Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Devotional

Today is the first day of Advent.

Christ the King Presbyterian Church
in Raleigh, NC, has put together this Christ-centered devotional for families and churches, which I would warmly recommend.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Discounted ESV Study Bibles in the UK for Christmas

Adrian Warnock:
If you live in the UK, you may be struggling to get a copy of the ESV Study Bible. Your best option is Amazon.co.uk, which is usually the cheapest, but is having some problems with fulfilling orders from what I hear. Certainly many editions are out of stock.

You will be glad to know, therefore, that I have been able to negotiate a special discount from a leading Christian online bookstore. 10ofthose.com is a site that helps fund various Christian ministries. They have access to a stock of these study Bibles, and promised me they can deliver for Christmas. A box of ten will be even cheaper than their special offer, and if you enter adrianwarnock.com as the discount code before checkout, in most cases you will see a further drop in the price you are charged. Explore the following links; I am promised that they can immediately dispatch copies of the Study Bible, at least at the moment.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Obama's Economic Team

Karl Rove and Larry Kudlow like the team Obama has assembled.

What Is Hyper-Calvinism?

What is "Hyper-Calvinism"? Phil Johnson has a good primer on the subject:
A fivefold definition: The definition I am proposing outlines five varieties of hyper-Calvinism, listed here in a declining order, from the worst kind to a less extreme variety (which some might prefer to class as "ultra-high Calvinism"):

A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
  1. Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear,
  2. OR Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner,
  3. OR Denies that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal),
  4. OR Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace,"
  5. OR Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
All five varieties of hyper-Calvinism undermine evangelism or twist the gospel message.
Read the whole thing.

For more on this subject, see Iain Murray's book, Spurgeon v. Hyper Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.

You can also read Phil Johnson's latest response to the ongoing caricatures and misunderstandings of David Allen--a professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a participant in the "John 3:16" conference.

Update: Link to the "response" now fixed.

Video Interview with Donald Hagner

Donald Hagner is George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The Centre for Public Christianity interviewed him here:
The apostle Paul: redneck or revolutionary?
How should we view the apostle Paul?

Doubts about Jesus and the New Testament
Is the existence of Jesus in doubt?

History and faith
How does the Christian historian avoid being a Christian apologist?

Sources behind the gospels
Does the use of sources by the gospel writers make their texts suspicious?

Gospel of Matthew exposed. Part 1
A brief guide to Matthew's gospel.

Gospel of Matthew exposed. Part 2
How do scholars explain difficult passages in Matthew

Gospel of Matthew exposed. Part 3
What are the major themes of Matthew's gospel?

How was the New Testament put together?
How did the ancient church choose which books to include in the New Testament?

Second Century Literature
Who were the key Christian writers in the second century?

Mark Dever on the Gospel and Evangelism

DG did some YouTube interviews with Mark Dever:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

American Thanksgivings

Ira Stoll in the Wall Street Journal looks back at the first Thanksgiving proclamation--not by Lincoln, but by Samuel Adams in 1777.

And David Gelernter in The Weekly Standard looks back at Lincoln's last Thanksgiving, April 11, 1865--two days after end of the Civil War and four days before the president was murdered.

Both articles explore the historical situation at those times.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Lincoln, October 3, 1863, after acknowledging the positive blessings in America despite the terrible pain of the Civil War:
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
Read the whole thing.

Zane Hodges (1933–2008)

Dan Wallace:
I learned today that one of my former professors and colleagues, Zane Hodges, passed from this life to the next over the weekend. Zane was 75 years old when he died. He was at the center of some major debates within evangelical circles, namely, how salvation is to be defined and what constitutes the original text of the New Testament. He viewed salvation as that which was bestowed solely by faith in Christ, and that one does not necessarily have to persevere in faith to be saved. And by this perseverance, he meant that a saved individual did not have to have either good works or even continued faith to be saved. His view of the text of the New Testament was that the majority of manuscripts, regardless of age, were the surest pointer to the original text. He was responsible for resurrecting Dean Burgon’s views of the text within scholarly circles. Both of these views are quite controversial in evangelical circles.
Read the whole thing for more. (I join Dr. Wallace in strongly disagreeing with many of Dr. Hodges's views, but it is important to remember that the man was a Christian, called by Jesus Christ, and should be honored in his death. Please keep that in mind if you choose to comment.)

Recommended Reading

Some book recommendations from Mike Bullmore.

An Interview with Jerry Bridges

C.J. Mahaney talks with Jerry Bridges about "preaching the gospel to yourself"--where the idea originated, what it means, and the effect it can have on our lives.

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

Chuck Colson, writing a couple of years ago:
Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving—at least, we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?

No, I’m not talking about some revisionist, politically correct version of history. I’m talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.

Read the whole thing.

Here's the conclusion:
Squanto’s life story is remarkable, and we ought to make sure our children and grandchildren learn about it. Sadly, most books about Squanto omit references to his Christian faith. But I’m delighted to say that Eric Metaxas has written a wonderful children’s book called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. I highly recommend it. It will teach your kids about the “special instrument sent of God” who changed the course of American history.
In addition to the book above, you can also get the audio drama, The Legend of Squanto (1 and 1/2 hours), from Focus on the Family's outstanding Radio Theatre.

Thanking the Puritans on Thanksgiving

Peter Augustine Lawler--Dana Professor of Government at Berry College--writes on why we should thank God for the Puritans, what they taught us, and what we've lost from their example, in this new essay. Here's the opening paragraph:
Who should we thank on Thanksgiving, as we count our blessings? A complete list, beginning with God Himself, is far above my pay grade. But if we begin at least very near the beginning, we should thank those who gave us Thanksgiving — the Pilgrims or Puritans — for all they have given us.

Observing Evangelicalism with Don Carson

Mark Dever interviews D.A. Carson (73:09).

