Monday, June 30, 2008

The Surprising Work of God

Those interested in Collin's recommendation of the upcoming Haykin/Steward edited volume might also be interested in the new book coming out from Garth Rosell and published by Baker Academic: The Surprising Work of God: Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and the Rebirth of Evangelicalism.

Here's some info on it:

Product Description
There is growing interest in the story of mid-twentieth-century evangelicalism. One of the central leaders of that era was Harold John Ockenga. He was pastor of the historic Park Street Congregational Church in Boston and cofounder of Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today. The Surprising Work of God examines the birth and development of modern American evangelicalism--its history, personalities, and institutions. The history of that time is seen through the window of the life, ministry, and writings of Ockenga and his long friendship with Billy Graham. This lively, engaging story will be of value to anyone with an interest in the American church of the last century.

From the Back Cover
The Surprising Work of God tells the story of how America's mid-twentieth century spiritual awakening became a worldwide Christian movement. This seminal study brings a unique perspective to the history, personalities, and institutions of that period and offers an intimate look at evangelicalism through the window of the life, ministry, and writings of Harold John Ockenga and his long friendship with Billy Graham. Ockenga was pastor of the historic Park Street Congregational Church in Boston and cofounder of Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today. As such, he was a central figure in the birth and development of American neo-evangelicalism. This lively, engaging story will be of value to anyone with an interest in the American church of the last century.

"In this thoroughly researched book, Garth Rosell has put flesh on the dry bones of history. His deep immersion in the rich records left by Harold John Ockenga brings to life the critical developments that forged the modern evangelical movement. The result is a most valuable book."--Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"The story of post-World War II evangelicalism, and of Harold Ockenga's role in its reconstruction, is here told with an insider's understanding, a historian's eye for detail, and diligence in the use of original sources. Rosell has ploughed fresh ground and has given us ways of looking at all of these events that are fresh, authentic, and helpful."--David F. Wells, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"This is insiders' history at its best. Not only is Garth Rosell a truly first-rate historian but he has also lived through many of the events he recounts. His front-row seat within the theater of post-war evangelicalism combined with careful work in little-known manuscript materials has yielded an accurate, vivid account of the evangelical movement's twentieth-century revival. This book is real treasure--must reading for all who care about American religion."--Douglas A. Sweeney, associate professor of church history and the history of Christian thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Obama's Religious Affairs Adviser

Post by Collin Hansen

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has hired Shaun Casey from Wesley Theological Seminary as senior adviser for religious affairs. Casey will focus on evangelical outreach. That effort will continue tomorrow when Obama speaks on faith at a community ministry in Ohio.

The Advent of Evangelicalism

Post by Collin Hansen

A recent surge in the popularity of Jonathan Edwards has corresponded with intense historical debate about whether evangelicalism began during the Enlightenment. If you start their story with the First Great Awakening of the 1700s, does that mean evangelicals are hopelessly captive to modern rationalism? A new volume edited by Kenneth Stewart and Michael Haykin observes greater continuity between transatlantic evangelicalism and the Protestant Reformation that began in the 1500s. Their book, published earlier this year in the UK, includes a response from David Bebbington, who wrote the landmark Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s.

Tom Nettles from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says of the Haykin/Stewart volume: "This book provides just the kind of constructive dialogue that is sure to help us move ever closer to a more satisfying grasp of evangelical identity, not as a mere historical curiosity, but as a matter of self-knowledge for thoughtful action to the glory of God."

B&H will be publishing the American edition of The Advent of Evangelicalism this October.

Interview with Thabiti

Michael Dewalt interviews Thabiti Anyabwile about his new book, What Is a Healthy Church Member?

Update: Zach Nielsen also interviews Thabiti. As a bonus, you get to hear the top 5 jazz songs he'd bring with him to a desert island.

Collin Hansen

Speaking of Collin (mentioned in the previous post): he's kindly agreed to help me out this week, co- or guest-blogging.

Obama and the Evangelicals

A number of writings whom I respect have taken up the topic recently, all writing in light of James Dobson's recent critique of Obama's use of the Bible:

1. Ross Douthat:
[T]here's no question that Obama's overt religiosity, his emphasis on social justice, and his team's savvy religious outreach make him a more attractive figure to many evangelical voters than any other Democratic nominee of recent vintage. Factor in John McCain's reticence about his own faith, his much-publicized spats with religious-right pooh-bahs, his obvious discomfort with issues like abortion and gay marriage and his disorganized, behind-the-eight-ball staff, and you seem to have a recipe for real Democratic inroads among a constituency that the GOP has owned for a long time now. This places Dobson, never the most politically-savvy operator, in an obvious bind: He's on the record saying he won't vote for McCain in the general election (an "undorsement" that came to late to actually affect the GOP primary campaign), but he no doubt doesn't want to be perceived as throwing the election to a pro-choice Democrat -- or worse, losing a generation of Christians to the lure of the religious left.

Of course, Obama is in a bind as well. If he moved to the center on abortion, a knowledgeable religion journalist remarked to me last week, he could win half of evangelicals under 40. But can he move to the center on abortion - by flip-flopping on partial-birth abortion, say, while making a big deal about embracing the (largely-symbolic) abortion-reduction plan being pressed by Democrats for Life -- after a bruising primary campaign in which he barely beat out a feminist icon with unimpeachable pro-choice bona fides? I've assumed that the answer is no and no again, not least because he's already ahead in the polls, and doesn't need to look for potentially gamechanging maneuvers that might blow up in his face. But if Obama wants a historic mandate, rather than a narrow win -- if he wants to cut the heart out of the GOP coalition and leave the Republicans for dead -- then breaking with his party's abortion orthodoxy to go hard after the evangelical vote is one obvious way to do it.

2. Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post:
Obama is properly understood as a man of the religious left, in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. . . . [Obama] seems determined to call an evangelical bluff: Since you now praise King as a model of religious involvement in politics, you need at least to consider me.

The greatest obstacle to this consideration is abortion. I've seen no good evidence that evangelicals are becoming less pro-life (a previous Pew poll indicated that young evangelicals are actually more pro-life than their elders). To blunt this issue, Obama calls attention to his views on adoption, teen pregnancy and the sacredness of sex. He insists he is open to late-term abortion restrictions, if they are accompanied by broad exceptions for the health of the mother. But when the up-or-down political decisions came, Obama would not support a ban on partial-birth abortion or even legal protections for infants who are born alive after the procedure.

