures, and other public offices.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"I Have a Dream"

Despite numerous times of seeing and hearing the famous "I have a dream" section of Martin Luther King's speech, I'm not sure I've ever viewed the entire 16-minute speech (which is only about 1600 words). A video of the entire speech, delivered August 28, 1963, is below. The famous section starts at about 12:20.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baker Exegetical Commentaries on the NT

2008 will see the publication of at least four more volumes in the justly praised Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. Here are the planned publications with information:

Matthew, by David Turner
800 pages
$49.99 retail ($31.49
Pub date: April 15, 2008

Mark, by Robert Stein
864 pages
$49.99 retail ($31.49
Pub date: June 1, 2008

1-3 John, by Robert Yarbrough
480 pages
$39.99 retail ($26.39
Pub date: August 1, 2008

2 Peter and Jude, by Gene Green
432 pages
$39.99 retail ($26.39
Pub date: September 1, 2008

An Interview with Tim Keller

Here is a short interview I did with Tim Keller regarding his new book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (releasing soon).

JT: What’s the essence—the thesis—of your book?

TK: That all doubts about Christianity, even the most skeptical ones, are themselves really alternate beliefs. And therefore if you look at the beliefs your doubts are based on, and ask for as much justification for them as what you are demanding of Christians for theirs, you will see your doubts are not all that solid and well founded.

JT: Was your intention to write a sort of Mere Christianity for the 21st century?

TK: I wish I could say I did, but, as a writer, I'm not worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence with C.S. Lewis.

JT: Who is the primary audience for the book? Unbelievers?

TK: It's addressed directly and primarily to people skeptical of Christianity, particularly the kinds of people whom I meet in large urban areas. But I also want to model for believers a way to represent their faith to people they care about.

JT: There are scores of books out there defending Christianity and debunking skepticism. How is yours different?

TK: If you are going to be persuasive to someone, you've got to enter sympathetically into their objection so they say to you, "You articulated my point of view in a more positive and compelling way than I could have myself. Thank you!" If you then show why their problem is nonetheless surmountable, they'll at least listen carefully because they feel understood. I think most of the books you mention are written by authors to bolster the faith of the already convinced, or even their own faith. They don't really "get into the skin" of the typical skeptic very well. Just ask one.

JT: How does being a pastor of a church cause you to write this book differently than if you had been an academician?

TK: I spent five years as a seminary teacher, of course. There are plenty of arguments for Christianity that seem compelling to me, but which I have discovered get almost no traction at all. If I'd stayed in the academy I might have been more prone to use them in the book anyway. That's why I said above so many books defending Christianity seem really to be written by the authors to themselves.

JT: Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

TK: Yes.

JT: Can you tell us about any of them?

TK: I'm turning my "Prodigal Sons" sermon into a short book. There are others I'm thinking about, too.

Don't Waste MLK Weekend

John Piper has a good post here on celebrating on Martin Luther King Day.

Update: Fred Sanders offers some thoughts on MLK as a liberal theologian.

Reynolds on Huckabee, the Bible, and the Constitution

John Mark Reynolds has a good post here on a recent semi-gaffe from Mike Huckabee--and what it reveals both about Huckabee and about his critics.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Keller's "The Reason for God"

I noticed tonight that Tim Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (a 290 page hardcover book to be published by Penguin on Feb. 14, 2008) will also be simultaneously available as an abridged CD, read by Keller. Both are available for pre-order from]

McCain: The Best Pro-Life Choice?

So argued by Gerard Bradley, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame. Excerpt: "He has served in Congress for 24 years, and cast a lot of votes on abortion legislation during that time. His record is not merely exemplary — it is perfect. McCain’s votes on abortion really could not be better."

Here's the ending of the article:
I mentioned a recent South Carolina advertisement about McCain’s pro-life voting record. As good as that record is, the ad contained still more powerful evidence of his pro-life convictions. This part of the ad shows Cindy McCain walking beside a diminutive Catholic nun. Mrs. McCain is holding an infant in her arms. It is (the ad text says) “little Bridget, a baby she and John adopted in 1993 from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget has been a great blessing to the McCain family.”

Indeed she has. But there is a little more to the story than is there told. For one thing, there were two babies. Mrs. McCain brought home a second infant from the same orphanage. That baby became the adopted child of the McCain’s best friends. Second, Mrs. McCain did not go to the orphanage in order to adopt. While she was touring the facility, Mother Teresa unexpectedly said to her (in so many words): “If you do not take those two babies with you, now, they could die right here. But you can save them.” Cindy McCain did.

