Every now and then I’ll read about book about reading other books. It’s kind of weird when you think about it like that, but some books are more about other books than they are about themselves. My favorite in this category is probably Tony Reinke’s Lit. While that’s a more comprehensive theology of reading with general tips about how to do it well, it still is a book about reading other books.

More recently I recommend a book called You Must Read, and did the write up for Christ and Pop Culture’s member offering, A Christian Guide to The Classics. Both of those books were aimed at making you want to set down the book you were reading and go read something better (no offense). In a very similar vein, Douglas Wilson takes the space in his most recent book to recommend 9 authors that you should read. Those authors are:

  • G. K. Chesterton
  • H. L. Mencken
  • P. G. Wodehouse
  • T. S. Eliot
  • J. R. R. Tolkien
  • C. S. Lewis
  • R. F. Capon
  • M. S. Robinson
  • N. D. Wilson

There’s a few things we could note about this list. One is that the last author listed is Doug’s son. The other is perhaps that Robert Farrar Capon and Marilynne Robinson don’t usually abbreviate their names. Another is that this is pretty exclusively a 20th century type of list. However, if we think of this as Wilson’s suggestion of people he personally enjoys reading, it’s not that big of a deal. He at least admits he contrived it to be all abbreviated names, and he makes no bones about presenting his son, who objectively speaking, is a pretty accomplished writer.

Wilson seems to be one of those kinds of pastors/writers that you either love or hate. I think Andy Naselli sums up well how I feel:

Doug Wilson is brilliant, and he communicates brilliantly. That’s a rare combination. I’ve saidbefore that when I read or hear Doug Wilson, he usually evokes one of three responses: (a) I strongly agree. Witty, pithy, insightful. I wish I would’ve written or said that. (b) I strongly agree, but an improved tone could win others over. (Think Tim Keller.) (c) I strongly disagree, and the tone is off-putting.

I think it’s healthy to have this kind of range of responses. It is probably unhealthy, for your opinion of any writer, to feel (a) all the time. On the other hand, Wilson, being someone who wrote a book defending sarcastic satire (see Frame’s review, and Wilson’s response), can very often rub people the wrong way. I’m not usually on the receiving end of that and so usually enjoy reading Wilson and find myself agreeing more often than not.

If one thinks of the book like the earlier ones I mentioned, then the take-away is in the conclusions to each chapter where Wilson offers his suggested path through the works of the authors he recommends. His brief biographical sketches in each chapter are entertaining, but ultimately, if this book doesn’t make you want to read at least some of the authors listed, it has failed to meet its own goals. I came away wanting to read more Wodehouse, who Wilson originally got me interested in back in seminary. I was also intrigued about Robert Farrar Capon and Mencken. I’ve read much of Lewis already, as well as the main works of Tolkien. I need to read Gilead at some point. And of course, I should give Chesterton a shot sometime soon.

While this was an enjoyable read for me, it’s not a book for everyone. If you like Wilson, you’ll like this book. If you don’t like Wilson, then you probably wouldn’t want to read this or anything else he writes and might be tempted to be overly critical of this book. That would be unfortunate since the focus of this book is one the other authors that Wilson wants us to read. As a road map to their writings, I think this book is worth checking out. But, since the meat is in the conclusions, you could almost just skim it in your local bookstore, and then go buy some Wodehouse, Lewis, or Robinson.

Douglas Wilson, Writers to Read: Nine Names That Belong on Your BookshelfWheaton: Crossway, 2015. 176 pp. Paperback, $16.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!

Early in this school year, I had a chance to sit down and read I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship. You can somewhat tell what the book is about based on the subtitle. I enjoy reading biographical sketches like this, especially if it’s authors that I am familiar with through their scholarship. This was the case for about half of the authors, the other half being those I had no first hand experience reading.

What I wasn’t expecting was several different authors commenting on the problem of evil. In their own way, each more or less said the same thing: there is no answer, it’s simply a matter of faith. If this insights wasn’t coming from scholars who’ve wrestled with Scripture their entire life, I probably wouldn’t have put much stock in it. Because of the source, I considered it more seriously, and I think it is a more or less correct assessment.

