I don’t quite remember when I first learned about psychological blind spots. Probably it was while working on a psychology major, but it might have been in some earlier college reading. The blind spots we may most be familiar with are the literal kind. You may be thinking of that area diagonally behind your car where idiots sometimes hang out while you’re driving. Or, maybe you are more sanctified than me.

You might not be as aware of the other literal blind spots you have in your everyday vision. To help illustrate that, I went ahead and rotated the cover of Collin Hansen’s new book, Blind Spots: Becoming A Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church so you can see the effect. If you’re about 12-15 inches away from the image, close your right eye and focus on the face. You should notice the cross disappear. Likewise, if you close your left eye and focus on the cross, the face will disappear.

The reasons for this involve scientific explanation, which if you’re super interested in, you can watch this video. The point here is that just as we have physical blind spots, we can also have spiritual blind spots when it comes to Christian ministry. The cover of the book makes the point that you can be so focused on yourself (or other people) that the cross and the gospel fade from vision. Likewise, you can be so focused on the cross, and with that, doctrine and theology, that you don’t actually care for people.

To help navigate this challenge, Hansen has written a book that offers a kind of lay of the land when it comes to dispositions in Christian ministry. Some people are courageous to stand up for sound doctrine. Some people are compassionate to help the marginalized, the hurting, and the poor. Still others are commissioned to try to reach as many outside the church as possible. If you can’t tell from these brief descriptions which describes you, take this marginally helpful quiz. I say “marginally helpful” because when I took it, I scored the following:

  1. C
  2. A (with a little concern for C)
  3. None (see here)
  4. All
  5. A and C
  6. A
  7. A and B
  8. B
  9. B
  10. A

I answered A the most, but only unanimously three times. I had 2 unanimous B’s, and 1 C, but they each showed up 3 times total. From reading the book, I related to the “Courageous” position (A), but don’t really have trouble seeing the concerns of Compassionate and Commissioned types. I would say I used to have the blind spots associated with the Courageous position, but I worked through it my third and fourth years in seminary and hopefully have left cage-stage Calvinism far behind. Certainly it is something I should be aware of, but I think I’m more aware than most.

As for Hansen’s book itself, it’s a quick read that is worth pondering if you’ve never considered the idea that your primary concern in Christian ministry can lead you to overlook other legitimate concerns. The answer is not, as some may imply, to give up your concern to advance others. Rather, there is a balancing that needs to take place so that we are all working together to fulfill the Great Commission. At the end of the day, each individual’s concerns are best advanced by working together and helping each other see the blind spots we miss. After all, the nature of a “blind spot” is something you can’t see but it probably clear to someone else. Hansen’s book is essentially a plea for us to listen, and I think he makes it without coming across as either pretentious or condescending.

However, Hansen’s book would have been strengthened by connecting it with other similar analyses. The first is John Frame’s triperspectivalism, as it has been applied to church ministry. Hansen’s three types could be mapped this way:

  • Courageous = Prophets = Frame’s normative perspective
  • Compassionate = Priests = Frame’s existential perspective
  • Commissioned = Kings = Frame’s situational perspective

Those who are most concerned with doctrinal norms shouldn’t minimize reaching the lost (expanding the kingdom) or helping the hurting. Those most concerned with reaching the lost need to have something to teach them once they’re reached and care for them when things go wrong. Those most concerned with helping the hurting need to have something meaningful and true to minister and a framework in which they can do so.

