Why does the Bible use so many metaphors and analogies to describe the Spirit’s activities and our relationship to them? Why not employ concrete language to teach us what we need to know about the Holy Spirit and our relationship to him? ...
It’s no secret that young people in our culture are growing up later than ever. The life transitions into adulthood, such as being financially independent and getting married, now often happen in the early 30s, if at all. In many ways, 30 is the new 20. As a result, childish thinking and behaviors often carry into (what should be) adulthood.
There are undoubtedly a number of reasons for the perpetuation of adolescence, and certainly different ways to address it. But there is one that seems to be overlooked: We lack meaningful rituals to mark the transition into adulthood ...
The recent welcome of Evangelical radio apologist, “The Bible Answer Man” —Hank Hanegraaff, into the Greek Orthodox Church has understandably raised more than eyebrows. Questions about the differences between Protestants and Orthodox have been coming my way in the aftermath, so I want to offer to Good Book Blog readers an essay I wrote for Talbot’s Sundoulos magazine back in 2008. In it you’ll find some general characteristics of the Orthodox denomination as well as key points of difference with Protestants—some of which converts such as Hank Hanegraaff would typically need to renounce as they formally enter Orthodoxy ...
I have recently finished the manuscript of a book tentatively entitled Fighting for God and King: A Topical Survey of Warfare in the Ancient Near East, which will be published by SBL Press at some point in the future. The book is designed to be a sourcebook on all topics related to warfare in the ancient Near East to enable those studying Scripture to know more of the cultural background of the Old Testament. Over the next few months as the book goes through copy editing and page proofs, I am planning on highlighting a few texts and pictures from the book to illustrate some aspects of Old Testament texts (this post will have one text and one picture along with an overview of the book). I hope you enjoy the journey! ...
Archaeologists study antiquity, or ancient things. Archaeology is considered a science, though “not an exact or exclusive discipline,” in that by necessity it interacts and merges with many other disciplines, like geography, history, ceramics, numismatics, language, etc. This kind of study is able to retrieve “significant aspects of the past, which can greatly enhance our understanding of history and culture.”
Archaeology is beneficial to biblical studies in several ways. To name a few, the discipline can help to verify biblical history, provide background information, and even inform biblical interpretation. Archaeology can illumine, or put simply, “bring the Bible to life,” so to speak. Though archaeology and biblical studies are different disciplines, they are friends. To illustrate this point, I will provide below just a few of my favorite examples of archaeology’s intersection with the New Testament.
A Second-Century Inscription Found at Thessalonica (cf. Acts 17:6, 8)
The first example shows how archaeology can help to verify biblical history. The Greek inscription above, now inside the British Museum in London, England, was discovered at Thessalonica and dates to the second century A.D. The inscription lists six “politarchs” among other officials. In the first century, Luke correctly used the same word in Acts 17:6, 8 to refer to city officials in Thessalonica, though for years many scholars claimed that he was wrong in referring to politarchs. However, this Greek inscription found at Thessalonica helped to correct the misconception that Luke was mistaken.
A Jerusalem Temple Warning Inscription (cf. Ephesians 2:14; Acts 21:27-30)
The next example shows how archaeology can provide background information and help to inform biblical interpretation. The temple warning inscription above is located inside the Istanbul Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. This stone marker was located in the outer court of the Jerusalem temple platform and warned Gentiles not to enter the inner court area of the temple on penalty of death. The inscription dates from the first century and would have been present in Jesus’ day. Compare Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:14—“For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility” (NET; italics mine).
Paul talked about peace between Jews and Gentiles at the same time he talked about reconciliation to God (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10). A literal barrier existed between Jews and Gentiles. In the Jerusalem temple was a series of concentric courts. The outer court was called the Court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles were allowed to go no further than that. Within it was the Court of Israel, and around that court a barrier included warnings that forbade Gentiles to cross the boundary and enter the temple proper. The rigid centuries-old distinction between Jews and Gentiles was symbolized by this barrier. When Paul talked about the wall in Ephesians 2:14, he might well have had in mind this real physical picture of separation. At one point in his ministry, Paul got into trouble in Jerusalem for supposedly bringing a Gentile across the barrier into the forbidden area (cf. Acts 21:27–30). However, though a solid physical barrier, it only symbolized the real barrier, which was the Jewish law with its many rules and regulations (Ephesians 2:15)—things that people had to keep if they wanted to belong to God’s people. Now, Paul wrote, Christ has broken that barrier down (Ephesians 2:14)! So, no longer is there an exclusive part of the temple. No longer does a law discriminate between Jews and Gentiles. God has made both groups into one new people. Through Christ, His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace (Ephesians 2:15).
