Win WORLD Magazine’s 2011 Book of the Year!

WORLD Magazine recently named Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (P & R, 2011) as one of their picks for “Book of the Year”.  To celebrate, P & R is giving away 3 copies* to those who post a comment on their blog.  Also, you can spread the word about the giveaway by RTing the following on Twitter (without quotes):

“RT @prpbooks: Last day to win a copy of ‘Should Christians Embrace Evolution?’ Post a comment on our blog! http://bit.ly/lrlije”

For more on the book including a brief synopsis, a list of contributors, and PDF sample chapters, click here.  Or,to read Martin Olasky’s review, click here.

To purchase Should Christians Embrace Evolution? from WTSbooks.com at the discounted price of $9.74 (35% off), click here.

*The contest runs through the end of today (6/23/11).

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Win Carson’s “Collected Writings On Scripture”…

Bob Hayton, blogger at “Fundamentally Reformed,” is hosting a giveaway of D.A. Carson’s, Collected Writings on Scripture.  The giveaway runs through April 27th (9pm, ct)…CLICK HERE TO BE REDIRECTED TO THE GIVEAWAY.

Preview the book:

Read inside (PDFs): Table of Contents, “Approaching the Bible,” and the Indices

More details on Carson’s Collected Writings at WTSbooks.com.

Christian Focus Giveaway!

Just wanted to quickly make you aware that Christian Focus’ blog, Christian Focus Booknotes, is giving away a couple great prize packs to celebrate “a month of blogging under [their] belts.”  The contest runs March 21st – 26th! The two prize packs are summarized below:

The first place prize includes the following three books:
Systematic Theology Volume One by Douglas F. Kelly

“I have written this first volume, thinking of my heritage as both Reformed and Catholic; gladly appropriating crucial insights of the whole people of God over the last two thousand years – Eastern Orthodox, Western Catholic, and Reformation Protestant – as they sought to live out the foundational truths of the inspired Word of God.”

The Priesthood of Christ by John Owen
John Owen is noted for taking themes that those who had gone before had often wrestled with and write with clarity and depth. He does the same here with ‘The Priesthood of Christ’. Having studied the Book of Hebrews in great depth and written a world renowned commentary on it, John Owen is able to give us a comprehensive guide to this important theme. He explains how the Old Testament pillars of the Law and the Covenant relate to Christ’s office of Priest. Includes an introduction from Sinclair B. Ferguson.

Ezra & Nehemiah: A Mentor Commentary by Tiberius Rata
Through these fascinating Old Testament books, Ezra and Nehemiah you will discover a God who is in control of history and the hearts of his people. It is a real encouragement to be reminded how Yahweh can even work through the lives of secular leaders, just as he did with the Persian Kings, Cyrus and Artaxerxes.

The second place prize pack includes the following two books:

The Gospel of God: Romans by R.C. Sproul
Paul’s epistle to the Romans has been influential at critical moments in church history: The conversion of Augustine in the early church; Influencing Martin Luther and John Calvin during the Protestant Reformation; Changing the lives of George Whitfield and John Wesley in the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century. But it is not only those who have become leaders in the church who have been affected by the book of Romans; ordinary Christians have lived transformed lives as a result – up to the present day. One reason is because in Romans, Paul clearly sets out a theological framework for us to understand the Christian faith. It is a comprehensive description of the way that God offers salvation to humankind – and it is ‘Good News’.

From the Finger of God by Philip S. Ross
This book investigates the biblical and theological basis for the classical division of biblical law into moral, civil, and ceremonial. It highlights some of the implications of this division for the doctrines of sin and atonement, concluding that theologians were right to see it as rooted in Scripture and the Ten Commandments as ever-binding.