An evangelical vote for Obama requires a large mental adjustment: "I like his views on poverty or torture or climate change, even though he cannot bring himself to oppose the most brutal form of abortion." This may work for some, particularly more loosely affiliated evangelicals. But for most pro-life people, the protection of innocent life is not one issue among many, it is the most basic, foundational commitment of a just society. And John McCain has his own appeal to these voters -- remaining pro-life while opposing torture, addressing climate change and championing human rights in places such as Burma and Sudan. So far, McCain's support among evangelicals is holding up -- a recent poll shows McCain with a three to one advantage over Obama.

In today's environment of discontent and reassessment, a Democratic presidential candidate might achieve a historic political breakthrough with religious voters. Obama has great advantages in this attempt -- except on the issue that matters most.

3. Collin Hansen, writing at CT Online, looks at the Dobson-Obama dustup through the lens of hermeneutics.

Speaking of Collin, last week he was featured on Fox News to discuss Obama, McCain, and evangelicals:

Finally, a couple of items of interest related to all of this: Time Magazine looks at Obama's recent off-the-record meeting in Chicago with some Christian leaders; and John McCain's private meeting yesterday with Billy and Franklin Graham in the elder Graham's home in Montreat.

McCain, Pro-life, and Quiet Courage

John McCain wasn't my first choice for President; I disagree with him on lots of things.

But I think two things should be pointed out:

First, many evangelicals are unaware of the strength and longevity of McCain's pro-life record. I've linked to it before, but I think it's worth pointing again to Gerald Bradley's article on this.

Second, I find it extraordinary to reflect upon the way in which McCain has refused to use many aspects of his private life for political gain. A recent article demonstrates this point in spades. As the author puts it, "It is an extraordinary man who commits himself to such generous and heroic acts; it is an extraordinary politician who won't utter a word about such acts for political aggrandizement."

Even if we disagree politically with one another, I hope we can find unity in praising this all-to-rare trait among public figures.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Nicholas Carr, writing in The Atlantic, explores the question, Is Google Making Us Stupid

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after. Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets—reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)

For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

Following up on the article (the whole thing of which I still haven't read--evidence to prove the thesis!), Andrew Sullivan echoes similar sentiments in an article for the UK's Sunday Times:
Are we fast losing the capacity to think deeply, calmly and seriously? Have we all succumbed to internet attention-deficit disorder? Or, to put it more directly: if you’re looking at a monitor right now, are you still reading this, or are you about to click on another link?
He writes:

I spend most of my day blogging – at a current rate of about 300 posts a week. I’m certainly not more stupid than I used to be; and I’m much, much better and more instantly informed.

However, the way in which I now think and write has subtly – or not so subtly – altered. I process information far more rapidly and seem able to absorb multiple sources of information simultaneously in ways that would have shocked my teenage self.

In researching a topic, or just browsing through the blogosphere, the mind leaps and jumps and vaults from one source to another. The mental multitasking – a factoid here, a YouTube there, a link over there, an e-mail, an instant message, a new PDF – is both mind-boggling when you look at it from a distance and yet perfectly natural when you’re in mid-blog.

When it comes to sitting down and actually reading a multiple-page print-out, or even, God help us, a book, however, my mind seizes for a moment. After a paragraph, I’m ready for a new link. But the prose in front of my nose stretches on.

I get antsy. I skim the footnotes for the quick info high that I’m used to. No good. I scan the acknowledgments, hoping for a name I recognise. I start again.

A few paragraphs later, I reach for the laptop. It’s not that I cannot find the time for real reading, for a leisurely absorption of argument or narrative. It’s more that my mind has been conditioned to resist it.

His conclusion seems right to me:
We need to be both pond-skaters and scuba divers. We need to master the ability to access facts while reserving time and space to do something meaningful with them.
Somewhat related, see also Robert Darnton's essay, The Library in the New Age, published in the June 12, 2008 edition of The New York Review of Books (June 12, 2008). Al Mohler says: "Darnton's article may well be the most sane and sensible essay yet written on the future of books and libraries in the digital future."

Interview with Keller on the Prodigal God and the Prodigal Sons

Alex Chediak interviews Tim Keller about his new book, The Prodigal God: Christianity Redefined through the Parable of the Prodigal Sons.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Keller: The Prodigal God

Tim Keller's next book is due out in October from Dutton:

The Prodigal God: Christianity Redefined through the Parable of the Prodigal Sons.

It's available for pre-order from

You can listen online to Keller preach on The Prodigal Sons.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Myth of the "Evangelical Crackup"

J. Daryl Charles responds in First Things to the NYT piece, The Evangelical Crackup, by David Kirkpatrick. Conclusion:
In the end, important changes surely have been afoot throughout wider evangelicalism, but neither are the most significant of these developments “recent” nor do they spell a collapse of traditional evangelical commitments in the social-political arena that equate to an exodus to the Democratic party, Kirkpatrick’s own wishes notwithstanding. There is—and will always be—the potential for uncritically adopting political allegiances that obscure the church’s role in society. But just for once—only once—I would love to hear an activist, or a New York Times correspondent, chasten the religious left and warn against the idolatry of hitching our horse to the Democratic party. Indeed, the last time I checked, the new wave of political messianism had the unmistakable smell of Chicago-style politics.

9Marks on Marriage, Pastors' Wives, and Books

The latest 9Marks e-journal is online:

9Marks Marriage Book Comparison Chart

The Gospel & Deliberate Complementarian Pastors

Leading Newly Married Small Groups

Book Review: Good Christians, Good Husbands
By Doreen Moore
Reviewed by Matt Schmucker


Pastors’ Wives Forum

It’s Not a Position, It’s Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition Workbook

30 Practical Ways For Pastors to Love Their Wives & Families


Christians at the Cross
by N. T. Wright
Reviewed by Thomas Schreiner

Surprised by Hope
by N. T. Wright
Reviewed by Thomas Schreiner

Is Jesus the Only Savior?
by James R. Edwards
Reviewed by Will Kynes

Update: Jonathan Leeman offers an apology/clarification regarding his editor's note.

"Sojourner, Heal Thyself"

Jim Wallis yesterday:

Dobson and Minnery's language is simply inappropriate for religious leaders to use in an already divisive political campaign. We can agree or disagree on both biblical and political viewpoints, but our language should be respectful and civil, not attacking motives and beliefs.
Jim Wallis in November:

I believe that Dick Cheney is a liar; that Donald Rumsfeld is also a liar; and that George W. Bush was, and is, clueless about how to be the president of the United States. And this isn’t about being partisan. . . . I’ve heard plenty of my Republican friends and public figures call this administration an embarrassment to the best traditions of the Republican Party and an embarrassment to the democratic (small d) tradition of the United States. They have shamed our beloved nation in the world by this war and the shameful way they have fought it. Almost 4,000 young Americans are dead because of the lies of this administration, tens of thousands more wounded and maimed for life, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis also dead, and 400 billion dollars wasted—because of their lies, incompetence, and corruption.

