The Best of the Reformed Journal

The Reformed Journal was one of the significant publications in the Reformed world before the current “reformed” movement came to take shape. Published over four decades, from 1951-1990, the journal was connected to Calvin College, Eerdmans, and the Dutch Reformed world at the time. During the summer I was able to take a look at the recent publication, The Best of The Reformed Journal, published by Eerdmans and edited by James D. Bratt and Ronald A. Wells. The book is divided into three parts that correspond to particular years of publication: 1951-1962, 1963-1977, and 1978-1990. The articles are divided into several categories such as Church and Theology, Evangelicalism, Religion and Society, etc., and include such authors as Henry Zylstra, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Virginia Stem Owens, Mark A. Noll, Cornelius Plantinga, Richard Mouw, and others.

This is a fascinating book because it provides insight into American Christianity from a particular tradition (the Dutch Reformed church), and it helps you see how this immigrant community evaluated and interacted with American Christianity, especially evangelicalism. With recent discussions about faith and culture taking place within evangelicalism, this book let’s you read how one wing of the Reformed church was theologically evaluating their world. For example, take the article by Sidney Rooy, “The Graham Crusades–Shall We Participate,” published in June 1958. Rooy evaluates the  result of a Graham Crusade on the Eastern coast near New York. He has both positive and negative evaluations of the crusade, and it is interesting to read what concerns and interests they had. You can take a look at the whole table of contents here.

 

Free from Logos: “The Godhead of God” by A. W. Pink

Logos is giving away “The Godhead of God” by A. W. Pink. Pink explains the book this way: “The Godhood of God! What is meant by the expression? This: the omnipotency of God, the absolute sovereignty of God. When we speak of the Godhood of God we affirm that God is God. We affirm that God is something more than an empty title: that God is something more than a mere figure-head: that God is something more than a far-distant Spectator, looking helplessly on at the suffering which sin has wrought. When we speak of the Godhood of God we affirm that He is ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.'”

You can get it here.

 

Köstenberger & Patterson: Invitation to Biblical Interpretation

I have read many helpful books on interpreting the Bible, and the new book Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, written by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson, ranks among one of the best that you can currently get. In many ways, this book is much more than an “invitation” to biblical interpretation. Because they construct their hermeneutic around the triad of history, literature, and theology, this is a book that provides an education on numerous levels. As you read through this book, the authors are consistently providing sections on other disciples that have a direct bearing on interpreting the Bible (such as canon, theological analysis, and practical concerns).

The book consists of 16 chapters with one appendix. You can go to WTSBooks to see further details, but let me mention the broad sections. After the opening chapter on “Preparation,” they outline “Interpretation” in three parts: History, Literature (which covers canon, genre, and language), and Theology. Finally, they end the book with Application and Proclamation, which is a practical section on preaching and applying the word, the ultimate goal of our interpretation.

I cannot provide a full review on my blog, so let me provide a few reasons why I think this would be a helpful book to read, especially since it comes in at 880 pages.

  • First, it is has a solid structure, is well-written and clear. Although it is a long book, different readers (depending on where you are in your interpretive journey) could take any portion of the book and gain a better understanding of biblical interpretation.
  • Second, the book has both breadth and depth. For example, someone can read it as a broad overview, or spend some extra time digging into a text more deeply. Thus it can function as both an introductory work or a more intermediate work.
  • Third, this is a great book for teachers. It can be used in a classroom setting, and the publisher has provided additional teaching material online (such as PowerPoint).
  • Fourth, the book has a strong practical perspective. They consistently ask the questions regarding how to apply the Bible, and reading this book will truly help you as a teacher and preacher.
  • Fifth, the book provides a comprehensive, up-to-date bibliography. This will allow you to dig deeper into specific topics.

I would say that of the works on biblical interpretation that are available (by writers such as Grant Osborne, Kline/Blomberg/Hubbard, Kaiser/Silva, and others) this book is at the top of my list. Thanks to Kregel for sending me a review copy and for publishing this work.

