I am grateful to see the arrival of Richard D. Phillips’, John: Reformed Expository Commentary (P&R). Phillips’ is a tremendous expositor of Scripture. I have enjoyed using both his Hebrews and Jonah & Micah commentaries in my pulpit and classroom preparations. Phillips’ expository publishing output is significant too, as evidenced by his additional commentaries on 1 Samuel and Zechariah. He also is no mean theologian, as we have witnessed in his recent discussions surrounding the theology of sanctification.
I am enjoying greatly Jeremy Treat’s, The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology (Zondervan)! Treat has done a tremendous job in wedding Biblical Theology and Systematic – or Dogmatic – Theology, or rather, in seeing how the Biblical text yields the fruit of both. In particular, others have demonstrated the Markan use of Isaiah in Mark’s portrayal of Christ as King and the crucified one. But they have not done it to the degree that Treat has, neither have they shown so interdependently how “King” guards the truth of the Cross (Systematics), and that the Cross/atonement – as developed through Redemptive History – is what beautifies the role of the King (Biblical Theology). You can read the thoughts of others on Treat’s work below.
I also am most eager for the arrival of Richard D. Phillips’ commentary on John in the Reformed Expository Commentary series (P&R).
Others on Treat’s work:
N. T. Wright’s, Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues, just hit the shelves. Yes; of course it will be interesting, maybe even distressing at some points–it’s N. T. Wright! So why even ask if it will be interesting? Just get it. Whether or not you will agree with Wright is another story.
While rearranging my shelves recently, I was shocked to see how much Wright I have utilized in teaching. Yet, I have disagreements with him at many points.
Walter Russell Mead is the James Clarke Chace professor of foreign affairs at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest. He is the author of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. He writes a good (and fairly balanced) article on grading the tenure of Madame Clinton at the State Department. You might wish for more on Benghazi, but its not there. Some quotes from the article:
“The U.S. emphasis on human rights and democracy, as well as the active support for civil society organizations, contributed to China’s harsh response to the pivot to Asia and probably deepened Vladimir Putin’s view of the West as a danger to Russia. For Moscow and Beijing, Washington’s work to engage and strengthen democracy activists and movements represents an aggressive effort to undermine the Russian and Chinese regimes. And the push for changing gender relations allows Islamists to portray the United States as a threat to religious values. American opponents often fear ideological and cultural “aggression” as much as U.S. military power.”
“The answer: Historians will probably consider Clinton significantly more successful than run-of-the-mill secretaries of state such as James G. Blaine or the long-serving Cordell Hull, but don’t expect to see her on a pedestal with Dean Acheson or John Quincy Adams anytime soon.”
“The verdict? Clinton brought a clear vision of U.S. interests and power to the job, and future presidents and secretaries of state will find many of her ideas essential. Yet she struggled to bring together the different elements of her vision into a coherent set of policies. The tension between America’s role as a revolutionary power and its role as a status quo power predates Clinton; the struggle to reconcile those two opposed but equally indispensable aspects of American foreign policy has survived her tenure at the State Department.”
I just finished Jonathan Pennington’s, Reading the Gospels Wisely, (currently a steal at only $4.99 in the Kindle edition). I highly recommend this text for gaining a greater appreciation of the role the Gospels should play in one’s reading of the entirety of the canon. Pennington and I differ on our hermeneutical approaches to reading texts, but as a whole, his thesis is outstanding.
I was struck by one of the word pictures at the end of the book he uses to highlight the significance the Gospels should play in our corporate worship:
“A rediscovery of the central role of the Gospels in the church will affect our worship services and preaching…. [M]ost liturgical traditions maintain a special regard for readings and expositions from the Gospels…. But in general, the Gospels have tended to play a lesser role in much of American evangelicalism. There ‘the gospel’ has often been boiled down to ‘justification by faith,’ which is then fed to people in moralism-dusted bouillon cubes on a pilaf of pietism. If indeed the Gospels are significant in the ways I have argued in this chapter, this approach will not do if the church is to thrive. Both in our worship-service Scripture readings and in the content of our preaching, the Gospels themselves must play the dominant role. And when the Gospels are read and preached, they must not be used merely as springboards to other doctrinal ideas. Rather, honoring the narrative form of the Gospels, we must enter into the power and tension of the story and apply this to the lives of believers by focusing on the final Word, Jesus the Christ.”
Jonathan T. Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2012): 256; emphasis mine.
Think about the word picture. Endeavor to eat something vastly different. Get a copy of Pennington’s work.
Related Resource: P. T. Smuts, Mark by the Book: A New Multidirectional Method for Understanding the Synoptic Gospels (P&R); I reviewed here.
It has been my privilege and joy this week to teach the 10-hour course, A Pauline Theology of the Church, for the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Christian Education Institute, Washington, DC. The students are asking great questions and providing challenging responses to the presentations.
As promised to the students, I am posting the resources below for further study beyond the the course text:
Thomas Schreiner, Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ (IVP Academic)
Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Wm. B. Eerdmans)
Tom Holland, Paul: Contours of a Pauline Theology (Mentor)
I suggest you start with Horton; read with a small group or class. Advance to Schreiner after Horton. Then read Ridderbos and Holland in any order of preference.
