Daily Archives: 26 Jul 2016

The Riddle of Life

bavinckEerdmans has just published a volume first appearing in Dutch back in 1940 (and they’ve sent a review copy) that I can only describe with one word: beautiful.  The blurb runs thusly:

In the spirit of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, this book by eminent Calvinist thinker J. H. Bavinck offers a compact and compelling treatise on Christian belief.

Addressing big questions that haunt every thinking human being — Why are we here? Where do we come from? What is our destiny? How should we live? — Bavinck’s Riddle of Life also explores such essential topics as sin and salvation, Jesus the Redeemer, faith and idolatry, God’s great plan for creation, and the ultimate purpose behind our lives.

This lucid new translation by Bert Hielema of a classic text will make Bavinck’s profound reflections on faith and the meaning of human life accessible to a new generation of seekers.

The little book is exceptionally well written and authentically breaths the spirit of the best of Reformed theology.  Indeed, it reminds me a good deal of Emil Brunner’s superb ‘Our Faith‘ (a book that ought to be required reading in theological circles, schools, and seminaries and which can be read and downloaded here).

In his little treatise (it’s just north of 100 pages- so an afternoon will see the interested through it), Bavinck provides thinking Christians (and every Christian should be a thinking Christian) with plenty to ponder.  The questions he asks and answers are so central and so significant that hardly anyone can make it through life without asking them.

Eerdmans has done us all a favor by bringing this little volume out.  When, for instance, in chapter nine Bavinck discusses the idolatry of money it’s as though he were writing today and not in the late 1930’s.

Money is the magic wand that unlocks the doors to elegant hotels, picturesque palaces, and glorious gardens.  … Then we see how money is like a god, completely absorbing them.  … Money is not merely something you possess: it also changes your makeup, changes who you are  (p. 42-43).

Bavinck would surely say exactly the same today.

But money isn’t the only idol Bavinck discusses: he also looks at other popular gods- honor and the pursuit of pleasure.  This naturally leads into a discussion of the topic of sin.

Bavinck, then, doesn’t merely offer interesting and quotable answers to the most basic of life’s questions.  Like Brunner, he provides a basic introduction to Christian theology for a day in which too few think deeply enough about the meaning of their faith and even fewer actualize the implications of that faith.

I cannot recommend this book too highly.  It is the best theological treatment you’ll read this Summer.  This book is not only relevant, it is revelatory.

An Astonishing Quote from Karl Barth!

“Satan … is … my … friend.” Karl Barth (CD 4/1, pp 9-180)

Khirbet Qumrân et Aïn Feshkha: Fouilles du P. Roland de Vaux.

9783525540541Jean-Baptiste Humbert OP (Hg.), Khirbet Qumrân et Aïn Feshkha: Fouilles du P. Roland de Vaux.  The front matter and TOC (and a very cool photo of de Vaux) are all available here.  V&R have once again shown exceptional kindness and sent along a copy for review.  More anon.

More Folly From The Barton/Metaxas Axis of Evil

Warren Throckmorton writes

Last week, Eric Metaxas had David Barton on his radio show and told the audience that he loved Barton and his work. He also said he used some of Barton’s work to help write his new book If You Can Keep It. That book has been the subject of many critical reviews.

They also briefly discussed Barton’s pulled-from-publication book, The Jefferson Lies. In particular, Barton claimed to enlighten the audience about what is commonly known as the Jefferson Bible. Metaxas started to ask Barton a question about Jefferson’s editing of the Gospels, and Barton jumped in to explain.

Etc.  Enjoy.

Reformed Protestants Who Pick Nits

Calvin’s second generation-ism remembered.

Old Life

John Piper posted for the recent anniversary of John Calvin’s birthday about the origin of Calvinism. He went right to John Calvin and his conversion:

He was born in July 1509, in Noyon, France, and was educated at the best universities in law, theology, and classics. At the age of twenty-one, he was dramatically converted from tradition-centered medieval Catholicism to radical, biblical, evangelical faith in Christ and His Word.