Free from Logos: “Revelation and Inspiration” by Warfield

As part of their Free Book of the Month program in 2012, Logos is giving away Revelation and Inspiration by B. B. Warfield. This is the classic defense of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. John Stott once said, “This book is marked by the careful exegesis for which Warfield was renowned, and lays a solid foundation for an acceptance of biblical authority. The argument is compelling; I do not believe it has ever been answered.” You can get it here.

Situating the Church in the West

I have read and listened to some of Michael Goheen’s work from the book he co-wrote with Craig Bartholomew (Living at the Crossroads) and the corresponding website. Recently I grabbed Goheen’s new book A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story as I am preparing for the mission/missional section of my 11th grade theology class. Although I don’t have time to mention a lot about it right now (maybe later), I do want to suggest this book. The opening chapter, “The Church’s Identity and Role: Whose Story? What Images?” is one of the best concise surveys I have read of the Western church and the story we live by. In about 12 pages, Goheen summarizes the early church, the rise of Christendom, the Post-Enlightenment Church and our current situation. Go to the link above and check out the preview. Very helpful for situating the church in our current situation.

Eighth Day Books

I love books, and I really love bookstores. At least for me, the digital revolution cannot take the place of holding books in my hands and rummaging through bookstore, finding a hidden treasure. One of my favorite bookstore online is Eighth Day Books. One of the great things about this bookstore is their catalogue. I’m not kidding. I love reading through it, and at 171 pages, there is plenty to discover. Add to their suggestions the fact that they include a Flannery O’Conner quote on the back:

St. Thomas called art “reason in making.” This is a very cold and very beautiful definition, and if it is unpopular today, this is because reason has lost ground among us. As grace and nature have been separated, so imagination and reason have been separated, and this always means an end to art. The artist uses his reason to discover an answering reason in everything he sees. For him, to be reasonable is to find, in the object, in the situation, in the sequence, the spirit which makes it itself. This is not an easy or simple thing to do. It is to intrude upon the timeless, and that is only done by the violence of a single-minded respect for the truth. (from Mystery and Manners)

You can download their catalogue here as a pdf.

 

Theology of the Reformers – Book and Online Class

Timothy George is a first-rate evangelical scholar, especially in the area of the Reformation. I read his book Theology of the Reformers in college, and it provided an excellent introduction to Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli, and Menno Simmons. I recently received an email that BiblicalTraining.org has added a this as one of their free classes: Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. He is also editing the new Reformation Commentary on Scripture series published by IVP (see this commentary on Galatians-Ephesians), and he provided a helpful introduction to the series in his book Reading Scripture with the Reformers.

50% off Classic Jerry Bridges Books

Westminster Bookstore is having a 50% off sale on the following Jerry Bridges’ books until January 18th.

This would be a great time to get these for yourself or for someone else. They are also selling Bridges new book, The Transforming Power of the Gospel, at 40% off. Here is the publishers description of the new book:

The apostle Paul writes that we are to be transformed, but for many Christians, figuring out how to approach spiritual transformation can be elusive. Jerry Bridges helps us understand that we have available to us the ultimate power source for true spiritual growth: the gospel.

In The Transforming Power of the Gospel, Bridges guides you through a thorough examination of:

  • what the biblical meaning of grace is and how it applies to your life
  • how Jesus’ work in His life and death applies to the believer in justification and adoption
  • why basic spiritual disciplines are necessary for spiritual growth
  • what role the Holy Spirit plays in both definitive and progressive sanctification

 

Free Robert Gundry eBook on Ephesians (Monday, January 9th Only)

Baker Academic has a new series called ebook shorts from Robert H. Gundrey, and you can get Ephesians for free today. They explain:

In these verse-by-verse commentaries taken from Commentary on the New Testament, Robert Gundry offers a fresh, literal translation and a reliable exposition of every book of the New Testament.

Students and scholars will welcome Gundry’s nontechnical explanations and clarifications, and readers at all levels will appreciate his sparkling interpretations. Priced from $1.99 to $5.99 these affordable and convenient resources are available wherever ebooks are sold.