The Roman Triumph (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 and Colossians 2:15)
[Photos 1 and 2]
Roman triumphs were spectacular parades decreed by the city of Rome to celebrate great conquests; to honor the emperors, generals or consuls who achieved those victories; and to give thanks to the deity who bestowed them. The triumph’s central focus in the procession was the person being honored as victor and savior (sōtēr as “one who brings good fortune”). He rode in a chariot, typically pulled by four horses (called a quadrigo; see Photos 1 and 2). The triumphator was “dressed in a purple gown, wore a tunic stitched with gold motifs and had a crown upon his head.” The victor’s face “would be painted red and he carried an eagle-crowned scepter in his hand,” which elements were “taken from Jupiter’s depiction” in Rome’s most important temple, the Jupiter Capitolinus, where the parade ended with sacrifices and thanksgiving offered on behalf of Rome. The honoree in the triumph would be surrounded by soldiers and displays of the spoils of war (see Photo 3), with subjugated captives being mockingly paraded as slaves, many of whom would be put to death. Paul used the imagery of the Roman triumph metaphorically in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 and Colossians 2:15 to portray God as “the sole, divine ruler and sovereign victor over his enemies.” Consider the words of Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (NASB).
The Great Theater at Ephesus, the Goddess Artemis and Her Temple (cf. Acts 19:23-41)
[Photos 1 and 2]
The two pictures above are of the Great Theater at Ephesus; the one on the right was taken from the very top. The theater seated about 25,000 people and has fantastic acoustics. The ruin is located opposite the harbor street near the city’s south entrance. The theater is mentioned in Acts 19:23-41, which gives the account of a riot against Paul.
Ephesian craftsmen and silversmiths who made silver shrine replicas of Artemis and her temple opposed Paul and the Gospel. During this time in Ephesus, Demetrius became infuriated over dwindling shrine trade, undoubtedly affecting his livelihood, and incited a crowd to drag away Paul’s Macedonian traveling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, before an assembly of Ephesians in the city’s theater (Acts 19:24-29). Paul wanted to appear before the assembly in the theater as well, no doubt in an effort to help, “but the disciples would not let him” do so (Acts 19:30). When it looked like Gaius and Aristarchus would be killed, the city clerk urged the assembly not to do anything rash because the men had neither robbed temples nor blasphemed Artemis (Acts 19:37). He advised the crowd that if Demetrius and the craftsmen had complaints or charges, then they should follow due process on those matters through the available judicial means (Acts 19:38-39). To do otherwise, he warned, ran the risk of being charged with rioting and inviting Roman reprisal since they had no reason to justify their disorderly gathering (Acts 19:40). After speaking, “he dismissed the assembly” (Acts 19:41).
During the height of the uproar over Paul and his associates, the Jews pushed forward Alexander, one of their own, to give a defense before the assembly in the theater (Acts 19:33). Their motive was apparently to distance themselves from the tumult caused by the Christians. However, when Alexander sought to make his defense, the mob would have none of it. The crowd knew that Jews opposed Artemis, and when they recognized Alexander as a Jew, they all shouted “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” in the Great Theater (Photos 1 and 2 above) for about two hours (Acts 19:34).
