Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oprah, Miracles, and the New Earth

Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor of the historic Moody Church in Chicago, has recently released a popular critique of Oprah and friends entitled Oprah, Miracles, and the New Earth. By friends I mean three of the most influential people who form the basis of Oprah's theology. They are Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now and A New Earth), Rhonda Byrne (author of The Secret), and Marianne Williamson (author of A Return to Love, a popular exposition of A Course in Miracles). Lutzer also interacts heavily with the book A Course in Miracles written by Helen Schucman. He acknowledges that Oprah has promoted other authors such as Gary Zukav and Eric Butterworth but Tolle, Byrne and Williamson are the most prominent. Readers may be disappointed by not finding more material from Oprah herself. The book is more interested in those from whom Oprah has been feeding and developing her own philosophy. Lutzer makes it clear that what is at stake here is a cosmic battle owned and operated by Satan and that what is being promoted by Oprah and friends is nothing more than repackaged New Age spirituality. The book's intended audience are Christians who have been seduced into thinking that Oprah's philosophy is really harmless and can be integrated into a Christian lifestyle or for Christians who want to better understand the nuances of her beliefs. The book devotes four chapters to the way the New Age thinkers have redefined four central concepts: God, conversion, death and morality. Here caution must be observed. I sometimes felt that Lutzer made the authors a little more monolithic than they actually are. There are subtle differences between some of these authors and I understand that writing a popular work like Lutzer has done cannot always treat those subtleties but a brief acknowledgment would have been helpful. Essentially the movement holds to a pantheistic view of God (God is in everything), conversion is a transformation of consciousness (ala Hinduism) and Jesus is certainly not necessary for it, death and morality are illusions and are better understood by Eastern traditions (again Hinduism). The last chapter on "The Lie and End Times" was a bit anticlimactic for me as Lutzer gives a thumbnail sketch of the end times in the premillenial/pretribulational tradition. Overall I think this is a good book for its intended audience. I've seen far too many who have been star struck with Oprah and can't sense the danger underlying her beliefs. This would be a great book for a small group looking to explore these issues. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Coming Soon - A Marginal Jew, vol 4: Law and Love

John Meier's series A Marginal Jew has been widely acclaimed for its scholarship and accessibility. Now the long-awaited volume four is due for release from Yale University Press in May of 2009. "This volume addresses the teachings of Jesus on major legal topics like divorce, oaths, the Sabbath, purity rules, and the various love commandments in the Gospels." (from Yale University Press Spring/Summer Feb - Jul 2009 catalog, p. 65) The series was originally intended to be only two volumes but has expanded to now four. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three volumes and have recommended them to customers with an interest in studies on the historical Jesus. One Amazon reviewer described the first volume as "Exhaustive but not Exhausting." This is a very apt description. Meier is thorough but easy to read. All three volumes are replete with footnotes that could be another book in themselves. Evangelicals will not agree with many of Meier's conclusions but there is much to be learned from these tomes. My only disappointment (already!) is that volume four is only available in paperback. My first three volumes are all hardcover. Meier is William K. Chair Professor of Theology (New Testament), Theology Department, University of Notre Dame.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baker Publishing Group receives Theologos Award

Congratulations to our parent company, Baker Publishing Group, for receiving this year's Theologos Award from the Association of Theological Booksellers as Publisher of the Year. Baker also received the "Best Academic Book of the Year - 2008" for Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson, editors. The Theologos Awards represent the unique, professional evaluations of people who sell and recommend academic religious books.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

50% Off Bible Sale - December 12th & 13th

Mark your calendars for the 12th (Friday) and 13th (Saturday) of December. Baker Book House will have all Bibles on sale for 50% off the regular retail price (only the NET Bible and Greek and Hebrew Bibles are exempt). We are well stocked now but inventory will go fast. The sale is for in-stock items only and for in-store customers only. We will not hold items for the sale. So come early and save big.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Zane Hodges Passes Away

Scholar and Majority Text advocate, Zane Hodges, died this past weekend at 75. Read more here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ETS Paper Stirs a Debate Over the ESV

Mark Strauss, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary, read a paper on "Why the English Standard Version Should Not Become the Standard English Version: How to Make a Good Translation Much Better." You can find it here. The paper has created a bit of a controversy with Bill Mounce promising to respond at next year's ETS meeting. While I have been reading the ESV since it first came out I found some of Strauss' comments insightful while others seemed to miss the point of what the ESV was trying to do. To give one example Strauss points out how often the ESV uses the word "behold" and says that "virtually no one speaking English uses the word this way." After a discussion on the difficulty of translating the word he says his "counsel would be for literal versions to retain 'behold' and for standard English versions to either drop it or use 'look' or 'see' when appropriate." So why bring this up? Since he includes it in his discussion of "archaisms," is this an archaism that is OK to use but the others are not? Strauss talks a lot about the ESV not using "contemporary English." But I don't look at the ESV as a "contemporary" translation but one that seeks to maintain a literary level that sometimes elevates the language above the common use. I don't want my Bible to sound like the chit chat of my workplace break room. If I want that I'll read The Message.

Finally, I don't understand when Strauss says, "I need to say first of all that I like the English Standard Version (ESV). After all, the ESV is a moderate revision (about 6% I believe) of the Revised Standard Version (RSV; 1952), which itself was done by very competent scholars." But he then describes the translation as "overly literal—full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of 'Biblish.' Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak." With that said what's there to like? He says it's a "good supplement to versions that use normal English." Why? How is a translation so plagued with problems a good supplement?

I will watch with great interest to see how this plays out. Also, there was a paper read on another translation which has not had enough visibility--The Holman Christian Standard Bible. You can find that here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

ZECNT 3 - Worship Service or Christian Court?

