This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach on one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 45. It was a joy to delve into the depths of this very rich Messianic psalm.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach on one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 45. It was a joy to delve into the depths of this very rich Messianic psalm.
I wanted to share an important excerpt from Robert Stein’s helpful book on biblical interpretation. This helps in understanding the prophetic genre, and makes good sense of Peter’s quote of Joel 2 in Acts 2.
An additional proof for his claim comes in the recognition that the prophets often maek use of language from the covenant curses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. They are using a specific language intentionally – the language of covenant. They are not just describing a foreseen future in strictly literal terms.
Much of the terminology found in prophecy makes use of customary imagery used in this genre. For instance, in the judgment prophecy found in Isaiah 13:9-11 we read:
“See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.”
Because of the cosmic imagery found in this prophecy, many interpreters assume that it is referring to the end of history. Yet it is clear from Isaiah 13:1… and 19… that the prophecy concerns the Babylonian empire of the sixth century B.C. The Babylonian kingdom that destroyed Jerusalem and the Solomonic temple, this empire that sent the cream of Judean society into exile, was about to experience divine judgment.
Yet this judgment is described in cosmic terminology. Such terminology, however, was part of the imagery and symbolism available to the prophets when they sought to describe God’s intervention in history and his sovereign rule over the kingdoms of this world (cf. Dan. 2:21; 4:17,25,34-35; 5:21). Such imagery was not meant to be interpreted literally. The sun was not actually going to be darkened; the moon would not stop giving its light; the stars would not stop showing their light. “What” the author willed to communicate by this imagery, that God was going to bring judgment upon Babylon, was to be understood “literally.” And that willed meaning, God’s judgment upon Babylon, did take place. This prophecy was fulfilled with the rise and rule of the Persian empire over the territories once ruled by Babylon, and the later readers of this prophecy knew that this prophecy had indeed been fulfilled. Babylon had been judged just as the prophecy proclaimed, and it was God’s doing just as the cosmic imagery described. The imagery, itself, however, was understood by the prophet and his audience as part of the stock terminology used in this kind of literature to describe God’s intervention into history.
In Acts 2:14-21 Peter and Luke interpreted the events of Pentecost in a similar way as they saw in it the fulfillment of the prophetic message of Joel:
“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my SPirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
These cosmic signs did not literally take place at Pentecost, even though what the author willed to convey by those signs did. God did enter into history and bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. God in fulfillment of his promises gave to the church the blessed gift of the new covenant….
There have been attempts to deny that the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 was fulfilled at Pentecost. Usually this is due to a misunderstanding of the figurative nature of this cosmic terminology. Some have suggested that Luke and Peter believed that Pentecost was “kind of like” what Joel prophesied but not its actual fulfillment. Such a manipulative interpretation of this passage of Acts, however, is impossible in light of Peter’s words in Acts 2:16: “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Furthermore such interpretative gymnastics are unnecessary when we are willing to accept what the author meant by the use of such terminology. We need only note other passages to see how widespread the use of such cosmic terminology is in the Bible (Isa. 24:23; Jer. 4:28; 13:16; 15:9; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 2:10,31; 3:15; Amos 8:9; Hab. 3:11; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:25; Rev. 6:12). (Attempts to see Mark 15:33; Matt. 27:45; Luke 23:44-45 as the fulfillment of this prophecy also err. They do not explain the signs of Acts 2:19 and most of 2:20. Second, and more important, they err because Peter and Luke associate the fulfillment of these signs with what is happening then and there on the day of pentecost.
— Excerpt from A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible: Playing by the Rules by Robert H. Stein, (Baker Academic, 1994), p. 91-93
“All of the makings of an important story that Evangelicals need to hear… Dr. Jones has done… Evangelicals a great favor in writing this lucid account.”
—Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
“Introduces us not just to the subtlety and real acuity of Basil’s thought but to a man of great warmth and affection… challenges us as well as instructs us.”
