Friday, July 21, 2017

"The Gospel According to Joel" Sermon Series

I am in the process of moving my sermon podcast to Soundcloud. My hope is to post both my weekly sermons as well as a podcast (more on that as it develops). You can access my sermons here at Soundcloud. Below is my series on the prophecy of Joel entitled, "The Gospel According to Joel."


Joel 1:1-20: The Day of Suffering




Joel 2:1-17: The Day of Grace




Joel 2:18-32: The Day of Restoration




Joel 3.1-21: A Day of Deliverance

All Around the Web - July 21, 2017


Denny Burk - The intersectional case for teenage sodomy

Doug Wilson - 21 Theses on Submission in Marriage

Evangelical History - The Day Martin Luther Luther King Jr. Prayed at the Billy Graham New York Crusade

Chuck Lawless - 10 Mistakes Churches Make in Evaluating Pastors

Michael Bird - Why is the Gospel of John Different?

Kevin DeYoung - For the Sake of Your Conscience

Pastor's Today - Should a Church Have Financial Reserves?

Christianity Today - Immigrants Are Reshaping American Missions

The Blaze - Astonishing number of UK Christians say their faith is marginalized

AP - Netflix still piling up viewers and big programming bills

Babylon Bee - Man Wonders What People Will Think When They Hear He Went On Jesus Freak Cruise 2017


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rainers: Seven Signs of a Dying Church

In their book Essential Church?, authors Thom and Sam Rainer offer seven signs of dying churches. They are:
1. Doctrine Dilution - "Teaching anything less than the absolute truths in Scripture will make the younger generation feel betrayed when they learned that a large gap exists between what the Bible really says and what they were taught in church." (16-17)

2. Loss of Evangelistic Passion - "Dying churches have little evangelistic passion." (17)

3. Failure to be Relevant -". . . there is nothing more relevant to a lost world than the saving grace of Jesus Christ. . . . Churches that keep their internal culture unchanged for fifty years while the world around them goes through continual periods of metamorphosis typically die with that old culture" (17-18)

4. Few Outwardly focused Ministries - "[D]ying churches gorge themselves on closed study groups and churchwide fellowship events while neglecting outreach in the community. . . . [I]t must reach into the community with outwardly focused ministries." (18)

5. Conflict Over Personal Preferences - "When the church focuses on trivial matters, the greater gospel message is left on the sidelines." (18)

6. The Priority of Comfort - "Dying churches are comfortable with their ministries. . . .Churches that flourish get outside comfort zones and reach into areas that are uncharted for them." (19)

7. Biblical Illiteracy - "One of the major sins of a dying church is the neglect of theological teaching." (19)

All Around the Web - July 20, 2017

Albert Mohler - The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson — You Might Be Next


Evangelical History - The Pro-Life Movement Before ‘Roe v. Wade


Resurgent - Have You Prayed for President Trump?

Resurgent - They Mock Christians for Believing in the Resurrection, But They Believe This

Thom Rainer - Ten Roadblocks to Church Revitalization

Chuck Lawless - 11 Responsibilities for Parking Lot Greeters

Tim Challies - Master Your Finances

The Good Book - 3 Responses to Eugene Peterson's Affirmation of Same-Sex Relationships

Sam Storms - Should Women Wear Head Coverings in Church? Historical-Cultural Context and the Challenge of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Chuck Lawless - 9 Reasons People Slept in Church Yesterday

CNBC - Superheroes are almost single-handedly saving the US box office

Babylon Bee - Top 5 Most Hilarious Satire Sites


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From Bonhoeffer's Pen: The Ministry of Proclamation

From Life Together:

Where Christians live together the time inevitably come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God’s Word and will to another. It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him. If we cannot bring ourselves to utter it, we shall have to ask ourselves whether we are not still seeing our brother garbed in his human dignity which we are afraid to tough, and thus forgetting the most important thing, that he, took, no matter how old or highly placed or distinguished he may be, is still a man like us, a sinner in crying need of God’s grace. He has the same great necessities that we have, and needs help, encouragement, and forgiveness as we do. (105)

All Around the Web - July 19, 2017

Joe Carter - Why Didn’t the Planned Parenthood Videos Change the Abortion Debate?

