Friday, November 5, 2010

On This Day in Christian History - Book Review

Robert J. Morgan's book On This Day in Christian History recently came in the mail from Thomas Nelson publishers. The copyright page says this book is copyrighted in 1997 and was previously released as On This Day. I assume that this has been reworked (graphics etc.) and was just released under this new title this year. This book provides quick devotional style snapshots of events from Christian history that occurred on each day of the year.

Morgan explains the need for such a work in the Preface of this book, "With no history, there is no heritage. And with no heritage from the past, there is no legacy for the future." He goes on to say, "This is one of the reasons I am providing this armchair tour of the chronicles of Christianity in a devotional format - to inspire, amuse, challenge, and deepen the soul with two thousand years of anecdotes from an alphabet of characters from Ambrose to Zinzendorf. Each story is told on the date it occurred."

This sort of work is not new for Morgan as he has also authored a number of other works in a similar format. It is a devotional style work which is not meant to give you a daily Scripture devotional. This book should not be used in place of daily Scripture reading and meditation. It only gives an interesting story of an event from Christian history. Each page is listed by the date at the top and offers a somewhat related Scripture verse at the bottom.

A work of this type cannot provide exhaustive detail about the background or history of each day's character or event. It can, however, provide you with an impetus for a more detailed search later in the day. That is the primary benefit of this type of work. If you're a busy person who just doesn't have time to do any in-depth reading on the subject of Christian history then this sort of book is for you.

This book does include a topical index at the end but does not give a full index of names, dates, places etc. That sort of an index would be really helpful but also be very large and unpractical for this style of a book. You are bound to find good illustrations for sermons and lesson here though. The topical index can help you in that endeavor! I can't think of a better illustration than a story that is actually true. The entries are never more than one page and because of that may make an interesting introduction for every week in Sunday school. It will provide factual information about something interesting that all Christians should know and bring up other related discussion topics. The average Christian does not have that much knowledge about Christian history in general. This book will aid in filling that gap.

All in all this book will provide you with interesting tidbits about Christian history that you didn't know before and interesting quick discussion material for that run in with a friend. It will help expand your mind and keep you from spending a lot of time to do it. You will find inspiring, amusing, thought provoking, stories that will make you want to read ahead.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ESV Study Bible Review

Well, the time has finally come for me to put together a hands-on review of the ESV study bible. That's just what I did! I think a video review such as this really helps when deciding if you really want to spend the extra cash to get one or not. I have tried to cover all the features of this study bible and to show you almost everything that is contained inside.

It took a lot of time to cover the ESV study bible in this amount of detail, but I hope you truly get a feel for this work. It always is very important for me to get a hands-on feel for a book before I am comfortable putting a chunk of money down for it. Sorry for the length but I have tried to split it into three manageable parts.

I hope to put up some more comments/pictures of the ESV study bible soon as well. I plan on making many more study bible video reviews including a comparison video or two. For now, enjoy the videos!

You can also check out my video review of the HCSB study bible here if you please.

ESV Study Bible Review - Part One

ESV Study Bible Review - Part Two

ESV Study Bible Review - Part Three

Monday, October 18, 2010

Photos of the HCSB Study Bible

So I provided a quick hands-on video of the new HCSB Study Bible and I thought I would include some pictures of it here for you enjoyment. The only thing I can't add is the newly published smell!

Here are a couple of things I forgot to mention in the video post about the HCSB Study Bible. A few people have asked about these things and so I thought I would include them here.
- It does not include the words of Jesus in red
- The hardback edition does come with a nice brownish-purple ribbon marker unlike the hardcover ESV study bible and NLT study bible.
- I think the HCSB study bible does have a freshness about it because of its color scheme. It kind of makes you want to spend more time with it. The gold bar really complements the blue verse numbers.
- The book introductions in the HCSB study bible are much shorter than those in the ESV study bible. They cover the basics and a little more detail here and there but are not early as exhaustive and lengthy as the ones in the ESV study bible.
- The HCSB study bible is not much smaller or lighter than the ESV study bible or another other study bible for that matter. I think they decided to not include a number of articles at the end to cut back on the number of pages the HCSB study bible had, yet still did not accomplish the feat of making it significantly smaller than the ESV study bible. I think the HCSB study bible has thicker pages as well making it slightly more bulky than had been planed. On another note, the ESV study bible is going to be released in a "personal size" in early 2011. It seems that they have cut most of the "extraneous" articles out of the study bible yet still include all the study notes. It appears to come in a number of designs and is sure to satisfy those who think the original ESV study bible is to huge to carry.