Video Interviews with John Lennox

John Dickson interviews John Lennox, Professor in Mathematics at University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green College, University of Oxford:
Who is John Lennox?
Introduction to the Professor

A Good God?
Hope for a mucked up world

Science, Atheism and Belief
Has science buried God?

Face off!
Debating Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens

Science, the Bible and belief in the 21st Century
Do you have to put your brain to one side to read the Bible?

Atheism and morality
Does atheism provide grounds for morality?

The evils of Christendom
Do the evils done in the name of Christ show that Christianity has failed?

Russian adventures
Professor Lennox discusses his experiences in Eastern Europe

Creator or the Multiverse?
Does the fine tuning of the universe point to God or an infinite collection of universes?

Christianity and the tooth fairy
Does science deal with reality and religion with everything else?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratitude for Pastors and an Opportunity to Register for the DG Pastors' Conference for Free

Abraham Piper:
1. Blog why you appreciate your pastor.

2. Link here.

3. Monday, I’ll randomly select a post and give 2 conference registrations to that pastor.

Update: The winner will be selected from those who post their gratitude on their own blog. I’m sorry if that was unclear.

Go to the post.

Richard Owen Roberts on Biblical Thanksgiving

Richard Owen Roberts--author, proprietor of the eponymous bookstore, and a fellow member at Grace Community Bible Church--preached an outstanding sermon last Sunday on the biblical concept of thanksgiving. It's worth a listen to increase your gratitude to God.

Fred Sanders: Why Professors Blog

Fred Sanders:
It’s easy enough to find horror stories of professors “fired for blogging” (just google the phrase), or job applicants who suspect their strong online opinions have rendered them less than hireable. But what I wanted was evidence that somebody had been hired for blogging, or promoted for it, or that professors were using new media activity to make progress on their professorial goals. Instead of just brainstorming about my own reasons, I interviewed a handful of my favorite academic bloggers in my own field, Bible and theology. Here are some of the most helpful remarks from Michael Bird, Scot McKnight, Andreas K√∂stenberger, and Peter Leithart.
Read the whole thing.

Promoting the Gospel in the Local Church

Audio from the recent Promoting the Gospel Conference at LaGrange Baptist Church, featuring John Dickson, director of the Centre for Public Christianity:

iPhone App for Advent

Here's an iPhone app to help you prepare for Advent.

(The link to the app in the iPhone store is here.)

HT: Matt Anderson

Monday, November 24, 2008

Encouragement for Procrastinators

No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow.
It is only when they are behind us and done,
that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards,
and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant.

Accomplished, they are full of blessing,
and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us.
Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility,
and hindering our communion with God.

If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink,
go straight up to it, and do it at once.
The only way to get rid of it is to do it.

-Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910), Scottish preacher

Annual Greek New Testament Reading Program

For a calendar and brief explanation, see this poster from Lee Irons.

Bob Jones University “Profoundly Sorry” for Being “Racially Hurtful”

Read a Statement about Race at Bob Jones University.

National Geographic Blows It Again

A good post here from Craig Blomberg on whether or not it is historically defensible to believe that Herod ordered the execution of those boys under two years old in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus' birth.

Victor Davis Hanson on Latin in High School

Victor Davis Hanson:

Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the "role model" diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles's Antigone in Greek or Thucydides' dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies--indeed, anything "studies"-- were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.

HT: Power Line

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas

Nancy Guthrie has put together an outstanding anthology of Advent readings, entitled Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas.

It contains 22 readings from older pastors and theologians, as well as contemporary ones:

In the former category:
  • Augustine
  • Martin Luther
  • John Calvin
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • George Whitefield
  • J. C. Ryle
  • Charles H. Spurgeon
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • Francis A. Schaeffer
And in the latter:
  • Randy Alcorn
  • Alistair Begg
  • James Montgomery Boice
  • Kent Hughes
  • Tim Keller
  • John Piper
  • Ligon Duncan
  • John MacArthur
  • Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
  • J. I. Packer
  • Joseph "Skip" Ryan
  • R. C. Sproul
  • Joni Eareckson Tada
You can read some sample material online:

Church Giving During the Depression vs. Giving Now

This is a sobering statistic:
In fact, fewer than 5 percent of churchgoers actually tithe 10 percent of their income; the average, according to numbers from Empty Tomb, a Christian research group that puts out annual reports on church giving, is now 3.4 percent, or 21 percent less than what dust-bowler counterparts gave during the worst of the Great Depression. Figures show that churchgoer contributions have been cascading downward since the 1960s. Religious conservatives do give more. Problem is, they only give nominally more and other groups give next to nothing.
My emphasis. Read the whole thing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Conference on the Gospel and Children

From June 2008, at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC:
  • The Gospel for Children - Part 1 (William Mackenzie)
  • The Gospel for Children - Part 2 (Carine Mackenzie)
  • Let the Children Come (Sinclair Ferguson)
  • The Church and Children - Part 1 (William Mackenzie)
  • The Church and Children - Part 2 (Carine Mackenzie)
  • Question & Discussion Session
  • Christian Parenting - Part 1 (William Mackenzie)
  • Christian Parenting - Part 2 (Carine Mackenzie)
  • Can Our Children Survive the World? (William Mackenzie)
HT: Scott Anderson

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough

This looks like a great book from Michael Wittmer: Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough.

