Category Archives: Bibliotheca

Aside

At The Front Porch, Anthony Carter reviews, Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, in anticipation of a movie about Northup’s life. I am enjoying the work at The Front Porch, with gratefulness.

Not Black or White: A Biblical Theology of Preaching

419r4qrrEGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I am grateful to see the availability of Jason Meyer’s, Preaching: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2013). As a book written by the one called and entrusted to step into the pulpit of the faithful legacy that belongs to Bethlehem Baptist Church, and as a text that focuses on the stewardship of preaching, this work seems very promising. I hope to improve my own preaching through repeated reading of this text, and through its use in teaching homiletics courses and assisting in the training of the associate ministers at my own church. You can see a preview of the book here.

In commending a work of this type, I feel it is necessary to address the issue of cultural relevance. By “cultural relevance,” I am not, here, referring to Meyer’s ideas on application. Instead, I am speaking of the fact that a book written by a non-African American pastor, and that focuses more on the responsibility and nature of heralding the very words of God than on delivery style, is relevant to men who largely preach to homogenous, African-American congregations. As Meyer discusses thoroughly in his book, a recovery (my term) of the concept of the preacher holding a stewardship – in which proclaiming the very words of the Most High must foster an encounter with God for the people of God – is needed in Christ’s church. A conscious knowledge of this stewardship will bring us to our pulpits in much more fear of the Lord than what often is expressed in contemporary pulpits. There is a holy gravity that comes to the task and the text with a cognizant stewardship. Bringing more of that fear to the sacred desk would be helpful to the causes of building the Lord’s church and the salvation of souls in the African American community, and not just in Jason Meyer’s ethnic community. So I hope you will grab and prioritize this book, regardless of the relationship of your race, ethnicity, or color to that of the author.

In the Lord’s sovereign grace, I currently serve in a homogenous assembly within the Afro-Baptist tradition. The congregation kindly receives my preaching without any complaint that my preaching is not colorful enough for them, even though it is less colorful than our pastor’s preaching and many others’ who fill our pulpit. Having heard the preaching of a faithful pastor-exegete for 24+ years, they share a concern those serving our pulpit will reveal the Biblical author’s central idea – God’s voice – from every text. I am grateful for my church family, for the rhetoric and style that is part of the rich history of Black preaching, and for works like Meyer’s Preaching that help preachers wed the text of Scripture to the tradition of the church.

Preaching: A Biblical Theology, by Jason Meyer. Crossway, 2013. Retail: $17.01. Paper

Also @Westminster Books

 

Carson at TGC National Conference

Carson-Speaking-300x222What a challenge it is to attempt to capture D. A. Carson’s most significant exegetical and theological insights while he is speaking! He brings such a thorough perspective to almost every topic on which he speaks it is difficult to chose which insights should get the modifier, “most significant.” Instead, allow me to offer some commentary from his message, “Jesus’ Resolve to Head Toward Jerusalem” from Lk. 9:18-62, given at TGC13:

On Lk. 9:22-23: “Talk about seeker sensitive: Want to be a Christian? The Cross!”

On Lk. 9:24: “Jesus uses extreme language because it is an extreme death.”

On Lk. 9:41: “[Jesus basically says], ‘I really am looking forward to going home!’”

On Lk. 9:43-49: “[The disciples] could not get his death because they are having an argument about greatness rather than death… They are not clamoring to join him in his suffering… They want to be close to Jesus, but Jesus wants to see how [they] welcome a child, for then [they] are not showing off or brandishing [their] résumé[s]… They want to climb the corporate ladder and get rid of messianic competition” (with reference to the parallels in Mt. 20 and Mk. 10).

On Lk. 9:51-53: “Raw terror leads him to Jerusalem. But nothing will weaken his resolve to die on the Cross.”

On Lk. 9:57-62: “This is not [some] abstract cost of discipleship, but the demands of a to-be-crucified-Messiah.”

I chose not to write down any notes from Carson’s lecture, “What Do We Mean When We Confess Jesus to be the Son of God?” since he recently published a book addressing the topic: Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (Crossway, 2012; Credo Magazine has a link to the audio of a lecture of the same title). Instead I simply listened and enjoyed Carson’s discussions concerning the convergence of the OT Messianic expectation with the NT / First Century sonship concepts.