Evangelical History - What Did It Mean to ‘Hit the Sawdust Trail’?

Chuck Lawless - 10 Balancing Acts in Ministry

Tim Challies - The Damning Devastation of a Single Coddled Sin

Pastors Today - Ministry Leaders: When Values Collide, Make the Right Choice

Sam Storms - 10 Things You Should Know about James Arminius and Arminianism

Thom Rainer - Five Sobering Realities about Evangelism in Our Churches

Bible Gateway - Did You Know Jesus’ Ancestors Are Not Who You Think They Are?

Joel Beeke - Reformation Tour: The Martyrdom of Patrick Hamilton

Crossway - 10 Things You Should Know about Dementia

Tim Challies - 5,000 Days

Babylon Bee - Report: 92% Of Conversions Occur After Heated Facebook Argument

Practical Shepherding - A video testimony of Brian Croft’s crazy first 5 years at his church


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Riddles in the Dark

One of the best chapters and scenes in both the book and the first movie is without a doubt Bilbo's interaction with the mysterious character Gollum. What transpires here will have tremendous effects on the adventure of The Lord of the Rings.

The previous chapter concludes with Bilbo falling away from the fellowship in their attempted escape from the goblins. So for the first time in the story, Bilbo is alone (the very thing he desires) and in danger (the very thing he fears). The scene begins by describing the stark darkness of Gollum's lair and it is only with Sting, Bilbo's elvish blade, that he is able to see anything. It is here that he encounters the strange creature.

I trust we are familiar with the scene. Bilbo discovers the magical ring that dominates Tolkien's trilogy and puts it in his pocket. The two engage in an entertaining riddle game. If Bilbo wins, Gollum must lead him out of the mountains. If Gollum wins, Bilbo becomes dinner!

If Tolkien wanted us to compare the goblins with the dwarves, it seems he wanted us to do the same between Bilbo the Hobbit and Gollum. For all their similarities, they could not be more different. Gollum's backstory remains a bit of a mystery, but his original form (before being consumed by the ring) was a Stoor Hobbit. The ring has led him to pursue isolation and wickedness and now that Bilbo bears the ring, he runs the risks of going down the same path.

Comparing the two riddles is fascinating but will go beyond the purposes of this brief blog. Gollum's riddles reflect his dark life and nature. Bilbo, on the other, chooses riddles that reflective his more sunny (and hungry) worldview. Yet the risk Tolkien wants us to see is the power of the ring (especially for those who have already read The Lord of the Rings) to transform this Baggins-Took into a confused and wicked creature that lies under the mountain.






The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - An Unexpected Party
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Roast Mutton
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Short Rest
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Over Hill and Under Hill
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Riddles in the Dark
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Queer Lodgings
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Flies and Spiders
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Barrels Out of Bond
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Warm Welcome
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - On the Doorstep
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Inside Information
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Not at Home
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Fire and Water
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Gathering of the Clouds
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Thief in the Night
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Clouds Burst
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Return Journey
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - The Last Stage


For more:
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
A Few Thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
Longing for Eden: Tolkien's Insight into the Longing of Every Human Soul
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence
How to Read J. R. R. Tolkien
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Dramatized Audio
"Beyond The Movie": A National Geographic Documentary on the Lord of the Rings  

All Around the Web - July 18, 2017


Russell Moore - Should We Still Read Eugene Peterson?

Denny Burk - Eugene Peterson will always exist

Denny Burk - On Eugene Peterson’s Retraction

Evangelical History - What Is Revisionist History?

