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Tolkien for Dummies, Part 2

Tolkien for Dummies, Part 2

Part 1

Tolkien grew and became a formidable rugby player, and also a linguist of first class. He was so gifted in languages that he began to form his own language. His intellectual interests increased even more when he started the Tea Club and Barovian Society.a And they would meet frequently for tea and discuss their particular interests. For Tolkien, it was Northern European Languages and Legends.b

He recited for them the Norse Volsunga Saga,  in which a dwarf is featured with a treasure horde and a magic ring. The Norse myths Tolkien found so fascinating even featured dwarves as underground metalworkers.

Tolkien’s gifts were conspicuous, and this eventually led him to change the literary world. It was his background as an orphan, home-schooled by a faithful and sacrificial mother, the influence by his local priest who cared for them and watched over his soul, and his affinity for strange languages that propelled Tolkien to be more than just another writer, but a writer who cherished his faith and heritage, and who did not abandon all hope when life seemed to crush him, but persevered in his gifts.

The Legacy of J.R.R. Tolkienc

Our world would be poorer without two other worlds: Narnia and Middle-earth,” said Christopher Wright.d Tolkien produced a mythology that was internalized. He produced a world that others could imagine. The casual reader, or even the casual Christian reader will look at The Lord of the Rings and admire its poetic brilliance and the protagonists’ perseverance, but you need a good set of Christian eyes. The way you gain these eyes is by training them to see the world not just as a mechanical production of God, but as a witness and a testimony to the glory of God; to see the world through the story of God, and then to judge every other world (“sub-creation,” to quote Tolkien) by the story of God’s world. In other words, the story of God is the model for every other world. This is why we can watch or read anything decent in this world and immediately see facts that reflect the wisdom of God.

The Lord of the Rings is unique, because Tolkien himself wrote the following in a letter to a friend:

 The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work;…e

You may think this is strange because there is no Church, no acts of prayer, or worship in the Trilogy. This is where I think Tolkien offers probably one of the best observations on how to interpret his books, and also how to look at different works as a Christian. He continues his quote:

…it is fundamentally religious and Catholic, unconsciously at first…this is why I have not put in anything like “religion” in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”f

If we come to The Lord of the Rings trying to find “religion by counting how many times they pray or go to church, we will be soberly disappointed…we need to look hard at the shape of the story itself, not at discreet acts of religion.”g This is a rich application to our witness in our culture. The Word of God is more than a set of propositions we recite, it is a story we believe. While quoting Bible-verses is fruitful, establishing the story of redemption can be even more fruitful. I tend to believe that the medium of literature is a great way of preaching the gospel story. The subtlety of Tolkien’s words is that when an unbeliever reads or watches Tolkien’s art he is first captivated by the brilliance of it, then he is confronted with a series of questions about good and evil, the depravity of man, the wise counsel of Gandalf, the courage of Sam and Frodo, and the determination of Aragorn. All these have the effect of confronting unbelief with a world they are not familiar.

The genre of fantasy carries the ability to communicate divine ideas. Tolkien wrote:

 Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode. Because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.h

Tolkien is echoing the orthdodox understanding of mankind created in the image of God (Imago Dei). The reason we create stories is because we are imitators of the true Story-Maker. The best worlds are the ones that reflect and communicate our world. Good fantasy reflects our ability to create things after the likeness of God’s creation. Middle-Earth is a reflection of this world.i This is why it is so realistic. The narrative of Middle-Earth itself is the religious element of the story. It contains hints of the Christian message, while refusing just to repeat it. C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia was explicit in writing a Christian allegory for children. Tolkien wrote a mythology. Just because a mythology did not happen doesn’t mean it cannot relate to the truth.j And this is what Tolkien did. At the end of the Rings trilogy, there is a happy ending to this world. The world at the end is made new. Evil is destroyed. There is lasting peace in the kingdom. There are many sacrifices made, indicating that to achieve the world we believe the Gospel seeks will demand sacrifices from God’s people. It means we may have to abandon the Shire and speak against Mordor. It means we may lose the things we most cherish like Aragorn going into exile for the sake of what he loves most. But in the end, Tolkien is establishing a story built on a heroic community of people, from all sorts of different backgrounds, imperfect, but loyal to the mission of defeating evil.

What then does the life of Tolkien teach us?

First, Tolkien was not a product of solitary imagination. He studied, learned, read vociferously. Tolkien’s mother believed in a good education. Not just a random education, but a particularly holistic education. Mabel wanted her priest involved in the training of her children. That little Catholic parish was acting biblically in providing for the widow and the orphan. Education matters. Why do we take such a strong stand on Christian education? Because a Christian mind needs to be shaped by the knowledge of the world God created, not the world created by chance.

