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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!

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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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It is hard to imagine a more relevant subject in our culture than the issue of homosexuality. Specifically, the issue at hand is how religious liberty and gay rights relate. A more pressing issue, in my mind at least, is how the church is to understand homosexuality and relate to persons who identify as gay

In light of all that, Kevin DeYoung has written a book on the topic and Westminster Bookstore is offering a really great deal on individual and bulk orders of the book. As part of that, they offered me a chance to read an advanced reader copy. While this is something I would usually turn down, there was no expectation of a full review. With that in mind, this isn’t a full review per se, but after reading through the book earlier this week, I wanted to make sure you knew about it. There will probably be no shortage of more interactive and even critical reviews, so just consider this a kind of preview of sorts.

First off, I hope Kevin DeYoung continues to write books. I think I’ve read all of his most recent ones with Crossway, and am always struck as his clarity and readability. This is a rather emotionally charged issue (to say the least) and DeYoung handles it well in his tone and rhetoric. Also, this book is both short and to the point, yet broad in the material it actually covers.

With that in mind, second, it’s worth noting that the book is exactly what the title says it is. Unlike his last book on Scripture, there is no extended subtitle. DeYoung looks at the main passages that refer to homosexuality in Scripture, then spends the remaining chapters answering some common objections using sound theological reasoning. It’s hard to ask for a better combination.

That being said, the third point to note is that if a person doesn’t think Scripture is authoritative, this book is not written to them. If God’s Word is not the final authority for belief and practice, there is no reason to write this book, nor care about the contents. For readers that do, the evidence in Scripture that is acknowledged on both sides of the debate is that there is no positive case for homosexuality to be made from Scripture. Christians that want Scripture to be the final authority either have to inadvertently deny that in making a pro-homosexuality case from Scripture, or make arguments that amount to saying the historic understanding of the key texts is wrong for one reason or another.

With all that in mind, I found this book to be very helpful. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the topic and I thought what DeYoung presents here is a good synthesis of the available material. His pastoral tone helps to deliver the information well, since at the end of the day this book is probably best for people on the fence on the issue. It is also a useful resource for Christians who may be morally convinced that homosexuality is wrong, but are not handling the issue particularly well in counseling and discipleship situations.

At the end of the day, if you’re involved in pastoral ministry you’ll probably want to take a Saturday afternoon and read this book. Likewise, if you’re not sure how to present a graceful argument on what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, this book offers an excellent example. I could also see it being useful for those who struggle with this particular issue to see what Scripture teaches and how to use Scripture to answer objections that our culture continually brings up. I think DeYoung is able to speak against homosexuality without bringing in a sense of condemnation. He is clear and to the point, but not without being gracious and kind in his rhetoric. For that reason, I hope it is widely read, and if you’re interested, you should take advantage of the deal Westminster is offering.


Kevin DeYoung, What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?Wheaton: Crossway, April 2015. 160 pp. Paperback, $12.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to WTS Books for the review copy!

Here are some additional videos and resources on the subject:

 

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We Need Your Help!

April 8, 2015 — Leave a comment

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A couple of weeks ago, I explained a little bit about what we’ve been up to in ministry and how I’m joining staff with SHIFT. I’ve spent the time since then getting organized and now wanted to offer a sign up form that you can use to receive our newsletter. Just to be upfront, this is like most ministry newsletters. It is part keeping you in the loop about what we’re doing, but it is also part of an attempt to raise support so that we can more effectively focus on the teaching and discipleship opportunities that God has brought into our path here in Florida. I’ve been talking and thinking about raising support for the better part of a year and I think at the end of the day, it’s really just fear of man that has kept me from pursuing it sooner. It has become increasingly clear over the last several months that this is the direction God is leading us, but I have to actually take the initiative to ask you to help us out.

So, if you’d like to know more about what we’re doing, what we want to do, and what we are trying to raise to make it happen, you can sign up below. If for some reason you’d like to give us a one-time or monthly recurring donation, but not continue to receive e-mail updates, you can do that here. I’m assuming you’d rather know a bit more about what we’re doing, so we’d really like to connect with you through our updates. I’ll look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks and months!

