Is there a link between homosexuality and atheism? Has Darwinian Evolution debunked Intelligent Design? Did Blaise Pascal have a valid point when he defined the Christian life as a "worthy gamble?"
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary answered these and a host of other questions from students at the University of Louisville during a recent appearance there to discuss his 2008 book, "Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheism" (Crossway).
Mohler spoke on Nov. 15 at The Campus Church, a new campus of Highview Baptist Church that meets in the Red Barn facility at the U of L. The Campus Church is pastored by Dan DeWitt, vice president of communications at Southern Seminary.
Mohler began the event with an overview of his book and unpacked the basic arguments of the "Four Horsemen" of the new atheism: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. All four have written major works touting atheism over against deism and all are major evangelists for their cause of Darwinian naturalism, Mohler pointed out.
The new atheists see disbelief in deity as superior to belief and aggressively seek to spread their views and "liberate" the masses from what they see as an oppressive and superstitious deism, Mohler said.
"I think (the new atheists) would explicitly tell us that they find their atheism to be fully satisfying," Mohler said. "Obviously, if they didn't think that was superior to theistic belief, they wouldn't be atheists. They deeply believe that their worldview is not only right, but more satisfying.
"They are frustrated that it's clear that the majority of human beings do not share their judgment of which worldview is more satisfying. So one of the projects of Western intelligentsia has been an education project in their own terms...The new atheists want to reframe the debate so that religious belief is on the defensive rather than atheism and of course, in many sectors, this is precisely what has happened."
During an extended question and answer session, Mohler fielded a variety of questions related to atheism and Christianity including one on the relation between a rejection of the existence of God and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual lifestyles. Ironically, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender student group affiliated with the U of L is headquartered in the Red Barn.
Mohler said a practical rejection of God and His Word is necessary for one to embrace any view of sexuality that Scripture forbids.
"If there is no God, then there is no judge at the end and there is no lawgiver at the beginning, so everything moral is by definition constantly socially negotiable," he said. "There is the great divergence. If there is no God, not everything is permitted-no sane society or group permits everything-but it is a process of constant, necessary social negotiation.
"If there is a God and He does exist and He has spoken in the Word, we've got very little room for negotiation. It's a very tight understanding of human sexuality to God's own glory, by His own creative purpose and, as He has the authority to tell us, for our good, our thriving, our happiness as well."
Another student sought Mohler's opinion on Pascal's famous wager in which the 17th century French scientist argued that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because one living the Christian life has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.
Mohler said he agrees with the new atheists' assessment of Pascal's gambit: it is not a moral argument and it utterly avoids the question of God's existence.
"Frankly, if there is no God, then I'm with (Karl) Marx in terms of understanding human social interactivity-not necessarily with the Marxists in terms of the 20th century-but if there is no God, then Marx is the prophet who understood that humans are left socially engaged without God," Mohler said.
"I would simply say, from the inside Pascal's wager looks like it's kind of clever, but I just have to tell you as a Christian theologian, I don't want anyone to come to faith in God or profess to have faith I God because he thinks it's a better deal. That is not a moral argument, which is to say it is an immoral argument."
Another attendee asked Mohler if evolution has overturned arguments in favor of the intelligent design of the universe. Mohler said most people are not convinced by the arguments for evolution and and reject the case for atheism The vast majority of people find the case for a creator and supreme deity far more plausible.
"It comes back to that (reality) that human beings tend to be driven toward intellectual satisfaction-if they think," he said. "In other words, we have to create some little happy place where we believe we can live intellectually or otherwise we are with (German atheist Friedrich) Nietzsche or we are in constant therapy.
"So that comfort zone is where we create a place where we think everything makes more sense and the fact is, evolution as a narrative has not been proven to be intellectually satisfying to the majority of people who have heard it."
Jim Hamilton, associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary, recently interviewed Chris Castaldo about his new book, "Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Roman Catholic." The interview appears on Hamilton's blog For His Renown.