Michael Horton writes:
On all sides Christians are being pressed to make false choices: doctrine or life, orthodoxy or orthopraxy, conviction or humility, faith or works. In Don’t Stop Believing, Mike Wittmer challenges this type of thinking and injects a whole lot of sanity into contemporary church life and discipleship. No one who has adopted one side or other of these false choices will be happy with this book and we’ll all be challenged, but nobody will be bored. It treats some of the most serious problems and wonderful opportunities in the church today with great wisdom, simplicity, and refreshing clarity.
In the chapters Dr. Wittmer looks at 10 key questions swirling around today:
  • Must you believe something to be saved?
  • Do right beliefs get in the way of good works?
  • Are people generally good or basically bad?
  • Which is worse: homosexuals or the bigots who persecute them?
  • Is the cross divine child abuse?
  • Can you belong before you believe?
  • Does the kingdom of God include non-Christians?
  • Is hell for real and forever?
  • Is it possible to know anything?
  • Is the Bible God's true word?
In examining each of these issues, Wittmer argues that both right belief and right practice are essential for true Christianity.

In the fall of 2005 Wittmer was part of a conference on the emerging church (along with Brian McLaren). If you want to get a taste of his teaching, here's the audio: Emerging Church: A Historical/Theological Professor's Reflections. (You can also view PowerPoint slides from this session.)

Bruce Ware: Karis Theology Weekend

From the Karis website:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tony Jones: Monogamous GLBTQ Should Be Sanctioned and Blessed by the Church

Tony Jones, in a Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue with Rod Dreher:

"I now believe that GLBTQ [people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state."

Read the whole thing, if you want to.
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

--Isaiah 5:20

Fight FOCA

Consider signing the Fight FOCA [Freedom of Choice Act] Petition.

No matter your political persuasion or feeling on the role of politics, it's a simple thing you can do to help fight against this legislation, which would:
eradicate state and federal laws that the majority of Americans support, such as:
  • Bans on Partial Birth Abortion
  • Requirements that women be given information about the risks of getting an abortion
  • Only licensed physicians can perform abortions
  • Parents must be informed and give consent to their minor daughter's abortion
FOCA would erase these laws and prevent states from enacting similar protective measures in the future.
For more background and information on this Act, please see my post here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wrong Debate Date

Denny Burk: "The discussion and floor debate are scheduled for Wednesday evening, not Thursday evening." See his post for the schedule.

Zondervan Acquires Online Community-Building Resource for Churches

Zondervan acquires The City, an online community-building software program from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and as a result, its creator Zack Hubert joins Zondervan as Vice President of Church Community Network.

Obama's Heterodoxy

Steven Waldman:

The most detailed and fascinating explication of Barack Obama's faith came in a 2004 interview he gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The column she wrote about the interview has been quoted and misquoted many times over, but she'd never before published the full transcript in a major publication.

Because of how controversial that interview became, Falsani has graciously allowed us to print the full conversation here.

Read the whole thing.

Some reactions (click their names to read more of their thoughts):

Joe Carter:

. . . from a political point of view, whether the President is a Christian, Jew, Muslim, whatever, should make no difference. But I believe it is useful to have an idea of what theological commitments we might have in common. And after reading this interview, I would say that Obama and I share very few beliefs. . . . In fact, nowhere in the interview did I ever get the impression that Obama subscribes to even the most basic beliefs that are typically associated with being a Christian.
Rod Dreher:
Unless Obama was being incredibly and uncharacteristically inarticulate, this is heterodox. You cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. You just can't. . . . People think you can make this stuff up as you go along, and that nobody has the right to define authoritatively what any of it means. It's the Church of Christianity without Christ. It's Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, so let's call it what it is -- but not what it is not, which is Christianity.
Daniel Larison:
Ultimately, the inquiry into Obama’s faith does not tell us much that we didn’t already know, which is that he is a liberal Protestant with an accordingly poor grounding in theological orthodoxy. I have to wonder how much power this critique has unless it is made as part of a general argument for theological conservatism in public life. Would cultural conservatives be open to this kind of critique when it is one of theirs being criticized, or would they repeat the arguments marshalled in defense of Romney?
Ross Douthat:
Given the muddled way in which most Americans approach religion, and the pervasiveness of heterodoxy, I suppose I'm basically with Alan Jacobs: I think that figuring out exactly what sort of things Obama believes about God and Christ and everything else, and how those beliefs may affect his Presidency, is ultimately a more profitable pursuit than arguing about whether he should be allowed to call himself a Christian. Or put another way: I expect my Presidents to be heretics, but I think it matters a great deal what kind of heretics they are.

Karnick on How the Forced Recognition of Same-Sex "Marriage" Undermines a Free Society

S. T. Karnick:
From the beginning, the debate over “same-sex marriage” has been one of those topsy-turvy issues in which the side that is truly tolerant and fair has been characterized as narrow-minded and oppressive, while the side that is intolerant and blatantly coercive has been depicted as open-minded and sympathetic.

Favoring government-enforced recognition of same-sex “marriage” is not, as the media invariably characterize it, a kindly, liberal-minded position, but instead a fierce, coercive, intolerant one. Despite their agonized complaints about the refusal of the majority of Americans to give in on the subject, those who advocate government recognition of same-sex “marriage” want to use coercion to deny other people their fundamental rights.

The issue, it’s important to remember, is not whether society will allow homosexuals to “marry.” They may already do so, in any church or other sanctioning body that is willing to perform the ceremony. There are, in fact, many organizations willing to do so. . . . Such institutions either explicitly allow the consecration or blessing of same-sex “marriages” or look the other way when individual congregations perform such ceremonies.

No laws prevent these churches from conducting marriage ceremonies—and nearly all Americans would agree that it is right for the government to stay out of a church’s decision on the issue. Further, any couple of any kind may stand before a gathering of well-wishers and pledge their union to each other, and the law will do nothing to prevent them. Same-sex couples, or any other combination of people, animals, and inanimate objects, can and do “marry” in this way. What the law in most states currently does not do, however, is force third parties—individuals, businesses, institutions, and so on—to recognize these “marriages” and treat them as if they were exactly the same as traditional marriages. Nor does it forbid anyone to do so.