Kevin DeYoung - Theological Primer: Limited Atonement

Thom Rainer - Seven Costs to Being an Evangelistic Leader in Your Church

The Gospel Coalition - Every Book of the Bible in One Word

Joel Beeke - Reformation Tour: George Wishart

Brian Croft - 4 Questions you should ask before joining a church

Pastors Today - 10 Short Steps to Long Tenure

Tim Challies - Are You in the Dangerous Time In Between?

Babylon Bee - Charismatic Tired Of Clarifying She’s Not One Of Those Weird Charismatics


Monday, July 17, 2017

"The Kingdom is Always But Coming" by Christopher Evans: A Review

One of the most important theologians and thinkers in the past 150 years is Walter Rauschensbusch whose social gospel movement continues to challenge orthodox Christianity and remains popular among many well-intentioned, yet misguided postmodern evangelicals. One cannot read the writings and listen to the lectures, sermons, and presentations of people like Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, and others (like Walter's great-grandson Paul Rauschenbusch) without seeing Walter Rauschenbusch standing on their shoulder.

In other words, many liberals today continue to stand on the foundation built by Rauschenbusch and in his recent biography The Kingdom is Always But Coming: A Life of Walter Rauschenbusch Christopher Evans shows us just why Rauschenbusch was so influential, what he really believed, and why he still matters.

Evans has written the best modern biography on Rauschenbusch. Evans is an academic who has clearly done his homework and presents a thorough survey of his life, ministry, theology, and thought. Rauschenbusch is the most recognizable voice in the social gospel movement, but he was not the first. Rauschenbusch, though not the best theologian of his time, made a case for the social gospel that was popular and timely and Evans shows how he did this.

I have found that when focusing in on someone's theology, it is important to understand their story and biography and Evans is without a doubt the best place to start.  Evans offers the reader great insight into what made him tick, the challenges he faced academically, pastorally, theologically, and in his own family.

A couple of things I found particular helpful.  First, Evans' survey of August Rauschenbusch, Walter's father, was insightful. In many ways, Walter was following in his father's footsteps. Though August was a pietist and Walter essentially left it behind (though his pietist background greatly influenced him), his father remained a huge influence in his life. August instilled the families German heritage by returning his children to their home country and Walter continued this practice for the rest of his life and for his family. In order to understand Walter, in many ways one must understand his father.  Evans offers a great survey of this relationship and who August was as a man.

Secondly, though Evans does not offer a robust survey of Rauschenbusch's theology, he does give the reader some great insight into what drove his theology.  One cannot separate theology from biography and Evans shows how his experiences as a pastor in New York, his reading of theologians like Horace Bushnell and Albrecht Ritschl, his reading and study of political scientists like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and his upbringing as a German pietist in America shaped his theology.  The social conditions of his congregation, for example, led him to reject American capitalism and to call Christians to abandon a "too heavenly minded" faith.

Thirdly, Evans takes us into the world of Rauschenbusch as a husband and a father.  We know him as a professor, writer, theologian, historian, preacher, pastor, and social activists, but few of us think of him as a husband and a father.  I would love to know more about his wife.  Evans quotes her as saying how she was so dedicated to her husband that she was driven by how else she could help his ministry.  At the same time, Walter's schedule kept him away from home a lot and this caused some problems with his relationships with his children.

What I found particularly interesting about his children is the direction of their own theology - something that says a lot about the implications of Rauschenbusch's own theology.  The social gospel is dependent on liberalism.  You can't separate the two.  Thus naturally many who embrace Walter's theology are liberals and liberalism is a spiraling theology.  It continues to sink deeper and deeper towards Process Theology and then towards Deism, Theism, and to Christian Atheism.  That's exactly what we see in Walter's family.  And that is exactly what we saw in modern liberalism and what we are seeing in postmodern liberalism.

For those interested in understanding the story behind the leading thinker in the social gospel movement, I can think of no better place to turn than to Evans' helpful biography.  He's a great writer who understands Rauschenbusch.  Walter is a hugely important thinker and Evans shows why.  Though Evans fails to dive deep into Walter's theology, he offers some great insights into what he believed and why.  A great read.