—Michael Ovey, Principal, Oak Hill Theological College, London
“Abounding with pastoral wisdom and with the discussion of theological themes important to any era… an insightful study in human nature and how men of God respond to the shifting sands of the theological and ecclesiastical landscape…. a critical but sympathetic assessment of a remarkable pilgrim on life’s journey.”
—Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX
If you grew up in American evangelicalism, like I did, your grasp of church history, especially of the church fathers, may be relatively weak. Like a good fundamentalist, I grew up knowing all about D.L. Moody, George Whitfield, and Billy Sunday. I also had heard of Martin Luther and John Calvin, although I had more suspicion of them. But the church fathers were Roman Catholics from who knows when, and they didn’t have anything to teach me.
This idea, mind you, was “caught,” not “taught.” Church history has much to teach us, and the church fathers wouldn’t so easily fit into the mold of Catholicism as we know it. The early church fathers, especially, are worthy of study, and to them we owe thanks for an orthodox understanding and articulation of such important doctrines as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the deity of the Holy Spirit.
Basil of Caesarea (329-379 AD), a Greek-speaking Bishop in what is now Turkey, was so important a figure in the fight for biblical orthodoxy, that he is remembered as Basil the Great. He may be the most significant church father that most people haven’t heard of. Athanasius gets more notoriety for defending the Trinity contra mundum (against the world), but Basil was right there with him. Basil’s writings against the Arians, and his work On the Holy Spirit, helped to provide the church with some of the terminology that would eventually make up the orthodox definition of the Trinity: “one essence, but three persons.”
Marvin Jones provides a useful introduction to Basil’s life and thought in Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Impact. The book is short and accessible and aims to allow Basil to influence the modern Evangelical church. Due to a collection of 350 letters of Basil to his impressive family (his father, sister and brother are all considered saints by the Eastern Orthodox Church) and others, we know more about Basil than any other Christian of the ancient church with the exception of Augustine of Hippo. Basil wrote on a variety of topics too. He aimed at reforming the liturgy or worship of his church, he appreciated but also critiqued monasticism, writing a helpful book with rules geared toward reforming the movement. He interacted with several key figures of the day and became more and more orthodox in his understanding of the Trinity over the course of his ministry. He even left us two series of sermons, one of which is one of the earliest known literal interpretations of the book of Genesis, including a defense of literal 24-hour days in Genesis 1.
This excerpt focuses on Basil’s capable defense of the deity of Jesus Christ.
Basil reviewed [his opponents'] rationale by stating, “They say that the Son is not equal to the Father, but comes after the Father. Therefore it follows that glory should be ascribed to the Father through Him, but not with Him. With Him expresses equality but through Him indicates subordination.”
Basil refuted this concept with a discussion on the word after. Basil asked, “In what way do they say that the Son is after the Father? Is He later in time, or in rank, or in dignity?” The issue is that one cannot conceive of the Father without the Son as if there was an interval in their relationship or existence. He quoted John 1:1 and focused upon the word was as settling the issue of the Son’s eternality. Basil stated, “No matter how far your thoughts travel backward, you cannot get beyond the was. No matter how hard you strain to see what is beyond the Son, you will find it impossible to pass outside the confines of the beginning. Therefore, true religion teaches us to think of the Son with the Father.” (Kindle location 2106-2112)
This book does what it aims to do: it introduces the reader to Basil and the theological debates of his era. In reading some of Basil’s arguments and by considering the doctrines debated, I am impressed by his forceful and clear grasp of the significance of the doctrine of God, and his recognition of the key place that Scripture, over and above tradition, holds. His literal approach to Genesis and his reformer’s approach to monasticism should make studying important and relevant for today’s church.
This book and others in the “Early Church Fathers” series, would make for a great supplement to a homeschool or Christian school curriculum. Many parents, like me, should also read up on this forgotten father. I highly recommend this brief work, and hope that Basil’s passion for the truth will continue to bless the wider church, now and always.