An insurance company, for example, is free to treat a same-sex couple (or an unmarried two-sex couple) the same way it treats married couples, or not. A church can choose to bless same-sex unions, or not. An employer can choose to recognize same-sex couples as “married,” or not. As Richard Thompson Ford noted in Slate, “In 1992 only one Fortune 500 company offered employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners; today hundreds do.”

In short, individuals, organizations, and institutions in most states are currently free to treat same-sex unions as marriages, or not. This, of course, is the truly liberal and tolerant position. It means letting the people concerned make up their own minds about how to treat these relationships. But this freedom is precisely what the advocates of same-sex “marriage” want to destroy; they want to use the government’s power to force everyone to recognize same-sex unions as marriages whether they want to or not.

Read the whole thing.

HT: A-Team

Concise Reformed Dogmatics

November 17-24 WTS Books is offering a special introductory price--40%--the new English translation of Concise Reformed Dogmatics.

Here are a few blurbs for this important work:
When an 800 page book has "Concise" in its title, we expect a different perspective. Indeed, this book comes from the Netherlands, the land of Kuyper and Bavinck, where three- and four-volume theology texts are the rule. Indeed, Concise Reformed Dogmatics is immersed in the theological traditions and dialogues of continental Europe, though its main allegiance is to the Scriptures by which, the authors say, all dogmas must be tested. English speaking Christians should be better acquainted with the perspective of our European brothers. In this book we will get that broader picture, while being reminded that good, solid Reformed theology can be found in many locations. So the book edifies in both its similarities and its differences from the way we formulate doctrine.

- Dr. John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary

At a time when there seems to be renewed interest in the Reformation and, specifically, the Reformed stream, this concise theology is a wellspring of the best that our confession has to offer in the desert of American religion. This is a treasure to be read again and again, making the heart leap for joy!

- Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary, California

The appearance of this work in English is most welcome. Written from a confessionally Reformed perspective, with a special affinity for the work of Calvin and Herman Bavinck, it is alert to contemporary issues and problems without obscuring its primary concern to show the biblical basis of doctrines. Without sacrificing depth, it succeeds admirably with the wider circle of readers it has in view - other theologically interested persons as well as pastors, and teachers and students of theology.

- Richard B. Gaffin Jr.
Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus' Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Six Ways to Engage Culture

Here's a helpful article from Jonathan Dodson on six ways to engage culture.

He encourages us to engage culture prayerfully, carefully, biblically-theologically, redemptively, humbly, and selectively.

HT: Z

Jerusalem in Google Earth

Leen Ritmeyer:
If you visit Jerusalem on Google Earth now and go to “Jerusalem Ritmeyer composite” under “Places”, you will see an overlay with the map that I provided to create plans of Jerusalem in the various periods for the ESV Study Bible. The exciting thing is that you can see the walls of Jerusalem in 3D and change the perspective as you wish. Here is a snapshot of the walls of Jerusalem seen from the north-east:


Marilynne Robinson, "Home: A Novel"

Marilynne Robinson's writing is the type that inspires high praise. For example, in a profile in the UK's The Sunday Times Bryan Appleyard called her "the world’s best writer of prose," and closed his profile in this way: "Now let me be clear - I’m not saying that you’re actually dead if you haven’t read Marilynne Robinson, but I honestly couldn’t say you’re fully alive."

Her second novel, Gilead, received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the 2005 Ambassador Book Award. (Summary: "The novel is the fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly congregationalist pastor in the small, secluded town of Gilead, Iowa who knows that he is dying of a heart condition. At the beginning of the book, the date is established as 1956, and Ames explains that he is writing an account of his life for his 7-year-old son, who will have few memories of him as an adult.")

Her third novel, Home, was published this year, and it is a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. (Summary: "The novel chronicles the life of the Boughton family, specifically the father, Reverend Robert Boughton, and Glory and Jack, two of Robert's adult children who return home to Gilead, Iowa. A companion to Gilead, Home is an independent novel that takes place concurrently.")

Home was recently reviewed by Books & Culture and by Christianity Today.

Of interest to Calvinists is this line from a profile in the Washington Post:
"These are my favorite books in here,". . . as she motions toward the bookcase that fills one end of the small space. "See, look: Calvin, Calvin, Calvin." Sure enough, here are the multivolume "Commentaries" of the great 16th-century Protestant theologian, whom Robinson considers one of the most falsely caricatured figures in history. Here are the two volumes of Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion," without which she thinks you can't understand Herman Melville. Surrounding these are a multitude of other theological and educational works, few less than a century old.

Monday, November 17, 2008

An Interview with Lyle Dorsett about Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"

Collin Hansen interviews Lyle Dorsett:
Since he published Orthodoxy in 1908, G. K. Chesterton has inspired Christians and challenged skeptics with his unique wit and wisdom. He delivered biting analysis still relevant today: "A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed." And he composed poignant prose that still touches the heart: "Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind." CT editor at large Collin Hansen spoke about Chesterton's legacy with Lyle Dorsett, the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School.
Read the whole thing.

Disciplines of a Godly Man: Audio

Kent Hughes, speaking at a recent men's retreat for Church of Christ the Redeemer in Spokane, Washington:You can also read his book on the subject

HT: Unashamed Workman

Pray for Westmont College

Here are pictures of the damage done to the campus.

The homepage of Westmont is providing regular updates.

The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures

Given the over businessification of churches and ministries, I'm not usually in the habit of recommending that pastors and ministry leaders purchase "business books." But I recently came across an exception that I think merits serious consideration.

It's called The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures.