The questions include:
- Do you think "Holy Ground" would be a good book to hand to a Roman Catholic neighbor still active in the Catholic church?
- Why did you write "Holy Ground?"
- Do you think evangelicals should actively seek to evangelize Catholics?
- What are the distinct features of "Holy Ground" that separate it from other such books?
Marvin Olasky is provost of The King’s College in New York City, and editor-in-chief of World magazine. An accomplished writer, Olasky has released 20 books and has had articles appear in World, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
Olasky delivered Southern Seminary's most recent Norton Lectures in September.
1. How significant is the Gospel to develop an explicitly Christian view of political and cultural engagement for the church?
It's huge for lots of reasons. The Gospel is a great protection against dictatorship because the good news is that, while we are broken actors on a broken stage, Christ's righteousness is imputed to us and therefore we can be saved from our sins. But we are still fallen sinners - that goes for followers, leaders, all of us: all have fallen short of God's glory - so when you understand that, when people in a country understand that, they are not likely to look upon a particular person as the savior. When you don't have that (perspective), there tends to be a growth in dictatorship.
We have a system of checks and balances in America, essentially a decentralized system set up by the founders of the nation and a separation of powers because the understanding is that no one, not even someone who looks to be wonderful, can be trusted with centralized power because of the sinfulness of man.
2. What do you see as the future of print media?
I would like the future to be bright. I grew up in newspapers and still like seeing things in the paper, but I don't read newspapesr much anymore. I get my news on the Internet. I actually find it very useful to see one story and jump to another and so forth and sometimes get different perspectives on the same thing. So, it's really an advantage to have the Internet available and as other people see that too, I don't see much future for newspapers in paper form. Twenty years ago, I was able to write in my book "Prodigal Press," that the future of newspapers was dim and now we are seeing it. I think some magazines with particular emphases will continue. But I think the future is largely on the Internet as far as writing is concerned.
3. How would you define Christian journalism? Is writing about the things Christians do different than writing news out of a Christian worldview?
The second (option) is the way to go, I think. There is room to cover church activities and informational things, but in a way that is more public relations than journalism, but I think Christian journalism should be biblically-objective journalism. That is, our goal in the realization that we are fallen sinners, is to read the Bible and see the way God's writers perceive things and then try to go and do likewise. So, when we send reporters out to do news, the idea is to try to think through how one of God's inspired writers might cover it. None of us is inspired and we have limitations, nevertheless we're not just trying to present a Republican view, a Democratic view, a liberal view or a conservative view, we are trying, as best we can, to present God's ideal and I hope we approach that with humility or else we're in trouble. But nevertheless, that's our goal: biblical objectivity and that is the only objectivity there is.
Owen Strachan provided a live blog of Bruce Ware's 2009 Evangelical Theological Society presidential address from this evening. Ware's address was titled, "The Man Christ Jesus."
Strachan is a master of divinity graduate from Southern who is now a Ph.D. student in historical theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and managing director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity.
Ware serves as professor of Christian theology at Southern and is the current president of ETS.
Randy and Kathy Arnett haven't stayed in one place too long since beginning their ministry in the early 1980s.
Randy, a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate, and Kathy are both attending classes this semester through the Billy Graham School but have been missionaries to the countries of West Africa since the mid 1980s. The couple is presently living on the campus of Southern Seminary but will be returning to their home in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, in January. Earlier this year, Randy became the International Mission Board's theological education consultant for Africa.
Randy is one of four theological education consultants working across the world in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Randy and his global counterparts will be finding ways to liaise U.S. seminaries and global theological institutes to offer support, help with curriculum development, and in some instances, provide professors and planning.
"This is a job that has been needed for a really long time. I have no misconceptions, it will be difficult but it is needed," Randy said. "If we could help create a worldwide vision, even with just a half-dozen of these theological institutions in Africa, then wow, just stand back and watch it fly!"
