March 2012

HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!


Charles Spurgeon The Price of Preachers (Trail Blazers Series) by Christian T. George is reviewed by Timothy Findlay.

Authentic Church: True Spirituality in a Culture of Counterfeits by Vaughan Roberts is reviewed by Colin Hansen at TGC Reviews.

Is There a Doctor in the House by Ben Witherington III is reviewed by Lawrence Garcia at The Pangea Blog. (HT:K)

The Expositors Bible Commentary: Matthew  Mark, Rev. Ed is reviewed by Harold Cameron.

Health, Wealth, and Happiness by David W. Jones is reviewed by Trevin Wax.

James K.A. Smith discusses N.T. Wright’s recent book How God Became King.

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Evangellyfish by Doug Wilson is reviewed by Tim Challies.

Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp is reviewed by Mark Tubbs at Discerning Reader.

Gospel Wakefulness by Jared C. Wilson is reviewed by Greg Wilson at the Biblical Counseling Coalition.


Matt Chandler is interviewed by Matt Smethurst about his first book The Explicit Gospel.

Dr. Bill Barrick is interviewed by Kevin Bowling about Solomon’s Assessment of Life from his commentary Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament.

Here is the video of Ed Stetzer’s interview with Roger Olson (author or Against Calvinism) and Michael Horton (author of For Calvinism) on, well you guessed it, Calvinism.

Thabiti Anyabwile is interviewed by 9Marks about his most recent book Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons.

D.A. Carson is interviewed by Issues, etc. radio about his recent book The Intolerance of Tolerance.

Anthony Bradley is interviewed by Trevin Wax on The Black Church and the Black Community from his book Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation.

Jimmy Carter is interviewed by Al Mohler in light of the new NIV Bible which will have his commentary notes in it.

Derek Thomas is interviewed by Andrew Moody at the Reformed Forum.

Tim Challies interviews Andy Naselli and John Bell about the legacy of D.A. Carson books.

Liam Goligher is interviewed by Kurt Goff from Lifeline radio about his new book Joseph: The Hidden Hand of God.

Stephen C. Meyer is interviewed by Tabletalk Magazine answering the question are Scripture and Science in Conflict? from his book Signature in the Cell.


Stephen Wellum, co-author to the forthcoming book Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants, lectured on What Does the Extent of the Atonement Have to do With Baptist Ecclesiology: An Exercise in Doing Theology.

Carl Trueman discusses how the car has contributed to the death of the local church, which is something John Dyre discussed in his must read book on Christians and technology, From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology.

Darrell Bock discusses Luke’s Christology from his forthcoming book A Theology of Luke and Acts (Biblical Theology of the NT Series).

At Books & Culture, Albert Lee discusses Kevin Bauder’s view of Fundamentalism in his contribution to Four Perspectives on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism.

John Knapp, author of How the Church Fails Businesspeople, has a video at the EerWord Blog.


Four Views on the Apostle Paul Ed. by Michael Bird is set to release this July. You can watch a video interview here with Bird and contributors.

Tony Reinke posts an excerpt about Keeping Home Priorities in View from D.A. Carson’s must read book A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul and His Prayers.

Andy Naselli lists the Ten Books on Business and Strategy Chip Brown, Senior VP and Publisher at Zondervan, suggests.

At Baker Book House Church Connection, Louis McBride responds to Ehrman’s objection to the messianic nature of Isaiah 53 from his book Did Jesus Exist? and offers two book suggestions on the topic: Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus by Michael Brown and The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 ed. by Bock & Glaser.

Justin Taylor highlights the function of Old Testament Narratives as Pictures, Windows, and Mirrors from Richard Pratt’s book He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student’s Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives.

At Kevin DeYoung’s blog, guest Jason Helopolus offers some excellent quotes from Meet the Puritans: A Guide to Modern Reprints by Beeke & Pederson.

Matthew Anderson discusses the book and DVD curriculum for Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin.

Craig A. Evans discusses The Archaeological Evidence for Jesus from his new book Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

James Hamilton discusses Using the Right Tool for the Right Job: Gospel Maturity for Seminary.

Crossway blog answers the question, “Why Tracts?

Michael Patton explains Why I Don’t Trust My Own Scholarship.

Michael Patton asks the question, “Are Roman Catholics Saved?

I have been reading through Eckhard Schnabel’s recent book 40 Questions About the End Times. I will be doing a review in a few weeks so I will not say too much now but this is turning out to be one of the best books I will read this year.

In chapter three Schnabel answers the question, “What Are the Signs of the End (Matt. 24)?” He specifically deals with Matt. 24 but references Mk. 13 & Lk. 21 (pg., 32-33 has a helpful comparison chart of all three texts). The answer to the question is that there are eleven signs of the end times. That is, there are eleven signs that indicate when the end times have arrived. The eleven signs are broken up into three segments. Here are the signs and the segments (references are for Matt. 24 only):

SEGMENT ONE: The Time Until the End – Tribulation

Sign One: Seduction and Messianic Pretenders (vs. 4-5) – There were and will be men who will try to seduce men (including believers) that they are the Messiah, the returned Christ. There were people in the 1st century who fit this description and there have been since.