Second, let me encourage you to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy if you have not. It is never too late to begin reading good literature.

Third, appreciate not just the explicit Christian writings, but also the classics. Build a library of good literature. This is a great legacy to leave your children and family members.

Fourth, understand that all literature is religious in nature. The author is always trying to communicate some worldview, whether good or bad. There is no literary neutrality.

Fifth, parents: read, read, read! Do you want to capture your children’s heart and mind? Read to them. Ralph Smith is a CREC pastor in Tokyo, Japan. He has three very brilliant children. I asked him last year in Minneapolis what he did to cultivate a love of learning in his children. He said: “We read the Bible, Shakespeare, and everything else out loud at home. I wanted them to hear the Word before they could fall in love with it.” This is a good application for children in worship. Why do we insist that our little ones remain with us during Covenant Renewal? It is because we believe that the Word – even before they are reading – is effective to their hearing. It builds in them a vocabulary that expresses joy and knowledge, and truth.

Finally, and by far, one of my favorite features of The Lord of the Rings is their incessant love of food. There is constant feasting! In Tolkien’s world, food is communal. It is to be shared. It brings people together and accentuates joy. The importance of what happens around these meals makes the sacrifice of war worthwhile and that let’s the reader know there is something worth fighting about. This is the beauty of Tolkien’s writings. He turns every situation into an act of preparation for war. This is the language we use of the Lord’s Supper. It is food given to prepare us for war.

I hope Tolkien provides you some inspiration to look deeper at literature and realize again and again that this world is given for us, and that the worlds we create need to reflect and pay homage to the Creator of the World, namely Christ Himself.

  1. A sort of prequel to The Inklings.  (back)
  2. Mark Horne, J.R.R. Tolkien, a Biography.  (back)
  3. Using many notes and inspiration from Mark Horne’s final chapter on the Legacy of Tolkien.  (back)
  4. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2003/aug29.html  (back)
  5. Quote found in Brian Nolder’s paper God and Hobbit.  (back)
  6. Brian Nolder, God and Hobbit.  (back)
  7.  Ibid.  (back)
  8. Quoted in Nolder’s paper from Tolkien’s Fairy-Stories  (back)
  9. Tolkien does write that Middle Earth is this earth  (back)
  10. Horne, Legacy of Tolkien.  (back)
How Helpful Are Analogies of the Trinity?

How Helpful Are Analogies of the Trinity?

All analogies fall short. They can be enormously helpful at times, but sometimes we need to simply acknowledge that analogies are always limited. They help communicate profound truths in simple terms, but they may at times take us a bit too far and actually undo the intention of the analogy itself. a This is what happens when evangelicals use a variety of analogies to explain the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Trinity, Michael Bird, explains, “is not an esoteric doctrine forged in an unholy marriage of Greek metaphysical speculation and dodgy biblical interpretation.” b Our experience of God is not unitarian or tritheistic, but can only be true if it is Trinitarian. So, a biblical expression of the Trinity is essential.

We live in a day where Trinitarian religion in all its historical beauty has been lost in a sea of trivial statements about God. God, Three and One and One and Three, has become merely a side note in theological pursuit. As one pastor recently told me, “We do not need to talk about the Trinity to our people. It is too complex for them.” The Trinity is arguably the central doctrine that differentiates the Christian faith from other religious traditions like Islam and Judaism. Modern attempts to reconcile these traditions to the Christian faith is ultimately impossible. God is Three and One. He is Oneness and Community. Ancient heresies like Modalism, which teach that each person of the Trinity is merely a “mode of God’s activity as opposed to a distinct and independent person” is by and large the position of Oneness Pentecostals. Yet, most evangelicals view them as just another branch of the orthodox Church.

The nature of the Father, Son, and Spirit have never been more detached from the work of doing theology in our day. As a result of this neglect, modern Christians have attempted to re-energize the idea of the “forgotten Trinity” by providing analogies. These analogies are meant as simple illustrations. They attempt to do with simplicity what the Early Church sought to do with tremendous care and heavy qualifications.

Though the popular illustrations add a little more clarity, they end up confusing the Trinity with other heresies.  S. Michael Houdmann offers a few examples:

The egg (or apple) fails in that the shell, white, and yolk are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves, just as the skin, flesh, and seeds of the apple are parts of it, not the apple itself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not parts of God; each of them is God. The water illustration is somewhat better, but it still fails to adequately describe the Trinity. Liquid, vapor, and ice are forms of water. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not forms of God, each of them is God.