Similarly, Hansen’s book could have been strengthened by connection to Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert’s What is the Mission of the Church? Their analysis of the nature of the church’s mission can also be charted triperspectivally:

  • Social justice is the situational perspective on the church’s mission
  • Shalom is the existential perspective on the church’s mission
  • The Great Commission is the normative perspective on the church’s mission

Or even more detailed (from this post):

  • Social Justice
    • Normatively, social justice is a result of the coming of the new creation that was inaugurated by Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection
    • Situationally, social justice is changing the injustices of this world to match the justice of the new creation
    • Existentially, social justice is an activity of the people of God, carried out in an attempt to more fully love their neighbors
  • The Great Commission
    • Normatively, the Great Commission is declared by Jesus on the basis of his death, burial, and resurrection (i.e. it announces a new norm)
    • Situationally, the Great Commission is repeated by the church as it spreads into all the world (i.e. into all situations)
    • Existentially, the Great Commission is a command to be applied by the church as it makes disciples.
  •  Shalom
    • Normatively, shalom between God and man was achieved by God reconciling the world to himself through Christ
    • Situationally, shalom is communicated through the church as it expands into all the world
    • Existentially, shalom is brought to individuals through faith in the saving work of Christ

Looking at this parsing, you should see how the concerns overlap further. Each of the categories of people in Hansen’s analysis are picking one perspective within this overarching mission to the unintended exclusion of others. For instance, the tension between Commissioned and Courageous Christians results from focusing on either the situational aspect of the commission (spreading it through the world) or the existential aspect (teaching it to people in the church). Likewise, a tension between Compassionate and Courageous Christians can result from focusing on the bringing that shalom to hurting people (existential) without fully explaining the root of where and how that shalom has come into the world (normative).

All of this is to say that Hansen’s book is useful, but I didn’t find it as useful taken on its own. It would have accumulated more explanatory power if it were presented in conjunction with other works. Perhaps this was intentional on his part and is part of the design to help it reach a wider audience. As it stands, being published by Crossway, I imagine most of the people who will initially read it are in the Courageous camp. This isn’t to say that people who are more Compassionate or Commissioned don’t read Crossway books, but it is to acknowledge that it seems like those who lean that way are more progressive and less young, restless, and Reformed. They’re 2/3 of the intended audience, so hopefully this is a book that they might take and read. While it would be easy to hope they do so, I’d rather hope that we all are willing to examine our concerns and continually ask one another if there’s blind spots in the way we are living out our faith.

Collin Hansen, Blind Spots: Becoming A Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned ChurchWheaton: Crossway, April 2015. 128 pp. Paperback, $12.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!


If you don’t know, this is SpaceShip Earth. It’s actually a ride at EPCOT about human progress. It’s kind of evolutionary, but once you get out of the cave it’s pretty interesting. It’s also the symbol of the park, much like Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom.

After my last post, Ali reminded me that EPCOT is her favorite park, not Magic Kingdom. At this point, using our Annual Passes, we’ve been to Magic Kingdom the most, with EPCOT a close second. We’ve been to Hollywood Studios once, and still haven’t completely explored Animal Kingdom, though we’ve ridden the Expedition Everest a half dozen times. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us the rest of the year.

This past Saturday, we were once again at Disney, this time with Ali’s sister and brother-in-law as her birthday present. We started semi-early in Magic Kingdom and then Monorailed over to EPCOT around 3. We skipped almost all the rides in Future World and opted to spend the remainder of the day walking through the World Showcases. If you’re not familiar, the bulk of EPCOT is 11 pavilions around a lake. Each pavilion is a part of the world, though Morocco is the only one directly sponsored by that country’s government (the King of Morocco apparently sent his own architects over to make sure everything was designed authentically).

We started on the right by going to England for fish and chips (and Guinness) and then watching the Lumberjack show in Canada. From there it was off to France to once again be mesmerized by Impressions de France. From here, we more or less breezed through Morocco, Japan, America, and Italy before pausing again in Germany for more refreshments. We planned to watch the Chinese acrobats before realizing we were all more or less worn out, so it was a quick trip through Norway and Mexico before making the Monorail journey back to the car.

I relay all of this not because you’re super interested in how I spent my Saturday (note: no sports were watched). But it helps set the context for a couple of thoughts I had while there. In many ways, EPCOT is a surrogate way to travel the world. For those of us who can afford Disney passes but not international flights, it is nice to take a Saturday afternoon and visit at least a facsimile of several European countries. The countries don’t completely obscure the fact that they are artificial, although Morocco comes semi-close. Still, taking a stroll around the world at your leisure is hard to beat, even if you know it is all just smoke and mirrors.