The “Early Church Fathers” series relates the magnificent impact that these fathers of the early church made for our world today. They encountered challenges similar to ones that we face in our postmodern world, and they met them with extraordinary values that will encourage and inspire us today.
About the Author:
Dr. Marvin Jones is the Assistant Professor of Church History and Theology, Louisiana College, Pineville, Louisiana, and the Chairman of the Christian Studies Department.
This book was provided by Christian Focus via the CrossFocusedReviews.com. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Reformation Gems are excerpts from selections contained in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, a new commentary series from IVP which gathers the best Reformation-era comments on the text together all in one set. The volumes in this commentary series resurrect long-forgotten voices from the Reformation age and in so doing they recover the piety and vivacity of that era. I hope that by sharing some excerpts from this series, I will edify my readers and promote this important commentary series.
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Today’s selection comes from the latest volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series: Volume VI (Acts). I turned to Acts 16:14, and the story of Lydia’s conversion, looking for Reformation-era comments on that classic text on God’s opening Lydia’s heart to pay attention to the message. I was not disappointed and found a gem in the words of Konrad Pellikan, a German scholar who worked closely with Ulrich Zwingli in the Swiss reformation. I appreciated both his observations on the nature of faith, as well as his practical application to “pray to the Lord to open our heart.”
Here is the excerpt from Pellikan’s commentary on Acts, originally published sometime between 1532-1539 (with key sentences bolded for emphasis):
Lydia’s Faith a Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Konrad Pellikan: The gospel usually bears the greatest amount of fruit where it is least expected…. With Lydia we can compare how Paul was cast out of Antioch by religious women who were overly zealous for God but lacking in understanding. This excellent mother and merchant, however, understood the gospel and repented of her sins. And she became repentant not by nature but by grace. the Lord, it says, opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. For no one can have faith in the gospel by his own strength, but only by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and not because he has faith beforehand. Therefore, on hearing the promises of the gospel, let us despair concerning the power of the flesh, but let us pray to the Lord to open our heart, to give us the gift of the Spirit, to put relief in our heart and to fill us with the work of righteousness. (pg. 228)
About the Reformation-era author: Konrad Pellikan (1478-1556). German Reformed Hebraist and theologian. Pellikan attended the University of Heidelberg, where he mastered Hebrew under Johannes Reuchlin. In 1504 Pellikan published one of the first Hebrew grammars that was not merely a translation of the work of mediaeval rabbis. While living in Basel, Pellikan assisted the printer Johannes Amerbach, with whom he published some of Luther’s early writings. He also worked with Sebastian Munster and Wolfgang Capito on a Hebrew Psalter (1516). In 1526, after teaching theology for three years at the University of Basel, Huldrych Zwingli brought Pellikan to Zurich to chair the faculty of Old Testament. Pellikan’s magnum opus is a seven-volume commentary on the entire Bible (except Revelation) and the Apocrypha: it is often heavily dependent upon the work of others (esp. Desiderius Erasmus and Johannes Oecolampadius). (pg. 399)
Learn more about this commentary series at the Reformation Commentary page at IVPress.com, or check out this sampler (PDF). You can pick up a copy of Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Volume XI (Galatians, Ephesians) at any of the following online retailers: Westminster Bookstore, Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or direct from IVP. You may want to consider becoming a member with IVP and getting the entire series on a subscription discount of more than 40% per volume.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by IVP. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Ours is an age of conferences. Dozens of conferences vie for our attention, from a variety of ministries. For those who cannot attend, livestreaming is a way to experience the thrill from afar. Another common way to expand the reach of a conference is to turn the series of messages into a book. The success of such books is usually limited, but in this book we have an exception.
Here is Our God: God’s Revelation of Himself in Scripture (Crossway, 2014), is the latest book from The Gospel Coalition. This book is actually a compilation of the messages from the women’s 2012 TGC conference. Reading the book, however, I am not transported to the scene of thousands of women meeting together in a conference. Instead the message of each plenary session is powerfully communicated in this book, and the entire theme of the conference—suitable for men and women—comes together in this one short volume.