***TO ENTER THE CONTEST, CLICK HERE TO BE REDIRECTED TO THEIR BLOG!***

(HT: Christian Focus Booknotes)

MYTH: TULIP Has the Imprint of Antiquity

Myth: The Calvinist Acrostic, TULIP, Has the Imprint of Antiquity

My Early Journey

Like a lot of persons who were introduced to Reformed theology after being raised in a different expression of evangelical Christianity, I was early-on exposed to authors easily recognizable by many who read this. I refer to titles like Steele & Thomas’ Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Documented and Defended(P&R, 1963), Pink’s Sovereignty of God(1918; B.O.T. ed.1961) and Boettner’s Reformed Doctrine of Predestination(Eerdmans:1932 & reprints from P&R). Here is where I “cut my teeth”, doctrinally; here also were the sources which first introduced me to the well-known acronym TULIP. TULIP was passed on by Boettner to Steele and Thomas as a handy ‘digest’ (if you will) of the determinations of the great international Reformed synod which met at Dordt, the Netherlands in 1618-19.

Now, if TULIP was a handy ‘digest’ of the conclusions of this synod, called to deal with the challenge posed by the early Arminian movement, then – as we were accustomed to saying, you needed “to have all the petals on your TULIP”, a more compact way of saying that you needed to robustly affirm belief in Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. At least…that is what I thought for decades…

An Intriguing Question Arises

But in 2005 while reading eighteenth century Calvinist authors in connection with another theological question, I became intrigued by the fact that TULIP – something looked on as quite elementary to any modern, card-carrying Calvinist—was strangely not to be found. There had been controversy about Calvinist doctrine, alright; about 1710 a liberal Anglican writer, Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) had ‘thrown down the gloves’ by publicly contesting the doctrine of election. There had been no shortage of stalwart Calvinists to reply. But none of them: John Edwards (1637-1716), Thomas Ridgley (1667-1734) or John Gill (1697-1771) ever mentioned TULIP; each used his own terminology in referring to and defending the doctrinal affirmations of Dordt. This planted a seed in my mind to which I returned twelve months later.

In the summer of 2006, I researched the question which had now crystallized: where and when had TULIP emerged in the centuries subsequent to Dordt (1618-1619)?  The answer which research yielded was not at all what I expected.  Beginning at the present, I began to trace the use of TULIP backwards in time.  Something soon emerged: there were twentieth century writers who used this acronym without any reservation at all, while a second group used it more tentatively – and with a readiness to substitute other alphabet letters (and terms) for some of the TULIP ‘petals’.  The ‘unreserved’ users of TULIP I called ‘sovereign grace’; the more tentative users of TULIP, I called ‘apologetic’ in the sense of ‘commending’.

Where the Trail Led

After examining fifteen twentieth and early twenty-first century advocates of Calvinism (see my table at pages 93-95 of Ten Myths), i.e. both ‘sovereign grace’ and ‘apologetic’ writers, it was plain that there was no one employing TULIP before Loraine Boettner in 1932. B.B. Warfield (1851-1921), the famous Calvinist theologian at Princeton, though included in my survey of writers, had not.  What should one make of this?  Well then, perhaps Boettner had borrowed this from some nineteenth century writer still popular in his student days? But I could not find TULIP in Spurgeon, in Robert Dabney and a whole range of other British and North American writers of that century. And when I looked back to the turn of the eighteenth into the nineteenth century, I reached the same conclusion. But what did it all mean?

A Breakthrough

I had not proved that Boettner had ‘invented’ TULIP; I could only show that he was an early and successful popularizer of this acronym.  It was only after 2008, when I published as an essay in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology what I had delivered as a paper in the 2006 Evangelical Theological Society, that the next ‘layer of the onion’ came off.  With the kind help of Justin Taylor, who publicized the existence of my SBET essay on his blog, “Between Two Worlds”, two independent sleuths came forward to help me. Ched Spellman, a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Bart Byl, a computer technician in Vancouver, independently located (with the help of Google Books) a 1913 magazine, The Outlook, in which an author, William Vail, described both how he had heard a lecture on TULIP in 1905 in Newark, N.J. and how he had later canvassed some leading Presbyterian ministers and theologians of his day on the question.  The answers he garnered showed something which squared with the larger implication of the evidence I had previously surveyed.  Vail’s respondents took considerable liberty in defining TULIP as they saw fit. Some made plain that they did not endorse it; in each case there were considerable variations in how the letters of TULIP were matched with doctrines. (Some believed that U stood for ‘universal sovereignty’)  The only letter of the acronym to which a constant meaning was assigned was P for perseverance of the saints.  And so, the implication became plainer than ever that what we have taken to be the fixed meaning of TULIP is in fact, the meaning assigned by Boettner in 1932. [The Outlook article forms an appendix at the end of Ten Myths].