This is not to say I don’t think there are good arguments against the usual logical problem that is brought up by people like Richard Dawkins. Logically, the problem is with the atheist who has to figure out a satisfactory way of categorizing something as evil in the first place. Pastorally though, everyone has to deal with the reality of evil and ultimately that is a matter of faith.

We’ve been talking about faith recently in my senior Bible class since we’re in that particular section of An Infinite Journey. In the previous section we discussed the role that experiential and factual knowledge play in the Christian life and how we need sound doctrine and godly examples to help us become more Christ-like. As we entered into the faith section, I found out that a close friend of my wife’s family lost her husband unexpectedly.

I tend to find things like this sobering from an outside perspective. The husband, Patrick, was roughly my age and in good health. While they thought it was a brain aneurysm initially, the autopsy revealed no clear medical cause. He simply died at his desk at work on a Tuesday morning. When I learn of something like that, especially in this case, my first thought is that it very well could have been me and I’m reminded that there’s no guarantee of tomorrow, much less the rest of today.

My wife took things a lot differently. Mainly this was because it is her family’s friends and she knows Brittany (the wife) much better than I do. Also, it puts her in the position of thinking what it would be like to lose me unexpectedly, and what it would be like to become a widow with three small children while still in her 20’s (something that requires financial assistance to say the least, you can help here). She also immediately felt the problem that this evil caused and wondered what good could come of something like this.Thankfully, Ali’s schedule allowed for her to travel to Atlanta for the funeral that weekend. There, she was able to see what God was doing through Brittany and her family in the aftermath of this crisis.

As I shared in chapel last week, Brittany’s testimony in the video is what relying on Christ and having faith in the midst of evil looks like. It is one thing to read about what faith is in Scripture or to understand how God can still be sovereign if evil things happen. It is another thing to see a godly example in the face of real suffering and evil. In order to grow, we need sound doctrine and godly examples, and Brittany’s faith shines through in the most clear way possible.

Although she didn’t know it when this video was filmed, there would be over 500 people the funeral, many of whom were Patrick’s co-workers (he was a corrections officer). Since her boys were so young, they wanted people who came to fill out a comment card about the impact that Patrick had in their lives. 60 or so of the people who filled out cards said that they met Jesus that day because of Patrick’s life testimony and the gospel that was shared in the service. While that doesn’t bring Patrick back, he would have gladly given up his life for those 60 people to come to Christ if given the option. That again is a godly example to live by, one that challenges me just as much as Brittany’s. Watching her walk in pain and suffering has strengthened both my and Ali’s faith, and hopefully it can do the same for you.

New Books of Note

October 21, 2015 — 2 Comments


In the course of teaching Old Testament to high school freshman for the past few years, several questions will predictably emerge. More often than not these have to do with God’s character and actions, particularly when it comes to the familiar Old Testament stories. I feel fairly comfortable addressing most of these, but I’m always up for reading new explanations. Kregel Academic helped me out on this and sent along a copy of Walter Kaiser’s Tough Questions About God and His Actions in The Old Testament (2015, Paperback, 176 pp). I’ve enjoyed other books by Kaiser that I’ve read and reviewed (Recovering The Unity of The Bible; The Promise-Plan of God) and so looked forward to jumping into this one.

It’s an easy read stylistically, but the questions are some of the tougher ones when it comes to Old Testament study. You know, things like:

  • Did the God of peace order a genocide?
  • Did the God of truth practice deception?
  • Did a just God devalue women’s rights?
  • How and why did a good God create the evil Devil?

Kaiser works through a total of 10 questions like this by guiding readers through the relevant biblical and theological considerations. He also provides additional discussion questions at the end of the chapter that would make this an ideal supplemental textbook in class on Old Testament theology or introductions. The questions are most often aimed at going beyond the material Kaiser presents rather than checking to see if you were paying attention while you were reading. On the whole, I’ve found this a helpful volume and would recommend it to anyone who is wrestling with questions about God’s character and actions in the Old Testament.


