Here's a sampling of some of the things I've been reading and reviewing this week. The hope is that these bite-sized sections of books, articles, blog posts, etc will stand on their own and be beneficial in-and-of-themselves. But I also hope that some of you will like these excerpts enough that they pull you into the larger work from which they've been taken.
Let's start sampling:
Philip Cary, "Stay Put and Build: Michael Horton asks 'radical' Christians to stop chasing the next big thing." Review of Horton's Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Christianity Today (October 2014), p. 68:
"Instead of another call to be radical, extraordinary, or transformative, Horton would have us return to the ordinary means of grace, those practices of the church in which God has promised to make himself known: preaching the gospel, teaching the faith, administering the sacraments, and worshipping with a local congregation. Instead of advertising life-changing experiences or the next big thing, the aim is a sustainable faith for the long haul. The great strength of being ordinary, after all, is that you can do it for a lifetime."
Click here to be taken to Christianity Today's website where you can search for the full article from which this excerpt was taken, or find other articles broadly relevant to evangelical Christianity that may be of interest to you.
Craig Blomberg, "Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters." Accessible online at The Gospel Coalition (Christ on Campus Initiative).
"...even using only...non-Christian sources, there is ample evidence to confirm the main contours of the early Christian claims [about Jesus]: Jesus was a Jew who lived in Israel during the first third of the first century, was born out of wedlock, intersected with the life and ministry of John the Baptist, attracted great crowds especially because of his wondrous deeds, had a group of particularly close followers called disciples (five of whom are named), ran afoul of the Jewish religious authorities because of his controversial teachings sometimes deemed heretical or blasphemous, was crucified during the time of Pontius Pilate’s governorship in Judea (26–36 C.E.), and yet was believed by many of his followers to have been the Messiah, the anticipated liberator of Israel. This belief did not disappear despite Jesus’ death because a number of his supporters claimed to have seen him resurrected from the dead. His followers, therefore, continued consistently to grow in numbers, gathering together regularly for worship and instruction and even singing hymns to him as if he were a god (or God)."
Click here to see the full article from which this excerpt was taken. Please note the usual disclaimer, that my recommendation of this piece is not necessarily an endorsement of everything else on the site where this was posted.
Jonathan Morrow, Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's Authority. Moody, 2014. pp. 189-90:
"If all you know about Eric Liddell is that he chose not to run the 100-meter dash for which he qualified in the 1924 Olympic games because it conflicted with the Sabbath, then you know but one small chapter of the redemptive story that God was writing with his life. After the cheers of the Olympic crowds faded, Eric faithfully served as a missionary in China and would later die in an internment camp there at the age of 43. What the world - and even family - did not know until sixty-three years after his death, was that Eric had been included in a prisoner exchange deal between Japan and Britain but had given up his place to a pregnant woman.
"Those who knew him were not surprised. The inspiring episode made famous by the film Chariots of Fire (winner of the 1982 best picture Academy Award) was only a snapshot of the character that flowed from a man who took the Bible seriously: 'If I know something to be true, am I prepared to follow it even though it is contrary to what I want....Will I follow if it means being laughed at by friend or foe, or if it means personal financial loss or some kind of hardship?' Knowing the truth and living the truth go together. At his memorial service, Liddell's lifelong friend A.P. Cullen summed up his remarkable life: 'He was literally God-controlled, in his thoughts, judgments, actions, words to an extent I have never seen surpassed, and rarely seen equaled. Every morning he rose early to pray and to read the Bible in silence: talking and listening to God, pondering the day ahead and often smiling as if at a private joke.' May God raise up thousands of Eric Liddells in this generation!
"What we have been doing in this book is academically and intellectually serious; but you will have missed the point of God's Word if it remains only academic. For like Eric Liddell, if you really believe that God's Word is true, then you will do something. But what you can't do - if God really has spoken - is go about life as usual."
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