Also, unlike Magic Kingdom, it is easier to enjoy EPCOT in the moment. For Magic Kingdom, much of the enjoyment is anticipation about going and past satisfaction in the fun that was had. In the actual moment, we’re usually more focused on maximizing time to do as many rides as possible. We pause on the rides, but because a lot of it is go-go-go, it is hard to relax. It is fun, but we realize it is fun mostly in retrospect (I think). EPCOT on the other hand is more relaxing and casual, and at least when it comes to the World Showcase, it is based on really pausing to enjoy good food and drinks in, at least this past Saturday, semi-perfect weather. And this is even more so at the moment during the Flower and Garden Festival (which will be eclipsed this fall by the Food and Wine Festival).

Given EPCOT’s themes of “technological innovation” and “international culture,” it makes sense that it is trying to capture utopia, or at least a higher plane of human existence. I would say it is “new creation now” but the twist is that there is no Creator in EPCOT’s vision. From a Christian point of view, I can see it as capturing some of the created realities that we will enjoy in full on the new earth. But in the context everything is presented, it is stripped of its actual creational underpinnings. In some ways, it is heaven without the Beatific Vision of God in Christ made manifest. God is conspicuously absent and everything is instead the result of human progress. It is a new better earth without new heaven because God’s presence is missing. For non-believers, this makes EPCOT a fairy tale for grown ups just like Magic Kingdom is fairly tale for kids. And since the symbol of EPCOT is SpaceShip earth, it is only fitting the grandest fairy tale of all is presented on the ride it houses.

None of this is to say you can’t enjoy EPCOT because you’re supporting evolution or denying the creator. As a Christian, I can enjoy everything EPCOT has to offer in a proper perspective, realizing it is neither true utopia, nor the result of human achievement. Instead, it is a less than perfect picture of the consummated reality that will be part of the new heavens and earth, but not the full vision. Instead it is merely the earthly part and even that is still seen through a glass darkly. The full vision includes a better version and Beatific Vision that outshines anything this earth or the new earth on its own would have to offer. Disney may aim to be where dreams do come true, but it can’t compete with the Christian hope that outdoes what even our best dreams can come up with.


Carl Trueman and I go way back. He doesn’t probably know it (or care), but his writing style and point of view tend wake me from my dogmatic slumbers. The first things I read from him were Wages of Spin and Minority Report, both checked out from the DTS Library. Around this time, Republocrat came out. Later, I’d come across Histories and Fallacies, and it was one of the first book reviews I did on this blog. Then another collection of essays emerged, Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread, which like the first two Trueman books I read, was really a collection of blog posts and short essays.

All of that is to say, I’ve been reading and enjoying Carl Trueman’s thoughts for a while now. Even though I don’t always agree with him (nor would he want me to I think), he stimulates conversation better than most. So, it was with significant anticipation that I pre-ordered and then read shortly after arrival Luther on The Christian Life. At this point, I have read all but one book in this series, though I own them all. The series itself I would highly recommend, and while this book ranks high, several others, on the whole, are more commendable. But this one affected me in a different way than the rest.

Historically, I haven’t been a fan of Luther. I realize he is important and all, but I just wasn’t interested in reading much of his writings based on what I knew from a distance. While I recognized his role in starting the Reformation, he was a bit reactionary for my taste. Granted, at the time, that’s what the church may have needed, but I tended to view it as a potential pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction.

