Wednesday, August 24, 2016

From Spurgeon's Pulpit: Dust on Our Bible's

From his devotion Reading the Scriptures:
If this be the Word of God, what will become of some of you who have not read it for the last month? "Month, sir! I have not read it for this year." Ay, there are some of you who have not read it at all. Most people treat the Bible very politely. They have a small pocket volume, neatly bound; they put a white pocket-handkerchief around it, and carry it to their places of worship. When they get home, they lay it up in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes to chapel; that is all the poor Bible gets int he way of an airing. That is your style of entertaining this Heavenly messenger. There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write "damnation" with your fingers.




All Around the Web - August 24, 2016

The Federalists - Pressed By Common Core And LGBT Agenda, More Families Homeschool

Russell Moore - Signposts: Why Christians Must Keep Christianity Strange

Sam Storms - Is it ever OK for a Christian to take an Oath?

Evangelical History - Where Did the Footprints Poem Come From?

Managing Your Church - Who Should Know What People Give?

Crossway - Why Study the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah?

Chuck Lawless - 9 Values of a Church Staff Retreat

Cold-Case Christianity - The Apostles Wrote the Gospels as Eyewitness Accounts

Bible Gateway - The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: The Tower of Babel

Deadline - TriStar, Mark Gordon & eOne Revive ‘The Chronicles Of Narnia’ With ‘The Silver Chair’


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where to Begin: Books for Budding Theologians - One-Volume Systematic Theologies

Where to Begin: Books for Budding Theologians - Introduction to Theology
Where to Begin: Books for Budding Theologians - One-Volume Systematic Theologies


Some time ago I came across a list of 25 theological books composed by Bruce Ashford he believes young theologians should read and invest in. I share my enthusiasm for most on his list and would recommend his post (you can read it here) but felt that for those brand new to the study of theology, many of the writings would be overwhelming and perhaps not the best place to start. For example, Augustine's City of God is a classic but is also an academic work that is over 1,000 pages with a unique historic context. I would not recommend a new theologian to begin there.

With that in mind, I want to compose my list of books for young theologians in various categories of theology of mostly modern books for young, budding theologians that I believe may be easier to understand. They are not classics, but I do believe they will be helpful resources to sink your teeth into.

In this second installment, here is a list of helpful one-volume systematic theologies.

  • Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology - This is the most helpful introduction one-volume resource to systematic, historic, dogmatic, and biblical theology I have come across. I would highly recommend young theologians invest in it and read it.
  • Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine - This is, I assume, the best selling one-volume systematic theology in recent years. It was the textbook of the college and seminary I attended. It is a helpful book. Grudem is a five-point Calvinists with soft charismatic tendencies.
  • Michael Bird, Evangelical Theology:A Biblical and Systematic Approach - I like a lot that Bird does in this volume, though I do not like everything about it. The best part of this book is its emphasis on the gospel. That alone makes it worth your investment. Bird is an Anglican.
  • Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth - This is perhaps the simpliest of books in this category and worth having on your bookshelf. Ryrie is Arminian and dispensational.
  • Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe - Although Driscoll's ministry has fallen on hard times in recent years, I still consider this as his best work. Driscll and Breshear offers a systematic theology written in a biblical theology approach. I find this book to be a really helpful introduction to theology and the writers are engaging and insightful. They write from a Calvinist perspective with soft charismatic leanings.
  • RC Sproul, Everyone's a Theologian - This is, in essence, a introductory systematic theology by Sproul. He walks the reader through the various loci of theology. Sproul is a well-known presbyterian Calvinist and writes from that perspective. He is also an accomplished philosopher and uses those skills. 
  • James P. Boyce, Abstract of Theology - Though written over 150 years ago, I still enjoy the founder of Southern Seminary's systematic theology. I wouldn't recommend it as the first systematic theology to read, but it is worth having on your shelf.

All Around the Web - August 23, 2016

Relevant - Will The Big Screen Narnia Reboot Finally Get CS Lewis Right?: Probably not.

John Stonestreet - The NIH Wants Pig Men: H.G. Wells and C.S. Lewis Revisited

Sean McDowell - Did the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Exist?