But I don’t favor impeachment, as some have suggested. I would wait until after the election, when they are out of office, and then I would favor investigations of the top officials of the Bush administration on official deception, war crimes, and corruption charges. And if they are found guilty of these high crimes, I believe they should spend the rest of their lives in prison - after offering their repentance to every American family who has lost a son, daughter, father, mother, brother, or sister. Deliberately lying about going to war should not be forgiven.

Peter Wehner writes:
I wrote a piece for NRO at the time pointing out how reckless and misinformed Wallis’s charges were. It now appears as if Wallis is willing to play by different sets of (Christian) rules, depending on what best advances his political ideology. His is a cautionary tale: many of us who are Christians and in the political and policy arena struggle with how to allow our faith to animate our political and philosophical views without allowing it to become merely an instrument to advance a narrow political agenda. Our faith, while it certainly ought to be relevant to our public lives, should be trans-political and trans-ideological. And while faith can deepen one’s commitment to certain issues, the danger is that a passion for those commitments can sometimes manifest themselves in words that cross boundaries and are meant to wound. Tough and spirited exchanges are fine; mean and ad hominem ones are not.

I have found that it can sometimes be a delicate and difficult balancing act.

We could all benefit from more examples of, and more encouragement to strive for, authentic grace and civility in our public debates. It’s just that Jim Wallis, one of the more partisan and political figures you will find within Christianity, is not in the best position to be preaching on this particular subject. See Matthew 7:3 for more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gaffin on Enns and Westminster

Westminster's Richard Gaffin, in an 18-page document called Observations of a Controversy, writes in his cover letter:
“I have not shirked the difficult questions.” These words under the portrait of original faculty OT professor, Robert Dick Wilson, which hangs in Machen Hall in what was at one time the faculty dining room, have marked the institutional outlook of WTS from its beginning. They ought to be a watchword for everyone and every institution that takes studying the Bible seriously. At the same, however, it should be clear that the right way of addressing such questions is crucial. Solutions wrongly arrived at only compound the problems. No one I’m aware of is faulting I&I for raising problems and seeking their solutions (though it may be asked at a number of points whether matters he raises are really problems). The major difficulty with I&I is its proposed resolutions of problems.

This document is strongly critical of certain views of Dr. Enns, as deviating in important respects from Scripture and the Westminster Standards, Chapter 1 of the Confession in particular. I am keenly aware of the responsibility making such criticisms places on me, above all before the Lord.

Over the years I have received enough of what I consider unfair and misplaced criticism of my own views to be doubly concerned to avoid that in dealing with the views of others. After many hours of reflection and discussion, formal and informal, over the past several years, the analysis and criticisms expressed in this document are, for the most part, fairly firm. But where I may need to be corrected, I hope for grace to be given me to recognize and acknowledge that.

This is a sad time for Westminster. In the confusion that has descended upon us, with many I regret the stresses that have resulted, particularly for Dr. Enns and his family and for others as well. With many I’m deeply burdened about the magnitude of the differences that have emerged among us, faculty and board, and our inability to resolve them. Whatever one’s outlook on the issues involved in this controversy, I hope that many will also join me in beseeching our God that he will be pleased to preserve Westminster, consistent with his blessings on it in the past, for a future of usefulness to the church.
Read the whole thing.

HT: Joseph Randall

Schreiner at Oak Hill

In May Tom Schreiner delivered the 2008 Oak Hill School of Theology lectures on "Run to Win the Prize: The Nature of Warnings in New Testament Theology." (Oak Hill Theological College is in North London.)

Here are the online MP3s:

He also spoke on believers baptism and did a Q&A on it:

Ardel Caneday also mentions that "Tom is working on a manuscript for a trade book for a popular readership under the title, Run to Win the Prize."Caneday is apparently working on a similar project.

To read Schreiner's work on these issues, see The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance and the edited volume, Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ. For a summary of Schreiner's views on the former, see this article: Perseverance and Assurance: A Survey and a Proposal.

HT: A.B. Caneday / Dan Green

Seifrid's "Fresh Response" to N.T. Wright

Mark Seifrid, The Narrative of Scripture and Justification by Faith: A Fresh Response to N.T. Wright, Concordia Theological Journal 72:1 (January 2008): 19-44.

(Link fixed.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Christian Church in China

Keith Plummer:
Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune ran a fascinating and extensive cover story on the rapid rise of evangelical Christianity in China and how it's reshaping the officially atheist nation. According to some estimates, the mostly underground church consists of approximately 70 million members. The article is a preview of a joint project of the Trib and PBS' FRONTLINE/World called "Jesus in China" which airs tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET. The program is momentous in that it includes interviews with numerous church leaders and members publicly declaring their faith for the first time. In a related story, the LA Times reports on China's booming business of Bible production.

Christ's Righteousness and Continued Repentance

I was moved Sunday reciting (as a responsive reading) the following Puritan poem:

O God of grace,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth
the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

Hebrew Psalms: Wordled

Thanks to David Reimer for this one:

Yipeng has also "Wordled" the NT books (in English).
Casey has done it with a couple of shorter classics:

Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Luther's 95 Theses Copyright Violation

Some may remember that a few weeks ago I posted links to free online versions of Craig Keener's NT Backgrounds Commentary, as well as Howard Marshall's NT Theology. Recently Grudem's Systematic Theology has also appeared online.

The problem is that all of these are posted illegally by Andrew Amue of London. Legal action continues to be pursued. The upshot is that anyone who has linked to them should remove the link and not save these files on their computer.

Here's an email from John Hughes:
It has recently come to the attention of Wayne Grudem and myself that an illegal copy of his Systematic Theology has been posted on the Internet and that word of this, along with links to the site where the illegal copy is posted, has found its way to many Christian blog sites. I am working with Dr. Grudem to contact all sites that have links to this illegal copy of his book to ask them to remove the links immediately.

Dr. Grudem and I jointly hold the copyright to all electronic versions of his Systematic Theology. My company, Bits & Bytes, Inc., is the publisher of the Libronix, PC Study Bible, Pradis, and Olive Tree versions of this book. Posting a complete copy of Systematic Theology online is intellectual property theft -- a federal crime. Posting a link to the illegal copy or a link to a link is at the very least directing people to stolen goods.

