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Recommended Reading or Meditations of a Bibliophile...Read More

Books released in conjunction with the 300th Anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Edwards...Read More

by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (New York: The Dial Press, 2004). I don't typically read novels. Fiction has never been one of my favorite genres. But in recent months I made a two-fold exception to this rule. Yes, I did read The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. Yes, I did find it fascinating. No, I don't recommend that you read it. Wait for the movie version, which I hear is being directed by Ron Howard. My second adventure into fiction proved far more rewarding. This s...Read More

On The Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 336pp. By Timothy P. Weber...Read More

Sequels usually don't fare well with the American public. There are exceptions, of course. One thinks of The Godfather II and the seemingly endless installments in the Harry Potter series of books. But John Piper has produced a "sequel" of sorts that is sure to become a classic of the Christian life. I have often said that Piper's Desiring God (Multnomah) is the most influential and life-changing book I've ever read outside of Scripture itself. I still stand by that jud...Read More

I finally did it. After nearly four years, countless reviews, and over one million copies in print, I picked up and read John Eldredge’s best-selling book, Wild at Heart. I don’t know why it took me so long to do so. After all, I had read with great delight and profit the book he co-authored with the late Brent Curtis, The Sacred Romance. There is much to commend in this volume, not least of which is Eldredge’s engaging and vivid style of writing. One ...Read More

Faith, Health and Prosperity: A Report on "Word of Faith" and "Positive Confession" Theologies by ACUTE (the Evangelical Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth among Evangelicals) (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2003), 316 pp. Edited by Andrew Perriman...Read More

I never planned on writing a review of this book until I read an article on the web (1-2-05) indicating that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has once again emerged as a serious candidate to become the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. This isn’t a book that will appeal to the mainstream evangelical world. In fact, few evangelicals keep an eye on developments in the Catholic Church and even fewer read books written by or about Roman Catholics. But when I was prepar...Read More

(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 302pp. Edited by J. Matthew Pinson Here we find yet another installment in the Counterpoints Series from Zondervan. There are now fifteen volumes, ranging in subject matter from miraculous gifts (to which I contributed) to women in ministry, from hell to the millennium, etc. Generally speaking, these have proven to be extremely helpful, as they provide the reader with brief, but competent, summaries of the many options on a particular ...Read More

(Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2004), 338 pp.  Edited by Chad Owen Brand Books articulating multiple perspectives on a particular subject have become fashionable in the evangelical world. Zondervan’s Counterpoint series is now up to seventeen volumes. Inter-Varsity Press has also joined in with a treatment of four views on divine foreknowledge. Now Broadman & Holman takes its turn with this treatment of Spirit baptism. The editor of this ...Read More

(Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2004), 291pp. Ian Stackhouse This is an exceptionally good book. It is also exceptionally painful to read. Not because Stackhouse writes poorly. Far from it. He is a superb writer and makes his points with the utmost clarity. That’s the problem. His points are sharply pointed and will inevitably sting a lot of people who take the time to dig into his treatise. I had never heard of Ian Stackhouse until my recent visit to Englan...Read More

(Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2004), 291pp. Ian Stackhouse This is a continuation of the first half of my review. Stackhouse summarizes his thesis in this way: “A return to classical ministry and the wider tradition is part of the overall progress of renewal spirituality: for renewal is best realised when we attend to those things – preaching, sacraments, prayer and pastoral care – that reconnect the church to the original gospel of what God h...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp.  I can’t count the number of times over the past six months that people have asked me: “When are you going to write about the Emerging Church?” That question is almost always followed by: “Have you read Brian McLaren’s books?” The answer to the second question is Yes. If I’m n...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp. Chapter three of Carson’s book consists of a rather long evaluation of how the Emerging Church analyzes contemporary culture. This is important for the simple fact that “the emerging church leaders themselves ground their call to reformation in the cultural changes taking place all around us” (57). If the...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp. Postmodernism [I decided that it might be helpful to insert this brief introductory survey of postmodernism for the sake of those who are still uncertain about precisely what it is. Those of you who are familiar with the issues may want to skip this lesson and proceed to Part Four of my summary review of Carson’s ...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp.   Carson describes the fourth chapter of his book as “a simplification and updating of a couple chapters” from his book, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Zondervan, 1996). Some who read it, however, will wonder how anything so complex can be a “simplification” of anything...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp.   It is with chapter five, entitled “Emerging Church Critique of Postmodernism,” that Carson begins a more direct evaluation of the movement. I must say, however, that this chapter is less well organized than the rest of the book. At times the content of a section does not always correspond to the subtit...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp.   Here is Carson at his best, or his worst, if you are a fan of McLaren and Emergent. In chapter six he directs his attention to two representative books: (1) A Generous Orthodoxy, by McLaren, and (2) The Lost Message of Jesus, by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann. I read A Generous Orthodoxy when it first came out in late...Read More

A Review of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 250 pp.   My extensive summation of Carson’s book will conclude with this seventh installment. We’ll look at his brief response to Steve Chalke’s book, The Lost Message of Jesus (Zondervan), together with a few comments on the significance of the many biblical texts Carson cites concerning the importance o...Read More

(Nashville: Nelson Current, 2005), 307pp. by Jack Cashill I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun reading a book. At the same time, it was incredibly infuriating. Not because it was poorly written. Far from it. This is a superbly written volume. The anger is explained by the topic. In Hoodwinked, Cashill takes us for a walk through the weeds of intellectual fraud, the numerous instances in the last one-hundred years in which we in America have been vi...Read More