Click on these photos to make them larger
Notice the "ribbed" appearance of the left page.
That is because "Joshua's Citites of Conquest" is behind it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ravi Zacharias at the Veritas Forum

I mentioned in early September that Ravi Zacharias was speaking on behalf of the Veritas Forum at the Mayo Clinic. I had the privilege of attending this event.
They just got the video up over on the Veritas site and I wanted to share it with you all. I've embedded it below for your enjoyment. The topic was "What does it mean to be human?" Which is not the first subject that I would choose to listen to. I would normally pick some other topic first, but the way Ravi approaches it makes it worth watching.
Ravi has a very good apologetic approach and a varied religious background. This gives him great credibility and the ability to critique other worldviews masterfully. He does a great job of answering this question. Take some time to watch Ravi expound on this topic. The video is and hour and a half  but includeds a question and answer session at the end. Enjoy! Feel free to let me know if you think he is off base.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

HCSB Study Bible Review

So I just received my HCSB study bible in the mail and wanted to share. I made this video (first video ever) of the HCSB study bible. I hope you enjoy.

Holman has included a website that includes the HCSB study bible at:
For some great information about the HCSB translation see the This Lamp blog here.

I posted some photos and other remarks about the HCSB study bible here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Heresy: Docetism

Docetism comes from the Greek dokeo meaning "to appear" or "seem". It is the thought that Christ only seemed to be a human being. This idea stems from thinking that a pure spiritual being, Christ, could not suffer as a man, and hence he must have been human in appearance only.

Much of this post was
adapted from this great book.
Heresies by Harold Brown
Image from
The story of docetism grows out of Gnosticism. Gnosticism has a large varied background and is therefore difficult to describe and categorize. The gnostic movement has appealed to many throughout the ages because of two primary features (1) the claim of a secret lore, explaining otherwise incomprehensible mysteries and (2) the idea that only those who are the elite can access these secrets. 

This clashes with biblical Christianity at many points, but two are primary, the doctrine of Creation and the doctrine of Christ. Gnosticism totally denied the Creation, and, while it accepted Christ, it gave him a drastically different interpretation. It is this strange interpretation that produced arguably the first heresy within Christianity, docetism. 

Docetism does affirm the deity of Christ but does not recognize his humanity. They claim that His humanity is only apparent and not real. It only seems to us like Christ must have been human but was not really human. 

It is easy to see where this thinking can lead if you think back to events recorded in the gospels. For one thing, we must deny that Christ died, for deity cannot die! This has so many other doctrines connecting to it that it is easy to see why docetism was condemned as heresy. The whole of soteriology must be changed if docetism is to stand.    

One can spot different elements of the error of docetism which had already appeared during New Testament times (see 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 7).

"[4:1] Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. [2] By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, [3] and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)"
"[7] For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7 ESV)"
Geislers Systematic Theology
 Image from
Dr. Norman Geisler points out in his Systematic Theology v. 2 that "Muslims accept a form of this error as well (see Sura 4:187). Among those charged with this error were Cerinthus (fl. c. A.D. 100) and Serapion, the Bishop of Antioch (190-203)." 
While docetism is not very common these days but it is still heretical. We often run into another heresy that is almost the opposite of this one. The heresy known as Arianism. That however is another post for another day.

A few different early church men wrote against this error including Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus (115-190), and Hippolatus (170-235).
Docetism was also condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Which condemned a number of christological errors. 

You can check out the Catholic Encyclopedia entry which gives a great deal of background and detail here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Army-Navy "E" Award

I am a bit of an oddity. Strange to admit, but not in the way you might be thinking. I work in two research groups, that is, I have two major professors. Both of the groups work in the area of physical chemistry yet one is experimental and the other theoretical. Most people are one or the other, but I get to be both. I think it will end up being a benefit to me, but the jury is still out on that one.