Roman coins are helpful in providing background information about this first-century cultural context. For example, “Claudius issued a series of silver cistophorii in A.D. 50-51 to celebrate his marriage to Agrippina the Younger. These coins reflect on their reverse evocative portrayals of the temple of Diana [Artemis] in Ephesus, including the cultic statue of the goddess.” As seen at the beginning of this section, disputes over replicas of Artemis’ statute and her temple, reflected on the coin’s reverse (Photo 3 below), are what led to Paul’s conflict with Demetrius and the silversmiths.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is a great place to learn not only the New Testament and biblical archaeology but any of the disciplines to help you become a more effective steward of the Gospel with which God has entrusted us. The seminary is intentionally evangelistic, committed to text-driven preaching, and emphasizes Baptist distinctives. Join us and allow us the joy and privilege of helping prepare you for a lifetime of ministry.
J.R. McRay, “Archaeology and the New Testament.” Pages 93–100 in Dictionary of New Testament Background (eds. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter; Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2000), 93.
By this, I do not mean definitively prove or disprove our theological assertions.
Unless indicated otherwise, translations are my own.
S.J. Hafemann, “Roman Triumph.” Pages 1004–1008 in Dictionary of New Testament Background (eds. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter; Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2000), 1004.
Coins and relief panels provide tremendous insights into ancient history and culture. The photo of the gold coin called an aureus (Photo 1, left) with Titus Caesar’s image on the front and shown on the reverse in triumphal quadriga was borrowed from http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/ric/titus/RIC_0370[vesp].jpg; accessed April 18, 2017. The photo of the relief panel (Photo 2, right) is from the Arch of Titus, dedicated in A.D. 81 to celebrate the emperor’s victory in the Jewish War of A.D. 66–74, which featured the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70. The image was borrowed from http://www.ancient.eu/uploads/images/1286.jpg?v=1485680457; accessed April 18, 2017.
Hafemann, “Roman Triumph,” 1005.
In this relief panel scan from the Arch of Titus (Photo 3), Roman soldiers parade the Jerusalem Temple’s spoils of war in the Roman triumph. The image is part of the Yeshiva University Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project and was found at http://cdn.biblicalarchaeology.org/wp-content/uploads/imperial-city-3.jpg?x10423; accessed April 18, 2017.
Hafemann, “Roman Triumph,” 1005.
L.J. Kreitzer, “Coinage: Greco-Roman.” Pages 220–22 in Dictionary of New Testament Background (eds. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter; Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2000), 221. The insert is mine; Diana is the Roman name for Artemis.
The silver cistophorus has Claudius’ image with the coin reverse showing the temple of Diana (Artemis), which includes her cultic statue (Photo 3); coin photo borrowed from https://www.acsearch.info/media/images/archive/93/2617/2710672.s.jpg; accessed April 19, 2017.
I hate gnats.
I particularly hate the gnats called the no-see-ums or sandflies. They are present certain months of the year on the beach. Though almost invisible to the naked eye, they can pack a powerful sting.
All who serve in vocational ministry have gnats. They come with the call. They are the critics. They are those who always have a better way to do things. They are the ones who expect you to visit them regularly. They are the ones who always speak up in a business meeting, always negatively.
They won’t ever go away. So you can either leave ministry because of them, or you can deal with them. Here are seven ways you can deal with gnats.
Realize gnats are gnats
They are troublesome, at times demoralizing, but never fatal. Well, they are not fatal unless you treat them like the larger problem they are not.
Look beyond the gnat moments
If you are a pastor or church staff leader, you will have gnats. You will have those who seem to constantly bug you (pun intended). But the issue almost always goes away. You will look back on those gnat moments and wonder why you acted like it was a major crisis.
Focus on those things that really matter
If you focus on the gnats, they can take you down. If you focus on those things God has called you to do, you will forget about the gnats.
Pray for the gnat source
Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44). We can do the same with our gnat sources.
Realize gnats are a cost of leading ministry
Some pastors and church staff move from church to church trying to get away from gnats. But they simply move from one nest of gnats to another. God called you to ministry. He didn’t promise it would be easy; and He didn’t promise He would remove the gnats of our ministry.
Find joy where joy is evident
I once coached a pastor who was gnat-obsessed. He couldn’t find joy in his ministry because he was too busy focusing on the small bites of the gnats. I coached another pastor who seemed to have the same level of gnat attacks. But he focused on the great things God was doing in his church. Do you want to guess which pastor is doing well in ministry today?