On behalf of Dr. Grudem and myself, we respectfully request that all links to, and all links to links to, the illegal copy of Systematic Theology that is on the Internet be removed from all Christian blog sites. Thank you for honoring this request.

Sincerely, John Hughes, President Bits & Bytes, Inc.
And here's a press release that was sent to me when I posted earlier to the Keener and Howard books concerning the actions of Andrew Amue:
Phoenix, AZ—The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), on behalf of a coalition of its member publishers, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in London in October 2007 against a UK-based website, The suit asks that the court prohibit the site from continuing to post nearly 130 Christian works without permission. ECPA has asked the court this week to award a victory to ECPA by default.

The site, operated by Andrew Amue, has provided Christian books for download for almost seven years without acquiring the necessary licenses from the publishers. Amue first offered product downloads for free, then started charging a membership fee. ECPA and the publishers repeatedly demanded for Amue to respect the copyright of the works; however, Amue refused to secure the necessary license or to remove the content from his website.

Working with a UK-based lawyer, the ECPA team was able to shut down through its Internet Service Provider (ISP) in 2004. However, Amue found a new ISP and re-launched the website a short time later. “We realized quickly that this website would continue to pop up somewhere else,” says ECPA President Mark Kuyper. “It was like a digital ‘whack-a-mole’ arcade game.”

In 2006, ECPA and the publishing coalition, comprised of Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Baker Publishing Group, Tyndale, Moody, Logos Software, and IVP UK, began preparing legal action to prove Amue’s copyright infringement. The coalition is represented by Brian Flagler of the Flagler Law Group in the US and Martyn Bailey of Forbes Anderson Free in the UK. In light of Amue’s failure to respond to the allegations, ECPA has asked the court to award a victory by default.

“This lawsuit represents a clear and strong statement to would-be online infringers that blatant copyright infringement will not be tolerated by the ECPA community,” says Flagler. “The publishers in this case took great efforts to amicably resolve this infringement with Mr. Amue, but his continued actions made obvious that he intended to profit from his infringement with utter disregard for copyright. As the stewards of these works, many important theological research materials, the publishers chose to take action.”

“This case sets an important precedent in digital rights protection,” says Greg Thornton, Vice President of Publications, Moody Publishers. “And it will continue to be a significant issue as we move toward more and more digital content.”

Monday, June 23, 2008

Government Prizes as Incentives

John McCain's $300 million challenge is a smart move. McCain "proposed a $300 million government prize to whoever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology. The bounty would equate to $1 for every man, woman and child in the country, 'a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency.'"

But you have to admit: this would be even more fun, wouldn't it?


The folks at Resurgence have launched a crisp new website for Re:Lit (i.e., Resurgence Literature), the line of Resurgence books published by Crossway.

Henry Chadwick (1920-2008)

Carl Trueman points out that church historian Henry Chadwick died last week. The Guardian published an obituary by Rowan Williams. The NYT obit includes this memorable quote:
His most quoted line, spoken during a debate at the Anglicans’ General Synod in 1988, summarizes his own life’s work of finding answers in history. Professor Chadwick said, “Nothing is sadder than someone who has lost his memory, and the church which has lost its memory is in the same state of senility.”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Interview with Peter Jensen

As the archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen leads one of the most evangelical branches of global Anglicanism. After becoming archbishop in 2001, true to evangelical form, he announced an ambitious goal to grow the church. But this call was to all "Bible-based" churches to reach 10 percent of Sydney's 4.2 million people by 2012. Among other things, these efforts triggered the planting of 60 new congregations and a 30 percent increase in candidates for Anglican ministry—all at a time when Christian growth in Australia has leveled off significantly.

Starting on Sunday, June 22, Jensen will be among the 1,000 top conservatives from around the world to assemble in Jerusalem for GAFCON, the Global Anglican Futures conference. This event was organized quickly after leading conservatives decided not to attend Lambeth, the once-a-decade gathering of the 900-plus Anglican bishops. Many conservatives pulled out of Lambeth in the ongoing dispute over homosexual ordination and same-sex blessings. Jensen is serving as GAFCON's chief organizer.
Read an interview that CT did with Archbishop Jensen here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Frederick Douglass and Reconciliation

Claudia Anderson's cover story for the The Weekly Standard ends with this moving account:
Frederick Douglass marked the tenth anniversary of his escape in a special way. He published in the North Star an open letter to his former owner, Thomas Auld, one of the slaveholders whose religious profession he deemed a travesty. It is a most unusual and highly charged communication, and this is how it ends:

I will now bring this letter to a close; you shall hear from me again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery--as a means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deepening the horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the American church and clergy--and as a means of bringing this guilty nation, with yourself, to repentance. In doing this, I entertain no malice toward you personally. There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other.

I am your fellow-man, but not your slave.

There is a postscript that cannot be omitted. Twenty-nine years after writing this, Douglass was invited to return to Talbot County, Maryland, for the first time since he had been a slave there. Thomas Auld, over 80 and dying, heard of his presence in the neighborhood and sent for him. Douglass records that he was ushered straight into the bedroom, and the two old men were overcome with emotion. Neither showed malice. Each acknowledged ways he had wronged the other. They "conversed freely about the past" and parted reconciled.

Read the whole article.

(You can also read the whole letter, written in 1848.)

Dennis Rainey's Grandaughter

Tim Challies shares some heartbreaking-though-hope-filled emails about the lose of this little newborn girl.


CT Interview with Tim Keller

By Susan Wunderink.

A Quick Guide to This Election

John Mark Reynolds's analysis of the race--including what to look for in the months ahead--seems pretty reasonable to me.

ESV Wordled

Wordle is a program "for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."

As the ESV Blog points out, Andrew (at The Crazy Australian blog), took the ESV New Testament and created a Wordle of the most prominent words:

And David Reimer sends along his Worldle of the (ESV) Psalms:

If you want to see what the entire ESV text of the Bible looks like, click here.

Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life

Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life is a new biography by Colin Duriez.

