Around the Interweb

Faithfulness Means Full of Faith

Wisdom from Jared Wilson:

I’ve already been taken to task by some inclusivist types for misunderstanding the theology here: Ghandi would not be let into heaven on the basis of his good works, they say, but on the basis of Christ’s righteousness which he unwittingly was exhibiting. (This probably makes Angelina Jolie a better Christian than you, although making such judgments is silly, of course.) Aside from the idea that one can do good works unwittingly to Christ while explicitly rejecting Christ’s gospel — as Ghandi did — being utterly unbiblical, it makes nonsensical both the Bible’s passages on justification by faith alone and the passages on good works. For instance, Paul should have saved his breath with that letter to the Galatians.

The means of condemnation in the Scriptures is simply this: rejecting Christ. The idea that rejecting Christ while doing all sorts of charity — which the Bible calls self-righteousness, which is idolatry, which God forbids and for which he promises wrath — is still in keeping with the righteousness of Christ is ludicrous.

Read the whole thing.

Also Worth Reading

Biblical Education: So You Are Thinking of Going to Seminary?

Free Books: This month’s free book at ChristianAudio.com is The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. Don’t let this one pass you by!

Cheap Books: Get Tim Challies’ next book, The Next Story, for cheap

A Head’s Up: I’ve finished reading Rob Bell’s new book. A review will appear this week.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Richard Baxter: Orthodox Heads and Unorthodox Hearts

Book Review: The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask by Mark Mittelberg

Archaeology and the Seven Churches

Bear Testimony Not To Yourself, But To Christ

My Memory Moleskine: Jesus’ Righteousness, Not Rubbish!

Thomas Watson: The Lord Keeps Mercy For Thousands

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from February. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  2. Rob Bell + Universalism = Fireworks
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  5. 20 Things God Does When He Saves You
  6. It Costs Something To Be A Christian
  7. Book Reviews
  8. Who Writes This?
  9. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth
  10. Think Hard, Stay Humble: Francis Chan on the Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  2. Book Review: Slave by John MacArthur
  3. Zac Smith: “If God Chooses Not to Heal Me, God is still God and God is Still Good”
  4. Book Review: Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill
  5. Everyday Theology (series page)
  6. 5 Questions (Plus One) with Dan Darling
  7. Assurance Ministers Mightily to His Comfort
  8. Help Me Reorganize!
  9. (Audio)Book Review: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur
  10. D.A. Carson: The Intolerance of Tolerance

Kind of cool to see some fairly major changes in the top ten. I was kind of surprised to see the Rob Bell post garner such a huge amount of attention, but such is the way of things, sometimes. I was also incredibly grateful that 20 Things God Does When He Saves You made the top ten (thanks in part to a number of bloggers linking to it); those points are ones I come back to fairly frequently in my notes. Also interesting to see what’s still getting attention from months (and in some cases years) prior, like the review of Slave and Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth.

If you have a blog, what were a couple of the highlights for you in the past month?

Around the Interweb

Should We Baptize Small Children?

Trevin Wax:

Because Scripture does not shackle us to a certain age or make clear prescriptions in this area, we must exercise restraint in making dogmatic assertions regarding the “proper age” for baptism. It’s wisdom we are after, not uniformity. Faithful pastors may disagree.

To be clear, I do not consider childhood baptisms invalid. I myself was baptized when I was eight.

But I do believe that we should be very careful in how we handle the precious little ones that the Lord has entrusted to our care – neither discouraging them from believing in Christ nor giving them false assurance of their decision by speedily baptizing them.

Read the whole thing here.

Also Worth Reading

Humility: The Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person

Answered Prayer: Said Musa Released from Prison!

Wisdom from Saints of Old: The Reality of Hell

Ministry: Does Preaching Make Disciples?

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Sermon Audio: Delighting in Devotion

(Audio)Book Review: Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren W. Wiersbe

(Audio)Book Review: Justified by Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul

My Memory Moleskine: Jesus Plus Anything Equal Nothing

Bid Them To Count the Cost

Around the Interweb

America Quiet on the Execution of Afghan Christian Said Musa

Said Musa is an Afghani Christian who was arrested on May 31, 2010, for his faith. In the time that he has been imprisoned, he has been beaten, abused, spit upon, sexually assaulted, and mocked; now, he is sentenced to death.