Three men (Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and John Piper) join five women (Paige Brown, Carrie Sandom, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Jenny Salt, and Kathleen Nielson) in expositing the Word of God. Each author tackles a text which offers us a revelation of God. Exodus 19, 1 Kings 8, Isaiah 6, Matthew 17, Revelation 21 and other passages are mined for what they tell us of our God. The chapters flow together well, and reinforce the argument of the work as a whole. Each author in their unique way contributes to a dazzling picture of our God and His glory.
D.A. Carson (one of the editors of this book) is known for his advocacy of biblical theolgoy, and this is on full display in the contributions from each author in this title. The grand themes of the Bible are followed as we truly encounter God through the book. The application is poignant, and the messages are powerful. I’m glad that by means of this book I was able to be blessed by this women’s conference!
I listened to the Christianaudio.com version (link is external) of the book. A male voice read the chapters written by men, and a female voice the other chapters. The editing in the book being as excellent as it was, allowed the audio version to flow well. Connections between chapters were made, and the reading speed aided in reflection.
The book itself is extremely well written. You would be hard pressed to find a more God-centered example of biblical theology. I appreciated that the Old Testament received due attention. In fact both testaments are treated, and so many foundational texts are treated that this could be considered a miniature whole-Bible biblical theology in its own right.
The conference aimed to make much of God and this book does that. If you are hungry for an encounter with the God of the Bible, this book will reveal Him in fresh and helpful ways. The call to holy living and a deeper faith permeates the book, and the Gospel of God’s grace underlies it as well. The book would serve well as a small group resource, with questions at the end of each chapter that could be used for discussion. I encourage both men and women to avail themselves of this helpful resource. May God bless you with a greater revelation of Himself in the reading of this short book.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Christianaudio.com. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
About Book Briefs: Book Briefs are book notes, or short-form book reviews. They are my informed evaluation of a book, but stop short of being a full-length book review.
Commentary Roundup posts are a series of short reviews or overviews of Bible commentaries. I’m working my way through a variety of commentaries, new and old, and hope to highlight helpful resources for my readers.
• Author: Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.
• Publisher: Kregel Academic (2013)
• Format: hardback
• Page Count: 688
• ISBN#: 9780825425561
• List Price: $39.99
• Rating: Highly Recommended
A thorough exegetical and homiletical analysis of each passage of Judges and Ruth.
This commentary sheds exegetical and theological light on the books of Judges and Ruth for contemporary preachers and students of Scripture. Listening closely to the text while interacting with the best of scholarship, Chisholm shows what these books meant for ancient Israel and what they mean for us today. In addition to his perceptive comments on the biblical text, he examines a host of themes such as covenants and the sovereignty of God in Judges, and providence, redemption, lovingkindness, and christological typology in Ruth.
Of special interest is Chisholm’s introduction to Judges. In it he asks and answers some difficult questions: What is the point of Judges? What role did individual judges play? What part did female characters play? Did Judges have a political agenda?
Chisholm offers astute guidance for preachers and teachers by not only providing insightful exegetical and theological commentary but also by offering homiletical trajectories for each passage to show how historical narrative can be presented in the pulpit and classroom for rich, responsible sermons and lessons.
This is a technical/semi-technical commentary that provides both a detailed exegetical analysis of the Hebrew text and a variety of homiletical helps for applying the message of the text for today’s hearers.
Structure and Features:
Robert Chisholm’s Commentary on Jugdes and Ruth is organized in such a way as to provide the most help for the busy preacher or teacher who will use this volume to help in preparing to teach through these books for the benefit of the church.
Each Bible book gets a detailed and incredibly helpful introduction. Questions of authorship, date and genre are covered, as are practical concerns like what to make of the dates in Judges, and how best to understand the structure of the content in each book. Chisholm displays a concern for the literary and canonical context of these books, spending some time discussing where Ruth should fall in the order of the canonical order, and how each book fits into the larger themes of this section of the Bible. Included in the introduction are a survey of available commentaries for each book, and a helpful discussion of homilitecial strategies and a sample sermon series for each book.