This seemed to be confirmed by the way the semi-recent debates on sanctification and Christian growth went on between Tullian Tchividjian and Kevin DeYoung, Tchividjian’s point of view is more less also articulated by Gerhard Forde in Christian Spirituality: Five Views. That view is the Lutheran view, in contrast to the Reformed view, and from my point of view, was more or less antinomian. I say “more or less” because Tchividjian might not outright deny the third use of the law (a rule of law for believers that reminds them of their duties), but his rhetoric makes it seem at times that obedience and the law are in antithesis to the gospel and grace. I’m not alone in that assessment, as another author has pointed out that Tchividjian’s views are more at home in post-Reformation antinoniamism than the casual reader would guess (see also).

The problem with Tchividjian’s formulations, I think, is trying to drive too sharp of a wedge between law and gospel. Treating them as radical disjunctives is a theological presupposition that won’t bear the weight of the available exegetical evidence. I tend to avoid anyone who is real big on this type of thinking, and from what I knew, Luther was the one primarily responsible for it.

But then I read Trueman’s book.

As Trueman notes early on, “An understanding of Luther’s approach to the Christian life is fundamental to understanding the varieties of practical Western Christianity over the last five hundred years” (21). Also important to note is that Luther’s thought developed over time. Trueman explains:

One of the interesting things about the reception of Luther in contemporary evangelical Protestant circles is that it is entirely the early Reformation Luther – the Luther of the Heidelberg Disputation, of The Freedom of the Christian Man, and of The Bondage of the Will – who generally provides the quotations, the sound bites, and the cliches. Thus, it is the Luther of 1525 and earlier who receives all the attention (24).

But, as Trueman goes on to explain, it is the post-1525 Luther that is vital for actually understanding Luther on the Christian life:

In 1522, Luther could lightheartedly explain the success of the Reformation by commenting that he just sat around in the pub drinking beer with Amsdorf and Melanchthon while God’s Word was out doing all the work; the years after 1525 taught Luther that it was a whole lot more difficult than that. The Peasant’s War of 1525 and the dispute with Zwingli throughout the latter half of the 1520’s demonstrated how illusory was the Protestant consensus and how socially dangerous were the times. The rising antinomianism in the parishes showed how the preaching of the Word needed to be set within a more disciplined pastoral and ecclesiastical framework. The failure of the emperor to subscribe to the Augsburg Confession, of the pope to acknowledge the correctness of Luther’s stand, and of the Jews to convert to Christianity all indicated that the Reformation was going to be a long haul (24-25).

In a later chapter, Trueman expands on this. After the Reformation had moved into consolidation phase (by 1526ish), Luther received word back from Melanchthon’s Visitation Articles what parish life was actually like. Trueman notes,

What is clear from the Visitation Articles is that there were serious weaknesses in the effects of Reformation preaching stemming from imbalances in the way Luther’s teachings were being received and transmitted by parish priests. The tendency noted in the articles to preach gospel without law and to try to cultivate faith without repentance had led to behavior that could in no way be considered Christian. Jesus plus nothing was proving to be problematic, and Luther and his colleagues understood that and wished to address it. The law needed to be given its place as that which drives one to repentance. In a subtle way it also needed to be given a role in shaping exactly what the Christian response of love to God and neighbor should look like (169-170).

Trueman goes on to explain Luther’s response to this and how he actually battled antinomianism in his later writings. What this helped me to see is that Luther himself was not the cause of what might be considered antinomian thought. Rather, a misapplication of his thought and an over-emphasis on his earlier writings can, but doesn’t have to, lead in that direction. As a result of reading Trueman’s book, I have a much higher respect for Luther and an interest in actually reading more of his writings myself over the summer. While I don’t have find the law-gospel dialectic helpful, Luther can’t be reduced to that. He may not be the most careful exegete or gifted preacher, he was a great theological mind that I can learn from if I’m willing to take the time. Thanks to Carl Trueman, I’m now ready to do just that.