While we’re talking Old Testament books, another worth mentioning is John Goldingay’s Do We Really Need the New Testament? (2015, Paperback, 184 pp., thanks IVP Academic!). If you want a more in-depth critical review, there was one recently posted at TGC. Goldingay is certainly provocative, in his writing, if you didn’t already gather that from the book’s title. He is not essentially asking if the New Testament is necessary, but is writing to point out and highlight how much continuity there is between the testaments. As he says,

Yes, of course, we need the New Testament Scriptures, but they don’t supersede the earlier Scriptures. We need the First Testament for an understanding of the story of God’s working out his purpose, for its theology, for its spirituality, for its hope, for its understanding of mission, for its understanding of salvation and for its ethics (32).

Subsequent chapters tackles these themes, though under different topical headings. The immediate two chapters following the introduction ask “why is Jesus important?” and “was the Holy Spirit present in First Testament times?” Later, Goldingay will also ask if we have misread Hebrews and if theological interpretation of Scripture is all it’s cracked up to be. Along the way he’ll make some controversial assertions like “In none of the Gospels does Jesus tell his disciples to extend the kingdom, work for the kingdom, build up the kingdom, or further the kingdom” (34) and “nor does any church today look like an embodiment of the new covenant. In this sense, the new covenant has surely not been established” (98).

Much more could be said, and Goldingay takes up some interesting topics in addition his provocations. Though not something he details at length, a big take-away for me came through reflection on an early point in the introduction. Goldingay highlights how Jesus’ crucifixion is the culmination of God’s wrath absorbing character in the Old Testament. I had always mainly thought of it as an end point for the sacrificial system. On further reflection, I realized that throughout the Old Testament you see God disciplining his people, but also absorbing much of his own wrath on their account. It made me think of the way many of the Psalms function as a way for God to further absorb anger. By pouring out our anger to God in prayer we are letting him absorb it on our behalf, rather than trying to manage it on our own. If Christ can absorb God’s anger toward us for our sin, he can certainly absorb our anger toward God as well. Perhaps that is the pattern presented in the Old Testament for our own psychological and spiritual well being.


Lastly, Crossway was gracious enough to send along Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum’s God’s Kingdom Through God’s Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology (2015, Paperback, 304 pp.). You may remember seeing my series of posts as well as review of Kingdom Through Covenant a couple of years ago. This book is essentially a book accessible abridgment that was compiled in light of the reception of the previous work. As Gentry and Wellum say,

To make this work more accessible, we have kept the footnotes to a minimum, have mostly eliminated the discussions of how our view differs from that of dispensational and covenant theology, and have not given a detailed defense of our view. For the most part, the view argued in the previous book is assumed, yet now written in such a way that the reader is able more easily to discern what that overall view is and how the biblical covenants serve as the Bible’s own way of unfolding, revealing, and disclosing God’s one, eternal plan of redemption. If the reader desires the warrant and bibliographic discussion for the overall argument of this work, all he needs to do is turn to the previous work and find it there (12).

In addition, they note that “we have read with great care and interest every review of Kingdom Through Covenant know to us…only rarely have reviewers actually engaged the extensive exegesis.” They then note Doug Moo as an exception in regards to “pointing out the problems in the treatment of Ezekiel 16 and the relation of Deuteronomy to the Sinai Covenant” and that “further research has resulted in new proposals, which are incorporated into this abridgment.”

Suprisingly, I found myself involved in this process many months ago when Peter Gentry e-mailed me about my review. We went back and forth a bit and I passed on some papers to him that had led me to dispute the pervasiveness of ancient Near East rituals involving walking between separated animals parts as part of a covenant making ritual. He read them with care and then offered me a response e-mail which I then published. I backed off my rhetoric in light of it, but I think my original point still stands. In this abridged version, the discussion of this point is virtually the same (cp. 110 to 251 in KTC) though I won’t say know that Gentry is “wrong” for how he presents his case.

All of that is just a way of saying, if you were interested in the previous larger work, but didn’t want to commit that much time, here’s a great option. It’s less than half as long and contains essentially the same biblical-theological overview of the covenants in Scripture. If you find it compelling or frustrating, you can always pick up the larger version to see more argumentation.