Seek a wise confidant
Perhaps you can find a wise mentor in ministry who has several gnat bites himself. If they have persevered in ministry and still have joy in their local churches, they can offer great perspectives for you who are experiencing gnats today.
In my younger years, I tried to make gnats go away. Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I realize gnats are a part of ministry.
We must not only accept a gnat-infested ministry, we must learn to accept the gnats, pray for the gnats, and love the gnats.
Then, and only then, can we know the true joy of serving in the local church.
Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Rainer received both a master of divinity and Ph.D. from Southern Seminary and was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism from 1994 to 2005. He is the author of many books and served as a a pastor for several years. This article was originally published on Rainer’s blog.
Romans 6:5-6 has puzzled me by the statement that the believer has in effect already been crucified with Christ.
“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (nasb)
My problem may have been that I viewed the crucifixion of my “old self” as having been accomplished entirely in the past, at my conversion. We are to “consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin” (6:11) so that we respond by denying the impulses and attractions to sin that (unfortunately) continue throughout this life. In practice, I have liked the idea of knowing that I am no longer a slave to sin, that I am not obligated to give in to temptations, and that I have a new capability from the Holy Spirit to live as God calls me to do. Is there importance of crucifixion for understanding my present condition? ...
The Bible insists that everything exists for Jesus. He is the Telos, the Goal, the Final Point where all lines converge. ‘But isn’t that such a strange and invisible conclusion? Doesn’t such a view make Christianity fundamentally anti-science?’
Dear Dr. Craig,
I have asked about the atonement in a previous submission. Please forgive this final, multipart question, which can stand alone.
Here is the question. Even if it is legitimate for God to use vicarious liability and punishment in saving us--legitimate because these are established elements of Western law--why would God prefer vicarious liability to pardoning, which is also a recognized part of Western law? What advantage, from a legal philosophical view, does vicarious liability/punishment have over pardoning? Could God have chosen the legal option of pardon if He wished, rather than substitutionary atonement? What purpose is there in Jesus suffering, if absolution can be gained otherwise? Or is there some other moral, aesthetic, personal consideration that makes penal substitution preferable? ...
“How should my church do short-term missions?” Pastors, missions pastors, or local church missions committees that desire to involve their church in short-term missions opportunities should probably consider this question in deciding how to engage their church in the world missions endeavor. That’s especially true when we desire to do biblical missions. If we as churches and church leaders desire to be “people of the Book,” doing missions biblically should be our ultimate aim.Missions experience or missions strategy?
As pastors and church leaders, we need to ask ourselves, “Do we want a missions experience or a missions strategy?” Some churches look for trip opportunities that will yield a captivating report at the end of the trip. Unfortunately, sometimes little thought is given to what of eternal value will be accomplished on the trip. If we are going to be investing large amounts of money, personnel, and time on a missions trip, isn’t it wise to consider what it is we hope to accomplish for the Kingdom?
As we look at missions opportunities, we need to pass each opportunity through a biblical sieve to make sure that what we are doing actually fulfills what the Lord would have us do. The gospels give us statements of Jesus that every Christian should heed. The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) commands us to “make disciples,” “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and believers in the Great Commission, we need to take seriously the both the “make disciples” and the “all that I have commanded you” parts.Isn’t loving people enough?
Someone might push back and say, “But there is also the Great Commandment. Isn’t it enough to just love people in Jesus’ name?” It is true that Jesus did command us to love God with all we are and all we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This should be a part of every Christian’s daily walk. Sometimes churches plan missions trips around “helping ministries.” Some missions trip participants may not be comfortable with evangelism or discipleship projects, but they are comfortable with helping ministries such as medical missions, construction projects, or feeding projects. I am not arguing against any such projects. We should be doing them where they are needed, but we must keep the mandate of the Great Commission in mind at all times—“make disciples.” Sometimes our people need to be stretched in the area of making disciples.Sending the discipled to disciple
In the past, when evangelical churches and denominations have thought about how to fulfill the Great Commission, the emphasis has often been strictly on evangelism and church planting. However, the longer and often the messier task is to ensure that believers are growing into true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, it is a different challenge to not only plant churches, but to plant churches that are doing the job of making disciples effectively.