After the introduction, each Bible book is divided into sections. Each section of the text is then methodically studied: first the translation (Chisholm’s own, a slightly revised version of that he supplied for the NET Bible) is provided in segments, line by line – and arranged in such a way as to highlight the narrative structure. Clauses are categorized as “sequential” or “consequential,” “resumptive” or “supplemental,” “focusing” or “dramatic,” and etc. Back in the introduction, Chisholm gives an explanation of the narrative structure of each book and which Hebrew grammatical clues (wayyiqtol and weqatal clauses, negated and asyndetic perfects, and more) lead him to these syntactical conclusions. Important translational and syntactical notes appear in the footnotes in this section (and the footnotes are nice and easy to read, as is the font throughout the volume).
After offering the text and structure, the commentary provides an outline and then discussion on the literary structure. Next is a detailed exposition section, followed by an application section which fleshes out the thematic emphases, theological principles, and offers homiletical trajetories and preaching ideas. Finally an extensive list of references follows to round out the volume.
This excerpt is taken almost at random, it illustrates Chisholm’s attention to detail and interaction with the Hebrew text. Normally Chisholm will offer translations for Hebrew words in the commentary, but not always, as this passage illustrates. I am not going to reproduce the ten footnotes that are interspersed throughout this section. Hopefully this excerpt will give you a flavor of Chisholm’s care in handling the text. The section concerns Judges 5:24-27.
Willing, able, and energetic Jael stands in stark contrast to unwilling, passive, and accursed Meroz (vv. 24-27). She receives a special blessing for her loyalty to Israel and the Lord. When opportunity came her way she marshaled her cunning and strength to destroy the enemy general.
This poetic account abridges and streamlines the earlier narrative in some respects, but also highlights Jael’s cunning and effectiveness through additional information and the poetic device of repetition. In the poem we read nothing of Sisera’s arrival or of Jael’s initial gestures of apparent concern. Instead the focus is on her offer of milk. THe narrative tells how she gave him milk when he asked for water; the poem adds that she brought him curdled milk in a bowl fit for a noble, which he must have seen as an obvious gesture of loyalty. The poem mentions nothing of Jael’s tucking Sisera into bed; instead it focuses on the deadly deed. The narrative account uses only one verb to describe the murder stroke (see 4:21); the poem employs four synonyms, emphasizing the deadly force of the blow and forcing us to replay it in our minds. THe narrative, while describing how the peg went through his skull into the ground, notes simply that he died (4:21-22); the poem uses seven finite verbal forms (כּרע and נפל appear three times each, and שׁכב once) to emphasize the efficiency and finality of the deed). The repetition serves to “slow the action almost to a standstill in order to allow the audience to vent their hatred of the Canaanites as they savor Sisera’s fall.” It also repeats the location of his death (“between her legs”) to set up an ironic connection with verses 28-30 (on which, see below), and concludes with a resounding passive form, “murdered” (שׁדוּד, literally, “violently destroyed, devastated”).
The narrative informs us that Jael killed Sisera while he was fast asleep (4:21), but the poem depicts her deed as a heroic military act. It makes no reference to Sisera sleeping (though v. 25b might suggest as much) and describes Jael’s actions as an aggressive attack–she grabs her weapons and strikes. It then depicts Sisera as slumping to his knees and falling to the floor, as if she struck him down while he stood before her. Rather than trying to harmonize the accounts at the literal, factual level, it is probably better to see the poem as a creative figurative version of the story designed to magnify Jael and to lampoon the Canaanite general, whose capitulation to Jael’s deceit was tantamount to being defeated by her in hand-to-hand combat. For a warrior to die at the hands of a woman was considered utterly humiliating (see Judg. 9:54), but in this case it was appropriate, for the fleeing Sisera is viewed as cowardly. (pg. 240-243)
This is an accessible and immensely helpful volume. It is written with a pastoral heart. I appreciated its Christological emphasis, and willingness to examine the typological connections between Judges and Ruth and the other books of the Bible (as in Othniel’s identity as the archetypal judge against whom David must measure up, and the echoes of Samson’s shortcomings in Saul’s inglorious career as outlined in the books of Samuel). The discussion on the dates in Judges was incredibly helpful, as was the section on the role of female characters in Judges, and how they pave the way for Hannah’s account which opens up 1 Samuel.