All Around the Web - July 17, 2017


Joe Carter - How to Make a Pro-Life Argument at Google

Russell Moore - How I Write

Pastor's Today - Pastors, Be Readers, and Encourage Your Members to Be Readers

WORLD Magazine - New voice on the right

Baptist Press - Hobby Lobby to forfeit Bible artifacts, pay $3M fine

Telegraph - Women are having abortions because their contraception doesn't work

Justin Taylor - St. Augustine: Should His Name Be Pronounced *AW*-gus-teen or aw-*GUS*-tin?

Tim Challies - The Five Key Factors in Every Christian’s Sanctification

Baptist Press - Louisiana sued for its pro-life laws

The Atlantic - Spider-Man: Homecoming Is One of the Best Superhero Movies in Years

Babylon Bee - Millions Of Unbelievers Flock To Atheist Paradise Of North Korea


Friday, July 14, 2017

5 Best Openings of Television Shows

Its Friday so let's do something different. For the fun of it, here are my top five opening scenes of television shows I have watched. So if yours isn't here its probably because I've not seen the show.


1. Arrow




2. LOST




3. Jericho




4. Prison Break

This is not the opening scene but near the beginning. It was the best I could find.




5.Daredevil




For more:
Christianity on the Small Screen: LOST, Season 1-3
Christianity on the Small Screen: Prison Break - Part 1
Christianity on the Small Screen: Prison Break - Part 2
Christianity and the Small Screen: The West Wing
Christianity on the Small Screen: The Office (Updated)
Christianity on the Small Screen: The Office
Christianity and the Small Screen: "Smallville"
Christianity and the Small Screen: Fox's "House, M. D."
Christianity and the Small Screen: NBC's "Crisis"
Christianity and the Small Screen: FBI Files
Saying Shibboleth

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Kentucky & Virginia Baptist History Timeline

I have spent much of the past spring and early summer working on a book project on an ancestor of mine who was a Baptist pastor and church planter in Virginia and Kentucky who was persecuted for preaching without a license. His name was Lewis Craig (1737-1825). When preparing for such projects, I find it helpful to map out in timeline form the individuals biography. As I was finishing the project, my timeline grew into more than a biographical timeline of Craig, but one of both Virginia and Kentucky Baptist history. I am republishing that timeline in full below.

January 17, 1737 – Lewis Craig is born in Orange County, VA.

1743 – Elijah Craig is born in Orange County, VA.

February 4, 1747 – William Hickman born in King and Queen County, VA.

1747 – Joseph Craig is born in Orange County, VA.
                         
October 27, 1752 – John Taylor born in Farquier County, VA.

1765 – Lewis Craig is converted under the preaching of Samuel Harris.

1766 – Lewis Craig baptized by James Reed.

1767 – John Waller baptized by James Reed.

November 20, 1767 – Upper Spotsylvania Church constituted by James Reed and Dutton Lane.

June 4, 1768 – Lewis Craig arrested along with John Waller, James Childs, and William Mash becoming the first instance of Baptist imprisonment in Virginia.

May 1769 – Daniel Boone leaves to explore Kentucky.

1769 – Lewis Craig ordained by Samuel Harris.

June 20, 1770 – John Waller ordained by Samuel Harris and Lewis Craig.

November 1770 – Lewis Craig is ordained and consecrated pastor of Upper Spotsylvania Church

May 1771 – Elijah Craig ordained and named pastor of Blue Run Church.

1772 – John Taylor baptized by James Ireland at the Baptist Church at South River.

July 19, 1771 -  Lewis Craig imprisoned in Caroline County, VA. He remained imprisoned for a month.

December 4, 1771 – Elijah Craig consecrated pastor of Blue Run Church

February 24, 1773 – William Hickman baptized by Reuben Ford.

