Archives For January 2009

It’s amazing how many outstanding resources Logos Bible Software keeps producing.

I already own and benefit greatly from “The Complete Spurgeon Sermon Collection,” which contains Spurgeon’s sermons from the Park Street and Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpits. I just became aware of another Spurgeon collection that is now on pre-pub for $250: “Charles Spurgeon Collection.” It’s currently 78 volumes and 17,361 pages, so that’s about a penny ($0.014) per page in a highly efficient format.

Content:

  • The Treasury of David, Spurgeon’s 7-volume commentary on the Psalms
  • Spurgeon’s 4-volume Lectures to My Students, which includes his best-selling Commenting and Commentaries
  • 228 issues of Spurgeon’s magazine, The Sword and the Trowel published between 1865 and 1884
  • Spurgeon’s 4-volume Sermon Notes
  • The 2-volume Salt Cellars
  • Spurgeon’s 4-volume Autobiography, the first and most detailed account of Spurgeon’s life and ministry
  • A collection of Spurgeon’s letters and correspondence
  • Dozens of additional volumes on preaching, prayer, evangelism, and much more!

What a treasure trove!

Update: Phil Gons adds this on the Logos blog:

And it gets even better. I said presently above because we’re still in the process of researching another dozen or so titles for possible inclusion in this collection. The best part is that if you pre-order now, you’ll be locked in at the lowest possible price, even if the price goes up to cover the additional cost.

So pre-order this unparalleled collection of the writings of C. H. Spurgeon now (and his sermons, too, if you don’t already have them), and get ready to take advantage of the power of Logos to integrate this wealth of material into your devotions, Bible studies, and sermons with ease.

I just noticed that the following article is available online:

D. A. Carson. “Challenges for 21st-Century Preaching.” Preaching 23:6 (May–June 2008): 20–24.

Introduction

I have visited many parts of the world in which the challenges to the 21st-century pulpit look rather different. So part of the purpose of the rest of this essay is modest: to stimulate thinking that will help others flesh out this list and modify it for different cultural locations.

Six challenges that DAC fleshes out

  1. Multiculturalism
  2. Rising Biblical Illiteracy
  3. Shifting Epistemology
  4. Integration
  5. Pace of Change
  6. Modeling and Mentoring

Concluding Reflections

Preachers cannot responsibly ignore these things, for they stand between the speaking God and the listening people—people who are not empty ciphers but culturally located men and women who must be addressed where they are, even if our hope and prayer is that they will not remain where they are, but begin by God’s grace the march down the King’s highway, the narrow road that leads to life.

Our motivation to understand and address people in the 21st century is not to domesticate the gospel by constant appeal to cultural analysis, but to prove effective ambassadors of the Sovereign whose Word we announce. For one day the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever (Rev. 11:15). It is precisely because we are anchored in eternity that we are so utterly resolved, like Paul, to address lost men and women who must one day meet their God.

Read the whole thing.

On Emperors and Clothes

Andy Naselli —  January 12, 2009 — 1 Comment

I don’t recall hearing this twist to the textile-imperial metaphor before (D. A. Carson, review of David Rensberger, Overcoming the World: Politics and Community in the Gospel of John, Themelios 17:1 [October–November 1991]: 27–28):

Somewhere along the line, the text has been left behind. Not only have too many speculations been built on other speculations, but the obvious features of the text, such as its Christology, its claims to bring witness, its insistence on the uniqueness and exclusiveness of Jesus the Messiah, its remarkable ability to distinguish between what happened ‘back there’ during Jesus’ ministry and what was discerned only later, are all lost. Many scholars doubt that John 3:3, 5 is primarily about baptism, and that John 6 is primarily about the eucharist; but at very least, the point must be argued, and not assumed on the basis of a doubtful assumption as to how easy it is to read the ecclesiastical realities of the end of the first century off the surface of the text. And how can the Johannine emphasis on the uniqueness of Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as the one who dies so that the nation may be saved, as the shepherd who gives his life for his sheep, be so quickly transmuted into a call that we in our turn take away the sin of the world by opposing injustice? I am not for a moment suggesting we should ignore injustice; I am merely saying that this is an extraordinary reading of John’s gospel.

Indeed, I have gradually come to the conclusion the Fourth Gospel was not written primarily for church consumption anyway, but as an evangelistic booklet. I realize this point is debatable; but the very fact that it is debatable but is not, by and large, being debated, is profoundly troubling and indicative of what is going wrong in Johannine scholarship. The hesitant suggestions of earlier scholars have now become the ‘givens’ of this generation of scholars, who feel free to build fresh, hesitant suggestions on top of them. I am tempted to say that the emperor has no clothes—or, more conservatively, he is down to his underwear.