Carson gave a great analogy on the difficulties faced by those translating the Scriptures for highly Muslim populated contexts – contexts where the idea of God having a “son” sounds like a blasphemous, divine-human copulation: The French Canadian equivalent of the English idiom, “I have a frog in my throat” is “I have [a] cat’s throat.” If you were translating the French into the English, would you use the English idiom, or something retaining “cat’s” if “cat” was a term with deeply invested theological meaning? A fuller discussion can be found in the book.

I am hoping that Crossway will compile the edited texts of the TGC13 expositions through Luke’s Gospel account. I will look for it in 2014. I also hope the Lord has willed from eternity past for Carson to produce a commentary on Luke.

(Link to Carson’s Jesus the Son of God at Amazon)

 

Endorsement of The Ascension by Chester and Woodrow

9781781911440The good people at Christian Focus Publishers (CFP) kindly invited me to preview and endorse Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow’s, The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God (96 pp.; also available through WTS Bookstore). Here is the endorsement (with my name misspelled on the Amazon page):

 Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow pull back the curtains of the true temple to disclose the glories of the ongoing work of the Savior on our behalf. They powerfully reveal the Ascension as fulfillment of what all of Redemptive History foreshadows—that the Lord’s own will enter his presence only through the work of the one who can go up into the very clouds of God Almighty.  Along the way the seasoned churchmen teach us how to read the two Testaments with great Biblical-theological insight. Meditation upon this exposition of Christ’s “going up” will strengthen all aspects of our private and corporate worship, prayer, evangelism, of public kingdom living and of Gospel preaching. Chester and Woodrow have given us a gift that will lift our eyes from this temporal horizon to the steppes of eternal joys of our High Priest in heaven.

From the book, please consider this passage on the question of the Ascension within the flow of Redemptive History:

Near where we live is the parish church of St Mary and St Martin in the village of Blyth, Nottinghamshire. Along the south side is a series of four stained-glass windows which date from around 1300. Each of the four windows consists of three pairs of stories. In each case the lower image is a story from the Old Testament while the image above depicts a New Testament story that fulfills the promise implicit in the Old Testament story. This is a medieval biblical theology in coloured glass.

Many of the pairings are predictable. Naaman being cleansed of leprosy in the River Jordan is paired with Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1. Isaac carrying wood up Mount Moriah is paired with Jesus carrying the cross. The Passover meal is paired with Jesus being stripped for crucifixion.

Two panes relate to the ascension. One shows Mary Magdalene grasping hold of the Risen Christ with Jesus saying, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended’ (John 20:17). The second shows the ascension itself. Which Old Testament stories would you choose to match these New Testament fulfillments?

In the windows of St Mary and St Martin’s the scene underneath Jesus saying to Mary, ‘Touch me not for I am not yet ascended’ is Abel’s acceptable sacrifice (Gen. 4:4) and underneath the ascension itself is a picture of Abraham meeting the priest-king Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18). As we shall see, the medieval craftsmen who made these windows rightly identified the ascension as the fulfillment of all that sacrifice and priesthood represented in the Old Testament. (13-14)

I will not give away the riches of the presentation.  I encourage you to get it and read it for yourself and those you serve.

I am grateful to have met Willie and Kate Mackenzie of CFP at TGC13.  I enjoyed my time of fellowship with them.

 

Gilbreath’s Remembering Birmingham E-book

 

41QVF28ZCSL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I just saw the announcement for Ed Gilbreath’s new e-book, Remembering Birmingham: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter to America — 50 Years Later (IVP). Rereading King’s Letter always is good, and so is reading the various commentaries by the editors of various editions over the last 50 years.

 

Related: Jonathan Parnell on John Piper on King’s Letter in Bloodlines.

J I Packer’s Taking God Seriously

4115m7PByOL._SL500_AA300_I just received notice about J. I. Packer’s, Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know. I will have to give it priority over the Horton work. Reading Packer’s, Knowing God, 25 years ago was eye opening! I also think his short work, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, should go into the hands of new believers and new church members; (if you have not yet read it, get a copy and you can finish it in a night or two).