(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 272pp. by Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom One of the highlights of having taught in the department of Bible, Theology, Archaeology and World Religions at Wheaton College was the annual Theology Conference, typically held in April. The conference was established by the late Timothy Phillips and Dennis Ockholm (now of Azusa Pacific College) and was co-sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I mention this because I will ne...Read More

(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 814 pp. by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday The twentieth century was undoubtedly the bloodiest and most lethal known to man. One need only think of the two world wars, the Holocaust, the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, just to mention a few. I’ve heard numerous debates as to who was the most barbaric of those latter three. Hitler’s evil exploits hardly need to be rehearsed. Stalin was responsible for more than 30 ...Read More

by John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2005), 190pp. John Piper’s most recent book was provoked by the realization of how quickly and pervasively this current generation has abandoned God as the “all-satisfying gift of God’s love” (11). Piper is disturbed, and rightly so, that so few Christians proclaim God himself as the greatest gift of the gospel. If you were to poll professing Christians today and ask them, “What is the greatest gif...Read More

By Lyle Dorsett (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004), 182pp.  Few people noticed when C. S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963. Their attention was focused on the death of another, more famous figure: U. S. President, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on the same day Lewis died of kidney failure just short of his sixty-fourth birthday. Today it’s a different story. C. S. Lewis is everywhere. Just this past week, the cover stories of Christ...Read More

(Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005), 144pp. by George Barna Most Christians are familiar with George Barna and his relentless efforts to discern trends within the body of Christ and society at large. According to the dust jacket of this volume he has written more than 35 books and “has been hailed as ‘the most quoted person in the Christian Church today.’” I suspect that he will continue to be quoted extensively, but it grieves me to thin...Read More

(Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005), 144pp. by George Barna We’ve come to Chapter Five in Barna’s account of the Revolution he so loudly applauds. Here he identifies seven trends “that will facilitate the moral and spiritual revolution that millions of us have been praying for over the past several decades” (42). Let me be clear about one thing. If by “moral and spiritual revolution” Barna means a transformation of the way tru...Read More

I've been amazed at the response to my two-part review of George Barna's book, Revolution. It isn't the quantity of response that has surprised me (although it's been huge), but the nature of the objections that have been raised. So I thought it might be helpful to write a brief follow-up to clarify what I did and did not say about Barna's proposal. First, many mistakenly thought that in my protest to Barna's book I was advocating the necessity of a "building" or some s...Read More

(Zondervan, 2005), 267 pp. By Rick M. Nanez Can one recommend a book too highly, too enthusiastically? I suppose so, especially if the book in question is merely another in a long line of volumes that addresses a well-worn theme and does so in mediocre fashion. Rick Nanez's Full Gospel, Fractured Minds? fails to qualify on either count. This is truly a one-of-a-kind book that is superbly written and argued. No one, at least as far as I know, has written a comparable v...Read More

The past few months have witnessed a flood of new book releases, many of which are deserving of our attention. I hope to provide a more extensive review of several of these listed, but for now a brief notice will have to suffice. The following list is a mix of everything from scholarly treatise to popular biography. They aren’t listed in any particular order of preference, although I do begin with several works on eschatology, given that this is my current focus o...Read More

Christianity Today magazine just released its 50-Year Anniversary Issue. CT was founded in 1956 and has served the evangelical world as something of a spiritual counterpart to Time and Newsweek. In this issue they listed the fifty books published within the last fifty years that have exerted the greatest influence on evangelicals and evangelicalism.   Justin Taylor asked me and others to compile our own list (which he will release on his blog today), but he asked...Read More

The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2000), 204 pp. Author O. Palmer Robertson I first read this book in 2000 when it was originally published and decided to give it another look. I'm glad I did. Robertson's treatment of the current identity and future of Israel in God's redemptive purposes will stir significant debate. That's assuming, of course, that people in the mainstream of evangelicalism take the time to read it....Read More

(Downers Grove: IVP, 2002), 263 pp. by D. Brent Sandy Brent Sandy is professor and chair of the department of religious studies at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. He has undertaken a monumental task in this book, perhaps an impossible one according to some. He proposes to analyze the nature of prophetic language in Scripture. It is his purpose to help the reader grasp how the biblical authors used words and images and ideas to communicate God’s design for...Read More

Pierced for our Transgressions: Rediscovering the glory of penal substitution   By   Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey, Andrew Sach (Nottingham, England: IVP, 2007, 373pp.)   Part One   On my recent ministry trip to Scotland I was determined to obtain a copy of this remarkable book. It wasn’t easy, as it was sold out in the first two stores I visited. Finally, while in Edinburgh, I located a copy at the Wesley Owen bookshop. I immediately im...Read More

Pierced for our Transgressions: Rediscovering the glory of penal substitution   By   Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey, Andrew Sach (Nottingham, England: IVP, 2007, 373pp.)   Part Two In Part Two of their book, the authors of Pierced go to remarkable lengths to respond to every major objection to PSA that they have encountered. Chapter Seven is devoted to “Penal Substitution and the Bible,” in which they respond to such objections as: PSA i...Read More

