April 2011

For awhile now I have been following the Michael Patton from Reclaiming the Mind Ministries and his blog Parchment and Pen. What Michael and his team do here is beyond amazing and is a great service to the church and the Christian community.

The Reclaiming the Mind Ministries vision is exactly why I love what they do:

We believe that God has called us to have a impact on the church and culture by taking back what rightly belongs to God – the mind. We live in a time of anti-intellectualism, skepticism, and confusion. Our goal is to reclaim the mind by energizing the church providing resources for intellectual engagement. In short, we seek to help people believe more accurately and more deeply today than they did yesterday by making theology accessible.

RCC has a number of programs they run for believers to grow in their faith and knowledge of God such as:

  1. Bible Boot Camp
  2. The Discipleship Program
  3. The Theology Program

In addition to their educational programs they have a number of other ministries they provide such as:

  1. Theology Unplugged Podcast
  2. Answers to 263 Theological Questions
  3. RCC Publishers
  4. Parchment & Pen Blog
  5. Theology in the News Blog
  6. Word of the Day Blog

The most recent addition the slew of RCC resources is their Theology App which is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and they are working on an Android version. The Theology App. is only $6.99 and has over 60 hours of Theology Training available at your finger tips. The Theology App. includes the following features:

  1. All 60 Video sessions covering our 6 courses (Introduction to Theology; Bibliology & Hermeneutics; Trinitarianism; Soteriology; Humanity & Sin; Ecclesiology & Eschatology)
  2. More than 2,000 powerpoint slides that can be flipped through while watching the videos.
  3. All 6 Workbooks. More than 1,200 pages of workbooks that can be flipped through while also watching the videos and slides.
  4. A “More” section with updating articles that add to your learning experience.

You can purchase this app right from iTunes through your account. Check out RCC’s web site for more information on their various ministries and resources and learn how you can start learning more about your faith at home, church or by attending their School of Theology.

As many of you are aware, this year marks the 400th anniversary of the KJV. This year there are a number of books that are being written in commemoration of the KJV as well as Bibles. Of all the Bibles that will be produced to celebrate this historic translation, perhaps none will be as commemorative and remembered as The Four Holy Gospels.

In 2009 Dennis Lane of Crossway Publishers commissioned Makoto Fujimura to make the artwork for The Four Holy Gospels. Late last year, Makoto showcased some of the artwork at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo where Makoto if from as well as Dillon Gallery in NY where he resides. You can also read more about the project at Makoto’s web site and learn more about Makoto’s International Arts Movement.

Here is a short video describing the inspiration behind the project:

The details of The Four Holy Gospels are:

  • Size: 10.75″ x 16″
  • 13-point type
  • 168 pages
  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Black letter text
  • Newly-commissioned, full-color artworks by renowned artist Makoto Fujimura
  • A full-page, full-color art piece for each Gospel; illuminated letters to begin each chapter, and hand embellishments by the artist on every page
  • Printed on highest quality art paper
  • Housed in a permanent slipcase
  • Smyth-sewn binding

As an illuminated Bible this will provide a much needed freshness while reading the Gospels once again. This Bible is available in both cloth cover and genuine leather. This will be a great Bible to use while reading through the Gospels as a family or to set on your coffee table to use as an evangelistic tool as it will no doubt catch your friends attention.

Crossway describes The Four Holy Gospels as follows:

The Four Holy Gospels is an exquisitely designed and produced edition of the four canonical Gospels in the English Standard Version, published in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) Bible in 1611.

The Four Holy Gospels features newly commissioned original paintings representing the four Gospel Evangelists, illuminated initial letters, and other embellishments and design elements, printed in full color throughout and on high-quality art paper. The text of the Gospels is reproduced in a highly readable, large font; ideally suited for public reading, liturgical use, and as a family heirloom.

The Four Holy Gospels stands in the historic stream of the beautifully hand-illuminated editions of the Gospels created many centuries ago. This exquisite and unique modern edition carries on a classic tradition, beautifully combining the words of the Gospels and original art, inspired by the text, and brilliantly executed for the glory of God.

Additionally, Tim Keller says of The Four Holy Gospels:

“According to Christian theology, the Illuminator is the Holy Spirit, and therefore I believe from what I can see that the Illuminator has illumined the illuminator of the illuminated bible, and will continue to illuminate through both the images and the words”

In this final video Makoto Fujimura is interviewed by Justin Taylor of Crossway Publishers:

Every academic discipline, religion and career has its own language. By that I mean that each of these areas has a vocabulary and phraseology that is unique to itself which those outside of the field may or may not be familiar with. Each area has a vocabulary and phraseology that one needs to familiarize themselves with and learn in order to “get around” in that discipline, job or career path.

For example, if you are in education then you have to know what words like alignment and phrases like alternative scheduling mean. If you are a mechanic then you also need to know how to do an alignment and what it means to do a coolant system flush. If you are an accountant then you need to know how to do a cost analysis sheet and what a ledger is. These are words and phrases that the people who work in these fields need to know in order to accomplish their job effectively. These are things that the rest of us expect them to know in order to do their job effectively especially when we are the direct recipients of their services.

