Bonhoeffer’s Letters to London (Michael Haykin)

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in Book Reviews, Michael Haykin | No Comments
Bonhoeffer’s Letters to London (Michael Haykin)

41yp0Av2lCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Letters to London: Bonhoeffers Previously Unpublished Correspondence with Ernst Cromwell, 1935-1936. Ed. Stephen J. Plant and Toni Burrowes-Cromwell. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2014.

The discovery of this bundle of letters written in the years 1935 and 1936 from the justly-famous German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) to a then-young Anglo-German by the name of Ernst Cromwell (1921–), now in his early nineties and bearing the anglicized name “Ernest,” does not materially add an enormous amount to what we know about the thought of Bonhoeffer. We see themes found elsewhere—his distrust of pietism (p.66), his emphasis on humility (p.69), his delight in the gift of friendship and community (p.73–74), the vital importance of living in the truth and cleaving to Christ (p.74–75)—but these are interwoven with other remarks of less import though vital to the developing friendship between Bonhoeffer and young Ernst.

What we especially see in these letters is Bonhoeffer the pastor, seeking to offer encouragement and guidance to a young man living in England, whom Bonhoeffer was preparing for confirmation during his ministry at the German-speaking congregation at St. George’s, Sydenham. Given the fateful and horrific events transpiring in Germany in the mid-1930s, we also have some fabulous insights into Bonhoeffer’s determination to be faithful to his Christian calling amidst such days. In one letter, he tells Ernst that he has made himself “pretty unpopular over the issue of the Jews” (p.66). In another, he informs his young friend that he has been forbidden by “the Ministry of Culture…to lecture” (p.72).

A helpful introduction, “A friendship to be grateful for: Bonhoeffer’s letters to Ernst Cromwell,” sets the letters in context (p.1–27). There is also an interview with Ernest Cromwell (p.29–46), and an excellent “Afterword” by Toni Burrowes-Cromwell, Ernest’s daughter-in-law, in which she draws out the significance of these letters for Christian life today (p.77–100).

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His most recent book is Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Crossway, 2011). Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. This review was first published at Books At a Glance.

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Loving the Old Testament by Alec Moyter (Timothy Raymond)

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Book Reviews, Timothy Raymond | No Comments
Loving the Old Testament by Alec Moyter (Timothy Raymond)

9781781915806mI knew I was going to be reviewing Alec Moyter’s Loving the Old Testament before I began reading it, so upon commencing this book I started scribbling down points in the very back which I considered “particularly helpful parts”.  I wasn’t far into the book before I realized that I would have to essentially jot down every major point as particularly helpful.  In nearly every conceivable way this little book is outstanding to the point that I can hardly believe so much useful content is concentrated into so few pages.  If your typical book is coffee, Loving the Old Testament is expresso.

Loving the Old Testament is a bit difficult to describe.  Try imagining a miniature overview of the Old Testament.  Now blend it with a brief biblical theology in the tradition of Vos or Clowney.  Now add several asides inserted at helpful points where Motyer devotes special attention to exegeting selected texts.  Round it off with a hearty dose of practical pastoral applications peppered throughout and add a forward by Tim Keller and an afterward by Don Carson.  If you could imagine all of this in 130 pages of 4 ½” by 7”, you’ve got Loving the Old Testament.

As far as the strengths of this book, they are legion.  It’s clearly written, interesting, supported by meticulous and creative scholarship, not infrequently humorous, reverent and pious (in the best sense), and very practically applicable especially to a local church context.  Furthermore, if you know anything about biblical studies from the last 100 years, you’ll know that Moyter’s is essentially the evangelical Gandalf.  (And anybody who is still living who used to hang out with Martyn Lloyd-Jones must be as old as Gandalf.)  I can enthusiastically recommend Loving the Old Testament as an ideal book to give to an interested layman or to use in a discipleship course.  It also might make a useful tool for Sunday school classes, Wednesday night Bible studies, or even with a sharp youth group.