Also, as a follow-up to the brief discussion on same-sex marriage, please consider Justin Taylor’s post, “Gay Marriage: Not Just a Social Revolution but a Cosmological One.”
Recently I have received three books in the mail about which I am very excited. Alex Chediak’s, Preparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finances, and Much More (Tyndale) is a tremendous book! I wish this book had been available when I used to teach a course on these concepts during the summers in churches where I was a member.
Why I Am Not An Atheist: Facing the Inadequacies of Unbelief, and Magnificent Obsession: Why Jesus Is Great, came in the mail together. I always will take another work that punches holes in the illogic of naturalistic arguments for the existence of the universe. On Magnificent Obsession, from the publisher:
“David Robertson, author of The Dawkins Letters, was told by the leader of an atheist society: ‘Okay, I admit that you have destroyed my atheism, but what do you believe?’ His answer was ‘I believe in and because of Jesus.’ This book shows us why Jesus is the reason to believe. In response to the shout of ‘God is not Great’ by the late Christopher Hitchens, David shows us why Jesus is God and is Great.”
I also had opportunity to endorse two works recently. The first is, Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (Zondervan):
Creatively, Daniel and Timothy have managed to take the story of redemption, deep systematic theology, and rich church history, and package them in pop culture images and songs – all the while magnifying grace alone in Christ alone. Modern believers, who often unknowingly swing from license to legalism in their attempts to please God, need this joyous proclamation of the plan of salvation. This is a wonderful way of introducing the Canons of Dort to the heirs of the Me Generation, reminding us that it is not our efforts for perfection that save us, but it is God alone who saves us from beginning to end.
The second is, The Unfinished Church: God’s Broken and Redeemed Work-in-Progress (Crossway). On this I write:
Bentz is right: Church is a group of struggling sinners who must pursue one another in love as God’s community! It is essential for us embrace this calling with joy if we are to declare the glory of the Lord to all peoples. There is no greener grass assembly or ideal congregation; each assembly and every church member is in need of greater grace, patience, mercy, humility, and endurance from the Spirit of God. The church for whom our Savior died has a splendor that works in the midst of messiness. Unfinished is a great exhortation to live out the Gospel as people being conformed to the image of Christ.
I hope you will enjoy these works too!
I am enjoying greatly Gary Burge’s, Interpreting the Gospel of John: A Practical Guide (Baker Academic, 2013). Burge has expanded this work significantly from the first edition. It is a good, stand alone introduction to the Fourth Gospel, being current with the vast majority of scholarship produced since Francis Moloney edited Raymond Brown’s introduction. However, the Moloney/Brown work is much more scholarly and thorough than Burge’s volume.
I also like J. Ramsey Michaels’, The Gospel of John (@Westminster) in the NICNT series (Eerdmans, 2010). Michaels’ volume replaces the earlier volume by Leon Morris which, too, is very good. Despite what I feel have been some unfair criticisms of Michaels’ volume, I like this commentary because of Michaels’ strong sense of how verses and pericopes fit into the overall message of John’s Gospel. Michaels understands that exegetical trees are part of a narrative forest with a meaning–a message; many commentaries only see individual trees. Michaels too has a very insightful grasp of John’s use of figurative language. I am trying to read about three pages per day; it is slow going, but a very good read. Michaels writes mainly for scholars, but has the preacher and congregational teacher on his scope too.
Today Crossway launched, Beyond the Page, their new book review program. Go check it out and get yourself some ebook titles from Crossway!
Andy Davis’, An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness (Ambassador International, 2013), is on sale for $4.99 in the Kindle version. Get it! It is worth every penny when it is full price. Davis does a masterful job of discussing Christian maturity in all aspects of our being.
From the Publisher
After we’ve come to faith in Christ, God leaves us in this world for a very clear purpose: his own glory. But how are we to glorify God for the rest of our lives? The Bible reveals that God has laid before every Christian two infinite journeys which we are to travel every day: the internal journey of growth into Christlike maturity, and the external journey of worldwide evangelism and missions. This book is a road map for the internal journey, laying out how we are to grow in four major areas: knowledge, faith, character, and action. In this book, we’ll learn how God grows us in knowledge, faith, character, and action. We’ll also discover that spiritual knowledge constantly feeds our growing faith, faith will transform our character, our transformed character will result in an array of actions more and more glorifying to God, and our actions will feed our spiritual knowledge. This upward spiral will lead us to become more and more like Jesus Christ in holiness. And not only will this book help us understand Christian growth in detail, it will also give us a passion to grow every day for his glory.
Rarely have I read a book on sanctification that is simultaneously serious and fresh, at once reflective and accessible. Andy Davis combines analytical astuteness with pastoral passion. Those who think of themselves as Christians but who have no desire to grow in holiness need this book; Christians who want to be increasingly conformed to Christ will cherish this book. – Dr. D. A. Carson Research Professor of New Testament Trinity Evangelical Divinity School