1774 – Elijah Craig aides in the constitution of North Pamunkey Church in Virginia.

April 1776 – First sermon preached in Kentucky by Thomas Tinsley and William Hickman in Harrodsburg.

1776 – Over one hundred new members added to Upper Spotsylvania Church under Lewis Craig’s Leadership

1776 – Rev. Squire Boone performs first marriage ceremony in Kentucky.

1779 – Rev. Squire Boon moves his family to Louisville preaching the first sermon of the modern city.

Fall 1779 – John Taylor first visits Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap while Joseph Redding visits by traveling down the Ohio River.

Spring 1780 – John Craig and his oldest son, Toliver, along with Jeremiah Craig visit Dix River in Kentucky establishing Craig’s Station.

June 1781 – Severns Valley Church established becoming the first church in Kentucky.

July 1781 – Cedar Creek Church established becoming the second church in Kentucky.

September 1781 – The Traveling Church migrates to Kentucky under the leadership of Captain William Ellis and Lewis Craig.

September 28, 1781 – Providence Baptist Church constituted by Lewis Craig and John Vivion.

December 1781 – The Traveling Church arrive at Craig’s Station.

1783 – Lewis Craig constitutes South Elkhorn Church becoming its first pastor.

1783 – John Taylor emigrates to Kentucky joining Gilbert’s Creek Church and later South Elkhorn Church.

August 1783 – Silas Noel is born and becomes a major voice in promoting missions among Kentucky Baptist.

August 1784 – William Hickman and family emigrate to Kentucky and arrive in modern Garrard County at the home of George Stokes Smith.

April 1785 – The Baptist Church of Christ of Clear Creek organized (the second church north of the Kentucky River).

May 28, 1785 – Lewis Craig aides in constituting Great Crossings Church with John Taylor. Elijah Craig is named its first pastor.

June 1785 – The Elkhorn Baptist Association is formed meeting at South Elkhorn Church.

September 30, 1785 - Elkhorn Association is officially constituted at the house of John Craig on Clear Creek.

October 29, 1785 - The Salem Association established consisting of four churches: Severns Valley, Cedar Creek, Bear Grass, and Cox’s Creek.

April 16, 1786 – Lewis Craig aides in constituting Bryan’s Station Church in Lexington.

May 3, 1786 – Ambrose Dudley emigrates to Kentucky with his family becoming the pastor of Bryant’s Station shortly later.

July 1786 – Lewis Craig aides in constituting Town Fork with Ambrose Dudley, John Taylor, and Augustine Eastin.

November 1786 – Boone’s Creek Church established by John Taylor and John Tanner.

1786 – Gilbert’s Creek Church dissolves before being replanted later as Gilbert’s Creek Separatist Baptist Church.

June 1787 – Marble Creek (later East Hickman Baptist Church) is established from members of Boone’s Creek by Ambrose Dudley and George Stokes Smith.

1787 – John Gano emigrates to Kentucky from New York  becoming the pastor of Town Fork Church in Lexington.

January, 1788 – Elijah Craig opens his classical school.

June 7, 1788 – William Hickman establishes Forks of Elkhorn Church.

March 4, 1789 – The US Constitution officially comes into effect.

April 30, 1789 – George Washington inaugurated President of the United States of America.

1790 – The First African Baptist Church founded by Peter Durrett, the former slave of Joseph Craig, becoming the fist African-American Baptist church in Kentucky and the third in America.

1790 – There are now forty-two Baptist churches with sixty-one ministers (forty are ordained), and more than three thousand members.[1]

June 1, 1792 – Kentucky becomes the 15th state to join the union.

1792 – Lewis Craig moves to Bracken County.

Summer 1793 – Lewis Craig constitutes Bracken Church and becomes its first pastor.

1794 – Lewis Craig builds court house in Washington, KY.

February 5, 1795 – Toliver Craig, Sr. dies in Woodford County, KY.