(London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2006; 152 pp.)   by   Mark Cartledge   This volume is the twenty-second installment in an extended series that explores the variety of ways in which people pursue and express their hunger for spirituality. Additional volumes are devoted to such themes as the Carmelite Tradition, Ignatian Spirituality, the Anabaptist Tradition, the Medieval English Mystics, the Celtic Tradition, the Orthodox Tradition, the Anglican S...Read More

(Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007, 202pp.)   by   Mark D. Roberts   When I attended Dallas Theological Seminary in the 1970’s, the required text in defense of the reliability of the New Testament was F. F. Bruce’s widely acclaimed The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Eerdmans, 1960). In 1987, Craig Blomberg published his The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (InterVarsity Press), a more detailed treatment of the same issues. ...Read More

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck   (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008; 256 pp.)   Part One   I start to get really nervous when I hear others speak in unqualified, glowing and glorious terms about a book or speaker. Nothing can be that good, I say to myself. I’m really resistant to trendy endorsements of the next greatest thing. So I was obviously on guard when I began hearing and reading endorsements of the book, Why We’re Not Emergent (by two ...Read More

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008; 256 pp.) Part Two A consistent refrain heard among the emergent is that the Christian life is primarily about the journey and our experience along the way, and less about the destination. The result, at least for them, is that “the Christian life requires less doctrinal reflection and more personal introspection,” which “feeds on and into a preoccupation with our own stories” (34). D...Read More

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008; 256 pp.) Part Three I want to go on record that I love doctrine! When I explore the theological complexities of the Incarnation of the Son of God, my heart is strangely warmed. When I think deeply about his death and how it propitiates the Father and redeems and saves and breaks the power of the enemy, I get goose bumps up and down my spine. When I reflect on the relationship between the human and divine in...Read More

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008; 256 pp.) Part Four In Chapter Seven, DeYoung sets his aim on the emergent perspective on modernism and postmodernism. I suspect that many of you will find that a bit tedious, and I can understand why. You’ll be relieved to know that since I addressed many of these same issues in Parts 2 and 3 of my seven-part review of D. A. Carson’s book, I’m going to forego any additional comments here (...Read More

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008; 256 pp.) Part Five In Chapter Nine, DeYoung and Kluck turn their attention to a number of emphases within emergent Christianity that they believe are deviations from biblical orthodoxy (a focus, by the way, that virtually all emergents would contend is the very reason why we need emergent Christians; there are far too many “fundamentalists” like DeYoung, Kluck, and Storms who insist on analyzing...Read More

I’m following the lead of several others who are posting their Top 10 books of 2009. I’ll start with number 10 and work down the list. Happy reading! (10) Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, by Jim Belcher (IVP). I didn’t always agree with Belcher’s proposed “third” or “middle” way, but he is extremely helpful in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of both emerging and traditional churches. (9) ...Read More

I’m not entirely sure how to explain what happened to me on Friday morning (12-3-04), or even why I feel compelled to comment on it, but I’ll do my best. I was sitting at a table in a local coffee shop, checking e-mail and reading Greg Beale’s new book on the temple (I’ll review it at a later date). A few tables away from me were two female employees, one in her late thirties or early forties, the other a teenager. The older of the two began tell...Read More

As we approach this Christmas season, the focus of most people, both Christian and non-Christian, will be on the babe in a manger, the human Jesus. Sadly, however, Christians have often failed to acknowledge that Jesus is truly human while non-Christians have insisted that he is only human. I’ll address the evangelical failure at another time, but I want to draw our attention today to the full and unqualified deity of Jesus of Nazareth and the immensely practical b...Read More

The hymn writer tells us that it was a “silent” night, a “holy” night. But it was also a cold night, as the shepherds huddled together seeking warmth from the fire. To them it seemed like every other night. The crackling of wood, the occasional bleating of a lamb, were the only sounds that disturbed the otherwise routine silence. Then suddenly an angel of the Lord “stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they wer...Read More

There was a time when the glitz and tinsel of Christmas used to bother me. But no more. It bothered me, then, because it seemed at times as if Jesus had become lost in all the hoopla of the holiday season. I was fearful that the secularism and sophistication of society had somehow obscured Christ right out of Christmas. But I’ve come to realize that it can’t be done. I’m not bothered by the trinkets of Christmas any more because I’ve come to real...Read More

I gave up long ago on New Year’s resolutions. I think it was about the time I first began to take Jonathan Edwards seriously. Compared to Edwards’ resolutions, mine suddenly seemed trivial and carnal. As we begin this new year, I strongly encourage you to carefully read and meditate on the Resolutions of Edwards. Some of them are easier to read and apply than others, but all are worthy of your attention. One good thing about them is that they are valid for th...Read More

In case you hadn’t seen it, Time magazine’s February 7, 2005 cover story focuses on who it believes are the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. I have three reasons for taking time to reflect on the list. First, I have a few thoughts on those selected, as well as those omitted. Second, I also believe the list reflects both what is good and bad about contemporary evangelicalism, as well as revealing how the secular media views the evangelical church a...Read More

Sometimes we need to get hit between the eyes with a really big sledge hammer, spiritually speaking of course. It happened to me this morning (Saturday, April 2). I turned on my computer and began reading the headlines on Fox News. Two items stood out, aside from the report that as of 9:15 a.m. the Pope was still alive. The first thing I saw was the headline reminding me that at around 5:00 this afternoon the first semifinal game of the NCAA basketball tournament will s...Read More