One of my offices is located in the DOE Ames Laboratory. I spend a lot of time working in the area of electronic structure theory in this office. Day in and day out I pass by this flag in the hall way outside my office.

I got to wondering about it as I hadn't seen a flag quite like it before. So I looked it up. It seems there isn't much about this type of thing on the web. The best sites regarding it are wikipedia, the National Park Service's Rosie the Riveter site, and this Military Navy history page. As you may have guessed, it relates back to World War II.

Ames lab had an important role during the war. It was this role that led to the flag that is framed outside my office. Turns out that the Ames lab began an interesting venture led by Dr. Frank Spedding (side note: my office is in Spedding hall). Dr. Spedding was an expert in rare earth chemistry which is still a large part of the research that goes on in the Ames lab.

To have a nuclear bomb it is necessary to have high purity uranium. Dr. Spedding turned his attention to producing this uranium. The history of the Ames Lab web page recounts it like this:
"The Ames Project developed new methods for both melting and casting uranium metal, making it possible to cast large ingots of the metal and reduce production costs by as much as twenty-fold. This uranium production process is still used today. Ames produced more than 2 million pounds (1,000 tons) of uranium for the Manhattan Project, advancing wartime efforts to uncover the secrets of atomic power and protect national security.
      The Ames Project received the Army/Navy E Flag for Excellence in Production on Oct. 12, 1945, signifying two-and-a-half years of excellence in industrial production of metallic uranium as a vital war material. Iowa State is unique among educational institutions to have received this award for outstanding service, an honor normally given to industry."
To read more about this history and the history of the Ames Laboratory see their 60th anniversary page.

They were awarded the Army-Navy "E" award for excellence in production on October 12th, 1945. It is this very flag that I nonchalantly pass by every day that they received on that day.

October 12th, 1945 Army-Navy "E" award given to Iowa State University
You may not have noticed, but this flag is a 4 star "E" flag. Of the 4283 flags given out 8 were six star flags, 206 were five star flags, and 820 were four star flags. That makes this flag a pretty rare one.
The more I think about this flag and its connection
with chemistry and research the more I wonder how many other items I pass by every day with such history. There are many displays throughout the lab buildings that have old artifacts with such stories. Strange chemical apparatuses on display that had some important part in the development of some reaction or theory. Old displays like

this one on the right which hangs on the first floor of Spedding hall by the main entry way. It's an old "Periodic Chart of the Elements" which has some of each element on display. Here is a close up image. 

What sort of things do you pass that have special meaning to you, things that have such a rich history that may have shaped the nation? 

Today is September 11th and we all know what happened back in 2001 here in the U.S. but I encourage you, stop and think. Stop and thank. Stop and thank God for what you have and those who came before you.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Importance of Apologetics

Image from The Veritas Forum

If you have never visited a Veritas Forum event you should make going to one a priority. Veritas is the Latin word for truth. It is the mission of The Veritas Forum to, "Create forums for the exploration of true life. We seek to inspire the shapers of tomorrow's culture to connect their hardest questions with the person and story of Jesus Christ"

     Take some time to explore their media library. They record most all of their events and you can watch them online. They take the time to explore many of the great questions of life. 

     Most Christians seem to not be intellectually involved with their faith. They feel that faith is contrary to reason. This view, known as fideism, was defended by Pascal and Kierkegaard among others. While I do think Pascal's wager should help to sway many who are on the fence I do not agree with Pascal that the proofs for God's existence are irrelevant. 

    While the average Christian probably does not subscribe to most of the "tenets" of fideism (let alone know what all is involved with holding this view) they hold a minset that is similar in regard to apologetics. There are many congregations that are involved in learning apologetics and defending the faith. However, there are many churches that hold what I will call the "fishing hypothesis". That is, go where the fish are biting, and if they don't take your gospel presentation move to the next fishing hole. 