Newspapers in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe have reported the story, but with, the exception of the Wall Street Journal and, of course, NRO, American outlets have not found it worthy of attention. The Journal reports that “Afghan officials have been unapologetic: ‘The sentence for a convert is death and there is no exception,’ said Jamal Khan, chief of staff at the Ministry of Justice. ‘They must be sentenced to death to serve as a lesson for others.’”

The U.S. government — reportedly including Secretary of State Clinton — and other governments have pushed for his release, but to no avail.

But the president has been silent, even as we fight a war that has among its goals the creation of a government that conforms to international human-rights standards.

An American president certainly needs to guard and shepherd his political capital, and should not speak out about every prisoner. But Musa himself has appealed to “President Brother Obama” to rescue him from his current jail. And when an obscure and aberrant Florida pastor, Terry Jones, threatened to burn a Koran, not only President Obama but much of his cabinet, as well as General Petraeus, weighed in on the matter.

If the actions of a Florida pastor who threatened to destroy a book holy to Muslims deserved public and presidential attention, then the actions of the Afghan government, ostensibly a ‘democratic’ ally, to destroy something holy to Christians, a human being made in the image of God, also deserve public and presidential attention.

Read and pray.

Also Worth Reading

Books: Tim Challies new book, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion, is going be released from Zondervan in April. Here’s the trailer for the book:

Preorder a copy from Amazon.

Biographies: Speaking of Tim Challies, this week he reviewed a new biography of A.W. Tozer that points out both his strengths and weaknesses.

Theology: Questions of Conviction on Eternal Security

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

20 Things God Does When He Saves You

J.C. Ryle: It Costs Something To Be A Christian

Book Review: iFaith by Daniel Darling

5 Questions (Plus One) with Dan Darling

We Love by Choice, Not by Feeling

Around the Interweb

Jesus’ Death Killed the Consumer

Dave Dorr at the Resurgence:

Every dissatisfaction can be traced to our consumer mindset. Consumers are fine at the store, but don’t bring it home. And don’t bring it in the church. Or, at least, recognize your consumer attitude in the church. A church operates more like a family than a store. If we miss this, then we will always have dissatisfaction towards those who are trying to love and help us.

Read the rest.

Also Worth Reading

Disturbing: Planned Parenthood staffers counselling sex traffickers. Again.

Interview: Tim Challies asks John MacArthur 10 questions: Part 1 & Part 2

Art for Your Desktop: The Resurgence offers some new Spurgeon Wallpapers

Blogging: “What is a Personal Blog If Not Self-Promotion?”

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Reviews of Josh McDowell & Dave Sterrett’s Coffee House Chronicles series:

Is the Bible True…Really?

Who is Jesus…Really?

Did the Resurrection Happen… Really?

My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 2:1-18(ish)

J.C. Ryle: Assurance Ministers Mightily to His Comfort

Help Me Reorganize!

So, after two years of (usually) weekly reviews, the Book Reviews page is beginning to get a bit out of control. And since it exists for your benefit, I’d like your input on how best to reorganize it!

What would be most helpful for you, readers?

Filing by author?

Publisher?

Subject matter?

Leave a comment and help me reorganize that page!

Around the Interweb

Trafficking in the Shadow of the Superbowl

Via Carolyn McCulley:

A.H. was trafficked to Dallas/Ft. Worth and forced into prostitution when she was just a teen. Like many other girls, she was beaten, raped, and enslaved not far from Dallas Cowboys stadium, where the 2011 Super Bowl will be held. To fight back against sex trafficking in Dallas and during major events like the Super Bowl, A.H. has written an open letter to the 2011 Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL, asking them to endorse the I’m Not Buying It campaign.

Here’s the opening of A.H.’s letter:

Dear Super Bowl Host Committee & National Football League,

My name is A.H. and I’m a survivor of sex trafficking. I’m not a big football fan, but I’ll never forget my first trip to Dallas/Fort Worth several years ago. It was 2006 when I was dragged there against my will by a pimp. I was forced to dance, strip and sell sex (along with five other young girls) for over a month while he pocketed the cash ($1,000-$3,000/night from each girl) and planned our next gig. I was trapped in a life I never wanted without any hope of escape…

Read the rest.

