Three Recent Reads

May 5, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Books and Movies, It's All About God, Theology | Leave a comment

          I haven’t written much lately about things I’ve read.  Here are three recent reads that deserve mention. 

          Tabletalk, February 2010.  The entire edition of this magazine is subtitled “What N. T. Wright Really Said.”  It is a number of articles, by well known authors, about Wright’s recent writings on justification.  This popular Anglican Bishop has offered a “new perspective” on Paul and his teaching on this key subject.  As these authors testify, Wright’s view diverges from traditional Reformed teaching on some fundamental points.  If you don’t know Wright’s views, or have run across them and want a short response, this magazine is a great tool.  The only negative about it is so much overlap between what various authors wrote made me think I was often rehashing the same material.  You can read some of the articles at Ligonier ministries.

          Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot.  I’ve read this before, and it is listed on my most influential books list.  But this time we read it together as a family.  I was impressed by Elliot’s ability to keep old missionary journals interesting and draw readers into the drama of their story, even readers that know the ending.  Each evening my daughter would ask if we could read more of the missionary story instead of the other things we were doing.  Definitely worth revisiting.

          The best thing I’ve read recently is the “Introductory Essay to John Owen, Death of Death in the Death of Christ,” by J.I. Packer.  One of the blogs I read recommended this and put it on line.  I printed it and spent several weeks reading and rereading parts of it.  Packer says that Owen requires hard study – a “cursory glance” will never do.  The same can be said of Packer’s intro to the book!  Packer answers the challenge that Owen’s work is nothing more than a defense of Calvinism by showing that the Reformed teaching (and Owen’s teaching in particular) of salvation is the gospel, and anything short of it is no gospel at all.  Packer points out that Calvinism is so much more than the “Five Points” it is usually associated with.  It is instead “a whole world view, stemming from a clear vision of God.”  “Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own Word.”  “The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism is concerned with the much broader assertion that He is sovereign everywhere.”  Readers of this blog will recognize my major theme, it’s all about God.  Packer shows through this that Calvinism, often thought as a negative theology, really is a very positive one.  The Arminian understanding, Packer asserts, empties election and redemption of their biblical meaning.  Like all of Packer’s writing, this is biblical, thoughtful, and thought provoking.  It has challenged me in many ways, so I plan to return to it many times over.  And I am motivated to find a copy of John Owen.   Today’s Christianity has often watered-down the gospel and the death of Christ.  If you want to be challenged and encouraged by what the gospel really is, then read this essay.  Here is Packer’s complete essay on line.

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