Here's the review from Publisher's Weekly, followed by some blurbs:
The premise behind Roam's book is simple: anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. Management consultant and lecturer Roam begins with a “watershed moment”: asked, at the last minute, to give a talk to top government officials, he sketched a diagram on a napkin. The clarity and power of that image allowed him to communicate directly with his audience. From this starting point, Roam has developed a remarkably comprehensive system of ideas. Everything in the book is broken down into steps, providing the reader with “tools and rules” to facilitate picture making. There are the four steps of visual thinking, the six ways of seeing and the “SQVID”– a clumsy acronym for a “full brain visual work out” designed to focus ideas. Roam occasionally overcomplicates; an extended case study takes up a full third of the book and contains an overload of images that belie the book's central message of simplicity. Nonetheless, for forward-thinking management types, there is enough content in these pages to drive many a brainstorming session. Illus.
Publisher’s Weekly

“As painful as it is for any writer to admit, a picture *is* sometimes worth a thousand words. That's why I learned so much from this book. With style and wit, Dan Roam has provided a smart, practical primer on the power of visual thinking.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

“Inspiring! It teaches you a new way of thinking in a few hours -- what more could you ask from a book?”
—Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick

“This book is a must read for managers and business leaders. Visual thinking frees your mind to solve problems in unique and effective ways.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

“If you observe the way people read or listen to things in the early 21st century, you realize that there aren't many of us left with a linear attention span. Visual information is much more interesting than verbal information. So if you want to make a point, do it with images, pictures or graphics. . . . Dan Roam is the first visual consultant for businesses that I've worked with. His approach is faster for the customer. And the message sticks.”
—Roger Black, Media design leader, Author of Websites That Work

“Simplicity. This is Dan Roam's message in The Back Of The Napkin. We all dread business meetings with their mountains of documents and the endless bulleted power points. Roam cuts through all that to demonstrate how the use of simple drawings -- executed while the audience watches -- communicate infinitely better than those complex presentations. Is a picture truly worth a thousand words? Having told us how to communicate with pictures, Roam rounds out his message by explaining that “We don't show an insight-inspiring picture because it saves a thousand words; we show it because it elicits the thousand words that make the greatest difference.” And that is communication that works.”
—Bill Yenne, author of Guinness: The 250 Year Quest for the Perfect Pint
Even if this doesn't at all sound like your "cup of tea," I'd encourage you to check it out. The mere reading of it, at least for me, has gotten the creative juices flowing--and used rightly, I think this book could help faciliate some good breakthroughs in church, businesses, and ministries.

For more info on the book (with pictures!), see the official website.

Amend the ETS Doctrinal Basis?

Denny Burk and Ray Van Neste are seeking to renew serious discussion about the Evangelical Theological Society's minimalistic doctrinal basis. To find our more, see this post by Burk.

They write:

Here’s the gist of what we’ll be debating. The current doctrinal basis of the ETS consists merely of an affirmation of inerrancy and of the Trinity. We propose to expand this basis to include the doctrinal basis of the U.K.’sTyndale Fellowship. The Tyndale fellowship unites around evangelical truths a broad group of Christian scholars from varying denominational and theological perspectives (Calvinists, Wesleyans, Baptists, Anglicans, etc). The members of the Tyndale fellowship agree to the statement of beliefused by the U.K.’s Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF).

If you want to get acquainted with the rationale for our amendment, there are three items that you need to read:

1. Our website: www.AmendETS.com

2. Our 2007 article in Criswell Theological Review: “Inerrancy Is Not Enough”

3. Van Neste’s 2004 article in SBJT: “The Glaring Inadequacy of the ETS Doctrinal Statement” If you are a member and are interested in signing up to support our amendment, please visit here. Thanks for your help.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Matt Chandler: Preaching the Gospel from the Center of the Evangelical World

The other day I linked to Piper's invitation for the DG Pastor's Conference in which he wrote:
I was listening (online) to Matt Chandler preach about the challenges of evangelizing church members who think they are saved but aren’t. I was moved by the insight and courage of what he said. Matt is the Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas. He has agreed to come and help us think about that issue in our churches—saving those who think they are saved.
A few people asked what message Piper was referring to and whether or not it's online.

It was from the Resurgence Text & Context Conference (February 2008), entitled "Preaching the Gospel from the Center of the Evangelical World." You can download the video and the audio.

You can also listen to an interview that Mark Driscoll did with Chandler:

Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek

Constantine Campbell's new book, Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek, is now available. He recently did several blog posts on it at Zondervan's Koinonia blog:Here's a list of those scholars endorsing the book.

HT: Andy Naselli

Thinking Biblically About Facebook

Justin Buzzard offers some wise counsel, including 9 potentially negative uses/dangers of Facebook and 6 ways to love God and love others through Facebook.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reviews of Scot McKnight's "The Blue Parakeet"

Tom Schreiner recently reviewed Scot McKnight's new book, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible:
A couple of interesting quotes from the review:
Ironically enough, then, the problem with McKnight's view is an inadequate explanation of the Bible's storyline. He seems to treat every command of the Bible with the same kind of flat-earth hermeneutic, without considering where the command is found in the story-without considering how the different epochs of the scripture relate to one another.
And:
Strictly speaking, the concluding section of the book does not represent an application of the hermeneutical thesis propounded earlier, and is not a legitimate case-study of what was propounded earlier in the book. In other words, when it comes to women in ministry, McKnight's argument is women "were in ministry then, and they should be in ministry now." Therefore, his actual argument for women in ministry does not break any new ground since he does not base it on the conclusions drawn earlier in the book.
Trevin Wax also reviewed the book. Here's the conclusion:
I fear that Scot’s principles for biblical interpretation open the door for relativism regarding any aspect of Scripture that does not sit well with contemporary culture.

I appreciate much of what Scot McKnight has to say. I have long benefited from his books. But the direction that The Blue Parakeet takes is troubling to me. The questions that Scot raises are good. But for the most part, Scot’s answers do little to clarify how we should proceed in our interpretation of the Bible.