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I don’t remember the exact time I first saw this video, but I remember it being at Word of Life, maybe during a missions conference (makes sense). We’ve watched it a couple of times in small group, and it’s always a joy to see these people hear and understand the gospel for the first time. Justin Taylor posted it on Easter and I thought it deserved a re-post.

As he says, you have to watch it until the end, and really need to take the 25 minutes to watch it start to finish. You won’t be disappointed!

You can also watch this to see what happened after the conversions in the above video:

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Normally Mondays are for music, but I figured I’d talk about the Magic Kingdom since that also starts with M. It would be pretty easy to Jesus Juke enjoying a trip to the Magic Kingdom over the weekend in light of Easter. I mean, the resurrection vindicates Jesus as King, and well, you can put the pieces together from there.

But I’d rather just talk about enjoying day dates there with Ali. Instead of getting each other Christmas presents this year, we put a down payment on season passes to Disney. Now, for a reasonable monthly payment, we can go to Disney whenever we want. Initially, we thought we’d try to make it once a month so we get our money’s worth on the whole deal. At this point, we have easily already gotten our money’s worth and we’re just over three months into the passes.

Before this year, I had been to Disney twice. Once in 1989 (or maybe 1990) and then again in 1994. We went to Epcot the weekend we moved back to Florida, but that was almost 4 years ago. Ali grew up here, so she’s been more frequently than that and the Magic Kingdom is her favorite park. Saturday was our 5th time (maybe 6th) going this year, and it was quite the enjoyable day.

There is something relaxing about going when you are a season pass holder since there is no pressure to do everything. Also, after you’ve been a few times, you get a feel for how to sequence your adventure which maximizes the time you’re there. I think we rode a total of about 13 rides when it was all said and done and never waited in line more than 40 minutes. On top of that, the weather was pretty perfect and since we got there at open, we’d done pretty much everything we wanted to do by 2pm and so headed back home for a nap (for Ali) and some reading time (for me). All in all, it was a pretty perfect day.

The more we go though, the more we want to go, and the more I want to analyze it all. There are several dimensions that interest me, but just out of curiosity I thought I’d see what would be of a wider general interest. For me, Disney is not a vacation destination, it’s simply a feature of the city I live in. It’s a place Ali and I can go for a date day or an evening out. But for nearly everyone else, it is one of the primary vacation spots and people come from around the world to go there. I’d like to write and think more about this, and I think I’m going to need some outside perspective to do so. A week from today is TGC here in Orlando and if you’re there I’d love to chat. If not, drop a comment below or connect with me on Twitter. I’m hopefully going to write some kind of article on this for Christ and Pop Culture, but the nature of that is yet to be determined.

Last week, I explained how to program your mind to stop buying books you don’t need. As I’ve been working through that, and doing some reading I’ll tell you about later, I’ve decided to downside my library some. As part of that, I’m shifting toward using commentaries primarily in Logos, which means I’m selling many print ones.

Now, I’m all set to sell these on Amazon by shipping them off and having them by FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). However, there’s a pretty big chunk of commission that Amazon takes out. So, I thought I’d offer them up on here first. When I priced these for Amazon, I undercut the lowest option for the same condition. All of these are at least in Very Good condition, and most are in Like New condition. But, rather than posting the price, I’ll let you name your price, and we can negotiate. Check what is goes for on Amazon first, and then pitch me an offer! As far as payment, the easiest thing is for you to pay me through the Venmo app which is free for both of us. You pay me, I mail it.