September 1795 – McConnell’s Run Church (now known as Stamping Ground Baptist Church) constituted with Elijah Craig briefly serving as its first pastor and William Hickman serving as its second.

1796 – Lewis Craig constitutes Beech Creek in Shelby County.[2]

1796 – James Garrard, co-pastored with Augustine Eastin at Cooper’s Run (or Cowper’s Run) and frequent moderator of the Elkhorn Association, is elected second governor of Kentucky. He serves until 1804.

August 1799 – Elkhorn Association clerk, Augustin Eastin, laments in official minutes the poor state of “deadness and supineness in religion as were contained in our churches. The 31 churches had only baptized 29 people that year.

Spring 1800 – John Taylor preaches in the home of Benjamin Craig (brother of Lewis, Elijah, and Joseph) sparking the Great Revival among Kentucky Baptists and resulting in the planting of Ghent Baptist Church.

June 1800 – The Red River Presbyterian meeting house in Logan County takes place sparking revival.

Spring 1801 – Elijah Craig publishes the controversial pamphlet A Few Remarks on the Errors That Are Maintained in the Christian Churches of the Present Day which condemns financially supporting ministers.

August 1801 – Revival breaks out at the Cane Ridge Presbyterian meeting house near Paris, KY under the leadership of Barton W. Stone.

August 1801 – Elkhorn Association reports 3,011 baptism from their 36 churches. Membership nearly tripled.

August 1801 – John Young, a member of South Elkhorn, ordained and appointed as the first missionary to Native Americans living near the Great Lakes of Michigan, Superior, and Huron..

1802 – Augustin Eastin begins to embrace Arianism. John Gano preaches the annual associational sermon on the deity of Christ in August of the following year.

August 1804 – John Gano dies. The Elkhorn Association minutes record, “he lived and died an ornament to Religion.”

1805 – Elijah Craig publishes the bitter and controversial pamphlet A Portrait of Jacob Creath.

1808 – Elijah Craig dies.

August 1810 – Licking Association formed breaking off of the Elkhorn Association.

1813 – The Elkhorn Association sends financial support to William Carey after a fire destroyed the Baptist printing house in India.

1815 – Luther Rice speaks at the annual meeting of the Elkhorn Association promoting the cause of missions.

1815 – Franklin Baptist Association established.

January 4, 1817 – The First Baptist church of Lexington is organized by Jacob Creath, Jeremiah Vardeman, and Henry Toler.

1820 – John Taylor publishes Thoughts on Missions strongly criticizing the missions movement.

1823 – John Taylor publishes A History of Ten Baptist Churches (revised in 1827).

1823 – Alexander Campbell makes first visit to Kentucky.

1825 – Lewis Craig dies in Mason County, KY.

January 24, 1830 – William Hickman dies in Frankfort, KY.

April 12, 1835 – John Taylor dies


[1] This is according to Asplund, The Annual Register of the Baptist Denomination in North America (Baptist Banner, 1791).
[2] Spencer notes in his history that this is based on reliable tradition. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptist, 328.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

From Bonhoeffer's Pen: The Ministry of Listening

From Life Together:
The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So ti is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.” (97)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Over Hill and Under Hill

We now come to the most dangerous part of the early adventure Bilbo finds himself on. The title of the chapter, "Over Hill and Under Hill" emphasizes the contrast of the dangers. One is on top of the mountains and the other is below and inside the mountains. Both are equally dangerous.

While on the mountains, the traveling company find themselves in the middle of warring rock giants who hurl giant boulders at one another. This is no safe place for anyone, especially for a hobbit like Bilbo. The answer is to find shelter in the midst of the mountains. Shelter is found in a cave that is briefly explored. This decision leads them down a dark path to the vile goblins.

