Archive - November, 2009

The Source of Worry, Fear, and Anxiety

Brian Borgman writes:

The Bible leaves us no room for debate. The source of fear, worry, and anxiety is unbelief. The unbelief is specific, laid out for us by Isaiah and Jesus. When we fail to believe that God is for us, will take care of us, has our future in his hands, and is with us right now, we cave in to fear, worry, or anxiety…..When we are gripped with anxiety and fear, we are making an evaluation. Our souls are speaking, and our innermost being is expressing what we believe and whom we do not believe. How do we handle these emotions that can overwhelm us? We put a stranglehold on them with the vise grips of truth.
–From Chapter 11, page 128.

Browse the book online, and/or order a copy. Also, here’s my interview with Brian Borgman about his important book.

The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation

This sounds like a fantastic book, from a wonderful Hebrew professor. While reading this book John Piper tweeted “I feel like a greedy miser over a chest of gold.” He went on to say:

To all pastors and serious readers of the Old Testament—geek, uber geek, under geek, no geek—if you graduated from high school and know the word “m e a n i n g,” sell your latest Piper or Driscoll book and buy Sailhamer.
There is nothing like it. It will rock your world. You will never read the “Pentateuch” the same again. It is totally readable. You can skip all the footnotes and not miss a beat.

That’s enough reason to buy it. But here’s another endorsement:
“For years John Sailhamer has been pressing toward a comprehensive work on the Pentateuch, preparing the way with such works as his The Pentateuch as Narrative and a host of periodical publications on the subject. At last the magnum opus has appeared under the title The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation. In typical Sailhamer fashion, he has left no stones unturned in any language necessary to get to primary and secondary sources, while at the same time offering fresh insights into the biblical texts and compelling invitations to the reader to view them in more holistic and integrative ways. Careful reading of the book will inevitably call for a reexamination of the issue of the Pentateuch’s antiquity and its deliberate compositional strategy, a reassessment that will help to rehabilitate Torah as not the end product of Judaism but as the foundation of Israelite faith and practice.”
– Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The publisher’s description:

The Pentateuch is the foundation for understanding the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole. Yet through the centuries it has been probed and dissected, weighed and examined, its text peeled back for its underlying history, its discourse analyzed and its words weighed. Could there be any stone in Sinai yet unturned?
Surprisingly, there is. From a career of study, John Sailhamer sums up his perspective on the Pentateuch by first settling the hermeneutical question of where we should set our attention. Rather than focus on the history behind the text, Sailhamer is convinced that it is the text itself that should be our primary focus. Along the way he demonstrates that this was in fact the focus of many interpreters in the precritical era.
Persuaded of the singular vision of the Pentateuch, Sailhamer searches out clues left by the author and the later editor of the Pentateuch that will disclose the meaning of this great work. By paying particular attention to the poetic seams in the text, he rediscovers a message that surprisingly brings us to the threshold of the New Testament gospel.

CT Interview with Michael Horton

Mark Galli of Christianity Today interviews Michael Horton about his pair of books, Christless Christianity and The Gospel-Driven Life (both with Baker). Their first interaction:
What is at the core of the temptation to practice a Christless Christianity?

When the emphasis becomes human-centered rather than God-centered. In more conservative contexts, you hear it as exhortation: “These are God’s commandments. The culture is slipping away from us. We have to recover it, and you play a role. Is your life matching up to what God calls us to?” Of course there is a place for that, but it seems to be the dominant emphasis.
Then there is the therapeutic approach: “You can be happier if you follow God’s principles.” All of this is said with a smile, but it’s still imperative. It’s still about techniques and principles for you to follow in order to have your best life now.
In both cases, it’s law rather than gospel. I don’t even know when I walk into a church that says it’s Bible-believing that I’m actually going to hear an exposition of Scripture with Christ at the center, or whether I’m going to hear about how I should “dare to be a Daniel.” The question is not whether we have imperatives in Scripture. The question is whether the imperatives are all we are getting, because people assume we already know the gospel—and we don’t.

Read the whole thing.