Since all proper book reviews comment on a book’s weaknesses, here are three, purely because they’re compulsory.  First, the book includes a small handful of curious typographical errors.  These obviously don’t detract from the overall message or content, but might make you smirk occasionally.  Second, the book is remarkably brief, really more in the booklet category.  There’s obviously nothing wrong with brevity, but at retail of $6.39, you may feel as if you want “more for your money.”  Lastly, Moyter does assume a fairly traditional covenant theology and an amillennial hermeneutic of the Old Testament prophets, which will delight some of our readers while irritating others.

These perfunctory weaknesses out of the way, I don’t think I could recommend Loving the Old Testament highly enough.  In a day when the vast majority of our teaching and preaching almost completely neglects the first 77.2% of the Bible, this book could result in a revival of learning the whole counsel of God, and even a revival of the spiritual life of the church.  Loving the Old Testament is really a delightful little book in every day.  If you’re a pastor, I’d encourage you to buy a couple dozen copies and keep them on your free book table or stocked in your bookstore.

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

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Christians Under Attack (Michael Haykin)

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Book Reviews, Michael Haykin | No Comments
Christians Under Attack (Michael Haykin)

51tcyuzsCUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Christians Under Attack: Struggles and Persecution Throughout the World. Miami, FL: Mango Press with The Associated Press, 2015.

After reading the stories and accounts in this recent journalistic overview of persecution, there seems little doubt that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today. Ranging from Lebanon to China, Nigeria to Pakistan, it is a story of atrocity after atrocity perpetrated against professing Christians: from Muslim drive-by killings of Christians at weddings in Cairo and northeast Nigeria to suicide bombers killing worshipers in Pakistani churches. In many parts of the Middle East, ancient Christian communities are being annihilated (see also the recent article, “The Plight of the Christians”, The Wall Street Journal, (Saturday/Sunday, May 16–17, 2015), C1–2).

All of the accounts are recent ones by AP journalists. Replete with numerous color pictures, this is a difficult book to read, but it is also vital for those of us in the West who are seeking to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Here we are reminded of the cost of discipleship and that there are some things more precious than life itself, namely commitment to the Triune God. There are some accounts here with happy endings in this world (e.g., the freeing of Meriam Ibrahim, p.123), but most await the justice of the world to come. There are also some disturbing accounts of Christian retaliation. For example, in the Central African Republic professing Christians have been involved in massacring Muslims, after Muslim rebels killed hundreds of Christians (p.83–91). Reading this account of the religious violence in the Central African Republic reminded me of the horrors of the French religious wars in the late sixteenth century.

A quote from an Iraqi Christian housewife, Sahira Hakim, at the very beginning of the book opposite the table of contents, though, helps set this matter of persecution in context: “We Christians are like roses. If you remove them from a garden, it will not be beautiful anymore.” Yes, indeed! True Christianity is a thing of beauty; remove it from a society and culture, and there will eventually be a deadly wasteland.

The gravity of this subject has prompted The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies to take for its conference theme this coming September 15–16, 2015, the matter of persecution in the history of the Church. Do join us as we reflect about this subject from both biblical and historical vantage-points, and spend time in prayer for the persecuted church. There is also a pre-conference round-table discussion on “Martyrdom in the Ancient Church: reality and fiction” on Monday evening, September 14, which will be co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Christian Studies. A 3-hour credit hybrid course attached to the conference with classes during the day on Monday, September 14, is also being offered.

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His most recent book is Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Crossway, 2011). Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

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Roman Centurions 753–31 BC: The Kingdom and the Age of Consuls (Michael Haykin)

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Book Reviews, Michael Haykin | No Comments
Roman Centurions 753–31 BC: The Kingdom and the Age of Consuls (Michael Haykin)

roman-centurions-223x300Raffaele D’Amato. Roman Centurions 753-31 BC: The Kingdom and the Age of Consuls. Botley, Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2011.