Genesis Rebooted

April 29, 2015 — 3 Comments


A perennial interest for me over the past several years has been understanding the early chapters of Genesis. This reached its height while I was in my last couple of years at Dallas and I was able to take Hebrew III and IV, as well as a Ph.D seminar on ancient Near East literature. Couple all this my reading of John Walton, and you get this blog series:

For reasons I don’t quite remember (probably busyness), I obviously didn’t finish Genesis 2. Other concerns came to the forefront as I wrapped up at Dallas, but you can tell by this string of reviews, it was still a subject of interest:

Now, as you can see from the stack of books pictured above, I’ve got quite a few books on the topic to work through. The top 2 are for actual reviews and the bottom three are books I picked up at TGC because they were good deals.

I’m not particularly sure what this series, if it even becomes that, will look like. Needless to say I’ll probably be posting thoughts on my reading over the summer. But beyond that, I’m not sure if it will all take systematic shape. I’d like to pick back up with Genesis 2, but I might need to go back and reshape my thoughts on the first chapter in the process. My views, to pardon the pun, haven’t evolved drastically since I wrote the Genesis series and then taught high school biology for a year. But, there are many questions I still have and am working through so I thought it’d be best to do that on here. If there’s something particular you’d like to see me wrestle through, let me know!

BlueStarIn my daily Bible reading plan, I just started Numbers over the weekend. I’ve been following the M’Cheyne plan and working through D. A. Carson’s For the Love of God (you can do so as well at this blog). Numbers is not usually high on anyone’s list of anticipated devotional reading. I can generally sympathize with this, but I think Numbers gets a bad rap for at least a couple of reasons.

First, most people encounter it after committing to read the Bible in a year, and they’ve gotten to Numbers after all the rules and regulations in Leviticus. The excitement of the Exodus is long gone, and the story seems stalled. If this is the only Bible reading you’re doing every morning, it can seem tedious and boring.

Second, the book starts off with the type of Scripture we seem to cherish the least: lists of names. Most people don’t relish reading genealogies and organizational flow charts, but the early chapters of Numbers seem to be very much that. Censuses and camp layouts are not exactly something I feel like I can apply to my life today.

But, as you continue reading, Numbers has actually has some pretty interesting and important stories. While everyone’s familiar with John 3:16, not everyone may realize the story involving Moses in John 3:14-15 comes from Numbers. In chapter 21, because of their continual grumbling, the Israelites are dealing with very deadly snakes on the plain. In order to be saved they must look to a bronze serpent that Moses has been instructed to lift up on a stick. Those who look to the serpent will be healed from their bites. The name for this serpent on a stick is the Nehushtan, and it may be an underlying source or inspiration for the Rod of Asclepius, which you might recognize from being on the emergency services star of life (among other places). If that’s the case, the symbol of healing in our medical services is also the symbol John said represents true healing found in Christ.

Further, consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13, ESV)

While most people might be familiar with the last verse, the stories that Paul alludes to mostly take place in Numbers. He says in verse 6 that these stories took place as examples for us. The “us” in the original was Paul and the Corinthians, but it also applies to “us” today. Especially considering how often we draw correlations between the Corinthian climate and our American culture, it seems like what Paul thought was applicable for them is easily applicable for us. As Gordon Wenham comments,

For the writers of the New Testament the book of Numbers stands as a great warning. Despite the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, and the daily evidences of God’s provision for their needs, Israel refused to believe and rebelled against their Saviour. Numbers records a trail of spectacular judgments that ought to provoke caution in every believer.

In this passage Paul describes the experiences of Israel in the wilderness in such a way as to make clear the parallels with the situation at Corinth. Most of the sins of Corinth are thus prefigured in Numbers, and if Israel was punished so severely, what can the church of the new covenant expect?(Numbers, 56-57)

In their Introduction to The Old Testament, Longman and Dillard suggest “Each generation of Christians should place themselves in the position of the new generation of the book of Numbers. God has acted redemptively in our midst, and by so doing, he has given our lives meaning and hope. Just like the Numbers generation, we are called upon to respond to God’s grace with obedience” (100). Reading Numbers in that light, genealogies included, can surely prove profitable to the Christian life. At the end of the day, the struggle may simply be that reading Numbers well requires thought beyond the time it takes to read the chapters in order to see Christ more clearly and understand how this part of Scripture can be profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and ultimately training in righteousness. I’m hoping to see that in the coming days and weeks and will have some more to share as I move along.