I believe that there is a profound lesson here about what it means to be pro-life, a lesson which goes beyond the important (but obvious) fact that the McCains live by the same principles which lie behind John’s voting record. “Little Bridget” was not sought out by the McCains. She was not expected or planned for. She was an unanticipated gift whom the McCains welcomed, not because she was antecedently “wanted” by them, but because she was a baby, a unique and unrepeatable human being with a right to life because she is a human being and not because some other people’s plans include her — or don’t.

God and Governing Conference

Just stumbled across this conference, which looks quite interesting and has a great lineup of speakers:
If you have ever wondered about these questions...
  • After nearly three decades of heightened Evangelical political involvement, why do politicians, including ostensibly Christian politicians, seem to be in such disarray?
  • Why are there so many scandals?
  • Why do we not feel more like we can trust our political representatives?
  • Why is the tone of the political discourse so shrill, and its content so shallow?
  • Why is our Christian involvement so little attuned to the scriptural commands to seek justice, to stand for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, and to protect the defenseless?
  • Why has mature character been in such short supply?

... then this conference is for you.

This conference will propose answers to these questions. We affirm Christian calling to statesmanship and politics. We will discuss the practical ways in which Christians can pursue their scriptural duties in the political realm with greater effectiveness and greater faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

Come hear major figures from the Christian world of ideas who will help us wrestle with this topic. Presentations by Os Guinness, Dallas Willard, David Wells, Paul Marshall, Vishal Mangalwadi, and Stephen Kennedy will be supplemented with critiques and discussions by panels of pastors, lawyers, professors, and others.

Christian leaders with an interest in political or media affairs should not miss this opportunity. At the edge of the presidential primary season, this conference is provocatively timed to bring up the questions Christians need to ask as they go to the polls—or to Washington.

Jim Wallis on Abortion

Jim Wallis's new book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America, will be published by HarperOne next week on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Here is Ramesh Ponnuru regarding Wallis on abortion:
Every time I read him on this subject, I get the impression that he is running for something. It's not because his remarks don't make logical sense. They don't, but coherence as a thinker on any topic is not his gift. It's because they always seem carefully evasive. His new book looks like a rehash of his old one, plus a foreword by Jimmy Carter. Its discussion of abortion follows the same personally-opposed-plus-Bible-quotes track that he has lately traveled.

He is even repeating the same discredited "facts." Here he is on p. 193: "The abortion rate actually declined a little during the Clinton administration, likely because of the improved status of low-income women, which is a consistent causal factor in diminishing the choice for abortion. But the abortion rate went up again in the Bush years, likely with the decreasing status of low-income women and families."

Clinton did a number of good things as president—including welfare reform, which Wallis was arrested for protesting against. All of this stuff about "a consistent causal factor" is, however, sheep dip, and the abortion rate didn't go up under Bush administration. For a little while, some gullible people, mostly liberals, were persuaded that it did, thanks to a shoddy study published by Wallis's magazine. (The gullible included Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean.) None of the authoritative sources of abortion statistics that have come out since then have corroborated this finding, and most people have dropped the talking point. Not Wallis.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

20 Reasons to Read

Colin Adams suggests 20 reasons to read good Christian books.

TULIP in the SBC

Christianity Today and Baptist Press have both recently run articles on Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. (Tom Ascol responds to the latter.)

Stone Seal from the First Temple Period Found

The Jerusalem Post reports:
A stone seal bearing the name of one of the families who acted as servants in the First Temple and then returned to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylonia has been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem's City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said Wednesday.

The 2,500-year-old black stone seal, which has the name "Temech" engraved on it, was found earlier this week amid stratified debris in the excavation under way just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate, said archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who is leading the dig.

According to the Book of Nehemiah, the Temech family were servants of the First Temple and were sent into exile to Babylon following its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

The family was among those who later returned to Jerusalem, the Bible recounts.

As Todd Bolen notes, "Many seals have been found with the names of people mentioned in the Bible, but it's always nice to find another. . . . The article mentions the mention of Temech (spelled Temah in NIV, NAS and ESV) in Nehemiah 7:55, but not Ezra 2:53."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An Interview with Scott Klusendorf

With the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22 is the 35 year anniversary), I thought it might be helpful to interview Scott Klusendorf, a wise and winsome advocate for the cause of life. Focus on the Family will broadcast Scott's talk Reaching Hearts on Abortion on Jan. 24 and 25. For more info on Scott and his work, see the Life-Training Institute.

JT: Your book, Equipped to Engage: Pro-Life Christians in the Brave New World, will be published by Crossway in late 2008. Can you give us a one-sentence summary of the book?

