Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Scope of Christ's Death...

The following article (which served as a preface to John Owen's "The Death of Death") by J.I. Packer has proven to be extremely helpful to many people as they have wrestled with the Scriptures on the scope of Christ's death on the cross. Below is an excerpt from the article:

There is no doubt that evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor's dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and or equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. Why? (Click here to continue reading)

Piper on Racial Reconciliation...

In a recent interview, John Piper discussed the relationship between good doctrine and racial reconciliation. In particular he addressed how pluralism ultimately undermines the grounds for true racial harmony. The following is a brief quote from the interview. To listen to the short interview click here

Any listener who thinks that the way forward in race relations is to dumb down doctrine, so that you can hang out and not count truth as important, is undermining the very foundation on which we must stand together to make progress against injustice and the forces that destroy families, cities, and kids.(Click here to read or listen to the whole interview)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tim Keller on Postmodernism

Tim Keller has written a helpful article on Pluraism and Relativism called "The Current Intellectual State of Affairs in America." The following is a brief excerpt from the article:

About every other week, I confront popular pluralist notions that have become a large part of the way Americans think. For example, pluralists contend that no one religion can know the fullness of spiritual truth, therefore all religions are valid. But while it is good to acknowledge our limitations, this statement is itself a strong assertion about the nature of spiritual truth. A common analogy is often cited to get the point across which I am sure you have heard — several blind men trying to describe an elephant. One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin like a snake. Another feels a leg and claims it is thick like a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is a wall. This is supposed to represent how the various religions only understand part of God, while no one can truly see the whole picture. To claim full knowledge of God, pluralists contend, is arrogance. When I occasionally describe this parable, and I can almost see the people nodding their heads in agreement. But then I remind the hearers that the only way this parable makes any sense, however,is...(Click here to continue reading).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shameless Plug...

One of my desires for this blog is that people would benefit from their time spent here. This is one of the reasons that I often suggest books, recommend articles, or link to helpful websites. If you have been helped by this blog then would you consider telling three or four other people about it? I know it may sound a little self-serving to ask you to recommend this blog to someone else, and perhaps it is on one level (in that I desire for people to benefit from this blog). However, if this blog has benefitted you I think it might benefit others as well. In fact if there began to be a more substantial number of readers I could justify putting in more time to make the blog better. Therefore I am asking that you consider passing along the web address www.theocentricview.blogspot.com If there have been things that have been particularly helpful leave a comment so I can make sure to do that again. If you have ideas for making the blog more user friendly, aesthetically pleasing, or just more helpful overall I would appreciate those comments as well.


"The Tinker"

p.s.--Oh yeah, if you haven't cast a vote yet in the presidential poll (see right side of blog) please go ahead and do so.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

United States Presidential Candidates

Who do you plan on voting for? If you live in the United States and are planning on voting in the 2008 presidential election take a moment to fill out the poll on the right side of the blog. If you live outside of the United States feel free to cast your vote as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Systematic Theology

One of the classic Systematic Theology books is Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics. If you are looking for a great price (40% off) on a classic book click here.

Check out Richard Gaffin's endorsement of this book:

"Arguably the most important systematic theology ever produced in the Reformed tradition - I have found it to be the most valuable - English-speaking theology throughout the 20th century until now has been singularly impoverished by not having at its disposal a translation of Bavinck’s Dogmatiek in its entirety. The appearance of this volume, with the remaining three planned to follow in the near future, will be an incomparable boon for generations of students, pastors, teachers and others, serving to deepen understanding and enrich reflection in both historical and systematic theology."