Between The Buried and Me isn’t for everyone, but I really appreciate their music. Ever since Alaska, I’ve been using their albums for night driving and working out (and occasionally studying). Looks like they have a new album coming out in July, which I’ll probably go ahead and pre-order now.

Baudrillard makes a good point, though it can obviously be taken to extremes. There is no such thing as a no-spin zone, but that doesn’t mean news can’t be reported in some respects in a fair and balanced way. There is no such thing as un-biased reporting, but there is objective reporting. That is to say, no one can present anything in a completely neutral fashion, but they can make their presuppositions apparent and seek to present the information in a way that is open to public verification.


Once again, I had the pleasure of reading a volume in the IVP Academic’s New Studies in Biblical Theology series and telling you about it. This time, it’s Oren Martin’s lightly revised doctoral dissertation from SBTS, Bound For The Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan. As someone who went to three different dispensational schools, this is a subject I’m still working my way through. I found Wellum and Gentry’s approach in Kingdom Through Covenant interesting, but wanted to do some more reading on the subject. Thankfully, Martin’s work arrived a few weeks back and I dug right in.

The book is a quick read, I enjoyed the bulk of it during a long Saturday by the pool at the beginning of spring break. Martin begins in the Promised Land, because it “occupies a special place for God’s people after the fall and exile from Eden, because it is the place where they will once again live under his lordship and experience his blessed presence” (17). In his study, Martin aims “to demonstrate that the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden and serves as a type throughout Israel’s history that anticipates the even greater land – prepared for all of God’s people through history – that will come as a result of the person and work of Christ.” To do this, Martin traces the land promise as it unfolds through Scripture.

The initial chapter continues by sketching out the current scholarship on the subject Martin is addressing. The need clearly emerges for a more comprehensive biblical theology of the Promised Land (20). Martin plans to offer that, proceeding on the assumption of continuity between the various parts of Scripture (21) and that the land is part an important part of the connection between biblical covenants (21). Additionally, Martin sees the importance of typology for his study (25-27), such that “the development of the land promise across the canon provides hermeneutical warrant to see its ultimate fulfilment in the new creation won by Christ” (27).

With these methodological foundations laid, Martin’s next chapter gives further grounding in the land and kingdom, specifically in reference to their appearance in the beginning (Gen 1-2) and end (Rev. 21-22). Then in chapters 3-6, Martin traces the land promise through Genesis, Exodus-Deuteronomy, Joshua-Kings, and finally the prophets. There is an interlude summarizing the Old Testament findings before Martin does the same tracing in Gospels (chapter 7), the Epistles (chapter 8), and finally Revelation (chapter 9). After another interlude concluding the New Testament findings, Martin closes with a chapter on his theological reflections.

He begins noting,

The land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden and serves as a type throughout Israel’s history that anticipates an even greater land – prepared for God’s people that will come as a result of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In other words, the land and its blessings (type) find their fulfillment in the new heaven and new earth (antitype) won by Christ (161).

What follows in this chapter “aims to apply the interpretative findings of the previous chapters to eschatology” (162). Martin begins by relating his conclusions to dispensational thought. Martin differs from dispensational thought by arguing that “the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant does not prove that the promise of land must be exclusively fulfilled to the nation of Israel in the future” (164). Further, he says “There are exegetical grounds both in the immediate context of the Abrahamic covenant and across the entire Old Testament to argue that God’s original intention for the land was not merely to be limited to the specific geographical boundaries of Canaan” (166). This runs contra the charge normally leveled against non-dispensational thought by making the argument by developing the Old Testament line of thought rather than simply arguing that the New Testament fulfillment in Christ cancels out the Old Covenant promises (or something roughly similar to that).