Chisholm has a mastery when it comes to Hebrew grammar, and I appreciate how he interacts with the text and helps us see the narrative flow intended by the biblical author. His eye for literary connections and the interplay of various genres, make this volume more useful and full-orbed. His interaction with the full breadth of scholarship related to these books, inform and guide the reader in their study of the text.
This commentary is a must-have for every pastor. The combination of practical and homiletically helpful, with technical and exegetically robust is unmatched. No matter your level of familiarity with Hebrew, interacting with this volume will be worth your time. If you skip the footnotes and just interact with the text you will still be rewarded for your effort. I highly recommend you consider picking up this volume and exploring other titles in the Kregel Exegetical Library.
About the Author:
Robert B. Chisholm Jr. (ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Department Chair and Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is a translator and the Senior Old Testament Editor of the NET Bible. Chisholm’s other publications include Interpreting the Minor Prophets, Handbook on the Prophets, and A Workbook for Intermediate Hebrew.
This book was provided by Kregel Academic. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Arthur and his knights of the round table, are phantoms from a long gone era. Their story is a myth, and they are warriors only in imaginative retellings of their deeds. But the story told in Edwin: High King of Britain is a legend of a different kind. Edwin is a figure from history. And early seventh century England, where Edwin arose as a dominant king, is every bit as mythic and alien to our minds as the legendary kingdom of Camelot.
Edoardo Albert, writer and historian in his own right, tells the story of Edwin with as much power as any scop or bard from times past. Edwin is a fictional account yet most of its key plotlines and characters are historical. The book is the first in a trilogy called The Northumbrian Thrones.
The tale is fast paced and moving. Albert adds such historical detail that he makes you believe you are there. The struggle of Edwin to embrace a new religion, that of Christianity, is also told in a realistic, believable way. The Norse warrior gods of Woden and Thunor are only reluctantly left for the strange God whose way is to deny vengeance and forgive one’s enemies. Edwin is no saint, but a leader and champion he is. Yet as the tale progresses, we will learn he is as mortal as anyone, even with his new God.
The story is engaging and true to life, but clean enough even for teen-age readers. Yet the tale is not safe: this is a raw and rugged account of a brutal age.
The history of medeival Britain has long fascinated me and so I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you enjoy fantasy fiction in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, or Stephen Lawhead, this book will delight. Learning that it is mostly true to life will surprise you as it did me. I encourage you to give it a try.
Right now, the Kindle version of this book is only $1.99. I’m not sure how long that will last, but you can’t go wrong at that price!
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Lion Hudson via Kregel Books. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
About Book Briefs: Book Briefs are book notes, or short-form book reviews. They are my informed evaluation of a book, but stop short of being a full-length book review.
• Author: Paul E. Miller
• Category: Christian Living
• Book Publisher: Crossway (2014)
• Page Count: 172
• Audio Publisher: christianaudio (2014)
• Audio Length: 6 hours – unabridged
• Read by: Arthur Morey
• Format: audiobook
• ISBN: 9781433537325
• List Price: $12.99 / $14.98 (audio)
• Rating: Must Read
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the most honest, timely, and helpful book I’ve ever read about the costly and exhausting demands of loving well. And at the same time, A Loving Life is the most faithful, alluring, and encouraging presentation of God’s love for us in Jesus I’ve fed on in years. These two themes go hand in hand. Through the biblical story of Ruth, Paul Miller gives us hope, not hype—the freedom to suffer well, stay present, and live expectantly in all of our relationships. Thank you, Paul, for making the gospel more beautiful and believable to me.”
—Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, TN
“The word love is often either a vague sentiment or just another four-letter word. But in Paul Miller’s hands, the quiet, compelling reality emerges. You will witness how love is thoughtful, principled, courageous, enduring, and wise—all the things you know deep down it should be. And even more than those fine things, you will be surprised and delighted at how true love is grounded in God.”
—David Powlison, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation
“A Loving Life is a worthy successor to Paul Miller’s much-appreciated book on prayer. It is a careful, thorough analysis of the book of Ruth, understanding it as a love story and making good applications to our own experiences and needs for love. Paul here shows not only a deep understanding of God’s Word, but also a rich knowledge of human nature, both in the ancient world and today. He offers biblical responses to many of the misunderstandings and problems we have with love of all kinds. May the Lord give this book a broad readership!”
—John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary
Like he did with A Praying Life, Paul Miller once again has given us a book that doesn’t fit the mold. This is not just any old book on Christian love. This book turns love inside out and gives hope and help to readers at all stages of their Christian life. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships describes the perils and pitfalls, as well as the promise and pleasure of love.
Miller begins with a personal story from a man he has counseled. The man was a former elder at a conservative evangelical church who walked away from his wife and dove headlong into immorality. Stories like this, and the counseling insights Miller shares illuminate this book. Miller’s insights into love and the human heart, stem from Scripture and ring true. His application is always poignant and helpful. ANd the stories of real one-on-one ministry flesh out the theory of his approach with real tangible spiritual fruit in the here and now.
But Miller’s book is not about his own experiences. He anchors it all on a careful exegetical look at the book of Ruth. Ruth’s story, of course, may very well be the greatest love story ever told. And it has much to teach us about what it means to love unconditionally, and to live in Christian hope. Miller’s account is shaped and ruled by the gospel, and he brings us back over and over again to the importance of gospel-centered living.
“Whatever the source of the broken relationship, the result remains the same—the loneliness of a fairy tale gone bad. What do you do when you are abandoned by your husband? How do you survive when no matter how much love you pour into your wife, she becomes more demanding? How do you endure in love? How do you endure without love when you long to get married? How do you keep your spirit from shutting down?
To these modern widows and widowers, I write this book—to encourage you, to give you a hope and a future. We’ll pursue that by joining two ancient widows, Ruth and Naomi, on their journey. The book of Ruth is an ideal narrative for our post-Christian world, where breaking covenants—not enduring in love—is the new norm. Ruth offers a template for love that understands both the craziness of our modern world and a way forward. Ruth is all about surviving and even thriving in a collapsing world.” (p. 14)
See also this excerpt from Crossway.org.
Having been incredibly blessed by Miller’s previous book, A Praying Life, the format of A Loving Life took me by some surprise. But as the book developed, I found myself enjoying the account of Ruth more and more, and seeing how it truly dovetailed with Miller’s thoughts on love and his counsel for dealing with broken relationships and living out our faith in this broken world. This book may be a slower and harder read than the earlier volume, but it repays any effort spent to mine its riches. Miller’s wisdom and insight into the struggles of human suffering shine through its pages. His personal experience of ministry (including to his own autistic daughter) give a depth to his thoughts. You feel like you are sitting down over a cup of coffee with an incredibly open and helpful friend as you read this book. And this friend repeatedly points you to a greater walk with Christ and a deeper understanding of yourself and the glory of the gospel.
I listened to the Christianaudio.com version of this title, and found it a blessing to tune into Ruth’s exciting story on my drive each day to work and back. The reader of the audiobook was easy to understand and hear, and his voice was warm and encouraging. I didn’t miss endnotes (if there were any) and it was easy to follow along even though the book was broken up into smaller pieces than it may have been if reading the book in another format.
If you haven’t read anything by Paul Miller before, I encourage you to give this title a try. His approach is similar in spirit to what you may get from Timothy Keller or some of the authors connected with the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). This is biblical counseling at its gospel-centered best. I highly recommend it.