Osprey Publishing has become justly well-known for its publishing works in the realm of military history, which sadly many professional historians regard with disdain. War is and has been an ever-present reality of human experience and needs to be taken seriously in any investigation of the past. This present monograph appeared in the series “Men-at-Arms” and is a compact, though excellent, study of a subject I have long regarded as a vital and overlooked matter.

As D’Amato—who has two earned PhDs in the study of antiquity—explains, centurions were “the true architects” of Roman imperialism and that through their bravery and sometimes brutal disciplining of the ranks of the Roman legions (p.3). Centurions go back into the earliest periods of Roman history and were still a part of the armies of Byzantium in its final days—a span of some two thousand years. Polybius well described them: centurions were “natural leaders, of a steady and reliable spirit…men who will hold their ground when beaten and hard-pressed, and will be ready to die at their posts” (cited p.16). They were the first to charge into battle and had to be the last to quit the field (p.23). Centurions were also often employed to execute commando raids, which again speaks of their courage and resourcefulness, and as spokespersons for their commanders, which indicates their leadership abilities (p.19–20).

Now, an historian needs to read widely and a monograph like this helps enormously in illuminating the characters of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament. It is noteworthy that the first Gentile to be converted was the centurion in charge of the execution of Jesus (see Mark 15:39). Reason enough to be acquainted with a fine monograph like this and its companion work, also by D’Amato: Roman Centurions 31 BC–AD 500: The Classical and Late Empire (Osprey, 2012).

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His most recent book is Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Crossway, 2011). Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, where this review first appeared.

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Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History (Michael Haykin)

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Book Reviews, Michael Haykin | No Comments
Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History (Michael Haykin)

1591281863D__26115.1430946437.400.600Richard M. Hann. Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2015.

It is deeply encouraging to find Christian historians and authors beginning to recognize the important role played by women in the history of God’s people, and pen both popular and more academic studies of this important subject. This recent book by Richard Hannula, the principal of a Christian High School in Tacoma, Washington, is a popular approach written especially for young people. It sketches the lives of some fifty Christian women. Some are well-known, like Perpetua and Monica, Sarah Edwards and Edith Schaeffer, while others, like Erdmuth von Zinzendorf and Bilquis Sheikh, are little known. But all of them, through Hannula’s adroit hand, have something to teach present-day believers. The life of Lady Jane Grey, for example, reveals a “sturdy faith in Christ” and a robust grasp of the vital truths at the heart of the Reformation (p.132). Eta Linnemann, a twentieth-century German higher critic, who was converted from liberal theology, reveals the bankruptcy of such theology and the necessity of the new birth (p.304–307). Particularly helpful about the women chosen for this book is that they come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, a good representation of the globalization of the Christian faith in the past two hundred years.

While Hannula is very aware that his sketches only “scratch the surface” of these “women’s lives” (p.2), his brief chapters succeed in giving the reader a desire to know more about these notable women.  “For Further Reading” (p.315–319) contains other books on these women for those interested, though not every woman in the book is represented. Some of the books listed are dated—for example, a 1909 study of Jane Grey is cited, not the much more recent study by Faith Cook—but these resources will by and large enable an interested reader to build on the good foundation in this book.

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His most recent book is Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Crossway, 2011). Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, where this review first appeared.

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Philosophy meets Neo-Calvinism: Exploring the relationship between a Christian worldview and philosophy

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Book Reviews, Magazine-Prayer | One Comment
Philosophy meets Neo-Calvinism: Exploring the relationship between a Christian worldview and philosophy

Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen. Christian Philosophy: A Systematic and Narrative Introduction. Baker Academic, 2013. 

Review by Luke Stamps

Christians have long debated the proper role of philosophy in the theological task. One tendency, represented by the second century theologian Tertullian, has been to diminish philosophy’s significance because of its allegedly anti-Christian assumptions. Another tendency, exemplified by another second century theologian, Justin Martyr, has been to engage the categories of pagan philosophy in an attempt to make the Christian faith intelligible and defensible. Still others have allowed certain prevailing philosophical commitments to exercise control over their theological formulations, sometimes at the expense of biblical considerations.

