The Pulpit Magazine Blog has posted a very readable (i.e., non-technical) eight-part series by Phil Johnson entitled “Why I Am a Calvinist . . . and Why Every Christian Is a Calvinist of Sorts.” The series begins with this explanation: “This post is adapted from a transcript of a seminar from the 2007 Shepherds’ Conference, titled ‘Closet Calvinists.'” Check it out: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Today I went to hear N. T. Wright for this lecture series on sacramental theology at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. (For more info on Wright, see this unofficial N. T. Wright page and this collection of his works.)
I went to see Wright in order to get a glimpse into how his mind works and to see how good he is at answering questions.
Here are a few of my (not very profound) impressions:
- N. T. Wright is a gifted extemporaneous speaker (especially in Q & A).
- Wright has a very likable personality.
- Wright is witty and clever.
- Wright has a refined British accent. I love it. I’ve heard it before on MP3s but never in person. That accent can make the most trivial things seem interesting and intellectual.
- Wright’s presentation style disappointed me, mostly because I strongly dislike being read to in person (though I don’t mind it on MP3). It felt like I was being talked at, not talked to. Since these lectures are going to be published in the seminary’s journal, Wright carefully wrote out the lecture as a journal article and consequently spent several hours reading to us.
- Wright paints with a massive brush. He approached the issue at hand by taking hours to discuss time, space, and matter with reference to realized eschatology and a proper framework for assessing the meaning of the “sacraments.” I brought my GNT, but I didn’t crack it once; exegesis was pretty much non-existent. This is not to say that he can’t do exegesis; rather, I’m saying merely that he didn’t do it, probably assuming that we can go to his books to find that. His time constraints no doubt had something to do with this.
- Wright and I have at least one thing in common: when teaching from a lectern, we both use a laptop (and I think his was a Dell, too). I typically use my laptop when teaching and preaching–though I tend to walk around a lot. Wright stayed behind the lectern the entire time except for the very last bit of Q & A after the second lecture. I was sitting in the middle of the third row from the front, so I could see him only from the neck up. He looked like a talking head.
I have a lot of questions about Wright, and I have not yet read enough by Wright himself for my opinion to be worth much. See Ligon Duncan‘s “The Attractions of the New Perspective(s) on Paul” and his interview with Mark Dever: “Justification and the New Perspective.” Cf. two posts by Phil Gons: “New Perspective on Paul” and “Wright on Imputation.”
On our honeymoon in July 2004, I brought along a small pile of books (which I didn’t finish until after we returned home!). I did, however, manage to work through a good chunk of this one:
- Curt D. Daniel. The History and Theology of Calvinism. Springfield, IL: Reformed Bible Church, 2003. 476 pages plus nine appendices.
- This excellent work is bound like a typewritten dissertation and is a compilation of handouts that Daniel used to accompany a series of messages delivered from 1987-1989.
- The 75 lectures are available for free downloading here. (My wife listened to all 75 of them on her MP3 player!)
- Daniel is an expert in Calvinism as evidenced by his Ph.D. dissertation on John Gill, which is some 900 pages long (University of Edinburgh, 1983).
- He divides his work on Calvinism into seventy-four chapters, which are handouts he used for lecturing on the topic.
- My first impression of the book was poor: (1) the format is unpleasant to the eye with tight line-spacing and a font resembling an old typewriter, and (2) Daniel does not formally cite his sources in footnotes.
- My impression changed, however, as I read the book from cover to cover. The first twenty-four chapters (pp. 1-172, 36% of the book) are the most enlightening. It covers the history of Calvinism in an irenic, informative way and includes chapters on Augustine; the Reformation; Calvin; Puritans; Westminster Assembly; Covenant Theology; High Calvinism; Amyraldism; Hyper-Calvinism; Jonathan Edwards’s Calvinism; Princeton Theology; Calvinistic Baptists; and Dutch Calvinism. Each chapter ends with a select bibliography.
- I recently learned from Phil Johnson that this is available for free as a Word doc! (I bought my hard copy for $30.) [Update: It is also available for free as a 574-page PDF!]
“Of Church Organization” is another wise and practical mini-series of short essays by Kevin Bauder.
Note: Central Seminary emails these essays every Friday afternoon. You can join the mailing list (as well as access the archives) here.
An article from my pastor, Dr. Mark Minnick, appeared in The Greenville News today: “The bones of Jesus of critical concern to Christians: The Bible states explicitly the true nature of Jesus’ resurrected body, including its bones.” It’s well written for his target audience.
HT: my brother-in-law, Eric True
This outstanding article became available today on John Frame‘s website: “Antithesis and the Doctrine of Scripture.” Frame notes, “This was my inaugural lecture on assuming the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL.” (See also “The Works of John Frame and Vern Poythress,” including their blog.)