    I might tend to agree with this thought at first. No one wants to waste time and energy evangelizing when you feel like your efforts will not come to fruition. It makes sense to go where people want to hear what you have to say, or at least go to where they are receptive. I think, however, that this view is overlooking a major aspect of evangelism. For one thing, you do not know how your efforts will affect someone. The way Paul puts it, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" 1 Cor. 3:6 ESV   

   Is it completely true to say that the development of fundamentalism has led to today's "uninvolved with the world around them" Christians, the "let God deal with the government and he will work things out" crowd. You know, the "what is a worldview", "apologetics is a waste of time if no one gets saved immediately" church goers. Maybe not completely true, but the withdraw from culture initiated by the fundamentalist movement definitely has shaped many of the things we see today - like the lack of answers given to college students who then leave church and their faith altogether. 

    There are Christians out there who came to believe by taking their time and slowly having their barriers removed via apologetics who are thankful that someone took the time to go through the long process of answering their objections. Good thing those people didn't just move to the next one biting.  You will often hear those who subscribe to the fishing hypothesis remark, "If just one person gets saved won't it be all worth it?" Yet the do not apply this same philosophy to taking the time and energy required to systematically dismantle the objections of someone who is truly seeking God. Why should we be happy with a body of believers that, while they are believers fail to have good reason for their belief? Why should we settle with the idea that we just need to believe and God will handle the rest of their objections? Should we throw honest objections to the wayside because the Harvest is great?  

   I do think there is a time and place for such thinking. I do not think that it should occur during evangelism in most cases. I am not advocating the persistent arguing with someone who is just wanting a fight. Obviously we would not want to be in a situation similar to Prov. 29:9. Generally one can tell if someone honestly wants answers or if they are just seeking to have an argument. 

  Yes you should learn apologetics. Yes you should seek to understand your faith better. Yes you should prepare yourself to give an apologia for your faith. Yes you can help others who are honestly seeking answers come to the knowledge of the truth. Yes you should take some time to attend a Veritas Forum which will help you to provide Christian answers to deep questions.

Lucky for me Ravi Zacharias will be at the upcoming Veritas Forum at the Mayo clinic civic center in Rochester, MN.      

Here is a video from last year's Veritas Forum at the Mayo clinic. I got to meet Alvin Plantinga there!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today, August 25th

     Today, Wednesday August 25th, in the year of our Lord 2010, much has transpired. Not in the sense that today has been full of activities. Not in the sense that today has yielded much productivity. But in a more global sense. Yeah yeah, Iran developed longer-range short-range missiles, Lindsey Lohan got out of rehab early, Jimmy Carter is on mission to North Korea to rescue those captive Americans but think beyond that.

     Today I began teaching the advanced general chemistry class. Normally this would be rather routine but I decided to take a step back. This class is made up of 54 students that either did really well on the chemistry diagnostic exam or are national merit scholars. That's right - over achievers. As such, I feel it is very important to help keep them grounded. If your college classes and your study groups and your homework assignments become your life for 4 years then frankly, I think you have missed part of your education. Don't get me wrong I am not advocating that you go party each weekend or that you wait till the last minute to do your assignments. I do think you should give your all in completing what is required of you. This can mean going above and beyond what you are assigned. Learning what is not required to further your education!

    Too many people see education as a means to and end. This is how I used to view college as well. However, this is flawed thinking. Your college degree does not guarantee you a good job, or higher pay. Sorry, there will be NO certificate on graduation day entitling you to a dream job, not even a good job. Education is just that - education. It can allow you to prepare yourself for the next step. It can allow you to become a more well rounded individual. It can give you a greater perspective. There are many good things that come with an education.

     Sorry, I got off on a tangent there. What I am saying is, I am attempting to allow my students to take a look at the bigger picture. I have decided one way of doing this is by sharing what happened on this day in history. Today, August 25th in the past things happened. Things you should be aware of. Things that will help put your busy life of homework, study groups, laundry, sleep, and reading into a larger perspective. While you may not be out there making history, some people are! Events are happening in the world. Events outside your microscopic myopia. Events that are contributing and can contribute to your education. Events that can help make you a more rounded individual. If you have some good ways of accomplishing this with students please let me know.