Here are some endorsements:

"Francis Schaeffer was an amazing man—intellectually brilliant and set on truth, emotionally intense, devoted to God and compassionate; like Jeremiah, perplexed by the world, not because he didn’t understand it but because he did. As one of his editors, I came to know him well, but only after he emerged as a writer. For me Colin Duriez fills in the fascinating details of his early years. Yes, this was the man I knew—one who was surprised by God as his influence grew from his pastoring small churches to teaching thousands in auditoriums around the world, from conversations one on one or with a handful of students to intellectual sparring with elite secular scholars and pundits. Duriez knows his subject; Schaeffer, the Jeremiah of the twentieth century, walks and talks again in these pages."
James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door and A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics

"An excellent biography of this influential thinker, mingling personal memories and theological analysis. A must for Schaeffer's admirers and those wanting to develop his heritage today."
Alister E. McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology, Oxford University; Senior Research Fellow, Harris Manchester College, Oxford

“Francis Schaeffer taught evangelicals how to understand their world, exerting a profound influence over the next generation of young leaders after the publication in 1968 of The God Who Is There and Escape from Reason. His ministry at L’Abri, a Swiss center for caring for the hurt and the doubtful, had persuaded him of the need to discern how alternative worldviews had interacted over time with the Christian faith. He led the way, long before it was fashionable, in analyzing culture. Colin Duriez, who studied under Schaeffer and has interviewed many who were shaped by him, has written a lively biography that will introduce this powerful apologist to the twenty-first century.”
David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling

“I thank God for this unique servant of the Lord and now for this book. Dr Schaeffer was one of the most influential men in my life and in the movement of O.M. He affirmed us when many leaders were still keeping their distance. In 1966 he was the main speaker at an O.M. conference in Forest Hill, London, and our movement was never the same. This unique book is way overdue, and especially those of us who were impacted by this amazing man are very grateful. What Dr. Schaeffer wrote years ago is even more relevant in this postmodern era.”
George Verwer, Founder, Operation Mobilization

You can read the Contents, along with the Preface and Chapter 1, online for free.

N.T. Wright on The Colbert Report

Bishop Wright was recently interviewed about Surprised by Hope on the satirical show, The Colbert Report. The 7-minute interview starts about 10 and a half minutes into the show.

Thanks to Kevin Hash for the video:

Bible Questions

New Attitude:
What are your questions about the Bible?

Vote on which questions you most want answered about the Bible. Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Eric Simmons will answer the top five.

Before and after Na we asked you what questions you had about the Bible. After you submitted your questions we looked for the most common questions and topics, consolidated them, and now we’re leaving the final call up to you.

Voting ends June 30th.

Click here to see and vote on the questions.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Trip Lee: 20/20

I recently received the latest CD from Reach Records and Trip Lee, called 20/20. If you like hip-hop with a God-centered flavor, you'll love this album!

Trip Lee recently posted at the Desiring God blog about the partnership between Reach Life Ministries and DG.

And Lionel Woods reviewed the album, song by song.

Here are a couple of interviews with Trip Lee:

Patricia Salerno (1914-2008)

My grandmother once thought she saw an angel, but yesterday I know for sure that she saw Jesus.

Here's an email yesterday from my mom:
Today at noon God called my mom, Patricia Salerno, into His Presence. Almost every day for the past two months I have been able to speak with her and she has recited the 23rd Psalm with me. I was able to spend four glorious afternoons with her about a month ago singing and reading and praising God. She had a servant's heart and knitted slipper socks every day for the homeless in Denver.

Yesterday I commented that the time was near when she would be going to Heaven and seeing Jesus and asked if she was ready. She normally has had a whisper of a voice and she began yelling at the top of her lungs, "Amen; Amen!" so loudly and consistently that my sister had to leave the room and go to the end of the hall. I continued to hear her shouting. When my sister returned my mom closed her eyes and smiled. We thought she was gone but she opened them and continued yelling AMEN!

God was gracious to not allow her to suffer too long today and right before passing into the Presence of the Lord she slowly lifted her tiny hands up a bit and went into the arms of our loving Father.
May the Lord help us all to persevere to the end!

The Lutheran Study Bible

In October 2009 Concordia Publishing House will release The Lutheran Study Bible, which will be in the ESV. To read more about it, see this press release.

HT: James Grant

Obama and the Dilemma of Black Conservatives

A recent AP story featured a number of black conservatives who are thinking of voting for Barack Obama (e.g., J.C. Watts, Colin Powell, Armstrong Williams), and at least one who is definitely voting for him (John McWhorter).

(No mention of Thomas Sowell, who definitely will not be voting for Obama!)

Two responses of interest:

1. Obama was asked by David Brody "about his message to black conservatives who may be struggling with the fact that they have an historic chance and a real viable shot to vote for an African-American candidate for President yet may have to sacrifice some of their core principles to do it." Here is Obama's answer:
I don't want people abandoning their principles, and I don't want people voting for me because I'm black. What I'd ask is people take a look at my positions on issues, not what floats around the Internet, but rather what are my actual positions on issues. I think on some issues I would be considered left of the spectrum, there's no doubt. The fact that even though I've acknowledged abortion is a deeply, difficult moral issue, I continue to believe that women should be in a position to make that decision. That's something, that for some, and I respect this, is a deal breaker. On the other hand, I think there are a lot of conservatives out there who would say that my position on the importance of faith in our culture, my position on the need to care for the poor, my belief in individual responsibility - those are all issues that I think are compatible with many conservatives and so I'd ask people to not buy the political caricature, but actually take a look at my positions on the issues.

2. Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, writes (in part):
Even if one acknowledges that in this historic election it’s perfectly understandable that racial pride may have a profound influence, the fact that any conservative, regardless of ancestry, would vote for Obama demonstrates an impressive tolerance for risk. The question for many conflicted black conservatives is whether the benefits of having a black president outweigh the risks of having a liberal one.
HT: The Corner

Crossway Book Report

Crossway's Book Report (interviewing the authors of some recent books) is now online (PDF | HTML).

Here are the books covered:
  1. Healing for a Broken World: Christian Perspectives on Public Policy
  2. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution
  3. Quo Vadis, Evangelicalism?: Perspectives on the Past, Direction for the Future: Nine Presidential Addresses from the First Fifty Years of the “Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society”
  4. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life
  5. In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement
  6. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
  7. Mormonism Explained: What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice
  8. Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Difference Does the Gospel Make?

Here's a Bible conference in Chicagoland, at New Life Fellowship Church in Vernon Hills, IL, that looks well worth attending. It goes from June 19-21. Here's the lineup:
  • Introduction (Louis Love, Jr.)
  • Galatians 1 (Anthony Carter)
  • Galatians 2 (Sherard Burns)
  • Galatians 3 (Thabiti Anyabwile)
  • Galatians 4 (Anthony Carter)
  • Galatians 5 (Sherard Burns)
  • Galatians 6 (Thabiti Anyabwile)

Church Adoption Funds

Here is a program from the ABBA Fund that I hope many churches will consider:
Many believers are stepping out in faith and following God’s direction to care for orphans and expand their families through adoption, yet these families often are discouraged by seemingly insurmountable financial obstacles along the way. By establishing adoption funds, local churches can directly minister to their own church families by removing the financial barriers so often faced by adoptive families. At The ABBA Fund, we desire to use our experience and passion for adoption to assist churches in establishing and administering church adoption funds. We provide our services at no charge to the church so that every dollar contributed will be used to assist families in their time of need.
In addition to the good work being done by the ABBA folks, see also a similar ministry from Family Legacies.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3

I'm not much a techie guy, but one good choice I made years ago was to drop Internet Explorer as a web browser and to switch to Firefox.