How the Gospel Helps Us Overcome Pornography

D.A. Carson, John Piper and Tim Keller discuss:

(via Justin Taylor)

Also Worth Reading

Church Ministry: A Phrase to Retire

An Actually Helpful Open Letter: An Open Letter to Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Free Stuff: ChristianAudio.com’s free audiobook for February is Adopted for Life by Dr. Russell Moore.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

J.C. Ryle: An Assured Hope is to Be Exceedingly Desired

My Memory Moleskine: Reciting Philippians 1:1-30 (and a Few Words on False Humility)

Joel Beeke: Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor

John Piper: The Greatest Gifts Can Become Deadly Substitutes for God

Preschooler Theology: “Why Do Monsters Scare Me?”

(Audio)Book Review: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from January. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  2. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  4. Book Review: Slave by John MacArthur
  5. Book Reviews
  6. Dear Song Leader
  7. Think Hard, Stay Humble: Francis Chan on the Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride
  8. Who Writes This?
  9. The Arrogance of Youth and the Subtle Danger of Experience
  10. Douglas Moo, the Updated NIV and Jesus’ Sense of Humor

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 1:1-11
  2. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth
  3. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  4. The Dos and Don’ts of Book Reviews (or at least how I do them)
  5. Book Review: Church Planter by Darrin Patrick – The Man
  6. Cliff Notes from the Xchange
  7. Book Review: Forgotten God by Francis Chan
  8. Around the Interweb (January 2 edition)
  9. Though Ryle Be Dead, Yet He Speaks! Erik Kowalker on J.C. Ryle and JCRyleQuotes.com
  10. Book Review: Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver

You folks certainly do like to read a nice variety of posts. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle continues to be the most-viewed post on the site. I was glad to see the Slave review ranked so high on the list (thanks in large part to the giveaway that accompanied it), as well as Dear Song Leader and The Arrogance of Youth and the Subtle Danger of Experience. Also it’s terrific to see folks are checking out the interview with Erik Kowalker about J.C.Ryle Quotes. Erik’s a great guy and J.C. Ryle Quotes is a must-read.

So that’s this month’s list. Now it’s your turn:

If you’ve got a blog, what was your top post last month? Any idea why?

Around the Interweb

Introducing: The Erhman Project

Chances are that a great number of you have heard of Bart Erhman. At the very least, you’ve seen a great number of his books at your local bookstore. In recent years, Dr. Erhman has been one of the leading voices against the reliability of Scripture and the validity of historic Christian orthodoxy with books like Misquoting Jesus and Misqouting Scripture.

Over on Twitter, J.D. Greear pointed to a great site that his church sponsored, The Ehrman Project. The site seeks to respond to the arguments of Dr. Ehrman against Scripture and the Chrsitian faith. Check out the intro from Miles O’Neill:

[tentblogger-youtube YojyPM-fKs0]

Also appreciated this one from Dr. Darrell Bock on what guided first century doctrine:

[tentblogger-youtube jPFtDaQdkfo]

Really looking forward to engaging with the content. Check it out.

Incidentally, Andreas J. Köstenberger and Michael J. Kruger’s recent book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, is a wonderful resource to help better understand the arguments of Dr. Erhman. I reviewed it here.

You Might Also Enjoy

Ethics: Yesterday was the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Kevin DeYoung offers some thoughts: Jesus Loves the Little Children

Culture: Tim Challies on The Strange Phenomenon of White Middle-Aged Pastors Listening to Rap Music

Ministry & Reality TV: Carl Trueman – Profumo, Haggard, and Real Shame

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 1:19-26

The Dos and Don’ts of Book Reviews (or at least how I do them)

Book Review: Soulprint by Mark Batterson

Mark Driscoll on Ministry Idolatry

J.C. Ryle: Healthy Examination of the Soul

The Dos and Don’ts of Book Reviews (or at least how I do them)

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while has probably noticed I do a lot of book reviews, typically one per week. Recently I was asked about how I do book reviews—do I have a general guideline or process, or is approach different every time?

I tried to give a short, 140 character response, but realized that it wasn’t enough, because, frankly, “yes” is an insufficient answer.