Going back to my time at Dallas, I’ve been interested in the discussion about the doctrine of justification. It was at that time that John Piper’s The Future of Justification came out, as well as N. T. Wright’s response Justification: God’s Plan, Paul’s Vision (which if you’re keeping score, is a response book to a response book). It was also during that time (fall of 2010) that Wright and Piper were supposed to have a showdown at the national ETS conference in Atlanta. Instead, earlier that year Piper took a ministry sabbatical and Thomas Schreiner presented instead. His address was subsequently published in the March 2011 edition of JETS, and having missed the conference, that’s when I read it. I was conveniently taking fifth semester Greek, which is exegesis of Romans. My final paper was a triperspectival view of justification, which combined Schreiner, Wright, and Thielman’s points of view into a (hopefully) coherent whole.

Hard to believe that was almost 5 years ago. But, here we are nearing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and Zondervan is conveniently publishing a series called The 5 Solas to celebrate. The very first volume came out earlier this month and not only got my hands on it, I spent the weekend reading it. While highly theological in content, it’s certainly a very readable volume, which is I suppose makes it trademark Schreiner. The chapters aren’t overwhelming because the water doesn’t get too deep, but for most people it probably would be a slower read than I made it.

A big reason for this the importance of the topic, especially in recent biblical scholarship. To his credit, Schreiner doesn’t avoid these issues. Before getting to them though, he begins with a brief historical survey. These first six chapters establish the importance of the doctrine in church history. Schreiner acknowledges in the first chapter that we don’t find a direct parallel in the early church to what the Reformers taught regarding sola fide (36). However, “we find that a number of the fathers endorsed teachings that are similar to what we know today as the doctrine of justification by faith” (36). From here, the following two chapters profile Luther and Calvin respectively. Chapter 4 briefly touches on the doctrine in The Council of Trent before tracing it into later Reformed writers like Owen and Turretin. The historical section ends with a comparison of Edwards and Wesley on the issue, the latter being slightly uncomfortable with the doctrine because it might lead to antinomianism (same issue Richard Baxter had with it, more or less).

The next section, “A Biblical and Theological Tour of Sola Fide” is the heart of the book. Schreiner begins with a chapter on human sin and ends with one on the role of works in the final judgment. Along the way he covers faith, as well as the debate over “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ,” and spends the several consecutive chapters on righteousness from all kinds of angles. We read about the importance of justification in Paul (chapter 10) as well as the imputation of righteousness (chapter 15). Those who have read Schreiner’s other works, either his book on Paul, his commentaries, or his NT theology, or even his whole Bible biblical theology won’t be surprised at many of his conclusions. However, I found it helpful to have a distilled form of Schreiner’s understanding of justification in just over 100 pages.

In the final section, Schreiner takes up contemporary challenges to the doctrine. Here he brings his address at ETS into play, splitting it across two chapters and updating it slightly in light of Wright’s most recent Paul book (which doesn’t feature much in the main text, but Schreiner directs readers to his review). He also interacts with challenges posed by the Roman Catholic church, and in particular, leaders like Francis Beckwith who have converted to Catholicism. Between the two, I think Schreiner covers the major doctrinal issues related to the Reformers understanding of justification.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and only have a minor complaint, which may actually just be something I’m working through theologically. In the chapter on justification in Paul, Schreiner says this just before the conclusion:

I would finally note that there is no need to play justification off against participation. As Michael Allen has rightly argued, justification is the ground of our fellowship with God and participation with God is its goal. Another way to put this is to say that justification is the ground of sanctification. This is certainly Paul’s argument in Romans 6. Those who are justified have also died with Christ. The verdict of being right with God is an effective one, and thus the forensic is the basis of the transformative (140).

He references Allen’s book which I’ve also reviewed and brought up the same issue there. I think it is better to see union with Christ as the ground of both justification and sanctification rather than grounding the latter in the former. Maybe I’m wrong on this. I suppose I should talk with Dr. Allen about it next time we have coffee (it hasn’t come up yet). In any case, this pushed me to want to reconsider the argument, especially in light of Romans 6.