SK: The pro-life message can compete in the marketplace of ideas provided Christians properly understand and articulate that message.

JT: What is your goal in writing Equipped to Engage?

SK: My primary purpose is to provide intellectual grounding for the pro-life convictions that many evangelicals hold, but can't articulate. Christians in particular find it difficult to discuss issues like abortion, cloning, and embryo research without a clear understanding of the essential truths of the pro-life position. This book helps readers articulate a biblical worldview on these issues in the face of an increasingly secularized culture.

JT: Who will most benefit from the book?

SK: While the book is primarily for evangelical Christians, it will benefit any pro-life supporter looking to communicate pro-life principles. One of its chief aims is to simplify issues like abortion and embryo stem cell research. Despite claims to the contrary, these issues are not morally complex. They come down to just one question: Is the embryo a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the embryos and fetuses in question are not human beings, killing them to extract stem cells or advance your career requires no more justification than pulling your tooth.

JT: Secular critics like Lee Silver insist the pro-life view has no rational basis and is grounded solely in religious sentiment. How would you reply?

SK: Silver and those like him are just plain wrong that pro-life advocates provide no reasonable defense for their views. Sure they do. The problem is, many secularists take no time to actually engage pro-life arguments; they simply dismiss them as "religious ideology." However, this dismissal does not constitute an argument and it ignores the sophisticated case pro-life apologists present in support of their position. Scientifically, pro-lifers contend the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human organisms. Unlike standard bodily cells that function as parts of an existing organism, embryos are whole human beings directing their own internal development.

True, they have yet to mature, but they are whole human organisms nonetheless.

Philosophically, pro-lifers argue there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today. Differences of size, development, and location are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be. For example, everyone agrees that embryos are small-perhaps smaller than the dot at the end of this sentence. But since when do rights depend on how large we are? Men are generally larger than women, but that hardly means they deserve more rights. Size does not equal value. Pro-lifers don't need Scripture to tell them these things. They are truths even atheists and secular libertarians can, and sometimes do, recognize. Yet rarely do strict secularists present principled arguments explaining why pro-life advocates are mistaken on these points.

Moreover, the pro-life position has more explanatory power than the abortion-choice and pro-embryonic research ones. For example, advocates of elective abortion and embryonic stem cell research cannot account for basic human equality. If humans have value only because of some acquired property like consciousness, it follows that since this acquired property comes in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees. It's far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely in their respective degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

JT: You've stated before that many abortion-choice arguments are flawed because they ignores the central philosophical question in the abortion debate: What is the unborn? Can you give us an example of what you mean?

SK: Certainly. Many well-intentioned people cite rape as a justification for abortion. Aside from the fact that few actual pregnancies result from rape, this argument is a case of using worst-case scenarios and emotion to avoid clear thinking on the matter. That is to say, while the rape objection has rhetorical force, it misses the key moral question: How should we treat innocent human beings that remind us of a painful event? Is it okay to kill them so that we can feel better? True, pro-life advocates must do all they can to lovingly care for victims of sexual assault, but if the unborn are human, hardship does not justify homicide.

JT: What are the top five pro-life books and how do they differ from your upcoming book?

SK: For newcomers to the debate, Randy Alcorn's Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions (Multnomah, 1992; revised 1999) is terrific. Randy's work is a valuable reference guide for lay people, highly readable, and meticulously organized so that the reader can pick and choose those parts of the book needed for the immediate pro-abortion challenge at hand. It is not, however, a systematic defense of the pro-life position, nor does it teach specific tactics for defending one's view in the secular marketplace of ideas. Equipped to Engage will retain Randy's easy-to-follow style, but provide a more systematic foundation for the pro-life apologist, teaching him or her not only what to think, but how to think.

For more seasoned readers, Francis J. Beckwith's Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion-Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007) is absolutely stellar. Indeed, this outstanding book is a favorite of advanced pro-life apologists everywhere. The arguments presented are lucid and hard-hitting, but the style is clearly more academic than Alcorn's book. It's one of the finest (if not the finest) systematic defenses of the pro-life position to date. Regrettably, lay readers may not have the patience to master the sophisticated case Beckwith presents. Equipped to Engage provides a balance between the easy-to-read style of Randy Alcorn's book and the semi-academic style of Beckwith. It's both systematic and readable at the lay level.

