Posts belonging to Category People you should know

Biblical wisdom for pastors

The Country Parson: His Character and Rule of Holy Life (1842)The Country Parson: His Character and Rule of Holy Life by George Herbert

This is an excellent advice book for young ministers. Written for pastors in the Anglican church, some details may not apply to other denominations, but on the whole, it is full of wisdom. It describes areas from preaching and counseling, to a minister’s humor and how he should govern his household. I plan on reading this many times in the future.

Reading the Bible again

James Jordan recently spoke to a church in the U.K. where he gave a series of talks titled, “How to Read the Bible the First Time…Again.”  The pastor, Steve Jeffrey, has made those talks available for free.  They will challenge anyone who loves the Word in a positive way.  If you’re up for the challenge, check them out here.

If he had to choose

Charles Spurgeon on two types of preaching:  “Give us all the vulgarities of the wildest back-woods’ itinerant rather than the perfumed prettinesses of effeminate gentility.” – Lectures to My Students, Vol. 1

The relationship of the Church to the canon

“The canon of Scripture is like gravity: it is recognized by the Church but that recognition isn’t what determines its existence.” – Toby Sumpter

Pride in one’s humility

“And I am afraid that there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility that they are willing in words to debase the creature, and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not of what manner of spirit they are of.  Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.  Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.” – John Newton

Same Difference

Some might be interested in a guest post I wrote for my friend Mike Bull on his blog.  It is a summary of a history lecture I presented last year on the similarities between Baptists and Presbyterians.  While you’re over there, check out some of the great information he has on his blog.  It will keep you busy for a while.

Why Calvinists should read Chesterton

At first when I started reading G.K. Chesterton, I struggled with the fact that he has little use for the doctrines of grace.  He regularly pokes fun at those who believe in predestination, but it’s not as bad as it appears.  While I believe in the doctrinesof unconditional election, etc., I’ve never had trouble overlooking his criticism of those beliefs.  John Piper recently published an article explaining why it’s so easy to love Chesterton despite his dislike for predestination.

“But how then can Calvinism awaken such joy in me, and such hate in Chesterton? Because they aren’t the same Calvinism. He thinks Calvinism is the opposite of all this happy wonder that we have in common. The Calvinism he hates is part of the rationalism that drives people mad. Exhibit A:

‘Only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health. . . . He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin.’

No, Mr. Chesterton, William Cowper was not driven mad by Calvinism. He was driven mad by a mental disease that ran in his family for generations, and he was saved by John Newton, perhaps the humblest, happiest Calvinist who ever lived. And both of them saw the wonders of “Amazing Grace” through the eyes of poetry. Yes, that was a healing balm. But the disease was not Calvinism — else John Newton would not have been the happy, healthy, holy friend that he was.”

Later Piper explains why Calvinists not only can read Chesterton but should read Chesterton.

“I thank God for G. K. Chesterton. His gift for seeing the world and for saying what he sees is peerless. He opens my eyes to wonders of what is there. And what is there is the finger-work of God. He may be dismayed to hear it, but his eyes have helped me see more clearly than ever the God of Jonathan Edwards.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

My list of most influential books

I love book lists.  I have too many book lists on the computer.  But some books are more influential than others.  The following is a list of the five books that most reflect my Christian walk.  I’m not including the Bible in this list, although if you want me to, it would be #1.  They aren’t in any particular order, so here goes.

  • Desiring God – John Piper  This book changed the way I thought about God, myself, and the way the Church does business.  Reading it required me to reorganize my priorities and unsettled my thoughts about the process of salvation.
  • Chosen by God – R.C. Sproul  When I started reading this book, I believed man’s free will trumped God’s sovereign will in salvation.  After reading it, I knew I had to submit to God’s sovereignty in everything (including salvation) or live a lie.  There may be other books that explain God’s sovereign grace more clearly, but none ever gripped my heart like this one.  I’ll never forget the feeling of my old belief system crumbling as I read.  It was truly life changing. 
  • Angels in the Architecture – Doug Wilson and Doug Jones  This book was also a surprise, somewhat because of the title.  It isn’t about architecture (which I knew) but it is about almost everything else.  It highlights Christian culture in the past and crafts a vision for what the rule of Christ looks like in every area of life.  Many can describe abstractly what Christianity should look like when it’s lived out, but this book puts flesh on the bones of those descriptions.
  • Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton  I had no idea what I was getting into when I first read this book, but it changed the way I look at, well, everything.  Chesterton’s thought is best summarized in this volume, which turns everything upside down in order for us to look at it right side up (if you don’t understand what I mean just read a page of this book, you’ll get the idea).  Many books talk about Christians having joy in their lives, but this one describes what that looks like.  Chesterton does include a few nasty references to Calvinism, but they are straw men arguments that can be easily ignored.   
  • Postmillenialism: an eschatology of hope – Keith Mathison  This book is the best combination of several books that influenced me in the area of prophecy.  I came into a little maturity in this area through the likes of Gary DeMar, Gary North, Doug Wilson, and R.J. Rushdoony.  Mathison presents the ideas of the gospel spreading throughout all the earth by way of sound exegesis.  It’s a great introduction to the topic. 

Taste it again for the first time

I was listening to Chesterton’s What’s Wrong with the World recently and thoroughly enjoyed his chapter titled, “The Wildness of Domesticity.”  In this chapter, he points out that the only true adventure in life is not lived outside the home, but rather within it.

“It is surely quite clear that this modern notion that woman is a mere “pretty clinging parasite,” “a plaything,” etc., arose through the somber contemplation of some rich banking family, in which the banker, at least, went to the city and pretended to do something, while the banker’s wife went to the Park and did not pretend to do anything at all.”

 “But of all the modern notions generated by mere wealth the worst is this: the notion that domesticity is dull and tame…For the truth is, that to the moderately poor the home is the only place of liberty.”

 He goes on to explain how the home is the true place of liberty, whereas all other places require greater conformity to limits.  One of the great things about Chesterton is that he gives you a more grand view of what you have been looking at all your life.  For those who view marriage and family life as dull, or those who want to take greater pleasure in your family, read this chapter.  It is a wonderful short essay on the delight of “normal” home life.

To be Godly and Feminine

Recently I’ve come across a great lecture on the poet Anne Bradstreet.  I heard Dr. George Ella speak about her last year, and this lecture (by Douglas Wilson) inspired me to go back and read her again.  Mrs. Bradstreet writes a lovely prescription for those who can’t tellt the difference between secular feminism and godly femininity. Contrary to the emaciated view of femininity espoused by some fundamentlists today, she knew how to think for herself while remaining submitted to her God and her husband.  For the guys who don’t read poetry, especially puritan poetry, she also wrote about political events and history (as did Jane Austen).  There is no reason for a Christian to neglect this first truly American poet. 

You will find the link to the audio lecture here (just scroll down).  If you are ready to go ahead and read some of her work, start here.