Beginning in missions work
Randy was pastoring a small church outside of Kansas City when the Lord called him to international missions. Eager to serve, the couple began the IMB's application and interview process. They arrived at the final stage of the application process after preparing for a monumental move. Poised and ready to accept assignment, the Arnetts where surprised to receive word of application denial. Their request to serve was not going to be filled due to a number of reasons, but their desire to share the Gospel and care for the Lord's people remained as strong as ever.
The family regrouped, a process they say took several months, and Randy accepted a pastorate at a church in Missouri. A few years later, the Arnetts felt the timing was right to reapply for an international missions placement. They were pleased to receive placement in Lomé, Togo, a French speaking country of around three million people nestled between Ghana and Benin. The Arnett family, which now included two daughters, Bevin and Jillian, moved to France to attend a one-year language training and then headed to Togo for Randy to join the work at the Baptist School of Theology for West Africa.
Arriving in Togo in spring 1988, the family found the West African people to be very warm and welcoming. Just a few weeks in, the Arnetts started working on a church plant. "We didn't know what we were doing," Randy said. "Nobody in seminary had told us how to start churches. I was trained to pastor First Baptist Church of County Seat town."
God put the Arnetts in touch with a local Togolese man who had just graduated from a seminary in Ghana and moved his family to Togo. With that family, the Arnetts began leading Bible studies in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town. After three months, the Togolese attendees were asking to meet on Sunday mornings "like all of the regular Christians." Thrilled, the couple purchased an old wood shed, which resembled "a bunch of poles with a tent on top," for $30. Local men cleared a corn field and carried the new "church" to its location and they began Sunday services.
Work in West Africa
In 1999, the Arnetts left Togo to return stateside for job training before heading back to West Africa, but this time to Abidjan, a city of around five million, in the country of Côte d'Ivoire which is known as the Ivory Coast.
The IMB placed the Arnetts in Côte d'Ivoire as human-needs facilitators for a region of 22 countries that were, and remain today, as some of the most impoverished and underdeveloped countries in the world. Randy helped fellow West African missionaries develop a better understanding of human needs, and he taught them how to apply this knowledge strategically to reach even more people groups. Kathy worked with missionaries and Africans, teaching about preventing and living with HIV and AIDS. She shared the Gospel with individuals living with HIV and AIDS and also taught them about simple things they could do to build healthier immune systems and prolong life.
"That was a very emotional job," Kathy recalled. "One of my very best friends in Togo lost his son to AIDS. I was there, and literally watched this man's son take his last breath."
In 2004, Randy became the IMB's regional leader for West Africa, a position that allowed the Arnetts to travel more extensively across the region. Kathy continued with her HIV and AIDS work and began assisting Randy with administrative tasks. The couple returned stateside in August 2009 to attend classes at Southern and prepare for Randy's new post.
Advice for future missionaries
The Arnetts could write a large book filled with words of wisdom to young missionary couples. They are passionate about encouraging and building up young missionaries that are awaiting assignment, awaiting deployment and even dealing with application denial, since they have experienced all these circumstances first-hand.
For those new to the field, Kathy said to expect culture shock to hit the hardest when you're not expecting it. "When you go on volunteer mission trips you are taken care of by someone else already on the field," she said. "When you are on your own, you really are doing everything on your own. Bonding as quickly as you can with the nationals will help you stay there."
Randy built on Kathy's thoughts, adding, "On the field, you are not spoon-fed. It is too easy to go to church here (stateside), where the Scripture appears on a screen for you, where the pastor tells you what to think, where you have a devotion guide, where you have chapel and all other types of spiritual input. On the field, you have to take responsibility for your quiet time and a lot of people just don't know how to do that. If you are not doing it here, you are not going to be doing it there, and that applies to everything: quiet time, family time, everything."
While on Southern's campus, the Arnetts are opening their home to anyone that is contemplating or preparing for missions. To meet with the Arnetts, please contact the Billy Graham School for further information.
