Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Giveaway: Last Day!

Just wanted to send out a reminder that today is the last day to be part of our giveaway. All you have to do to enter this giveaway is to "Like" Bring the Books on our all-new Facebook page.  Tomorrow, or soon thereafter, we will randomly draw two names from our followers on Facebook.

Grand Prize


The grand prize winner will receive A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by G.K. Beale.  This highly anticipated volume is out now and we had a copy ready to give away.



Runner-Up

The runner-up will receive The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis by Dr. Guy Waters.

We will contact the winner via Facebook to get shipping information.  Due to the costs of shipping, the giveaway is only for those living in the continental United States.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Challenging The Communing/Non-Communing Distinction?

This is an open question to paedocommunionists. The question was actually raised by Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan as I was reading through their book Children and the Lord's Supper (on page 27). In the introductory chapter, they discuss troubling questions which paedocommunion raises. In particular, they bring up the paedocommunionist argument that if one is a baptized member of the church (regardless of age) then one should not be restricted from participating in the life of the church, including - of course - communion.
Paedocommunionists urge that the privilege of partaking of the Lord's Supper belongs to all church members as church members. This raises the question whether there are any privileges that a paedocommunionist believes the Scripture to forbid a child member from exercising. In other words, paedocommunion calls into question the integrity of the communing/non-communing member distinction, and may even call into question the distinction itself. A whole host of pastoral questions surface. Is a six or seven year old member of the church entitled to vote in congregational elections? To stand for church office, if the congregation so desires? What about church discipline? In the Presbyterian Church in America, there are special procedures for discipline of non-communing members. Would a paedocommunionist understand young members of the church to be subject to the same formal judicial process to which communing members are subject?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nine Reasons Beale's NT Biblical Theology Is Unique

In his book A New Testament Biblical Theology, G.K. Beale offers nine ways in which his NT biblical theology differs from other NT biblical theologies:
1) "The approach of this book overlaps with that of a whole-Bible biblical theology in that it addresses more directly the theological storyline of the OT" (5).

2) "The main facets of the OT narrative story are then traced into and throughout the NT" (6).

3) "The bulk of discussion in this biblical theology of the NT consists of attempts to elaborate on the main plotline categories of thought through surveying the places in the NT where that thought is expressed." This is in contrast to the chronological/canonical approach offered by most NT biblical theologies.

4) "[This Biblical Theology] is concerned with how important components of the OT storyline are understood and developed in Judaism. This is significant because it is important to see how the major biblical-theological notions of the NT develop these same OT components and whether they do so in dependence on Judaism or in line with Judaism or in contrast to it" (8).

5) "This approach to NT biblical theology will focus more on the unity of the NT than on its diversity" (9).

6) "It is not usual to find a concise definition of what is a classic NT theology. On the other hand, my working definition of NT biblical theology is the following, in dependence on Geerhardus Vos' definition of a whole-Bible biblical theology: 'Biblical theology, rightly defined, is nothing else than the exhibition of the organic progress of the supernatural revelation in its historic continuity and multiformity.'... This project places the interpretation of NT texts in relation to the preceding epochs found in the OT, which often occurs through analyzing the use of particular OT passages in the NT" (9).

7) "The approach of this book is most in line with Stuhlmacher's and Dodd's theory of NT biblical theology...Nevertheless, this book sets out in a different direction in the way it executes how the two Testaments are related" (11-12).

8) "[Other biblical theologies] conduct their discussions generally corpus by corpus...Also, in contrast, as noted earlier, my approach is organized by the major components of my formulation of the NT storyline" (14).

9) "In light of what I have discussed thus far, I categorize my biblical-theological approach to be canonical, genetic-progressive (or oganically developmental, as a flower develops from a seed and bud), exegetical and intertextual. This approach could be summarized as a 'biblical-theological-oriented exegesis.'" (15)
If you want Beale's book, you can enter our drawing to win a free copy (the drawing will be on December 1st). If you don't have the patience, then you can order your copy from the Westminster Bookstore for 45% off, though that offer is about to expire.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Responding to James Jordan's 'Review' of Children and the Lord's Supper