With the death of Pope John Paul II, a lot has been said and written concerning the variety of ways in which American Catholics, in particular, disagreed with his views and chose not to follow his recommendations. This is most often seen in the arena of sexual ethics, “artificial” means of birth control, and the ordination of women to the priesthood. It has raised the question in both Catholic and Protestant minds: “When and to what extent do Catholics ...Read More

I have to confess I haven’t read much of Eugene Peterson over the years. That’s soon to change. I just purchased his book, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology” (Eerdmans, 2005) and plan on digging into it as soon as possible. But my reason for bringing up his name is an interview that he gave for Christianity Today magazine that was published in their March 2005 issue. The title of the article in which the i...Read More

Late one night, Linus, the Peanuts cartoon character, is preparing himself for bed. He appears to be deep in thought as he moves his hands in differing positions. Lucy, his sister, enters the room only to find Linus on his knees, praying. “I think I’ve made a new theological discovery,” declares Linus. “What is it?” asks Lucy. “If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for!” Before we too quick...Read More

My nephew first alerted me to the cover story of the May 23, 2005, issue of Business Week. When I got to Barnes & Noble, it wasn’t hard to locate. “Evangelical America: Big Business. Explosive Politics” was plastered across the cover with a picture of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. There were actually two other ways in which the article was named: “Marketing Masters: How evangelical churches employ a pan...Read More

The most recent issue of World magazine (June 18, 2005) contained an interesting item that got me thinking. The conservative publication, Human Events, asked a panel of 15 scholars to rank the 10 most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries. Included on the list were such “favorites” as The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital by Karl Marx, The Kinsey Report by Alfred Kinsey, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and other volumes that make for unpleasan...Read More

I can’t remember anything affecting me quite like Katrina and the devastation this hurricane inflicted on the southern gulf coast. There have been other disasters that resulted in greater loss of life (the recent Tsunami, for example) and perhaps carried greater implications for our world today (9/11, being a case in point). But I recently ministered at a church in New Orleans and was scheduled to return in late September to speak there yet again. So I’m feel...Read More

By now, virtually everyone has offered an explanation or lament for the hurricanes that have devastated our southern gulf coast. So what are we to make of it all? Before I offer you my uninspired opinion, I have to confess that my last name has proven a bit too literal for my own good. I was scheduled to preach in New Orleans in early July when Hurricane Dennis was making its way through the Gulf. Although damage was largely restricted to Mississippi, Alabama, and Flori...Read More

The story in John 9 of the blind man whom Jesus healed is fascinating for several reasons. This is the account where, contrary to what his disciples thought, Jesus declared that it was not because “this man sinned, or his parents,” that he was born blind, but in order that “the works of God might be displayed” (John 9:3). This is also the story where Jesus probably offended everyone by spitting in the dirt and making a mud pack to heal the man! ...Read More

[This article is a follow-up to a brief review I wrote of Bernard Goldberg’s book, “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.” I have chosen not to post that review, for reasons that will become obvious below. In the absence of the review, I still think you will be able to understand my concerns.] There’s a very fine line between speaking the truth concerning sin and human folly, on the one hand, and slandering one’s fellow-man, on the other....Read More

Ann and I have just spent the weekend (October 7-9) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, attending the third National Conference of Desiring God Ministries. The first (October, 2003), at which I spoke, was in celebration of the 300th anniversary of Jonathan Edwards’ birth. Last year, the theme was Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. This year the theme was Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. This week I will be sending out to you brief summaries of several of the more signif...Read More

One of the highlights of the Desiring God National Conference this past weekend was the appearance of Joni Eareckson Tada on Saturday night. As most of you know, Joni, a quadriplegic, was paralyzed 38 years ago in a diving accident. She is going to turn 56 years of age next week. Joni, together with her husband Ken, and a team from Joni and Friends Ministries, were on their way to England and then to Africa, but arranged to stop over in Minneapolis at John Piper’s...Read More

I loathe horror movies. The last thing I want when I watch a film is to be frightened. Monsters, deformed creatures, distortions of reality and the like are a guarantee that I will get up and walk out of the theater. Much to the dismay of many, I walked out of the first film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and never came close to attending the other two. I simply cannot bear looking at the darkness and ugliness of evil, even when the powers of good and right win out. Bu...Read More

One of the questions I raised in part one of this study was the issue of terminology. Throughout the film, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” Father Moore spoke of her as being “possessed” by the Devil. As best I can recall, I don’t think anyone used the language of “demonization” or of her being “demonized”. I think we should forever abandon the use of the term “possession” when it comes to spiritual warfare....Read More

Another issue raised by this film, although not directly addressed in it, is the question of how Emily Rose came under such vicious demonic or Satanic attack. As I said in part one, there is no indication given that she was involved in immorality or idolatry or had committed some horrific sin and had refused to repent. So we are faced with the question: What are the doors to demonic attack or demonization? Are there things we can do or fail to do that might make us espe...Read More

In part three, I focused on what might be called “voluntary” acts that have the potential to expose a person to extraordinary demonic influence, perhaps even demonization. I now turn to the two instances most often mentioned as examples of “involuntary” demonic attack. First, some point to what they call “ancestral sin” and the intergenerational or familial spirits that come with it. Appeal is made to Exodus 20:5-6 - "You shall not ...Read More