I am inclined to agree with Martin’s conclusions here when it comes to the land promises, but I’d be interested to see dispensational responses to his argument. When it comes to comparing his conclusions to covenantal thought, Martin says, “covenant theology tends to move from the Old Testament to the New too quickly before comprehensively developing the land theme across the Old Testament, both in its historical and epochal horizons. When this process is accomplished, the New Testament demonstrates both when and how the Old Testament is brought to fulfillment in Christ, though in a way that does not reinterpret, spiritualize or contravene the earlier texts” (168). Here again I would tend to agree, but I wonder if some more well-develop covenantal biblical theologies do just that. I’m currently reading Beale’s New Testament Biblical Theology and Martin even cites him approvingly contra Bruce Waltke (167), though both are covenantal. Beale may perhaps be more of a mediating figure than Waltke, standing with Martin over against more spiritualized readings of the Old Testament, but also contra martin in terms of his understanding of the covenant.

On the whole, there is much to benefit from in this volume. The land promise is central to the unfolding of God’s covenants with his people and is vital to explaining and understanding biblical theology. Martin’s volume is very readable and capable of guiding readers through just how the promised land is viewed in the Old and New Testaments. I would have preferred more than a final chapter with theological implications, but in order to devote the space needed to go through the testaments I can see how it would end up the way it did. Perhaps Martin will expand on this in the future in journal articles or another monograph. In the meantime, as you’re working through your understanding of the covenants, this is good volume to keep in mind, especially if you are of a strongly dispensational  or covenantal background.


Oren R. Martin, Bound For The Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan (NSBT). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, February 2015. Paperback, 208 pp. $25.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!


This past week, I was a volunteer in the bookstore at The Gospel Coalition national conference. You might have picked that up already from Twitter, but just in case, now you know. You might have also seen the partial book review post that I hadn’t quite finished before its scheduled post date arrived. That review will post in full tomorrow.

This was my second TGC national conference and third April in a row at something like this. Because of online connections, and connections made in previous years, most of what I was looking forward to was hanging out with people. Being an introvert, this is always kind of weird. But, it was a great time and I’m glad that testing week coincided with the conference so I could go without taking a day off school.

I was in and out of the actual sessions, mainly because I knew I could listen to them online later. I went to one of the several workshops that were offered and stayed around past my bed time to go to the late night panel with Christ and Pop Culture. I was also grateful to be able to go to lunch with several other writers earlier in the day. I was able to meet up with several other friends and catch up and even made some new connections. I was also told I should be a manager at Lifeway because of my bookstore prowess.

One of the by-products of a conference like this is motivation. For me at least, being able to talk to other people about writing, ministry, and life in general helps to give me the encouragement to push on with some things and let others fall to the side. I came away from the conference more motivated to pursue writing projects, keep the Ph.D plan a live option, and really start pushing to raise support for SHIFT. You can sign up for our newsletter here to read our current support letter. If you have any advice on this kind of thing, I’d love to hear it!

The motivation that came from TGC was timely, especially in light of some reading I’ve been doing. I’ll put together a more complete post on that at some point, but the gist of it is that I need to focus on what is essential, rather than being spread so thin. Also, as I become more focused, especially in the area of teaching and ministry, it helps to trim down my library. It also helps focus on how much of a chunk of time book reviews are worth and what kind of writing might be better instead (or in addition to).

So hopefully the upcoming late spring and summer will turn into a season of focusing and growing in discipline with my time, talents, and treasure. I like having a lot on my plate, but it helps if it is mostly on one plate rather than several. Probably can’t get it down to just one, but I can group them together as much as possible and try to eliminate things in my schedule that don’t fit.

You might recognize the opening example’s similarity to the Aqedah of Abraham (Gen. 22). My thesis adviser liked to say that William James, and pragmatism in particular, was just Nietzsche with a smiling face.

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