As we celebrate the release of this series, Baker Academic will be making selected entries from this commentary series free for one day only.

On Monday, January 9th, Gundry’s commentary on Ephesians will be free to download for 24 hours on Amazon, CBD, and Barnes & Noble.

This will be followed by other selections made free to download on January 16th and 23rd.

For more information on this series, click here.

 

 

Book Suggestions for “Doing Theology”

In a previous post I outlined several of the main theological disciplines for “doing theology.” I had a few questions regarding suggested books for these disciplines, so I’m going to mention a few books with brief explanations. There are numerous books out there on these topics, so feel free to mention others. I’m going to limit myself to 3-4 per topic (maybe!), and explain why I listed them.

Exegetical Theology

The classic book on Greek (New Testament) exegesis is Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis. Fee’s book examines the main components of exegesis when examining a particular text: structure, grammar, words, background, and other aspects of exegesis. Although Fee’s is the classic that has been used in New Testament studies, I really like the new book edited by Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning, Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis. Go to the link and take a look at its table of contents. They explain exegesis and then provide various examples from different scholars. The counterpart to Fee’s book is Douglas Stuart’s Old Testament Exegesis. Walter Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching is a book that moves more in the direction of taking exegesis toward the goal of preaching and teaching. Finally, D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies teaches sound exegetical principles while warning about the various fallacies that are often committed in the process of exegesis.

Biblical Theology

The classic work of Reformed biblical theology is Geerhardus Vos’s Biblical Theology. This is a book everyone should read on this topic as it demonstrates the fundamentals of this discipline. More recently, Graeme Goldsworthy has contributed several helpful books to the topic of Biblical Theology. I would suggest According to Plan. He not only articulates the method of biblical theology, but he also provides a structure of Biblical Theology for the whole Bible. A smaller book that applies Goldsworthy’s method is Vaughn Robert’s God’s Big Picture. Goldsworthy has other books on Biblical Theology and preaching, prayer,  and hermeneutics.  I think The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology is a book that anyone interested in actually “doing” Biblical theology should own.  It actually covers the topics Vos and Goldswrothy cover, and it provides other resources as well.

Systematic Theology

Where should I begin for this discipline? There are many great systematic theologies available. If you are new to systematic theology, try something like Bruce Milne’s Know the Truth, or Wayne Grudem’s smaller Bible Doctrine. Both of these books provide the large structure of systematic theological categories, but on a smaller scale than larger works. Louis Berkhof’s work Systematic Theology is still a Reformed classic because he covers everything in a traditional manner in one volume. Everyone should own this volume. For newer works, I really like Michael Horton’s Christian Faith. But my favorite systematic theology has now become Herman Bavinck’s four volume Reformed Dogmatics. If you could only buy one, and you wanted readability and a comprehensive treatment, spend the money on this one.

Historical Theology

For a good basic work, take a look at Alister McGrath’s Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. A good recent work  is Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology (this is actually something of a companion to Grudem’s large Systematic Theology). For those wanting more detail, Jeroslav Pelikan’s five volume The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine is the work to get. Here are the individual volumes:

 

Philosophical Theology

This might not be a topic of interest to many, but it has been crucial for the development of doctrine, as well as the interface of Christianity and culture. One of the places to begin is with the author Diogenes Allen who has two helpful books on this topic that complement each other. Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology provides just what the title says: readings from important sources in the development of theology, such as Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Kant, and others. His other book, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, explains how various philosophers influenced the development of theology. For example, chapter 1 is titled, “Plato: The World is the Handiwork of a Mind.” I think his two books are a good introduction to the intersection of philosophy and theology. If this area is of interest and you want to move beyond these two works, be sure to search for some of the works on natural theology. Blackwell is about to come out with a paperback version of their Companion to Natural Theology, and Alister McGrath also has some recent books on the topic of natural theology as well. Also, take a look at The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology, edited by Thomas P. Flint and Michael C. Rea.

