Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doxology in the Midst of Perceived Abandonment

Flipping through my notepad this morning I came across a statement on the practice of doxology that I copied down from Walter Brueggemann's book, Prophetic Imagination. This statement caught my attention back when an older friend was dying and the small congregation I was serving was grieving. I was helped and encouraged at that time, and this morning I was blessed again by the reminder!

Brueggemann declares..."I believe that, rightly embraced, no more subversive or prophetic idiom can be uttered than the practice of doxology, which sets us before the reality of God, of God right at the center of a scene from which we presumed he had fled."

By the uplifting power of the Holy Spirit we are enabled to rise up on the midst of our grief and sorrow to SING...

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

and 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, tis now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Bad Analogies

Last Sunday I shared this short video I found on YouTube. I couldn't resist! It is informative and very humorous. The point is well made.



There are better ways of speaking about the Holy Trinity. We will be discussing this in the weeks to come. What have you found helpful?
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Relevance of the Doctrine of the Trinity

This morning I began a Sunday School series exploring the doctrine of the Trinity using as a base line Michael Reeves's book, Delighting in the Trinity (IVP Academic, 2012). I posted a note about this book on November 23, 2012 with regard to the best illustration of the Triunity of God that I've encountered: Harmony.

Reeves begins this book by arguing for the relevancy of the doctrine of the Trinity. For instance, "God is love" sounds vibrant, attractive and immediately relevant while "God is a Trinity" sounds cold, mysterious, and irrelevant for the masses. However, as Reeves so adequately argues, "God is love because God is a Trinity." The doctrine of the Trinity distinguishes Christians from all other religious systems. Furthermore, the doctrine of the Trinity makes sense of all other doctrines. Which God we serve makes all the difference for faith, life and Christian ministry.

As to the question of the relevancy of the doctrine of the Trinity I was greatly moved by Prof. James Torrance's concluding anecdote in answer to Bruce Smith's question: What one thing would you have to say to our troubled world, our disturbed homes, and distressed individuals? Torrance's answer begins at 17:02 and lasts for about 6 minutes. In short, "we don't throw people back upon themselves." Rather, in so many words we introduce them to the Triune God - Father, Son and Spirit. Listen, it is worth your time.




If you have time to listen to the entirety of this interview it is excellent. Torrance speaks of reconciliation and the problems of "civil religion." This entire interview is still relevant today.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: The Way of Wisdom in the Old Testament by R.B.Y. Scott

The Way of Wisdom in the Old Testament by R.B.Y. Scott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Scott's work is 40+ years old and is still helpful. Writte
n from a theologically critical perspective, semi-technical in depth and interacting with canonical and non-canonical wisdom literature, this book was worth the read. By "semi-technical" I mean that all non-English words are presented as English transliterations, introductory arguments as to dating and authorship are present but minimized, and the reader is assumed to have a working acquaintance with the texts under consideration.

According to the publisher's notes, this book was intended to be a companion volume to the author's previous book dealing with the prophets (The Relevance of the Prophets). The similarities and differences of these two roles (prophet and sage) in Israel are discussed in this volume, and offers a valuable perspective on approaching wisdom literature. Scott defines the two roles as follows: "The prophets' theology was a kind of vertical theology, a theology of revelation, of salvation, and of judgment within time and history;" and "Wisdom theology was, at least originally, anthropocentric, as prophetic theology was theocentric"--"wisdom theology can be described as a horizontal theology" (pp. 115-16). Further, "The prophets bore their testimony to the word and will of Yahweh, calling on men to believe and to respond" (p. 117) while "The wisdom scholars and teachers...addressed themselves to individuals, offering counsel based on social experience and their own reflections about the nature of the world and of the good life for men" (p. 118).

I picked up this book to read about wisdom as it is found in the book of Proverbs. While I was helped in this area, I was surprisingly helped even more by Scott's dealings with Job and Qoheleth. His handling of the challenges of these two texts is well-ordered and insightful.

One shortcoming is that Scott does not offer any suggestions as to how the OT wisdom literature informs the reading of the NT. Granted, Scott's focus is clearly limited to the OT, but many readers will want to take the next step to consider NT wisdom and in particular, Jesus as the Wisdom of God. For a more recent and excellent handling of this, I recommend Old Testament Wisdom Literature: A Theological Introduction by Craig G. Bartholomew and Ryan P. O'Dowd (IVP Academic, 2011).