Again, let’s be perfectly clear about what we mean by the word demonization. We are not asking if a Christian can be tempted, taunted, deceived, oppressed, harassed, accused or otherwise tormented by a demonic spirit. Clearly the NT indicates this can and does occur. We are here concerned with whether or not such an attack can intensify and expand to the degree that a true, born-again believer can be inhabited or indwelt by a demonic spirit. In the film, “Th...Read More

In the previous study we introduced the question of whether or not a Christian can be demonized, i.e., indwelt or inhabited by a demonic spirit. I looked at those texts (1) which describe the defeat of Satan, as well as those (2) which speak of divine protection of the believer, both of which are thought by many to prove that it is impossible for a child of God to be inhabited by a demon. I now turn to those many texts which describe the indwelling presence of the Holy ...Read More

We’ve now come to the biblical texts and arguments often cited to prove that it is possible for a Christian to be demonized. I’ll begin with those texts that describe demonic activity and attack. In my opinion, most of these texts fail to prove the thesis that a Christian can be demonized because they fail to say anything about the location of the activity relative to the individual. a.2 Corinthians 2:11 (“so that we would not be outwitted by Satan, f...Read More

Against the backdrop of the film, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” we’ve been looking at what the Bible says concerning demonic activity and in particular whether or not a Christian can be demonized or indwelt by a demonic spirit. I would like now to conclude with several important observations. (1) In his excellent book, “Three Crucial Questions About Spiritual Warfare,” Clinton Arnold makes this important comment: "Although the Epistles do ...Read More

Since the western world is captivated, at least for now, by C. S. Lewis, and given the fact that tomorrow (December 9, 2005) the film version of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” is being released nationwide, I thought it might be good to say something about what I consider to be Lewis’s greatest theological discovery. I can’t say whether Lewis would rank it number one, but I suspect he might.   Lewis was extremely puzzled, even agit...Read More

Many of you may have heard or read that the International Mission Board (known as the IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention recently voted that they no longer will appoint Southern Baptist missionaries who employ a "private prayer language," their way of referring to the practice of praying in tongues. According to an article on the website of The Texas Baptist Newsjournal (http://www.baptiststandard.com/, posted on 12/2/05), “The Southern Baptist Convention age...Read More

In the previous study we looked at the first argument employed by the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention that led to their recent policy of prohibiting those who pray in tongues from serving on the mission field. The other argument noted in the article I cited is “that the Apostle Paul's ‘clear teaching is that prayer should be made with understanding.’” I assume this means they believe that all prayer, including prayer in tongues, must be so...Read More

Everyone has their favorite Bible verse, that one text that has exerted on them the greatest and most life-changing influence. Mine is Psalm 16:11, followed closely by Zephaniah 3:17 and 1 Peter 1:8. But let me briefly share with you what I regard as the most amazing verse in Scripture. By “amazing” I mean incomprehensible, stunning, bewildering, beyond the capacity of the human mind to fully grasp. For me, it is John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh...Read More

No, I’m not talking about bending over backwards in an attempt to pass under an ever-descending horizontal pole, typically to the beat of Jamaican music! I’m referring to the recent dialogue within the Vatican concerning the status of the unofficial “doctrine” of Limbo (from the Latin limbus, meaning a hem, edge or boundary). The concept of Limbo in Roman Catholic theology is tied to their beliefs concerning original sin and the necessity of bap...Read More

Most of you by now have probably heard about Pat Robertson’s comments following the stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon of Israel. He suggested, in effect, that the stroke was divine punishment for Sharon’s having given up Israeli territory. My purpose here isn’t to engage in a discussion of Robertson’s theology. I have done that elsewhere when I wrote a three-part study titled, “The Church, Israel, and ‘Replacement’ Theology.”...Read More

I'm not fond of March 22nd. I suppose for most of you it's just a day, no better or worse than any other, unless it happens to be your birthday. But for those of us who have been nurtured and encouraged and challenged by the incomparable mind and heart of Jonathan Edwards, it is a dark day indeed. Edwards, born on October 5, 1703, died much too soon (at least from our human perspective) on March 22, 1758. "Edwards," wrote George Marsden, "spent his whole life preparing ...Read More

I mean that seriously. I have the utmost respect for Chuck Colson. I've read several of his books and thank God for the remarkable impact of his life and ministry. But I strongly disagree with something he wrote in an editorial in the April, 2006, issue of Christianity Today. The article was entitled, "Soothing Ourselves to Death." I first read this article when it appeared on the internet and decided at that time to just let it go. But upon seeing it in print in CT, I ...Read More

I can honestly say that I've staked my life on an empty tomb. Everything I am, everything I own, everything I've done or hope to do hang suspended on whether or not Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. The decision I made decades ago to put my trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is only as good as the tomb is empty. The decision I made to pursue ministry rather than some other career path was wise only so far as the tomb is empty. My decision to attend theological...Read More

There are three major implications to a denial of the resurrection of Christ. First, if Christ is not risen, he is no savior. Why is it that Christ's status as savior is so dependent on the reality of his resurrection from the dead? In the first place, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead it means he was a liar and deceiver. Let's not forget that Jesus predicted his own resurrection (see John 2:18-22). I'm amazed by how often the unbelieving world is prepared to reject C...Read More

So far we've noted two major implications if Christ is not risen. First, he would be utterly unqualified to be a savior. Second, there would be no salvation: no justification, no sanctification, no glorification. We now turn to the third and final conclusion that a dead Christ would demand. If Christ is not risen, we who believe in him are fools. Perhaps the word "stupid" would be more appropriate, but I recently learned from a precious five-year-old girl that Christian...Read More