     I decided to find out what happened Today! Today, August 25th in the past. I decided to share these things with you since they are many and varied.

   I have received emails daily for a few years now that tell me what has happened each day in the past. Today, August 25th happens to be a very interesting smattering of events. More large events then most days. Both science and theology happened on August 25th!

Today, August 25th:

1835 "The Great Moon Hoax" - A tabloid publishes a story about finding life on the moon. This tabloid was only 2 years old and most didn't know they were a tabloid. They found, "evidence of life forms on the moon, including such fantastic animals as unicorns, two-legged beavers and furry, winged humanoids resembling bats. The articles also offered vivid description of the moon's geography, complete with massive craters, enormous amethyst crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation." Goes to prove that you should not believe everything that is written even when it sounds authoritative. Reminds me of polywater.

1776 David Hume dies - The man who said that any statement that is neither purely a relation of ideas (definitional or mathematical) on the one hand or a matter of fact (empirical or factual) on the other hand is meaningless. The man who awoke Immanuel Kant from his "dogmatic slumbers."
Of course the skeptical attempt to suspend all judgment about reality is self-defeating, since it implies a judgment about reality. The contention that all meaningful statements are either a relation of ideas or else about matter of fact is itself neither of these. Hence, on its own grounds it would be meaningless.

1875 The first man to successfully swim across the English channel - Just 27 years old, Matthew Webb swims the 21 mile English channel in just 21 hours and 45 minutes.

1944 Paris is liberated - Paris had been held since June 1940. It was liberated from their control - you guessed it - Today, August 25th! Big day for Parisians - and you only mowed your lawn today. . .

1939 The Wizard of Oz debuts - One of the first 25 films to be put on the National Film Registry, which is reserved for culturally or historically significant movies.

325 The Council of Nicaea concludes - This was basically the first church council since Acts 15:4-22. At the council they condemned the teachings of Arius which held that the Father God begat the Son Jesus and that Jesus was therefore inferior to God the father. This was corrected and Jesus was declared the same substance as the father (using the famous Greek word "homoousius"). This council recognized and established many foundational teachings regarding the Trinity. What was set forth here regarding the Trinity is still the standard on this doctrine. A very interesting study on heresies reveals much about the issues surrounding council. They also crafted the Nicene Creed. What was established by this council is believed by nearly every Christian denomination. Even those sects that do not like creeds or church councils. One thing I would not agree on is the section of the creed that says that Jesus descended into Hell. The best information you can find about this very much held and believed position yet hardly studied is Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Many churches and learned men hold that Jesus did indeed descend into Hell yet they take no time to find out why the believe that except for the fact that there appear to be a couple of verses that allude that this. Grudem sets the record straight. I will take more time in another post to go over this topic. 

1920 Klaus Ruedenberg was born - Today is Dr. Ruedenberg's 90th birthday. A special issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A is dedicated to Dr. Ruedenberg on the occasion of this birthday. 
The many outstanding papers that are part of this issue document his seminal contributions to a broad range of quantum chemistry, including the evaluation of electron repulsion integrals; the free-electron network model for conjugated molecules; the origin of covalent bonding, including the central role of the kinetic energy in the covalent bond and the intrinsic identification of chemical bonding patterns in molecular systems; the orbital localization that has enabled a deep understanding of many chemical phenomena; the multiconfigurational self-consistent field method and the concept of the Full Optimized Reaction Space (FORS) to study chemical rearrangements and its application to the study of global potential energy surfaces and conical intersections; the first construction of systematic, eventempered sequences of orbital sets that approach the complete basis set limit; and the novel simultaneous extrapolation of basis set and level of theory to achieve nearly exact molecular energies and vibrational spectra." from J. Phys. Chem. A 2010, 114, 8489

Did you notice "THE ORIGIN OF COVALENT BONDING" !!!!! That's the concept that a bond is made by sharing electrons. This is one of the most fundamental concepts in chemistry! I have had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Ruedenberg give a number of different research talks including one on this topic. He can recount many stories about interactions with very well known famous scientists. It's amazing to hear from someone who starting working in the field of quantum mechanics less than 5 years after its birth! 

