Monthly Archives: March 2008

Anne Rice and N.T. Wright on Writing

Anne Rice is well known for her vampiric novels, the most popular of course being Interview With A Vampire, which was also made into a movie. In recent years, Rice has been converted to Christianity. A large part of her conversion had to do with reading the scholarly works by theologians like D.A. Carson, Leon Morris, Richard Bauckham and N.T. Wright. In fact, Rice credits Wright’s books on Jesus as being key in her change of thinking.
A couple of years back Rice and Wright shared a stage and discussed matters of faith and culture, in particular, writing. I listened to the discussion some time ago, and while there was much I didn’t necessarily agree with, it was intriguing to hear both of their thoughts on a range of subjects. Check it out here. The direct link is here.
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He Is Risen Indeed

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Trumper on Adoption

I was doing a search for Tim Trumper’s article on adoption that he did a few years ago for the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology and I came across the website for 7th Reformed Church that have a load of his sermons (some of which are on adoption!). Check it out here.
Trumper is very much a part of the redemptive-historical stream of systematic and biblical theology, a la John Murray and Richard Gaffin. These sermons are sure to be a treasure.

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Interview – Thabiti Anyabwile – Black Power from the Pulpit

I was wondering if Thabiti Anyabwile would have anything to say about Rev. Wright’s recent racially charged statements. Thankfully he has, in Christianity Today.

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Doug Jones and Capitalism

Douglas Jones is an author that I like to keep my eye on – who could forget his hilarious The Mantra of Jabez? It’s a genius satire of The Prayer of Jabez. His contributions to the church are significant. For instance, the work he has done on the apologetic front, bringing the Christian worldview to bear on forms of unbelief has been helpful in my own theological development.

Jones is a pastor at Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho, the same one Doug Wilson pastors. He is also a Senior Fellow at New St. Andrew’s College, oversees the Sabbath House and editorial director of Canon Press.
Recently, Jones started blogging at Scribblative Agincourting, and I must say, that I have been surprised at some of what he has written. Jones has long had association with the newer wave of Christian Reconstruction, a part of which is the philosophy of libertarian economics and political thought. Reading his blog, one sees a certain shift in Jones’ thought. Although I’m not sure if it’s necessarily a shift in the wrong direction.
Whether one agrees with Jones’ shift, he definitely gives pause for thought. He is an insightful writer, who pulls no punches, yet shows balance and conviction in his expression. Personally, as one with libertarian leanings, I find a lot that I agree with in Jones (it strikes me that he’s critical of conservatism more than he is of libertarianism). Whether he is a libertarian or not, he is worth listening to. This is why I’m posting links to some of his posts and the discussion that followed as a result:
I’ll start with the post that has sparked a small controversy in the blogosphere:
And the responses by Andrew Sandlin and David Bahnsen
And here is Jones’ recent response to Bahnsen.
It may be worth noting that Doug Wilson is slowly posting his way through Schneider’s book himself.

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Anyabwile on Albert Mohler Radio

What first piqued my interest in Thabiti Anyabwile’s book The Decline of African American Theology was the interview that he did in January on The Albert Mohler Radio Program. I had seen Anyabwile speak last year in Toronto on the topic of Islam (he is a former Muslim), which was stellar. But it wasn’t until hearing the details of this book, in the interview, that I became seriously interest – that is, more than just a passing interest.
Check out the interview here – I really do hope that Anyabwile and others continue to write so thoughtfully on this important topic.
For more on the life and ministry of Thabiti Anyabwile, see the interview done with him at 9 Marks Ministries. In fact, see the whole series on race and Christianity at 9 Marks here.

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Thabiti Anyabwile and Rev. Wright

Lately I have been reading through Thabiti Anyabwile’s fabulous book The Decline of African American Theology. It is a very well-written, well-researched piece of scholarship that has given me a whole new spin on black Christian history. I am so thankful to him for introducing readers like me to black theologians like Jupiter Hammon and Lemuel Haynes (the “black Puritan”).

The recent racist statements by Sen. Obama’s pastor have, for me, been timely. I can see them through a whole new lens now that I am reading Anyabwile’s book. I have a greater appreciation for the development of black theological thought (not that I’m in any way an expert!) and I can see where the vitriol of Rev. Wright comes from. The statements by men like James Cone that I read quoted in Anyabwile’s book are shocking to say the least. Black Theology is a scary phenomenon and deeply racist.

As I read Victor Davis Hanson’s take on the Wright/Obama controversy, I was struck by these words:

Given the racist history of the United States, the black church has developed a
counter-narrative and history. Others outside the community are apparently not
fully aware of the vocabulary, metaphor and style of this sometimes problematic
and complicated milieu…

Reading Thabiti Anyabwile’s book only confirms a statement like this. I am now more than interested in reading his earlier work The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors.