Every single person reading this article is dying. Every man, every woman, every child is dying. Whatever differences may exist among us, this one thing we share in common with one another: we are all dying. "Thanks, Sam! I appreciate that encouraging word!" Yes, I know it sounds a bit grim and depressing. But the fact remains, we ARE all dying. In time, sooner or later, assuming Jesus doesn't first return, we will all be dead. Many of you reading this have recently b...Read More

One of the greatest obstacles to experiencing intimacy with God is our knowledge of God’s knowledge of us. That may sound strange, so I suggest you read it again. Let me explain by asking a question. Why do you hesitate to draw near to God? Why do you and I strive to keep God at arm’s length, especially after we’ve sinned? There are, to be sure, many reasons and thus a variety of ways of answering the question. But let me suggest one that I have found...Read More

Every so often you read something in the newspaper that initially strikes you as funny, then turns silly, then absurd, then obscene. It happened to me on Wednesday. There it was on the front page of the sports section of U.S.A. Today. The headline read: "Sip slowly: $1,000 mint juleps at Derby." The Kentucky Derby is horse racing's most famous and lucrative event. I've often watched it on TV and wondered what it would be like to attend. One of the things frequently men...Read More

On this day, May 27th, 1564, John Calvin died, not quite 55 years of age (he was born on July 10, 1509). Knowing his physical sufferings throughout life, it is a testimony to divine grace and sustaining mercy that he lived as long as he did.   Calvin's afflictions read like a medical journal. He suffered from painful stomach cramps, intestinal influenza, and recurring migraine headaches. He was subject to a persistent onslaught of fevers that would often lay him ...Read More

Today is June 6, 2006, or to those who think it is the day on which horrific events will unfold, it is 6-6-6!   The meaning of the number 666 has puzzled students of the Scriptures ever since John first wrote Revelation 13:18 – "This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666." There are essentially three schools of thought on how we should interpret this passag...Read More

In recent days two bloggers have taken up the question of the gift of speaking in tongues in the New Testament: see http://www.adrian.warnock.info/ and http://www.teampyro.blogspot.com/. The latter of these two, written by Dan Phillips, argues that “the Bible only knows one kind of tongues. . . . That kind is supernaturally-acquired human languages.”   The argument of Phillips and other cessationists is that modern manifestations of “tongues&rdq...Read More

Adrian: It's a delight to welcome Sam Storms of Enjoying God Ministries to the blog today. Sam, to begin with can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your ministry? Sam Thanks, Adrian. I'm honored that you would want to interview me. I'm 55 years old and have been married to my incredible wife, Ann, for nearly 34 years. I'm a bit surprised you didn't ask the question that so many others have, so I'll come right to the point: Yes, I did propose to h...Read More

There’s nothing particularly special about the number 303, but those of you who know me probably figured out that I couldn’t let October 5th go by without saying something about Jonathan Edwards. For those of you who didn’t know, Edwards was born on this day 303 years ago. It seems appropriate, then, at least for me anyway, that we take note of his immense contribution to our understanding of God. One of Edwards’ more intriguing and controversial...Read More

A few days ago Justin Taylor alerted us to a slight change in Wayne Grudem ’s view on baptism, to which John Piper then responded. Wayne then posted his response to John’s response, and one needed only to wait for the ripple effect. By the way, you can read these articles on Justin’s blog in the archive section (http://www.theologica.blogspot.com/). Recently (August 16, 2007), Mark Dever posted on this issue at the 9Marks blog (http://www.blog.9marks.o...Read More

In an Associated Press release today, Friday, August 24, 2007, astronomers are reporting the discovery of what is being called a “massive blank spot in the universe.” What’s got them scratching their heads is “what’s just not there. The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not even mysterious dark matter.” We’re not talking here about a small patch of sky but 1 billion light years across of ...Read More

On a recent broadcast at DesiringGod.org, John Piper briefly addressed the issue of tattoos and body piercing among Christians. I especially appreciated the spirit in which John took up this subject. He did not come down in a heavy-handed or judgmental fashion, insisting in some legalistic way that such actions are altogether and always a sin. He mentioned the prohibition on tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 and suggested that although there were probably unique historical and ...Read More

Most of us would like to think that the Protestant Reformation, whose 490th birthday we celebrate today (October 31st), was always driven by godly motives on the part of people whose greatest desire was for a recovery of the New Testament gospel. Of course, this was indeed the intent of prominent figures such as Martin Luther (who nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg on this day in 1517) and John Calvin, just to mention two more well-known names.  ...Read More

John Wimber, born on February 25, 1934, in Kirksville, Missouri, died ten years ago today (November 17, 1997). Some of you may never have heard of him, but I doubt that you have attended a corporate worship service in the past twenty years that doesn’t reflect his influence.   Wimber led a colorful life, to say the least, although it isn’t my purpose here to write a biographical history. Rather, I want to comment briefly, yet very personally, on the gr...Read More

Yesterday I experienced one of those “Aha!” moments that some in the secular realm might call a Freudian slip. I was filling out the author questionnaire for my book on the Psalms that Crossway will publish sometime next fall. The proposed title to the book is More Precious than Gold, but I accidentally typed, More Precious than God. Oops! It’s amazing how important the letter ‘l’ can be. It’s the difference between heaven and hell. Af...Read More