Another feature of the ZECNT series is the "In Depth" sections. These are shaded boxed areas which treat a specific topic. These are really nice and I found myself wanting more. Today I want to look at James 2:2-4. James talks about showing favoritism to those coming into the "assembly" who happen to be in fine clothing. The question is what is the context of this scenario. Most lay people would read this as a worship service. (I checked several study Bibles and none of them indicated anything other than a worship service. I mention this because for many lay people a study Bible is closest thing they have to a commentary.) Blomberg and Kamell (hereafter B/K argue that it is probably better understood as a "courtroom setting." Why a courtroom? 1) The use of legal language ("favoritism," v1, "you have discriminated," and "judges" v4), 2) The use of the term "synagogue" instead of the usual word for church (ecclesia, which is found in 5:14). 3) The probably allusion to Lev 19:15 which is in a legal context. 4) Parallels to later rabbinic texts which also condemn favoritism toward the rich in a legal setting. 5) Finally, the mention in v. 6 of the rich dragging poor Christians into court. B/K conclude "The Jewish parallels, legal language, and background in Lev 19:15 prove most decisive." (111)

This is not a new interpretation and the more recent commentaries address the issue. I think B/K have got this one right. This is one of those cases where a surface reading of the text can lead you one way but in fact the details, when properly understood, point in another direction. But the question becomes what difference does it really make? Isn't the point the same no matter what the original context--don't show favoritism!

In one sense this is true. It is possible to wrangle over details of interpretation and then miss the main point. On the other hand if our goal is to understand the Bible and to explain it accurately then we can't simply bypass these issues. And while in this case the application is not affected one way or the other, this may not be true in other passages. Competent application is always built on solid exegesis. Sometimes faulty applications are read back into passages and therefore skew the interpretation. I'll give one brief example. Often we see Gen 31:49 "May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other" as a divided pendant worn by two people as a sign of their love for each other and to trust God to care for them in their absence. The problem is the context of the passage is one of distrust! The next verse Laban says to Jacob, "If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me." (Note the NIV Study Bible text note says, "May . . . other. The so-called Mizpah benediction, which in context is in fact a denunciation or curse." (en loc)) But we are so used to seeing the verse applied in a loving context we assume that's how it was originally intended. With that said, I think it is worth understanding the original meaning of the text. That's why I read commentaries!

Back to ZECNT. In summary these "In Depth" sections, few as they are, are an added bonus in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite commentaries to recommend to pastors and small group leaders.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Study Bible Notes Compared 2 - Heb 6:4-6

Today we'll look at a very difficult and controversial passage: Hebrews 6:4-6. As a reminder this blog series is not intended to contribute anything new to the discussion but rather is a survey of the various study Bibles and the notes that are made on those passages. In particular we want to look at passages which allow for more than one interpretation. Hebrews 6 certainly qualifies. The central issue in the debate over this passage is can a genuinely saved person lose their salvation. Five major views have been offered. 1) These are genuinely saved people who do in fact lose their salvation through an act of apostasy. 2) These are genuinely saved people who are not pressing on to maturity and therefore are risking the loss of rewards but not their salvation. 3) The passage is only making a hypothetical warning. No real loss is experienced. 4) The passage is talking about the community as a whole and not individuals. 5) These are not genuinely saved people but rather those who have gone through the motions and have experienced a superficial taste of what it really means to be a Christian. There is no loss of salvation because the people were never saved to begin with. So, how do the study Bibles compare?

For this text I compared the following Bibles: ESV Study Bible, TNIV Study Bible (the notes in this Bible are the same as the NIV Study Bible), NLT Study Bible, NKJV Study Bible, The Life Application Study Bible, The MacArthur Study Bible and The Ryrie Study Bible. The first to note is all these study Bibles come from varying degrees of a Calvinist perspective which leads one to ask don't the Arminians have a study Bible? Well, they certainly don't have the choices that the Calvinists do. A couple that have gone out of print are The Reflecting God Study Bible (which was an adaption of the NIV Study Bible and the old The Wesley Study Bible. There is a new Wesley Study Bible due to come out next year from Cokesbury. Otherwise some have pointed to the Life in the Spirit Study Bible which is Arminian but also Pentecostal. The Society of Evangelical Arminians has a small write up on this Bible and its treatment of election which some will find useful. With that aside let's look at the "Calvinist" study Bibles.

The ESV Study Bible offered the most view points (4). It certainly has the longest note and dedicated a couple of different notes for the passage. It argues heavily for the view that these are not genuine Christians and salvation may not be lost. The TNIV Study and the Ryrie Study Bible name three different views. The former leans in the direction of these being "professing Christians" and the latter, while a bit vague, seems to lean in the direction of the hypothetical view. (This is, in fact, his viewpoint if you check his Basic Theology, p 385-86.) MacArthur presents only one view at the verse itself but offers more discussion in a section called "Interpretive Challenges." In typical MacArthur fashion he states, "There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation." The NLT Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible offer an interpretation but do not indicate there are other options. The former does say it is "one of the most difficult" passages.

Overall I think the ESV study Bible has the best coverage (from a Calvinistic perspective). The TNIV Study Bible would be my second choice. Let's remember notes are just that--notes, not dissertations. While it is nice when a study Bible offers a little lengthier note (as in this case with the ESV) that is not always possible. If a note at least alerts the reader of interpretive options then they can pursue further study if so desired. Those that offered only one interpretation (NLT Study Bible and Life Application) would be last on my list. What about Ryrie and MacArthur? I understand that in these notes I'm getting the author's unique perspective. I don't expect them to give alternate views although I think it is nice when they do.
Next week we'll look at I Tim 2:12 and the issue of women in the church.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic

I've been anxiously awaiting this book. I have been a fan of Beckwith's writings for some time and was surprised at his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Although I was surprised at his conversion I was more surprised and very disappointed at the reaction from protestants. Far too many comments were pejorative and and did little more than belittle Beckwith personally. Beckwith comments on how one person in a radio interview expressed surprise that "someone with [Beckwith's] intelligence could become Catholic, seeming to imply that Catholicism does not have the intellectual resources a person with real accomplishments, gifts, and theological commitments would find compelling." (13) This sort of intellectual elitism is uncalled for.