Michael Buchmore of PCMag has a review of Firefox 3, just released:
Three years in development, over 15,000 bug fixes and feature improvements, a new page rendering engine, remarkable performance gains, multiple OS integration — you could say the several hundred engineers working on Firefox have been busy. And their work has paid off.

Speedy performance, thrifty memory usage, and, in particular, the address bar that now predicts where you want to go when you start typing (what Mozilla insiders refer to as the Awesome Bar) firmly plant Firefox at the top of the Web browser hill, flying the flag of our Editors' Choice for browsers.

In particular:
The top new feature has to be the address bar, what Mozilla types call "The Awesome Bar," but which the development team has officially dubbed the location bar. As you type into it, a list of suggested Web destinations based on your browsing history pops up.

It uses what Mozilla's phenomenologist Mike Beltzner has coined "frecency" — a combination of frequency and recentness — to determine the best suggestions. And, as icing on the cake, the search bar is now resizable, so you can divvy the space between the location and search bars to your taste.

When I tried it, the location bar's first suggestion was right on the money most of the time. Knowing that hitting the down arrow and Enter will usually get you where you want to go — not to mention save you untold keystrokes and time — will change your browsing habits.

You can download it for free here.


I'm a sucker for good sports stories like this:

HT: Layne Henn

The 500-Year Flood and the Kingdom of Christ

Baptist Press interviews Eric Schmuacher, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Eric, whom I've known since college, blogs at An Infant in a Cradle.)

During his sermon last Sunday (manuscript, audio), Eric said to his congregation:
Helplessness is overwhelming. If it is your house or business that the flood waters threatened, you sit and watch and wonder, “What can I do?” If you are fortunate enough to live in a higher and dryer place, you watch and wonder, “What can I do?”

There are a few things that we frequently encourage you, here at Northbrook Baptist, to do. One is to view all of Scripture—and all of life—in relation to Jesus Christ. We teach you that the Bible contains a storyline centered on Jesus Christ. The central theme of the entire Bible, I have said before, is the glory of God in the establishing and redemption of his Kingdom through Jesus Christ. If that is the theme of the Bible, then that is the goal of all history. Therefore, I have encouraged you to live all of life conscious of that truth.

This morning, with historic flooding present in our minds, I want us to ask this question, “Where do 500-year floods fit in the Christ-centered storyline of the Bible? Where do floods come from? How should we respond to them? Where can we find hope?”

To answer those questions is to understand the meaning of this flood.
My heart was deeply encouraged to read his exposition of the biblical storyline, showing how the Bible has the explanation and the answers for real questions and real needs. May this kind of preaching increase.

Pray for Eric and his church that they would remain faithful, that God would meet all of their needs, and that they would be servant-hearted witness.

Keller's Suggested Summer Reading

Tim Keller recommends some books, both fiction and non-fiction.

HT: James Grant

Obama and the Reduction of Abortion in America

Doug Kmiec, professor and chair of constitutional law at Pepperdine, is pro-life scholar and former Romney advisor who now supports Barrack Obama. He recently wrote about Obama's meeting with religious leaders, where abortion was discussed at length. One of Kmiec's points is that Obama earnestly desires to reduce abortion.

Richard Garnett, associate professor of law at Notre Dame, responds:
Obama's "full-throated, unqualified support for abortion rights, do not seem to provide a basis for concluding that, in fact, he would be willing to do anything to "discourage" abortion, other than to support social-welfare initiatives which he would support in any event. . . . [T]hese programs and efforts will come packaged with a roll-back of the few pro-life legislative and executive-branch victories that have been secured during the past decade or so.

. . . [E]ven if it is true — of course it is true — that overturning Roe would not end abortion, and that there are ways to reduce the number of abortions that do not involve overturning Roe — and even if we accept, as I do, that many reasonable, faithful Christians will conclude, given the givens, that their best option is to vote for Obama, the fact is that President Obama will sign legislation and issue executive orders that remove currently existing regulations, that undermine conscience-protections and religious-freedom protections for hospitals and health-care professionals who do not wish to participate in abortion, and that use public funds to pay for abortions and embryo-destroying research.
Ramesh Ponnuru asks:
The next time Obama does an outreach event with conservative or moderate evangelicals or Catholics, I hope someone will ask him how his support for taxpayer-funded abortion squares with his earnest desire to reduce the incidence of the procedure. (Obama is a co-sponsor of the "Freedom of Choice Act.") And do these folks that Mr. Thoughtful's campaign can't even bring itself to call them "pro-life," instead using the term "anti-choice"?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thank God for Freedoms and Power-Restraints

A good post by John Piper, reflecting on the President's comments after the Supreme Court's decision on the rights of unlawful combatants at Guantanamo Bay.

Ferguson Sermon Series on the Book of James

Here's a sermon series by Sinclair Ferguson I just started listening to:

Schreiner's NT Theology

Collin Hansen interviews Tom Schreiner about his new book, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ.

What Is a Healthy Church Member?

Thabiti Anyabwile's new book is What Is a Healthy Church Member? and it looks like a gem.

Here's D.A. Carson:
Some books are so simple they are scarcely worth skimming; others are so complex that unless their subject matter is extraordinarily important, they are not worth the time they demand. But sometimes one finds a book that is simultaneously simple and profound—and this is one of them. In a generation when many people are talking about the importance of Christians living "in community," few have unpacked, in biblically faithful and personally penetrating ways, just what that means. Thabiti Anyabwile closes the gap. Read it, think about it, pray over it—and distribute it generously around your congregation.
Here are some samples:
Heritage Books reviews the book today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Church Band Seminar

If you're involved with leading worship or playing music in your church, here's a church band seminar broken up in YouTube video segments that could be very helpful.

Russert on Charlie Rose

Here is an hour-long interview with Tim Russert, including talk about his bestselling book, Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life.

It's a fitting thing to watch some snippets of this on Father's Day, as I don't know if there are too many people in public life who have honored their father like Russert did.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

HBC Missions Conference 08

Here is a promo video for those who are willing to have their heart stirred toward God's global purposes:

How We Got the Bible

Zondervan has just published a 96-page hardcover called How We Got the Bible: A Visual Journey, by Clinton Arnold. It's chock full of full-color photographs and illustrations, depicting history, archaeology, manuscripts, and Bibles. It is a rewarding experience to read such a well-done book about the Good Book!