Radical? At least it wasn’t earnest.

This is the sort of understanding of Reformed Protestantism that drives folks in Zurich nuts. At least a decade before John Calvin arrived in Geneva, Ulrich Zwingli was already reforming the churches of Zurich. Calvin was only twelve when Zwingli started on his way to Protestantism.

Nor should Martin Bucer be forgotten. He initiated reforms in the city of Strasbourg a year or so after Zwingli’s activities. Bucer also put his stamp indelibly on Calvin…

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The Bee Stings Those Wretched ‘Christian Book Stores’ That Litter the Landscape

Pretty much the worst place you can go to find substantive theological books is the local ‘Christian Book Store’.  So the Bee stings such establishments by suggesting they open a new section called ‘the false teaching’ section.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Responding to customer complaints alleging that works from well-known false teachers were mixed in with biblically sound material in the company’s bookstores, Family Christian Stores announced Tuesday morning that all books by apostates will be immediately removed from their shelves and separated into their own easy-to-find section.

“We’ve heard the public outcry against our profiting from the sale of damnable heresy,” a Family Christian spokesperson wrote in a statement. “But fear not—we’ve worked hard to pull all the books by dangerous false teachers like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and T.D. Jakes, and move them under our new ‘False Teaching’ section so they’ll be much easier to locate.”

According to the statement, Family Christian Stores sales associates will be provided with additional training to help customers navigate the new section of false doctrine. “Our sales floor personnel will be given the very best instruction possible, to help customers discern which false teacher they’d like to get moral guidance and wacky theological ideas from with each visit to our stores.”

Speaking to reporters, an FCS sales director estimated that the “False Teaching” section is expected to take up the bulk of each store’s sales floor space, and will make up the lion’s share of company revenue going forward.

It turns out that most of the store has been moved to that new grouping.

Rest in Peace, Jacques Hamel

13729030_490715251125062_5222164897050674384_nvia twitter

The Murder of A French Priest is an Attack on Every Christian Cleric

Two men stormed a parish church in northern France on Tuesday morning and took several hostages, fatally stabbing an 85-year-old priest and critically injuring another person, before the attackers were shot dead by the police, officials said. President François Hollande said that the Islamic State was behind the attack, the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry.

“We are facing a group, Daesh, that has declared war on us,” Mr. Hollande said, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State. “We must realize that the terrorists will not give up until we stop them. It is our will. The French must know that they are threatened, that we are not the only country — Germany is, as well as others — and that their strength lies in their unity.”

He spoke after traveling with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, the town in Normandy where the attack occurred, after meeting with the priest’s family and with the town’s mayor, Hubert Wulfranc.  The Rev. Jacques Hamel, the church’s auxiliary priest, was stabbed to death around 9:45 a.m., either as or just after Mass was celebrated, according to officials in the town. Two nuns and three worshipers were held hostage. Two people were injured, one of them severely.

We are all under siege by barbarians bent only on our destruction.  They can’t be loved enough or prayed for enough or hugged enough to be changed or to wish to change and that’s the horrifying unpleasant truth.

They may choose to kill us- but we, for our part, refuse to kill them.  We are called upon by Christ to turn the other cheek.  As clerics, there is no other course open to us.  If we die, we die.  But we will not stoop to their animalistic barbaric level and become what they are: ruthless godless pagan murderers.

None Of The Rest Of Us Woke Up in a House Built By Slaves…

And in fact I woke up in a house built by blue collar workers because I’m not a member of the oligarchy and have no political ambitions or connections…

I Don’t Use Accordance, But If You Do…

You’ll want to be aware of this: Accordance is having a sale – Göttingen LXX: Update & Price Reduction!

People talk about books being indispensable all the time.  Every book NT Wright pushes out is called indispensable by his marketing squad and army of toadies and yet all of them are quite dispensable.

This edition of the LXX actually is indispensable.  You should most certainly obtain it.  If not from Accordance, then from Logos.  If not from Logos then from Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.