9780801039119Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen recognize the dangers attendant to any Christian engagement with philosophy, but they consider it a vital aspect of the Christian mission regardless. Following up on their previous books on the biblical storyline (The Drama of Scripture, Baker Academic, 2004) and the Christian worldview (Living at the Crossroads, Baker Academic, 2008), Bartholomew and Goheen tackle the major categories, figures, and movements one must master in the development of a Christian philosophy, as they understand it, in their new book, Christian Philosophy: A Systematic and Narrative Introduction (Baker Academic, 2013).

The Outline

The book is divided into three major sections. The first section, comprising the first two chapters, introduces the authors’ approach to the task of Christian philosophy. In chapter 1, they answer the question, “Why Philosophy?” They show how philosophy is integral to the Christian mission on several fronts: apologetics, cultural engagement, scholarship, and the Christian life. Bartholomew and Goheen understand the task of philosophy as providing a “detailed analysis of the order of creation” in a whole host of endeavors including history, art, politics, economics and so forth.

In chapter 2, the authors address the relationship between faith and philosophy and argue for a worldview approach to philosophy grounded in faith and the biblical revelation. For Bartholomew and Goheen the Christian worldview yields a philosophy, which in turn influences Christian engagement with the various academic and cultural endeavors to which Christians are called. The authors approach the task of Christian philosophy from a self-professed Augustinian and Kuyperian perspective, maintaining that the scope of Christ’s redeeming work extends to the entirety of the created-but-fallen order (24).

The second and longest section of the book traces the history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greek era to the postmodern era (chs. 3–11). In these chapters, Bartholomew and Goheen treat, in turn, the pre-Socratic philosophers (ch. 3); the classical Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and their legacy in Greco-Roman philosophy (ch. 4); early medieval Christian thinkers such as Augustine and Abelard (ch. 5); the Christian theologians of the high medieval period such as Thomas Aquinas (ch. 6); Renassiance and Reformation philosophy (ch. 7); modern philosophy from its beginnings to the twentieth century (chs. 8–10), and postmodern philosophy (ch. 11). These chapters offer a combination of description and evaluation, as the authors seek to bring their Christian presuppositions to bear on these important figures and movements.

The final section of the book provides several sketches of “Christian Philosophy Today.”  In chapter 13, Bartholomew and Goheen survey the works of some prominent Roman Catholic philosophers, including Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Jean-Luc Marion, among others. They conclude this chapter by introducing Neo-Calvinist philosophy, which they spend the remainder of the book examining. The authors treat two different developments within Neo-Calvinism: the Reformed Epistemology of Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and others (chs. 13–14), and the Reformational philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven (ch. 15). Reformed epistemology is more analytic in orientation and has sought to carve out space for a broader set of “properly basic beliefs” than that prescribed by modernism’s narrowly construed foundationalism. Reformational philosophy is more continental in orientation and has sought to provide a transcendental critique of non-Christian worldviews and to develop a philosophical framework on explicitly Christian presuppositions. ..

Read the rest of this review today!

To view the Magazine as a PDF {Click Here}

We live in a world that screams to get our attention. From the moment you wake up to the second you hit your pillow at night, something or someone wants your time. Hosts of people are waiting for you to friend them on Facebook. The world awaits your next tweet and blCredo Front October 2014 Coverog post. Your phone is buzzing because you have another email that needs your response. When you go home and turn on your TV there are innumerable “must see” shows, as well as breaking news you cannot afford to miss.  Let’s face it, the world we live in is quite loud, and it never sleeps.

In the midst of all this noise, where does extended time in prayer fit in? Or does it? Prayer seems to run contrary to the busyness of life in the twenty-first century. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this question, “When was the last time I spent more than 15 minutes in uninterrupted prayer with the Lord?” Church history shows that for Christians who came before us, private and corporate prayer was essential, assumed to be a necessary staple for the Christian and the church. After all, it is the God-given means by which we have fellowship and communion with God himself.  Should we neglect prayer we actually neglect God, and the consequences are spiritually fatal. But should we set aside time to pray to God, we will benefit greatly, finding God to be a refuge and a shield in the midst of a chaotic, consuming, and demanding world.