The Law of Moses and the Christian

I've done a fair bit of reading on Christ and the law over the years, but today I reread an article that I remember being especially provocative and insightful. Written 17 years ago by David Dorsey, it's called, “The Law of Moses and the Christian: A Compromise,” JETS 34 (1991): 321-34.

Dorsey intends to propose a "compromise view that in my opinion is more in keeping with the spirit of both the OT and the NT, is less encumbered by logical fallacies, and best accounts for the apparent ambivalence of the NT on the issue of the law." What, then, is his view? "Simply stated it holds that, legally, none of the 613 stipulations of the Sinaitic covenant are binding upon NT Christians, including the so-called moral laws, while in a revelatory and pedagogical sense all 613 laws are binding upon us, including all the ceremonial and civil laws."

The questions below are mine; the answers are from Dorsey's article:

What was the purpose or design of the law of Moses?
  1. The corpus was designed to regulate the lives of a people living in the distinctive geographical and climatic conditions found in the southern Levant, and many of the regulations are inapplicable, unintelligible, or even nonsensical outside that regime.
  2. The corpus was designed by God to regulate the lives of a people whose cultural milieu was that of the ancient Near East.
  3. The Mosaic corpus was intended to regulate the lives of people whose religious milieu was that of the ancient Near Eastern world (particularly Canaan) and would be more or less inapplicable outside that world.
  4. The code of laws was issued by God to lay the detailed groundwork for and regulate the various affairs of an actual politically- and geographically-defined nation.
  5. The corpus was formulated to establish and maintain a cultic regime that has been discontinued with the Church (cf. Heb 8:18; etc.).
Won't it work to divine the law into three parts—moral, ceremonial, and civil--such that the ceremonial and civil have been fulfilled by Christ, but the moral continues on into today?
  1. The scheme of a tripartite division is unknown both in the Bible and in early rabbinic literature.
  2. The categorizing of certain selected laws as “moral” is methodologically questionable.
  3. The attempt to formulate this special category in order to “save” for NT Christians a handful of apparently universally-applicable laws—particularly the ones quoted in the NT—is an unnecessary effort. There is a more logical, Biblically supported approach to the law that retains for Christians not only the very heart of the so-called “moral” laws but also the underlying moral truths and principles, indeed the very spirit, of every one of the 613 laws.
What role does the Mosaic law play in the lives of Christians today?

Having suggested that the Mosaic law in its entirety be removed from the backs of Christians in one sense, I would propose that the corpus be placed back into their hands in another sense: the entire corpus—not just the “moral” laws but all 613—moral, ceremonial, civil. If on the one hand the evidence strongly suggests that the corpus is no longer legally binding upon Christians, there is equally strong evidence in the NT that all 613 laws are profoundly binding upon Christians in a revelatory and pedagogical sense.

How then do we apply the OT laws to our own lives today?

I would suggest the following theocentric hermeneutical procedure for applying any of the OT laws, whether the law be deemed ceremonial, judicial, or moral:
  1. Remind yourself that this law is not my law, that I am not legally bound by it, that it is one of the laws God issued to ancient Israel as part of his covenant with them.
  2. Determine the original meaning, significance and purpose of the law.
  3. Determine the theological significance of the law.
  4. Determine the practical implications of the theological insights gained from this law for your own NT circumstances.
Read the whole thing.

Parkview Church in Iowa City

Scott Sterner posts some pictures from within the church.

The Encroaching Barbarity of Cable TV Excess

This line from a blog post about Tim Russert grabbed my attention: "He was also the tallest sentry standing guard at civility and seriousness' weary gate against the encroaching barbarity of cable TV excess."

If you want to see Exhibit A in exploitive cable TV's , here's a clip from Nancy Grace interviewing Elizabeth Smart (who was kidnapped several years ago), ostensibly about a bill that was before Congress. Grace's approach is beyond parody, and illustrates so much of what is wrong with such shows:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pray for Iowa

We have several connections to places being hit by the disasters in Iowa (the tornado that killed the four Boy Scouts is 50 miles from our hometown of Sioux City; Cedar Falls is where we went to college; and we know folks on the pastoral staff at the church pictured below in Iowa City).

Pray that God would give the people who are suffering physical safety and meet their physical needs, but also that God would use this time and these events to spiritually rescue many who do not yet know him.

SBC Member Rolls

There are 16 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention. Only 6 million of them attended their worship service in a church during a typical week last year.

Ted Olsen has an update on a resolution passed by the convention to maintain accurate, rather than bloated, membership rolls.

E-MASQL8: A Cure for the Common Boy

This spoof ad is from the back cover of Salvo Magazine, in conjunction with S.T. Karnick's article, Girly Men: The Media's Attack on Masculinity.

Via Amanda Witt, who recounts a funny story about two boys discovering this ad!

(HT: James Grant)

ESV Study Bible: Introduction to the Book of Revelation

Crossway had now uploaded the Introduction to the Book of Revelation (8 MB PDF) from the ESV Study Bible.

In the OT, there are a number of essays introducing the various types of literature: Pentateuch (Gordon Wenham); Historical Books (David Howard); Poetic and Wisdom Literature (David Reimer); Prophetic Books (Paul House). The same is true in the NT: The Gospels and Acts (Darrell Bock) and The Epistles (Tom Schreiner). Instead of having a separate NT essay on interpreting apocalyptic literature (which would apply to only one book in the NT), we expanded the Introduction to Revelation to include greater discussion about genre and the various approaches to this complex book.

Here are the various things included in this intro:
  • Author and Title
  • Date
  • Genre
  • Theme
  • Purpose, Occasion, and Background
  • History of Salvation Summary
  • Timeline (a background timeline, not timeline of the events in the book)
  • Key Themes
  • Literary Features (by Leland Ryken)
  • Schools of Interpretation (historicism, futurism, preterism, idealism, mixed)
  • Millennial Views (premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism
  • Full-color map of the setting of the book (seven churches of Asia)
  • Structure and Outline
Also included are a few pages from chapters 1 and 2 to give you a sense of the font size, layout, etc. On p. 13 there is a chart mapping the various elements in the edict-letter from Christ to his seven churches.

It may be helpful to give a quick explanation regarding the different types of notes and how they work with the outline.

For example, if you look at the outline (p. 10), here are the first two entries:

Then if you go to the first few notes (p. 11), you'll see that there are three different types of notes.

