Thursday, November 30, 2017


"Radical" (David Platt) - I'm not sure who the audience for this book is.  It proposes that many Christians are caught up in the American dream and that we need to live more radical lives for Christ.  He proposes several steps:
  • praying for the entire world
  • reading through the entire Word
  • sacrificing our money for a specific purpose
  • spending time in another context (specifically - spending a week in missions)
  • committing to a multiplying community
First, these don't seem that radical to me.  Most Christians know they need to read through the Bible - they're either working on a one year plan (even if it takes 2), or they know they should.  Similarly, prayer - I think we all would say we should do more.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Canon of the New Testament

The development of the New Testament canon (the 27 books we include in the back half of every Bible) is a remarkable story (I'm certain I'll do more posts on it, eventually).

Perhaps the most remarkable things is the amount of agreement among Christians.  I'm unable to think of any other doctrine that has so much agreement.  Even the Trinity (crucial for understanding who God is) doesn't enjoy the level of agreement of the NT canon.

Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, even Muslims have no question as to what the New Testament is (even though they seek to add other things of equal weight to it).

As I mentioned previously, an issue with the canon was one of the earliest debates among Christians.  Marcion was soundly rebuked, and many early fathers wrote against him.

When the Reformation came, there was no question of the canon (much is made of Luther's disapproval of James, but it's in every edition of his translation).

The idea that the canon cannot be known without some special human authority does a disservice to everyone.  It ignores the historical facts, and demeans the words from God's mouth (θεοπνευστος).

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Shepherd as Leader

"The Shepherd as Leader" (John MacArthur, ed.) - this is a collection of twelve sermons from various Shepherd's Conferences.  It is part of a set of three books.

All the sermons will be convicting and edifying for anyone who is a pastor, or would like to be one.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Masculine Mandate

"The Masculine Mandate" (Richard Phillips) - This is a short book themed on "working and keeping" (Genesis 2:15).  Nothing you haven't heard before, but a good devotional to focus and remind.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lincoln's Battle with God

"Lincoln's Battle with God" (Stephen Mansfield) - This is a biography of Lincoln focusing on his religious life.  I found it rather frustrating, but I think that is the nature of this area of historiography more than any lacking in the author.

As the author states in his conclusion: we want a clear story; with a beginning, middle, and end.  An aisle walked, a bold profession.  But life is messier than that, and the life of the President during what is likely the messiest time in America is messy.

Perhaps the greatest revelation of Lincoln's journey is from his last public proclamation: "The Almighty has His own purposes."

Now, on the face of it, this seems a pretty abstract statement.  However, as we look at Lincoln's life as a whole, we can see that he struggled most with the sovereignty of God and the hardship of life (the problem of evil).

Lincoln was born into an ostensibly Christian culture, that showed much of the shallowness and hypocrisy we see today.  His father was some sort of hyper-Calvinist - refusing to bring his son up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and showing little Christian behavior.  His mother seems to have been more faithful, and likely instilled a lasting binding to the Word which Lincoln would hold to even in his lowest moments.

It's easy to see how such an environment could lead to his atheist phase.  There was a surge of secular and atheistic writing at the time, and they were far more consistent than the Christians he had encountered.

But atheism has no lasting strength, and Lincoln needed that.  He faced death almost continuously: losing siblings, parents, friends, and later children (not to mention the horrors of war).  He needed answers, and he kept looking.

It would seem he found those answers.  He remained wary of organized religion, but he seems to have come to know God in Jesus and to trust Him.

His wife, Mary (who was no strong Christian, dabbling in mysticism and spiritualism), says his last words were "We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior.  There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem."

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

"The Martyrdom of Polycarp" (translated by Roberts and Donaldson).  Available online.

Some oddities:
  • "were no longer men, but had already become angels" - I guess it does go back further than "It's a Wonderful Life" :)
  • There's a fair amount of anti-semitism (especially in chapter 13).  Hard to tell how much of that is post-70, and how much was added by later authors.
  • No explicit definition of the Gospel
And the good points:
  • "we do not commend those who give themselves up [to suffering], seeing the gospel does not teach so to do"
  • "the churches throughout the world" (churches - plural)
  • "the blameless one for sinners"
End on a good note :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Thoughts for Young Men

"Thoughts for Young Me" (J.C. Ryle) - This is a short book (89 pages).  It has only one goal - to motivate young men to godliness.  It does it well.