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Windsor Liberty Seminar Report

Sadly I had to miss the Windsor Liberty Seminar held at the University of Windsor last Saturday, but I am thankful to my friend and fellow member of Grace Baptist Church, Codex Markianus, for giving us the scoop. The three speakers at the event were Fred McMahon, Jan Narveson and Bruce Walker. It was hosted by the Institute for Liberal Studies. I had a good time preaching in Toronto, however, and am thankful to the Lord for that.
Check out his very thorough review of the three lectures here. I hope Mark scored me some free stuff!

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Happy St. Paddy’s!!

On this beautiful St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share a tune from two of my favourite Irish bands, The Dubliners and The Pogues!
Too-ra-loo-ra.

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Glory Grace International Ministries

Bob Penhearow, director of Carey Ministries in Guelph, has just started a ministry called Glory Grace International Ministries that seeks to help the poor, widowed, sick and dying of the world. Check out the website and consider how you can help support this important ministry.

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Tertullian – What Has Jerusalem to do with Athens?

Tertullian’s question, “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens” has become a famous phrase often referred to in the history of Christian philosophy and apologetics. It sets forth an antithesis not merely between two important cities in classical thought, but between two different epistemologies. Jerusalem represents a revelational epistemology founded squarely on the Christian scriptures. Athens, on the other hand, represents unbelieving thought encapsulated in Hellenistic philosophy. Such an antithesis can be seen in the writings of the apostle Paul who contrasted righteousness and lawlessness, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, believer with unbeliever and God’s temple with idols in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. At the end of 1 Corinthians 2 Paul also contrasts the natural man with the spiritual.
In The Prescriptions against the Heretics, Tertullian is primarily writing against heresy, specifically that of Gnostic relation. His principal targets are Valentinus and Marcion. According to Tertullian, pagan thought has corrupted both of them. Earlier in chapter seven, Tertullian catalogues the influences on their respective thought. He calls these influences “human and demonic doctrines,” “worldly wisdom” and “foolishness.” In sum, “Worldly wisdom culminates in philosophy with its rash interpretation of God’s nature and purpose. It is philosophy that supplies the heresies with their equipment.”
Platonism specifically influenced Valentinus with its aeons and forms. From this philosophical perspective, Valentinus developed a doctrine of the “human trinity.” Marcion was influenced by a number of philosophical schools including Stoicism and Epicureanism. The former influenced his view of the soul’s mortality while the latter his denial of the “restitution of the flesh.” Marcion was also influenced by Zeno’s equation of God and matter and Heraclitus’ view of fire as the ultimate metaphysical reality. In his list of other philosophical influences on both heretics Tertullian adds Aristotle’s dialectic, “the art which destroys as much as it builds, which changes its opinions like a coat, forces its conjectures, is stubborn in argument, works hard at being contentious and is a burden even to itself. For it reconsiders every point to make sure it never finishes a discussion.”
Tertullian quotes from the apostle Paul in Colossians 2:8 who admonished his readers to beware of philosophy and vein deceit that follows after the traditions of men. Paul would have been familiar with classical philosophy first hand as evinced in his confrontation with the thinkers in Athens (Acts 17). Here Paul “had come to grips with the human wisdom which attacks and perverts the truth, being itself divided up into its own swarm of heresies.”
Here then Tertullian offers his famous question: “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the heretic? Our principles come from the Porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord is to be sought in simplicity of heart.”
S.L. Greenslade, in the footnote for this quote notes the relation of the word “porch” in the Porch of Solomon to the porch of Zeno the Stoic. Tertullian is here making a further epistemological contrast, between Solomon’s wisdom and Zeno’s foolishness. This is particularly striking when one understands Tertullian’s own philosophical background having been influenced by Stoicism. Here he makes a clean break with his previous way of thinking, though scholars have noted that Stoicism creeps into his thought from time to time.
For Tertullian, the prime goal of belief is Jesus Christ, of whom there is no need to speculate because he has been revealed. The Lord is to be sought in “simplicity” rather than in the complex dialectic of the philosophers. Standing in the stream of the “faith seeking understanding” school, Tertullian says, “For we begin by believing that there is nothing else which we have to believe.”
This sets the parameters for the rest of his discussion in The Prescriptions against the Heretics. For the duration of the treatise he contrasts biblical faith with that of the heretics, showing that there is no commonality between the two. They do not have a right to the scriptures and therefore own a worldview that is inherently corrupt. He goes to great pains to show the arrogance of unbelieving thought whose attempts at interpreting the scriptures were empty and irrational. Later in the work Tertullian claims that heresy is useful because it makes manifest the elect over and against the reprobate and says, “For without Scripture there can be no heresy” (39).This antithesis is founded primarily in the Old and New Testament scriptures and worked itself out through the thinking of theologians like Tertullian and Augustine, down through Luther and Calvin, even to recent days in Kuyper and Van Til. The antithesis is fundamental and will stretch into eternity where the city of God will revel in unending bliss and the city of man will writhe in eternal agony.