Corresponding to the first point of the outline is a summary note for the prologue (vv. 1-8) in a shaded box:

The next note, with just the section title shaded, is a summary of the second point of the outline:

The third type of note, then, looks at the individual verses within those sections:

A couple of other things to note: (1) the 33% pre-order discount ends this Sunday, June 15; (2) pastors and churches leaders can email to receive free informational brochures to provide to their church or ministry (while supplies last; U.S. residents only).

DG Conference: The Power of Words

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Interview with Michael Ward

Roger Overton interviews Michael Ward about Planet Narnia:

Frame Review of Enns's "Inspiration and Incarnation"

John Frame has just posted on his web page a 7500-word review of Peter Enns's Inspiration and Incarnation. I always enjoy reading Frame's reviews, which I invariably find stimulating and helpful.

Here's the conclusion:

I commend Enns for writing a very stimulating book, packed with useful, digestible information about Scripture and the literature of the Ancient Near East. His motive is to help the church to move away from a sort of over-defensive treatment of Scripture rigidly defined by a grammatical-historical method that Scripture itself doesn’t endorse. I applaud that as well. I do nevertheless disagree with the book more than I agree with it.

1. In regard to the “non-uniqueness” of biblical laws, institutions, and literary genres, I think the “problems” are artificially created by Enns. Most sophisticated readers of the Bible understand that it is not unique in these ways, but to my knowledge very few of these, if any, see that as posing a problem for biblical authority or interpretation. So I could simply agree with Enns on the data and then move on.

But in this section he shows an unwillingness, curious for an evangelical, to say anything about the relation of inspiration to historical factuality. When he speaks about “evidence” for this or that event, the evidence is always inductive, never an appeal to divine inspiration as evidence. Perhaps Enns thinks that inspiration is such an event that we may never appeal to it as evidence. I think that position is inconsistent with Scripture’s own view of itself.[17]

2. When he discusses “theological diversity” in his oddly undifferentiated way, he mostly speaks of diversities of perspective and of emphasis, diversities that ought to be entirely uncontroversial. But from time to time he slides into discussing diversities that could amount to actual disagreements between one passage and another. He refuses to discuss the implications of this for the doctrine of biblical infallibility and inerrancy. Rather he suggests that to deal with such matters would be an “abstract discussion” that we should avoid. On the contrary, I believe that these questions are the real heart of the issue.

3. In dealing with the use of the OT in the NT, Enns presents a number of examples that appear to be “eisegesis” (his word), reading into the texts. He discusses Second Temple hermeneutics and Christotelic exegesis to indicate what the NT writers were doing. But the discussion quite falls apart when he gets to the question of how we today should read the OT. We should not follow a method, he says, but should walk with our community under the guidance of the Spirit. This is fine as far as it goes. But Scripture itself implies that our proclamation of the gospel should be clear and certain, distinct from and antithetical to false teaching. That is to say that the Spirit witnesses to the word, and we find the truth through his “speaking in the Scripture” (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.10). Enns certainly agrees. But he leaves us up in the air as to how in practice we should judge between true and false readings of Scripture. How can we agree communally on what the Spirit is saying to us in the Scripture, when so many sects and denominations disagree as to what he is saying?

So though I find much to agree with in this book, in the end I would not recommend it as a basic text on biblical inspiration to a seminary-level reader (let alone for the less mature). Seminarians need to study biblical inspiration in a way that motivates both humility and confidence in God’s word. The present volume says much (both legitimately and illegitimately) to motivate humility. It says nothing to promote confidence in the truth of the biblical text. That, I think, is a serious criticism.

Biography of George Ladd

Oxford University Press is publishing a biography of the late, influential NT scholar, George Ladd and his role in reviving evangelical scholarship: A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America, by Dr. John A. D’Elia, senior minister of the American Church in London.

Here's the description:

George Eldon Ladd was a pivotal figure in the resurgence of evangelical scholarship in America during the years after the Second World War. Ladd’s career as a biblical scholar can be seen as a quest to rehabilitate evangelical thought both in content and image, a task he pursued at great personal cost. Best known for his work on the doctrine of the Kingdom of God, Ladd moved from critiquing his own movement to engaging many of the important theological and exegetical issues of his day.

Ladd was a strong critic of dispensationalism, the dominant theological system in conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism, challenging what he perceived to be its anti-intellectualism and uncritical approach to the Bible. In his impressive career at Fuller Theological Seminary, Ladd participated in scholarly debates on the relationship between faith and historical understanding, arguing that modern critical methodologies need not preclude orthodox Christian belief. Ladd also engaged the thought of Rudolf Butlmann, the dominant theological figure of his day. Ladd’s main focus, however, was to create a work of scholarship from an evangelical perspective that the broader academic world would accept. When he was unsuccessful in this effort, he descended into depression, bitterness, and alcoholism. But Ladd played an important part in opening doors for later generations of evangelical scholars, both by validating and using critical methods in his own scholarly work, and also by entering into dialogue with theologians and theologies outside the evangelical world.

It is a central theme of this book that Ladd’s achievement, at least in part, can be measured in the number of evangelical scholars who are today active participants in academic life across a broad range of disciplines.

And here are some blurbs:

"George Ladd was arguably the leading 'new evangelical' biblical scholar in the mid-decades of the twentieth century. He was also a person whose life and work were filled with intriguing tensions and contrasts. John D'Elia tells this poignant and fascinating story well." --George M. Marsden, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Fundamentalism and American Culture

"In this poignant and gracefully written account, John D'Elia unflinchingly but sympathetically recounts the personal and professional torments of George Eldon Ladd. Making extensive use of Ladd's own files, D'Elia sketches the twin paradoxes of Ladd's life: although eager to find 'a place at the table' of the larger scholarly community, Ladd deemed his own efforts towards that end a failure, and although he wrote extensively of the presence of the kingdom, he struggled to taste its fruits in his own life. Ironically, Ladd never truly understood his greatest legacy his crucial role in the development of evangelical biblical scholarship. D'Elia offers a welcome tribute to Ladd's legacy." --Marianne Meye Thompson, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

"D'Elia's biography of George Eldon Ladd is powerful and perceptive. He introduces us to a person who is spiritual and ambitious, intelligent and insecure, bold and troubled all at the same time. This is compelling reading for anyone interested in either the intellectual history of Evangelicalism or the movement's continuing struggle to secure and maintain 'a place at the table' of the mainstream scholarship." --Douglas Jacobsen, Distinguished Professor of Church History and Theology at Messiah College, and author of Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement

HT: James Grant