John MacArthur - Social Media and the Me Monster

Thom Rainer - Six Terrible Ways to Recruit Ministry Volunteers in Your Church

Chuck Lawless - 4 Reasons Pastors Don’t Trust Each Other . . . and 5 Ways to Address It

Jason Allen - How Expository Preaching Should Engage Cultural Concerns (Part I)

Grace to You - Are We Physically Healed By Jesus's Stripes?

Erik Raymond - Creation’s Alarming Parody

Five Thirty Eight - Hosting The Olympics Is A Terrible Investment


Monday, August 22, 2016

Harry S. Truman: An American Experience

Here is the American Experience documentary on Harry S. Truman.




American Experience Documentaries:
Woodrow Wilson: An American Experience 
Harry S. Truman: An American Experience
Lyndon B. Johnson: American Experience
Dwight Eisenhower: An American Experience
Richard Nixon: American Experience
Jimmy Carter: An American Experience
Ronald Reagan: An American Experience
HW Bush: An American Experience  
Clinton: An American Experience


For more biographies on the Presidents
President Barack Obama - "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Decision Points" by George W. Bush: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Rebel in Chief" by Fred Barnes: A Review
President Bill Clinton - "The Natural" by Joe Klein: A Review 
President George H. W. Bush - "41" by George W. Bush: A Review
President George H. W. Bush - "The Quiet Man" by John Sununu: A Review
President Ronald Reagan - "Ronald Reagan" by Dinesh D'Souza
President Ronald Reagan - "Rawhide Down" by Del Quentin Wilber: A Review
President Gerald Ford - "Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley: A Review
President Richard Nixon - "The Greatest Comeback" by Pat Buchanan: A Review
President Lyndon B. Johnson - "Lyndon B. Johnson" by Charles Peters: A Review
President John F. Kennedy - "JFK, Conservative" by Ira Stoll: A Review
President John F. Kennedy - "The Kennedy Assassination - 24 Hours After" by Steven Gillon

President John F. Kennedy - "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard: A Review
President Dwight D. Eisenhower - "Ike: An American Hero" by Michael Korda: A Review
President Harry S. Truman - Harry S. Truman" by Robert Dallek: A Review
President Calvin Coolidge - "Coolidge" by Amity Shlaes" A Review
President Abraham Lincoln - "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage"
President Abraham Lincoln - "Manhunt" by James L. Swanson: A Review
"The Preacher and the Presidents" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy: A Review
"Baptism By Fire" by Mark Updegrove: A Review
"The First Family Detail" by Ronald Kessler: A Review
"Double Down" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: A Review 

Harry S. Truman" by Robert Dallek: A Review

Harry Truman complained constantly about the burdens of the presidency. "Liars and demagogues," in his words, abused him and he had little means to make them "behave." he told his sister in November 1947 that "all the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway."

He also repeatedly stated his readiness, indeed eagerness, to retire after his term was up. But the truth was that he loved political combat and relished beating opponents who had repeatedly underestimated him. He also believed - as did everyone who has ever run for the office - that he could serve the national well-being better than any of his competitors. And so he resolved to run to become president in his own name in 1948. (68)

If all the Presidents of the 20th Century whose popularity has rebounded the most, no doubt Harry S. Truman is at the top of that list. Truman had the double burden of succeeding a wildly popular and influential President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and did so following his death. Those presidents who inherit the presidency largely confess they feel as if they did not earn the office and the people let them know about it.

For much of his presidency, especially as he left office, Truman was an unpopular leader. His election in 1948 is nothing short of earth-shattering and unexpected. Yet even with being elected President, Truman's popularity only continued to tank until he passed the reigns over to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Nevertheless, Truman's popularity has climbed over the years. This theme was explored in Robert Dallek's biography simply titled Harry S. Truman and is part the American Presidents series. Dallek is a well known presidential historian and his insight is made evident here.

Unlike the other books I have read in this series, Dallek's biography is dominated by Truman's presidential experience. Typically the American Presidents series, at least those I have read, explore with equal time the childhood, young adult life, presidency, and post-presidency. Dallek does the opposite. In a single chapter, the reader is briefly introduced to Truman's birth, childhood, and early political career. The rest of the book, outside of the epilogue, is dedicated to his years in office. I, for one, prefer Dallek's approach.

