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.