Disciples are made by disciples, therefore the task of fulfilling the Great Commission truly begins at home. Those we send to the world need to be disciples themselves.
Some action points toward the goal of sending true disciples to the world for the purpose of disciple-making might include:
• Utilize discipleship small groups to emphasize Great Commission goals.
• Plan evangelism outreach as with built-in opportunities to mentor church members.
• Model evangelism and disciple-making before our members.
• Send out members to plant churches locally.
There are surely many more ways to be prepared as a church body to fulfill the Great Commission worldwide, but this is a start.Planning a strategy
Once we have teams that are called and prepared to do what we have practiced and accomplished at home, we need to think of effective ways to put them to good use in a foreign setting. This requires some planning, but can be accomplished by churches and leaders who approach the task prayerfully and creatively.
Some strategies for being intentional about discipleship on the mission field might be:
• Ensure there is an evangelism and/or discipleship component involved on every trip.
• Focus on ways to strengthen the local church on the field.
• Mentor national leaders while you minister on the field—Don’t just do, but teach to do.
• Leave national leaders in charge of ongoing follow-up and teach them how to do it.
• Focus on one place in the world and set goals for strengthening churches and believers in that place over several years.
• These are a few suggestions, but certainly not an exhaustive list. Pray about other ways to be intentional about making disciples through short-term missions. When churches take such an intentional approach to making disciples on the mission field, national churches are strengthened, the work is multiplied, and disciples are made—biblically.
Anthony Steele serves as Training Facilitator for Latin America with Reaching & Teaching International Ministries. He is a Southern Seminary graduate (M.Div. 1988, D.Miss. 2016) He is married to Beverly and has two children and four grandchildren. This article was originally published at Reaching & Teaching.
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As the second part in this post on four protections to create a safe relational space for small groups, here I focus on the fourth condition. This fourth condition has four pieces to it for limiting communication that tends to shut people down. The goal is to be able to accept others as they are, with their true sharing of their real mess in daily life as a Christian. Often we can get in our own way and so fail to love them in this way because we are so busy with the speck of sawdust in their eye. In a sentence, this four-part fourth condition is the log in our eyes that prevents meeting with others.
In 1879, Crawford H. Toy resigned his position as Southern Seminary’s professor of Old Testament due to conflict between his views on biblical inspiration and the institution’s confessional statement, the Abstract of Principles. Toy’s departure — necessary to preserve the school’s doctrinal integrity and uphold the trust of the Southern Baptist Convention — left a great void of scholarship that the remaining seminary faculty was anxious to fill. In 1883, the seminary found its man, a young professor named George W. Riggan.
A native of Virginia named in honor of George Washington, Riggan professed faith in Christ as a teenager and pursued the Baptist ministry after abandoning a potential career as a boatman. Having graduated from Richmond College with high honors, he enrolled at Southern Seminary eager to apply himself to both dutiful scholarship and frequent preaching opportunities. Even John A. Broadus, widely regarded as one of the finest preachers of his day, remarked that Riggan “spent too much time in preaching … and during the second session he was sometimes taken ill, and he simply replied that he was sure it was his duty.”
Riggan’s rigorousness earned him a position as an assistant instructor in Hebrew, Greek, and homiletics even before his graduation from the seminary. In addition to his academic work, he served as a commuting pastor of the historic Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church of Woodford County, Kentucky. Distinguishing himself as the antithesis of Crawford Toy, Riggan authored multiple articles published in Baptist newspapers that defended the infallibility of Scripture and the trustworthiness of the biblical canon. In his 1883 article titled “What Is the Proper Attitude towards Recent Biblical Criticism,” Riggan cautioned against uncritical acceptance of the claims of grammatical-historical critics that undermined the authority of Scripture.
