April 2012


Readers of this blog know that I love to read and review books. Well, now I am going to give two away! Crossway has been kind enough to give me two books for my first giveaway.

Publisher’s Description: B.B. Warfield is well-known as one of America’s leading theologians, perhaps second only to Jonathan Edwards. But until now the character of his own Christian experience and his understanding of the Christian life have remained unexplored. Fred Zaspel unpacks these for us here, and what we find is that Warfield’s profound theological mind is matched only by his passionate heart for Christ. From Warfield we learn truly what it is to live in light of the gospel.
What Others Are Saying:
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B. B. Warfield looms large in the Protestant imagination as a theologian, one of the giants in the land. What is less well known are the details and dynamics of his own approach to the Christian life. Fred Zaspel has already written a substantial volume on Warfield as theologian; now he opens up for us the world of Warfield’s practical Christianity. Once again, fans of the great Princetonian are in for a treat, and are deeply and delightfully in debt to Dr. Zaspel.”
Carl R. Trueman
 Zaspel’s latest contribution, Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel, does not simply answer with a resounding affirmative, but again faithfully unpacks Warfield and shows him to be a theologian of head and heart. Above all, Warfield is an integrated thinker, so he is ideally equipped to show how that which is central to the Bible, the gospel of God, rightly shapes the Christian’s entire life. And Zaspel makes this accessible.”
D. A. Carson

Publisher’s Description: Just because you go to church doesn’t mean that you are exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness. Inspired by the needs of both the over-churched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!

What Others Are Saying:

Matt Chandler presents the gospel in a way that is balanced, hope-filled, and very, very serious, all the while presented with Matt’s trademark humor. Even more faithful than funny, Matt insults all of us (including himself) in a strangely edifying way, and in a way that I pray will make you treasure Christ even more.”
Mark Dever

This book, like the gospel itself, is clarifying, convicting, comforting, and compelling all at the same time. I wholeheartedly invite you to read it, to be overwhelmed by the mercy and majesty of God in the gospel, and then to spend your life making this gospel explicit in every facet of your life and to every corner of the earth!”
David Platt

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4. I will announce the winners on Saturday and Crossway will send the winners the books directly.
5. As part of the entry you can leave a comment on the book you prefer and why. The first winner selected will receive the book they mentioned and the second winner will receive the other book.
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With the number of marriage books out on the market, both by religious and secular authors, it would make you wonder why anyone would write another one. What more can be said, you might ask. And yet they keep coming. The most recent of best sellers on marriage is by bestselling author and pastor Mark Driscoll and his book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together. When this book first released there were a number of reviews with both positive and negative feedback. In light of that, this review will be short so as not to reiterate the words of others.

To be honest, I have to hand it to the Driscoll’s for writing this book. Though to the chagrin of many, the Driscoll’s open themselves up in this book like few ever do and on a topic as intimate to a marriage as sex. Sex is a hard topic to talk about within Christianity because, as Driscoll would put it, it is viewed as a god, gift or gross. Unfortunately, within evangelicalism, it is predominately viewed as gross.

But Real Marriage is only half about sex. The first half of the book deals with marriage itself from the vantage point of friendship within marriage. The Driscoll’s have chosen this vantage point because, according to them, in all of the marriage books they read, none of them discuss friendship within marriage. Having read a number of marriage books since before I married my wife, I can say that I don’t remember the word friendship mentioned in reference to marriage. However, I did feel that there were a number of aspects mentioned in regards to developing a healthy marriage that were friendship related such as common interests and the like. The five chapters in this first section cover topics that other marriage books do as well. Nevertheless, the intentional focus on friendship within marriage is not covered as much as in Real Marriage. So while the ground covered may not be all too new, casting it under the banner of friendship within marriage is something this book does well.