Jason Upton: "Dying Star"

This song offers a helpful rebuke to the sinful tendency in all of us toward self-promotion in ministry and life. Click below on the play button to listen:

Dying Star by Jason Upton

You've got your best man on the front side
You always show your best side
And evil's always on the other side
You say this is your strategy
But son I hope you take it from me
You look just like your enemy
You're full of pride
We better trash our idols if we want to be
In the army of the Lord
And the greatest idol is you and me,
We better get on the threshing floor
When will we learn that God's strategy
Is giving glory to the Lord?
We better trash our idols if we want to be
In the army of the Lord

Star how beautiful you shine
You shine more beautiful than mine
You shine from sea to shining sea
World-wide is your strategy
But shining star I hope you see
If the whole wide world is staring straight at you
They can't see me...

© 2002 Jason Upton & Key of David Ministries. All rights reserved

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Geographic Spread of Religion

To learn about the geographic spread of religions throughout the history of the world in less than 2 minutes click on the map below:

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Great Books. Great Prices.

One of the best places on the Internet to purchase good books for a good price is Westminster Bookstore. They have recently redesigned their website to make their bookstore more aesthetically pleasing and easier to use. To see their new website click here

Book Recommendation...

One of my favorite books to give as a gift to parents with young children is "The Big Picture Story Bible." To preview a chapter and/or see the table of contents click here.

Publishers Blurb:

No child is too young to begin learning about the greatest love story of all—God’s love for his people, as portrayed in the Bible. David R. Helm and Gail Schoonmaker collaborate to create a beautifully illustrated book of Bible stories especially for children, written with simplicity. Rather than simply retelling the most familiar short scenes from the Bible, this book presents the “big picture”—the unified story running through the Old and New Testaments. This delightful book will help children learn the Bible’s whole story and begin to appreciate the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Piper on the Prosperity Gospel

Is the Prosperity Gospel harmful? Or is it just incomplete? Post your comments about questions, concerns, or commendations regarding the Prosperity Gospel after watching the following three minute video:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This helps me to love Jesus Christ more....

A few years ago I was at a conference in Minneapolis on the supremacy of Christ. The following video takes some of the audio from one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard and incorporates corresponding images with the content of the message. The video is 10 minutes long, but I think it will be one of the best 10 minutes you have spent on the internet in a long time. It may even be the best 10 minutes of your day. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Thoughts on Spiritual Depression...

A couple of days ago I posted an extended quote from "Spiritual Depression" by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. However, after posting the quote I realized that it could come across as a quick-fix for spiritual depression. That is not the point of Lloyd-Jones book or my post. Lloyd-Jones was a trained medical doctor before he became, perhaps, one of the most powerful preachers of the western world in the 20th century. His understanding into the human body and emotional processes is astounding. This is one of the things that makes his book so extremely helpful. When he looks at Psalm 42 he recognizes that the feeling of despondency is a common human experience that even the writers of Scripture were not immune to. Because Lloyd-Jones is such a realist with regards to the human experience he is able to take the good news of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and apply it to the human heart in specific ways. He does not offer a quick fix, a home remedy, or seven easy steps to being happy. Instead he peels back the human experience layer by layer like that of an onion and seeks to massage the truth of God's word into the areas of the human heart that need revitalization.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mark Driscoll Quote...

Regardless of how you feel about Mark Driscoll the following quote is just plain funny:

"This has been a packed week with some interesting potential fodder for the pajama blogger jihadists who make declarations about how the world should be from the comfy confines of their mom’s house."
--Mark Driscoll

(HT: Josh Ayres)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Spiritual Depression

Do you ever wake up and feel depressed? Do you ever feel discouraged by the thoughts running through your mind? In his book Spiritual Depression Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers the following helpful advice for those struggling with depression:

The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment [in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul?' he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: 'Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you'. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: 'Why art thou cast down'--what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: 'Hope thou in God'--instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: 'I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God'.

Click here to learn more about the book

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, pp. 20-21.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Recommended Book...

The following book by John Frame should be a great resource for helping people better understand the teaching of the Bible. It could be a great tool for training lay leaders and/or using in a small group setting. Click here to learn more about this book.

The publishers describe the book in the following way:

"Beginning students of theology and church leaders looking for a theological refresher or teaching tool will welcome this remarkably clear introduction to the doctrines of Scripture. In an almost conversational style, Salvation Belongs to the Lord explores all the major biblical truths, explains key terms of systematic theology, and reflects on their implications and connections under the lordship of Christ."