Southern Seminary has a strong presence at the Evangelical Theological Society this year with roughly a dozen professors and half a dozen students making presentations at the annual national meeting. The theme of this year's meeting in New Orleans, La., is "Personal & Social Ethics." Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern is the current president of ETS.
For more details on any of the sessions below, view this calendar, provided by Phillip Bethancourt, a Ph.D. student at Southern.
Wednesday, Nov. 18
|8:30am Gregg Allison, Respondent: Overview of Exploring Ecclesiology|
|8:30am Michael Haykin (Professor of Church History), Moderator: Baptist Studies|
|8:30am Keith Goad (Ph.D. Student), "A Ruled Reading of Scripture: Learning to Do Theological Interpretation from Gregory the Theologian"|
|8:30am R. Albert Mohler: Evangelicals And A Common Word|
|9:20am Aaron O'Kelley: Paul's Doctrine Of Justification: Ecclesiology Or Soteriology (Student)|
|9:20am Gregg Allison (Professor of Christian Theology), "Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Promises and Pitfalls for an Evangelical Appropriation"|
|9:20am Robert Sagers (Ph.D. Student), "Church Membership and the Kingdom of God"|
|9:20am Tom Nettles (Professor of Historical Theology and Church History), "The Particular Baptist Defense of Beginning Anew"|
|10:10am Seth M. Rodriguez (Ph.D. Student), "Site Identification: In Search of a Methodology"|
|11am Andrew Hassler (Ph.D. Student), "Justification and the Individual in Light of the New Perspective on Paul"|
|11am Mark Coppenger (Professor of Apologetics), "Retribution: The Key to Biblical Justice"|
|3:40pm Robert L. Plummer (Professor): Righteousness And Peace Kiss: The Reconciliation Of Authorial Intent And Biblical Typology|
|4:30pm Adam Greenway (Assoc VP for Extension Studies; Professor of Evangelism), "Defender of the Faith: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of R. A. Torrey"
Thursday, Nov. 19
Friday, Nov. 20
9:10am Bruce Ware (Professor of Christian Theology), "A Defense of the Ontological Equality and Functional Authority-Submission Relations among the Three Trinitarian Persons"
10:10am Robert Stein (Senior Professor of New Testament), "The Voice of Jesus in Snodgrass's Treatment of the Parables"
11:40am Russell Moore, "Adoption and the Renewal of Creation: How the Church's Mission to Orphan Care Can Reshape Evangelical Eschatology and Ecclesiology"
Bruce Ware serves as professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary and is currently presiding as president of the 61st annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in New Orleans, La.
Scripture teaches that we can only correctly understand the truths of Scripture's teaching when the Holy Spirit illumines God's truth and enables us to see it for what it is: glorious and wondrous spiritual truth.
To see this, let's start at the most basic level and acknowledge that people who do not truly know Christ are simply unable to understand rightly some of Scripture's teaching. These are people whose minds and hearts are dominated by sin (Rom 8:6-8) and who do not have the Holy Spirit to illumine the Scriptures; as a result, they simply cannot understand correctly the spiritual truths Scripture teaches. Paul expresses this point in 1 Corinthians 2:14, "The natural person [i.e., the unsaved person devoid of the Spirit] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."
If one analyzes this verse, one can see that unbelievers face two problems simultaneously in their attempt to understand Scripture. First, unbelievers are morally repulsed by the spiritual truths of Scripture. As Paul puts it here, the things of the Spirit are "folly" to them. Jesus' description of how unbelievers respond to the light illustrates this point. In a vivid passage, Jesus says that light has come into the world, but "people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:19-20, emphasis mine). So, here it is clear that the "foolishness" of the Gospel causes unsaved people to view spiritual truths as ridiculous or even outright repulsive. Until the Spirit changes their hearts, they will not be able to accept these truths of Scripture.