Amazon has Taking God Seriously for Kindle and on audio CD.

Description

Best-selling author J. I. Packer, one of the most influential evangelicals of our day, has put together what may become a Christian classic on the vital truths of the faith. Serving to nourish the church worldwide, Packer makes accessible the things we need to know in eight essential areas. This concise book also helps us guard against liberalism by pushing Christians to know their faith so they can explain it to inquirers and sustain it against skeptics. Here is a call to a discipleship in mere Christianity—the business of taking God seriously.

Endorsement

“Like many people, I first discovered what it meant ‘to take God seriously’ through reading J. I. Packer’s books. It is thus an honor and a delight to be asked to write a commendation for his latest work, a basic catechetical plea for sober, modest, thoughtful and orthodox theology. In a church world dominated by Barnum and Bailey circus antics and the brash triviality borrowed from the world around in the name of ‘engagement,’ Dr. Packer remains a truly engaging and gentlemanly advocate for those old paths which are ever fresh.”
—Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Michael Horton’s Pilgrim Theology 51% Off at WTS Bookstore Until 2/13

9780310330646mWhen Michael Horton writes on Theology, it is worth reading and rereading. I am glad to see the availability of his, Pilgrim TheologyI am certain that Horton will make theology something the person in the pew will enjoy. Get a copy now at a great price.

Publisher’s Description

Pilgrim Theology is based–in part–on the much larger The Christian Faith, although it is no simple abridgment; rather, Michael Horton has sought to write for an entirely new and wider audience, intentionally making it more useful for both group and individual study.

Horton reviews the biblical passages that have given rise to particular doctrines in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection.

Pilgrim Theology is especially appropriate for undergraduate students, educated laypersons, or anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of Reformed theology’s biblical and historical foundations.

Includes Study and Discussion Guide

512 Pages
Published January 2013

 

Related

The Christian Faith

 

Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from Daniel

Daniel07Westminster Bookstore sent me notice today of the arrival of Sidney Greidanus’, Preaching Christ from Daniel: Foundations for Expository Sermons (Eerdmans), on its shelves. Greidanus’s works are known for helping the expositor pay attention to literary structures and genre features within Biblical texts, as well as for giving serious thought to revealing the Gospel from each text. Greidanus works hard at making application(s) from each text.

Recently, several good works have been published to help readers work through Daniel and think about the significance of Daniel’s prophetic narrative to the modern believer. Among these are works by Iain Duguid and Ernest Lucas.

UPDATE (1/26/13): WTS Bookstore fixed the link on the author’s name on their page so that all of Greidanus’ works can be reached through the Daniel work’s page.

Publisher’s Description

In Preaching Christ from Daniel Sidney Greidanus shows preachers and teachers how to prepare expository messages from the six narratives and four visions in the book of Daniel. Using the most up-to-date biblical scholarship, Greidanus addresses foundational issues such as the date of composition, the author(s) and original audience of the book, its overall message and goal, and various ways of preaching Christ from Daniel. Throughout his book Greidanus puts front and center God’s sovereignty, providence, and coming kingdom.

Each chapter contains building blocks for constructing expository sermons and lessons, including useful information on the context, themes, and goals of each literary unit links between Daniel and the New Testament how to formulate the sermon theme and goal contemporary application and much more!

440 Pages
Published January 2013

About the Author

Sidney Greidanus is professor emeritus of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. His other books include The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Preaching Christ from Genesis, and Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes.

The Most Widely Misunderstood and Misrepresented Supreme Court Opinion of All Time

From Justin Taylor’s blog: The Most Widely Misunderstood and Misrepresented Supreme Court Opinion of All Time.

Francis Beckwith, author of the important and learned Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007), writes:

It is no exaggeration to say that no U.S. Supreme Court opinion has been more misunderstood and has had its arguments more misrepresented in the public square than Roe v. Wade (1973). There seems to be a widespread perception that Roe was a moderate opinion that does not support abortion on demand, i.e., unrestricted abortion for all nine months for virtually any reason. . . .