Some have attributed these analogies to St. Patrick of Ireland. c The supposed bad analogies of Patrick was put into a comical conversation between St. Patrick and two simple men inquiring about the Trinity:

To put it simply, “The problem with using analogies to explain the Holy Trinity is that you always end up confessing some ancient heresy.”

I have found that analogies of the Trinity are a normal reaction from Christians who find themselves defensive about a complicated doctrine. But Christians ought not be defensive about such a lovely description of our God. God is not meant to be intricately analyzed like an ancient fossil, but to be adored. Any explanation of His Nature ought to be done carefully and with the qualifications the Bible provides. d God is. And that is where we must start. In the words of Fred Sanders:

Trinitarianism is the encompassing framework within which all Christian thought takes place and within which Christian confession finds its grounding presuppositions. e

The Trinity is the necessary paradigm for all thinking. It is the beginning and the end of human thought.  The Trinity is mysterious, because God is infinitely powerful and beyond human reasoning. In the end, we ought to catechize, biblicize those under our care with great care when we speak of who God is. In a nutshell, we can affirm the following essential elements concerning our Triune God:

First, the unity of one God in three persons.

Second, the eternity of the three persons.

Third, the shared and equal deity of the three persons.

Fourth, the shared and equal essence of the three persons.

Fifth, the Trinity includes distinction in roles and relationships within the Godhead.

Finally, the Trinity will always be an ineffable mystery.

In the end, the Trinity ought to lead us to worship as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. And in that worship, we ought to imitate the seraphim who continually sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

  1. For a history of “analogy,” see this  (back)
  2. Bird, Michael. Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, pg. 92  (back)
  3. This claim is debated: http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/17724/did-saint-patrick-actually-explain-the-trinity-using-a-shamrock  (back)
  4. Analogies like Marriage and community are actually helpful ways to begin to understand the divine Trinity  (back)
  5. Quoted in Bird’s Evangelical Theology, pg. 124  (back)

How I Have Changed

Photo: Circa 2002, Senior Year at CCC...good times. Now: Ministers, missionary, pharmacist, military chaplain, financial advisor. God has been faithful! Kenneth James Conklin, Timothy J Russell, Matthew Fisher, Tom YuI spent a couple of hours today chatting with an old friend of mine. He is now a pastor of a Lutheran congregation. He is a fine fellow whom I long to re-acquaint face to face with a pipe and a fine beer. After all these years we have kept a relatively lively relationship over the phone. We have even joined forces to write a lengthy piece combating an evangelical prohibitionist advocate of our day.

Interestingly what brought us together even more so in these last few years have been our theological journeys. We both attended a fundamentalist college, but even back then we were already pursuing dangerous literature. One time he brought a book back from home that had a warning sign on its first page written by his mother. The first page stated that we were to be careful as we read this book for it was written by a Calvinist. Lions, and tigers, and Calvinists, oh my!

How far we have come! It has been over 10 years since we parted those glory college days, and now we both are pastoring healthy congregations. We are in different theological traditions, but very rooted in our Protestant commitments. Beyond that, we are rooted in a vastly historic tradition.

As I pondered that conversation I wondered just how much I have changed over this last decade. I went from a revival preacher to a liturgical minister. Now don’t get me wrong, I long for revival, I just don’t long for the same type my brothers long for. This revival I long for is filled with beautiful images, a pattern-filled story, tasty bread, and delightful wine; church colors, rituals– in the best sense of the term—and lots of feasting. While my fundamentalist brothers longed for the sweet by and by, and times they would gather at the river to sing of that ol’ time religion. Those romantic days no longer appeal to me.

How have I changed? In so many ways! But my changes were not just theological. I have held the same convictions I have today on a host of issues for over 10 years. My changes were more situational and existential (and normative for the tri-perspectivalists out there). My reality has changed. I now treasure different things that I did not treasure a decade ago. You may say marriage does that, but the reality is I have taken my sola scriptura to the next level. I have begun to see its applicability beyond the sphere of the mind. The arm-chair theologian no longer seems admirable. Even marriage carries a symbolic significance to me. This is not just a privatized institution; it is, to quote Schmemann, “for the sake of the world.” Yes, I have changed.

