Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My brother hasn't died

In case anyone missed it, Fretboarder has started posting after a nearly five-month absence. For thoughtful Christian discussion of music and creativity follow this link.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Books that have influenced me: Part 1

Please see my introductory remarks here.

NB This initial list is of books that I actually own. They have been significant in one way or another over the years. I have not read all of them from cover to cover! And the fact that a books is on this list doesn't mean I necessarily endorse everything in it now (although I generally do!)

Aay, Henk & Griffioen, Sander Geography and Worldview
Barnett, Paul Jesus and the Logic of History
Blocher, Henri Evil and the Cross
Brown, E. Stuart Why Spain?
Carson, Don A Call to Spiritual Reformation
Carson, Don Basics for Believers
Carson, Don Exegetical Fallacies
Carson, Don The Cross and Christian Ministry
Carson, Don The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
Carson, Don The Gagging of God
Clements, Roy Practising Faith in a Pagan World
Dever, Mark The Deliberate Church
Fee, Gordon & Stuart, Douglas How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
Frame, John Evangelical Reunion
Frame, John The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God
Goldingay, John God’s Prophet, God’s Servant
Goldsworthy, Graeme Gospel and Kingdom
Goldsworthy, Graeme The Gospel in Revelation
Grogan, Geoffrey 2 Corinthians
Grudem, Wayne Business for the Glory of God
Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology
Guiness, Os The Gravedigger File
Hendriksen, William More than Conquerors
Jones, Merv The Universe Upstairs
Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
Livingstone, David Putting Science in its Place
Livingstone, David The Geographical Tradition
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn Preachers and Preaching
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn Spiritual Depression
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn The Sermon on the Mount
Lyon, David Karl Marx: A Christian Appreciation of His Life and Thought
Machen, Gresham God Transcendent
Murray, Iain Pentecost Today
Murray, Iain Revival and Revivalism
Packer, J.I. A Quest for Godliness
Piper, John Brothers, We are not Professionals
Piper, John Contending for our All
Piper, John Desiring God
Piper, John Tested by Fire
Piper, John The Godward Life
Piper, John The Nations be Glad
Piper, John The Supremacy of God in Preaching
Reymond, Robert Paul: Missionary Theologian
Ridderbos, Herman Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures
Schreiner and Caneday The Race Set Before Us
Scripture Union and C.S.S.M. Hymns of Faith (specifically, John Newton’s hymns)
Sire, James Discipleship of the Mind
Spurgeon, C.H. Un Ministerio Ideal: El Pastor – Su Mensaje (not sure what the original is)
Stott, John Segunda Epistola a Timoteo (commentary on 2 Timothy)
Stott, John The Cross of Christ
Stott, John The Message of Galatians
Van Til, Cornelius The Defence of the Faith
Wells, David God in the Wasteland
White, John Excellence in Leadership
Wolters, Al Creation Regained

Book Influences

I recently reorganised our bookshelves. I have two shelves directly above the PC, and 4 more on the opposite wall behind me. The rest are then relegated upstairs. I have tried various systems for organising my books in the past, and none has particularly been helpful. This time, I decided to use one of my key shelves for biblical commentaries, and the second for my "favourite books", those books which have been of particular influence for one reason or another over the years, and to which I return from time to time.

That prompted me to consider what books (and other writings) have been influential in my thinking and life. What I propose to do in some forthcoming posts is list those books, and hopefully make some brief comments on how they have influenced me. As well as being an interesting exercise, the main purpose is rather to think through what I have learned from them, to test those lessons in the light of God's Word, and to strive to continue to apply in my life those lessons that are of true value.

I welcome comments. Perhaps I list books that have influenced you too. Perhaps you are surprised by some of the entries. Perhaps you notice gaps in my reading (I certainly do!) and can suggest areas I need to look at more carefully.

This exercise assumes the following:
(a) that the reading of books is healthy and important for Christians
(b) that while (a) is true, the reading of books must remain subordinate to the reading of the Bible
(c) that reading Christian books must not be an end in itself; it must be pursued for the sake of love not knowledge, for "knowledge puffs up but love builds up"

For some extremely helpful posts on reading, see the dozen or so posts on the Together 4 the Gospel blog, during January and February 2006.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A house sparrow in our garden (2)

Back in January I wrote about the scarcity of birds
in our garden. (here) We've added a few more birds to our garden list since then - blackbird, starlings, greenfinch, and have had house sparrows passing through on several occasions. This house sparrow visited our garden today. (BTW, now you can see the industrial state our garden backs on to)

Happy birthday, Timothy

Timothy was 1 today. The photo of him is from a few days ago, though, as today's photos weren't very nice!

The moral goodness of business 2

On my previous post on Grudem's book Business for the Glory of God, étrangère asked...

"Would it be good also for someone convinced that business is glorifying to God and whose church is pushing that God's inheritance for us includes material blessing to be pursued through business? Does it address or would it inadvertently confound that false teaching?"

Here's my reply:

Hi Rosemary,

I find that question quite difficult to answer, which is why it's taken me a couple of weeks! Grudem does not address that particular brand of teaching. His aim is quite modest. It is not, for example, “a book on ‘how to decide the hard ethical questions in business.’” – although incidentally he is working on such a book. The aim is to affirm the moral goodness of various aspects of business activity. I suppose then that it is written to persuade Christians who either think that business is morally dubious or who are not sure, uncertain whether Christians can engage in business with a clean conscience or not. In addition, it has probably been written to encourage Christians involved in business that their activities can be used to glorify God, and to encourage them to do so.

I think that the book does present an alternative (and better!) Christian vision of business than the view that teaches that God wants to bless our wallets etc. For one thing, the emphases are God-centred and other-centred.

But whether this would be a good book for someone in the situation to describe to read, well, I think that depends. Books can be misread, can’t they? Iain Murray, for example, has expressed dismay that his book The Puritan Hope has, in his view, been misused by certain people to back up a certain kind of postmillenialism related to theonomy.1 Business for the Glory of God could be read without due care and used to bolster one’s own ‘health and wealth gospel’. As I say, Grudem is not aiming to correct that particular error. However, read thoughtfully and with help from someone else, the book could be profitable for a person in your scenario. It may help destroy false dichotomies. If the person is (a) convinced that business can be used to glorify God, (b) hears the goodness of business affirmed by those teaching a ‘wealth gospel’ (c) has heard others say that the ‘health and wealth gospel’ is unbiblical and (d) therefore associates (c) with saying that business is bad, then to hear an alternative, positive vision of business that is biblical and not about ‘material blessings are our inheritance’ could begin to drive a wedge between the conviction that business can be used to glorify God and the material wealth teaching. But this is not necessarily evident from reading Business to the Glory of God since Grudem is not addressing that issue and there would therefore probably be a need for a helpful Christian friend (you?) to help him/her think through it.

So I think Grudem here does “inadvertedly confound that false teaching”, but subtly.

Dunno if that helps; I certainly welcome further comments!

1. Listen to Murray discussing the book with Mark Dever here, from approximately the 20th minute to the 25th.