Over at Amazon, I noticed that James Jordan has already posted a review of Children and the Lord's Supper edited by Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan. I only received my copy in the mail today, but I began reading it with much excitement. After only reading ten pages in the book, I felt compelled to respond to James Jordan's review. Here is his original 1-star review:
As a longtime advocate of paedocommunion, I can safely say that I have never heard of anyone who believes that children should be admitted to the Lord's Table on the basis of birth from one Christian parent. Admission to the Table is by baptism, and children should begin to eat in Church when they are old enough to eat at home. Growing up at Jesus' table is perfectly natural in the New Creation. Perhaps the authors in this symposium should have bothered to read what paedocommunionists actually believe before putting out their criticisms!
What follows is my response to Jordan's review:
Mr. Jordan: On page 11 of the book, they do in fact, define paedocommunion as they are using the term as "the admittance of a covenant child to the Lord's Supper on the basis of his descent from at least one professing Christian parent." This is the sentence you find fault with. However, the very next sentence of the book is helpful: "Paedocommunion, then, maintains that a child's membership in the visible church is sufficient to admit him to the Table." You agree with this statement. Your complaint is not with the form of paedocommunion, but with the method by which one is a member of the visible church. The Westminster Standards say that children are baptized by virtue of their already being within the covenant prior to their baptism (WLC Q.166). And so Waters and Duncan are assuming a traditional Reformed view of membership in the visible church in keeping with their own church's (PCA) confession.

Hence, the book appears to be aimed at those who hold a confessional view of admittance into the visible church. If you believe that it is baptism itself which makes one a member of the visible church then on such a basis I could see why you would disagree with the authors' definition of paedocommunion. It is my hope that you actually read this book completely before posting this review.
Another way of putting it is that Jordan's complaint is that the book is not geared towards a Federal Vision understanding of admission into the visible church.

Best Christological Hymn Of All Time

In his Pillar New Testament Commentary on the Gospel of John, D.A. Carson includes the following hymn at the close of his discussion of John's prologue (1:1-18). I've never heard this hymn before and so am grateful that he chose to include it.
Thou art the everlasting Word,
The Father's only Son;
God manifestly seen and heard,
And Heaven's beloved one.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow.

In Thee most perfectly expressed
The Father's glories shine;
Of the full Deity possessed,
Eternally divine:
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow.

True image of the Infinite,
Whose essence is concealed;
Brightness of uncreated light;
The heart of God revealed
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow.

But the high mysteries of Thy name
An angel's grasp transcend;
The Father's only - glorious claim! -
The Son can comprehend
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow.

Throughout the universe of bliss,
The center Thou, and sun;
The eternal theme of praise is this,
The Heaven's beloved One:
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow.

Josiah Condor (1789-1855)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Church as the Marriage Battleground

I am constantly dancing on the periphery of pop cultural knowledge. On the one hand, I can tell you every video game that is coming out in the next month and how the reviews for them are stacking up. On the other, I have no idea who the Kardashians are, or why they are famous (I am told nobody knows). Actually, I was just told - by someone who was quite shocked at the news - that one of the Kardashians is getting a divorce after only having been married for 72 days.

It took me a minute to process this, because our culture is not shocked at all by divorce. It is ubiquitous. It is all around us. It is like pornography - it infects everyone's home (or so it is assumed), and so everyone is afraid (including many pastors) to tell the truth about it. So what is so special about this Kardashian divorce? Nothing. It is an opportunity for a jaded society to pretend it still has some qualms when in reality it just wants an opportunity to judge a beauty queen who did what they always expected, only much quicker than they expected it.

Nobody whom I have spoken to or heard on the radio is shocked that she got divorced, but they are shocked at how quickly she got divorced. While society pretends to reel at this not-so-shocking news, they secretly must acknowledge her for her efficiency at ending the marriage before it had a chance to fall apart and end in misery. Marriages today are not expected to endure. They are assumed to eventually fall apart. At your average wedding, the jaded crowd listening to the vows is not in awe that two people are uniting for life, till death. If they are honest, they will admit that they wonder what will be the now-happy couple's undoing: an affair? an emotional breakdown? failure to launch on the man's part? The crowd searches its mind for a breakdown which seems most compatible with the couple in front of them.

For years, we have been told that gay 'marriage' and gay unions will undermine marriage (and I have no doubt that in some sense they do, though I'm not trying to be political here). Has anyone considered that most straight marriages today are doing more to undermine marriage than a whole San Francisco courthouse could ever seek to do? Kim Kardashian's pathetically surface-level miming of vows is the real future of marriage.

I said earlier that I wasn't trying to be political, but in a sense I am. If this is what marriage is in the North American context, then why would the Church care two winks whether its view of marriage is what the magistrate acknowledges? Real, true, lasting marriages rooted in Christ and His intercession will never be performed by a judge, a Unitarian minister, or a ship's captain anyway. God knows if a marriage is real. God has revealed to his bride what His view is in these matters, and let us just say a 72 day marriage or a marriage that ends in divorce after even 50 years is not His will. The Church is the guardian of these truths - not Clinton or Bush or Obama or a Supreme Court or a House of Representatives. The battle lines should be drawn in our churches. The Church is the only institution with the right to chastise their members for so blatantly flouting and mocking marriage as Ms. Kardashian has done. The Church is the last battleground of marriage, not the Congress.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beale Giveaway Reminder

A friendly reminder from Dr. Beale to enter to win a free copy of his new book, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New.