Religion is no different. If you are a Hindu or Buddhist then knowing what karma is would be important for you because it is a central teaching to both religions. If you are Mormon then you should know who Joseph Smith is and what they mean when they use terms like missionaries, Jesus and heaven. While many religions have similar aspects and practices (prayer, reading their holy book, acts of service, etc.) they do not always mean the same thing by them.

Christianity is no different. Christians have their own language, vocabulary, phraseology, etc. Each denomination can have its own vocabulary and phraseology as well. Even Christian educators, pastors, academics (especially) and laymen have their own lingo. With each of these areas having their own lingo it can make one confused.

Some denominations do a better job of educating their people than others. Some denominations wrongfully pride themselves on how much they know. They can tend to wrongly think they are better Christians than others because they know more. As equally unfortunate, some denominations think it is an exercise in spirituality to be ignorant of the language of their faith. These Christians can tend to wrongfully persist (sometimes intentionally) in ignorance of Scripture and theology because they think knowing less means they have more childlike faith. Both sides of the road are wrong. We need to be humble as we learn and grow in the knowledge of our faith. We also need to make an effort to grow in the knowledge of our faith. I call this “growing in the knowledge of our faith” concept The Language of the Gospel.

The Language of the Gospel is the name of a blog series I am starting. My goal is to help explain the language of the Christian faith – the language of the Gospel – so that the average reader can understand it and grow in their understanding of Christian theology and Scripture. I believe all Christians have the responsibility to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pt. 3:18)” and that “like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation (1 Pt. 2:2).”

The general outline of each post will be guided by the following format:

1. Terms & Definitions – Each week I will select one term, phrase or Biblical concept to discuss. I will define that week’s selection and provide a definition as stated by a major theologian who captures the essence of the term more clearly than I do. With some terms, phrases or concepts that have great theological significance, I will present more than one definition by some who hold to vastly different understandings. I will either directly quote those who hold to the other positions or cite a supporting source where further explanation of my summation can be found.

2. Rooted in Scripture – Sometimes when people hear a new theology word it sounds so odd that they sometimes wonder if it is even Biblical to begin with. My goal is to provide 1-3 verses of Scripture to show that these words are in fact rooted in Scripture. Readers must be able to distinguish between words that are actually in Scripture (holy or wrath) and words we use to describe what is taught in Scripture (trinity or inerrant). By showing that these words, concepts and phrases are in fact rooted in Scripture, I hope this will encourage you as readers to take knowing and understanding them seriously and spur you to further study on your own.

3. Gospel Relevance – Rooting these things in Scripture is needed and important but it is only half the picture. I want to show that these words, concepts and phrases relate to the Gospel. That is, as often as I can I want to show that these things communicate and encapsulate truth from Scripture that is important to the Gospel. So, what difference does it make to the Gospel if Scripture is or isn’t inerrant? What does the atonement mean to the message of the Gospel?

4. Going Deeper – While my aim is to reach the average reader with each post, I also want to stretch readers in their understanding and appreciation for theology. In an effort to do this I will try to close each post with an additional description, definition or resource where readers can go to dig deeper into the week’s word, phrase or concept. This will both stretch new learners and provide more depth for more seasoned believers looking to go the next step.

It is my desire to help people know, appreciate and understand the language of the Christian faith. I look forward to growing and learning with my readers. Feel free to leave comments with questions, suggestions or other studies that have helped you better understand the week’s topic.

Bible reading and prayer are two of the most important Christian practices to aid the believer in their spiritual growth. Of the two, Bible reading seems to be more central as it should inform our prayers and it gives us what we need for life and godliness. Central to the practice of Bible reading is discipleship.

In One to One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian David Helm seeks to provide an easy plan for making Bible reading a central and foundational tool for discipleship growth. David explains:

Reading One to One is a variation on that most central Christian activity – reading the Bible – but done in the context of reading with someone. It is something a Christian does with another person, on a regular basis, for a mutually agreed upon length of time, with the intention of reading through  and discussing a book or part of a book of the Bible (p. 11).

David believes that this practice of reading the Bible one-to-one is for everyone whether you are a non-Christian or seasoned believer (p. 17-19) and getting started is as easy as asking someone to join you (p. 21-25).

Throughout the book David clearly lays out the what, why and how of reading the Bible one-to-one. David gives many helpful hints and strategies for how to make your one-to-one Bible readings have their maximum effect in the lives of the participants.

David presents two models for one-to-one Bible reading. The first is the Swedish method. This method is more for beginners. Among its seven stages of discussion time, it is centered on three steps to gleaning truth from your Bible reading: (1) A light bulb – anything that stands out from the passage, (2) A questions mark – things that are hard to understand and (3) An arrow – things that apply to the readers life personally. The second model is called COMA. COMA stands for Context, Application, Meaning and Application. This method can be used by beginners but is geared towards more seasoned believers and Bible readers.