Thought-provoking summary statements:

on The Wisdom of Job
"Man cannot live by doctrinaire formulations of theology or find rest to his spirit through speculation on matters that literally are beyond his ken. These are but the ideas and speculations of men as finite as himself. In circumstances of personal trial and tragedy they will prove to be quicksand beneath his feet. Each man is cast into the buffeting waves of life where he must swim or go down. God does not come to him like a life preserver tossed from a ship's deck. A man will drown unless he believes that God intends him to swim. (p. 163-4)

"At the margin of human knowledge and experience there is, and must be, mystery. But it is a divine mystery, luminous with goodness and wisdom, and strong with the power of everlasting mercy." (p. 164)

on The Wisdom of Qoheleth
"A religious belief that will not bear examination is not worth having; it is no faith at all. A religious man who has never battled with pessimism and doubt has a very shallow religion." (p. 189)

on The Role of Wisdom
"To all spokesmen of wisdom man is not merely the animal which in one aspect he is. He is other and more than a political entity, a warrior willing or unwilling, an economic integer. He is a person who feels and thinks and can believe. His life values are not to be measured in the marketplace. He is a being who can learn to live well and worthily, and find in living a more than ephemeral happiness. He may choose to live for something beyond himself which is greater and better and, as Job found, more true and wonderful and gracious than anything he had imagined." (p. 229)


View all my reviews
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Psalms for Young Children

Psalms for Young ChildrenPsalms for Young Children by Marie-Helene Delval
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I purchased this book last week from Eerdmans going off of the Google Preview only. I am very impressed and have not been disappointed! Per the copyright page, this little book, published in 2008 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, was first published in 2003 in French by Bayard Editions Jeunesse.

The artwork, by Arno, is bright, creative, engaging and well-suited to the selected texts. I was struck by the way the artist did not gloss over the lament passages making everything to look bright and cheerful. Rather, when the text is solemn, the characters appear to be solemn, when sad, likewise, and when joyful, the same. This is an example of careful, artistic interpretation.

The texts are "summary-paraphrases" of selected psalms. One question I had concerning the text was, "Will a child be able to smoothly transition from each "summary-paraphrase" to the full translation?"
After comparing many of the texts with the full translation, I'm confident that this will be a smooth transition. In fact, the value of a "summary-paraphrase" is that it seeks to pinpoint the mood and major theme of a text. I believe that Marie-Hélène Delval did an excellent job here.

This book will be an excellent introduction to the Psalter for children.

Unfortunately, this book is not available for purchase at Westminster Bookstore, but it is available in Hardcover and Kindle format from Amazon.com.


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Monday, December 2, 2013

A Wearied Reader's Prayer

"O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me."

- Thomas à Kempis
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Fwd: Remembering Jack - Free C.S. Lewis Collection from Regent Audio

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Remembering Jack
On the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis (29 Nov 1898 – 22 Nov 1963), Regent Audio offers a series of free audio downloads in memory of a beloved Christian writer and thinker.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Arguing With God by Bernd Janowski

I just found out about this newly translated work via @wjkbooks on Twitter: https://twitter.com/wjkbooks/status/388649458201681920/photo/1.  I'm looking forward to working through this one.

Arguing with God

A Theological Anthropology of the Psalms

Author:Bernd Janowski
More by author(s)
Publisher:Westminster John Knox Press
Format:6 x 9
Product Type:Paper
Publication Date:10/24/2013
Retail Price:$70.00

Description from the publisher:


Available October 2013.
This is the first English translation of Bernd Janowski's incisive anthropological study of the Psalms, originally published in German in 2003 as Konfliktgespräche mit Gott. Eine Anthropologie der Psalmen(Neukirchener). Janowski begins with an introduction to Old Testament anthropology, concentrating on themes of being forsaken by God, enmity, legal difficulties, and sickness. Each chapter defines a problem and considers it in relation to anthropological insights from related fields of study and a thematically relevant example from the Psalms, including how a central aspect of this Psalm is explored in other Old Testament or Ancient Near Eastern texts. Each chapter concludes with an "Anthropological Keyword," which explores especially important words and phrases in the Psalms. The book also includes reflections on reading the Psalms from a New Testament perspective, focusing on themes of transience, praising God, salvation from death, and trust in God. Janowski's study demonstrates how the Psalms have important theological implications and ultimately help us to understand what it means to be human.