Watch the video below to see Dr. Beale discussing the book.



We will also be giving away a copy of Guy Waters' book The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology to a second person. If you want to enter to win, just "like" Bring the Books on Facebook. The last day to enter is November 30th. We'll announce the winner on December 1st. Currently, the probability you will win at least one of the drawings is 1 in 43. That is much better than the lottery!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The SBC is Not a Business

I came across this editorial this morning that discusses the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention is considering changing their name. As I read it, I was struck by the fact that the author constantly compared the SBC to a business. For example,
As for geographic bias, I don’t think anyone will cancel their insurance because they perceive that New York Life is full of know-it-alls who talk too loud or will refuse to fly Southwest Airlines, worried that the company may be operated by bowlegged people with cow poop on their boots. It’s not the name; it is the public’s perception of the service they deliver.
In the midst of discussing the name change, the author takes a detour and comments on the fact that Al Mohler, president of one of the SBC seminaries, does not believe that women are fit for ordained ministry, the author says,
You see, women can run for president of the United States, be a senator or a governor, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or an astronaut, but they can’t be preachers in the SBC churches.
Even in this quote, the author seems to want to handle the Church like a business or other such enterprise. Regardless of your views on the "women-in-ministry" issue, the Church is not a business and these issues (a churches name and who is fit for church office) are not decided on the basis of popular opinion or other methods of the business world. The SBC is not a business. It is not run by a CEO or by any other person except Jesus Christ. Christ is the head of the Church and runs his Church through his word.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Behind a Frowning Providence..."

I began this day with an unwelcome cold shower. This unpleasant cold shower was a kindness of the providence of God. Let me explain. I got into my shower this morning only to realize that there was no hot water. After expediently showering, I went downstairs to light the pilot on our water heater, only to find it would not light. I also noticed that our furnace was clicking and not lighting. It also was apparent that our dryer (gas) was running, but it wasn't warming up. Anyone with a lick of sense will tell you that something was wrong with our house's gas supply, and they would have been right.

Our local gas company came out later in the day and explained that they installed a new meter for us because the old one was not allowing gas to get through. With the new meter installed, the men from the gas company were gracious enough to re-light our pilots for my wife, as I was at work for a few more hours. When the man from the gas company lit the pilot, he also checked for Carbon Monoxide leaks. Low and behold, he found one. Evidently, our house is built in a way that excess CO is vented through an old incinerator flew. However, the CO was not escaping - it was staying in our house. Evidently, birds had made their home in our chimney and had so blocked the opening that no light was even able to get through. The gas company would not turn our gas back on until the obstruction was removed.

Our landlord promptly had the flew cleaned out, our gas was turned back on, and the pilots were lit. Tonight, we have heating and hot water, praise God. What really concerns us is that our house may have been filling with carbon monoxide for quite some time. The gas company told us that we might have all died in our sleep some night because of this leak. If it hadn't been for my cold shower this morning and the discovery of this obstruction which lay at the end of a long chain of complex events, we still could be in serious danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What I mean to say is, I thank God for this event which began the day. I was not thanking God for my cold shower at the time, but I have spent the entire evening thanking Him for what I thought was a "frowning providence" on His part. Our lives were literally saved because this gas meter went bad.

It has been a hard week, I won't lie. We had two funerals in one week. We spent an entire week separated as a family because of one of the funerals. Work has been exhausting. Responsibilities keep piling on. I woke up this morning with a freezing cold shower.

In all of this, I am reminded of brother Cowper's words:
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
Much of the time, we don't have the pleasure of seeing God's smiling face in the immediacy of our pain or apparent "frowning providences." It is in the times when we can't see God's smiling face when we glorify Him by trusting Him anyway that He is good, and that He does good, and that He will not allow His saints to endure anything which is not for their eternal good. We do Him no honor by claiming that the things which happen to us are not His will and that they are not sent by Him. In so doing, we lose God's entire purpose in our pain. In fact, by denigrating God's sovereignty in our pain, we make it impossible for God to have a purpose in our darkest hours. These two claims together are our anchor: (1) God rules even my pain, and (2) He is absolutely good and always does what it right. Remove one and He is a despot. Remove the other, and he is a well-intentioned weakling.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bring the Books Book Giveaway

Between now and November 30th, we will be hosting a book giveaway. All you have to do to enter this giveaway is to "Like" Bring the Books on our all-new Facebook page. Once the deadline rolls around, we will randomly draw two names from our followers on Facebook.

Grand Prize


The grand prize winner will receive A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by G.K. Beale. This highly anticipated forthcoming volume will not be released until December.



Runner-Up

The runner-up will receive The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis by Dr. Guy Waters.

We will contact the winner via Facebook to get shipping information. Due to the costs of shipping, the giveaway is only for those living in the continental United States.