While resting in the cave, the floor opens and the company find themselves amidst a nation of goblins who wish them ill. What is most dangerous is that Bilbo, the one most ill-fit for adventure, is he will eventually be separated from the rest of the fellowship. Nevertheless, the goblins are portrayed as violent, metal-making, bloodthirsty creates. They loathe the dwarves in general and Thorin in particular. The weapons they yield are particularly dangerous because of the history they tell.

What is most interesting is the parallels between the dwarves and the goblins. First, they live inside the mountain like dwarves and continue to mine. Secondly, Tolkien describes them as gifted smiths whose skill rival the dwarves. Yet unlike the dwarves, they do not make any beautiful things, but only military tools. Tolkien describes these goblins in the following paragraph:
There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head, and armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and the bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far. They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and prosperous; in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them. But they had a special grudge against Thorin’s people, because of the war which you have heard mentioned, but which does not come into this tale; and anyway goblins don’t care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves.
Many have noted here that we may have an insight here of Tolkien's view of war and war machines. It is unfortunate that inventions take a leap forward during times of war as man becomes more creative on how to kill, destroy, and torture other men. The goblins embody that. The orcs in the Lord of the Rings do very much the same especially from Treebeards perspective.

The goblins, then, give us a better perspective of what motivates the fellowship of the dwarves. Their motivation is not violence or even greed (though greed will be a major theme that Tolkien will develop later). We must not confuse the dwarves with the goblins who are fully depraved. In the end, the goblins fear light and hide in the security of the mountains. The dwarves on the other hand, must do all they can to seek it out.


The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - An Unexpected Party
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Roast Mutton
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Short Rest"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Over Hill and Under Hill
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Riddles in the Dark
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Queer Lodgings
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Flies and Spiders
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Barrels Out of Bond
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Warm Welcome
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - On the Doorstep
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Inside Information
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Not at Home
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Fire and Water
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Gathering of the Clouds
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Thief in the Night
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Clouds Burst
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Return Journey
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - The Last Stage


For more:
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
A Few Thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
Longing for Eden: Tolkien's Insight into the Longing of Every Human Soul
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence
How to Read J. R. R. Tolkien
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Dramatized Audio
"Beyond The Movie": A National Geographic Documentary on the Lord of the Rings   

Monday, July 10, 2017

"CS Lewis's Mere Christianity" by George Marsden: A Review


On November 22, 1963, three giants died. The most notable was President John F. Kennedy who was shot and killed in Dallas, TX. On the same day, two writers Aldous Huxley and CS Lewis died quietly overshadowed by the more newsworthy death of the American president. At the time, most would have assumed that Kennedy would have the lasting legacy while history would forget the latter two. Yet that is not the case. The Democratic Party that Kennedy once led has largely left the policies and convictions that Kennedy held. Regarding Aldous Huxley, only readers of classic dystopians are aware of who he is.

Most surprising is the lasting legacy and even growing population of CS Lewis - the professor of medieval literature (of all things), and writer of Christian apologetics and children's stories. Only providence can explain this. In his book, C. S. Lewis's Mere Chrsitian: A Biography, Goerge M. Marsden seeks to tell the story of both Lewis's influence and how a single book continues to shape the world.

This is now the second biography of a book I have read (the first was on the Book of Mormon). In this volume, the author provides biographical information on both the author and the book he penned. The story behind Mere Christianity is a fascinating one. It began as a series of radio talks on the BBC radio (can you imagine the BBC airing this today?) during the second world war. Lewis's talks grew in popularity and resulted in the publication of a number of books. Those books were eventually combined into a single book now known to us as Mere Christianity.

Marsden takes the reader inside the mind of the author, the voices of its critics, and traces the lineage of this mere book. It is a fascinating book with a fascinating story. My one critique of the book would be how Marsden at times makes the book more about Lewis than about Mere Christianity, yet in his defense, it is virtually impossible to separate author from book.

For those who love Lewis and have read Mere Christianity, I would recommend this book. It is academically sound and yet accessible to the average reader. For those who have neither read Lewis or his classic book, what are you waiting for?

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