The first two thirds of the book is dedicated to his journey back to Catholicism. Here he recounts is childhood and how and why he left Catholicism for Evangelical Protestantism. At the end of this account he says that "virtually every Evangelical Protestant I knew during this time was a former Catholic." (45) He then asks, "is there anything that we did that helped facilitate the departure of these talented and devoted people from our communion?" (45) This section of the book was very personal and helpful.
But then Beckwith recounts how he started hearing the same question. On a number of occasions, either after a lecture or in personal conversation, someone would ask, "Why aren't you Catholic?" This got Frank to thinking and he began a journey that would eventually lead him to the Catholic Church.
The final third of the book Beckwith deals with what he saw as the deal breakers in becoming Catholic. Namely, the doctrine of justification, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the teaching authority of the church (including apostolic succession and the primacy of the pope) and penance. Other issues, like the Marian doctrines and Purgatory, were not "big deals" since he reasoned if the Church was right on the bigger issues then these protestant "stumbling blocks" just "withered away" because "the Catholic Church would in fact be God's authoritative instrument in the development of Christian doctrine." (79) Beckwith says that once he abandoned "methodological Protestantism" he could no longer find the "substance of the Reformed view of justification" in his reading of the New Testament. (106) Furthermore, he found the "Catholic" practices to be affirmed early on by the Church Fathers. These include "the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, infant baptism, penance and confession, an ordained priesthood, and an episcopal ecclesiology and apostolic succession (as well as other 'Catholic' doctrines including prayers for the dead and purgatory)." (114) Beckwith provides footnotes to each of these doctrines for those interested in further reading. Surprisingly, sola scriptura didn't factor much in his thinking since he "could not find an understanding of sola scriptura convincing enough that did not have to be so qualified that it seemed to be more a slogan than a standard." (79)

Here the reader will have to judge how well Beckwith does in presenting his case. Important to remember is that Beckwith is not offering a "sophisticated apologetic" for Catholic doctrine. Rather he is trying "to communicate, as best I can, the internal deliberations that convinced me that I ought to embrace it" [Catholicism]. (97) Beckwith calls himself an "Evangelical Catholic" and interacts extensively with the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) press release on why a Catholic could not be a member, much less president of the society (which Beckwith was at the time of his conversion and hence the reason he resigned both his position and membership). Here he argues forcefully for full inclusion of Catholics within the society. On this point I heartily agree.

Many protestants will not be persuaded by Beckwith's reasons. That's to be expected. Others will want to read further in some of the sources that helped Beckwith in his journey. Catholics should read this not only because it recounts the return of one of their own but it will also provide insight to Protestant thinking. Protestant pastors, in particular, would do well to read this to help them understand the attraction that many protestants are finding in the Catholic church. Many protestants are just becoming aware of the 1,500 years of church history that predated the reformation. And with that awareness is coming a whole new set of questions for people and their faith.

For my own part I must say, "Frank, almost thou persuadest me to be a Catholic."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ZECNT 2 - Structure of James

Does James have any kind of structure to it or is it just random thoughts thrown together? A number of years ago a pastor at a church I was attending preached through James. It was a great series but it was a series on various topics as presented in James. I never got the impression that there was anything tying these thoughts together or that they had any relationship to each other. Enter Blomberg and Kamell (hereafter B/K). Readers of Blomberg have already had a taste of his thoughts on James from two previous publications: Neither Poverty nor Riches, and From Pentecost to Patmos. He has made a few adjustments (most notably in his outline) but substantially his views have remained the same. Commentators are all over the map on the structure of James. Some seeing a good deal of structure while others see none (Dibelius is the one everyone points to on this one although Luther didn't see much organization either). On the scale of things B/K see a good deal of structure although they are cautious with their conclusions. They readily admit "that we may still be imposing more structure on the text than James had in mind. . . Still, even if this outline enables us merely to identify the three dominant themes of the letter, it seems worth generating." (26) What are those themes? They are: 1. Trials in the Christian Life, 2. Wisdom, and 3. Riches and Poverty. Indeed, they see a chiastic structure in the book which ends up placing the theme of riches and poverty as the most important of the three. (See the chiastic outline in From Pentecost to Patmos, p. 391, regrettably this chart was not included in the ZEC.) B/K see these themes introduced in 1:2-11 and restated in 1:12-27. These themes are then picked up again and expounded in 2:1-5:18. Riches and poverty are treated in 2:1-26, Wisdom and Speech in 3:1-4:12, and Trials and Temptations in 4:13-5:18. While I'm not entirely convinced on some of the details the general outline is growing on me. Even those who don't see as tight a structure as B/K, (ala Moo) they do seem to appreciate the repeating themes present in the book. All in all I think the outline deserves attention. Later this week I'll address a couple of individual passages in James.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Commentary Series from Zondervan 1

Do we really need a new commentary series? After spending the weekend with Zondervan's debut volume of a new commentary series, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, I have to say yes. The first volume in this series is authored by Craig Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell on the book of James . Blomberg talks about his hesitancy of doing another commentary but after seeing the prospectus and the format distinctive he was sold. Having worked through the book of James over many years he felt most qualified to do this entry in the series. He says, "I have had to study this epistle more intensively than any other book of the Bible." (13). Shortly after accepting the project he asked his research assistant, Mariam Kamell, if she would like to work on the commentary. Kamell had done her M.A. thesis on aspects of James. She accepted and the result is truly collaborative effort. Blomberg explains more of this in detail in the "Author's Preface."

I'll talk a little about the format in this blog and later I will comment on specific issues in James. The series is targeted towards the "busy pastor or teacher" and is designed for a "one-stop shopping approach to adequate sermon preparation or lesson planning." In order to better facilitate this goal Zondervan consulted with pastors, teachers, ministry leaders, and seminary professors to glean what would be most helpful in a commentary that would be useful to the church. The result is a commentary which devotes seven sections to each passage of Scripture treated. The first is the "Literary Context" which helps the reader see the connection between what precedes and what follows that particular material. I especially enjoyed this section as it kept me from getting lost in the details of the text. Too often we forget the larger context and can't seem to follow the "train of thought" the author is presenting. The next section is the "Main Idea." Here the main idea of the passage is presented in one or two sentences. For preachers looking for the "big idea" of a passage this will be very welcome. Then follows the "Translation and Graphical layout." Here the author provides their own translation and then diagrams the passage. This is really nice. The diagramming of a passage helps the reader to visually see how the text flows together and how the parts relate to each other. The "Structure" section describes the "flow of thought in the passage and explains how certain interpretative decisions regarding the relationship of the clauses were made in the passage." (11) The "Exegetical Outline" provides a more detailed outline of the passage. The "Explanation of the Text" is where you find the verse by verse exegesis of the passage. The final section is "Theology in Application." Here you will find the theological message of passage summarized and suggestions on "what the message of the passage is for the church today." (12)

Pastors and small group leaders will want to take full advantage of this new series. Don't let the size fool you. This is a first-rate commentary at the beginner/intermediate level. It does interact with the Greek which make some avoid using it. But there is plenty in here for those who don't know Greek.