I have also changed existentially. I have learned to delve deeply into personal piety and have found it refreshing. In the past my piety led me into the valley of pietism. It was discouraging; pessimistic. Now my piety keeps me in green pastures. My existential struggle with doubt is no longer a reality. I have found objectivity in the most unlikely places. They have kept me secure and alert to my own tendencies; to the idols that I have failed to crush. Jesus has become more than an intellectual pursuit, but the heart of the issues, because he is the heart of history.

Yes, I have changed since my college days. I would like even to affirm that this is the new me; a “me” broken by idolatry and restored and renewed by word, water, and wine. Thanks be to God!

Keep Yourselves from Idols

In one of the most lovely letters written in the Bible, I John– which we will be studying during Sunday School in July–the apostle encourages us by the example of Christ that our joy may be full. And then in chapter 5:21, which is the last verse of John’s first letter, we read this remarkable little exhortation: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

We will consider this in the sermon more fully, but before we bow down to the only true God, what idols are we carrying along with us, even this morning?

All those virtues that we treasure: love, trust, hope; all of them can be turned on their head. What do we truly love, hope, and trust in during times of pain? Who do we seek when our lives are turned upside down? If any of these answers do not find their joy ultimately in the God who is righteous and just (I Jn. 1:9), then we have not heeded John’s warnings.

Brothers and sisters, as we come and confess our sins this morning, confess that you have not loved, trusted, and hoped in God as you ought. Confess that you have sought other gods before him. Confess them, and be still, and know that He is God, and there is none other before him.

Prayer: God Almighty, Father, Son, and Spirit, strengthen us today by your great mercy and transform us into the image of your own beloved Son, whom we love, trust, and hope. Amen.

Imitative Theology

We are imitators by nature. God made us this way. We are, after all, image-bearers. To copy is human. We know this in a very profound way when we become parents. Children very early on begin to reflect our temperament and repeat our most cherished lines ( a frightening idea at times).

My daughter recently put diapers on her set of Curious George monkeys. She saw my wife changing our little one time and again, and of course, she did what she thought was normal: imitate. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, not always. Sometimes it is the sincerest form of idolatry.

Many have made fine contributions to the nature of idolatry in our day. Beale’s labors on a theology of idolatry is the most sophisticated demonstration of this. Professor Beale argues that idolatry is theological imitation. People become what they worship, and in this becoming, they are transformed into lifeless idols. They cease to hear and to see. They become imitators of death (Ps. 115:4-8). They transfer trust from Yahweh (life) to idols (death). And in this transfer, they become theologically de-humanized.

Imitation of the Triune God is the sincerest form of honor to that God. Other imitations are just cheap expressions of idolatry. You can only serve one master. Choose you this day.

A Four-Year Old’s Reaction to the Abortion Industry

Originally published at Kuyperian Commentary

Response to Comments: I am pleased with the enormous response. As of now there have been over 500 views. The vast majority of responses were very supportive and expressed in one way or another the sadness, but also the hope that a new generation will turn this evil tide in our country.

As I expected there were a couple of negative responses. The response can be summarized in the following manner: “Abortion is such a difficult issue, and to expose a four year old to such an issue can be unhealthy.” One comment referred to the topic of abortion as “intense.” I do not wish to spend too much time with a lengthy response, except to say the following:

First, we have largely sanitized abortion in our evangelical culture. We looked at the Gosnell case with absolute horror, but then treated it as something completely different than what happens every single day in the abortion clinics of America. Approximately, 4,000 babies are suffering the same fate every day. Instead of sanitizing, we need to call it for what it is: barbarism. 

Secondly, we have also minimized the ability of our little children to understand big issues. My four year old has been raised in a covenant home where the gospel is brought to her attention every day through singing, Bible reading, discipline, and conversations that vary from the Trinity to tying shoes. Children can grasp more than we can imagine. During our lunch time today, my daughter called my wife to tell her something. She whispered to my wife: “Thank you for loving life.” Yes, there were some tears, but ultimately it was a confirmation that the covenant promises of God are yes and amen.

Third, one comment addressed the fact that we need to show more love to these mothers. I agree. And I think that pregnancy centers like Safe Harbor in Pensacola do a marvelous job. Last year alone they–through their counsel–prevented over 150 women from taking the life of their unborn children. At the same time, when these women are walking into these abortion centers, they are mostly making a conscientious choice to take the life of their unborn child. This is tragic, and my daughter’s response was far more mature and pure than my own at times. Death is death. Death is a reality. We cannot keep our children from it, and when we see it we need to despise those who work iniquity (Psalm 5:5). 

May God grant this new generation courage and a fresh passion for the glory of God and the purity and value of human life.