      Much happens on a regular day. Much happens that makes history. There are things going on out there that you may not even be aware of. Never forget that your world is not the only thing happening. Your world is not the world of everyone else! History happens and is made everyday. Don't forget that. Learn from the past and be educated by it. Today, August 25th history is happening.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Study Bibles

     I received a catalog in the mail today from Christian Book Distributors (CBD). It is their Bibles Fall 2010 edition catalog. If you're like me, you get excited about Bibles. Not just new and various translations (which are exciting in themselves) but STUDY bibles.

     I own a few different ones (that I hope to get around to reviewing for you eventually) that make me excited about this new generation of study Bibles. I think the tip of the top is the ESV study Bible (you should get one) and that one makes me excited about the study Bibles that will be released in the future. Seeing that the ESV study Bible is the standard now, the bar is set high if others want to get sales.

      Now some people get hung on on different Bible translations. This is understandable to some extent because you want to make sure a translation captures the original languages as accurately as possible. Of course people can mean different things by accurate here. Which brings up the entire argument of formal equivalence verses dynamic equivalence. I won't say more about that here but a good page to check out regarding such things is over on Jeremy Pierce's blog. The best option for being as accurate as possible is to learn Greek and Hebrew. However, If you haven't done that yet understand NO translation is perfect.

     For a good read about which are the "best" Bible translations and what some have recommended see the This Lamp blog and Jeremy Pierce's blog again as well. Much much more could be said about Bible translations but I will leave it at this for now.

I came across a few items from the CBD catalog I wanted to share with you all about some upcoming study Bibles.

HCSB Study Bible

HCSB Study Bible
Photo Courtesy of: 
This Bible is set to release on October the first this year! I am ready for this bad boy to hit the market. From what I have read and read and watched a video about the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and it seems to be a very fine translation. The best edition of it so far is the Apologetics study Bible. Which seems to be a good Bible if you want articles to read along side your text discussing apologetic topics. However, it doesn't truly function as a study Bible. In the sense of explanatory notes.  

     This study Bible has a great website that will let you know more about it. It seems to be pitched as "the study Bible for those that don't want to carry around a gigantic study Bible but still want all the features". I think this is a dig at the large ESV study Bible. Not a bad way to approach the highly competitive study Bible market. I personally have no problem carrying around an extra large study Bible, but some may. Although it is listed as having 2100 pages and the ESV study Bible has 2752 pages.

     The HCSB study Bible looks to have a number of great features. Usable features. Not just pretty pictures and large font book introductions. Not just a sentence of two at the bottom of each Bible page. But actual features. Check out this great preview (it might take a while to load, it's a large pdf file). If you prefer to see a video about it check one out here. It looks like it will come in a number of different covers/colors/designs to fit your personal taste. It touts over 15,000 study notes (which is small compared to the masterful NET Bible which has over 60,000 and is highly recommended!!), 290 word studies (good feature which helps remind people that the English is not the original), as well as all the other standard stuff (concordance, cross-references, maps and charts etc.). Overall it seems like the perfect Bible to own if you still have yet to procure a copy of the HCSB translation and want a truly usable study Bible (which I always do!).
Hardcover Price: $34.99

I hope to provide you with a more complete review when I actually possess a copy. Until then, enjoy this video.

Matthew Henry Study Bible

Matthew Henry Study Bible
I also learned of the new Matthew Henry Study Bible. Apparently, there is an older edition of this Bible (possible from 2004 or so?) because I came across a few websites that had it listed. Either way, this is a redesigned edition. It will be released on October 1st of 2010. It seems this Bible only comes in KJV which is wholly appropriate since anyone who truly loves Matthew Henry will also have a fondness for the KJV. I memorized many verses from the KJV and love its poetic style but am not a KJV only guy. Read some of the links in the introduction of this post to see why.

   This study Bible will put the worlds of Matthew Henry in combination with the Biblical text to create a study Bible. I think this is a great idea since many KJVers would consult Matthew Henry anyway. That makes it two great sources all in one place.