The third title is Ramesh Ponnuru's excellent book The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life (Regency, 2006). Ramesh's strengths lie in outlining the political implications of the debates over abortion and embryo research and how those debates have been hijacked within the Democratic Party, the Federal Courts, and the Media. His survey of the cultural and political landscape is breathtaking and second to none. However, although his book contains pro-life apologetics, it's not designed to equip lay people to make a case for life where they live and work. Rather, it gives pro-life advocates a snapshot of where we are culturally on key bio-ethical issues and how we arrived there.

Fourth, there is Hadley Arke's Natural Rights and the Right to Choose (Cambridge University Press, rev. ed., 2004). Hadley's thesis is simple: If we can arbitrarily alter the definition of "man" to suit our preferences, and if nature provides no definition of a human being that we are obliged to respect, then we remove all claim to natural rights, including the right to an abortion. That's key, because as you know, secular liberals insist that abortion is a fundamental human right the State should not infringe upon. Arkes simply wants to know where this alleged right to an abortion comes from. In other words, is it a natural right that springs from our nature as human beings or is it a positive (legal) right granted by government? If the latter, the abortion advocate cannot really complain that she is wronged if the State does not permit her to abort. After all, the same government that grants rights can take them away. On the other hand, if the right to an abortion is a natural right--a right one has in virtue of being human--then the abortion advocate had that right from the moment she came to be, that is, from conception! Thus, we are left with this amusing paradox: According to the logic of many abortion-advocates, unborn women do not have a right to life but they do have a right to an abortion! Absurd! In short, the defenders of abortion cannot tell us where rights come from or why anyone should have them. By advocating an alleged right to choose, they have talked themselves out of the very natural rights upon which their own freedoms are built.

Finally, we shouldn't overlook Wesley J. Smith's A Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World (Encounter Books, 2004). The debate over human value has moved way beyond the abortion controversy. We're now contending with human cloning, genetic engineering, and the creation of human-animal hybrids. As I said before, the very definition of what it means to be human is up for grabs. But how many churchgoers block out time to think seriously about what makes humans valuable in the first place? That, coupled with a deafening silence from our pulpits, and it's no wonder many believers are ill-equipped to sift through the lies and deceptions coming out of big-biotech. Smith's book gives Christians the tools they need to think clearly on these biotech issues.

Enns vs. Helm vs. Beale

Here's the history and links:
And for those who might be interested, here's a recap of the exchanges between Enns and Greg Beale over this book:
See also the review by D.A. Carson at Trinity Journal/Reformation21. Redesigned, one of the most helpful and useful sites on the web, has been completely redesigned.

Also check out their blogs:
(HT: Andy Naselli)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Trueman on the Person and Work of Christ

Here are some lectures Carl Trueman delivered at Christian Heritage, Cambridge, UK:
HT: Paul Schafer

Groothuis Reviews Dawkin's "The God Delusion"


Driving Mr. Romney

Dean Barnett, one of my favorite political bloggers (and a supporter of Mitt Romney), has a good article in today's NYT on Romney's strengths and what has gone wrong for the Romney campaign.

The End of Reason

Ravi Zacharias has penned a new book, which apparently responds to the likes of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, entitled The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists. It's due out from Zondervan in May of 2008.

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

Kenneth Bailey has been writing academic works on this subject for years. Next month IVP will publish a more accessible book, entitled Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels.

Here are a couple of endorsements:
"While no book on Jesus and the Gospels can be perfect or final, writing any really good book on them places staggering demands on an interpreter. To name just seven: literary aptitude, linguistic competence, critical shrewdness, cultural sagacity, theological acumen, spiritual sensitivity and hermeneutical sophistication. In this highly stimulating study Kenneth Bailey manages to reflect them all, and more besides, in part because he stands on the shoulders of Middle Eastern interpreters whom few in the West can even read. This book will sharpen historical understanding, improve much preaching and fuel new scholarship. It may shed as much new Licht vom Osten ('light from the ancient East') on Gospel passages as we have seen since Deissmann's book by that title a century ago. And in all of this, Bailey keeps the cross and the message of his sources at the center where they belong."
—Robert W. Yarbrough, associate professor and New Testament department chair, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Among the many New Testament scholars interpreting the Gospels today, few offer new and dramatic insights like Kenneth E. Bailey. From a childhood in Egypt to a career working within the Middle East, Bailey has established himself as the premier cultural interpreter of the life of Jesus. Using insights from cultural anthropology and skilled exegesis, suddenly the Gospels come alive as the Middle Eastern stories that they are. Long after other scholars' books are forgotten, Bailey's work on the Gospels will continue to be a timeless resource into the world of Jesus. This newest volume, written for the nonspecialist, is a splendid place to begin. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes is guaranteed to become a favorite on many Christians' bookshelves."

—Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College & Graduate School