In this issue of Credo Magazine we will focus on prayer, looking at how Christians in ages past have understood the importance of prayer, as well as Scripture’s own emphasis on the necessity of prayer. Not only will we recognize the importance of prayer, but in this issue we will look at how we pray as well. My guess is that most Christians have never even thought about how they should pray. Well here is a great opportunity to do so!

Contributors include: Gerald Bray, Aimee Byrd, Juan R. Sanchez, Peter Beck, Sandy Willson, Tim Keller, Sam Storms, Phil Johnson, Donald Whitney, Nancy Guthrie, among many others.

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Are you an expositional preacher? David Helm can help (Joey Cochran)

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Book Reviews, Magazine-Prayer | No Comments
Are you an expositional preacher?  David Helm can help (Joey Cochran)

9781433543135mDavid R. Helm. Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today (IXMarks: Building Healthy Churches). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

Review by Joey Cochran

Like personified Wisdom, expositional preachers call far and wide for others to adopt their philosophy of homiletics. These days it’s en vogue for pastors to label themselves as “expositional preachers.” Labels are one thing; practicing the art is another.

Are you an expositional preacher? There’s a big difference between commenting verse-by-verse and drawing out the original text’s main point by theologically bridging to today’s context. Can you confidently say that the latter is your method?

If there is a lingering doubt – and even otherwise – then a refresher in expositional preaching will have inestimable worth. To do so, look no further than Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today (Crossway, 2014). Author, David Helm, chairs the Charles Simeon Trust organization, which promotes expositional preaching. He’s a practitioner too: Pastor Emeritus at Holy Trinity Church in Chicago. It’s Helm’s passion to promote expositional preaching.

Expositional Preaching accomplishes four aims in four succinct chapters covering the big problem and three steps to correct it: exegesis, theology, and contextualization.

A Big Picture of the Problem

Chapter one walks through how we get it wrong. The big problem is blind adherence: this is when cultural context gains control over how we read and preach Scripture. Doing this makes us impressionistic – our preoccupation is the world rather than the Word. We also become inebriated – intoxicated by our plans and purposes for the text rather than God’s. Last, we become inspired – our reading becomes God’s rather than God’s becoming ours. These are big problems!

You’ve probably seen these offenses to expositional preaching committed often in your history of ministry, either by yourself or another. So what are you to do? How are you to go about getting the text right and getting it across to your audience? …

Read the rest of this book review in Credo Magazine!


To view the Magazine as a PDF {Click Here}

We live in a world that screams to get our attention. From the moment you wake up to the second you hit your pillow at night, something or someone wants your time. Hosts of people are waiting for you to friend them on Facebook. The world awaits your next tweet and blCredo Front October 2014 Coverog post. Your phone is buzzing because you have another email that needs your response. When you go home and turn on your TV there are innumerable “must see” shows, as well as breaking news you cannot afford to miss.  Let’s face it, the world we live in is quite loud, and it never sleeps.

In the midst of all this noise, where does extended time in prayer fit in? Or does it? Prayer seems to run contrary to the busyness of life in the twenty-first century. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this question, “When was the last time I spent more than 15 minutes in uninterrupted prayer with the Lord?” Church history shows that for Christians who came before us, private and corporate prayer was essential, assumed to be a necessary staple for the Christian and the church. After all, it is the God-given means by which we have fellowship and communion with God himself.  Should we neglect prayer we actually neglect God, and the consequences are spiritually fatal. But should we set aside time to pray to God, we will benefit greatly, finding God to be a refuge and a shield in the midst of a chaotic, consuming, and demanding world.