Commentaries on 1 Corinthians

Denver Seminary has put together a helpful bibliography on the major New Testament commentaries. Their suggestions for commentaries on 1 Corinthians are listed below. (My comments are in blue)

Those marked with an * are especially recommended by Denver. Those with a # are my personal recommendations. Also, those underlined can be clicked on to preview.

*Garland, D. E. 1 Corinthians (BECNT). G.R.: Baker, 2003. (Definitely consult this one perhaps after Fee and Thiselton).

# Thiselton, A. C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NIGTC). G.R.: Eerdmans, 2000. (I am not as familiar with this commentary as with the one by Fee (see below), but have been helped by it when I have used it. In my opinion this should be the second commentary that you consult after Fee's.)

Collins, R. F. First Corinthians (SP). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1999.

# Fee, G. D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT, rev.). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1987. (In my personal opinion this is one of the better commentaries on 1 Corinthians. Fee is an excellent commentator and his work on this letter is no exception. There are a couple of places where he seems to make theological textual criticism decisions. This is especially true in his handling of 1 Corinthians 14. However, Fee has an excellent background in Textual Criticism and so these decisions are not without some logical grounding. If you only purchase one commentary on 1 Corinthians I would suggest this one.)

Keener, C. S. 1- 2 Corinthians (NCBC). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. (If you can get a hold of this one it would probably be really helpful. I have not had the opportunity to use this one as of yet, but Keener is a top-notch scholar who has a reputation of being very warm hearted.)

*Thiselton, A. C. First Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary. G.R.: Eerdmans, 2006.

Witherington, B., III. Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians. G.R.: Eerdmans, 1995.

*Blomberg, C. L. 1 Corinthians (NIVAC). G.R.: Zondervan, 1994. (If you are preaching on 1 Corinthians try to read through this one and/or Hays (below).

Hays, R. B. First Corinthians (Int). Louisville: John Knox, 1997. (If you have the opportunity to preach on 1 Corinthians you should consult this commentary along with Blomberg's (see above).

Johnson, Alan F. 1 Corinthians (NTC). Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.

In addition to these whole book commentaries if you are studying 1 Corinthians 12-14 you might consider consulting:

Carson, D. A. 1987. Showing the Spirit a theological exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Commentaries on The Gospel of John

Denver Seminary has put together a helpful bibliography on the major New Testament commentaries. Their suggestions for commentaries on the Gospel of John are listed below. (My comments are in blue)

Those marked with an * are particularly recommended by Denver Seminary

Keener, C. S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, 2 vols. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003.

*Köstenberger, A. John (BECNT). Grand Rapids: Baker.

Borchert, Gerald L. John, 2 vols (NAC). Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996-2002.

*Carson, D. A. The Gospel according to John (PNTC). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1991. (Carson is one of the best Evangelical commentators. He is a top notch academic who writes in a way that is extremely helpful for lay leaders and pastors alike. His work on John's Gospel is outstanding. If you can only purchase one commentary on John then get this one.

Kruse, C. G. The Gospel according to John (TNTC, rev.). Leicester: InterVarsity, 2004.

Morris, L. Commentary on the Gospel of John (NICNT). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1995.

Ridderbos, H. L. The Gospel of John. G.R.: Eerdmans, 1997.

*Burge, G. M. John (NIVAC). G.R.: Zondervan, 2000.

Witherington, B., III. John's Wisdom. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1996.

Whitacre, R. A. John (NTC). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

New Blog Feature...