Sign Two: Wars & Rumors of Wars (vs. 6-7a) – Any history of mankind from the time of Christ and even earlier will show that war and the threat of war has been a part of mankinds existence. Just between A.D. 33-70 Schnabel lists nineteen wars and uprisings East of the Roman Empire. This is just within the first century.

Sign Three: Famine (vs. 7b) – There were a few severe famines within the 1st century and famine has been a part of world history since then.

Sign Four: Earthquakes (vs. 7c) – There is reliable documentation that shows there were several earthquakes in the 1st century and again history shows that they have been happening ever since.

Sign Five: Persecution (vs. 9) – The book of Acts has several accounts of the persecution Christians went through in the name of Christ. Jesus told his disciples and those who would follow him that persecution would be a part of their lives. God’s people have always been persecuted from Israel to the church today.

Sign Six: False Prophets (vs. 10-11) – Similar to sign one, false prophets will intentionally seek to deceive Christians. They will turn Christians against Christians.

Sign Seven: Injustice and Lack of Love (vs. 12-13) – Following the poisonous work of false prophets among Christians, lawlessness will increase and love for others will decrease. A history of both the church and unbelievers bears out many examples of these kinds of behavior.

Sign Eight: Universal Proclamation of the Gospel (vs. 14) – In Matt. 28:19 Jesus tell the disciples to make disciples of all nations. Schnabel believes that this was fulfilled in the 1st century with the gospel going to Ethiopia (south), Spain (west), Scythia (north) and India (east) (p. 38) . Even if it had not it certainly has by now.

Sings 1-4 deal with world affairs and signs 5-8 deal with Christians. After the fourth sign of earthquakes verse 8 states, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains”, indicating that these sings are just the beginning of the end and there are more to come. Then, at the end of verse 14, after the mention of the eight sign of the universal proclamation of the gospel, Jesus says, “…and then the end will come.”

If one sees the first eight signs of the end as having began already and continuing until today, this allows the text to indicate that the return of Christ is truly at any moment because the end is here! However, lest we think this gives us the authority to set exact or even tentative dates or time constraints on when Christ is coming back, Schnabel is quick to bring out the accompanying warnings and exhortations from Jesus himself as he pronounced the signs of the end times.

Concerning the warnings he points out the following:

“Beware that no one leads you astray” (Matt. 24:4), “see that you are not alarmed” (v. 6), “let the reader understand” (v. 15), “from the fig tree learn its lesson” (v. 32), “keep awake” ( v. 42), “understand this” (v. 43), “you also must be ready” (v. 44), and “keep awake” (Matt. 25:13). (p. 47)

Concerning the exhortations he states the following:

The repeated declaration that nobody knows the date of Jesus’ return, which will happen unexpectedly, does not allow speculation regarding how close we are to Jesus’ return. Jesus emphasizes that “about that day and hour no on knows” (Matt. 24:36), “you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (v. 42), “the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (v. 44), “the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know” (v. 50), and “you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13). (p. 47)

While we are given signs of the end times, which are here, this does not mean we know when the end of the end actually is. This bleeds with the immanency of Christ’s return and urges us to be watchful!

SEGMENT TWO:  A Specific Even of Divine Judgment – The destruction of Jerusalem

Sign Nine: The Destruction of Jerusalem (vs. 15-22) – In these verses Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem which ends in 10 A.D. with the fall of the temple. Within this there are six signs of this impending destruction: (1) “abomination of desolation” (v. 15), (2) “flee to the mountains” (v. 16), save their bare lives (v. 17-18), peril of pregnant and nursing women (v. 19-20), “great tribulation” (v. 21), and shortening of time (v. 22).

Sign Ten: Messianic Pretenders and False Prophets (vs. 23-25) – Like sign one and six, both will be present together seeking to lead people astray including “the elect.”

SEGMENT THREE: The Return of Jesus

Sign Eleven: The Return of Jesus (vs. 29-31) – “Immediately after the tribulation of those days,” says Jesus, there will be six indicators of the return of Christ at the second coming: (1) “the sun will be darkened”, “the moon will not give its light”, “the stars will fall from heaven”, “the powers of the heavens will be shaken”, “the sign of the Son of Man” and ” the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven”, and the sending of the angels with the gathering of the elect.

While these events accompanying the return of Christ can certainly be taken as literal in that the sun moon will literally be darkened like an overcast and cloudy day, “the apocalyptic, cosmic language of the prophecy  in 24:29 uses language from the Old Testament prophets who predict not the physical dissolution of the universe but, with symbolic language, catastrophic political events within history” (p. 41-42).

Do we know when the end times are? Yes, we are told in Matt. 24. Do we know when the end of the end times is? No, we are told in Matt. 24.

What are your thoughts on Schnabel’s explanation of the eleven signs of the end times?

HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!


The Burial of Jesus: What Does History Have to do With Faith by James McGrath is reviewed by Sam Alexander. James McGrath responds to the review.