So, for better or for worse, here’s a look into my reviewing process:

General Precepts

1. Read with the intention of reviewing. This might seem like a “duh,” but I read a lot material for a variety of purposes, and it’s not always about reviewing. Knowing I’m going to review it forces me to make sure I’m paying careful attention to what is written.

2. The “who” is less important than the “what.” Whenever I’m reading an author I genuinely enjoy, it’s easy to simply just say “I like it,” without necessarily considering what’s been written. Whether it’s MacArthur, Driscoll, Piper, Sproul, Chan or whoever is the cat’s meow, it’s important to not let preference for the person dictate approval (or disapproval) of the content. (Side note, brownie points to the person who can tell me if I used the correct form of “whoever/whomever.” :))

3. Don’t fill-in-the-blanks. When someone writes a very…ambiguous book, it’s tempting to start filling-in-the-blanks with my own theological presuppositions. A lot of books that don’t stand up against even the most rudimentary understanding of Scripture have been embraced by many evangelicals. This is why.

4. Acknowledge my biases. Similarly, I need to be aware (as best as I’m able) of my own biases and predispositions. This will reflect how I approach books by authors I don’t enjoy or who I know hold to a different theological position than I do.

5. Try to be humble. Everybody goofs sometimes. Not everyone who says something stupid is a heretic. And not everything I think is wrong actually is. Something I am continually to do (with varying degrees of success) is acknowledge that I can make mistakes and when I do, I need to be corrected. This, incidentally, is why comments can be helpful.

Guiding Questions

1. What is the main idea the author is trying to convey? Can I figure out what the big idea of the book is and articulate it in one or two sentences?

2. How does the author support his/her idea(s)? Scripture, tradition, history, illustrations from real life examples… every point made needs to be backed up with something. If it’s nothing more than “I think,” chances are, it’s wrong.

3. How does the author handle Scripture (if reading a Christian book)? How an author approaches Scripture is an indicator of their trustworthiness.

4. Do I agree with the author’s main idea? Why or why not?  Can I support my position with appropriate Scripture? In the same way that an author’s assertions must be tested against Scripture , so too must my assessments. If my position cannot be supported by Scripture, it must be rejected.

5. What difference does it make? While there are always some things that you read for which you don’t have an immediate practical application, the question of “what difference does it make in my life” is essential for why determining whether or not to recommend a book.

So that pretty much covers it. I’m sure I could come back to this later today and add a few other items. But if you’re interested in the process of reviewing books (or at least how I do it), I hope today’s post has been helpful!

Around the Interweb

The Tucson Tragedy and God’s Gift of Moral Language

Kevin DeYoung:

On Saturday a young man opened fire outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people, a 9-year old girl among them, and wounding 14 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. This is a tragedy. Twenty persons made in the image of God with a right to life and liberty have been killed or wounded by the attack. May God grant healing to those whose lives can still be saved and comfort to all those mourning their dead.

Most of you know all this already. And most of you know all about the political jabs going back and forth whether this attack was made more likely because of a “climate of hate” (to use Paul Krugman’s phrase describing the rhetoric of the right) or whether those who posit such theories (like Krugman on the left) are themselves the indecent ones. Personally I think Ross Douthat’s op-ed piece in the New York Times gets it just about right: “Chances are that [Jared] Loughner’s motives will prove as irreducibly complex as those of most of his predecessors in assassination.” And later, “There is no faction in American politics that actually wants its opponents dead.” Thankfully this is true.

But I noticed in Douthat’s article what I notice in every other write-up on the shooting: a reflexive reluctance to speak of the killer’s inner workings–his motivations, his make-up, his soul if you will–with moral categories. Douthat does better than most in speaking of Loughner’s “darkness,” but even here there is the subtle use of passive imagery. “Politicians and media loudmouths,” Douthat writes, “shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost.” True enough, but who should be held responsible? My vote is for Loughner who, by all accounts, appears to be not only the accused killer but also the real killer. Certainly darkness is appropriate imagery, but I’d argue it’s more appropriate to say he committed a dark deed rather than to imply darkness swallowed up an unstable young man.

Read the whole article.

Also Worth Reading

Music: WorshipRises just released a new song, “Maker of My Heart”

Theology: What’s the Message of the Bible in One Sentence?