Email: Write Better, Receive Less

Want to write better emails? Want to receive less email?

Matt Perman has some counsel.

DG Pastors Conference on Commending Christ

Registration is now open for the 2009 DG Pastors Conference.

From John Piper's invitation letter:
We will gather this year under the theme Commending Christ: The Pastor, the Church, and the Perishing. The focus is on evangelism—telling the gospel.

I did not have to think long about who I wanted most to lead us in this thinking, namely, Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, in Washington, D. C. Mark inspires me with his personal engagement with unbelievers.

His new book The Gospel and Personal Evangelism puts his vision in writing. Just this morning, this book jolted me again (pp. 72–73): Telling my story (“testimony”) is not the same as telling Christ’s story. My story is not the gospel. Telling it is not evangelism. I am deeply thankful Mark will give the three keynote messages.

Meanwhile, I was listening (online) to Matt Chandler preach about the challenges of evangelizing church members who think they are saved but aren’t. I was moved by the insight and courage of what he said. Matt is the Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas. He has agreed to come and help us think about that issue in our churches—saving those who think they are saved.

Michael Oh is the president of Christ Bible Seminary and Institute in Nagoya, Japan. He has agreed to be bring global breadth to our theme from his strategic perspective in Japan, with its fewer than .25% Christians. When Don Carson heard that Michael was coming he wrote to me and said, “I'm so glad to hear that you have invited Michael Oh. . . . He is a remarkable young man, being used by God in ways that are wisely breaking all kinds of molds in Japan.”

In keeping with the theme of evangelism, I plan to do my biography this time on one of the most fruitful evangelists of all time, George Whitefield. Whitefield is long overdue for this kind of attention, and I am eager to immerse myself in his life and mind for my own soul and ministry. I pray that the overflow will be useful for you.

This conference is not mainly about technique or method. It is about becoming a certain kind of God-besotted lover of lost people. So I am eager to be together with you and to worship and pray and think and discuss these great matters. I hope you will come. The Great Room at the Minneapolis Convention center sounds like a mighty waterfall when 1400 pastors sing with all their hearts to the Savior they love.
Read the whole thing.

Geek Pop Star

New York Magazine profiles Malcolm Gladwell.

Update: Link fixed.

The Gospel and Culture Project

The Gospel and Culture Project , started by Westminster Theological Seminary professor William Edgar, looks very helpful. You can get an overview and read an excellent introduction by Executive Director Chris Simmons.

The website is "an online community where specialists in specific areas of cultural interpretation and theological application dialogue with fellow believers about contemporary questions."
The GCP has two primary distinctives: 1) its theological rooting and 2) its core belief that the church’s calling includes fulfilling Scripture’s command to glorify God in this world by influencing it to more truly reflect his character.

These two distinctives go hand in hand. The GCP’s approach, known as cultural-redemptive theology, interprets the Bible as presenting an unfolding historical process that culminates in the coming of Christ’s kingdom.

This theology argues that all things cohere in Christ, who is the Lord of life and therefore of culture. History, as God ordains it, is moving toward a new creation — a new heaven and earth. At the center of this process is God redeeming us so that we might know and enjoy him and his world in this life and the next. A prime aspect of this knowing involves his speaking to us through his word. God guides us in how we may work in a world that is fallen, yet one in which he is at work. As a result, to understand culture in a cultural-redemptive framework is to understand that God can and will work with us and through us so that this world might more truly reflect his character.

As a result, we believe that the church can and must fulfill its calling to interact dynamically and thoughtfully with the key questions and issues our world faces.

In his Welcome post, Simmons writes:
We believe that if Christians are going to have a meaningful effect on our cultures, then we first need to be changed from seeing the world as "out there" to seeing ourselves, and our faith as fully constituent of it. We also believe that Christians need to be encouraged and perhaps even exhorted in how to relate our beliefs to the larger world. This is a prime task of gospelandculture.org.
HT: Phil Ryken

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Five-Word Antidote to Grumbling

Tony Payne:
An eminent and well-known English preacher was approached by a congregation member who complained about some aspect of church life. It may have been that he didn't feel welcomed, or that he was finding it hard to make friends and fit in; it could have been that he was finding the service dissatisfying or the preaching too long; it could have been that the music was not to his taste or that his family was not being catered for to his satisfaction. The details of the complaint have been lost in the telling and re-telling of the story. The preacher listened to the complaint, paused, and then replied with five words that cut straight to the heart of not only the man's problem, but the problem with all grumbling and complaining in church.
Read the whole thing to see the response.

Robert Gagnon on Homosexuality and the Bible

Here's an excellent 28-minute video from Robert Gagnon answered some common objections about homosexuality and the Bible:


Pure Passion Season 3 / Episode 2 - Robert Gagnon from Pure Passion on Vimeo.

Ligon Duncan and Derek Thomas Interview Phil Johnson

An Interview with Andrew Peterson

CT Music's Andy Argyrakis interviews Andrew Peterson about his latest album and more.

Free Shipping Offer from Monergism Books

Monergism Books:
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Offer good for U.S. addresses only. Offer ends Friday, November 21st, 2008, and does not apply to any previous orders.

Jerry Bridges: The Beatitudes: Humility in Action

Four sermons by Jerry Bridges on the Beatitudes:
HT: James Grant

Ancient Rome (c. A.D. 320) in Google Earth

Wow:



For more info, go to http://earth.google.com/rome/.

HT: James Grant

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Carl Trueman: Trapped in Neverland

Excerpting Carl Trueman's latest certainly won't do it justice, but here (I think) is the key line: "The world of my grandfather was evil because it made him grow up too fast; the world of today is evil because it prevents many from ever growing up at all."

Really do read the whole (insightful, sarcastic, witty, scathing) thing.