In this issue of Credo Magazine we will focus on prayer, looking at how Christians in ages past have understood the importance of prayer, as well as Scripture’s own emphasis on the necessity of prayer. Not only will we recognize the importance of prayer, but in this issue we will look at how we pray as well. My guess is that most Christians have never even thought about how they should pray. Well here is a great opportunity to do so!

Contributors include: Gerald Bray, Aimee Byrd, Juan R. Sanchez, Peter Beck, Sandy Willson, Tim Keller, Sam Storms, Phil Johnson, Donald Whitney, Nancy Guthrie, among many others.

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The Longest Afternoon (Michael Haykin)

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Book Reviews, Michael Haykin | No Comments
The Longest Afternoon (Michael Haykin)

51tl15FxlPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Brendan Simms. The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo. London: Allen Lane, 2014.

Review by Michael A.G. Haykin

The Napoleonic Wars, a global conflagaration, came to an end at the climactic Battle of Waterloo (Sunday, June 18, 1815), when some 140,000 men under the commands of Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley (1769–1852), the 1st Duke of Wellington and a relative of John and Charles Wesley, clashed and decided the future of Europe. There have, of course, been no end of books about the Napeolonic Wars and the Battle of Waterloo, but now a new book by Brendan Simms, Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, looks at a key aspect of the battle—from Simms’ point of view, the key aspect—the defence of the farmhouse and orchard of La Haye Sainte by the King’s German Legion, an elite Anglo-German unit, established in 1803 of mostly Hanoverians (recall that the monarch of England, George III, was also the Elector of Hanover). Some of its officers were British and commands were usually given in English. In fact, their uniform was that of the distinctive green jackets of the British light infantry.

Simms gives an almost minute-by-minute account of the way a little less than 400 riflemen of this elite unit under the command of Major George Baring held up the advance of the most formidable army in Europe—nearly all of them veterans from former battles and wars of Napoleon—for the entire afternoon of June 18. It is a remarkable story, one that Simms tells well in a book that is hard to put down. Simms notes that there were ideological factors that enabled these men to stand at their post in the face of overwhelming odds, especially their determination to fight “French tyranny.” It is interesting that the recent terrorist attacks in France have evoked from some in high quarters the statement that the French response not to be cowed by Muslim fundamentalists is in line with France being a home of democracy—an obvious reference to the French Revolution. That is certainly not the way anyone in Europe viewed France in the wake of the sanguinary events of the French Revolution. It was not democracy but the tyranny of Napoleon that emerged from the revolutionary fervor of the 1790s. When Napoleon’s war machine had overrun Hanover, these brave men were determined to do something for the cause of their homeland’s liberty and thus the King’s German Legion was formed. In the final analysis, Simms reckons that it was a a sense of “honor” and trust in their officers that were the main determinants in the courage of these 400 men.

When the remnant of the King’s German Legion finally had to relinquish control of the farmhouse in the early hours of the evening—Baring refused to throw away his men’s lives needlessly—Napoleon had no time to capitalize on his taking the farmhouse, for Wellington’s Prussian allies under the command of Field Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742–1819) arrived and helped save the day. As Wellington said after the battle to a civilian who interviewed him, the battle was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.” Indeed, without the 400 at La Haye Sainte there might have been no victory and subsequent European history would have been quite different with no century of peace to be shattered by World War I. On such relatively “small” events does the large wheel of history sometimes turn.

Michael A.G. Haykin is Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Director of The Andrew Fuller Center where this review first appeared.

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Happy Thanksgiving from John Calvin

Posted by on Nov 27, 2014 in Book Reviews | No Comments
Happy Thanksgiving from John Calvin

John Calvin did not celebrate Thanksgiving, obviously. But this Thanksgiving Westminster Bookstore is selling a very attractive, new edition of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, published by Banner of Truth, along with A Guide to Christian Living this Thanksgiving for just $35. So, Happy Thanksgiving from John Calvin!

9781848714632mHere is a little about John Calvin:

John Calvin (1509–64), the French theologian and pastor of Geneva, was one of the principal 16th–century Reformers.