Next time I will talk about the structure of James and how Blomberg/Kamell understand it and I'll look at a couple of passages of interest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Study Bible Notes Compared 1

One of the questions I get a lot is "What is the difference between the NIV Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible?" Realizing I don't have much time to describe all the various features, I often describe the difference like this: The NIV Study Bible is like reading the Bible with a teacher over your shoulder. The Life Application Study Bible (LASB) is like reading the Bible with a pastor over your shoulder. I've found this helpful as have my customers. As is true with any general description there are exceptions. The LASB does provide some academic notes and the NIV Study Bible does provide some application notes. But, in general the description seems to fit. Over the next few weeks I will be comparing the notes between various study Bibles. I'll be looking at not only the two I've already mentioned but also the two newest study Bibles: the NLT Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible. In particular, I will look at passages which allow for more than one interpretation (although I'll look at other passages as well). How many viewpoints does each study Bible present and does it show a bias or argue for the validity of one over another. I will note other study Bibles on occasion such as the NET Bible or one of the single-author study Bibles like the MacArthur Study Bible or the Ryrie Study Bible. But for the most part I will confine my comments to the major study Bibles that have the majority of the market. Just as it is true that it is good for people to own more than one translation I think we will see that it is also beneficial to own more than one study Bible. Also, for the most part I will not be looking at specialty Bibles like The Archaeological Study Bible or The Apologetics Study Bible . There may be a time to examine these and, where applicable, I certainly will. Check back to see how your favorite study Bible compares.

Next week we will start with the very controversial passage of Hebrews 6:4-6.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goldingay on Psalms now complete

The three volume Psalms by John Goldingay in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms Series is now complete! Volume 3 was released this month, and its 2195 pages (the total pages of the three volumes) rivals Kraus' masterful 3 volume commentary in the Continental Commentary series, and Erich Zenger's 2 volume Hermeneia commentary. The benefit of this series is that its more traditionally conservative comments and approaches taken for the interpretation of the Biblical text. By "traditionally conservative" I mean the Masoretic Text (MT) is considered reliable, and the specific dating/authorship is of less practical importance than in traditional historical criticisms. More on this later. He has already given us a depth and breath of material on Old and New Testament material including his erudite commentary on Daniel in the Word Biblical Series. Goldingay tends to be a middle-of-the-road scholar on most areas of higher criticism (for example, in Daniel he offers a well defined position that the book was written at about 300 BCE, whereas most conservative scholarship places it around 600 BCE and liberals place it around 165 BCE, or after the events of the books have happened), and the Psalms are no exception.

Amongst a myriad of methodological approaches to the Psalms, Goldingay's approach is from a Canonical context (think Brevard Childs). He sees almost no need to identify the author, or the Sitz im Leben, the "situation in life" in which the Psalms were composed for. In this way, he matches the series goal to write a commentary for "ministers, seminary students, and Bible study leaders. Of these groups we have most in mind clergy and future clergy, namely seminary students." (Volume I: Psalms 1-41, p. 8) But if you think the academic and textual comments are scant, think twice. Goldingay gives his own translation of each Psalm, followed by a large volume of textual notes both in the text and in footnotes. He then gives his interpretation and the "Theological Implications" of the Psalm.

After reading his 70-page introduction to the Psalms I had some reservation in giving the book a warm and positive review. This was partly because I have extensively studies the Psalms and read quite a bit of material on Psalm Studies. He believes that the Psalms anonymity, including the "Davidic" ones (see his notes on the Hebrew le in the superscriptions for his wonderfully grounded argument) open up the Psalms for use in both Israel and our own churches. Given the patriarchal society of the Old Testament this anonymity also may protect the fact that some of the Psalms may have written by women (although he only mentions this in passing).
He gives a good account for the MT's inclusion of the superscription in the text itself as well as a good synopsis of the words which appear in the margins of most translations as notes for singers/choir directors, eg., selah. He also gives a good overview of Hebrew Poetry and the use of parallelism.

The reason for my positive and warm review is that the introduction complements the actual commentary very nicely. The book is well organized, the layout is simple to understand and the writing is conversational and the book is actually enjoyable to read. Even for someone who has read so extensively in Psalms studies I was able to learn very valuable insights in the Psalter and how the church can benefit from them in their own worship.

Eric Karloski works in the Used Book Department at Baker Book House and has recently been accepted for a position as Professor of Old Testament Studies at Life Theological Seminary, Bhubaneswar, India

Gospels Now Complete in BECNT Series

The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) is praised by a number of scholars and commentary guides. D.A. Carson in the sixth edition of his New Testament Commentary Survey lists six of those published at the time as part of his "Best Buys" recommendations. John Glynn lists the series third in his recommendations in the "Evangelical and Technical, Semitechnical" category. With this latest edition of Mark by Robert H. Stein the gospels are now complete. Luke was authored by Darrell L. Bock. Carson says this commentary is "recent, comprehensive, well written, and intelligent. If you buy this pair by Bock, you do not need the other two commentaries on Luke that he has written." (New Testament Commentary Survey, p. 63). Andreas Kostenberger wrote the entry for John and Matthew was recently released by David Turner. Those looking for a good set of commentaries on the gospels would do well to add these to their libraries. Pastors have especially enjoyed this series since they don't get bogged down in a lot of scholarly discussions but are nonetheless informed by them. For a complete listing a volumes available in this series as well as projected forthcoming volumes look here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say He Is?