———

It was a morning like any other, except my daughter was wide awake at 4:45 AM. I work hard at not being a morning person, but for her it came rather easily. I got dressed and made the quick decision to take my vivacious four-year old with me. It was an ordinary morning, but at the last abortion clinic in Pensacola it was a morbid morning. Young ladies full of life were entering the house of death.

I am an ordained minister. I have sat through a presbytery oral examination. After having studied for six months, I felt fairly confident as I sat before six other pastors. The Bible verses and the theology flowed from my lips with tremendous ease. This morning, however, I was examined by my four year old. Suddenly I found my rhetorical abilities being challenged as I tried to explain to this beautiful little girl just how un-beautiful this place was. “We are going to a place where mommies don’t want their babies,” I said. “Why do they not want their babies,” she asked. “Well, they simply don’t love life.” She paused and looked outside in silent wonder.

We arrived at the clinic and the signs were beautiful. The faces of lovely little children brought a temporary sanity to some of us. Another sign pictured a bloody and shattered body of an aborted image-bearer. She saw the image.

We joined the other saints. We read a psalm, prayed, and sang Psalm 92. They may not have heard us inside, but God did, and God acts through the prayers of his people. We sang of how the enemies of Yahweh grow like weed, but they are caught in their own evil schemes. Lord, hear our prayer.

We saw the vehicles as they drove by us. They reminded me of young college students flying through the college campus to get to class on time. In this case, they were young college students flying by in their expensive cars to terminate the life of their unborn children. It was a devastating sight to behold.

My daughter asked me to lower myself and quietly asked me: “Are the mommies going to kill their babies?” “They are, baby girl! That is why we are here. We don’t want them to make this horrible decision.” “But daddy, I don’t want them to kill their babies.” “We don’t either. We need to let them know that God loves life, and that He loves babies.” She was visibly shocked. In her world, mommies treasure babies, and daddies are not cowards. But in this world, mommies are bad characters in this unending movie, and daddies are participants in one of the most cowardly acts of history. “Daddy, I want to go home.” I excused myself and took my four year old to the car knowing that I was going to be examined again. “Are they really going to kill their babies?” Now she asked with greater conviction. Once again I said yes. We need to let them know that babies are gifts from God and that we cannot refuse his gifts. We then talked about how precious her baby brothers were. She told me she wanted to go home and kiss her 9 month old brother. Once again, she silently looked out the window in a contemplative manner. Then she burst into righteous anger: “I don’t like those mommies! They will never be able to kiss the babies! I don’t want to come back here.” I didn’t respond. She then pondered for a minute or two. “Maybe I will come back,” she said. “Just let daddy know, and I will bring you with me,” I said.

It was a morning like all others, but this morning my daughter learned that not everyone treasures life. And her heart was broken, and so was her father’s.

Uri Brito is a husband, and a father of three lovely children.

Why am I Angry?

Why am I angry? Why do I lose control so often? How can I change?

These are all questions we have considered. We don’t have to ponder too long before we realize that anger has made a home in our hearts many times.

The first instance of anger in the Bible is in Genesis 4. Cain was angry because his offering was not accepted (Gen. 4:5). We can offer some theological insight into the nature of this offering, but for our purposes, the result of this offering/worship rejection was the murder of Abel. We can then conclude that unrighteous anger ( I argue that there is righteous anger, but that anger is rarely righteous) is a result of unacceptable worship. The first recorded sinful act in the fallen world was the result of anger. Uncontrolled anger is a result of false worship. The one who is angry and sins has made his desires and agenda the center of the universe. Anger is the definition of self-worship. It is the manifestation that one’s world is not where it should be and so everyone–or someone close– must conform his world to theirs.

If a person has a history of angry outbursts, then it might take more than a few sermons and counseling sessions to see change. Ultimately, Jesus is the model we are to follow. He was insulted, abused, and falsely accused, but yet he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly (I Pet. 2:23). Changing and conforming to the image of our Lord must be a priority. Anger cannot be moderated through self-determination, but through the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the comforter of the afflicted and the One who calms the angry heart.

Changing then requires an initial affirmation that anger and its consequences is inconsistent with the Christian testimony. It elevates our agenda above others. It does not seek the kingdom of God first and his righteousness. But changing from angry outbursts to  a soft answer demands constant accountability with people who know you best. Your pastor or close friend may be wise choices in confronting you in this process. Anger destroys those closest to us and it can affect jobs, relationships, and our communion with the Triune God.