In order to fully grasp the reasoning of Roe, its paucity as a piece of constitutional jurisprudence, and the current state of abortion law, this article looks at three different but interrelated topics: (1) what the Court actually concluded in Roe; (2) the Court’s reasoning in Roe; and (3) how subsequent Court opinions, including Casey v. Planned Parenthood, have shaped the jurisprudence of abortion law.

You can read online the whole analysis: “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.”

For shorter summaries of the serious flaws in the legal reasoning, see Beckwith’s blog posts on (1) The Court’s Failure to Address the Question of the Unborn’s Moral Status, and (2)The Court’s Two Unwarranted Stipulations.

A 2012 Book of the Year: Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative

9781433521904“Modern culture has not really rendered creeds and confessions untrue; far less has it rendered them unbiblical. But it has rendered them implausible and distasteful. They are implausible because they are built on old-fashioned notions of truth and language. They make the claim that a linguistic formulation of a state of affairs can have a binding authority beyond the mere text on the page, that creeds actually refer to something, and that that something has a significance for all of humanity. They thus demand that individuals submit, intellectually and morally, to something out- side of themselves, that they listen to the voices from the church from other times and other places. They go directly against the grain of an antihistorical, antiauthoritarian age. Creeds strike hard at the cherished notion of human autonomy and of the notion that I am exceptional, that the normal rules do not apply to me in the way they do to others.

They are distasteful for the same reason: because they make old-fashioned truth claims; and to claim that one position is true is automatically to claim that its opposite is false. God cannot exist and not exist at the same time; he cannot be three persons and one person at the same time, at least not without unhelpful and hopeless equivocation (despite the claims of some Reformed theologians to the contrary). Truth claims thus imply a hierarchy whereby one position is better than another and where some beliefs, and thus those who hold those beliefs, are excluded. That may not be a very tasteful option in today’s society but, as noted above, even the modern pluralist West still excludes those that it considers, if not wrong, then at least distasteful and unpleasant.

We are naïve as Christians if we think that our thinking is not shaped by the cultural currents that surround us. Of course, we cannot abstract ourselves from our context; we cannot cease to be embodied individuals, each with our own personal biographies, who live within a complex network of social relations that influence the way we live and think and speak. Yet to know something of our context is to make ourselves aware of some of the invisible forces that have such an unconscious influence on us. Once we know they are there, we at least have the possibility of engaging in critical reflection, which will allow us to some extent to liberate ourselves from them—or, if not to liberate ourselves, at least to make us more aware of why we think the way we do.” (Carl R. Trueman, The Creedal Imperative, 48-49.)

Among the various Christian “2012 Books of the Year” lists, I think Carl Trueman’s, The Creedal Imperative, should have had greater prominence. Many are familiar with Trueman’s exhortation to see the historic creeds and confessions as a means of preventing us from reinventing the faith in very successive generation of the church. Instead of reinventing, we can contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and prevent ourselves from creating and embracing false teachings and heresies as we pass the truth to the three and four generations below us.

Some familiar with Trueman’s writing style might be turned off by the cultured wit and sagacious drollness of his previous works. Certainly Trueman’s tongue is carved in the mold of his Wittenberg hero; unquestionably he has the mind of his Puritan champion. Yet the sophisticated from-across-the-pond-humor is toned down in this work. Trueman writes with great accessibility for the average reading believer humbly seeking the truth in a walk with the Lord.

I would encourage the many in pulpits and pews to ponder deeply Truman’s arguments for a recovery of the creeds in the use of church (and family) life. Having used the Westminster Shorter Catechism with my own children, and the Heidleberg with my Baptist (!) congregation and my family, I certainly understand the case for the creeds. My children have a bedrock of theology from which they can judge all other claims of truth. Our discussions of theology have been rich, from prior to their teen years throughout their young adult years. I hope this will mean each of the churches of their adult attendance will have a family in membership that understands the truth of the Gospel. With Trueman’s work, in the Lord’s grace, might many churches experience this joy as the norm among their memberships.

Related

Trueman, “T-t-t-talkin’ Bout My Generation (But Thinking About the One After Next),” reformation 21

Trueman, “A Good Creed Seldom Goes Unpunished,” reformation 21

Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe).

J. I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way.