Praise for Arguing with God:
"Bernd Janowski (University of Heidelberg) is not yet much known to English-speaking readers. He will be now! He is a world class scholar who has written a world class book that will promptly become the bench-mark for theological interpretation of the Psalms. Janowski, in a dense, complex genuinely inviting book, combines acute theological sensibility, close exegetical alertness, and attention to the large human questions now before us concerning life and hope in a failed world. The result of his work is a study that will reward close, careful, sustained reading. We may be grateful to Westminster John Knox for bringing this fresh and judicious book into English translation."
—Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary

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Hudson Taylor Collection - Logos Bible Software

Logos Bible Software has announced the availability of a collection of works by and about J. Hudson Taylor.  I am glad to see this set available at a discounted price via the Community Pricing program:


Individual Titles

Hudson Taylor Collection (11 vols.)
I am sorry to see that the Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor is not included.  Nonetheless, the inclusiong of the 2 volume biography by Mr & Mrs Howard Taylor makes this well worth the investment.
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Best Digital Platform for Reading the ESV Bible (Free)

Over the past year I have been using the Logos Bible App on my smartphone and Kindle Fire to do more and more of my Bible study and reading! I'm getting the hang of it and am really enjoying the versatility and wide array of marking options. As far as reading digital books goes, the Logos system is, hands down, the best option. Granted, the selection of books is limited in many respects to what is offered in other digital formats, but for in depth Bible study you will find plenty of available resources; and this really is the strength of the Logos system. 

Not long ago, I began to hear about a new effort to make an interactive study Bible called the Faithlife Study Bible. I downloaded the available ebooks to my Logos collection but did not realize until now the full potential of the separate Faithlife Study Bible app. The Faithlife Study Bible app links the biblical text with a super set of study notes, intriguing infographics, and much more. Also, as I saw for the first time today, there is a community notes option built in to this app (not available in the standard Logos Bible app) which allows one to interact with others as they study passages. I see a great use for this in small groups, Sunday School classes, school settings, and even families. I still need to try out this option to see how it works, but, so far, I like what I see. 

EVEN BETTER...beginning today, when you download or update the Faithlife Study Bible app, you will receive a free copy of the English Standard Version (ESV)

This is an exciting development for those who are new to the Logos Bible Software system. You do not need to purchase a large package, but can begin with this familiar, and very good translation right away. If you prefer another English translation, you will need to purchase it (for about $10). The free default version for this app is the Lexham English Bible.

This is, by far, the best system to use for digital Bible study. 

The Logos Bible software system knocks the socks off of the Kindle digital ebooks. The highlighting, cross-referencing, linking, reading books side-by-side, and searching functions are superior to the Kindle system! 

In order build your digital library, there are two primary options: 1) purchasing books and packages from Logos.com, and 2) purchasing individual books (lots of Christian fiction, too) from Vyrso.com.

I am not advocating moving from printed books to digital books only. Personally, I am building my Logos digital library very selectively, and slowly. But I use what I have more efficiently than my printed library.

I encourage you to check this out, especially if you have been using another digital version of the ESV. This is the BEST OPTION out there.



Here is a list of promotion information from the publisher:


Giveaway details
Starting July 24, anyone who downloads or signs in to the Faithlife Study Bible app will get the English Standard Version free for life! All Faithlife Study Bible app users will get a full license to the ESV Bible, including offline access when Internet is not available. Users can download their free copy of the Faithlife Study Bible app by visiting the Faithlife/ESV giveaway page anytime between 12:00 a.m. (PST) July 24 and 11:59 p.m. August 10.

Get the Faithlife Study Bible and the English Standard Version here: FaithlifeBible.com/ESV

Everyone who takes advantage of this giveaway will enjoy the following features and benefits:

  • The English Standard Version of the Bible
    • Praised for its clarity, fidelity to the original languages and accuracy based on the most recent scholarship
    • The fastest-growing Bible translation available
  • The world’s largest full-featured study Bible
    • Over 1.4 million words of verse notes and topical articles (equal to a 2,800-page commentary)
    • Study notes on three out of four Bible verses
    • The Lexham Bible Dictionary, with over 2,800 articles
    • Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional
    • Over 1,300 additional helps, including photos, tables, sidebar articles,
    • infographics, family trees, maps and videos
    • Integration with Faithlife.com and the ability to share verse-by-verse notes
    • with others
    • Expanding content — the FSB grows to reflect new scholarship




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