Review

Review of Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper

Christian Pipe-Smoking: An Introduction to Holy Incense, From Kuyperian Press

Christian Pipe-Smoking: An Introduction to Holy Incense, From Kuyperian Press

Blogger and book reviewer, Joshua Torrey, reviews our kindle book that comes out tomorrow:

It is an interesting thing providence. My family was out for a couple days in advance of me for a much needed vacation (a longer one scheduled in November). One of my early stops after their departure was to the local liquor store for vodka and Djarum Blacks. Almost the same day this little book(let) entitled Christian Pipe Smoking, from Uri Brito and Joffre Swait, pronounced to my inbox its arrival pleading to “simply smell what we smoke and then make up your mind” (4, “Acknowledgements”). Since I have given up of even casual smoking with the birth of my second child, this seemed a valuable coinciding of thoughts, teaching, and behavior. After an initial reading, I stepped out of my house to strike matches more often than I had previously done the rest of the year while considering the concept of “holy incense.”

Despite the book’s short length, I was engrossed by the provocative application of Plato’s “three-fold division” to smoking (7-9). Once a regular smoker of cigars, I now only find myself smoking on rare occasions. For me it has never fit my schedule. Perhaps too closely, I reflect the archetype of a cigarette smoker (7-8), seeking the instant gratification of smoking. Christian Pipe Smoking invited me to think about smoking and particularly pipe smoking once again. The insight that “the pipe—can endure for decades” (10) unabashedly caused evaluation of my postmillennial paradigms. Quite seriously, I am persuaded that this earth has a long time to go (think 10k to 100k years). So, I should live in a way that reflects this truth in every facet of my life. Potentially, it has not entered many minds how these paradigms might apply pipe smoking. Yet Christian Pipe Smoking presents both an eschatological and theological world in which the distinct differences between pipe smoking and all other forms of smoking are clearly articulated. Not all smoke is created equal.

In conclusion, that “not everyone should smoke a pipe, but everyone should be encouraged to appreciate a pipe-smoker” (11) is successfully communicated via Christian Pipe Smoking. Smokers and non-smokers alike will enjoy this brief reflection on smoking, theology and liturgy. Many will be challenged by the simplistic thoughtfulness of the authors. I sat taking a drag of an eventually formless Djarum Black listening to the echo of words portraying a resounding rhythm of pipe smoking (12-17).  Perhaps some will even “discover that pipe smoking, for all intents and purposes, is a form of prayer” (17).

NOTE: Kindle Edition will be available for download tomorrow, September 26th.

Tremper Longman on Rick Warren’s New Book

Tremper Longman on Rick Warren’s New Book

Longman, my former professor at RTS, wrote this on his facebook page worth re-quoting here:

I just heard Rick Warren talk about his new book, the Daniel Plan on CBS news yesterday. I applaud his efforts to help us all keep trim. However, citing Daniel’s water and vegetable diet as the model made me chuckle a bit. The look that Nebuchadnezzar was going for was not lean and mean but plump. If you check out ancient depictions of Babylonian wise men, they are bald, round faced and chubby. Daniel was giving God room to work. At the end Nebuchadnezzar thought it was his diet that made Daniel so pleasantly chubby (many cultures even today prize a little girth on people), but Daniel knew that God was in control and made him chubby in spite of his diet. The next chapter shows that it is God’s wisdom and not the Babylonian wisdom that he learned in school that made him truly wise. For more detail see my Daniel commentary (NIVAC; Zondervan).

Book Review: Lent

The Lenten Season is now behind us, but just this morning I finished a book I started in the beginning of Lent. The book is conspicuously titled Lent (Free PDF of Book). The book published in 1902 is composed of 30 short articles by 30 Protestant Episcopal Bishops.

These are fairly conservative Bishops, unlike what one may find in the modern Episcopal landscape.

The book deals with a variety of Lenten themes. Among them is the consistent themes of preparation and discipline. Lent is a time of testing. A testing–though not equally–like unto the testing of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days. Lent requires a sacred desire to examine oneself in light of God’s Word.

The 40 days of Lent serve as a time of self-control. The Lenten man is purposeful about those sins that have overtaken him. It is not as if he has not considered his sins outside the season of Lent, but that the season provides greater opportunities to look deeply into one’s walk in the gospel.

The book also offered warnings. Some may treat Lent as the only period of self-examination and good works, thereby acting carelessly throughout the rest of the Church year, but as St. Paul so clearly states: “God forbid that we continue to live in sin!”

The Church also provides with its various liturgical services extra opportunities for repentance and sacred living. “Repentance,” as Luther observed in his 95 theses, “is the life of the Christian” (paraphrase).

Lent is a necessary season for the Christian. If all is feasting then feasting is mundane. But Lent teaches us that the reason feasting is such a fundamental part of Christian existence is because fasting exists. There can be no glory without cross. There can be no empty tomb without the crown of thorns. So too, there can be no rejoicing without repentance.