But, second, unbelievers also are spiritually blind to the truth of Scripture. Or, as Paul has put it in 1 Corinthians 2:14, unbelievers "are not able to understand" spiritual truths because they lack the Spirit who is necessary to make these truths correctly understood. In another passage, Paul comments regarding all unsaved people that "in their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor 4:4). Here, the stress is not that unbelievers see the truth and find it repulsive, but rather they simply cannot see it; they are spiritually blind.
Do you see a tension here in this pair of problems? On the one hand, if unbelievers are morally repulsed by spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:14a; John 3:19-20), they must know something of that truth to elicit this hatred of the light, as Jesus describes it. After all, you cannot hate something you don't know at all, can you? No, rather, you hate something when you know what it is and find it repulsive. Yet, on the other hand, if unbelievers are spiritually blind, this seems to suggest that they cannot know the truth that is before their very eyes, because after all, they've been blinded to it (1 Cor 2:14b; 2 Cor 4:4).
The way to reconcile this tension, it seems to me, is by affirming that while unbelievers can understand something about spiritual truth (and so, as such, they are repulsed by it), they cannot know it for what it really is, or understand it correctly, or see this truth as truth (and so, as such, they are spiritually blind). 2 Corinthians 4:4 helps us with this problem. Recall that here Paul said that unbelievers cannot see the glory of Christ, not that they cannot see Christ at all. Many during Jesus' day understood his teaching and saw his miracles and yet rejected him with hatred and scorn. They saw something of the truth of Christ and hated it, but they didn't see the glory of Christ. So, unbelievers can see something about the truth and be repulsed by it, while they also, in this very same moment, are unable to see the "glory" or "beauty" of the truth. Until, in belief, the Spirit indwells them and illumines the truth to their hearts, they will hate the light and not see in that light the beauty that can only be seen through the illumination of the Spirit.
What this shows us, then, is how deeply dependent we are on the Holy Spirit to soften our hard and rebellious hearts, and open our scaled, blind eyes, so we can see the truth for what it is and revel in its beauty and loveliness. And the fact that we become believers by the Spirit's gracious work in our hearts does not mean that we immediately shed all of our previous sinful inclinations and dispositions.
So, just as believers can be indwelt with the Spirit and yet continue to struggle to keep our word, tell the truth and so on, we also can be affected by sin so that some of God's truth may still be objectionable to us. We must submit to the Spirit and be willing for him to instruct our minds and refashion our hearts so that we will see the truth of God's word as the glorious truth that it is, despite the fact that previously we might have objected to it and found it foolish.
Yes, believers need the Spirit's ongoing work of illumination in our hearts, helping us to see God's truth as beautiful and glorious. I recall a conversation I had some years back with a committed Christian who had just recently become convinced that the Bible taught male headship. I had been involved in a conference, and I had presented biblical teaching showing that God intended, in the created order of men and women, for men to be the heads, or leaders, both in the church and in the home. This person confided in me and said that while this complementarian position used to be very offensive to him, he now accepted it as what the Bible in fact taught. Even so, he continued, he wasn't sure that he liked it! In response, I suggested, "Well, then, it looks to me that you are half way there! God wants us not only to understand the truth of his Word; beyond that, he longs for us to see his truthful Word as glorious, beautiful, wise and best. So, pray for the Spirit to overcome your discomfort with his truth and transform this into joyous embrace. Ask God to enable you see the glory and beauty of God's truth, for only then will you be seeing it for what it really is."
So, while believers have the Spirit working in us, we need the Spirit to continue helping us overcome our sinful resistance to God's Word. Sometimes, what we view as hard to understand in the Bible is simply a spiritual truth that we, as of yet, cannot see correctly, and we need the Spirit's ongoing work to open us to its inherent truthfulness, beauty and wisdom.
This is part 2 of a Q & A with Justin Taylor, editorial director at Crossway Publishers. Here is part 1.
Q: One of the great resources that you have been in charge of at Crossway is the "ESV Study Bible." How has that been received?