That however hardly amounts to a serious criticism of the book itself or Schreiner’s specific argument in that chapter. There is an intimate connection between sanctification and justification, but I don’t think one is grounded in the other. Or, that understanding one will lead the other to flourish. However, this is definitely a subject I need to study more myself and I’m glad I had the chance to read this book to prod me along the journey.

Thomas Schreiner, Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification: What The Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (The 5 Solas Series)Grand Rapids: Zondervan, September 2015. 288 pp. Paperback, $19.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!

It’s been a while since we’ve had an episode of philosophy Friday. Might as well get back into the swing of things by pondering whether Batman is figure of justice or not. I tend to think taking the law into your hands, violence included or not, is not the path of justice. You’re no longer an agent of the state authorized to administer punishment for crimes. However, Batman tends to let the police actually take care of that part. All of this though is what makes the Dark Knight trilogy fascinating to me. That is probably a post for another day.


It’s a bit of a stretch to think of myself as a professor. I am a teacher, and while I do have graduate education in my field, I don’t have a terminal degree yet. I’m actually kind of in limbo while I’m getting experience teaching and thinking about dissertation ideas. Although I don’t have concrete plans for starting a Ph.D, I at least have an idea what kind of program I’ll do. In the meantime, I’m trying to devote time and energy to professional development and so I thought it would be useful to read Gary Burge’s Mapping Your Academic Career: Charting the Course of a Professor’s Life.

It’s a short book, very conversational and lightly anecdotal. Rather than chapters, Burge divides his discussion after the introduction into three cohorts. These cohorts represent the stages of professional development in a professor’s life, each of which is framed by a question:

  • Cohort 1: Will I find security?
  • Cohort 2: Will I find success?
  • Cohort 3: Will I find significance?

Each of these cohorts has a threshold to cross. The first is getting hired post-Ph.D and situated into a teaching career. The second is moving from simply being a teacher to contributing to your field. The last is establishing a legacy as you move toward retirement years. Burge draws from insights in psychology about how our identities are formed in order to inform his writing. Within each chapter he lays out the traits of someone who is navigating well and highlights the risks that need to be avoided. He also writes as someone who is either late in cohort 2 or early in cohort 3 in his own teaching career. Having successfully navigated most of his own academic career allows Burge to offer readers very sage advice for their own journey.

It was interesting reading through this as someone on the fringe of the academy. I’m still age-wise and career-wise in cohort 1 of Burge’s typology. However, my path to cohort 2 would be non traditional to say the least. While it might seem like the next step is a Ph.D, it seems more profitable at the moment to focus on developing a research focus and starting some preliminary writing. It would be hard to go from where I am in reading and writing to doing a dissertation. Obviously seminars in the North American model are aimed at helping you make that transition, but since I don’t want to do a Ph.D at a seminary or have seminars, I’m kind of doing that part of it on my own. It’s cheaper and easier to fit into my current teaching position, but it is better to read critically in community.

All of that to say, Burge’s book helped me think through some issues and actually provided good motivation for wanting to eventually do that Ph.D and to take seriously some kind of research program in the interim. If you are on the pathway to becoming a scholar, this book is worth checking out. It would be ideal for those currently doing their Ph.D, but with all the other reading that comes with that, it might be better for someone considering a Ph.D program (me), or someone in their first few years of teaching (also me) post Ph.D (not me). If you fit anywhere along that spectrum, give this book a quick read. Also, check out this video of Burge explaining it better than I probably just did:

Gary M. Burge, Mapping Your Academic Career: Charting the Course of a Professor’s Life. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, July 2015. 144 pp. Paperback, $16.00.

Buy itAmazon

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!


Every now and then, my reading choices coincide on certain topics. Recently, thanks to three different publishers, I had review copies of books about pastors in the public square. The first was The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson (thanks Zondervan!) 1 The authors makes the case that being a pastor is an intellectual calling that can alleviate the ecclesial anemia of the academy as well as the theological anemia of the church. In other words, the pastor theologian is able to bring local church concerns into the academic theological discussion while also boosting the theological literacy of the local church. As they say,

Our hope is that this book will serve as a clear call to an emerging generation of theologians to consider the pastorate as a viable vocational calling for serious theological leadership, by which we do not simply mean that pastors ought to take theology more seriously (as true as that may be). Rather, we mean that some pastors must take up the mantel of theologian by providing solid thought leadership to the church and its theologians, even as they tend the garden of their own congregations (15).