I have added a couple of new items to this blog in order to make it more aesthetically pleasing and user friendly. The first feature that has been added in order to increase the aesthetics of the site is a collection of pictures from some of my favorite places around the world. These can be seen by scrolling down and looking on the right side of the screen. Below the pictures, you will see the second feature that has been added. There are about three or four blogs that I have interest in looking at from time to time. However, sometimes I do not visit these sites do to lack of time. In light of this, I have incorporated a site feed into this blog. This feature will allow you (and me) to keep up with the recent posts on the blogs without having to constantly check them:

  • Between Two Worlds --This is the blog of Justin Taylor. I met Justin in Minneapolis when we worked together at Desiring God. Currently, he is working for Crossway Books and is helping Wayne Grudem with the forthcoming ESV study Bible. This blog is one of the most informative and popular Christian blogs on the web.
  • Desiring God --This is the blog of Desiring God. This is where John Piper's most recent articles and interviews are posted. In addition to Piper's articles, some of the other employees at Desiring God post their thoughts from time to time. This blog is pretty much hit or miss. Sometimes they post extremely helpful information while other times there are posts that just tell you what is going on with Desiring God Ministries. It should also be noted that this blog is not really a blog, but rather a running newsletter in that comments are not posted or replied to.
  • Off the Wire --This is the blog of Matt Wireman. Matt and I met in Minneapolis while attending Bethlehem Baptist Church. He has just completed his Mdiv and is planning on entering the doctoral program at SBTS in the Spring semester of 2008. He doesn't update his blog very often, but when he does his posts are usually pretty interesting and/or humorous.
  • With One Voice This is the blog of Alex Chediak. Alex and I also met in Minneapolis, MN at Bethlehem Baptist Church. His blog is updated frequently and he regularly replies to those who post comments. In addition to this blog, Alex has written and/or edited two books on dating. He addresses most issues from a fairly conservative standpoint, but with a forthrightness and clarity that even the most liberal will appreciate. In addition to being an author and blogger he is also an Engineering Professor at California Baptist University.

Church and Culture...

What does it look like to be the church in the current postmodern western world? Are we to withdraw from society and be completely against culture? Are we primarily to seek to change culture through legislating Christian principles? Or are we to turn a deaf ear to societal activity and concentrate all of our energy on "winning one soul at a time?" Tim Keller, who is the pastor of a church in Manhattan, has put together some helpful thoughts on what it means "to be the church in our culture" in the following article:

The relationship of Christians to culture is the current crisis point for the church. Evangelicals are deeply divided over how to relate to a social order growing increasingly post-Christian. 1) Some advise re-emphasis on tradition and on ‘letting the church be the church,’ rejecting any direct attempt to influence society as a whole. 2)Others are hostile to the culture but hopeful that they can change it through aggressive action, in large part political. 3)Still others believe...(click here to continue reading)

Commentaries on Luke...

Denver Seminary has put together a helpful bibliography on the major New Testament commentaries. Their suggestions for commentaries on Luke are listed below. (My comments are in blue)

Those marked with an * are particularly recommended by Denver Seminary

*Bock, D. L. Luke (BECNT), 2 vols. G.R.: Baker, 1994-96. (The breadth of Bock's two set commentary is impressive. This is probably becoming the "standard" evangelical commentary on Luke. If you can only own one Luke commentary then this two volume set is probably for you.)

Bovon, F. Luke, vol. 1 (Hermeneia). Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002.

Marshall, I. H. The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1978. (Marshall has been and still is one of the premier Armenian commentators. This series deal extensively with the Greek text)

Nolland, J. Luke (WBC), 3 vols. Dallas: Word, 1990-93.

Fitzmyer, J. A. The Gospel According to Luke (AB), 2 vols. Garden City: Doubleday, 1981-85. (This commentary is done from a Catholic perspective. I have not consulted Fitzmyer's commentary on Luke, but if it anything like his Romans commentary then I would recommend purchasing it)

*Green, J. B. The Gospel of Luke (NICNT, rev.). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1997.

Johnson, L. T. The Gospel of Luke (SP). Collegeville: Liturgical, 1992.

Stein, R. H. Luke (NAC). Nashville: Broadman, 1992. (Stein is a well known conservative evangelical scholar who has produced some extremely helpful works for years on end)

*Bock, D. L. Luke (NIVAC). G. R.: Zondervan, 1996.