I can't say that I've ever had a big interest in Feminist theology but I found this book fascinating, easy to read and extremely helpful. Kostenberger provides a survey of various feminist theologians ranging from the radical feminists to evangelical feminism. Radical feminists are those who feel no obligation to be guided in their theology by the Bible or Jesus. Included in this category would be Mary Daly, Virginia Mollenkott and Daphne Hampson. "Reformist Feminism" are those who selectively use the Bible to reconstruct a "positive theology" for women. Included in this category would be Letty Russell, Rosemary Radford Ruether and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. In the "Evangelical Feminist" camp Kostenberger includes Aida Spencer, Ruth Tucker and Linda Belleville. These authors are those who believe the Bible "rightly interpreted, teaches complete gender equality."
This book is primarily a survey although Kostenberger does provide critiques along the way. Those looking for hearty critiques may sometimes be disappointed but she does provide further resources in numerous footnotes. As the title suggests the book focuses on Jesus and therefore most of the discussions are on the Gospels. A number of times I had to remind myself of this as I kept wondering why she wasn't dealing with this or that passage from Paul. Furthermore, I sometimes wished for more interaction with certain authors like William Webb. However, because Webb does not work much with the Gospels she concludes the "Gospel evidence does not feature prominently in [his] hermeneutical scheme." (169) She does interact with other prominent evangelicals such as Grant Osborne, Douglas Groothuis, Ben Witherington, and R. T. France.
An important issue for Kostenberger is Jesus' selection of twelve men as apostles. She asserts "Despite advancing various explanations, feminists have not been able to account satisfactorily for the fact that Jesus appointed twelve men as apostles." (213) Egalitarians will counter that Kostenberger is overstating her case and simply dismissing their responses as wrong without sufficient argument. Kostenberger devotes one chapter to various passages from the Gospels of Jesus and women. Here she persuasively demonstrates how difficult it is to portray that Jesus was in any meaningful sense a feminist by 21st century standards (radical, reformed or evangelical). It appears that if a strong case is going to be made for feminism then it can't be found on the basis of anything Jesus said or did. The case must be made elsewhere and this is precisely how so many today are arguing. Most prominent have been those who follow along the lines of Webb in his redemptive hermeneutic. See for example Scot McKnight's most recent book The Blue Parakeet.
Because the feminist debate so frequently ends up centered around Pauline texts (at least in evangelical circles) this is a refreshing volume to remind us that the Gospel evidence must not be neglected. For those interested in the spectrum of ideas represented in Feminist Theology this is an excellent introduction.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Baker Staff Pictured in Time Magazine

Three staff members of Baker Book House were recently pictured in Time Magazine (although unnamed the woman writing the Bible verse is our manager Sue Smith, in the background and to her right you see our assistant manger Sally Holefca and me, Louis McBride) in conjunction with Zondervan's Bible Across America Campaign . We were excited to be a part of this historic event. Zondervan is crossing the nation and having each verse of the Bible handwritten by people from across the nation. My verse was Genesis 1:3 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." Zondervan will actually make two copies (I wrote the verse twice). One will be auctioned and the proceeds will go to the International Bible Society and the other will be given to the Smithsonian Institute. You can go to the link above and see exactly where the traveling four-person team is located. If you have an opportunity to take part of this I would highly encourage it. Go to the above link and click on "Route" and then "Timeline" to find out when they will be close to your neighborhood.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jonah - Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

Brazos Theological Commentaries are designed to be theologically creative, broadly ecumenical, Biblical commentaries, which offer variant readings and methodologies for approaching Biblical texts. They are minimally technical in presentation, while offering rich theological insight for the laity and theologically trained student of scripture. The editors, which include R. R. Reno and Ephraim Radner, believe that the way we teach and approach scripture has been reformulated to exclude most people who have not been “trained” theologically by an institution of higher education. In this sense, BrazosTheological Commentaries are a corrective to the dominance of professionalized theology where one must first do the hard work of hermeneutics, exegesis, textual studies, in order to correctly interpret the text. A commentary’s role, according to Hauerwas (in His Brazos commentary on Matthew) is to make a better follower of Jesus Christ and his church. The author of each commentary chooses his/her own interpretive methodology. Thus some authors choose to depart from the standard and modern historical critical method of interpretation, and fully choose a more historically based (if I can use such a judgment) method, such a typology. As a whole, the series assumes that the tradition of the Church, which includes the Apostles and Paul, still have legitimate reasons and approaches to the meaning of textual studies.
The Brazos series also blends this interpretation with today’s culture for a commentary that is sensitive and engaging to modern readers. Brazos is a creative, theologically sensitive, imaginative series sure to invoke piety and passion to worship and serve God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with heart and mind.
The seventh commentary in the Brazos series is on Jonah by Phillip Cary. His basic approach is to see Jonah through a typological reading, as it is related to/fulfilled in Jesus Christ. As an Old Testament Studies professor I get a little nervous when I hear this approach is being used, partially because the original text is usually neglected and any interpretation is offered. I was ecstatic to read that Cary’s approach tries to link the historical account to the typology itself. He believes typology is only valid if you can connect it with the original historical reading of the text. Jonah was written after the return from the exile, and the book itself is a parable, which tries to connect the historical account of Israel with the story of Jonah. Don’t understand how? Read it and you will see that Phillip Cary did his homework. Even better, the parable connects the gourd at the end of the story (which withers away) with the messianic line. Many people who read Jonah closely point out the abrupt ending. But through Cary’s reading of Jonah, the end of the story does not reveal a fickle and pouting prophet who is upset that God took away his comfort and shade, but rather he represents the anger of Israel that there is no messianic line for the messiah to come, and God is saving gentiles! This also has connections with Isaiah’s vision for a new humanity in chapters 56-66. Cary points out the comedic elements in the book, which are abounding! He writes with passion, intelligence, creativity and the ability for anyone to pick up the book of Jonah and immerse themselves in it.
- Eric Karloski works in the Used Book Department at Baker Book House and has recently been accepted for a position as Professor of Old Testament Studies at Life Theological Seminary, Bhubaneswar, India

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden

Biblical scholar, Ben Witherington III wrote an extensive review on Jesus Wants to Save Christians. I recommend taking a look at it, read it right here.
Andrew Rogers is a promotions manager for Zondervan. Check back every Friday for what's new from Zondervan.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ESV Study Bible - Available Now

The long-awaited ESV Study Bible has arrived. This study Bible has several features you won't want to miss. There are over 200 full-color maps which are printed alongside the text and notes throughout the Bible. In addition to this are 15 full-color maps at the back of the Bible with the first one being "The Middle East Today." Over 50 articles are included which cover a wide range of topics from Theology of the Old Testament, Theology of the New Testament, Biblical Ethics (13 articles), The Canon of the Old Testament, The Canon of the New Testament, The Septuagint, and many more.
The contributors of the study notes represent some of the finest in contemporary conservative Christian scholarship. Among them are Gordon Wenham, Duane A. Garrett, C. John Collins, Andreas J. Kostenberger, Clinton Arnold, Grant Osborne, Robert Yarbrough and Thomas R. Schreiner to name only a few. Finally, these Bibles have been printed on the finest paper and are all Smyth-Sewn to ensure a quality final product. With your purchase of the print edition you will always have access to a FREE ESV Online Study Bible which offers the full content of the print version, plus additional unique features. You must see these first hand in order to appreciate it fully so stop in today and see for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The latest in the BECNT Series is in!