Returning to sex. The second half of the book deals with a myriad of sex related issues, both previous to and during marriage. There are a ton of recent statistics used here along with reference to relevant psychological data to support the biblical idea that sex outside of marriage is not only harmful to the individual at the time but is harmful to one’s marriage later. To Christians who have grown up in a healthy home and have never had sex outside of marriage there might not be a lot here that is helpful. Reason being, this book seems to be written as a marriage book written to the believer with a messy sexual background or a current marriage with sexual problems stemming from a messy sexual background from one of the spouses. Whether that was the intent or not, this seems best how to take the book in comparison to others that deal with the same subject material but from a different angle.

No doubt, for many, the hardest part of the book to get through is chapter ten, Can We______? In their ministry at their church, the Driscoll’s have been asked a myriad of questions regarding sex, specifically, questions related to what is permissible within marriage. In a genuine effort to provide guidelines for answering these questions, the Driscoll’s have developed a three step question process. The questions are: (Is it lawful?, (2) Is it helpful? and (3) Is it enslaving? At the front, these are good questions to ask of many things that are not directly addressed in Scripture or that are but still are not clear. The hang up I see in this method is that while these are biblical questions to ask, I am not sure they are the only ones to ask of some of the activities in question nor should all of them be asked either. They are not the only ones to ask because the question, “Why do you want to do this activity?,” needs to be asked for some of these and there need to be questions that address the heart of the person asking the question. For other questions, I wonder if one even needs to go beyond the first question, “Is it lawful?” In a way, if the answer to this question is no, then what else is there to ask? Granted, own issues here cold stem from my own assumptions and thoughts about some of the activities asked but I think they are good questions to ask.

To the issue of how much gospel is in this book. If I were to compare this book to others on marriage I would have to say it sits about a 6 on the gospel scale of 1-10. In a generation and decade in which a gospel centered movement has been born (which Driscoll is at minimum related to), no doubt, any book that seeks to address the issues it tackles with the gospel will be rigorously critiqued for how gospel centered or saturated it is. Could the book have been more gospel centered? Probably. Did it have gospel in it? Yes. But I want to judge the book by its intent. This book had a lot of personal material, statistics, cultural commentary and down-right good advice.  This is not an excuse to be gospel-less but we need to judge the book by its overall content and aim. It was not a book on the gospel and marriage. Yes, at times I wanted to see more connections to the gospel when there was none or minimal reference.

All in all, this book was fine for what it is seeking to accomplish. I would not recommend it to everyone but I think every pastor needs to have it. I would give it to certain couples who have had a history of sexual problems before marriage. But it would not be the only book on marriage and sex I would have them read. No doubt, this was a hard book to write for both of the Driscoll’s because of the intense personal nature of much of the content. They have spilled their sexual guts (to coin a phrase) for all to see in an effort to help those whose marriages have been harmed and destroyed by sexual abuse and misuse. They have been willing to do for others in this book what many would never do in a private counseling session, let alone in a book which millions of people will read for years to come.

NOTE: I received this book for free in return for a review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ churst555@gmail.com and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!

REVIEWS:

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong and Dave Jenkins.

Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson is reviewed by Grace For Sinners blog.

Reformer of Basel: The Life, thought, and Influence of Johannes Oecolampadius by Diane Poythress is reviewed by Doug Wilson.

The Last Enemy by Michael Wittmer is reviewed by Tim Challies.

What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Case?  Answers to the Big Questions in Life by Ed Welch is reviewed by Dave Jenkins at Servants of Grace.

Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll is reviewed at Christians in Context.

We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (Ancient Christian Doctrine) ed. by Angelo Berardino is reviewed by Brad Kelly at Sharperiron.org.

INTERVIEWS:

Bruce Ware is interviewed by David Crabb about gender issues, fundamentalism & evangelicalism and contemporary issues.

Matt Chandler is interviewed by Trevin Wax about his book the Explicit Gospel.

Tim Keller is interviewed by Eric Metaxas.

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHTS:

Aaron Armstrong  quotes a section from D.A. Carson’s new book The Intolerance of Tolerance on Intolerance, Tolerance and the Implausibility of Opposing Views.