JT: We have been very humbled by the encouragement that we have gotten from people -- whether it's missionaries or students overseas who can't really afford any other resources and somebody gave them an "ESV Study Bible." We got a letter from a prisoner a couple of weeks ago, who said it's really the only resource that he has or parents using it for themselves to learn biblical theology so that they can then pass it on to their kids. We're just genuinely thrilled and humbled with what the Lord seems to be doing with it.
It was one year ago that it was published and I think there are 400,000 copies in print now. We pray that the Lord would use it not as a substitute for reading the Bible, but as a tool, a pathway, to help people understand the Bible in greater depth. I have said numerous times that, of all the numerous features in the study Bible -- and that is so many different things -- the most important feature is that little grey horizontal line in the middle of the page that helps people to recognize that what is above the line is inspired and what's below the line is the best efforts of teachers to expound God's Word.
We don't want anything to distract from the Word, but as long as people are going deeper with God's Word, then we just couldn't be happier.
Q: What's in the pipeline at Crossway that might interest our readers?
JT: This winter we'll release two books by John Piper on the book of Ruth -- one an exposition "A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God" and the other an illustrated set of poems "Ruth: Under the Wings of God."
Mark Driscoll and Gaerry Breshears will team up again in their 500+ page systematic theology: "Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe." Tim Chester has an excellent book coming out with us in the U.S., "You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions."
Then in the spring we'll publish Paul Tripp's long-awaited "What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage," which I'm personally benefiting from already. Tullian Tchividjian's "Surprised by Grace" will look at the Gospel in the story of Jonah, and Dave Harvey's "Rescuing Ambition" will seek to recover a much-neglected virtue, especially when we wrestle with how to be both humble and ambitious. I'm personally very excited about a beautiful new volume, the "Crossway ESV Bible Atlas."9Marks Ministries has a number of new books with us: Jonathan Leeman's "The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love" (on church membership and discipline), Greg Gilbert's wonderful "What Is the Gospel?" (Gilbert is a master of divinity graduate from Southern Seminary). There is also Mark Dever's "quick overview of the whole Bible," "What Does God Want of Us Anyway?"Michael Lawrence's "Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church," and Mike McKinley's hilarious and helpful, "Church Planting Is for Wimps." And I can't forget to mention Southern professor Tom Schreiner's concise treatment on perservance: "Run to Win the Prize."
Justin Taylor has served as editorial director at Crossway Publishers in Wheaton, Ill., since 2006 and previously worked for Desiring God Ministries in Minneapolis, Minn. Earlier this year, he became an elder at Grace Community Bible Church in Roselle, Ill. He began the ultra-popular blog Between Two Worlds in 2004, a daily blog that points evangelicals to a myriad of biblically-sound resources. Taylor and his wife live in Chicagoland and have three children.
Question: My first stop of the day on the web is usually your blog. Did you anticipate it taking off in popularity like it did?
Justin Taylor: When I started it, I remember thinking, ‘Everyone already has a blog, I am getting in it too late.' But the Lord seems to be using it in whatever ways He sees fit and if it equips people and encourages people, then I am happy. You always simply hope you have more than your brother and your mom reading your blog, so I didn't anticipate more than just a handful of friends reading it. You hope that it will have some degree of influence and if it does that's great.
Q: How many daily readers do you have?
JT: I don't check it very often and I just moved over to the Gospel Coalition, but I'd say I have about 8,000 readers per day or something on that scale.
Q: What does a typical day look like in assembling the blog?
JT: Sometimes if I have some free time and I get inspired, I might have a whole slew of posts and I might just schedule them over a week. Even as we are talking right now, there may be something going up on my blog that I found three or four days ago and just scheduled it because I am traveling right now. But I don't ever get up in the morning and try to plan the blog. I don't ever have this feeling that I've got to get something up there. A lot of times it just overlaps with the stuff I am already reading or I am already doing. I just do it when stuff comes to me and it's not usually planned out in advance.