Robert Yarbrough's commentary on the Epistles of John is now in stock. The highly-acclaimed series (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) is now joined with another outstanding contribution. Yarbrough brings a unique blend of academic scholarship and pastoral warmth to these often neglected New Testament books. He is clearly in his element as he weaves the thought of the Epistles with John's Gospel. A regular feature of the series is to comment on textual variants. Yarbrough takes this one step further in that he addresses every textual variant in John's Epistles found in NA27. This is, in part, to show there is "no reasonable grounds for suspicion of the soundness of our knowledge of what the author. . . wrote" and demonstrates that the inferences drawn by scholars such as Bart Ehrman are "considerably overstated." Some Calvinists will anxiously turn to I John 2:2 to see what Yarbrough does with this controversial text. I found his treatment sound and fair and most Calvinists, I suspect, will be happy with his exegesis. Others will look at his treatment of the "sin unto death" (I John 5:16). Here Yarbrough must be read carefully. His own translation is a bit awkward: "There is sin that is unto death. Making request in prayer for those committing that sin is not something I am saying to do." But this translation is an attempt "to emphasize what John's diction may seek to stress in Greek." Yarbrough wisely interprets this passage "in a way that comports with a close reading of the entire epistle." Essentially he believes the sin unto death is "to have a heart unchanged by God's love in Christ and so to persist in convictions and acts and commitments. . ." Overall, so far I've found Yarbrough to be sensitive to the complexities of the text throughout the book of I John (I've not had a chance yet to get the 2 and 3 John) without bogging the reader down with too many details. This series has been one of my favorites and I am already impressed with this latest addition. See an interview with Robert Yarbrough by Colin Hansen here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bringing the Bible to Life - Study Guide Series

The Bringing the Bible to Life series is an exciting new line of study guide curriculum that launched this fall with six different guides: Genesis, Esther, John, Romans, Ephesians and Hebrews.

These guides were based on the award-winning NIV Application Commentary series. This means that each guide brings with it the insights of top evangelical scholars like Douglas Moo, John Walton and Karen Jobes to name a few.

But enough with the basic facts, I should tell you why I recommend this series: because for someone who has grown up in church (like myself) this study guide curriculum goes refreshingly deeper than other series. I don't say that to put down other books, or to exonerate myself, but just to recognize that when you grow up in the church it's easy to know all of the "right answers" to common Bible study questions and it's easy to get bored with Bible study. Because this series focuses on scholarship (but still maintains accesibility) it is challenging me to think more deeply about verses I've heard many times, and exposing me to knowledge about the text that you only typically find in commentaries.

I recommend this series to those who want something "deeper" in their small groups and Sunday school classes, and I especially recommend it to those who have been through numerous study guides and programs before - these might reignite your passion to study the Bible again. My Bible study group just started Romans. As we work through it, I'll add other thoughts about the series to this post, so check back!

Andrew Rogers is a Promotions Manager for Zondervan. Check back each Friday for his New From Zondervan reviews.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Theology in the Context of World Christianity - Timothy C. Tennent

It's not something you think about every day, and it might not be something you have ever considered, but the center of Christianity has shifted away from the Western world to the global South and East. Initially it was hard for me to wrap my mind around this idea as I read Dr. Tim Tennent's book, but as he systematically and accessibly presents his argument I began to agree, the Church is not what I thought it was. Theological developments are being made by leaps and bounds in other parts of the world, and as thinking Christians in the West we should be looking to other Christian communities, indeed other continents as we "do" theology.

"...The lifeblood of Christianity is found in its ability to translate itself across new cultural and geographic barriers and to recognize that areas that once were the mission field can, over time, become the very heart of Christian vitality, while those areas that were once at the heart can lose the faith they once espoused...places like Lagos, Nigeria, and Seoul, South Korea, where the presence of Christianity at one time seemed almost unimaginable, are today vibrant centers of the Christian faith." (p.6)

Though this text is not brand new (2007), considering it as a textbook it is still new enough to merritt a review, and I was so impressed by Tennent's work I felt I had to mention it here.

There is much to learn from the global Church. It's easy in developed countries, where church is perfected and polished, available in a thousand flavors and expressions, to assume that we have the corner on theology. But as Tennent asserts it is often in those places that seem to be less churched where the Church is often at its most vibrant, relevant, and offering fresh insights on who God is.

This book is completely accessible for lay readers and the general audience. It looks and feels like a textbook but Tennent's passion for his beliefs come through in a powerful way. I would recommend this for Sunday School classes, Missions classes, and if you have an ambitious small group it could be used there as well.

"Those of us from the older northern churches of Christendom must listen attentively to these new southern Christians. We are no longer the only, or even the central, players on the filed. Admittedly, this is not an easy adjustment for us. We are not accustomed to living in a world where the heartlands of Christianity are located in Africa, Latin America and Asia. nevertheless, twenty-first-century Christianity will largely be determined by the faithfulness of those outside our primary sphere of influence. After all, the theology that matters the most is wherever the most Christians are located." (p. 272)

Andrew Rogers is a Promotions Manager for Zondervan. Check by every Friday for his posts on Zondervan's new books and resources.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How to be Evangelical without being Conservative - Roger Olson

"Gradually the impression has sunk into the American mind that being a conservative Christian, being evangelical, and being narrow, rigid, militant, and angry are the same."

So begins Roger Olson in How to be Evangelical without being Conservative.

In this short book Olson manages to tackle a number of religious/social/political issues that are often unnecessarily used to polarize viewpoints, while attempting to redeem words like "evangelical." Each chapter begins by asking a relevant but often unspoken question: What does it mean to "Take the Bible Seriously Without Literalism"? Or to "Celebrate America without Nationalism"? To even to be "Religionless without Secularism"?

As we enter the final stages of the Presidential race I encourage you to read this book. Olson does not present a partisan argument, but encourages readers to think beyond pundit labels and media slant. You may not agree with all of his thoughts, but his reasoned approach and personal tone are worth reading. This book also includes a glowing foreword by Scot McKnight in which he says:

"This book reminds us that the two-option approach so popular in our world today, two options that are held with utter certitude by both sides, is not always the right one. Sometimes, in fact, there is a Third Way, a way that might not be so cocksure and certain, but just might be 'Here I stand, so help me God.'"

Check back every Friday for Andrew's updates on new Zondervan resources for ministry and Bible study! Andrew Rogers is a Promotions Manager for Zondervan.