What Does This New Interpretation Change?

Now some people collect old stamps, old postcards –memorabilia of all kinds. I am not one of them. But I hope you can see that this is not a ‘memorabilia’ or ‘trivia’ question.  Do we understand that since 1932, Boettner’s assigned meanings for the TULIP acronym have been accepted simply as the intended meaning of Dordt (300 years earlier)? And do we understand that we have too often judged the orthodoxy of other Reformed believers by something which proves to have been only Boettner’s improvisation? It gets worse…

I noted above that a good number of modern Calvinist writers (those I have termed ‘apologetic’) have worked very hard (and commendably) to place TULIP in as positive a light as possible. They have had to explain what T (for Total) means and does not mean and what L (for Limited) means and does not mean.  One, in particular has pointed out, further, that I (for Irresistable) actually misrepresents Dordt’s intention about the way God’s grace operates. It was Dordt’s critics who deliberately misrepresented the Calvinists as teaching that grace forces sinners to repent and believe. They taught no such thing! So, the efforts to ‘improve’ TULIP were all well-intentioned. But the simple fact is that there was never anything sacrosanct about this acronym to begin with. Dordt didn’t design it. No one had heard of it (evidently) until it was coined in 1905 in Newark. Refining and buffing up TULIP was not actually required. We can let it go, because it never was authentic. Dordt took positions, but its positions are not accurately summarized by this acronym.

If you take the long view, you might come to the conclusion (which I draw) that TULIP has not only been unfortunate (in that it was for too long awarded the weight of antiquity) but also has been pastorally harmful.  It should matter to us (for example) that previous to 1905 the only Calvinists who cared to speak of Christ’s atonement as ‘Limited’ were those who by doing so opened themselves to the charge of being hyper-Calvinist. Spurgeon denounced this viewpoint in Vol. 1 of his autobiography (p.173). What is at stake is the free offer of the gospel; that requires an adequate atonement. Dordt had insisted that the death of Christ was “abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world”. Traditionally, Dordt-style Calvinists had always spoken of the atonement of Christ as Definite or Particular. But not since 1932!

The lesson I take from all this is that TULIP-lovers everywhere (and this American-rooted ‘exotic’ plant has now been transplanted to much of the rest of the evangelical world) owe it to themselves to read the Canons of Dordt and to judge for themselves how (un)faithful the acronym is to their actual intent. They should also read the literature (Reformed confessions and guides to them) belonging to the churches which stand in the stream of church life which produced Dordt in the first place.[Start by looking here: http://www.crcna.org/pages/dort_canons_main.cfm]. This advice is especially timely if your interest in Reformed theology draws no particular support from the official doctrinal stance of the church you are involved in.

I realize now, as I did not when I began to read Calvinist books while a college student, that those first guides I relied on actually got me off on the wrong foot. There were fundamental questions of accuracy and authenticity which needed to be asked but were not. Here I am, decades later, wishing clarity had been offered sooner!

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Read Dr. Stewart’s post on the commonly held assumption that Calvinism inevitably leads to antinomianism (lawlessness).  NOTE: To have the post delivered automatically, subscribe via RSS or email.

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Kenneth J. Stewart is professor of theological studies and former chair of the department of biblical and theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He holds an M.Phil. in early modern European history from the University of Waterloo and a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century Christianity from the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition.

KOINONIA BLOG TOUR: “Following Jesus, The Servant King”

Following JesusHave you ever wondered how to preach Leviticus? Or how to apply the Old Testament’s ethical teaching? Or how we as Christians relate to the various biblical covenants? If so, this book can help beef up the biblical-theological horsepower under your hood so that you are able to accurately explain and apply the whole Bible.” – 9Marks review of Following Jesus, The Servant King

Through the first week of April we will be running a blog tour for Following Jesus, and today is your chance to sign up!

