Right now there are tons of sales are great Christian e-books: Topics range from parenting, theology, preaching, Culture, Bible studies, prayer, and church development and a host of others. Following the arrangement of Tim Challies, they are alphabetically ordered:
- Andrew, Brother - God’s Smuggler ($2.51)
- Anonymous - Embracing Obscurity ($0.99)
- Baucham, Voddie - Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors ($1.99)
- Begg, Alistair & Ferguson, Sinclair - Name Above All Names ($3.99)
- Blomberg, Craig - Jesus and the Gospels ($4.64)
- Bounds, E.M.- The Complete Works on Prayer ($2.99)
- Carson, D.A.- Worship By the Book ($2.99)
- Chandler, Matt - Creature of the Word ($3.71)
- Chapell, Bryan - Praying Backwards ($1.99)
- Chester, Tim & Timmis, Steve - Everyday Church ($1.99)
- Crouch, Andy - Culture Making ($0.99)
- Dever, Mark - The Church ($4.64)
- DeYoung, Kevin - Crazy Busy ($1.99)
- Emlet, Michael- CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet ($2.51)
- Eswine, Zack - Preaching to a Post-Everything World ($3.99)
- Ganz, Nancy - Herein Is Love: Genesis ($1.99)
- Ganz, Nancy - Herein Is Love: Exodus ($1.99)
- Ganz, Nancy - Herein Is Love: Leviticus ($1.99)
- Ganz, Nancy - Herein Is Love: Numbers ($1.99)
- Ganz, Nancy - Herein Is Love: Deuteronomy ($1.99)
- Glenn, R.W.- Crucifying Morality ($4.99)
- Greear, J.D.- Gospel ($3.71)
- Greear, J.D.- Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart ($3.71)
- Harvey, Dave - When Sinners Say ‘I Do’ ($1.99)
- Lane, Timothy - How People Change ($2.99)
- McGrath, Alister: C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet ($9.50)
- Mahaney, Carolyn - Feminine Appeal ($1.99)
- McKnight, Scot - The Sermon on the Mount ($4.71)
- Machowski, Marty - Long Story Short ($3.82)
- Meyer, Jason - Preaching: A Biblical Theology ($1.99)
- Pearcey, Nancy - Saving Leonardo ($3.99)
- Rainer, Thom - Simple Church ($2.99)
- Rainer, Thom & Stetzer, Ed - Transformational Church ($3.99)
- Reeves, Michael - Delighting in the Trinity ($2.99)
- Selvaggio, Anthony - A Proverbs Driven Life ($1.99)
- Sproul, R.C.- Not a Chance ($3.99)
- Stak, Rodney- The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion ($2.99)
- Tripp, Paul - Broken-Down House ($1.99)
- Tripp, Paul - Lost in the Middle ($1.99)
- Tripp, Tedd - Shepherding a Child’s Heart ($1.99)
- Tripp, Tedd - Instructing a Child’s Heart ($1.99)
Zondervan has also discounted their Counterpoints Series:
- Four Views on the Historical Adam Preorder ($4.27)
- Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy Preorder ($3.79)
- Four Views on the Apostle Paul ($2.99)
- Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism ($2.99)
- Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament ($2.99)
- Five Views on Apologetics ($2.99)
- Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology ($2.99)
- Two Views on Women in Ministry ($2.99)
- Three Views on Creation and Evolution ($2.99)
- Five Views on Law and Gospel ($2.99)
Recently a friend from P&R publishing asked me what I thought of John M. Frame’s new Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Here are my thoughts:
“Frame’s ST is a cleansing breath of fresh theological air! I’ve shared this with John before, but I’m always impressed at how much better he gets at streamlining and sharpening his theological ideas to a fine point each time he repeats them. This struck me when DCL was first released. In the opening chapters of the book there’s a decent amount of review of concepts from DKG (written in the mid 1980s) but they were clearer and as a result more cogent and powerfully presented. Well, in ST Frame has done it again! I’m also glad that there are so many more visuals in ST. As both a former student and TA of John’s I can testify to the great help that comes from charts and visual summaries. As John himself would have us recognize, each ST comes from its own perspective. Sometimes these perspectives can hide truths that ought to be seen, but many times they enable the theologian to shed light on the truth they’re writing about. John’s theological acumen, philosophical subtly, and apologetic concerns allow his ST to see things that others miss.”