The biggest advantage about what I do is that I'm not a content producer, but am a content pointer. I think that was one of the happy little discoveries I made a few years ago is the Lord is not calling me primarily to be a pastor, he is not primarily calling me to be a professor producing fresh content for people all the time, but the Lord has gifted me to recognize good content in things done by others. So it seems like He has giving me the gift of pointing to resources like CBMW, lecture series or developments at a place like Southern Seminary, such as Tom Schreiner having a new book that has come out or Bruce Ware having a new MP3 that is online. I am just happy to point other people to good truth that is on the web.
My goal is to get truth in front of people's eyes every day. It's like slides: I know that people are going to be on the web every day and if we can just get Gospel truth in front of their eyes over and over every day ... I think that is just a small part of where God has me in the kingdom.
Q: As you travel around the country and speak, are you encouraged by what you see in terms of younger people tracking with sound doctrine? Where might be some blind spots in what has been called the "young, restless and Reformed" movement?
JT: I think it is a tremendously encouraging time in evangelicalism. Any time you have a season of encouragement, there are also warning signs of danger ahead that we can see God at work and start to take credit for it and good doctrine can itself become idolatrous. We can approach others who don't understand God's truth, not with a humble and broken spirit, but with a condemning, judgmental spirit. So, I think that is always the danger.
Yet, we don't want to be such pessimists that we minimize the legitimate work that God is doing and we need to be praising Him for that. I think the thing that most encourages me these days is the renewed emphasis upon the centrality of the Gospel - that the Gospel, to use Tim Keller's phrase, is not just the ABCs of the Christian life, but is the A to Z of the Christian life. That the Gospel is not just the entry point of how you become a Christian or just the exit point to where we are going someday, but in the here and now, the Gospel should be affecting the way I relate to my wife, the way I relate to my kids, the way think about my job, the way I think about my culture and the way I think about my church.
People like Keller, C.J. Mahaney, Paul Tripp, David Powlison and Albert Mohler are helping us to see how the Gospel should impact every single facet of our lives. There is a new flavor upon the lips of younger evangelicals and it is not just about affirming the five points of Calvinism, but it is about ultimately glorying in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't think there could be anything more encouraging than that.
Q: What are you reading right now to yourself and your family?
JT: I am reading through Tripp's book that will come out next year on marriage called "What Did You Expect?" and I am letting the chapters of that book convict me and instruct me. Working for a publisher, a lot of my reading is books that currently don't exist, but will down the road.
Another one is Greg Gilbert's "What is the Gospel?" which will be in a 9Marks series. It will be a small book that will be helpful for pastors, but is written on such an understandable, accessible level that it will be helpful for many Christians. That is the sort of book that I need to be re-reading. You can't read too much on the topic of what is the Gospel? I have let Greg, who is a friend, instruct my soul through the pages of that.
Anything by Paul Tripp; I am in a season right now in particular where Paul's writings are helping me, and things by Piper.
I am reading "The Jesus Storybook Bible" by Sally Lloyd-Jones to my children. We try to get into that as much as we can. I remember when that book came out, Keller recommended that book, not just for parents, not just for kids, but also for pastors, because it shows you the way in which, as the subtitle suggests, the stories of the Bible all whisper the name of Jesus. To see the joyful effect that book has had on our kids has been great.
And we are reading stuff that is not biblically-centered per se, but is just good literature. Our kids are six, four and one, so they are at that young stage where they are enjoying the imaginative world of good literature.
The Nov. 9 Towers can be accessed here by pdf. Justin Taylor was kind enough to sit down with us for a Q&A on his blog (Between Two Worlds), Crossway Publishers (including forthcoming works in the pipeline), and the evangelical world.
This issue also includes 3 questions with Marvin Olasky and a summary of the Great Commission Resurgence panel that took place at Southern recently.
Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern, wrote an editorial, "The Holy Spirit's illumination of God's truth," that is succinct and clear. Ware also currently serves as president of the Evangelical Theological Society.