Generational Investment in the SBC

Owen Strachan quotes Walter Price from a recent address given at the California Southern Baptist Convention:

I am not here today to claim the demise of the CSBC. It hasn’t happened…yet. What I am here to say is, ‘There’s an iceberg off the starboard bow and we better wake up.’
What is the iceberg? You already know. You saw it yourselves when I asked you to stand by age groups. The time has come for someone to sound the alarm. I do not purport to speak for the younger generation. They are eloquent in speaking for themselves. But the signs that I see are not encouraging. For all intents and purposes, except for a very few exceptions, we have lost those in their 20’s and 30’s.
If that statement causes you to react against them from under your gray hair, you are way off the mark. These young Baptists are passionate for the Kingdom of God. They are passionate to see people from every tribe and tongue and nation gather round the throne and worship our Holy God. Theirs is not a youthful rebellion. For them it is a matter of (and this is my word not theirs) stewardship. Is this convention the way that God wants me to invest my life, my time, my energy, my resources? I’m afraid many of them are finding little reason to answer in the affirmative.

Walter, senior pastor of Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California, is a great guy that any young pastor would be privileged to get to know.

Definition of bureaucracy

Matt Perman tells us, in 22 words, how to know if we have a bureaucracy.

Does God Really Want All People To Be Saved?

R.C. Sproul responds to a question submitted by Mark Driscoll on behalf of a Facebook user (part 2 of an interview, see part 1). Sproul distinguishes between various aspects of the will of God:

“Even though God is committed to justice (and judgment), he doesn’t get his jollies by subjecting people to punishment, like a sadistic tyrant would. The disposition of God is one of lovingkindness, but that lovingkindness doesn’t annul his concern for righteousness.”

David Axelrod Takes on Congressman Bart Stupak

Axelrod speaks obliquely about “discussions” to remove the Stupak-Pitts Amendment from health care legislation. (In other words: A trial balloon with plausible deniability….note how many “uhms” Axelrod utters.)

Obama Losing Independent Voters

Good WSJ article by Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen on the trend of independent voters moving away from Obama, with some suggestions for what the President could do about it.

Sarah Palin and 2012 – I Was Wrong

I said she wasn’t running for President, but clearly she is. The book tour is extremely well-timed, as her PAC needs to rake in $$ in 2010 and hit the ground running in 2011. Watch as she turns book interviews into observations on public policy and current events, replete with what sound like pre-tested sound bytes. Is it working? For now, maybe. Even negative op-eds sell books, and its amazing how strong some of the animosity is (Bob Scheiffer saying she “has no future in politics“; David Brooks saying “she is a joke“). Surely they go too far (folks like Scheiffer and Brooks spend their days surrounded by elites). That said, a title like “going rogue” is unlikely to help her gain serious consideration by a wide range of Americans.
Should she? Probably not. She has pockets of strong support, but also high negatives. She is simply not sufficiently knowledgeable on the issues in our day, and while her Reaganesque, common sense conservatism is winsome, she needs a greater depth of understanding and oratorical finesse to successfully extend her support base (the way Obama, for example, came from relative obscurity to electrify the Democratic party).
I see her as a force in the resurgent conservative movement, but not as the GOP nominee in 2012.

The New Shape of World Christianity

In a must-read for missiologists, church planters, and Christians seeking a deep understanding of how the church intersects with history, not to mention where we are going, Mark Noll sums up and analyzes the magnitude of recent changes in world Christianity in The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith (IVP Academic, 2009). A few highlights (from p. 19):
1. There might be more Christians in China than all of “Christian Europe” (which, I’d add, has been sliding toward secularism and Islam for years).
2. There are more Anglicans any one of several African states (Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda) than in Britain and Canada combined (even if you tack on all the Episcopalians in the U.S.).
3. There are more Presbyterians in the United Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa than in Presbyterian churches in the USA.
4. There are more members in Brazil’s Pentecostal Assemblies of God denomination than the combined total of the two largest U.S. Pentecostal denominations (the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ) in the United States.
But this book is far more than factoids about changing demographics. Noll explains:

“The main point of this book is that American Christianity is important for the world primarily because the world is coming more and more to look like America. Therefore, the way that Christianity developed in the American environment helps explain the way Christianity is developing in many parts of the world.”

Noll is a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A., English), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A., Theology), and Vanderbilt University (Ph.D., History of Christianity). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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