What is the Incarnation? (Michael A.G. Haykin)

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Book Reviews, Michael Haykin | No Comments
What is the Incarnation? (Michael A.G. Haykin)

9781596388291mI have a long-standing tradition of reading a book relating to Christology around the time of Christmas. This year it was a booklet rather than a book, a part of the series Basics of the Faith, whose general editor is Sean Lucas, namely, What is the Incarnation? (P&R), by William B. Evans, the Eunice Witherspoon Bell Younts and Willie Camp Younts Professor of Historical Theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina.

Evans covers a tremendous amount of ground in the small compass of this booklet (a mere 26 pages): from the integral links between the person of Christ and his work (p.6–8), in which he draws upon insights from Athanasius and Anselm, to the sinlessness of the humanity assumed by the Son of God (p.24–25). Along the way, he delineates the biblical witness to the person of Christ (p.10–12), rightly pointing out that “the incarnation is a foundational assumption of the New Testament writers” (p.12), discusses the question of images of Christ (p.25–27), and summarizes six major Christological positions that Christian thought and reflection ruled to be heretical—Ebionism (the denial of the deity of Christ), Docetism (the denial of the humanity of Christ), Arianism (the reduction of Christ to a the rank of a “lesser” god, who is in fact a creature), Apollinarianism (which affirmed that the second person of the Godhead took the place of the human mind and soul of Christ), Nestorianism (the failure to maintain the integral unity of deity and humanity in the person of Christ), and Eutychianism (which so identifies the deity and humanity of Christ that Christ’s humanity is all but swallowed up by the deity) (p.13–16).

Evans identifies the creedal statement issued by the Council of Chalcedon (451), “one of the great watersheds in early church history” (p.16) as the Ancient Church’s definitive statement on the incarnation. This statement, which essentially affirmed the reality of the two natures, divine and human, in the one person of Christ—a union “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation”—held sway among Western theologians to the time of the early modern era in the seventeenth century (p.18). It was only then that theologians proposed radically different conceptions of the incarnation like the “kenotic” theory, which employed Philippians 2:7 to argue that Christ gave up all of his divine attributes when he became man.

All in all this is an extremely helpful summary of key details and issues relating to what Paul calls “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim 3:16), a work that would be ideal for a series in Sunday School or a mid-week Bible study.

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of many books, including Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church and Owen on the Christian LifeHaykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

 

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Book Review: Candle in the Wind (Paul Helm)

Posted by on Nov 5, 2015 in Book Reviews, Paul Helm | No Comments
Book Review: Candle in the Wind (Paul Helm)

Gary Brady is a present-day John Flavel. Like Flavel the Puritan, a minister in Dartmouth, Gary has been the pastor of an urban church for many years, and as Flavel became used to the ups and downs of such a life so no doubt has Gary. He has been pastor of Childs Hill Baptist Church in north west London since 1983. And like Flavel he is a considerable author, with five books already, and now a sixth, Candle in the Wind – Understanding Conscience in the Light of God’s Word (EP Books, 2014). This post is by way of a modest celebration of it, and of Gary’s gifts as an author on this great but neglected topic.

Conscience is a permanent resident in every person, a personal, moral and spiritual reflex of that very person that it is the conscience of. You have your conscience and I have mine, and mine does not throw a light on you, nor yours a light on me. Properly understood, it is the voice of God, which can be fine-tuned (sometimes too finely) or almost drowned out. It can excuse or accuse. It can thunder or whisper.  Whisperings can become full-throated. But it can be almost subverted by the culture, by upbringing, by friends or by the boss, by what we read and by the media.

Candle_In_The_Wind_1024x1024A strong conscience, how about that? This is a conscience informed by the word of God. God is Lord of the conscience. Gary thinks that Christians with such a weapon, who know what they believe and what and what not to do, should be careful of not bullying the weaker brethren. That is, those sincere believers whose conscience is ill-informed in some way. But a sound conscience is nevertheless a great good. There is a greater thing than parading your conscience, however, and making a thing of it, and that is love or concern for the weaker brethren. ‘…If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing’. This is the best section of the book, thoughtful and wise.