This theme also characterized his faculty inaugural address, which he titled “The Preacher’s Adaptation to His Intellectual Environment,” delivered Oct. 1, 1883. Fittingly enough (considering the Darwinian naturalism which had adversely influenced Toy’s theology), Riggan’s address opened with an acknowledgment of the predominance of the “survival of the fittest” lifecycle in the natural world, observing how adaptation to environment is an essential component of nature. He proposed that a preacher should likewise adapt himself to his intellectual environment, defined as “the intellectual influences which distinguish his time and country from other times and countries.”
Riggan emphasized this intellectual adaptation must never be an accommodation to the unbiblical conclusions of modern thought, because “as the messenger of God must not slavishly imitate or affect the tastes of his community … so in intellectual matters he must not be a mouthpiece for this time.” The Christian preacher must be wise in applying the truths of Scripture to the problems of his own day. Riggan’s call to adaptation meant a preacher must cultivate “close intellectual sympathy with his hearers … for the preacher’s power as a man, apart from the authority of his message and the Spirit’s presence, is the power of sympathy.” Furthermore, the preacher’s adaptation would enable him to appreciate the positive contributions of modern thought while granting him “a knowledge of the best points of attack.” A well-informed argument makes a strong case for truth, rather than simply pontificate complaints at the world’s many problems.
Riggan encouraged busy pastors to make greater strides to understand the ultimate roots of cultural thought in ways that went beyond newspaper headlines or mundane conversations. At the same time, he warned the eager preacher against becoming seduced by modern thought to such an extent as to “talk with more zest about science and art than about personal religion.”
Less than two years later, Riggan died suddenly on April 18, 1885, after being stricken with meningitis at the age of 30. John A. Broadus delivered his funeral sermon, which was later published in his Sermons and Addresses (1886), and remarked highly of Riggan’s acute intellect, high personal character, commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy, and unbridled enthusiasm for Christian service: “While fully in sympathy with the spirit of progress, and eagerly examining all living questions, Dr. Riggan was unwaveringly convinced of the truth of those opinions which are established among Baptists concerning the authority of Scripture and the Theology which Scripture exhibits.”
Like the thrill of a well-orchestrated fireworks display, Riggan’s lifespan was brief yet memorable. Had his health endured, he would likely have become one of the seminary’s most accomplished and respected professors. The full text of his inaugural address can be downloaded from the Boyce Digital Library: http://digital.library.sbts.edu/handle/10392/4929.
John A. Broadus, Sermons & Addresses (Baltimore: H. M. Wharton & Company, 1886), 354-55.
George W. Riggan, “What Is the Proper Attitude towards Recent Biblical Criticism,” Religious Herald, January 18, 1883. Gregory A. Wills, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009 (Oxford University Press, 2009), 59.
Riggan, “The Preacher’s Adaptation to His Intellectual Environment: Inaugural Address” (Louisville: Hull & Brothers, 1883), 7.
Broadus, Sermons & Addresses, 360.
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All injustice should be resisted, but what injustice is the evangelical church best equipped to address?
As you look at Scripture passages like Micah 6, Isaiah 58, and Luke 10, it becomes pretty clear that justice is at the heart of discipleship. If the church is not responding to issues of injustice, then we are not responding to God’s heart for the world. So, the question is not, “What injustice should we address?” as much as it is “What are we doing to address the injustice around us?”
How can seminary students best use their free time to get involved in matters of justice?
Having graduated from seminary myself, I can recognize how insular an experience it can be. However, the antidote for that is to leave the confines of the campus and to engage in conversations, interactions, and issues with those that face injustice. It might be a single mother or an inner-city youth or an aftercare home in Cambodia. But the first step should be an intentional step outward.
What is a helpful, introductory book a student could read to become educated about matters of economic injustice, specifically?
When you have people in poverty and people in power in close proximity, it can lead to economic injustice and, too often, slavery. In fact, the UN estimates that there are 4 billion people (half the world!) that live outside the protection of basic law enforcement with an estimated 45 million people trapped in slavery. To learn more about the realities and tragedies of economic injustice, I would recommend reading Gary Haugen’s The Locust Effect.