If you can only pick up a single systematic theology and are looking for clarity, cogency, and profundity this is the book for you!
James R. White is one of the best teachers on the fundamentals of trinitarian doctrine. His book The Forgotten Trinity was extremely helpful to me during my formative theological years. Here White gives an overview of the book:
Myron Penner’s The End of Apologetics argues that much (if not most) of the practice of contemporary apologetics is hopelessly wedded to Enlightenment assumptions that undermine the very enterprise of apologetics (to commend the Christian faith). Penner is an priest in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As he states in one online interview, “I no longer see how modern apologetics (and by that I mean the attempt to give reasons for Christian belief that are objective, universal, and neutral) is really all that helpful – for me or anyone else.”
On the upside, he does present some stinging criticisms of apologetic neutrality and provides helpful reminders that apologetics should aim at more than mere acceptance of a few additional propositions like “God exists.” The kind of faith we hope to lead a person to is full blooded and thrives in community and is aimed at the flourishing of other image bearers.
This was also quite the frustrating read. In some parts I really agree with Penner’s thesis (that much of the modern apologetic project is in bed with modernism), but even in the places where I tend to be sympathetic, I still think he erects strawmen to make his debate partners looks more naive and un-nuanced than they really are. He writes as if [what we could call] evidentialists reduce the faith to a mere acceptance of propositions. I’m a Van TIlian of the Framean stripe, but even as I disagree with their method, Christian charity demands that I fairly present their position. Contrary to their representation in the book, apologists such as William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland believe that true Christian faith flourishes (and needs) discipleship, community, etc. Instead Penner tends to present them as bald rationalists. Also, his (brief) discussion of presuppositionalism is superficial at best, downright uninformed at worst. If he paid closer attention to Van Tillian apologetics he wouldn’t (essentially) condemn the entire modern apologetic enterprise.
With the exception of one short section toward the end of the book Penner seemed more concerned with kierkegaardian categories of analysis than biblical and theological ones. And his painting of his debate partners in the worst light was a put-off. This is a helpful book in terms of presenting a contemporary argument against apologetics, but the book’s weaknesses outweighed its strengths.
It’s not uncommon to hear that the view of God’s sovereignty manintained by Calvinists reduces human beings to the role of a mere robot. Here John Frame thinks through this objection:
Scripture is concerned, above all, to glorify God. Sometimes glorifying God humbles man, and those who believe Scripture must be willing to accept that consequence. We covet for ourselves ever more dignity, honor, and status, and we resist accepting a lower place. But Scripture assaults our pride and honors the humble. Scripture compares us, after all, not to sophisticated robots, but to simple potter’s clay.
What if it turns out that we are robots, after all—clay fashioned into marvelous robots, rather than being left as mere clay? Should we complain to God about that? Or should we rather feel honored that our bodies and minds are fashioned so completely to fulfill our assigned roles in God’s great drama? Some creatures are born as rabbits, some as cockroaches, and some as bacteria. By comparison, would it not be a privilege to be born as an intelligent robot?
Indeed, what remarkable robots we would be—capable of love and intimacy with God, and assigned to rule over all the creatures. Is it not a wonderful blessing of grace that, when we sinned in Adam, God did not simply discard us, as a potter might very well do with his clay, and as a robot operator might well do with his malfunctioning machine, but sent his only Son to die for us? Risen with him to new life, believers enjoy unimaginably wonderful fellowship with him forever.
As we meditate upon these dignities and blessings, the image of the robot becomes less and less appropriate, not because God’s control over us appears less complete, but because one doesn’t treat robots with such love and honor.
-John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God
Apologetics, like any other Christian activity, must be undertaken first as an act of love to God. In particular, we must be sure not to compromise God’s mission, God’s law, God’s message, or God’s love in our zeal.
First, we must not compromise God’s mission. We must not re- strict it so that it becomes narrower than God wants it to be: not merely “souls” being “saved,” or “minds” being “changed,” but whole people being adopted into God’s family and cooperating with him in the global work of redemption.
Second, we must not compromise God’s law. We must not manipulate or deceive, and particularly not use the “bait-and-switch” tactics that show up occasionally among evangelicals, and particularly in work with students: “Come and find out how to have great sex!” “Come to this talk and your grades will go up!” We must not use fear tactics, or success tactics, or any other tactics that are not congruent with the message we are offering and the Lord we serve.