Justin Buzzard lists the endorsements for his forthcoming book Date Your Wife.

Christian Focus Booknotes highlights Colin S. Smith author of the recent book Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life.

In honor of Roger Nicole, RTS in Orlando, FL has opened The Nicole Institute of Baptist Studies. (HT:JT) See Standing Forth: Collected Writings of Roger Nicole for some of Nicole’s works and Speaking the Truth in Love: Life & Legacy of Roger Nicole as a book in his honor.

Thabiti Anyabwile lectures on the question of Can We Trust the Theology of a Slave Owner?

Con Campbell discusses the study of ancient Greek which he addresses in his book the Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek.

Christian Focus Booknotes has the 2nd installment of Culver’s Theology Corner in which the discussion continues on The Origin and Unity of Mankind by Creation.

BOOKS & RESOURCES TO NOTE:

40 Questions About the End Times by Eckhard Schnabel is highlighted by James Hamilton author of Revelation.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association announces the finalists for the 2012 Christian Books Awards. (HT:K)

Mapping Modern Theology: A Thematic  Historical Introduction ed by Kelly Kapic & Bruce McCormack is highlighted by Louis McBride.

Andrew Rogers highlights the forthcoming book Contagious Generosity  by Chris Willard & Jim Sheppard.

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew by Andrew Steinmann is recommended by James Hamilton.

James Hamilton highlights Crossway’s Hebrew-English Old Testament (BHS & ESV) and 3 other ESV Bibles for study use.

Justin Taylor notes the Four Guideposts to Interpreting the Song of Solomon discussed by Doug O’Donnell author of the recent book The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job.

At Credo Mag.com Elizabeth Barrett highlights several books as Easter Resources for Families.

Justin Taylor highlights the recent book Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning ed. by Grudem, Schreiner & Collins.

Ligonier Ministries announces their new podcast Renewing Your Mind Minute.

Peter Enns gives a preview of a forthcoming book on, you guessed it, Genesis for Normal People co written with Jared Byas.

Paul Tautges suggests 8 New Discipleship Counseling Booklets.

Michael Kruger’s (author of Canon Revisited from Crossway) wife has written a book titled The Envy of Eve.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

At re:Fundamentals Rey shows How To Read An E-Bible For Studying.

At TGC Dave Wright gives a Brief History of Youth Ministry.

Michael Wittmer discusses the Evolution of Death.

Thom S. Rainer lists Seven New Trends in the Pastor Search Process.

Peter Enns discusses You and I Have a Different God, I Think.

The exodus and the wilderness narratives are central to OTT (Old Testament Theology),  and that without them, the tapestry of Israel’s faith and the foundational fabric of Christianity unravels. (p. 106)

Yesterday I discussed the Five Theological Pillars of the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy from chapter three of Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?

Today I wanted to share the fourth chapter in which James Hoffmeier discusses Why a Historical Exodus is Essential for Theology. As the above quote indicates, Hoffmeier does not mince words in pointing out the importance of belief in an historical exodus and wilderness wandering for the theology of the Old Testament. This test case speaks to a bigger issue: Christian theology is rooted in history. Paul makes this point clear in 1 Cor. 15 in relation to the Christian faith and the resurrection of Christ. If Christ did not raise from the dead (historical event) then the Christian faith is in vain. Similarly, if there was no Exodus of Israel and the subsequent wilderness wanderings then the Christian faith is torn apart.

This chapter is worth the book alone as reading through it brought to light the further significance of passages I have read many times before. It also brought home the biblical-theological significance of the exodus and wilderness events and the foundational role they play in the life of Israel moving forward.

Hoffmeier offers no less than nine ways in which the exodus and wilderness narratives shape the religion of later Israel.

ONE: Divine Self-Disclosure – God addresses and reveals himself to Israel as “the Lord God who brought you out of Egypt” (Ex. 20:2). God links who he is with what he has done as the foundation for what he says and does afterwards.