Parenting: It’s Never an Interruption

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Review: By Grace Alone by Sinclair B. Ferguson

A Movement of Personalities

Cliff Notes from the Xchange

My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 1:12-18

C.S. Lewis: “A Faith Destroyed by War Cannot Really Have Been Worth the Trouble of Destroying

Around the Interweb

Should You Read 100 Books in 2011?

Trevin Wax offers a challenge:

Last year, I challenged Kingdom People readers to set a reading goal in 2010 and I offered some tips for how to reach that goal. Because I chose a high number (100) in the post title, I received some pushback from readers who thought my challenge was unrealistic or unhelpful. I responded by affirming the benefit of setting a goal and clarified that the actual number is not what is important.

This year, I’m not asking the question “Can you read 100 books in 2011?” Instead, I’m asking a different question: “Should you read this many books?” Is it wise to set a high reading goal? Is it beneficial?

Read the rest.

Also worth reading

Trevin Wax: An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Free stuff: ChristianAudio.com’s free audiobook of the month is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.

Theology: Know Your Heretics – The Gnostics

Mark Altrogge: The Sure Sign of Self Sufficiency

Contest winners: The winners of the Slave contest are… A.W. Hall, Ricky Kirk, Nathan Harbottle, Ryan Higginbottom and Darrin Trammell. You’ll be receiving one copy of Slave for you, and another to give to someone else. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered!

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Slave by John MacArthur

John Piper: Will We Worship or Will We Curse?

A.W. Tozer: You Are What You Worship

Dear Song Leader…

J.C. Ryle: All About Doing, Never About Believing

An update on my Memory Moleskine: Memorizing Philippians 1:1-11

Around the Interweb

Homosexuality, Derek Webb and Following Jesus

Last week, folks started losing their minds after reading Derek Webb’s recent (vague & somewhat confusing) interview at Huffington Post. Some responses, like Michael Krahn’s were great. Others, well… Probably the best I’ve read, though, has been from Stephen Altrogge. Here’s an excerpt:

I want to be careful that I don’t misrepresent what Derek is saying. He seems to be saying that the problem is the church’s emphasis on the morality of homosexuality, and that we’ve ignored the fact that we’re supposed to love people. This may have some truth to it. I really do want my friends and relatives who are homosexual to know that I love them and care for them.

But, I think we need to be careful about driving a wedge between loving people and calling people to righteousness. We do need to love people, but not at the expense of God’s commands. If someone that I love is engaged in sin, and I believe that homosexuality is sin, at some point I need to call them to repentance. If I don’t do that, I’m not loving them.

Read the whole thing here.

Also Worth Reading…

Stephen Altrogge: An encouragement to persevere in prayer from the life of George Müeller

The Resurgence: Essential books from & about Church History

National Geographic: Some perspective on what 7 billion people living on Earth looks like (HT 22 Words):

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Review: The Gospel and the Mind by Bradley G. Green

Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2010

Looking Ahead: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2011

Building (and Rebuilding) Your Library

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from December. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  2. Book Review: Servanthood as Worship by Nate Palmer
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  5. It’s Time to Say Goodbye…
  6. Giving and Receiving
  7. Think Hard, Stay Humble: Francis Chan on the Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride
  8. Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2010
  9. Book Reviews
  10. When Christ Calls a Man, He Bids Him Come and Die

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. Talk Positively about Your Spouse
  2. Who Writes This?
  3. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  4. Seeing the World through a Biblical Lens
  5. Sit in Front of Your Savior: An Interview with Author Nate Palmer
  6. Around the Interweb (12/05)
  7. Book Review – Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
  8. New E-Book: Lessons from Nehemiah
  9. The True Spirit of Christmas
  10. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth

With changeover from WordPress.com to the self-hosted site, it’s been pretty cool to see how a few things have changed in terms of what’s most popular. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle continues to be the top viewed post overall, but it’s really exciting to see the review of Servanthood as Worship up so close to the top (thanks in no small part to a link from Tim Challies). Another nice surprise was seeing My Favorite Books of 2010 getting so much attention over the last few days. Glad folks have been finding it helpful.

If you’ve got a blog, what was your top post last month? Any idea why?