Bock, D. L. Luke (NTC). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jonathan Edwards Biographical Sketch

This is the final post in a four part series on the life of Jonathan Edwards. If you would like to read the paper in its entirety or see the endnotes click here.

The Final Chapters: Stockbridge and Princeton
When Edwards left Northampton, he was viewed as “having his head in the clouds” as unsociable and “not apt to teach.” While in Stockbridge, a more remote place than Northampton, Edwards had the opportunity to work on several writing projects that he had hoped to write for quite some time. One might think that with the prolific amount of writing that he accomplished while in Stockbridge that he was simply an ivory tower academician. After all, this is where he wrote Freedom of the Will (1754), Original Sin (1758), and drafted The End for Which God Created the World and True Virtue. However, Edwards seems to have taken to heart some of the criticism that he received while in Northampton and sought to become more involved in the “practical affairs of his day.” In addition to becoming more practically involved, Edwards also had the opportunity to address a different type of audience in the Indians at Stockbridge. Rather than filling his sermons with lofty metaphysical concepts, Edwards taught in a much more narrative-driven and simple way. One of his fellow missionaries said, “To the Indians he [Edwards] was a plain and practical preacher…”

After living on the frontier in a very dangerous and violent setting for several years, he was eventually asked to become the president of Princeton. Edwards was reluctant to leave Stockbridge and the increased time that he had for writing. However, at the counsel of a group of ministers Edwards accepted the call to Princeton and died shortly thereafter.

Edwards’ Contribution to the Church

There are numerous things that can be gleaned from the life and writings of Jonathan Edwards. However, there are three areas in particular that stand forth as his most significant contributions. The first and chief thing is his absolute passion for seeing God in everything. Edwards was a man who was transfixed upon the glory of God. He viewed every event in life and every area of academic study as an opportunity to learn something more about God. Edwards was not afraid of philosophy, science, or academia in general. When Edwards’ embraced the idea of a “Newtonian universe” he did not do it in such a way that led to a “distancing of God from creation.” Rather, Edwards, “insisted that the recently discovered immensities and complexities of the universe confirmed God’s ongoing intimate expressions of his art and language in all that had being.”

The second main contribution of Edwards is the way in which he combined a passion for intellectual understanding of God with a burning desire for experiencing Him. Edwards labored to communicate that the essence of true religion was more than just intellectual assent of biblical propositions. For Edwards this meant that a true Christian

Does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God's holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a sense how amiable God is upon that account, or a sense of the beauty of this divine attribute.

In other words, a person who is truly saved will not only have a “rational belief” in the attributes of God, but that “rational belief” will be accompanied by a delight in that particular reality of God’s personhood.

The third main contribution of Edwards is the way in which he showed that God’s passion for His glory is not at odds with man’s desire for happiness. Notice how Edwards connects God’s glory with man’s happiness in the following quote:

Because [God] infinitely values his own glory, consisting in the knowledge of himself, love to himself, [that is,] complacence and joy in himself; he therefore valued the image, communication or participation of these, in the creature. And it is because he values himself, that he delights in the knowledge, and love, and joy of the creature; as being himself the object of this knowledge, love and complacence. . . God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at, is happiness in union with himself.

Edwards was insistent that God did not create because of some sort of deficiency that he had in himself. God created so that his beauty and excellency, as seen preeminently in the person and work of Christ, would be enjoyed and delighted in by redeemed humanity. Thus, humanity’s highest happiness comes when they are beholding that which is most infinitely delightful, namely God.

During Edwards' own lifetime he received ridicule from some of his contemporaries for his aloofness and unsociability. However, three hundred years later the Church has much to be thankful for to the man who spent upwards of thirteen hours a day in his study. While his methodology for his pastoral ministry should not sought to be emulated by most; his passion, insight into Scripture, and enjoyment of God should be an encouragement to all.