TWO: The Historical Prologue to the Sinaitic Covenant – Here, the sinaitic covenant (Ex. 20-24) is compared to treaties of other neighboring peoples like the Hittites or Egyptians. This is called a suzerainty treaty. This treaty acts as a covenant between God and Israel. The exodus and wilderness accounts are part of this treaty.

THREE: Legal Matters – Here we see that a number of laws in the Mosaic law are based on the historical events of the exodus and wilderness events. For instance, the relative redemption laws of Lev. 25:46-54 is rooted in the exodus event (Lev. 25:55). The law to release slaves after six years is rooted in the exodus event (Deut. 15:15). Further, Israel was to treat sojourners and aliens well because Israel was a sojourner in Egypt (Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:34).

FOUR: Religious Festivals, Observances, and Rites – Passover is tied to the tenth plague (Ex. 12:1-3) and its continual observance to the exodus event (Ex. 13:3). The two tablets of the Law were put with the ark of the covenant on the temple as a reminder of the covenant God made with Israel after they came out of Egypt (Ex. 25:16; Deut. 31:26: 1 Kings 8:4,9).

FIVE: Hymnody – The Song of Moses (Ex. 15:1-18), the Song of Miriam (Ex. 15:21), the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:4-5) as well as songs in the Psalms refer to the exodus and wilderness events.

SIX: Prophetic Literature – The prophets are covenant enforcers. Thus, it is not surprising that they frequently refer to the exodus and wilderness events when they remind Israel of God’s covenant with them (Judges 6:8-10; Mic 6:4-5).

SEVEN: Statements of Non-Israelites – There are a number of instances in which non-Israelites respond in faith to the God if Israel because of the exodus event. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law refers to the exodus in his profession of faith (Ex. 18:5-9). Rahab from Jericho mentions the crossing of the Red Sea as a catalyst event for her profession of faith (Josh. 2:9-10). Even the Philistines, Israels continual enemy, recognize the exodus event as God’s act of saving his people from the Egyptians (1 Sam. 4:9-6:6).

EIGHT: Chronological Benchmark – The exodus was one the events in Israel’s history that served as a chronological benchmark for their calendar (Ex. 12:1-2). The exodus is mentioned twice right after they leave Egypt to serve as a marker for two stops (Ex. 16:1 & 19:1). The continual rebellion of people against God in 1 Sam. 8:8 is compared to the exodus. The beginning of the construction of Solomon’s temple is dated from the exodus (1 Kings 6:1).

NINE: Historical Retrospective – This is a “genre in which a figure, often a king late in his reign, recalls his earlier achievements, usually in the form of a speech recorded on a stela or temple, typically with a political (or religious) agenda in mind” (p. 130). Instances of historical retrospective are in Deut. 25:17-19 when God recounts the attack of the Amalekites on Israel as they approach Sinai in Ex. 17:8-16. This event in Ex. 17 at Sinai is the impetus for Saul to announce Israel’s war against the Amalekites again in 1 Sam. 15. This surfaces again in the Judges by Gideon (Jud. 6:13) and Jephthah (Jud. 11:13-16).

So we see that the exodus and wilderness wandering serve as a theological and relational basis for Israel’s life throughout the rest of their history. For further explanation of these nine points pick up your copy of Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?

Do historical matters matter to faith? This is both a good question and the title of a must read book I am reading titled Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?  A Critical Appraisal to Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture Ed. by James Hoffmeier & Dennis Magary.