 

Al Mohler: Books Every Pastor Should Read in 2011

Each year Al Mohler suggests several books every pastor should read for that particular year. SermonCentral recently posted this list from him for 2011:

Puritan Treasures for Today: 50% off sale


WTS Books has a great deal on the Puritan Treasures for Today. You can get all three books for$14.00, which is 50% off the list price of $28.00. The sale ends Tuesday (7/19), so go here for the combined price for all three volumes. If have listed them individually below so you can click on the links to read some sample pages.

The Fading of the Flesh and the Flourishing of Faith by George Swinnock

Stop Loving the World by William Greenhill

Triumphing Over Sinful Fear by John Flavel

 

 

Relating the Christian Faith to Life: The Christian Worldview Series by IVP

Education, psychology, literature, politics, science, communications, biology, philosophy and history…I’m always looking for more books that deal with different areas of life and how those areas relate to the Christian faith. IVP Academic is in the process of providing helpful resources in the Christian Worldview Integration Series, edited by J. P.Moreland and Francis J. Beckwith. This series includes (or will include) books that cover these various disciplines and how they relate to the Christian faith. The key point is integration.

What is integration? In the series preface, Moreland and Beckwith provide a article evaluating the issues related to integration and the Christian faith. They explain that integration is both conceptual and personal. It is conceptual because we are trying to blend our theological beliefs with the rest of our life in order to produce a coherent worldview. On a personal level, integration is the quest to live a unified life, a life that is the same in public as it is in private.

In the article, Beckwith and Moreland go on to provide seven reasons for integration:

  1. The Bible’s teachings are true
  2. Our vocation and the holistic character of discipleship demand integration
  3. Biblical teaching about the role of the mind in the Christian life and the value of extrabiblical knowledge requires integration.
  4. Neglect of integration results in a costly division between secular and sacred.
  5. The nature of spiritual warfare necessitates integration.
  6. Spiritual formation calls for integration.
  7. Integration is crucial to the current worldview struggle and the contemporary crisis of knowledge.

IVP has six titles currently available:

 

 

 

Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy – 50% Off

We have been blessed with the recent increase of studies on the early church fathers. Michael Haykin’s Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church and Bryan Litfin’s Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction both come to mind as recent good introductions. IVP Academic recently sent me another book that examines this early period of the church as well as the medieval period: Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy: Engaging with Early and Medieval Theologians, edited by Bradley Green.

This edited work examines eight key theologians in the Christian tradition who have shaped what we believe today. The theologians included in this volume are the following:

  • Irenaeus
  • Tertullian
  • Origen
  • Athanasius
  • The Cappadocians
  • Augustine
  • Anselm
  • Aquinas

Each entry contains a short biography introducing the theologian, an introduction to specific writings, and a theological analysis. The individual sections close with a bibliography for further research.

WTS Books has it on clearance for 50% off, which has you paying only $15.00.  You can go here for the book as well as some sample pages. Here are a few endorsements:

“One of the most encouraging developments in evangelical theology over the last few years has been the increasing awareness among its theologians of the fact that the roots of much evangelical belief predate the Reformation. Yet it remains the case that there are few entry-level guides to the great thinkers of the early and medieval church which are specifically designed to help evangelicals come to a better understanding of the origins of their thinking. For this reason, this collection of essays is most welcome, as it not only provides the reader with helpful introductions to the thought of key theologians but also opens up avenues of further exploration for those interested in probing deeper into the great resources of the wider Christian tradition.”
– Carl Trueman, Westminster Theological Seminary

“This is a superb collection of essays on the greatest theologians of the Great Tradition during the first thirteen centuries of church history. It is encouraging to see such fresh and creative engagement with the development of Christian doctrine seen through the prism of its major shapers. Highly recommended!”
– Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School

The Psalms of Ascent for Christian Spirituality

Derek Thomas has a good devotional book on the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) that has been redesigned and retitled as A Voyage of Discovery: The Ups and Downs of the Christian Life (it was previously titled Making the Most of Your Devotional Life). The book is structured over fifteen days to help you “reshape and re-discipline a daily time of Bible study, meditation, and prayer” (Sinclair Ferguson from the Foreword). WTS Books has some sample pages here.