We need to be confronted by the peace of God daily. Jesus Christ is the shalom of God to the world. He disarms anger with love and grace. In this sense, a grateful heart is the most fundamental response to anger. The one who worships rightly is most grateful. Gratitude is anger’s worst enemy. Unrighteous anger is a denial of God’s gifts to his children.

If you are angry and your family has been on the receiving side of that anger for a long time, then it is time to change. The angry heart never takes a break. Seek Christ. Seek help from your community, and worship rightly.

We Need New Ears and Eyes

I began my day reading through Jim Jordan’s magnum opus, Through New Eyes. Jim is a dear friend and we have worked together for three years (09-11). I have literally read and listened to hundreds of articles, sermons, & lessons. If Jim publishes, my eyes will seek to scan it. In many ways, he has taught me to love the Bible in a deeper way than before.

My seminary days were wonderful days. I had the privilege of sitting under some of the most renown Reformed theologians alive. It was filled with excitement and theological epiphanies. But none of these men came near to the theological revivals that James Jordan  caused in my own thinking. Jordan enabled me to appreciate the Bible for its own merit. He caused me to love the Bible for its own structure, poetry, cadence, rhythm, and music. Yes, the Bible is a beautiful song sung by Yahweh Himself in Genesis 1 and closing with the eternal song of eternity in Revelation 22.

In TNE, Jordan observes:

…the universe and everything in it reveals the character of its Creator. God designed the universe to reveal Himself and to instruct us. The problem we have is that sin has made us deaf and blind. We need new eyes and ears, and the Scriptures can help us get them (13).

These new eyes and ears are only re-shaped and re-designed as we allow the Scriptures to do so. The Bible shapes us as a people. The Word of the Lord re-orients our minds to see God’s instruction in everything. The world, and in particular, Scriptures, communicate to us through vast symbols. The revelation of Yahweh contains a specific language that we need to master. And the only way of mastering it is by seeking its guidance day and night.

Hear the Bible

One strong emphasis James Jordan has made over the years is that reading the Bible is not enough. Listening to it is equally important. The ancients did not manuscript copies available as we do, but yet their minds were saturated by the language of Scriptures. Their minds delved deeply into the rich types and symbols of the Old Covenant Scriptures. They heard it read and began to make connections. They did not only accept explicit types and symbols, but they saw that the entire Bible was one story pictured in symbols and types, and since this is the case, therefore every narrative is connected to the one previous and the one after.

Hearing the Bible especially in a community setting takes us away from our natural tendency to isolate ourselves. The isolation of evangelicalism is due to hermeneutical isolation. Individuals are perfectly satisfied to pietize the Bible. And as they do so, they turn their individualism into a standard for others. But when we hear the Bible, when we listen to one another in our communities, and when we allow the Church to speak–as she should–we become part of a greater hermeneutical project.

Hear the Bible, but don’t hear it alone. Hear it, and then contextualize it in this grand story of redemption. And when this is done, sin’s hermeneutical effects began to fade away and our eyes and ears will be able to do those things they were created to do.

For book resources, see here. For his audio series on How to Read the Bible, see here.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

Satan’s gifts are easy to master. They come with first grade instruction manuals. They are made to be mastered quickly and enjoyed rapidly (sex, drugs, alcohol; various temptations). God’s gifts are a little harder to master. They demand self-control and patience. They demand spiritual growth; they demand kingly attitude to grasp kingly wisdom. God’s instructions means you have to seek others in the community to understand them properly.

Howard Hendricks,1924-2013

.The famed professor of Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks, died after serving at DTS for more than 60 years. You can hear his last sermon entitled the Ultimate Final.

Among his many publications, Wikipedia lists the following:

Books

Journal Articles

  • “Reaping the Rewards of Senior Ministry.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 628, 2000. 387-396.
  • “Me, Myself, and My Tomorrows.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 627, 2000. 259-270.
  • “Rethinking Retirement.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 626, 2000. 131-140.
  • “The Other Side of the Mountain.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 625, 2000. 3-14.
  • “Lord, Change My Children’s Father.” Fundamentalist Journal vol 5 is 2, 1986. 51-52.
  • “A Shirt for Timmy : Teaching Children to Pray.” Fundamentalist Journal vol 4 is 11, 1985. 53-54.
  • “The Art of Family Living.” Fundamentalist Journal vol 3 is 9, 1984. 39-41.
  • “Preparing Young People for Christian Marriage.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 128 is , 1971. 245-262.
  • “Review of ‘Leading a Church School.'” Christianity Today vol 13 is , 1969. 31-32.