In chapter three, Toward a Theological Account of Biblical Inerrancy, Mark Thompson provides five theological pillars of the doctrine of inerrancy. In stating and defining these five pillars he states:

Precisely because a great deal of static has made it difficult for some to hear what is in fact being affirmed by the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, and passions continue to run high on both sides of the debates, careful attention must be given to a theological account of the doctrine. Such an account must be theological in at least two senses: it must argue from the nature and character of God as revealed in the teaching, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – that is, it must be a christological and evangelical account; and it must attend to the self-attestation and the phenomena of the Scripture we have in fact been given. (p. 72-73)

The Five Theological Pillars of the Doctrine of Inerrancy are as follows:

Pillar One: God’s Personal Veracity – God is creator of all things and knows all things. He is truth and is always truthful. The terms faithful and true are used throughout Scripture to describe God and His word (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Prov. 3-:5; Ps. 119:160; Titus 1:1-3; Heb. 6:17-18; Rom. 3:4). “The truth of what God says is fully grounded in the truth of what God is. In this way it becomes clear why we must insist that God’s power is not exercised independently, of his veracity, his faithfulness, and his necessary infallibility” (p. 86).

Pillar Two: God’s Concursive Involvement in the Created Order – God was and is not only involved in miraculous events like creation and the resurrection of Jesus, but also in the everyday ordinary events of life. God is both sovereign in His activity within the world but He also gives man freedom to will to act. This is termed compatibilism. Two clear examples from Scripture are Joseph in Egypt with his brothers (Gen. 45:4-5; 50:20) and the events surrounding Jesus death (Acts 2:23). Both God and man’s actions have converged together and man is not free from the sin of his actions despite God willing them to be done and God’s character is not called into questions for holding man accountable for these sins despite their necessity. “The God-breathed text is the product of his providential ordering, in which God remains God and acts in ways consistent with his character while sustaining genuine human agency” (p. 89).

Pillar Three: God’s Willingness to Accommodate Himself for Our Sake – Though God is a spirit and not like man He has revealed Himself to man in such a way that is truthful and understandable and not deceitful. Examples of God’s accommodation to man are instances where He is said to possess body parts like hands, eyes and feet. Clearly God does not possess those physical features and He is not deceiving man in using them to describe by analogy Himself or His actions. This is use of accommodation is termed anthropomorphic expression.

Pillar Four: God’s Creation and Use of Human Speech and Writing – As creator God created language and as creatures made in the image of God, God endowed mankind with the ability to speak. God speaks to mankind and vice-versa.For hundreds of years after creation God spoke His divine revelation to man and then he instructed man to begin writing down this revelation. Though humans are fallible and thus so can their writing, “the limitations of the authors do not automatically transfer to the biblical text, precisely because they are not the only ones involved in its production” (p. 94). Quoting R.C. Sproul, Thompson states, “The infallibility of Scripture does not rest on the infallibility of the human writers but on the integrity of God” (p.94).

Pillar Five: God’s Gift of Scripture – Though mankind will write many books discussing their thoughts of God and their comments on Scripture itself, no writing is of the same class as Scripture because God was involved in its writing. It is God-breathed and both testaments attest to this reality. Inspiration is an act of God upon the text of Scripture not the human authors of Scripture. However, God was working through the human authors of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Scripture is a gift of God to mankind that we might hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that upon confessing our belief in Christ as our savior we are saved and brought into fellowship with our God and Father who created us and the very language we confess our belief in Him with. God inspired Scripture that we might have fellowship with Him because of the work of His Son and the indwelling of His Spirit.

Right now I am reading through G.K. Beale’s most recent book A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. This is an amazing book that every pastor, teacher and student needs to possess.

Recently, Mark Dever visited Westminster Theological Seminary in PA and interviewed Beale on biblical theology. You can listen here.

In relation to Biblical theology and the New Testament use of the Old Testament, Beale mentions a few of his other books: The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Text?, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament,  The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of St. John and his forthcoming book from Baker Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.

To students of biblical languages, especially New Testament Greek, Bill Mounce is no stranger. His many linguistic works include: Basics of Biblical Greek, A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek, Learn the Basics of Biblical Greek DVD Series, Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary Cards, The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools Without Mastering Biblical Greek and he has written the Word Commentary Series volume on The Pastoral Epistles.

Recently for Zondervan, Mounce discussed the future of biblical languages which you can watch below in this short video:

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