Browsing archives for June, 2011
“These paintings, these poems, and these demonstrations which we have been talking about are the expression of men who are struggling with their appalling lostness. Dare we laugh at such things? Dare we feel superior when we view their tortured expressions in their art? Christians should stop laughing and take such men seriously. Then we shall have the right to speak again to our generation. These men are dying while they live; yet where is our compassion for them? There is nothing more ugly than Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion.”
- Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, page 54.
“A…benefit that historical theology renders the church is to protect against the individualism that is rampant today among Christians. Tragically, numerous factors – a consumerist mentality, an insistence on individual rights, an emphasis on personal autonomy, a pronounced sense of entitlement – have converged to foster an atmosphere in which too many Christians pick and choose their doctrines like they pick and choose their clothes or fast-food meals. If they feel uncomfortable about the sovereignty of God or are upset by the thought of an eternal conscious punishment of the wicked, they opt to overlook or dismiss those doctrines. If their worldly lifestyle is confronted by the demands of sanctification, or if the authority of Scripture challenges their stylish doubts about truth and certainty, they choose to minimize or set aside those doctrines. Thankfully, historical theology can act as a corrective to this regrettable situation. It reminds believers that theirs is a corporate faith that has always affirmed divine sovereignty, hell, holiness, and biblical authority. This rich heritage protects against the tendency to select the doctrines one likes and to reject those one does not like, thus giving in to one’s sinful propensities.”
Gregg Allison – Historical Theology, page 26.
About a year-and-a-half ago, I begin reading Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy, and I just finally finished. I’ve been reading, more like plodding, through this text with my good friend, Richard Baliko. Richard lives in Macon, MS and I live in Nashville, TN, so we video skype once a week and discuss a chapter of the book at a time. I studied hermeneutics in seminary, but not with this book, so reading Goldsworthy’s treatment has been a new experience for both of us.
This is a great book to say the very least, but it’s waaaaaay more technical than I expected (or at least it’s waaaaaay more technical than the previous hermeneutics book I read). However, I can unequivocally say that reading through Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics is a worthwhile endeavor.
The book is broken up into three main sections: 1) Evangelical Prolegomena to Hermeneutics, 2) Challenges to Evangelical Hermeneutics, and 3) Reconstructing Evangelical Hermeneutics. To explain those headings a bit, after setting out a brief vision for how and why hermeneutics should be done in section one, Goldsworthy then deconstructs wrong approaches to Biblical interpretation in section two, and then reconstructs a proper method of Biblical interpretation in section three. Through these sections, which span a little more than 300 pages, Goldsworthy masterfully points everything towards Jesus and His gospel. To use Goldsworthy’s words:
“The purpose of God’s word is to bring us to God through the salvation that is in Christ. It does this by revealing his plan and purpose, by conforming us more and more to the image of Christ, and by providing the shape of the presence of God with his people through the Spirit of Christ” (317).
This book has been extremely helpful in expanding my understanding of Biblical theology and its role in proper interpretation, and its up-to-date treatment of more recent trends, such as postmodernity.
I’m no expert, so I can’t say this is the “best” hermeneutics book, but it’s darn good. If you’re up for the challenge, it’s a rewarding read.
5 out of 5 cups of black coffee!
I recently took our church planting team through The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer. This is a rather easy read, and it acts as a helpful reminder to pastors that their primary calling is to shepherd the flock that God has entrusted to their care. Witmer begins the book by examining the theological evidences for the role of shepherd within the Bible, and he ends on a practical note by including a lot of suggestions for implementation. If nothing else, this book forces pastors to think about the details of their shepherding plan, and it encourages them to take care of their people. My one critique of the book is that it’s focus is rather narrow and includes only the reformed tradition of shepherding; had Witmer included the shepherding histories and practices of other denominations, I think his book would have found an even wider audience (but hey it’s published by P&R, so it’s not like I was expecting what I’m suggesting).
3 of 5 Cups of Black Coffee