Lunde’s book is intended to provide a way of framing Christian discipleship that takes seriously the entire scope of the Biblical narrative.

As Scot McKnight said in an announcement about Following Jesus on his blog Jesus Creed, “Instead of focusing on spiritual disciplines or the Sermon on the Mount, Jon Lunde focuses on who Jesus is and lets discipleship flow from the identity of Christ in the covenant context of the Bible. The questions he’s asking are about Jesus as Servant (grace) who is also King (demand). Both are shaped by the covenant God has made with us.

If you are interested in participating in this blog tour, here are the details. Reviewers will be sent a copy of Following Jesus, The Servant King and reviews will need to go up on your personal blog and an online retailer of your choice (CBD, B&N, Amazon, etc.) during the first week of April.

Only the first fifty entries will be registered, and duplicate entries will be deleted.

To enter, sign up here!

CLICK HERE to read my review of Grant Osborne’s “Matthew” in the ZECNT Series, from Koinonia’s last blog tour.

(HT: koinoniablog)

Clearing Up Confusion About Calvinism. [GIVEAWAY]

For regular readers of the blog, I will be posting the next installment in “The Gospel & The Person of Christ” series in the days ahead.  For now, I wanted to let you in on an exciting new book from InterVarsity Press…

Ten Myths About Calvinism, a new release from InterVarsity Press and Kenneth J. Stewart (professor of theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia), aims to debunk some of the myths that commonly surround the person of John Calvin and “Calvinism” in order to “[recover] the breadth and depth of the Reformed tradition.”  [Be sure to read the end of the post to find out how you can win a copy the book from IVP!]

About the Book

Historian of Christianity Ken Stewart is intent on setting the record straight about Reformed theology. He identifies ten myths held by either or both Calvinists and non-Calvinists and shows how they are gross mischaracterizations of that theological stream. Certain of these persistent stereotypes that defy historical research often present a truncated view of the depth and breadth of the Reformed tradition. Others, although erroneous, are nevertheless used to dismiss outright this rich body of biblical theological teaching.

Some key questions Stewart explores in this provocative, informative and thoroughly researched book:

  • Is the role reserved for John Calvin possibly exaggerated?
  • Are there improper, as well as proper uses of the doctrine of predestination?
  • To what extent is the popular acronym, T.U.L.I.P. a helpful device, and to what extent is it detrimental in encapsulating key doctrines?
  • Should the Calvinist position towards movements of spiritual renewal be one of support, or one of suspicion?
  • Didn’t Calvinism more or less ‘bring up the rear’ in advancing the cause of world mission?
  • Doesn’t the Calvinist approach to Christianity encourage the belief that the redeemed will be saved irrespective of their conduct?
  • Doesn’t the Calvinist track-record show an at-best mixed legacy on critical issues such as race and gender relations?
  • Hasn’t the Calvinist concept of the church’s role vis-à-vis the state tended toward theocracy?
  • Isn’t it true that Calvinistic expressions of Christianity have been a damper on the creative arts, whether the theater or painting or sculpture?

Ten Myths About Calvinism is sure to enrich both promoters and detractors, students and scholars.

[From the Publisher]

Additionaly, The Gospel Coalition is featuring a great post by Stewart addressing the myth of a dim view of revival often attributed to Calvinists.  READ POST.

GIVEAWAY from IVP:

IVP is kindly giving away several copies of Ten Myths About Calvinism through Wednesday (3/2/11).  You can win one of two ways:

  • TEN MYTHS QUIZ: First, click here to test your knowledge of John Calvin/Calvinism by taking their quiz.  They’ll select 3 winners from those who answer all the questions correctly.
  • TWITTER CONTEST: You can also enter via Twitter by tweeting/RTing something to the effect of: “Test your knowledge of Calvinism & win a free book from @ivpress! RT w/ #tenmythsquiz for more chances to win! http://ow.ly/44XQS”  — IVP will pick 3 winners Tuesday & Wednesday from those who tweet, and each will receive a free copy of the book.