I’m addicted to USA Today. It’s not the best in American journalism, but it’s entertaining and moderately informative (especially the sports section). Today, Tuesday, September 25, 2007, it was just sad. Two stories in particular caught my eye, both of which are tragically indicative of the state of mind in Hollywood and around the globe.   (1) The first thing I noticed was a short piece concerning the Indra Jatra festival in Katmandu, Nepal. The...Read More

What’s a Zwingli? Zwingli’s not a “what” but a “who”, a man who was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation, a man largely forgotten by the church in the twenty-first century, a man we would do well to remember as we approach October 31st, the day traditionally acknowledged as “Reformation Day” (not Halloween!).   Huldrich Zwingli was born in Wildhaus, Toggenburg, in the eastern part of Switzerland, on January 1, ...Read More

In the previous article we looked briefly at the life of Huldrich Zwingli and his influence on the reformation in Switzerland. Here I want to say a few things about his theology.   Zwingli was undoubtedly dependent on Luther for much of his early thinking. In 1540 Calvin wrote to Farel concerning Luther and Zwingli: "If they are compared with each other, you yourself know how greatly Luther excels."   Zwingli tried to stress his independence from Luther: "W...Read More

I hope you were jolted by that title. Sadly, many aren’t. They contend that the virgin conception of Jesus and the existence of the tooth fairy exist on an equal intellectual plane. They both lack rational credibility and a person is as little justified in believing one as the other.   It happens about this time every year. Whether in Time magazine, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report, there consistently appears an article (or several) about Jesus: did h...Read More

In the first article in this short series I asserted that there are no historical or biblical reasons why the virgin birth of Christ should be regarded as implausible. Not everyone agrees, as evident from the following.   Some argue that the doctrine of Christ’s virgin birth is hardly unique and that parallels to it are found in ancient literature. Myths concerning the virgin births of various Greek gods and superheroes were prevalent in paganism, so they sa...Read More

Let’s conclude our discussion of the virgin conception of Jesus Christ with ten important observations.   1)         The virgin birth was not a demonstrable event. By this I mean it was not the sort of miracle that was subject to empirical investigation and proof (as were, for example, the resurrection and the healing of Acts 3-4). We either believe the virgin birth or not based upon our belief in the reality of the su...Read More

In a recent issue of the Baptist Press website (http://www.bpnews.net/) there is an article titled “The Bible and Tongues” by former LifeWay Christian Resources President Jimmy Draper. Given the fact that next week I’m speaking at a conference in Arlington, Texas, on the subject of the Holy Spirit in Baptist life, I perked up when I saw it. Jimmy Draper is one of the true treasures of the Southern Baptist Convention. Having grown up in Oklahoma, where ...Read More

Christmas, for some, can be an especially discouraging time of year. One often hears of those suffering from “seasonal depression” or the “holiday blues” as they contemplate the loss of a loved one, a failed marriage, unemployment and the financial pressure of being unable to provide gifts for their family, or perhaps a child who simply won’t come home. But I have good news for you today! You have a reason to rejoice that far exceeds the co...Read More

There are countless lessons to learn from the so-called “men” of Christmas: Joseph, Zechariah, the Magi, the shepherds, and above all, obviously, Jesus himself. But there is as much to learn, if not more, from the women associated with that momentous, epoch-making event. In this first meditation, I’d like for us to look at Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah and mother of John the Baptist. There are five qualities in her that warrant mention and imitation. F...Read More

Christmas is a shocking time of year, not so much because of the ever-present juxtaposition of spiritual glory and materialistic greed that has come to characterize its celebration in our society, but rather because of the unexpected, indeed jarring, way that God chose to enter our world in the person of Jesus Christ. People today think nothing of a nativity scene, unless, of course, its legality on the lawn of the county courthouse is being debated. They think little, ...Read More

Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, never met Jonathan Edwards, son of Timothy Edwards, Puritan pastor. Although their lives were separated by some 1,700 years, they were assuredly of the same spirit, gripped by the same passion, and devoted to the same God. Consider Edwards’ famous Resolutions, a list of some 70 duties to which he joyfully and by God’s grace committed himself to fulfill. A brief sampling will make my point: “Resolved, n...Read More

At first we couldn’t find it. We walked a long way down Artillery Street in a less than thriving area of Colchester, England. I was the guest of Graham Stevens and Abbeyfield Community Church, where he is the senior pastor. I had spoken there on Saturday night and Sunday morning (February 23-24, 2008) and we took the opportunity that afternoon to go in search of the tiny chapel where Charles Spurgeon was converted. Graham insisted he knew where it was, having been...Read More

I've been giving some thought to Paul's exhortation in 1 Corinthians 14:1. There he writes, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy" (ESV). I've written on this somewhat extensively in my book Convergence (pp. 209-15), but would like to add a few comments below. It would appear from this passage that it is not enough to be open to spiritual gifts and their operation in the local church. One must be zealous for them and ea...Read More

In conjunction with this year’s college basketball March Madness, ESPN has selected its list of the Top 25 college players of all time. And I’m here to say they missed it badly. In case you haven’t seen the list, or simply don’t care, the top five are: (1) Lew Alcindor (UCLA), (2) Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), (3) Bill Walton (UCLA), (4) Bill Russell (San Francisco), and (5) Pete Maravich (LSU). Now don’t get me wrong. All five were incred...Read More