Calvin was born on 10 July 1509, in Noyon. He received the equivalent of his Master of Arts in Theology in 1528 at the unusually young age of 17, subsequently received a doctorate in law, and developed as a humanist scholar, publishing a commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia. Calvin was exposed to the work of Martin Luther in his student days, and was converted to the Reformed cause.

Calvin was forced to flee Paris in 1533. Settling briefly in Basel, he published the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. In 1536, William Farel convinced Calvin to become involved in establishing the Reformation in Geneva. Though Calvin and Farel were ousted in 1538, and moved to Strasbourg, in 1541 Calvin returned to Geneva and ministered there until the end of his life. Calvin’s ministry of regular preaching and church discipline turned Geneva into an admired model of Reformation for the rest of Europe.

And here is a description of this translation:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion is Calvin’s single most important word, and one of the key texts to emerge from the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Yet, as many who have purchased an English translation of the final Latin edition of 1559 know only too well, the sheer size of the work and the proliferation of technical details and polemical themes do not make for easy reading. It has left many wishing for an edition that avoided such things but yet kept intact the very heart and soul of Calvin’s teaching.

Such an edition is now available, and it is not the work of an editor or an abridger, but of Calvin himself. The Reformer’s 1541 French edition of his Institutes really ought to be better known than it is because it offers the reader a clear yet comprehensive account of the teaching of the Bible—of the work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, revelation and redemption, in the life of the individual Christian and in the worship and witness of the church. Here is doctrine but here too is life–shaping application, for the practical use of Christian doctrine is always Calvin’s abiding concern. The author of the Institutes invites us both to know and to live the truth, and thus allow God’s Spirit to transform us.

Robert White’s new translation of the 1541 French edition of the Institutes makes Calvin live once again, and the reader will be truly amazed at both the power and the relevance of the Reformer’s doctrine and application for Christian living in the 21st century

“Calvin’s Institutes remind us that there is a good and bad way to do theology. Speculative theology, which asks questions the Scriptures do not answer, or intuitive theology, which works upwards from man to God, is bad theology. The human mind cannot fathom the unfathomable. Calvin is adamant that only God can speak of God, and in words which accommodate themselves to our weakness. Since we do not recognize God in his works of creation and of providence, we must seek him in his written word, whose witness is sealed to us by his Holy Spirit. The Institutes of 1541 contain well over 2,000 biblical references, widely spread but with a marked concentration on the Psalms, Isaiah, the first and fourth Gospels, Romans and 1 Corinthians. Nor is Scripture a convenient peg on which doctrine may be hung, more or less at will; it is the indispensable foundation on which doctrine rests, the standard by which it is judges and the rule by which it is corrected.“
– Robert White (translator)

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The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of the Incarnation (Book Review)

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Book Reviews | 3 Comments
The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of the Incarnation (Book Review)

Graham Cole. The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of the Incarnation. New Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2013.

Today skepticism about religious claims and objective truth has become the norm. This is especially true with regard to the supernatural claims of the Bible. Liberal and postmodern theology has so influenced our country’s perception of Christianity that many do not know the religious significance of Easter and Christmas. This is a reality that Christians must face if they give an answer for the hope they have in Christ. It is also an obstacle that must be overcome for many who are considering the claims of the gospel. And no place is better to confront an increasingly secular culture than the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Fortunately, Graham Cole’s recent book does just that. In The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of Incarnation, Cole, the Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School (Birmingham, Alabama), provides an articulate and biblical explanation of the Incarnation. Divided into six chapters, Cole follows the trajectory of the biblical narrative to show how the Bible itself develops the doctrine of Christ’s Incarnation. As has come to be expected with Cole, his writing is rich in exegesis and far-reaching in impact, as he engages church history, systematic theology, and issues in contemporary culture.