“Preaching Christ From the Old Testament” by Sinclair Ferguson

The Proclamation Trust is featuring a FREE PDF download of Sinclair Ferguson’s, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

“Preaching Christ is the great purpose of the Christian expositor. But how do we preach Christ from the Old Testament without falsely allegorizing or spiritualizing? Sinclair Ferguson shares some principles that will help us to stay true to the original purposes and historical reality of the text, while drawing out the riches of grace which are proclaimed in Jesus Christ

While the temptation is to look for a simple formula, a quick fix, which will allow us to do this without effort, Sinclair Ferguson wants to help us become preachers with an instinct for preaching Christ from the whole of Scripture…” [summary taken from site]

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

(HT: The Proclamation Trust)

BOOK GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Zach Nielsen is giving away 3 of Crossway’s newest releases at his blog, “Take Your Vitamin Z.” Head over there and enter the contest!  Here’s a summary of the books he’s giving away…

Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (Gospel Coalition the Gospel Coalition)

Description:

Recent cultural interest in evangelicalism has led to considerable confusion about what the term actually means. Many young Christians are tempted to discard the label altogether. But evangelicalism is not merely a political movement in decline or a sociological phenomenon on the rise, as it has sometimes been portrayed. It is, in fact, a helpful theological profile that manifests itself in beliefs, ethics, and church life.

DeYoung and other key twenty- and thirty-something evangelical Christian leaders present Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Same Evangelical Faith for a New Day to assert the stability, relevance, and necessity of Christian orthodoxy today. This book introduces young, new, and under-discipled Christians to the most essential and basic issues of faith in general and of evangelicalism in particular.

Kevin DeYoung and contributors like Russell Moore, Tullian Tchividjian, Darrin Patrick, Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Tim Challies examine what evangelical Christianity is and does within the broad categories of history, theology, and practice. They demonstrate that evangelicalism is still biblically and historically rooted and remains the same framework for faith that we need today.

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault (RE: Lit)

Description:

The statistics are jarring. One in four women and one in six men have been sexually assaulted. But as sobering as these statistics are, they can’t begin to speak to the darkness and grief experienced by the victims. The church needs compassionate and wise resources to care for those living in the wake of this evil. Other books attempt to address the journey from shame to healing for victims of sexual abuse, but few are from a Christian perspective and written for both child and adult victims. In Rid of My Disgrace, a couple experienced in counseling and care for victims of sexual assault present the gospel in its power to heal the broken and restore the disgraced.

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb present a clear definition of sexual assault and outline a biblical approach for moving from destruction to redemption. Rid of My Disgrace applies a theology of redemption to the grief, shame, and sense of defilement victims experience. This book is primarily written for them, but can also equip pastors, ministry staff, and others to respond compassionately to those who have been assaulted. Part of the Re:Lit series.

Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry (RE: Lit)

Description:

Exodus is a real story about God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery and how their difficult journey home exposed their loyalties—though wounded by Egypt, they had come to worship its gods. Most Christians don’t make golden idols like the Israelites in the wilderness, but we do set up idols on our own desert road—idols like substance abuse, pornography, gluttony, and rage. And even those who don’t know the pain of actual slavery can feel enslaved to the fear and shame that follow sexual abuse or betrayal by a spouse, for we suffer at the hands of our idols as well as those created by others. We need more than self-improvement or comfort—we need redemption.

Redemption is not a step-oriented recovery book; it’s story-oriented and Bible-anchored. It unfolds the back-story of redemption in Exodus to help Christians better understand how Christ redeems us from the slavery of abuse, addiction and assorted trouble and restores us to our created purpose, the worship of God. Readers will discover that the reward of freedom is more than victory over a habitual sin or release from shame; it is satisfaction and rest in God himself. Part of the Re:Lit series.

The contest runs through next Monday.

(HT: VitaminZ)