On numerous occasions I’ve had people ask me about my theological convictions, most likely because I appear to be an odd mix of views that cannot be found in any one confession of faith or reduced to a single label, system, or denomination. Others have asked the same question when they see the variety of churches in which I’ve either served as senior pastor, associate pastor, board member, or simply member. This would include Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, ...Read More

I don't know how else to say it, so I'll come straight to the point. Last Sunday, August 17, 2008, I came face to face with the fragility and weakness of my faith in God. It may have been the most frightening moment in my Christian life. Let me explain. On Wednesday, August 13th, just five days earlier, I was in Oklahoma City meeting with the staff of Bridgeway Church. During lunch, as I was about to respond to another question, my cell phone rang. It's every parent's w...Read More

Over the years, and especially in recent days, I've been asked by people to make available my recommendations on New Testament commentaries. I yield at last, but with significant reservations. I can't imagine that my observations will add anything important to what has already been said in near exhaustive detail by D. A. Carson in his New Testament Commentary Survey (now in its 5th edition, Baker, 2001). In fact, I've always used Carson's survey as the excuse for not wri...Read More

Mark The number of helpful commentaries on Mark (as well as Luke) is significantly less than what we find with regard to Matthew. Still, there are a few that are worthy of note and should be made a priority in the building of one's library. Once again, I highly recommend the work of R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark, in The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 2002, 719 pp.). This is simply the best available commentary and should be the first one obt...Read More

John Next to Romans, I suspect that more commentaries have been written on the gospel of John than on any other NT book. Once again, of course, my list of recommended resources will be quite selective and in no way representative of the plethora of volumes written on this portion of God's Word. I was preaching through John when I resigned from my pastorate in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1993. I had just begun chapter thirteen and, sadly, had to terminate the series. But in w...Read More

Acts I preached through the book of Acts in the early 90's while at Christ Community Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and hope to do so again. At the time, I struggled to find good commentaries. Since then, however, several excellent resources have become available. I'll begin with works that I used in sermon preparation and then move on to those that have been published within the last decade or so. If you are looking for a commentary on the English text, you can do no be...Read More

Romans My first attempt to preach through Romans came in 1974 when I assumed the position of interim pastor at a small Presbyterian church in Dallas. By the time I left that church in 1977 I had only made it through chapter six! I did preach through the entire book during my time at Believers Chapel in Dallas, and have subsequently taught Romans in a classroom setting on several occasions. If one has any lingering doubts about the attention given to Romans, I encourage...Read More

1 and 2 Corinthians Regrettably, I've never preached all the way through 1 Corinthians. I've preached and taught several courses on chapters 12-14, but never the whole book. Still, I've spent some time examining the available literature and can make some recommendations. The best overall commentary on 1 Corinthians is still Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Eerdmans, 1987, 880 pp.). Fee's work replaces the volume in this series by F. W. Froshe...Read More

Galatians Like 1 Corinthians, I've never preached all the way through Galatians. My familiarity with the literature, therefore, is limited. Typically I've delved into a variety of commentaries while studying particular verses in Galatians and found the following to be most helpful. I've always found Richard N. Longenecker in the Word Biblical Commentary series to be very good (Word Books, 1990, 323 pp.). Likewise with F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commen...Read More

Philippians and Colossians The good news is that both Philippians and Colossians have been blessed with excellent works in recent years. The bad news is that the average pastor on a limited budget will have to make some hard choices when browsing turns to buying. Let's start with Philippians. It's been over twenty years since I preached through Philippians. Among the works available at that time, none compared with Gerald F. Hawthorne in the Word Biblical Commentary se...Read More

1-2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral Epistles When I preached through First and Second Thessalonians in the late 70's and early 80's there was very little to draw from. That is no longer the case, as we've seen several excellent studies appear in the last fifteen to twenty years. I was teaching at Wheaton during the time that two of my colleagues were both writing commentaries on the Thessalonian epistles and they top the list of my recommendations. Gene Green has writte...Read More

Hebrews I feel genuinely inadequate to recommend much on the book of Hebrews, if only because it has been nearly twenty years since I preached through the book and I've not kept up with the literature as much as I have with other books of the New Testament. Still, though, I'll give it my best shot. Two works served me well when I worked through Hebrews and I still believe they are worth obtaining today, even though more substantial exegetical treatments have appeared. ...Read More

 James, 1-2 Peter, and Jude James is again one of those books that I preached through twice early in my pastoral ministry but have not spent time studying in recent years. The commentaries that helped me most my first time through were James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1976, 227), Sophie Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James in Harper's New Testament Commentaries (Harper & Row, 1980,...Read More

The Johannine Epistles There is no shortage of excellent commentaries on the Johannine epistles, both more technical studies on the Greek text and those designed for readers of English only. So let's begin. I'll start with the more substantive works, move to mid-level treatments, and then mention a few that are more collections of sermons on John's letters than commentaries. The best commentary on these three letters has yet to appear. D. A. Carson is writing on the Jo...Read More

Revelation We've finally arrived at the end of this brief survey of commentaries on the New Testament. Again, let me say that this has not been anything approaching an exhaustive treatment of the resources available, but was designed to help local church pastors who are in process of building their biblical and theological libraries or are preparing to preach through a particular book of the New Testament. For a more complete survey, I once again recommend D. A. Carson'...Read More