To help accomplish this, Hiestand and Wilson need to recover a holistic vision of the pastor as a theologian in his own right. After the introductory chapter, readers are taken on a historical survey showing that up until the mid 1700’s, most theologians were pastors in the local church. The following chapter takes the survey into the present, showing how the division between church and academy developed. The fourth and fifth chapters defend the idea of the academy being eccleisally anemic and the church being theological anemic. Then, the final two chapters offer a constructive proposal for pastors to be three different kinds of theologians: local, popular, or ecclesial.


In very much related book, Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan write about The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision (thanks Baker Academic!). 2 Unlike The Pastor Theologian, there is a clear division of labor with Vanhoozer authoring the introduction, chapters 3 and 4, and then offering 55 theses on pastors as public theologians. Strachan authored chapters 1 and 2, and then twelve pastor theologians (including Hiestand and Wilson) offer testimonies from everyday life in ministry supporting the vision that Vanhoozer and Strachan are articulating.

As far as the actual content goes, Strachan’s chapters offer first a biblical theology of the pastorate. Though not blatantly triperspectival, focusing on pastors as prophets, priests, and kings fits nicely into that framework. He then gives a brief history of the pastorate, somewhat overlapping with the first two chapters of The Pastor Theologian but not identical to them. I think because I had already read the other book, I didn’t find these chapters as helpful or insightful, although the first chapter does cover territory (biblical theology) that is not a focal point of The Pastor Theologian. In any case, I think the idea that a pastor should be prophet, priest, king and how that interfaces with being a theologian is something I already intuitively grasped.

Vanhoozer’s chapters focus on the purpose of being a pastor theologian and then what that actual practice looks like. I wouldn’t necessarily say these chapters overlap with Faith Speaking Understanding, but they do resonate in a similar key signature. At the very least, readers who have also read that book will find much of Vanhoozer says here to be a logical extension when applied to the pastorate. Also, since we are comparing, it extends the insights of Hiestand and Wilson’s work into a very practical direction (not that their work isn’t practical) and overlays signature Vanhoozerian harmonies to their tune. If you really to get more of a feel, take 10 minutes and watch these videos.


A related book, both in terms of author and concept is Owen Strachan’s The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living With Faith in a Hostile World (thanks Thomas Nelson!). 3 It is one part biography and one part pathway of Christian cultural engagement. Since it has been written after Colson’s death, it offers a unique perspective on his later years that other works haven’t included. The thrust of Strachan’s brief biography is how we can learn from Colson’s approach to public square Christianity. In that sense, it fits nicely with the other books I’ve mentioned as far as helping pastors fulfill their calling as public intellectual.

Although Colson wasn’t a pastor, he took apologetics and theology very seriously. Strachan tells the narrative of his life and conversion well, taking didactic asides along the way. To me, those were the weaker spots of the book and ultimately why this might not be the best book to check out on the subject. In a short space, Strachan is trying to tell Colson’s story and use that as a means to articulate a way of approaching Christian cultural engagement. The asides explaining cultural engagement feel preachy and make the book seem like it should have just focused on developing those ideas and using Colson as an example here and there. But, because Strachan tells Colson’s story better than he explains cultural engagement, the book would have been better as just a biography. A better choice for cultural engagement (and an approach not necessarily at odds with Strachan) is Russell Moore’s Onward.

That criticism aside, reading The Colson Way in tandem with the other two books I’ve mentioned gave it some depth it might not have had on its own. At the very least, I was reading an example of a lay person being a public theologian with the idea of pastors being public theologians in the back of mind. It helped to prove that point that the other authors were making because if someone like Colson, with everything he juggled, was able to be a stable public theologian/intellectual, so can the average local church pastor. Colson never went to seminary and it is common today for many church planting pastors to not do that either. The vision that the other books recover more or less requires that kind of training, but Colson’s story shows that one can faithfully follow that calling without necessarily going to seminary, so long as one is committed to being a life-long learner.