In the final chapters of the book Helm spends time laying out some set reading schedules for one-to-one readings for a number of books. For example, Helm sections reading through Colossians as follows:

  1. Colossians 1:1-14
  2. Colossians 1:15-23
  3. Colossians 1:24-2:5
  4. Colossians 2:6-15
  5. Colossians 2:16-23
  6. Colossians 3:1-4
  7. Colossians 3:5-17
  8. Colossians 3:18-4:1
  9. Colossians 4:2-18

In chapter 10 Helm provides a helpful overview of how to read different genres of the Bible. Following the COMA reading method, Helm goes through each genre of the Bible showing the kinds of questions to ask of each genre.

In book concludes with an eight week outline of Mark for readers to get a start on one-to-one Bible reading. The appendix points readers to other helpful resources for successful one-to-one Bible reading programs.

One to One Bible Reading is a great tool to help you hit the ground running during what will hopefully be your first of many one-to-one Bible readings. This is a short easy read that simplifies one-to-one Bible reading so first timers don’t run in despair after the first chapter.

If you found this review helpful can you take a minute to give it a positive vote on Amazon?

We have all heard of him and we have all read quotes from his works but too many of us have never read any of his works. His name is G.K. Chesterton and he was one of the most prolific, thoughtful and engaging writers and thinkers of his time.

The Quotable Chesterton: The Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte is a topical and alphabetical compilation of many of Chesterton’s best and most famous quotes from most of his works written between 1900-1914.

Each of the over 850 quotes is cited to the original work so readers can go back and read more if a certain quote peaks their interest.

To wet your appetite a little for Chesterton I have selected a few quotes for you to read:

Academia – Though the academic authorities are actually proud of conducting everything by means of examinations, they seldom indulge in what religious people used to describe as Self-Examination. The consequence is that the modern State has educated its citizens in a series of ephemeral fads (p. 1).

Culture – How many excellent thinkers have pointed out that political reform is useless until we produce a cultured populace (p. 52).

Heretics –  You hold that your heretics and sceptics have helped the world forward and handed on a lamp of progress. I deny it. Nothing is plainer from real history than that each of your heretics invented a complete cosmos of his own which the next heretic smashed entirely to pieces (p. 107).

Orthodoxy – One searches for truth, but it may be that one pursues instinctively the more extraordinary truths (p. 196).

Truth –  When a man really tells the truth, the truth he tells is that he is himself a liar (p. 261).

Worldview – A cosmic philosophy in not constructed to fit a man;  a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos.  A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon (p. 282).

I hope these samplings have sparked your desire to buy the Quotable Chesterton and maybe even purchase one of his many classic works.

Readers of this blog probably know that I am a huge fan of the ESV Study Bible. If you already own one then you know that you have online access to the ESV Study Bible and all of its content found in your hard copy. Soon after the release of the ESV Study Bible Crossway made the ESV MacArthur Study Bible edition.

Crossway has decided to go beyond the English text and has developed Greek Tools.  This online tool aids the reader of the NT in better understanding the text of Scripture. Crossway explains:

ESV GreekTools puts the original language of the New Testament into the hands of beginning and advanced students, as well as seasoned pastors, scholars, and laymen looking for an affordable and accessible Greek reference tool. Intuitive, easy-to-use, and fully customizable, ESV GreekTools is an online application available through the ESVBible.org platform. Now you can do serious work with the Greek text, at home or on the go, no matter your level of proficiency.

Greek Tools has a number of great features:

  • Complete NA27 Greek text
  • ESV interlinear and reverse-interlinear renderings of the text
  • Complete data set for each word, including lexical data, contextual and morphological information (including parsings), and Strong’s number.
  • Powerful search tool that lets users search by Greek word, transliterated Greek word, Strong’s number, English word, or any combination of those values
  • Complete English and Greek concordances
  • Customizable interface that works seamlessly with other ESVBible.org features, including study resources and notes
Crossway is offering this innovative tool for an introductory price of $9.99. This is a tool for everyone!

Here is an helpful video from Crossway with more explanation on the benefits if Greek Tools:

Depending on the kind of church you grew up in you might or might not have heard of The Sword of the Lord and its newspaper. Since its inception in 1934, The Sword of the Lord (TSL) has been a major publisher and influence within many Fundamentalist churches (also known as Independent Fundamental Baptist).

TSL was founded by the famous Fundamentalist pastor and evangelist John R. Rice. Author Andrew Himes, the grandson of John R. Rice, has written a new book called The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family in an effort to understand the history of his family and a movement.

Since Andrew Himes grew up in the thick if its beginnings as a Rice family member, he has a unique perspective on TSL, John R. Rice and the roots of Fundamentalism. For those who are familiar with TSL and John R. Rice or who have grown up within Fundamentalism, this will be a welcome book as it seeks to provide an historical grounding of all three as set within the context of American history. The chapters in the book are manageable and contain many helpful illustrations and discussion questions.

Once I have finished my review copy I will provide a review on this blog. Until then get your own copy here and check The Sword of the Lord Book web site for more info not in the book.

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