Friday, September 12, 2008

African Christian Ethics - Samuel Waje Kunhiyop

Zondervan is proud to announce the second book in the "HippoBooks" line, African Christian Ethics by Samuel Waje Kunhiyop.

HippoBooks is a shared imprint among several publishers and partners including Zondervan and African publishing houses. The vision for HippoBooks is to stimulate growth in the African Church by enabling African scholars to address their native realities from an evangelical perspective.

As the world grows smaller through the Internet and easier travel, African issues grow in importance for the Western Church. HippoBooks allow us to get a firsthand look into a larger vision of the body of Christ, and its problems, guided by trustworthy scholars.

If your church has a multi-ethnic congregation, then I would especially recommend this book to you. It's emphasis on understanding cultural sensitivities and it's concise dealing with each topic make it a handy reference tool.

Speaking of the topics, I was particularly intrigued when I saw this book because of the variety of ethical issues it covers: Church and State, War and Violence, Striking, Contraception, Polygamy, Domestic Violence, Incest, Rape, Witchcraft and many more. Often reading a non-western perspective on these topics is enlightening and gets me thinking about the Church and faith issues in new ways.

This would also be great reading for anyone travelling, even just short term. in Africa. It would also be good for students entering a missions program this fall. Kunhiyop's writing is in-depth but not overly academic. (Don't balk at the book's 400 pages, it reads much faster than it looks.)

Thanks to Baker Book House for allowing me to be a guest blogger. Check back next Friday for more news about Zondervan's ministry and Bible study resources. I'll be posting weekly and if you use any of the resources mentioned don't hesitate to leave a comment, we want to know what you think!

Andrew Rogers, Promotions Manager, Zondervan

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Visual History of the English Bible

Donald Blake's new book A Visual History of the English Bible is not only a gorgeous book but it is a stimulating history of the English Bible. Blake surveys the major English Bibles from Wycliffe to the TNIV. Beautiful illustrations are replete throughout and the personal anecdotes of the author's acquisitions of first editions and rare Bibles offer a uniquely personal touch. I especially enjoyed the discussion of the King James Version and the problems surrounding its original publication and the various editorial changes through the years. The discussion of Bible translations starts off fairly neutral but then seems to end up favoring the word-for-word style of translation. A chart provides a comparison of the the major English Bibles with the author's evaluation. Some may question how the KJV rates a "good" on "clarity of reading" which is the same evaluation given for the NASB, Good News Translation, TNIV and other contemporary translations. But this is only a minor quirk compared to the wealth of what this volume offers. This would be a great gift for any pastor or someone with an interest in the English Bible.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

4th Annual Youth Pastor Breakfast

Baker Book House is proud to announce our 4th annual Youth Pastor Breakfast. This year's guest speaker is Mark Oestreicher. Marko is the president of Youth Specialties and a 25-year youth ministry veteran. Come and hear Marko speak and see the latest in youth ministry resources from leading Christian publishers. The event will be held at Kentwood Community Church on Wednesday, Sep. 24th from 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $5.00 and may be purchased at Baker Book House located in Kentwood. Please RSVP by 9/17/08.

Friday, August 22, 2008

3rd Annual Study Guide Workshop

Baker Book House will be hosting our 3rd annual Study Guide Workshop featuring Jack Kuhatschek as a guest speaker. Jack is executive VP at Baker Publishing Group and is the author of several study guides. The workshop will feature some of the latest in study guide materials with plenty of promotional materials and an extensive easy-to-use syllabus. Wednesday, Aug 27th, 10:30 a.m. The event is free but registration is required. Call the store at 616-957-3110 or email us at .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meet Brian McLaren in our Store!

Brian McLaren will be at Baker Book House on Saturday, August 16, from 6pm to 8pm.

He will be signing books, speaking and taking questions. He is the author of numerous books on the emerging church and postmodern thought. His most recent releases are "Everything Must Change" and "Finding Our Way Again."

Please join us for this free event.

For more information call the store at: 616-957-3110

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Church Relations Team is Changing

Andrew Rogers has been a member of the BBH Church Relations Team for just over a year. Beginning on August 18th he will begin working for Zondervan in the Church and Academic book department. The BBH Church Relations team is sad to see him go, but wishes him God's blessings in his new job.

If you would like to know how the BBH Church Relations Team can help your ministry find the best in Christian resources, please contact Louis McBride by calling: 616-957-3110 or through his email .

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Shack" Panelists Finalized for Aug. 21 Discussion

BBH will be hosting a panel discussion on William P. Young's runaway hit book, The Shack. The panelists are author Beverly Van Kampen (GodSense, The Bible Study Teacher's Guide), Dr. Rex Rogers (Gambling: Don't Bet On It) and BBH Academic buyer, Louis McBride.
Please join us for this free event.
Thursday, August 21 at 7pm.
This is an in-store event. Tickets are required for entry due to limited seating. For ticket inquiries call the store: 616-957-3110.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The ESV Study Bible - Info is available

The ESV Study Bible is due to arrive on Wednesday, October 15, 2008. You can pre-order a copy in the store today, or call 616.957.3110 with questions. The list prices are as follows:

Hardcover with jacket: $49.99

TruTone editions: $74.99

Bonded leather editions: $74.99

Genuine leather editions: $94.99

And a Premium Calfskin edition: $239.99

BBH also offers a 20% discount to Pastors, Churches and students in the store. (Prices on the website may vary.)

"The ESV is a dream come true for me. The rightful heir to a great line of historic translations, it provides the continuity and modern accuracy I longed for. Now the scope and theological faithfulness of the ESV Study Bible study notes is breathtaking. Oh how precious is the written Word of God." - John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church

Beverly Van Kampen joins "Shack" panel!

Author and speaker, Beverly Van Kampen will be participating in the BBH book discussion on The Shack. Mrs. Van Kampen will be joined by other panelists (check back for details) and William P. Young via phone.

Beverly Van Kampen is the author of The GodSense Devotional and The Bible Study Teacher's Guide. To learn more about Mrs. Van Kampen and her ministry visit
The Shack book discussion will be:
Thursday August 21, 2008
Due to limited space, tickets are required.
Call 616.957.3110 for FREE tickets.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brian McLaren comes to BBH!

Author and activist, Brian McLaren, will be speaking and signing books at BBH on Saturday, August 16, from 6pm to 8pm. Entry is free, but space is limited so arrive early!