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ER and Postmodernism

What would you do if you were this hospital chaplain? This scene strikes at the heart of the stupidity of postmodern relativism. I’m borderline shocked that it was on ER.

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Liam Goligher Lectures

Allen Mickle has posted information for the upcoming Andrew Fuller Center lectures, with Liam Goligher as the special speaker. I’ve heard Goligher speak, he’s excellent. For information go here.

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Gerald Bray – Holiness and the Will of God: Perspective on the Theology of Tertullian

For my reading seminar on Early Latin Theology, I have been meticulously working through Tertullian’s The Prescriptions against the Heretics. Dr. Haykin has given me a number of questions to answer on the text as well as two small essays to write. It has been a real blessing! Tertullian had some problems theologically, but he is a joy to read – so clear and witty.

In doing a little online research, primarily at The Tertullian Project, I came across the great Anglican theologian Gerald Bray’s book Holiness and the Will of God: Perspective on the Theology of Tertullian. I’ve long wanted to get my hands on this – to see it online for free in PDF is encouraging!

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Inventory Reduction Sale

Inventory Reduction Sale
Tues. Mar. 11 to Sat. Mar. 15, 2008
Crux Books
Wycliffe College, U of T

Serious discounts on hundreds of great books
Special prices on inventory overstock
50-90 % off
For One Day Only
Tue. Mar. 11
Everything in the Store is an
Extra 15% off*

*Some limitations may apply

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Paul Helm on Calvin

Paul Helm will be publishing a book on Calvin in March with T&T Clark called Calvin, A Guide for the Perplexed. In the announcement for this on his blog, Helm’s Deep, he makes a comment about the different translations of Calvin’s Institutes. The standard translation is the Battles/McNeill in the LCC series – the one I have. But Helm says the better one is the Beveridge translation – one I had. When I picked up my copy of the former, I gave away the latter thinking it inferior. Rats! At least Hendrickson is reprinting the Beveridge, maybe I’ll pick that up (and keep the McNeill for good measure).

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Letter to a Christian Nation and York University

On Thursday, York University’s atheist group is hosting an event based upon Sam Harris’ recent book Letter to a Christian Nation. In case any people surfing the web about this happen upon my blog, I thought I would re-link to Doug Wilson’s excellent response to Harris in his Letter from a Christian Citizen. The website for Wilson’s book, with media and PR material is here.

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Gathercole on Pre-Existence of Christ

Oh yeah! Many thanks to Justin Taylor for bringing to his readers’ attention the lectures by Simon Gathercole on the pre-existence of Christ. I’ve just ordered Gathercole’s book The Pre-Existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke (2006), so this will be a nice precursor. I’m doing a paper for my Christology class on the Incarnation; finding these is well-timed. They will also be helpful for the discussion I’ve been having with a Jehovah’s Witness named Nick.
Simon Gathercole is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. As a young man, he has already written two substantial theological monographs. The first on the New Perspective on Paul (Where is Boasting?) and this one on Christology. He taught New Testament at Aberdeen and is now at Cambridge. In an interview he did with 9Marks Ministries, where he and Peter Williams offered a critique of Bart Ehrman, Gathercole mentioned a book that he is working on dealing with the so-called “Gospel of Judas.”

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Rod Bell’s Velvet Elvis

Here is a review of Rod Bell’s book Velvet Elvis by Windsor pastor Aaron Rock. Fairly detailed and helpful.

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Ordinary Pastor

Last night I had the pleasure of reading Don Carson’s recent book about his dad entitled Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (2007). I picked it up from the Sola Scriptura Ministries booktable at the Worship in Song conference hosted by Grace Fellowship Church (an awesome conference btw).
I don’t have time to get into an indepth review of the book, but suffice to say that it will prove to be an encouraging read to serious pastors everywhere. It details Mr. Carson’s time at Seminary (TBS), his call to evangelise in Montreal and pastor in Drummondville, the struggles experienced in a small church, the move to Hull and the care given to a wife with Alzheimers. This survey barely scratches the surface of the gold that is in this book. It was funny, serious, insightful, sad and encouraging. Don Carson did a great service to the memory of his father as well as to the church who can learn from it. Buy this book for you pastor for Easter!!!

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