     It comes in at 2400 pages making it on par with other modern study Bibles. I sincerely hope that this Bible is finessed enough to offer an actual option for many KJV lovers to own a good study Bible. Sure, there are a few KJV study Bibles (with Ryrie being the current best option), but none that can actually compete with modern study Bibles. At this time I am unable to obtain a preview of any of the pages. They all come up as corrupted pdf files. I will let you know more about this Bible if and when I can.
Hardcover Price: $24.99

ESV MacArthur Study Bible

ESV MacArthur Study Bible
    On another note, the famous MacArthur Study Bible is going to be released with an ESV Bible text! An ESV MacArthur Study Bible is a great idea. Many reformed guys who love MacArthur and the ESV can now have the best of both worlds. It will be released on 8/31/2010. MacArthur is known in part for this great study Bible and to have a copy with the ESV text sounds great. The MacArthur Study Bible is well known and while it is only the view point of one man (which can never be an excellent thing, perhaps a future blog post) this one is very impressive. While there are MacArthurisms in this Bible, I would include it with the other modern study Bibles. You can get the MacArthur Study Bible in NKJV which is close for those KJV lovers. It comes in at 2144 pages and 25,000 notes. I'm not sure if it is the same notes which are with the other translations but I am sure it is close with some tweaks to fit with a new translation. Check out the extensive preview here.
Hardcover price: $26.99

Hear what MacArthur has to say about his study Bible with the ESV translation:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Crazy Love Book Review

Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Danae Yankoski
Image from :

I confess, I rarely read any "popular" Christian books. If it's a part of the Christian living section of the book store I generally turn up my nose. This is due to a number of factors. Most because these books are light on meat and heavy on feel good gospel. Or they are written for the average person who apparently doesn't have much Bible training. Usually they are rudimentary and filled with current Christian cliché (you know, does it "resonate"). I tend to shy away from most things in general that get really popular and I try to avoid the hype. Almost nothing lives up to the hype. I tend to spend money on something that I know I will like. Something I have been planning on purchasing for awhile and am really looking forward to. Something I have been saving for that I know will make a great reference or will expand my mind and allow me to learn something. That's part of the reason I had not read Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

     When a friend of mine from church handed me this book one Sunday night and said, "Wanna read?" I found myself saying, "Sure." So I threw it on my pile of books intending to read it eventually but I reminded myself if I didn't get to it right away it would get lost in the detritus of my "to read" pile. Then its rightful owner may not see it for along while. I picked it up.

     First I examined it over to see what I was getting into (see my earlier post on How to Read a Book to get a better idea of how to approach a new book). First I noticed it was written by Francis Chan, never heard of him. Back cover shows his picture and gives a brief bio. Seems he is the pastor (or former pastor these days) of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California.

    I also noticed he looks a lot like Gilbert Gottfried. Just sayin. You put some hair on him and give him an annoying voice . . . you be the judge. That's not a point for the book or against. Just an observation.

Francis Chan
Gilbert Gottfried

     I found the recommendation by Louie Giglio on the back cover. Now this is where I start thinking, "Oh boy, this book might be fluffy." I like Louie Giglio, I enjoyed his passion conference talks, but he has a little too much mass appeal for seemingly not much depth (I admit that is hard to judge from just hearing the passion conference talks). Ok, I will kind of ignore that and just wonder why someone known for theological mastery wasn't on the back cover. The little synopsis on the back cover seems to make one want to read a little more of the book. 

     So I cracked the sucker open. A forward by Chris Tomlin. Someone is trying to strive for mass appeal in lieu of intellectual substance . . . not that Chris Tomlin is void of substance, it is just that he is not known for his intellect. Then I spotted it, on the page after the forward. An advertisement for the book's website. "Watch Francis introduce each chapter . . ." What a great idea. A web enhanced book. There are a few other books that have such a thing but not the same way. A+ to David C. Cook publishing for this feature. Cool idea. Could be a great feature if used correctly. We will see.

    So I progress further into the book. The preface gives me more of what the back cover was talking about. 

"This book is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don't want to Plateau, those who would rather die before their convictions do."