9780830826315Summary

The first chapter sets the pace by defining terms and illuminating the theme of Incarnation as it relates to the doctrines of God and man. In the second chapter Cole explains how the patriarchs and other Jewish leaders replicate some of the Incarnational themes found in the creation account. The third chapter is about redemptive history as a whole. It considers especially the historic period of Israel’s history. In this chapter he also touches on typology, which is a crucial component to his argument.

The fourth chapter is about the realization and culmination of the Incarnation found in the New Testament. The fifth chapter is more philosophical, considering Anselm’s question: Cur Deus Homo? Answering from the biblical text, Cole explains how and why God became man, turning at the end of the chapter to consider Thomas Aquinas’s contribution to the doctrine. The sixth and final chapter shows the ramifications of the Incarnation on our theological systems.

Evaluation

Focusing on the strengths of The God Who Became Human, chapter one introduces the reader to three terms that relate to the way Scripture uses human imagery to speak of God. Instead of relying on the general language of anthropomorphism, Cole presses for more precision.  By using a three-fold taxonomy (e.g., anthropomorphic, anthropopathic, anthropopraxic), he brings light to the fact that God is described with various kinds of language in Scripture. The disadvantage to this classification is that sometimes language overlaps. God is said to have eyes that run all over the earth in 2 Chronicles 16:9. Likewise, in speaking of his patience, Exodus 34:7 says that God is slow to anger (anthropopathic, right?), but literally it reads “long-nosed” (so anthropomorphic). In any case, the reader is greatly helped by Cole’s attention to language.

Moving to chapters three and four, Cole explains how the Incarnation is one component of Jesus’s Messianic identity. In this section, he explains that Jesus fulfilled the typological realities of the Old Testament Christ. In chapter four, he outlines the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, as well as the Epistle to the Hebrews, and he makes this helpful observation: “In Hebrews the implied incarnational theology of Matthew and Mark gives way to an explicit one” (104). He calls the reader to remember the significance of Matthew’s genealogy and Mark’s New Exodus theme, which both allude to the Incarnation.

In all of these New Testament books, he shows how the New Testament authors appropriate Old Testament offices and types to explain the two natures of Christ’s Incarnation. That said, Cole is reticent to say the Old Testament prophets expected an Incarnation in the way it came to be revealed in the New Testament (91–95). In fact, against many popular interpretations (e.g., B. B. Warfield, Ray Ortlund, Jr.), Cole spends time in passages like Micah 5:2 showing why the verse does not conclusively prove Christ’s deity in the eyes of the Old Testament prophets. All in all, when the whole of Scripture is considered, the faithful reader of the Bible is left with no option but to affirm with Thomas—“My Lord and my God!”

The culmination of his work reaches its conclusion in chapter six where he systematizes a theology of the Incarnation. Relating biblical theology to historical theology, Cole states, “This study thus far has yielded conclusions that are classically patristic” (143). The reason this chapter is crucial to the book is because it shows how the Incarnation has been approached in recent history. After laying out a biblical theology of the Incarnation, Cole shows the implications of how one thinks concerning the doctrine in the minds of individuals such as Karl Barth, Martin Luther, Mark Noll, and Jürgen Moltmann. This enables the reader to take a lot of the biblical data and see where these scholars ideas might lead if they do not have a precise understanding of the incarnation. Accordingly, this interaction with modern scholarship helps clarify what the rest of the book demonstrates, and it challenges the reader to do the hard work of systematic theology.

Conclusion

In the end, while the book is not apologetic in nature, it can be utilized to bolster the faith of Christians and answer objections to skeptics. Cole’s volume strengthens the already-reputable New Studies in Biblical Theology series, edited by D. A. Carson. It provides pastors with a great biblical resource on the Incarnation. And it affords students of the Bible an excellent model for founding a dogmatic position in biblical theology, all the while appropriating from historical theology, so that the evangelical witness can engage contemporary revisions of Christ’s person with an orthodox Christology. Cole’s work wonderfully equips the church to know Christ and more than that, to worship him as the Incarnate Lord.

Andrew Keenan, Content Assistant at The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

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