All that out of the way, here’s the list:

NICOT

  • The Book of Leviticus (Gordon Wenham)
  • The Book of Deuteronomy (Peter Craigie)
  • The Book of Judges (Barry Webb)
  • The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (Charles Fensham)
  • The Book of Isaiah 1-39 (John Oswalt)
  • The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (O. Palmer Robertson)
  • The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (Leslie Allen)
  • The Books of Haggai and Malachi (Pieter Vierhof)

NIVAC

  • Ezekiel (Iain Duguid)
  • Hosea, Amos, Micah (Gary Smith)
  • Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (David Baker)
  • Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (James Bruckner)
  • Haggai, Zechariah (Mark Boda)

ZECNT

  • All volumes

WBC

  • All the epistles

Focus on The Bible

  • All the Dale Ralph Davis volumes (Joshua-Kings)

NICNT

  • Hebrews (Gareth Cockerill)

Teach The Text

  • Romans (Marvin Pate)
  • Luke (R. T. France)

If you’re local, you can probably get an even better deal since shipping isn’t included in that case. Let me know, and we’ll work out the logistics!

New Books of Note

March 31, 2015 — Leave a comment

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Last year, I used Gerald Bray’s God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology for my 11th grade Bible class. Along the way, I offered several posts with excerpts:

Now, in addition to his systematic, Bray has written a history of Christian theology: God Has Spoken. Unlike the previous work, Bray does not limit himself to footnotes from Scripture. Instead, he interacts with major theologians throughout the history of the church.

Structurally, Bray orders his work with a Trinitarian focus:

  • Part 1: The Israelite Legacy
  • Part 2: The Person of The Father
  • Part 3: The Work of The Father
  • Part 4: The Person of The Son
  • Part 5: The Work of The Son
  • Part 6: The Person of The Holy Spirit
  • Part 7: The Work of The Holy Spirit
  • Part 8: One God in Three Persons

In presenting the material this way, Bray is able to move through the major discussions in theology in church history stemming from the Old Testament all the way to the modern Trinitarian renaissance. Because he seems focused on roots and development, there is a heavy focus on the early centuries of the New Testament church. As any student of historical theology will know, the early church councils dealt heavily with the nature of the Trinity and the person of Christ. As such, the first 4 parts of the book stay more or less in this neck of the woods.

This differs very significantly from a similar book like Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology which takes a doctrine per part of the book, then within each chapter traces the chronological development of one aspect of that doctrine. Because Bray’s ordering is simultaneously chronological and to some extent systematic, you will get a good feel for how Christian thought has developed and been clarified through the years as you read through it. On the other hand, Allison’s volume is more evenly ordered concerning the individual doctrines as well as the space spent on each time period within each doctrine.

In the end, it isn’t really right or wrong one way or the other, it’s just worth knowing what you’re getting into. Reading this book cover to cover would be quite a commitment since it is only about 300 pages shorter than N. T. Wright’s recent work on Paul which is split into two volumes. Selective reading in this volume is not as easy as it would be in a book like Allison’s which is also considerably shorter. Making your way through this volume then, will be quite a feat given the length of the book. Like any major undertaking, you’d be surprised at how quickly a few pages a day will add up. Or, if you’re looking for some focused summer reading, this just might be what you need to fill out your understanding of the roots of Christian theology.

Gerald Bray, God Has Spoken: A History of Christian TheologyWheaton: Crossway, October 2014. 1264 pp. Hardcover, $55.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!


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Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Michael Reeves’ Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to The Christian Faith. It is still the first book I’d recommend to someone who wants to understand the Trinity better. Now, Reeves has a companion book of sorts, Rejoicing in Christ, which focuses on ways we can delight specifically in the person and work of Christ.

This book is a short, quick read. However, it not a book to just absorb, but is better meditated upon as it pushes you to see Christ more clearly. In the course of 5 chapters, Reeves guides readers through the doctrine of the person and work of Christ in a highly readable and engaging fashion. Much like his previous book, there are numerous sidebars that are part historical anecdote and part rabbit trails related to the main exposition. Also, the text is highly packed with images from artwork through the centuries. So, if you’re in the mood for a theology book about Jesus that even has pictures, this book is definitely for you! Christianity is ultimately all about Christ and this book will help you see that more clearly and hopefully will move your affections for him more deeply.

Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, February 2015, 137 pp. Paperback, $16.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!


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Given both the nature of my Th.M thesis and the fact that I write for Christ and Pop Culture, I tend to keep an eye out for Christian books that are about culture. Whether they are about how to interact well with it general or are about a specific aspect (like movies) in more detail, I try to stay up to date. I recently noticed a new release from Thomas Nelson by author Kevin Harvey called All You Want to Know About The Bible in Pop Culture: Finding Our Creator in Superheroes, Prince Charming, and Other Modern Marvels.

Going through the book, it seems to be best aimed at being an introduction to reading pop culture in Christian perspective. Chapter 1 is about superheroes as Christ figures. Chapter 2 is about movies with overtly Christian themes or depictions of God. Chapter 3 turns to princesses (often of the Disney variety). Chapter 4 covers how Christians tend to be depicted in Hollywood. Chapter 5 focuses almost exclusively on Lost, while chapter 6 gets into reality TV. Chapter 7 turns to pop music, and chapter 8 wraps things up with a collection of biblical artifacts within a broad range of pop culture. With an afterward and appendix that has a quiz about Noah and Moses to see how much you know about the actual biblical portrayal of them, the book would appear to be done, but after the notes there is an activity book of sorts to learn even more about the Bible in pop culture.

Taking all this together, I’d give Harvey high marks for creativity in presentation. A downside is that some of the main chapters are difficult to read because both the typeface and all the sidebars. In that sense, it is very much like wading into pop culture. You’re more or less entering into a visual medium and you have to pay close attention. For a book though, this is kind of distracting. In terms of the content itself, I didn’t think it was anything necessarily groundbreaking if you’re into pop cultural criticism from a Christian perspective. But, as I thought about it, that’s not where most people are and so much of what’s in here would be groundbreaking and paradigm shifting for them. In that light, I’d say this is a good book for someone who really hasn’t reflected at all on pop culture from a Christian point of view. It is also, because of the design, a more accessible book to people who don’t normally read books. Think of it as a more basic and lighthearted version of Mike Cosper’s Stories We Tell.

Kevin Harvey, All You Want to Know About The Bible in Pop Culture: Finding Our Creator in Superheroes, Prince Charming, and Other Modern Marvels. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, March 2015. 240 pp. Paperback, $19.99.

Buy itAmazon

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy!


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A while back you might remember my review of Exploring The Religion of Ancient Israel. The author, Aaron Chalmers, newest book. Interpreting The Prophets: Reading, Understanding and Preaching From the Worlds of The Prophets, was recently released by IVP Academic. In it, Chalmers offers an introduction to the prophets that focuses on situating them in their historical, theological, and rhetorical contexts. Rather than going book by book through the prophets, Chalmers offers a kind of background overview that the reader can then take and use to understand the individual books better.

The format of the book is similar to Chalmer’s other work, except that it doesn’t have the dual columns. It does however have numerous side bars that take you off the main trail a bit and a hearty amount of pictures. After clarifying in the first chapter the nature and definition of a prophet, each successive chapter deals with the relevant background contexts for understanding the prophets. Readers are moved from the historical backdrop, to the theological, and finally the rhetorical. Chapter 5 deals with the relationship of prophecy and apocalyptic material and the final chapter offers sage advice for preaching through the prophets. All in all, this is a handy little volume that I hope will pay off as my own 9th grade Bible class is about to embark on a study of the prophets.

Aaron Chalmers, Interpreting The Prophets: Reading, Understanding and Preaching From the Worlds of The Prophets. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, February 2015, 173 pp. Paperback, $20.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

Tomorrow, Death Cab For Cutie releases their 8th studio album, Kintsugi. Here’s the video for the first single, Black Sun. Though you might not guess this, they are one of my favorite bands and two of the best concerts I’ve been to live are seeing them in Fox Theater in Atlanta during their post Plans touring and then again in Dallas while they were touring for Narrow Stairs. I’m hoping they come to Orlando some time soon, but at the moment, it doesn’t look that way.

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