The Hectic Sluggard

C.J. Mahaney:
I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the realization that I could be simultaneously busy and lazy, that I could be a hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from laziness, became a life-altering and work-altering insight. What I learned is that:
  • Busyness does not mean I am diligent
  • Busyness does not mean I am faithful
  • Busyness does not mean I am fruitful
Recognizing the sin of procrastination, and broadening the definition to include busyness, has made a significant alteration in my life. The sluggard can be busy—busy neglecting the most important work, and busy knocking out a to-do list filled with tasks of secondary importance.

When considering our schedules, we have endless options. But there are a few clear priorities and projects, derived from my God-assigned roles, that should occupy the majority of my time during a given week. And there are a thousand tasks of secondary importance that tempt us to devote a disproportionate amount of time to completing an endless to-do list. And if we are lazy, we will neglect the important for the urgent.
Read the whole thing, and keep watching C.J.'s blog for more teaching on this important topic.

ESV Study Bible Coming to Digital Platforms

From Crossway:
After just four weeks on store shelves, the ESV Study Bible has sold more than 140,000 copies, immediately becoming the best-selling study Bible in the marketplace today. Now Crossway is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of the ESV Study Bible on a wide spectrum of digital platforms, including Mac, PC, Windows Mobile, Palm, iPhone, Blackberry, Google Android, and Symbian.To achieve the widest possible digital distribution, Crossway has partnered with the leading digital software providers, including Accordance, Biblesoft, Laridian, Olive Tree, and WORDsearch, to make the ESV Study Bible available with all of its notes, articles, and features.
Read the whole thing.

Abortion Rates Under Clinton and Bush

There's a steady stream of folks who continue to perpetuate an urban legend about the abortion rates in the US. (Kept alive, no doubt, by the fact that Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Barack Obama have all cited it.)

The idea is that because of Bill Clinton's policies the abortion rate dropped under his administration, and because of George W. Bush's policies the abortion rate rose under his administration.

If you break it down, there are actually four claims being made here:
  1. Abortion rates dropped under Clinton.
  2. Abortion rates dropped under Clinton because of Clinton.
  3. Abortion rates rose under Bush.
  4. Abortion rates rose under Bush because of Bush.
Only premise 1 is correct.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute--founded in honor of the former president of Planned Parenthood, with one of their goals being to protect reproductive choice--did a piece a few years ago on Trends in Abortion in the United States. It included the following chart, which shows that abortion rates have been decreasing over the past 20 years:


So much for premises 3 and 4.

What about premise 2--the claim that the abortion rate dropped due to President Clinton's policies?

It's not true. We must remember that correlation does not equal causation. In addition to Clinton being President, state legislatures during these years were dominated by Republicans who were able to pass modest legislation (like public-funding restrictions and informed-consent laws) that effectively reduced state abortion rates--as shown most recently by Michael New. Dr. New also shows that increased spending on welfare only marginally effects the abortion rate.

Factcheck.org did a post on the Bush part of this urban legend in 2005, called The Biography of a Bad Statistic.

I would encourage anyone who thinks that the abortion rate will continue to drop under President Obama to read my post answering the question, What Is the Freedom of Choice Act?

Organizing for Dummies

Here's the book. Matt Perman explains the basic methodology.

OT in the NT

Andrew Faris interviews Ken Berding and Jon Lunde, editors of the book, Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (contributors are Walter Kaiser, Darrell Bock, and Peter Enns).

Related: Andy Naselli reproduces a helpful chart from the book giving a thumbnail sketch as to how the three contributors answer five key questions on this topic.

The Irony of Electing Our First Black President

Touchstone’s James Kushiner:
The irony about the election of our first black president, an irony which I wish did not exist, is that while blacks have risen from the indignities and injustice of slavery in which their bodies were sold and consumed as property, and have endured segregation and second-class citizen status and racial discrimination, and have now one of their own elected to the highest office in the land, this very president-elect, Barack Obama, will increase the death toll among black human beings if he fulfills his promise to enact a Freedom of Choice Act, which will serve as a firewall around Roe v. Wade, the Dred Scott decision of our times. Helping to fund abortions also will likely disproportionately increase the number of black victims consumed by this holocaust. Someone might point out that policies about abortion, too, in this post-racial age of enlightenment, should be colorblind, so anyone who cares about the skin color of its victims is a racist, and that appeals to blacks about not aborting black babies is an appeal to a presumed racism on their part.

Discrimination based on the color of one’s skin is not now the burning issue of our time, however. It’s that we’ve forgotten the value of human skin in the first place. The human skin of the baby in the womb, the human skin of the severely disabled (candidates for “selective” abortion), the human flesh and blood of the elderly, and the bodies of those near death, from whom we cut organs while they are, yes, still, alive—this human flesh is abused and sacrificed on various altars. Resting on the hard-earned laurels of enlightened colorblindness, many have forgotten, or deny, the sanctity of the very flesh about which we say we are so indifferent as to its color.
HT: Denny Burk

Piper on the Aims of Education

John Piper:
We aim to enable and to motivate the student
  • to observe his subject matter accurately and thoroughly,
  • to understand clearly what he has observed,
  • to evaluate fairly what he has come to understand,
  • to appropriate wisely in life what he has found valuable, and
  • to express in speech and writing what he has seen, understood, evaluated, and appropriated in such a way that its accuracy, clarity, fairness, and value can be known and enjoyed by others.
(Bullet points and italics mine.)

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Sweet the Sound: Memorizing Ten Hymns of Faith

Josh Harris explains that Covenant Life Church released a CD last week entitled How Sweet the Sound featuring ten hymns they plan to memorize as a church. Here's their schedule for memorization (the link provides the lyrics as well as background information about each hymn):
November: Amazing Grace
December: Before the Throne
January: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
February: Be Thou My Vision
March: And Can It Be
April: Crown Him with Many Crowns
May: A Mighty Fortress
June: Be Still My Soul
July: How Firm a Foundation
August: Great is Thy Faithfulness


Northwestern College: Drift and Rift

CT's Jeremy Weber has a helpful overview article on what's going on at Northwestern College in St. Paul.