Third, we must not compromise God’s message. Throughout the history of the church, well-meaning apologists have trimmed the gospel to make it fit a little easier with the presuppositions and preferences of the audience. Christianity seems too Semitic and not classically sophisticated? Let’s make it look and sound like Platonism, as some of the earliest apologists tried to do, or like Aristotelianism, as some medievals undertook to make it. Too much mystery in Christian theology? Let’s render Christianity Not Mysterious, as John Toland wrote in 1696. Too many references to the superstitious and supernatural? Let’s edit the New Testament to make Jesus look more enlightened and sophisticated, as Thomas Jefferson did (at least twice) literally with scissors and paste. Too much ancient strangeness and especially Jewish elements? Let’s follow the lead of modern liberal theology and strictly separate the New Testament’s “essential” message from its old-fashioned husk.
No, the gospel will appear foolish to sophisticates in every society. Too much editing of the message to suit the categories and interests of our neighbors can result in our merely echoing them, rather than giving them the gift of something wonderful they don’t already have. Apologetics must always maintain fidelity first to the sacred tradition.
Fourth, we must not compromise God’s love. Apologetics must always look like God’s love at work. People should be able to tell we love God and that we speak and act in the name of God’s love. Any apologetics that falls short of this standard falls badly short of the glory of God.
-John G. Stackhouse, Humble Apologetics, 140-141.
Over the last week Amazon has listed a host of fantastic theological titles for $3.99 or less. This is a great way of pulling together a theological library without spending a fortune (or taking up precious space in your home). My favorites are in bold.
- God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments
- The End of the Law: The Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology
- Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ
- Theology and Practice of Mission: God, the Church, and the Nations
- Jonathan Edwards and Justification
- A God Entranced Vision of All Things
- The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith
- God’s Grand Design
- Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
- Warfield on the Christian Life
- The Theology of B.B.Warfield
- The Ever-Loving Truth
- How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth
- Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament
- The Cross and Christian Ministry
I know I’ve been really behind in posting lately. I’ve been working on several projects and haven’t quite figured out the balancing act. As a result I’m also a bit backlogged in collecting interesting and helpful links around the web. These are a few of my favorite over the past few weeks.
- Infanticide: The Coming Battle- Michael Bird
- Pro-Life Activism Is Not a Mission of the church: It Is THE Mission of the Church- Rolley Haggard
- Some Thoughts on Gay Rights- William Edgar
- And Some Were Persuaded- James Anderson
- The Trouble with Violence in the Old Testament- Philip Bethancourt
- The Ultimate Apologetics MP3 Audio Page- Apologetics 315
- R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions eBooks Now Free Forever- Ligonier
- The Top 60 Online Resources for Battling Porn- HeadHeartHand
- 5 Lies that Kill Obedience- Brad Watson
The difficulty with respect to the natural man’s knowledge of God may be somewhat alleviated if we remember that there are two senses in which we may speak of his having knowledge. The natural man has knowledge, true knowledge of God, in the sense that God through nature and man’s own consciousness impresses his presence on man’s attention. So definitely and inescapably has he done this and that, try as he may, man cannot escape knowing God. It is this point that Paul stresses in the first two chapters of Romans 1. Man has the sense of deity indelibly engraved upon him. He knows God and he knows himself and the world as God’s creation. This is objective revelation to him. Even to the extent that this revelation is in man, in his own constitution, and as such may be called “subjective” it is none the less objective to him as an ethically responsible creature, and he is bound to react as an ethical person to this objective revelation.
But it is this objective revelation both about and within him that the natural man seeks to suppress. Having made alliance with Satan, man makes a grand monistic assumption. Not merely in his conclusion but as well in his method and starting point he takes for granted his own ultimacy. To the extent that he works according to this monistic assumption he misinterprets all things, flowers no less than God. Fortunately the natural man is never fully consistent while in this life. As the Christian sins against his will, so the natural man “sins against” his own essentially Satanic principle. As the Christian has the incubus of his “old man” weighing him down and therefore keeping him from realizing the “life of Christ” within him, so the natural man has the incubus of the sense of deity weighing him down and keeping him from realizing the life of Satan within him.