How God Became King by N.T. Wright is reviewed by Matthew Barrett & Michael Haykin at TGC Reviews.

The Next Story by Tim Challies is reviewed at Discerning Reader by Mark Tubbs.

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges is reviewed at the The Good Book Blog by Richard John.

From the Resurrection to His Return by D.A. Carson is reviewed by Kevin Fiske.

Free Will by Sam Harris is reviewed by Doug Wilson.

Who Am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges is reviewed by Arron Armstrong.

Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas’s Familiarity with the Synoptics by Mark Goodacre is reviewed by Larry Hurtado.

The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices Ed. by Carson & Keller is reviewed by David Norman at Servants of Grace.

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolutions and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Hart is reviewed by Tim Bertolet at Christians in Context.

Close Calls: What Adulterers You to Know About Protecting Your Marriage by Dave Carder is reviewed by Jeff Fisher at Covenant Eyes.

Tim Tebow’s biography Through My Eyes is reviewed by Tim Kimberley at Credo House Ministries.

Gospel Wakefulness by by Jared C. Wilson is reviewed by Jared at Christians in Context.

Equipping Counselors fro Your Church by Robert Kellemen is reviewed by Mark Tubbs at Discerning Reader.

The reviews from Kregel’s blog tour are in for Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Kostenberger & Patterson.


D.A. Carson is interviewed by Al Mohler about his recent book The Intolerance of Tolerance.

David VanDrunen is interviewed by Chris Cooper about his book Living In God’s Two Kingdoms.

Timothy George interviews Russell Moore about his book Adopted for Life.

Matt Smethurst interviews T.D. Alexander about The Challenge of Preaching Christ in Genesis.

Daniel Wallace is interviewed by Justin Taylor about New Testament Manuscripts.

Jonathan Dodson is interviewed by Justin Taylor about his new book Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

Gene Edward Veith & Mary Moerbe are interviewed by Christianity Today about their new book Family Vocation.


Daniel Wallace is now blogging.

Mark Dirscoll gives 6 reasons why he and Grace talk so much about sex in their book Real Marriage.

Donald Miller lists seven books all writers should read to become better writers.

Michael Vlach, contributor to the new book Christ’s Prophetic Plans: A Futuristic Premillennial Primer, has responded to Benjamin Wright’s review of the book at TGC Reviews.

Tim Challies lists Dr. Mohler’s list of recommended book for pastors to read in 2012.

Cornelius Plantinga Jr. is delivering the Warfield Lectures on Reading for Preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary on March 26-29.

Andy Naselli has some thoughts on reading a few of Doug Wilson’s books on Parenting.

Aaron Armstrong answers the question, What Can I Do Abut Poverty?, from his book Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, The New Creation, and the End of Poverty.

Justin Taylor provides the list of sessions by D.A. Carson & Robert Yarbrough on Understanding Complementarianism.


At Take Your Vitamin Z blog, BJ Stockman lists 11 Ways the Book of Revelation is Relevant from The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham.

Icons and the Name of God by Boris Jakim & Sergius Busgakov has been translated into English.

Denny Burke discusses the new NIV Lessons from the Bible: Personal Reflections from Jimmy Carter.

Paul Tautges highlights 36 Purposes of God in Our Suffering from When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada & Steve Estes.

At the Blazing Center blog, Josh Blount discusses How to Change the World One Day at a Time as inspired from Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought by Stephen Nichols.

Zondervan posts an excerpt of Wilbur Ellsworth’s contribution to Journeys of Faith.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts now has a resources page for the top books to read on studying the NT.

Jonathan Parnell discusses When People Look Like Satan from G.K. Beale’s book A New Testament Biblical Theology.

At Baker Book Connections, Louis McBride discusses Bart Ehrman’s new book Did Jesus Exist? which defends the historicity of the existence of Jesus.

There is a new Theology Program Overview Video from Credo House Ministries.

Carson Wietnauer, co editor of True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism, provides an excerpt of the book at TGC.

Crossway highlights a portion of Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Tree in One by Philip Graham Ryken & Michael Lefebvre by answering the question, How Does the Trinity Practically Apply to Your Life Today?

Justin Taylor offers some highlights from Ryken, Ryken & Wilson’s book Pastors in the Classics.

Christian Focus Book Notes highlights their new releases.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

But in the Greek it Says by Darren Carlson.

Al Mohler reflects on the decision to stop the printing of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Don’t Check Your Brian at the Door by Paul Tautges.

The Temporariness of Modern Books by Aaron Armstrong.

Daniel Darling discusses 5 Reasons Pastors Should Write.

Yesterday I posted a semi review of Matthew Anderson’s book Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith.

Today I want to provide a number of quotes from the book that will hopefully spur more to get the book. I have broken up the quote into two groups. First, there are quotes from the book that give a flavor of how Anderson responds and comments on a number of issues like tattoos, food, church, dieting and the like. Second, since this book is so gospel-focused, I wanted readers to see how Anderson applies the gospel to a Christians view of the body. There will be some overlap in these quotes but they all help to serve as a model for how to apply the gospel to our understanding of our bodies.