The Simple Gospel

Andy Naselli —  January 12, 2009 — 1 Comment

Perhaps the most important truth that Jenni and I have especially internalized in the last couple of years is that the gospel is central to our Christian life—not simply step one. We immediately identified with the following paragraph when we read it recently:

For complex reasons many in the Western church came to speak of ‘the simple gospel’, by which they at one time meant the gospel summarized in convenient and simple form, usually for evangelistic purposes. The result is that for many today ‘the gospel’ or ‘gospel preaching’ refers not to the glorious, comprehensive good news disclosed in scripture but to a very simple (some would say simplistic) reduction of it. Some churches distinguished between ‘worship services’ and ‘gospel services’: one wonders which term, ‘worship’ or ‘gospel’, has been more seriously abused. Doubtless the motives behind these developments were often excellent. But the fact remains that a variety of serious problems were thereby introduced. For many, evangelistic preaching became identified with simplistic preaching. Worse, ‘the gospel’ came to be associated in their minds exclusively with the initial steps of faith rather than with God’s comprehensive good news that not only initiates salvation but orders all our life in this world and the next.

–D. A. Carson, “The Biblical Gospel,” in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future (ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon; London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996), 82.

Related: My review of Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love (Themelios 33:1 [2008]: 102–3).

Inconsistent Grace?

Andy Naselli —  January 11, 2009 — 9 Comments

Here is an observation that is related to the discussion generated by my previous post (though it may not apply to anyone in that discussion): People are often more gracious to those on either their left or right.

  1. Some people are more gracious to those to the left of them than they are to those to the right of them. For example, some (not all) more broadminded evangelicals will tip-toe around a postconservative evangelical or emergent leader in order to give the least possible offense, but they will also strongly denounce “fundamentalists” without the least concern about offending them.
  2. Other people are more gracious to those to the right of them than they are to those to the left of them. For example, some (not all) fundamentalists will overlook egregious errors by fellow fundamentalists (e.g., errant bibliology or soteriology) in order to give the least possible offense to those in their camp, but they will also strongly denounce “new evangelicals” for less serious issues without the least concern about offending them.

Is this a fair observation? Perhaps there are too many exceptions for this to be any sort of a general trend.

Nooma Blooper

Andy Naselli —  January 10, 2009 — 46 Comments

Rob Bell further undermines his credibility in the Nooma DVD Store | 016:

And then, the Bible says [in Mark 3:5] that Jesus looked around at them in anger. Jesus gets angry. Now this story was first told in the Greek language, and there’s a subtle nuance to this word “anger” in the Greek language. It’s in what’s called the aorist tense, which is a technical way of saying that Jesus’ anger is a temporary feeling. It comes on him, and then it leaves him.

Response:

  1. “Anger” is a noun, not a verb, in Mark 3:5. The participle περιβλεψάμενος (“After looking around at”) is aorist.
    • καὶ περιβλεψάμενος αὐτοὺς μετ᾽ ὀργῆς, συλλυπούμενος ἐπὶ τῇ πωρώσει τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ• ἔκτεινον τὴν χεῖρα.
    • NET: After looking around at them in anger, grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
  2. Even if Bell had correctly parsed the word he was highlighting, his point is still guilty of the aorist tense fallacy. The aorist tense is not “subtle” or “technical.” It’s the default tense that communicates the very least about a particular action. (See, e.g., D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies [2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 67–73.)

This is not an isolated example. When Bell talks about ancient history, customs, language, etc., he not infrequently undermines his credibility.

Related:

  1. See Greg Gilbert’s thoughtful reviews of Nooma videos 1-19: parts 1 | 2 | 3.
  2. C. J. Mahaney, “Rob Bell, the Pastor’s Task of Discernment, and My Heart
  3. D. A. Carson comments on Rob Bell’s ministry
  4. Pat Abendroth, “Rob Bell makes me angry: a pastoral response to Velvet Elvis
  5. Ken Silva, “Is Rob Bell Evangelical?

Update:

  1. Justin Taylor highlights this post followed by some related comments.
  2. Justin Taylor highlights this post again followed by more related comments.
  3. Kevin DeYoung, “This is Not Good

In the first weekend of December 2008, D. A. Carson preached five sermons in Seattle:

  1. “The Center of the Whole Bible” (Romans 3:21-26): audio | video
  2. “The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb” (Revelation 12): audio | video
  3. “A Miracle Full of Surprises” (John 11): audio | video
  4. “Why Doubt the Resurrection of Jesus” (John 20:24-31): audio | video
  5. “The Ironies of the Cross” (Matthew 27:27-51): audio | video

The videos are embedded below:

1. “The Center of the Whole Bible” (Romans 3:21-26)

2. “The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb” (Revelation 12)

3. “A Miracle Full of Surprises” (John 11)

4. “Why Doubt the Resurrection of Jesus” (John 20:24-31)

5. “The Ironies of the Cross” (Matthew 27:27-51)