Here are some questions which I don’t think Gary touched on, though he touched on most things, I reckon: The question of whether the operation of conscience leads or follows what we do. Conscience seems to behave in either of these two ways. When you consider doing something, the conscience kicks in, telling you that this is the right thing to do, and so you do it, or at least try to do it. At other times it is like a rear-view mirror, telling you that what you did was or wasn’t OK. Whether this is before – or after – behaviour proves significant? Or does it simply show dull or quick wittedness, as the case may be? The Christian’s conscience, like other things, is imperfectly regenerated, subject to ignorance, bias and weakness. The Christian is a ‘wretched man’ who has a conscience, he or she does not yet possess a perfectly judging and operating moral sense.

Most of Gary’s concerns are with the conscience as it operates within the sphere of the church. Here very definitely God is ‘Lord of the Conscience’, as Perkins and Ames and the Westminster Confession had it. But what about Gary’s hearers when they are at work or at leisure? If things are operating as they should then one cannot expect the same standards at meetings at work to the meetings at church. Ought conscience to operate differently in different circumstances? Is this dangerous, like having double standards? In one place Paul writes ‘I wrote to you in my letter [which unfortunately we do not possess] not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually Immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, nor idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.’ As Augustine might have put it, church and world are two ‘cities’. Ought a Christian to have two sets of standards, two consciences, one for each city? Don’t we in practice have two standards? When in Rome, do as the Romans do? Is this the place for some casuistry?

As a Baptist, Gary has an interest in liberty of conscience. He notes its development in England in the seventeenth-century. Particular Baptists have a confessional position advocating such liberty from the beginning, though in a restricted form. (Of course as he notes, any freedom of expression must have restrictions.) In this Independents and Baptists were distinct from the Presbyterians and Anglicans, who edged their way to social liberty as it became clear to the powers that be that good Christian people could differ from each other on various matters which did not imperil the integrity of the state. (Socinians and Roman Catholics were another question!) Gary is quite keen on Roger Williams. Gary is uncertain about whether liberty of conscience is the teaching of the New Testament. But surely it can be considered as an application of the principle of ‘Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets’. Indeed it might be argued that freedom of conscience is like sanitation and public hygiene, an obvious good. But, alas, a good that it is hard for societies who enjoy it to retain, as we are currently seeing.

What Gary mainly does in his book – tho’ he does not say that he is doing it – is to treat the Christian life from the vantage point of the conscience. In conviction of sin, the voice of conscience is the voice of God. In penitence and faith, the troubled conscience, troubled by sins, can through exercising the faith which justifies, come to enjoy a good conscience, not a witness to failure but to Christ’s victory. But even then it can lapse through carelessness into an ill-formed conscience, a seared conscience, unfeeling. Watchfulness is needed. A Flavelian theme.

Gary takes us through all this in a clear, unassuming style. He has a light touch, chatty and unpretentious. Bags of quotations, and much good sense. His favourite writers on the theme seem to be Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), and John Bunyan in his Holy War. Thanks, Gary, for a wholesome, entertaining and insightful read. May you continue preaching and pen-wielding for many years to come!

Gary’s other books are – Heavenly Wisdom, The 1662 Great Ejection, What Jesus is Doing Now, The Song of Songs and Being Born Again

Paul Helm was appointed J.I. Packer Chair of Philosophical Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, in 2001. He is presently a Teaching Fellow there. Among his many books are Calvin and the Calvinists, Faith and Reason, The Trustworthiness of God, The Providence of God, Eternal God, The Secret Providence of God, The Trustworthiness of God (with Carl Trueman), John Calvin’s Ideas, Calvin at the Centre, and Calvin: A Guide for the Perplexed. 