Quotes on Various Subjects:

The combination of economic prosperity and media saturation has allowed us to industrialize personal beauty, giving the most physically mediocre among us the freedom and ability to refashion ourselves into a Brad Pit or Angelina Jolie. Where our grandfathers might have turned to prayer for self-fulfillment, many today prefer plastic surgery. (p. 24)

We have become a nation of joggers in our desire to preserve a standard of physical health that the priests in the medical community have handed down to us from the mountain. (p. 25)

Because we do not like the inconvenient, uncontrollable, spontaneous interruptions that sometimes characterize the very young and very old, we professionalize their care so we will not be bothered. (p. 25)

For our creation care to be authentically creation care, we must respect the Biblical order of keeping humanity at the center. Because of the incarnation, our ecology flows from our theological anthropology – and not the other way around. (p. 80)

To put it bluntly, a Christianity that spends more money improving and beautifying the homes of its members than it does its places of corporate worship is a Christianity that has forgotten the profligate lavishness of God’s mercy. (p. 85-86)

Health is good, but the dieting movement teeters on the edge of affirming a standard of bodily perfection that owes more to Maxim or Men’s Health than Jesus. (p. 90)

The Samaritan’s holy attentiveness to teh needs and cares of the body are precisely what make him a neighbor to another, and provide a model for us to implement throughout our everyday lives. Some of us might, like the Levite, deliberately reject caring for the bodies of those around us. But the more plausible scenario in our distracted world is that we would walk by without noticing, focused on accomplishing our tasks for the day, attentive only to the music in our ears and the status updates in our cell phones. (p. 101)

While tattoos and piercings may be hidden from the world, the fact that they must be covered is a constant reminder of the body’s social nature. The decision to reveal or conceal our body modifications contains the implicit question, “To whom?” – a question that is unavoidable because the body is unremittingly social. (p. 108)

While tattoos mark a desire for significance within a destabilized world, they are a live option for most young people precisely because we have not escaped the clutches of the consumerism and the individualism that are so often criticized. (p. 112-13).

Christian sexuality is not simply an expression of an abstract or vague inner desire – it is a dynamic encounter between a man and woman in the fullness of their humanity before God, which is constituted by their mutual self-giving to the other for the other’s good. (p. 125)

The tendency within liberal sexual theologies to ignore the sexual complementarity evident in humanity’s original creation rests upon an ethic that minimizes the differences in male and female bodies – and between Christ and the church, which is the pattern for marriage. (p. 151)

The spiritual disciplines are not techniques wherein we dominate our bodies with our wills. They are not tasks that we accomplish as a means of self-perfection or to maximize our experience of God. Rather, they are the God-ordained patterns or response to his presence in our lives, and are means of opening ourselves to his transformative power, which empowers us to live authentically Christian lives. (p. 191-92)

The central challenge when it comes to Christian worship is that one man’s syncretism is another man’s baptism. What appears to one person as giving Christianity over to false ideologies may appear to someone else as the contextualization of Christianity to the culture around it. (p. 208)

The rapid adoption of online church within evangelicalism is a surrender to our culture’s view of the body, which undermines the importance of our physical presence within our corporate response to God. (p. 213-14)

Our presence with other Christians is properly one in the Spirit rather than one mediated by technology. (p. 216)

When we cannot hear each other singing together as the people of God lifting their collective voice in worship to the King, we individualize our faith, undermining our corporate witness as the body of Christ. (p. 227)

Quotes on Gospel Application to a Christian view of the Body:

If there is ever a question about the goodness of the physical body, the incarnation of Jesus Christ definitively answered it. (p. 21)

Our lives, our existence, our bodies, will manifest all the glory and goodness that is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ when we see the creation as it is, given to us for our stewardship by the generous hand of God. (p. 23)

God transforms our bodies not through technique, the assertion of our own wills, but through giving us himself through the Holy Spirit. (p. 31)

The freedom of the gospel is that we have been bought with a price and that our bodies are no longer ours (p. 32)

Ina world where the body’s status is in question, we have an opportunity to proclaim that the God who saved our souls will also remake our bodies; that the body is nothing less than the place where God dwells on earth. It means moving the body to the center of our understanding of what it means to be human, but it is a move that is justified when we remember that the Word himself became flesh. (p. 50)

The God in whose image we are made took on human form. The incarnation establishes that God is with is in all the dust, the sweat, and the tears of our physicality. (p. 60)

The good news of the gospel is that the God of the universe took on a body, dies on our behalf, rose again on the third day, and now lives in our hearts and our limbs. (p. 69)

The libertarian-minded freedom that we are often presented with in public is simply a cheap imitation of the freedom we have in Christ by virtue of the Holy Spirit. (p. 95)

Embracing an aesthetic of the cross sets us free from the anxieties, the stress, the sense of control that motivate our tireless efforts to conform to the image of beauty that we see in Cosmo. (p. 96)