Probably Not the Best Marketing Campaign


Spotted on a post by Phil Johnson.

An Interview with Max McLean

Marvin Olasky interviews Max McLean about Screwtape (his dramatic adaption of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, on extended run in Chicago), about art, and about his calling as a Christian.

Here's the final exchange:
Q: How do you prevent Christian art from becoming saccharin and soaked in sentimentalism?

The reason there is that sort of saccharin aesthetic is because there's a kind of isolation. In New York that kind of saccharin art is challenged. But on the flip side, there's a message in theater today: "There is no God, get over it." The worldview in secular theater is pretty dark. We do need people to produce [good] plays, to put the money behind it, to write those plays, to direct those plays because that's when the culture making happens. I would like to see more people thinking about "How do I create culture?"
Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Paul Helm on the Necessity of Making Good Distinctions

Paul Helm had a post a while back that is worth our time to read and ponder. I've repeated before a dictum I learned from John Piper: much of being a good theologian is about learning to make good distinctions. And Helm helps us here.

Consistency, Inconsistency, and Entailment

He first shows that the following three logical relationships between propositions are significantly different:
  1. Propositions p and q are consistent.
  2. Propositions p and q are inconsistent because they are self-contradictory.
  3. Proposition p entails proposition q, such that if p is true, q must necessary be true
Helm admits this is abstract, but insists it is not remote or irrelevant. "By neglecting such simple, basic logical distinctions some are led to some ludicrous ideas about systematic theology." You can go to his post and see him unpack this further.

What Words Imply vs. What the Author Intends by Those Words

The second distinction Helm wants us to see is that, when interpreting theologians and their theology, we must distinguish between what the theologian's words imply, and what he intended by those words. "After all, not being omniscient, a person cannot be held responsible for all the logical consequences of his thoughts."

He illustrates by exploring the somewhat anachronistic question of whether or not John Calvin believed in the covenant of works. I'm less interested here in the answers (Helm suggests some plausible but not definitive ones) than I am in the process of making good distinctions in asking good questions. Here they are:
  1. Did Calvin believe in the Covenant of Works?
  2. Did Calvin intend to teach the Covenant of Works?
  3. Did Calvin deny the Covenant of Works?
  4. Is some of what Calvin believed consistent with the Covenant of Works?
  5. Is the covenant a dominant motif of Calvin's theology?
  6. Does some of what Calvin believed entail the Covenant of Works?
Being Committed to a Belief vs. Committing Oneself to a Belief

The third important distinction Helm insists on is the difference between a theologian being being committed to a doctrine and committing himself to it. To illustrate Helm uses the issue of whether or not Calvin believe in definite atonement:
A person may be committed to a doctrine without committing themselves to it. How so? Because the proposition or propositions that a person believes may have logical consequences that that person does not realise (even though such consequences may, to later students, be as plain as a pikestaff). Why may this be so? Perhaps through a simple failure of logic, simply not noticing that p and q entail r. Or perhaps through simple ignorance, because the logical consequences had not been brought to that person’s attention. One result of controversy is that those in the controversy, and bystanders too, come to have their noses rubbed in some of the logical consequences of the positions being argued over. (Think of the connection Christ drew between ‘God is the living God’ and ‘Abraham, having died, nevertheless lives on’.) Seeing that p entails q might make a person affirm q. Or seeing that p entails q might make him deny p. So the question, did Calvin commit himself to limited atonement, is bound up with another: Is it plausible to believe that, had the fully developed doctrine of definite atonement being available to Calvin, he would have embraced it? Or would he have back-peddled to a vaguer or to a contrary view? In asking and attempting to answer such questions the mists and fogs of anachronism loom. So perhaps we are better not to ask them, or not ask them very often.
Read the whole thing.

Hitchens vs. Wilson

Here's the trailer for the documentary being made about their debates:

Sinclair Ferguson: Six People You Meet En Route to Calvary

A midweek sermon series by Sinclair Ferguson:
Dr. Ferguson's sermons are now available at Sermon Audio.

HT: Nicholas Batzig via James Grant

Interview with Carl Trueman on the History of Trinitarian Thought

The guys at Christ the Center recently sat down with Carl Trueman about the history of Trinitarian thought, and John Owen's contribution in particular.

Speaking of Owen, they are also giving away a free 1810 edition of Owen's Pneumatologia and Trueman's recent book on Owen--drawn from those who subscribe to their blog.

Brit Hume

Brit Hume, the Washington managing editor at Fox News and one of the best in the business, is retiring from his position. Starting in 2009 he'll become senior political analyst and work 100 days in the year.

When public figures retire at the top of their game they often cite wanting to spend more time with their family. And that's the case here. But Hume offers an additional reason--one rarely cited in these situations:
I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I'm not claiming it's impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died (by suicide in 1998), I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it's a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you're not really living it.
From another interview:
And since my son died, I have been, really, I felt rescued by God and by Christ. I have an intense desire to pursue that more ardently and have it be a bigger part of my life than it has been.
When asked how that will translate, Hume responded, "It’ll translate into Bible study."

Amazon Prime

Here's a program I didn't know about until recently: AmazonPrime. I'm still on the free one-month trial, but I think I'll stick with it, as it's a great deal.

For $79 a year (about $1.50 a week) you get unlimited free two-day shipping, and you can upgrade to one-day shipping for $3.99. There's no minimum order size.

The nice thing is that a company or church could have one account, which would make the $79 almost negligible. But even for individuals, I still think it's a really good deal.