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Recommended Resources on Exodus, Part 2: Resources on the Decalogue (Timothy Raymond)

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in Book Reviews, Timothy Raymond | One Comment
Recommended Resources on Exodus, Part 2: Resources on the Decalogue (Timothy Raymond)

As part of my perpetual sermon series through Exodus, I’m currently preaching through the Ten Commandments and so far have had a glorious time proclaiming the gospel from the Decalogue. (In case anybody is curious, here’s a link to all the sermons thus far.) In preparation for this part of the series, I read several books on the Ten Commandments and below are my comments on a few resources which you may find helpful (for part 1 of this series, go here).

51NcVY6mfML._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Toward Old Testament Ethics (Ethics – Old Testament Studies), by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

As the title suggests, this is not a study of exclusively the Ten Commandments but of the ethics of the first 77.2% of the Bible. But as you’d imagine, the Decalogue functions as the backbone of those ethics, and much of this book is devoted to expounding the meaning and implications of the Ten Commandments. I find myself in great sympathy to Kaiser’s approach to Old Testament ethics but I really wish he had done more by way of contemporary application. This is a good resource to have on the shelf, simply as a one-stop comprehensive exposition of all the ethical texts in the Old Testament. But if you’re looking for how this shapes and guides life today, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

419iMTTLr0L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_The Ten Commandments: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church, by Patrick D. Miller

This is the best book I’ve ever read that I simply cannot recommend. It’s by far the best book I’ve read on the Decalogue and one of the most informative books I’ve ever read of any kind. It’s essentially a whole-Bible biblical theological organized around the Ten Commandments and excels in exegesis, biblical theology, theological reflection, and contemporary application. The author’s learning is astounding and has left no stone unturned in exploring the meaning and implications of Decalogue. At nearly 500 pages, it is truly a comprehensive study. Furthermore, the author writes in a very engaging and easy-to-read style. Why then can’t I recommend it? The author, who is a professor of Old Testament Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, is theologically liberal and of all places, this is most problematic when it comes to contemporary ethics (for example, Miller actually defends same-sex marriage on pages 292-295). I really wish there were a sort of “revised evangelical version” of this book, for it’s incredibly helpful about 95% of the time. But since the remaining 5% is explosive heresy, I can’t commend it to any except the most careful of pastors who have the time and patience to wade through a minefield.

The Ten Command41k6FKK9xSL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century (New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology), by Mark F. Rooker

Truth be told, I was rather disappointed by this book. It’s very, very good, but far too brief to be completely helpful to the preacher. Its strength is in its careful exegesis of the text of Exodus 20 in light of its ANE context. Its weakness is that it includes almost nothing by way of contemporary application. It’s really more designed for the Bible translator than the pastor. While it’s a useful tool for understanding the meaning of the text, it must be supplemented with other resources which explore the gospel, lifestyle, ecclesiastical, and worldview implications of the Decalogue.

The Prager University Videos on the Ten Commandments

If you’re not familiar with Dennis Prager, he’s perhaps the most erudite social commentators on the radio today. He’s also a very conservative Jew who unashamedly believes the Torah comes from God. In these eleven 5-minute videos, Prager explores the massive implications of the Ten Commandments on society, politics, culture, and the family. I don’t think I’ve seen a better resource for exploring the worldview implications of the Decalogue. And they’re completely free! However, since they’re coming from a Jewish perspective, there’s no gospel here, and Prager adopts a distinctively Jewish interpretation of the text in a couple places. I’d heartily recommend you use these videos for preaching the Decalogue, but supplement them with good evangelical resources.

Lord willing, in my next installment in this series I intend to recommend a few exegetical commentaries on Exodus. After that, I hope to follow up with posts on commentaries for preachers and possibly some resources on the Tabernacle. If there are resources on Exodus (i.e., lectures, commentaries, books, etc.) you’d recommend or would like me to review, leave them in the comments below and I’ll consider including them.

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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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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