Where baptism is a confirmation of our entry into the community of Christians, tattoos inaugurate a community of the searching. Yet the people of God are not shaped by a narrative of searching, but one that has at its center the unique and unrepeatable sacrifice of Jesus Christ and his glorious resurrection. (p. 114)

The more we see ourselves in light of the gospel – “You have died, and your life is hidden in Christ with God” – the more we will be set free from treating our bodies as objects, instead seeing them as the place of our personal presence and the indwelling presence of God himself. The Lord has come to his temple! (p. 134)

Can we receive our bodies as created gifts that are loved by God rather than reshaping them according to our psychological state? It’s very true that such a position may make some people feel as though thier bodies are “damaged goods” upon delivery. But it is the Lord’s pleasure to make damaged goods his temple, a temple that he himself destroyed, only to raise it again. (p. 152)

We do not sculpt ourselves into the image of Christ. The good news of the gospel sets us free from turning our sanctification into one more body project, like attaining tight abs, clear skin, or perfect SAT scores. It is not a task we complete. The work of sanctification is not ours, but God’s. He is the one who gives himself to us, and as we open ourselves to his presence the impurities that we mistakenly treat as essential to our humanity will fall away without effort. (p. 182)

The bodies habits and dispositions, which have been trained by fallen people in a fallen world, need to be reformed according to the reality of our redemption in Christ. (p. 184)


“The body is a temple, but the temple is in ruins. The incarnation of Jesus affirms the body’s original goodness. The death of Jesus reminds us of its need for redemption. And the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for its restoration” (p. 31).

This is the paradox of the body according to Matthew Anderson in his first book Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith. From the curse of the fall in Genesis 3 the human body has been in decay. We live in a body of death both spiritually and physically. Adam brought death to our bodies in a way that God never intended at creation. But Christ has brought redemption to our bodies which began with His resurrection and will be completed when He returns (1 Cor. 15).

You would think that for a religion whose redeemer lived in a body which many at His time deemed to be evil (1 John), Christianity would have a lot more to say, at least positively, about the human body. We exist on this earth in our bodies and thus every function we perform is shaped by our bodies. And yet, much of the evangelical conversation (the little there is) about the body either misses the point, its target or is not shaped by the bodily incarnation of Jesus Christ, the bodies only hope of redemption. Anderson writes, “Whatever attitude evangelicals currently have toward the body, historical evangelicals aren’t as negative toward the body as we’re often told. The evangelical legacy with respect to the body seems to be more on of inattention than outright rejection or even a conscious ambivalence….evangelical attempts at understanding the body’s role in our spiritual lives seem to have been dominantly reactive rather than proactive” (p. 41). His charge to evangelicals to get more serious about a biblical discussion of the body is pointed:

If conservatives evangelicals want to offer careful, gospel-centered responses to these various ‘isms,’ then we must overcome our inattention to the body and engage these communities on this ground in distinctly evangelical ways. It is not enough just to show that how they think about human bodies is wrong. We must also show them a more excellent way of thinking about – and of living in – these human bodies. (p. 45-46)

Earthen Vessels is a mature, informed and gospel saturated exercise in thinking about the human body and the redemption Christ has brought to it. Anderson has his finger on the pulse of culture and how it has shaped the evangelical identity.

Reading Earthen Vessels will make you think you are reading the works of C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton (though Anderson would humbly deny this praise), who he quotes often. His maturity of though is beyond his age and one can only imagine how excellent of a writer he will be in the prime of his writing career.

Anderson is a writer, but as well, freely and vastly as he cites the works of theologians, sociologists, psychologists and the like, you would think he might have minored in each of these areas. The truth of the matter is, Anderson has done his homework and this book shows he has thought long and hard about the subject matter. There is no one or movement that is beyond is critique. He critiques various –ism movements as well as well-meaning evangelical leaders. His aim is not to destroy but to honestly evaluate what he believes to be misguided thinking on the part of popular leaders of our day. Of particular note is Anderson’s careful attention to the text of Scripture. For not being a theologian, his exegesis is on target and he delves deep into the historical background when necessary (see esp. chap. 6 on tattoos).

While there is much to commend to this book, what I find most impressive is how gospel saturated Anderson is in chapter after chapter. He states:

Evangelicals sometimes suffer from an anemic understanding of how the gospel shapes our lives. We alternate between playing the legalist card when people attempt to draw lines about how Christians should or should not act, and playing the libertine card when others sanction their immoral actions with the gospel. A Gospel-ethic, though, is a normative account of how our lives conform to the pattern of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that is discerned and freely enacted through the power of the Spirit’s indwelling presence. (p. 28-29)

Time and time again Anderson reaches back to Jesus and Scripture for the redemptive life they bring to our bodies. Earthen Vessels is not merely thoughts and observations on the body but it is an earnest call for Christians to view their bodies through the lens of Scripture and redemption in Christ and His resurrection rather than through the eyes of a dying world.