Book Reviews: ‘Revitalize’;‘Exalting Jesus in Hebrews’;‘The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life’;‘Christ Alone’
Revitalize: Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again by Andrew M. Davis (Baker Books 2017, $15.99)
Review by S. Craig Sanders
Church revitalization is a trending topic in American evangelicalism and it’s no surprise why — thousands of churches close their doors each year and the number of unchurched adults in the United States continues to escalate. But the challenge of revitalization has persisted since Christ’s message to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, writes SBTS alumnus Andrew M. Davis in his new book Revitalize.
Writing from his experience pastoring the historic First Baptist Church of Durham for nearly 20 years, Davis casts a vision for transforming congregations grounded in Christ’s ownership of the church and the proclamation of the Word in expository preaching. Davis also offers advice for handling opposition and raising up leaders in pastoral ministry, sharing personal stories and practical tips. His careful and systematic approach to this topic, in addition to his track record in ministry, make this book a must-read for pastors and seminarians.
Exalting Jesus in Hebrews by R. Albert Mohler Jr. (Holman Reference 2017, $14.99)
Review By S. Craig Sanders
In the first volume of Holman’s Christ-Centered Exposition series to feature the CSB translation, SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. provides a clear analysis of the “Christocentric” book of Hebrews in a format ideal for sermon preparation and small group study.
“In order to understand this New Testament letter we must become familiar with the history, themes, and theology of the Old Testament,” Mohler writes. “Hebrews will guide us along this journey, but it is important that we keep our Old Testaments open as we read this epistle.”
Each of the 32 lessons features the main idea of the passage, breaking down the structure into smaller sections with easy-to-read exposition, concluding with “Reflect & Discuss” questions. The book is adapted from Mohler’s two-year teaching series at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville and offers an affordable tool to aid the expository teacher.
The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12 by
Dale Ralph Davis (Christian Focus 2016, $10.99)
Review by Annie Corser
In The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life, author and theologian Dale Ralph Davis provides a rich biblical commentary on Psalms 1-12. Davis exposits each verse to walk the reader through Psalms with his understanding of the biblical languages and stories from personal experience. His application of the text allows the reader to experience delight in God’s Word.
This book is an excellent supplement resource for Christians who desire to dive deeper into Psalms. Davis provides a big picture experience in tracking biblical themes while also analyzing smaller sections of Scripture. Davis argues that Psalm 1 deals with first things. He urges readers to “make sure you are among the congregation of the righteous.” Throughout the rest of the Psalms, Davis explores how righteousness is opposed to wickedness. This process leads to an application of relying on God and delighting in his Word.
Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior by Stephen J. Wellum (Zondervan 2017, $24.99)
Review by S. Craig Sanders
Zondervan’s Five Solas series continues to deliver powerful demonstrations of Reformation theology with its fourth book, SBTS theology professor Stephen J. Wellum’s Christ Alone. Each book stands on its own as a gem of systematic and historical theology, but together offer a treasury of wisdom for understanding our heritage and bracing for the doctrinal challenges in our contemporary setting.
Wellum’s book, building off his magisterial God the Son Incarnate (review below), offers a more broad and accessible treatment of Christ’s incarnation and atonement, followed by historical treatment of how the Reformers contended for these doctrines.
“Solus Christus stands at the center of the other four solas, connecting them into a coherent theological system by which the Reformers declared the glory of God,” Wellum writes. “For this reason, we need to attend closely to what the Reformers taught about our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Rather than providing a full-orbed treatment of Reformation Christology, Wellum instead focuses on two central foundations: the exclusive identity of Christ and his sufficient work. In the first part, Wellum explores the storyline of Scripture and how the covenantal development testifies to who Jesus is, in addition to Christ’s self-witness to his identity. He then examines how Christ’s divine-human identity necessitates his exclusivity as redeemer, which includes a focus on Christ’s threefold office as prophet-priest-king and a defense of penal substitutionary atonement.
“From beginning to end, this book confesses with the Reformers that Jesus Christ bears the exclusive identity of God the Son incarnate and has accomplished an all-sufficient work to fulfill God’s eternal plans and establish God’s eternal kingdom on earth,” Wellum writes.
With pluralistic secularism threatening the doctrine of Christ alone, Wellum’s insightful book can provide the blueprint for withstanding the storm of cultural opposition.