I have to say that I have been a bad blogger lately – and justifiably so. School has ramped up, and I have been unusually stressed out. So this past week was a great opportunity to practice an area of much needed sanctification in my life, something I like to call rest! It was absolutely fabulous to take several days “off” – no school work, no running out to study, or meet with anybody, or be anxious about how much I have to do in the next two weeks (which is alot). Instead, I got to roll around on the floor with my two children – Maya and Alex, re-arrange our living room to decorate for Christmas, lay on the couch without a Systematic Theology book resting on my belly, and spend some time on the couch with my wife. I also spent very little time on the internet, and think that I might need to make that a recurring practice every so often.I do have some things in the works though for the blog that I wanted to preview for you all. Sometime in the next few weeks I am going to posting several reviews of books. One of my joys is sharing resources, and as I come across good books from class, or from generous folks (thank you Michele!), I’d like to tell you all about them, and recommend to you the ones that are worthwhile. So, be on the look out for a post or two on Pierced for Our Transgressions (a great book on Penal Substitution), as well as something on Piper’s (and others) recent works, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World and The Future of Justification.Early on next year, a friend here at seminary and I will be trying to read through some good stuff by some older generation, godly men. We’ve talked about starting off with Communion with The Triune God – the recent adaptation(?) of John Owens’ classic. I hope to make that a regular posting. In addition, I’ll keep posting thoughts on faith, life, culture and preaching, because it seems those are the things that occupy the free space of my mind these days.
Piper, Justification and N.T. Wright
If you’re at all interestd in this topic, John Piper’s new book is going on sale for $5 through the month of October as a pre-sale special. Check out the details on their blog.
I recently received the newest book by Mark Dever, The Gospel & Personal Evangelism. I have to say, at first, I was a little less than excited about the book, but after reading just the first few pages, really appreciated Dever’s thoughts and approach, not only towards evangelism itself, but especially in helping us all think rightly about it.
Dever as a pastor comes out loud and clear in this book. His heart is not so much to provide a system or “canned” approach to help us be more “effective” in making converts, but to show off that evangelism really is simply telling people about God and to discover the joy that lies waiting for us when we get to discuss the greatest news ever – Jesus Christ has made life with God possible.
Dever’s shepherding approach also comes out in the stucuture of his book. Each chapter is developed around a typical (or not so typical) question concerning evangelism, such as Why don’t we evangelize? What do we do after we evangelism? and What is the Gospel? (For the complete Table of Contents go here).
But Dever stays clear of laying on any guilt trip about what most of us feel whenever we hear about another book about evanglism. Instead, Dever points us to the heart of the gospel itself – Jesus Christ in His work done on our behalf. But don’t be mistaken, Dever does get into what may be deemed old rubric, like the need for clarity in what we present when we do evangelize. But none of this is directed at merely adding converts to our churches, or denominational and/or personal lists, but rather the heartfelt love and gratitude for the person we are sharing the gospel with, as well as, and perhaps more importantly, toward God. Or to put it another way, Dever provides a very gospel-centered approach to personal evangelism.
All in all, this is a great book. It will not only serve to re-awaken your own sense of purpose in personal evangelism (as it has my own), but it will also be a valuable resource to put in the hands of people in our congregations as a great way to remind them that sharing the gospel is first and foremost about sharing the news about God restoring our broken relationship with Him and His world, and not about “noses in the pews.” Because of this, I definitely recommend this little book.
To any and all who will be reading this book (including myself), Driscoll and the guys at Crossway are offering a pre-order deal on his new book, Vintage Jesus, which includes a 35% discount, free PDF copy and potentially “autographed” copy (yeah, yeah – I don’t know what I think about autographed books anyway, but its part of the deal, so I’ll mention it). Don’t hold me to the details, check them out for yourself here or over at The Resurgence site.
This is a quote from Tim Keller’s chapter in the upcoming book The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, from Crossway publishing. It’s being compiled from the sessions of this past Desiring God conference, and just this quote alone is enough to guarantee that I’m buying and reading it. Excellent topic, great thinkers and men who love Jesus and His world – what more could you ask for!
Here’s the quote, but know that over at the Desiring God blog, you can read a larger excerpt from Keller’s chapter: On Gospel Humiliation
“…unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may say you believe the gospel of grace but, as we said above, the penny hasn’t dropped. You aren’t a sign of the gospel yourself. You don’t have the Jonah principle working in you. You aren’t a strength-out-of-weakness person. God will have to bring you low if he is going to use you in evangelism.”