I highly recommend this book to anyone between the ages of 18-30 but everyone would do well to read it as an exercise in encouraging this generation of evangelical writers. This is the kind of book that you need to read, think about it and then go back and read it again. Earthen Vessels will make you think and will leave you amazed. I close with Anderson’s own words:

As long as we have bodies, we will remain in the world. But our calling is to discern the ways in which the structures and institutions that make our world are set up against the knowledge of God. The cross is the shape of a life that is in the world, but not of it. And when we know the power of the resurrection, we shall find ourselves wanting to participate in the sufferings of Christ, to manifest the same live that he poured out for us to a world that is desperate for hope and joy. (p. 230)

Reformation Heritage Books is having a sale on John Owen’s Biblical Theology for only $20. This is an unbeatable price. Get you copy here while supplies last.

HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!


Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism is reviewed by Carl Trueman.

A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology by Donald McKim is reviewed by The Good Book Stall.

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams blog tour is complete with all of the reviews.

What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care”: Answers to the Big Questions of Life by Ed Welch is reviewed by Harold Cameron.

From the Resurrection to His Return by D.A. Carson is reviewed by several at Christian Focus Booknotes.

The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon by Steven Lawson is reviewd on CredoMag by Chris Cooper.

Fixing the Moral Deficit by Ronald Sider is reviewed at Sojourners by Lisa Harper.

Secularization: In Defense of an Unfashionable Theory by Steve Bruce is reviewed by Matthieu Richelle at TGC Reviews.

Augustine’as Enchiridion is reviewed by Luke Stamps at CredoMag.

D.A. Carson’s The Intolerance of Tolerance of reviewed by Mary Katherine May at Babamarusia’s Christian Book Review.

From the Resurrection to His Return by D.A. Carson is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God by Justin Taylor & John Piper is reviewed by Mark Tubbs at Discerning

Ascension Theology by Douglas Farrow is reviewed by Tim Chester.

King Solomon: The Temptations of Sex, Money & Power by Philip Ryken is reviewed by Ricky Kirk at Servants of Grace.

The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job by Douglas O’Donnell is reviewed by Ricky Kirk at Servants of Grace.


Discussing his contribution to Psychology & Christianity: Five Views, David Powlison discusses the six ways the term “psychology” can be used.

Fred Zaspel is interviewed on Refromed Forum about his book The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary.

Dan Wallace is interviewed about NT Manuscript Preservation, Markan Fragment and Markan Priority by Joey Cochran.

Rob Ventura, author of A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ, is interviewed on Knowing the Truth Radio Program. (HT: HBT)

Pete Enns is interviewed on Home Brewed Christianity radio about his new book The Evolution of Adam.

N.T. Wright is interviewed about his new book How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels.

Bill Foster, author of Meet the Skeptic: A Field Guide to Faith Conversations, is interviewed about the book by Shaun Tabbat at Bible Geek Gone Wild.

Jonathan Parnell interviews Sam Storms on the End Times at

Real Marriage by Mark & Grace Driscoll is reviewed by Tim Kimberley at Parchment & Pen.


Folly, Grace, and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching by John Koessler was named as one of the “Year’s Best Books in Preaching” by Preaching Magazine. (HT:EC)

John Lennox, author of God & Stephen Hawking & Gunning for God, discusses the possibility of miracles for The Veritas Forum.

At BibleMesh, Mark Coppenger, author of Moral Apologetics for Contemporary Christians, answers the question, “If God knows everything, and Jesus is God, why did He choose Jesus as one of His disciples if He knew he would betray Him?

Lindsey Holcomb, wife of Justin Holcomb author of Rid of My Disgrace, lists 8 Ways to Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse.

At Saint Andrews College, Joe Rigney lectures of Jonathan Edwards.

Crossway lists the 7 Steps to Waling the Spiritual Walk adapted from Ken Berding’s book Walking in the Spirit.

Alister Begg gives a talk on Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God in which the idea is fleshed out more in Barbara & Kent Hughes must read book Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome.


Princeton Theological Seminary has partnered with the Internet Archive to create the Theological Commons Digital Library with over 50,000 free, online theology and religious book from PTS library. (HT:JT)

Covenant Theological Seminary is now offering free online classes.

Louis at Baker Book Store highlights Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics Ed. by Paul Copan & William Lane Craig.

Check out the promo video for Matt Chandler’s highly anticipated book The Explicit Gospel.

On April 1st B&H will release Those Who Must Give An Account: A Study of Church Membership & Church Discipline Ed. by John Hammett & Benjanim Merkel. Cntributors include Nathan Finn, Mark Dever, Thomas Schreiner & Danny Akin.

Christian America: Perspectives on Our Religious Heritage by B&H looks like an interesting read.

Treatise on Good Works: Luther Study Edition trans by Scott Hendrix is a the second in a series of guides to the works of Martin Luther by Fortress Press.

Mentor Publishers releases its newest commentaries on Psalms: Vol 1 & Vol2 by Allan Harman.

Justin Taylor highlights some of the intro to Ken Myers intro to his new edition of All God’s Children & Blue Suede Shoes: Christians & Pop Culture.