About the author:
Paul E. Miller is executive director of seeJesus as well as the best-selling author of A Praying Life, among other works. With the help of his ministry staff, Miller creates and conducts interactive discipleship seminars throughout the world. He and his wife, Jill, live in the Philadelphia area and have six children as well as a growing number of grandchildren.
This book was provided by christianaudio.com. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
Northland International University (formerly Northland Baptist Bible College) just announced a formal partnership with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. NIU President, Daniel Patz says this move will “energize our mission, and anchor our institutional stability for generations.” You can read some of Al Mohler’s comments on this partnership and learn more about the announcement here.
I have some positive reflections on this move, for Northland in particular. And I have a question about Fundamentalism’s next chapter.
1) Students at Northland can see that their degree may mean more now, with an academic institution like Southern “backing” it.
2) There are lots of churches who are loosely IFB but not committed to one particular sphere or fellowship, this partnership makes Northland attractive to some of these churches now.
3) It allows Northland to receive help from another institution and continue to exist – and in the area of Northland there are not an abundance of conservative evangelical schools of any stripe.
4) It expands the base of Northland to other conservative churches aware of Southern but not necessarily aware of Northland.
Remember this is a connection with a particular institution not the SBC as a whole, nor every SBC seminary, just Southern. As such, Northland doesn’t have to be seen as eschewing fundamentalism. Fundamentalism was a para-denominational idea to unite around the gospel. Might it not be time for conservative IFB churches to unite more formally as NIU is doing here, with conservative bastions of evangelicalism, whether they be The Master’s College, Southern, or what have you?
The IFB movement prizes independence. Northland is acting independently. They already forged a partnership with the CCEF, and now with Southern. This is not old-school fundamentalism, but it might just be the natural progression of the growth of Type B/C Fundamentalism.
What exactly would be the case for separating from Northland for partnering with Southern? What exactly is the case for not sending students to Southern, or for being willing to send them to The Master’s College but not Southern?
Is Fundamentalism an idea that is more important than a movement? Time will tell. For now, I applaud Northland for being willing to go their own way and unite around what matters. Some will “nay say,” but for Fundamentalism to stay relevant to the church both now and into the future, it is exatly this kind of independent thinking (that stays true to the spirit of historic fundamentalism) that will be needed.
I am in the middle of reading a magesterial work on definite atonement titled, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her (Crossway, 2013). The book explains and defends the most misunderstood “point” of Calvinism: limited atonement (better described as definite atonement or particular redemption). In this book I came across a simple and extremely clear quote by John Calvin on why the doctrine of election should not squelch our evangelism. I share the quote below, but if you want to explore this topic more, see my post “Calvinism & Evangelism.
Since we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined, and who does not, it befits us so to feel as to wish that all be saved. So it will come about that, whoever we come across, we shall study to make him a sharer of peace.
— from John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p. 138, (trans. J.K.S. Reid; originally published 1552; republished London: James Clarke, 1961); quoted in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective, Kindle location 2227, (edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson; Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), emphasis added
|2006: 3 reviews||2007: 6 reviews|
|2008: 6 reviews||2009: 28 reviews|
|2010: 30 reviews||2011: 42 reviews|
|2012: 24 reviews||2013: 28 reviews|
|2014: 19 reviews (so far)|
Grand Total: 186 book & media reviews
from more than 35 different publishers.
A Good Finish
A View From Serenity Acres
All Things New
By Grace Alone
Daily On My Way To Heaven
Early Christian America
Orange County Calvinist
Journal From The Street
Justification by Grace
Music From Broken Chords
Random Thoughts From A Cluttered Mind
Refocusing Our Eyes
Robert, Restless and Always Reforming
Seeing The Kingdom
The Bible Christian
The Cross Is All
The Old Dead Guys
The Misadventures of Captain Headknowledge
The Reformed Traveler
Throw AWay Everything
who am i?