Category Archives: Book Notes

God Looks at History Like a Father

God looks at history as a Father. History is not cruel to the children of God. History is taking us from glory to glory, to a place of exaltation at our Father’s side. But though history is not cruel, it is also not safe toward the children of the most high God. Much like Aslan, history is not safe for us, but it is good. History is the display of a dangerous God, a God who is a consuming fire. This God made us as his image-bearers and put us in a garden to play with all sorts of safe animals. There was an innocence to the life of the garden. Man was not corrupted; animals were not fierce and violent as the creatures we see on National Geographic episodes. But the Fall was violent. It plunged man into a violent and dangerous world. Man and beast no longer played the games of Eden. The beasts of the field now roar in fury when they see the sons of Adam.

-From the Trinitarian Father

The Platonic View of Salvation

This Platonic vision of salvation has had far too much influence on Christian thought, practice, and piety. The Christian hope is certainly heavenly, but it is also this-worldly. It’s about the resurrected body dwelling in a new heaven and earth for all eternity. Our hope is future-worldly, but it is not other-worldly. It is this world that is going to be redeemed. The body you now have will be the body you inhabit for all eternity (albeit, in glorified form). This is the Christian hope: the very body that has borne the curse of sin and suffered for the sake of the Savior will now bear the full weight of blessing and glory and splendor and majesty. It may not seem like this has much to do with the book of Ruth, but it does. The book of Ruth not only teaches salvation by grace, but it also teaches a comprehensive salvation.

–Under His Wings, A Commentary on Ruth

Feminine Threads

I am slowly working my way through Diana Severance’s stimulating Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History. The preface traces the attempt of feminism to re-write Biblical and Christian history. Severance observes that in the process of viewing the Bible just as another myth, the feminists “found themselves back in the garden with Eve, questioning what God had said and deciding what looked best to them.”a. The author argues that there is a certain continuity of “Christian women’s experience through the ages”b and that “Christian women were integral to the life of the Church wherever Christianity spread.”c

The author relies on a traditional interpretation of women’s role in the Church in contrast to the revisionist perspective of many feminine writers. She traces significant female figures through Christian history and offers an overview of their particular theological and sociological contributions.

  1. Page 13  (back)
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Brief Review of Bryan Chapell’s Holiness by Grace

Bryan Chapell’s work is a tour de force. Pastorally and academically equipped, Dr. Chapel engineers his way through the topic of holiness. While he could easily fall into some of the theological traps along the way, he meticulously works through a myriad of texts and provides deep insight into the work of God in sinners. Holiness is not an impossible task, it is our calling. Holiness is not a legalistic demand of a holy God, but a holy God calls us to holiness because He is holy. But this holiness is not a joyless pursuit. It is a work of grace; the kind of grace that produces joy and promotes godliness.

Holiness is applied to everything we do from parenting to counseling. Filled with helpful insights and stories that engage the mind and the heart, Chapell equips the reader to see our status as saints, our journey as sinners and our destiny as recipients of glory. The book exalts the grace of God in our works by emphasizing that salvation is not by works, but salvation works. Or, as the Reformers stated, “Faith alone saves, but faith is not alone.” The antinomian tendency in certain groups derails our labors as Christians to obey and cherish God’s holy laws. Antinomian theology confuses the work of grace and fails to promote godliness. Our security in Christ is not an excuse to sin, but a call to grow in grace. On the other hand, individual calls to holiness rely too heavily on human ability to overcome sin. Both ideas—antinomianism, and neo-nomism—endanger the journey of holiness.

Ultimately, our holiness should lead us to repentance; a true life of confession. And this repentance should prompt us to doxologize (89). While we struggle with temptations and while God tests our faith, God daily provides the motivation and grace to delight us in our journey.

My Regrets

Piper’s words on the professionalization of the pastor are striking. In his revised edition of Brothers we are not Professionals, he details his pastoral regrets. He wrote these convicting words:

When I look back, my regret is not that I wasn’t more professional but that I wasn’t more prayerful, more passionate for souls, more consistent in personal witness, more emotionally engaged with my children, more tender with my wife, more spontaneously affirming of the good in others. These are my regrets.

Three Kindle Deals: TODAY ONLY!

Here are three kindle projects that I have been involved.

The first is the “Trinitarian Father.” I wrote this short work to encourage young and more experienced fathers in their calling to raise sons to be kings in this world. Download for $1.99

The second is “Christian Pipe-Smoking.” Here, Joffre Swait and I offer a brief apologetic of beauty for the art of pipe-smoking. This is the most downloaded project I have been involved with so far. Published by Kuyperian Press. Download for $1.99

The third is a work Kuyperian Press published entitled “You and Your Household: A Case for Infant Baptism.” Dr. Gregg Strawbridge offers a clear case for why infants of Christian parents should be baptized. Download for $3.99

They are heavily discounted only today. Download now on kindle!

Christian Pipe-Smoking: An Introduction to Holy Incense is NOW AVAILABLE!

Our first published kindle book from Kuyperian Press is now available for download!

It is but a booklet, some twenty-five pages, but each page will delight the Christian pipe smoker, enlighten his heathen fellow-enthusiast, crush the ambitions of the heathen teetotaler, and soften the heart of the Christian abstainer. All four of these good things are guaranteed to happen if you but promise to go onto your porch tomorrow with your pad or other device, light your pipe, and Tolle Lege.

Christian Pipe-Smoking: An Introduction to Holy Incense [Kindle Edition]

Uri Brito (Author), Joffre Swait (Author)

Selfish Salvation

My friend Doug Jones–with whom I have disagreements, etc.–nails it on his assessment of Pilgrim’s Progress. I have never loved the book, but I understand that it is an evangelical obsession. Here’s Jones’ critique of the book in two paragraphs: a

Certainly one of the most misleading classics of the modern period was Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Its influence seeped deep into Protestant culture, so deep that recovery from it will take centuries. The book’s message wasn’t new in itself. It gathered all the worst emphases of the Reformation in one place and soaked our consciousness thoroughly.

Pilgrim’s Progress presents a deeply selfish vision of salvation. It pretends to be about self-denial all while forcing a radical self-focus. Selfish salvation assumes that each Christian stars as the main character in the gospel story. Selfish salvation believes that the gospel is primarily about getting individuals into heaven and that self-interest is the primary motivation that gets us there. Selfish salvation focuses on an individual’s struggle with personal sins over and above the community.

  1. Dismissing Jesus, chapter 9  (back)