Justin Taylor highlights Steven Oritz chapter on The Abuse & Use of Archaeological Interpretation in the book Buried Hope or Risen Savior ed. by Charles Quarles.

Pickwick publishers released Men of One Book: A Comparison of Two Methodist Preachers, John Wesley & George Whitfield by Ian Maddock.

Eerdmans is starting a new theology series of books titled Prophetic Christianity.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

William Edgar, co-editor of Christian Apologetics Past & Present: A Primary Source Reader; Vol. 1 & 2, answers the question, What Is Presuppositionalism?

Paul Copan, philosopher and author of numerous books, responds to William Edgar’s post on presuppositionalism by Questioning Presuppositionalism.

It has often been said that “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” This is not just a warning for political, educational or social leaders. It is a warning for the Church as well. If there is anything that recent theological controversies have shown us, it is that knowing the history of doctrinal development–and specifically orthodox theological development–is key to understanding where we are and why we are here (rather than somewhere else), when it comes to the Church’s articulation of the key doctrines of the Christian faith. Time and time again, theological controversy drives the Church back to its history–especially to the first few hundred years after Christ.  And it is history that will help today’s Church rediscover the oft-repeated, doctrinal controversies that shaped orthodox doctrine and learn how those who have gone before us responded with Scripture and wisdom.

With this view in mind Bradley Green has brought together eight contemporary scholars to create Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy: Engaging with Early and Medieval Theologians. This book covers eight early theologians from Irenaeus to Thomas Aquinas. The impetus for this book is the belief that the past has something to say to and to teach the present. Theology is not hammered out in a vacuum nor does each generation reinvent the theological wheel (though some may try).

Green proposes two reasons for studying theologians of the past. First, studying past  theologians helps us to see the logic of their doctrinal development and why they felt certain doctrinal distinctions were important to the faithful defense of the gospel. Second, in studying the “theologizing” of these past men, we allow them to teach us how to theologize. We do not merely stand on the shoulders of the past in terms of the doctrinal content we believe, but also in the logic and rationale used to form and shape that timeless content.

With Carl Beckwith’s chapter on Athanasius as a guide, the following outline provides the basic structure of each chapter and provides some helpful information on Athanasius.


Each chapter begins with a short introduction to the life, work and historical context of the theologian in question.

Here we learn that Athanasius spent forty-five years of his life defending the gospel and the Trinity, and that the center of his theology was the victory of the cross.

Historical Context

The historical context seeks to give the reader a better understanding for any political, social and eccleastical factors that influenced or caused each theologian to engage themselves in the theological debates and interests they did.

Athanasius was born into a world that was very hostile towards Christianity, but began his theological ministry with Christianity as the official state religion, thanks to Constantine. While this may have provided some positive benefits for Christianity, it also opened the door for poor Christian thinking. Beckwith notes:

A public Christianity also provided an opportunity for all the different voices within the church to be heard. As these many voices emerged, it soon became apparent that a serious misunderstanding of Christianity had been embraced by some” (p. 157)

It is here that Athanasius finds himself. The defining theological issue for Athanasius was to state and defend the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. The catalyst for his lifelong defense of this doctrine was the Arian heresy that was officially condemned by the Council of Nicaea in 325.

Theological Overview

Following the historical context of each theologian, an overview of their work and theology is presented. This is not a popular level overview nor is it overly technical. Rather, it manages to be both accessible and challenging.

Following the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius began his work responding to Arius. His first works in this regard were Against the Heathenand On the Incarnation of the Word. Here Athanasius lays out the significance of the incarnation as the redemptive answer to the fall of man from creation. As image bearers we were created to know God. Sin affected this and the incarnation makes it possible again by renewing our image in Christ. For Athanasius, it is precisely because of the incarnation that salvation is possible, and this is what makes the teaching of Arius so destructive. During his time as the bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, Athanasius’ pastoral heart shone forth. It is here that his deeply formulated theology of the cross of Christ came to bear on his pastoral duties to his people. His pastoral shepherding made its way into the lives of his people through his festal letters. Through them he encouraged his people in good theology and corrected what he saw as destructive teaching. Interestingly enough, during this time he also made great strides in shaping the art and architecture of Alexandria: “He constructed new Christian buildings, expanded existing structures and converted old pagan temples into churches” (p. 183).

Appropriating the Theologians Work

In this section each contributor notes the lessons we can learn from both the life and works of these great theologians.

Beckwith rightly uses Athanasius’ commendation of Ignatius as a model for believers today. Athanasius spoke highly of Ignatius to others because his faithfulness to Scripture was a model to all. Beckwith notes: “The interest and enthusiasm Athanasius had for Ignatius is the same interest and enthusiasm we should have for those faithful writers from the history of the church who have preceded us in the faith” (p. 185).  As we learn from Athanasius, as he did from Ignatius, we see the importance of a constant appeal to the gospel as the center of life and theological grounding. As John Piper and others have taught us, Athanasius believed God is the gospel, God as three in one, co-equal, co-eternal, eternally existing together and equally sharing in the divine nature that is God. This is the gospel language Athanasius has given us and we do well to pass it on.