I’m reading this book for an upcoming weekend calss on Urban Church Planting. I’d like to from time to time offer some good quotes and some of my reflections on what I am reading. I welcome comments on this stuff, just know that most of is written in the form of journal-thoughts, not really completely formed, but in process. Here’s something that got my mind going from Raymond J. Bakke, “Urbanization and Evangelism: a Global View”, The Urban Face of Mission, ed. by Harvie Conn
“Today over 50 percent of this earth – over three billion people – lives in world-class cities. We aren’t prepared for that. Most of our mission industry, most of the ministries that many of us represent, are still thinking in terms of tribal world, a world where we cross oceans and deserts and jungles to get to the lost groups of people. There are, indeed, still about a billion people who are geographically distant from existing churches, so we will need traditional ministries on into the future. But far more than two billion of the world’s nonchurched people are no longer geographically distant from the church’ they are culturally distant. They live in the largest cities of the world.” p. 29
The way we should think about “missions” in this non-traditional sense, is less in terms of geography, and more in terms of culturally.
Categories of Thought:
Geographically Distant, Culturally Distant -> Traditional Missions
Geographically Distant, Culturally Close -> Traditional Missions
Geographically Close, Culturally Close -> Traditional Evangelism
Geographically Close, Culturally Distant -> Missional Intentionality
– Who are those people who are culturally outside the church and in need of the redeeming power of the gospel? I think, if we were to ask this question, our conversations about contextualization would be properly subsumed under the aim of missions, and that is to bring all of God’s creation into a right relationship with Him (God <–> Man <–> Creation).
Those of you out there who keep up with this stuff probably already know that Mark Driscoll has released the Table of Contents for his upcoming book entitled Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions. I have benefited greatly from Driscoll’s previous two books (Radical Reformission and Confessions of a Reformission Reverend), and am really looking forward to reading his thoughts on what is his favorite subject – Jesus! Below you’ll find the Table of Contents, but you can out more details over at The Resurgence site.
Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions
Chapter 1 Is Jesus the Only God?
Chapter 2 How Human Was Jesus?
Chapter 3 How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?
Chapter 4 Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
Chapter 5 Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?
Chapter 6 What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?
Chapter 7 Did Jesus Rise from Death?
Chapter 8 Where Is Jesus Today?
Chapter 9 Why Should We Worship Jesus?
Chapter 10 What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?
Chapter 11 What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?
Chapter 12 What Will Jesus Do upon His Return
Just saw my old friend Jeremy Carr as one of the “poster boys” for the ESV bible at esvbible.org. Jeremy’s an old friend from college (Go Jaguars!) who is planting a church in downtown Augusta called The Well, and from what I hear doing some really great things for the kingdom back in the “dirty south.” I like being able to point out my friends whenever I get a chance.
I probably should plug the ESV too, since I’m linking it. It really is a great version of the bible that brings some good balance to conceptual/contextual clarity and good, solid, literal rendering of the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic language. Plus, one of my former pastors and a couple of my current seminary professors did some of the exegetical work. All that to say that I’m a fan of it. And so is Jeremy…
Really looking forward to the new Tim Keller book coming out. Steve McCoy has a post up with the Title and table of Contents. Its called The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Click here to check out Steve’s post on it. Here’s the contents:
Introduction – All doubts are leaps of faith
PART 1 – The Leap of Doubt
1. There can’t be just one true religion
2. A good God could not allow suffering
3. Christianity is a straitjacket
4. The church is responsible for so much injustice
5. A loving God would not send people to hell
6. Science has disproved Christianity
7. You can’t take the Bible literally
PART 2 – The Grounds for Faith
8. The clues of God
9. The knowledge of God
10. The problem of sin
11. Religion and the gospel
12. The (true) story of the cross
13. The reality of the resurrection
14. The Dance of God
Epilogue – Where do we go from here?
Some interesting new books are about to come out – some by John Piper (of course), but also some new stuff by Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll. I’m most excited about Keller’s book, but probably only because he really only has 1 previous book that’s out there. Its a great one and on my Top 10 list (check it out on Amazon: Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. But his new book has been highly anticipated by me. Here’s a link to the info on his new one at Amazon.
John Piper’s book(s) look very good as well. It’s entitled The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright and it looks quite interesting. This is a popular and controversial topic if you haven’t guessed, and most of the interaction on N.T. Wright has been done on either a high academic playing field, or simple dismissal without any really helpful evaluation. John Piper tends to bring alot of strength in making heavy things digestible and understandable, so this is shaping up to be a must read for me.
I have also really appreciated Mark Driscoll’s books. I have found both of them to be extremely challenging and enjoyable at the same time. It looks like he’s got two books coming out real soon. One of them seems to be a collection of the topics covered at this years Desiring God Conference, as it shares the same title: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World (note that it also has Tim Keller, John Piper, David Wells contributing to this, though I’m attributing it Mark Driscoll’s blurb). I have benefited from listening to the audio recordings of this conference, but the book edition would make a good addition to the book shelf. His other book looks interesting as well: Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions. Anyone who has listened to Driscoll, or read his other books, knows that Driscoll takes many things very seriously, and none more so than who Jesus is, what he has done and what that means for us today. I am always encouraged and challenged when I hear or read something by Driscoll. I am anticipating that this will be another good book to digest and mull over, especially as someone who wants to grow in portraying Jesus as not only real and true, but significant and important for our world today. This should prove helpful.