What are you reading this Easter? Try “The Cross of Christ,” “Scandalous,” or “Cross-examined”

March 9, 2013

John Stott - The Cross of ChristI well remember the excitement of reading The Cross of Christ when it was first published. It expanded my mind and warmed my heart like nothing I had read before or have read since, apart from the Bible.

— Vaughan Roberts

i can echo Vaughan Roberts’ endorsement above.

If you’ve never before read John Stott’s classic, theologically rich yet readable magnum opus on what Jesus’ death means, The Cross of Christ (Inter-Varsity Press, 2006), why not do so this Easter?  i have now read The Cross of Christ three times, and each time it has been a fresh experience of growing in depth of understanding and devotion.  i highly recommend you read it at least once, even though it is a weighty tome (both physically and in content). Read the rest of this entry »

Why Dostoevsky was the greatest novelist and the greatest Christian storyteller

March 8, 2013

"Portrait of Fedor Dostoyevsky" by Vasily Perov [Public domain image from Wikimedia]i have greatly enjoyed reading the works of the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), in particular his books The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment.  They plumb the darkest depths of the human psyche and rise to praise the heights of divine grace in ways few other works of fiction have done.

The well-read theologian J.I. Packer regards Dostoevsky as “the greatest novelist, as such, and the greatest Christian storyteller, in particular, of all time.”  Here is why he makes this bold claim: Read the rest of this entry »

The Master’s Seminary lectures now available online

February 24, 2013

The Master’s Seminary (TMS), founded in 1986 by John MacArthur to provide top-class training to future pastors and teachers, last week announced their Theological Resource Center.  The Theological Resource Center is intended to be a free, worldwide extension of TMS for pastors and others who cannot attend classes at its campus near Los Angeles, California.  It features free videos of graduate-level lectures from The Master’s Seminary (along with faculty lecture series addressing specific issues, chapel messages, and The Master’s Seminary Journal), chapel and conferences messages from The Master’s College (a Christian liberal arts college), sermons from Grace Community Church (where MacArthur has pastored and has preached verse-by-verse since 1969), and MacArthur’s sermon library and daily devotions from Grace to You.

Among the courses i am particularly excited to learn from are Steven Lawson’s 12 lectures on Expository Preaching in the Psalms, and William Barrick’s Hebrew Grammar I and Hebrew Grammar II, which so far are the only complete, free Biblical Hebrew courses I’ve come across (and Barrick is a top teacher and Hebrew scholar, having been involved in Bible translation projects).  At the moment there are also courses available in systematic theology, Old and New Testament survey, and marriage and family counselling.

2013 bibliographic guides for Old and New Testament from Denver Seminary

January 19, 2013

Each year faculty of Denver Seminary compile helpful bibliographic guides for Old and New Testament studies. This year’s bibliographies have just been published in the Denver Journal, and they are excellent resources for Bible students and pastors, covering introduction and background, theology, language, criticism and exegesis, hermeneutics, etcetera., and offering recommendations of commentaries for each book. The bibliographies also highlight those books which faculty consider most important and helpful. This is well worth bookmarking or printing.

Reading the Bible in 2013

January 1, 2013

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119, ESV)

The past few years i have stuck to a particular plan in reading the Bible which i have found to be very helpful.  i know that unless i have a plan by which i may measure progress, and in which others can join me, i am likely to neglect my reading of the Bible, and will stagnate to the jeopardy of my life and joy.  i still battle, often, to read each day; but i find that my own progress and joy in the faith are inextricably bound up in prayerful reading of the Bible.  i want, like Job, to “treasure the words of His mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23).  The missionary George Mueller (1805-1898) once said, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.  I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it…”

Read the rest of this entry »

Goldsworthy on true and exhaustive knowledge

February 5, 2011

Graeme Goldsworthy in his book Gospel and Wisdom (part of the Goldsworthy Trilogy, Paternoster, 2000), which i’m reading for a course in Old Testament Poetry and Wisdom Literature, presents the following brief and helpful discussion of the relationship between true and exhaustive knowledge, and how this applies to the Christian and non-Christian.

[T]he empiricist or humanist will claim to know things truly while not knowing exhaustively. In this he is inconsistent. No humanist would say that things exist in total isolation from each other.  For a start he couldn’t investigate them if they did, for they would also be isolated from him. And there could be no such things as natural laws, or complexities of matter, for there would be only random particles. There would be no organisms, no people to become humanists! Once we recognize this, we will see that what things really are includes their relationship to everything else. When the humanist claims to know something truly, he is saying that he knows how it relates to everything else in existence. In other words, to know even one thing truly he must know all things exhaustively.

We can summarize this discussion by a contrast of three positions. First, the atheistic humanist claims to know enough to say that God does not exist. This is a claim to know everything, for if he admits that he does not know everything, how does he know that God is not included in what he does not know? Secondly, the agnostic humanist things to avoid the problem of the atheist by saying that we cannot know if God exists or not; he may or he may not. But this is also to claim exhaustive knowledge, for how can he know that God’s existence cannot be known other than by knowing everything there is to be known? The last thing left for him to discover may be the evidence that God either exists or does not exist. Finally, the Christian knows that he does not have exhaustive knowledge. But he knows also through revelation that God does have exhaustive knowledge and can therefore define for us what reality is. By the same revelation this God has told us all that we need to know in order to know truly. The Christian can know God truly. He can know man truly, and the created order truly. He knows none of them exhaustively, but he does know them truly.

(Goldsworthy, 2000:369-370)

Collecting and organising Christian resources

November 12, 2009

i’ve got a lot of talks, articles, sermons, etc. that i’ve been collecting over the past few years.  i’m trying to put together a good resource library to share with others — all stuff that’s freely available on the Internet, but sometimes hard to find, and expensive to download here in South Africa — and starting to review and promote some of it here on my blog (see, for example, the recent post on Gordon Fee’s excellent series of talks on Reading and studying the Bible for life).  i’m hoping to dedicate some time in December/January to cataloguing it a bit better, but basically at this stage i’ve got the following major collections: Read the rest of this entry »