At the end of each chapter the primary and secondary sources on each theologian are provided for further study. There is a wealth of recommended reading provided here that will keep the interested reader busy.


Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy is a great introduction to eight theologians who gave their lives to the formation of orthodox theology. This is a first-rate academic introduction into the lives and theology of these men. Though academic in nature, it is accessible to the interested layman. There is also great interaction with the major contributions of each theologian, especially Tertullian, the three Cappadocians, Augustine and Anselm. Perhaps the most difficult theologian to follow is Anselm and his proof for the existence of God (p. 310-18). Yet at the same time, readers will be instructed and challenged as they read his work, for he does it so prayerfully.

What stands out most from these men is their consistent appeal to Scripture as the sole source and authority for their faith. This does not keep them from making mistakes, but their mistakes do not detract from their timeless contributions. In the words of Bradley Green: “Evangelicals should read all the fathers and gain as much exegetical insight, theological helpfulness and pastoral wisdom from them as possible.” (p. 13)

This review was originally published at and was re-published with permission. is giving away three IVP titles from the new Reformation Commentary On Scripture Series. Enter to win here and the books to win are as follows:

  1. Reading Scripture with the Reformers by Timothy George
  2. Galatians, Ephesians (Reformation Commentary on Scripture) by Gerald Bray
  3. Ezekiel, Daniel (Reformation Commentary on Scripture) by Carl Beckwith

Few, if any, would disagree that one has ever felt prepared to preach what every preacher would consider their hardest sermons. So often we go through preaching classes and read books on how to hone the preaching craft and never think about those sermons that we will have to preach that will be the most challenging on so many levels. Pastors are never prepared for the first and hardly feel more prepared for each subsequent one.

Death. It befalls us all whether we see it around the corner or it comes to us unexpectedly. Every preacher will have their share of sermons tied to death through community tragedy, the death of an unborn or young child, death by suicide, death by tragic circumstances or death by sudden or prolonged natural causes. Though no funeral is easy to preach some are harder than others due to the nature of the circumstances and every preacher hopes he can receive help and guidance on how to preach his first and many more after.

Perhaps the first of its kind, Bryan Chapell has brought together some of the hardest sermons ever preached on a wide variety of topics. The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach is a compilation of sermons by well-known pastors like Mark Dever, John Piper, Bryan Chapell, Tim Keller and Michael Horton. In the introduction, Chapell points out that all of the preachers featured in this book are from “the Reformed theological perspective, believing in the sovereign control of God over all things” (p. 12).

This sovereign control of God over all things is one of the defining and unifying features of this collection of sermons. Each pastor believes that God is not hands off in the midst of tragedy but is sovereignly working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). At the same time, these pastors realize that as finite creatures we cannot comprehend all the workings of God and that God ash seen fit not to reveal to us here on earth the reasoning and wisdom of everything he does and allows. Thus, there is always mystery in tragedy. Yet, within the mystery of God’s sovereign control amidst tragedy is a message of hope – the message of the cross. It is only because of the cross and Christ’s redemptive work on it that we can have any hope amidst tragedy. “The cross of Christ is the warrant for confidence in God’s promises of ultimate good, despite great heartache” (p. 15).Though the believer grieves in the death of others, we can come out of it with the hope that Christ has died to death for those who put their faith in Him as the only salvation from the penalty of death for their sins. Further, though He has died to death on our behalf He has risen to life and thus conquered death. It is because of the resurrection that our hope is secure and that one day “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4, ESV).

It is these truths, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ that runs deeply through each sermon in this book. Each sermon is drenched in the hope offering message of the gospel. Though the circumstances of each death and funeral are different, the ever applicable message of the cross is the same. This is the unifying and underlying thread that runs through each sermon presented here. There are times in reading through a sermon that you will be so emotionally drawn into the situation and the joyfulness of the hope of the gospel that you will be brought to tears.

The book is broken into five parts and each has sermons dealing with preaching in response to tragedy like 9/11, after the loss of a child like a miscarriage, at funerals with difficult circumstances like premature death, after the death of a public figure like a celebrity and after a suicide like that of a friend.

The setting in which the sermon was preached is explained followed by any concerns the preacher had to take into consideration while preparing for and preaching the message. This part is very helpful because it allows you to see by example the kinds of things preachers in these circumstances need to be sensitive to. The wisdom and carefulness of though in this section of each chapter is outstanding. In light of the concerns for each situation, the following approach each pastor takes in delivering the message is explained. This is equally full of wisdom as the aim of each sermon is discussed and the pastor looks at the situation of the death and those to whom he will be speaking.

Sermon after sermon, The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach is a goldmine of pastoral wisdom and gospel truth applied to preaching the hardest sermons a pastor will ever have to preach. This is the kind of book that should have been written years ago and I hope it is one of the top books on preaching for generations of preachers to come. Every man preparing for the ministry and every pastor in the ministry needs to have this book on their shelf!

NOTE: I received this book from Zondervan in return for a review and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review nor was I compensated.

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