At the end of the day, I think this is highly important topic and fully support the idea of pastors as public theologians. Being a pastor is an intellectual calling and knowing how to do that well in the public square and in the local church is a necessary knowledge to obtain. Hopefully seminaries will train pastors to fit this vision, but reading books like these will also go a long way. That latter point is supported well by Strachan’s book, which also helps to show that other leaders within the church can take on some of the roles that the solo lead pastor used to have and help build up the body together.


  1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, June 2015. 192 pp. Paperback, $18.99. Visit the publisher’s page.
  2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, August 2015. 240 pp. Hardcover, $19.99. Visit the publisher’s page.
  3. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, July 2015. 240 pp. Hardcover, $22.99. Visit the publisher’s page.

This Friday, the new album from Scale The Summit comes out. V is aptly named given that it is their fifth studio album. They’ve basically been putting one out every two years or so, which makes this one right on schedule.Below you can see the first two videos from the album.

Praying The Bible

September 13, 2015 — 1 Comment


How many of you all would say you have a dynamic, enjoyable prayer life? If you’re like me, it’s not really either one of those adjectives. Instead, it’s something you feel like you should do, but it’s not necessarily something you’re excited about. If you know me well, you know I’m not exactly an extrovert. I can do well in conversation, but I can’t carry a conversation if you’re more introverted than I am. So, when it comes to prayer, it can feel like I’m carrying the conversation, and so I tend to not pursue it as much as I know I should.

In family gatherings, I tend to sit and listen. When it comes to my relationship with God, I tend to do the same. Bible study comes easy because reading comes easy. Talking, not so much. Also, I feel like a lot of times I say the same old things about the same old things when I pray. When I was younger, and prayed way more consistently, my prayers were pretty rote. By that I mean I prayed every night but I basically prayed the same prayer every night. Being older, doing that feels, well, boring. This is a problem since prayer is essentially “talking to the most fascinating Person in the universe about the most important things in our lives,” as Donald Whitney puts it in Praying The Bible.

He goes on to say,

Indeed, why would people become bored when talking with God, especially when talking about that which is most important to them? Is it because we don’t love God? Is it because, deep down, we really care nothing for the people or matters we pray about? No. Rather, if this mind-wandering boredom describes your experience in prayer, I would argue that if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit— if you are born again— then the problem is not you; it is your method (Kindle Loc. 102-105).

Whitney’s book then is offering readers a new method for praying. Well, it’s not really new. It basically comes down to using the words of Scripture to shape the language of your prayers. Whitney observes that we all tend to pray about the same half dozen things: our family, future, finances, work, Christian concerns, and current crises. Praying about these things isn’t bad or problematic in the least. But, because that’s what we tend to always pray about, we tend to often say the same things about these same things.

By praying through a passage of Scripture, specifically psalms and prayers of Paul, we are “taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God” (Kindle Loc., 299-300). To put this into action, “you simply go through the passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text. See how easy that is? Anyone can do that” (Kindle Loc. 305-306).

Praying The Bible is ultimately a pretty quick read. But, it’s probably the most important “short” book I’ve read in a long time. I immediately used the material in a chapel message at school and then put it into practice when we take prayer requests in class on Friday. I am implementing it into my devotional life and so far am enjoying Whitney’s approach to Psalms of the day. He suggests taking the Psalm that matches the day (so Psalm 11 on the 11th) and then add 30 (so Psalm 41), and repeat until you have 5 Psalms. You quickly scan each and then pray using those Psalms for however much time you have. It could be 5 minutes or 50. Regardless, you won’t exhaust the text of Scripture and you’ll avoid needless repetition in your prayer life. If you’re like me, this is something you’ll want to take, read, and implement sooner rather than later.

Donald S. Whitney, Praying The BibleWheaton: Crossway, July 2015. 112 pp. Hardcover, $13.99.

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Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!