The actual situation is therefore always a mixture of truth with error. Being “without God in the world” the natural man yet knows God, and, in spite of himself, to some extent recognizes God. By virtue of their creation in God’s image, by virtue of the ineradicable sense of deity within them and by virtue of God’s restraining general grace, those who hate God, yet in a restricted sense know God, and do good.
Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, 65.
Since 2005, James R. White has taken to a serious study of Islam. What he’s produced, both in lectures and reading material (in print and on his blog), is some of the most helpful stuff on Islam available. Here’s his 2 part introduction:
And here’s his shorter 1 part presentation of the much of the same material:
For more detail, see White’s fuller discussion in:
Something to think about:
Christian maturity is tested by its willingness to go against the odds, to go against intellectual and practical fashions in the service of our King. It is easy enough to be a Christian when being a Christian merely requires us to be nice people. But love for Jesus, that love which is motivated by his great sacrifice, requires far more. It calls upon us to renounce what Scripture calls the “wisdom of the world,” the fashionable ideas and practices of our society, and to count them as rubbish for the sake of Christ. We honor those like Noah, who built his ark though the world scoffed; like Abraham, who set aside the evidence of his senses and the laughter of his own wife to believe that God would provide a miraculous son; like Moses, who stood up against Pharaoh the totalitarian despot to bring him the word of God; like Daniel, who endured lions rather than to worship an earthly king; like Peter and John, who told officials that “we must obey God, rather than man.”
-John M. Frame
Thoughts on our gifts, callings, and duties before God:
In general, our obligations, our moral responsibilities, differ according to our gifts, our callings, our opportunities. One who has the gifts and calling to be an architect, and the opportunity to get the training and credentials necessary for that profession, has an obligation to give more attention to architecture than most of us would dream of giving. Similarly, we can say that obligations also change with maturity (both physical and spiritual). When Paul writes to Corinth asking the people to set aside some contributions for the poor saints in Jerusalem, common sense would lead us to believe that he is not addressing children of six months and under. Those who are ordained to the eldership have a responsibilities for the welfare of the church body that “babes in Christ” do not have as yet. Scripture teaches us “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). Thus Jesus is far more critical of the Jewish leaders, who have been entrusted with much knowledge, than he is of the ordinary Jews and Gentiles who are relatively ignorant of God’s word.
Can someone be genetically predisposed to violence, drug addiction, or even aberrant sexual behavior? What if homosexuality can be demonstratively shown to be a genetic predisposition?
The bottom line is that the genetic element in sin does not excuse it. To see that, it is important to put the issue into an even wider perspective. Christianity forces us again and again to widen our angle of vision, for it calls us to see everything from the perspective of a transcendent God and from the standpoint of eternity. Such perspective helps us to see our trials as “light and momentary” (II Cor. 4:17) and our sins as greater than we normally admit. From a biblical perspective, the difficult fact is that in one sense all sin is inherited. From Adam comes both our sin and our misery. We are guilty of Adam’s transgression, and through Adam we ourselves inherit sinful natures. If a genetic predisposition excuses sodomy, then our inheritance from Adam excuses all sin! But that is clearly not the case. Of course, Reformed theology construes our relationship to Adam as representative, rather than merely genetic, and that is important. But Adam represents all who are descended from him “by natural generation;” so there is also an inevitable genetic element in human sin.
-John M. Frame, “But God Made Me This Way!”
What is the big claim made by the transcendental argument? No one puts it better than Cornelius Van Til himself:
Only the Christian theory of knowledge, based as it is upon the absolute authority of the word of God speaking in Scripture, makes communication of any sort possible anywhere between men. Without this presupposition man would have no integrated selves and the world would be a vacuum. Without this presupposition of the Christian theory of being there would be no defensible position with respect to the relation of men and things. Neither man nor things would have discernible identity. There would be no science and no philosophy or theology, for there would be no order. History would be utterly unintelligible. Finally, without the presupposition of the Christian theory of morality there would be no intelligible view of the difference between good and evil. Why should any action be thought to be better than any other except on the supposition that it is or it is not what God approves or disapproves? Except on the Christian basis there is no intelligible distinction between good and evil.
-Cornelius Van Til, The Doctrine of Scripture, 61-62