Brian's most recent releases are Finding Our Way Again and Everything Must Change.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Author of "The Shack" shares his thoughts!

William P. Young, author of "The Shack," will be participating in the BBH book discussion via phone! At a recent Christian retail conference he offered to participate after hearing about the event. Thanks William!

The book discussion will take place on Thursday, Aug. 21 at 7pm in our Kentwood location. It is a free event, but seating is limited so we ask that you pick up tickets at our customer service desk.

email Andrew with questions:
or call the store: 616-957-3110

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Shack - Discussing the Trinity Part 1: Papa

Everyone seems to be talking about William Young's, "The Shack" right now, so I thought it would be fun to join the conversation. There are a handful of topics presented in the book that Theologs are discussing. For the sake of time and space, I'll just stick to one issue: The Trinity. Specifically, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Young's portrayal of the Trinity throughout the book, and what are the positive and negative effects this may have on the church?

I'd love to hear feedback from every point of view, but please, let's keep it clean.

With this first post we'll examine "Papa." For the remainder of the discussion I will refer to "Papa" interchangibly with "God" meaning the figure of the Trinity traditionally called "God the Father."

How is he/she portrayed and what are the implications of this portrayal? I'll list a few observations, you can post your responses.

1) God is a woman named "Papa": See p.86 and 91. The average Christian thinks of God as a man, even the Lord's prayer refers to "Our Father," but a number of scholar's conclude that God is genderless. What are your thoughts?

2) God has scars from the cross: On p.95-96 Papa reveals her scarred wrists to Mack. "We were there (on the cross) together." (p.96) Mack asks about Matt.27:46 - "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (NIV) Papa responds with "you didn't understand the mystery." So was God crucified with Christ, or was Christ forsaken, or both? One step further, was the Holy Spirit crucified too? ("We were there...")

3) God became human with Christ: See p. 99: "When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of god, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood." Despite the pronoun and tense confusion in this paragraph, what does this say of the incarnation? Were all three human? Or was only Christ human with the other two present in him? Can this question really be answered definitvely?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Jesus Mean and Wild" - Mark Galli

Mark Galli is one of those writers who couldn’t be boring if he tried. In Jesus Mean and Wild Galli presents those aspects of Jesus from the Gospels that tend to make the reader a bit uncomfortable. The book walks through selected passages from the Gospel of Mark and is illustrated with figures from Church History. This combination provides the reader with a depth not commonly found in popular treatments of Jesus.

Galli’s book is a helpful and balanced antidote to the all too common picture of Jesus as someone who was perennially nice and just walked about spouting gems of wisdom to passers by. The Jesus of the Gospels is far removed from this image. Galli observes how Jesus “sternly charged” people and was sometimes angry. He cursed the fig tree and destroyed a herd of swine. The reactions to Jesus’ actions are described as “amazed,” “utterly astounded,” “terrified,” “fear and trembling,” and “terror and amazement.”

A particular strength of the book is Galli’s pastoral experience and keen eye for avoiding extremes. Galli is a former pastor and a senior managing editor of Christianity Today. No where does this experience show better than when he carefully nuances his presentation. For example, chapter 16 begins with “Just when we need him most, God forsakes us.” (p.165) Galli acknowledges that “this is a disturbing thought . . . but it is a truth of human experience. We would do well to acknowledge it up front.” In a chapter that is brimming with the potential for pessimism Galli faces a truth of the Christian life and shows the silver lining.

This is a book that is forged in the realities of the Christian life. In the end we find Jesus—undomesticated, mean and wild but “pulsating with unnerving and irresistible love.”

By Louis

Monday, June 30, 2008

Christ, My Companion - Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

Christ, My Companion: Meditations on the Prayer of St. Patrick is a new book from Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (PhD Princeton University). McEntyre is a professor of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA.
In this small book McEntyre moves through the Prayer of St. Patrick, line-by-line, ruminating on the meaning of each statement. She focuses heavily on how we experience Christ's omnipresence in our lives and intersperses appropriate scripture throughout, though it is not heavy with references.

Though the book looks like it may teach from a viewpoint based in Celtic spirituality, McEntyre's approach is that of an American evangelical.

Siting authors like Wendell Berry, Thomas Hardy, and Herman Mellville, I recommend this book for those who like poetic, devotional reading.

Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

by Andrew

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Discuss "The Shack" at BBH

Baker Book House will be hosting a book discussion on the best-selling book, "The Shack," by William P. Young on Thurs. August, 21, at 7pm. Pastors and professors from the Grand Rapids area will be leading the discussion - more details to come.

"The Shack" is somewhat of a publishing anomaly. It is a self-published book by a first-time author. It has sparked debate and created a buzz among readers because it is a fictional story, based loosely on a true story, that delves into numerous theological topics. (i.e. the Trinity, the problem of pain, divine justice, God's love, etc.) The author's results are often surprising leading some to say "This book changed my life," and others "This book is best forgotten."

Check back for more details about "The Shack" book discussion.

Andrew R.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Solomon Among the Postmoderns - Peter J. Leithart

Postmodernism is more than just a hot topic for undergraduate classrooms. Culture continuously evolves with the passage of time and modernism is on its way out. While some evangelicals embrace postmodern views whole-heartedly others have raised serious concerns. In either direction the postmodern view is an unavoidable part of the church and needs to be addressed in more realms than just academia.

In "Solomon Among the Postmoderns" Peter Leithart is a voice of reason and expertise. In this concise volume Leithart defines postmodernism and expresses both the strengths and the weaknesses of a postmodern worldview.

Beginning with the Renaissance, Leithart deftly covers the trends in philosophical thought leading up to today, then discusses the implications of adopting a postmodern worldview with or without a Scripture acting as a sieve. Drawing largely from the book of Ecclesiastes Leithart emphasizes that human life is fleeting like a vapor and that we are in effect, “sheparding the wind.”

Similar to the ending of Ecclesiastes, Leithart chooses not to leave his readers with a hopeless sentiment by reminding us, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." (Ps. 73:28)
by Andrew Rogers

Welcome to our blog!

The Church Connection blog is designed for anyone in Christian Ministry.

Here you'll find helpful tips on Christian resources, news about Christian books and other releases, as well as book and resource reviews. We encourage you to post your thoughts and to check back frequently. We will be posting weekly.

This blog is a administrated by the Church Relations Team at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our goal is to better equip those in ministry with valuable Christian resources.