As the story unfolds, the author reminds the reader just how unpopular Truman was throughout his presidency, yet today he remains one of the more beloved commander and chiefs of the US in the 20th century. Why? Dallek offers several examples most of which come from the reason of validation. Truman led the way on civil rights long before there was a civil rights movement. Though he could have done more, the reader should not fail to see the courage this took. Likewise, the Truman Doctrine on how to deal with the communist threat was proven correct in 1991 when the Soviet Union eventually collapsed. He ended the second world war and his persona as a simple, everyday America who spoke in plain language with the American people appeals today.

All of this leads Dallek to both introduce and conclude the book with the assertion that Truman should be considered as one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century. The first paragraph of the book says:
Of the eighteen twentieth-century American presidents, beginning with William McKinley and ending with Bill Clinton, only four currently have claims on great or near-great leadership: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Perhaps in time Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton may join this elite group, but at this juncture such a judgment is premature.(1)
This sentiment is repeated at the end of the book, and yet even after reading Dallek's biography, I cannot agree with him. In terms of "great or near-great leadership" (to use his categorization) in the 20th century, no doubt the Roosevelt cousins belong in that discussion. Woodrow Wilson is debatable (his progressive liberalism greatly damaged this country). Ronald Reagan certainly ought to be named with the Roosevelt's and perhaps JFK and Dwight Eisenhower ought to be there. Though Truman was not the worse president of the 20th Century (I'm looking at you Jimmy Carter), I do not believe he belongs among such an elite group of men.

Truman is known as a straight shooter with good character, yet often the opposite comes out. Yes the buck did stop at Truman's desk, but he was a politician who played the game and his primary strategy in 1948 was not to run on vision but fear-mongering.

Regardless, Dallek does offer a helpful introduction to Truman. Though I disagree with his thesis, that does not diminish the rest of the book. When Dallek focuses on Truman the man and the president, his skills as a historian really shine through.


For more biographies on the Presidents
President Barack Obama - "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Decision Points" by George W. Bush: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Rebel in Chief" by Fred Barnes: A Review
President Bill Clinton - "The Natural" by Joe Klein: A Review 
President George H. W. Bush - "41" by George W. Bush: A Review
President George H. W. Bush - "The Quiet Man" by John Sununu: A Review
President Ronald Reagan - "Ronald Reagan" by Dinesh D'Souza
President Ronald Reagan - "Rawhide Down" by Del Quentin Wilber: A Review
President Gerald Ford - "Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley: A Review
President Richard Nixon - "The Greatest Comeback" by Pat Buchanan: A Review
President Lyndon B. Johnson - "Lyndon B. Johnson" by Charles Peters: A Review
President John F. Kennedy - "JFK, Conservative" by Ira Stoll: A Review
President John F. Kennedy - "The Kennedy Assassination - 24 Hours After" by Steven Gillon

President John F. Kennedy - "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard: A Review
President Dwight D. Eisenhower - "Ike: An American Hero" by Michael Korda: A Review
President Harry S. Truman - Harry S. Truman" by Robert Dallek: A Review
President Calvin Coolidge - "Coolidge" by Amity Shlaes" A Review
President Abraham Lincoln - "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage"
President Abraham Lincoln - "Manhunt" by James L. Swanson: A Review
"The Preacher and the Presidents" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy: A Review
"Baptism By Fire" by Mark Updegrove: A Review
"The First Family Detail" by Ronald Kessler: A Review
"Double Down" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: A Review 


American Experience Documentaries:
Woodrow Wilson: An American Experience 
Lyndon B. Johnson: American Experience
Dwight Eisenhower: An American Experience
Richard Nixon: American Experience
Jimmy Carter: An American Experience
Ronald Reagan: An American Experience
HW Bush: An American Experience  
Clinton: An American Experience

All Around the Web - August 22, 2016


Russell Moore - Should the Church View Homosexuality Like Divorce?

Joe Carter - The FAQs: The World Vision Gaza Scandal

Trevin Wax - 3 Dangers of Dividing People By Generation

The Gospel Coalition - How God Saved Me from the Prosperity Gospel

John Stonestreet - A Temporary Win for Religious Universities in California

Focus on the Family/Albert Mohler - The Value of Marrying Young

Timothy Paul Jones - Leadership: Your Church Is Not Your Platform

Chuck Lawless - 08/16/16 Mixed Emotions of Ministry

The Resurgent - The Liberals Have Put Us in a Race War

The Atlantic - The Reality of Those 'Real People, Not Actors' Ads