Good stuff. If your a believer in Jesus hopefully your screaming YES! That's me! Alas, you won't be diving right in. Mr. Chan thinks we need some foundational warm ups first. Fair enough I suppose.

     So before I started actually actively reading this book I laid it on the desk for a few days. When I came back to it I began wondering about the coauthor. Danae Yankoski is the coauthor of this book. I'm not sure why her name is not on the spine or why she isn't in the online videos. There is one mention of her on page 187 in the "About the coauthor" section. A snippet about her life. No mention of which sections or parts she wrote. No mention of why she is the coauthor or why one was needed. No mention of her primary function. Makes me start thinking that she wrote the entire book and Francis Chan filled in here and there. I'm not sure about the whole coauthor thing but in either case she should get her name out there and get some credit for this book too. 

     When thinking this book will be more fluffy than not I stumbled upon the first quote. From none other than R. C. Sproul. Finally a hard hitting man known for his intellect. This kept me pacified for awhile. Crazy Love remains a little on the fluffy side at least through chapter three. There is reference here and there to the book's website. The author asks the reader to stop reading and refer to the web site. I don't think much will be missed if you do not have internet access. I mean, the book can function on its own without needing to have web access. However, the chapter introductions online give you a better sense of Francis and allows you to get a better feel for him on a personal level. 

     Chapter four starts some interesting reflection. "profiles of the lukewarm" herein the author give us many thoughts about what the lukewarm looks like and how such a one behaves. Interesting stuff to think about. I am a little worried about the application of the Scripture in this chapter. It seems at times verses are just grabbed to try and support his point even when the context of those verses doesn't really indicate what the author is trying to communicate. Another problem with "Christian living" books.

  Chapter five discusses the idea of the "lukewarm Christian" and how it seems such a one is not really a Christian at all. He calls the term an oxymoron. I tend to agree here and this is not a point that is discussed often enough in modern popular books. The chapter video lays it all out. Check it out here. Now I realize that many people will get onto Francis here and say, "Oh that means he is rejecting that salvation is a free gift and he is turning it into a works gospel." I think not. At least not at this point. He is merely pointing out that perhaps these people are never really saved. Makes me think of some really good videos you should check out. Take the time to watch this entire video (be sure to watch around min. 8:00 for info about works salvation). And another video here.  

     I think the author is fair when he says (page 87): 

"Some people claim that we can be Christian without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that He commanded? You'll notice that He didn't add, "But hey, if that's too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians - you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything." Pray. Then read the Godspels for yourself. Put this book down and pick up your Bible. My prayer for you is that you'll understand the Scriptures not as I see them, but as God intends them."

That statement seems very honest to me. Not trying to be tricky just communicating what he sees. In either case we should consider these words. I know, it sounds dangerous yet perhaps that's what it takes to shock some people into reality? This quote clarifies some: "The Scripture demonstrate clearly that there is room for our failure and sin in our pursuit of God . . . I'm not saying that when you mess up, it means you were never really a genuine Christian in the first place. If that were true, no one could follow Christ."

     The next quote in this book comes from Robert Murray M'Cheyne. If you haven't hear of him take some time to google him now. He will be the subject of a future post sometime. I would highly recommend his daily Scripture reading plan to you.

     It really jumped out at me. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. "Following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side." (p. 94) Hello?!? You know all those people that sit in the pews each Sunday morning service yet never do anything! They never desire to grow, they never desire to serve. They just assume that they can fulfill their Christian duty by showing up on Sundays. Don't let that be you friend. This call to commitment, to not settle with well enough, rounds off chapter five.

     Chapter six gives some words of encouragement to help us love God more. Which is mainly what Francis Chan seems to think the problem is. What makes us lukewarm. Perhaps he is right, I can't think of a better why to succinctly describe the lack of devotion and halfheartedness that characterizes most Christians. Even me at times. This lackadaisical apathetic attitude may just be summed up to a lack of love for God.

  Some have been disturbed by Francis making statements like, "God wants us to trust Him with abandon. He wants to show us how He works and cares for us. He wants to be our refuge." He states this after talking about giving away many of our possessions and income. Some see this as the author saying he is holier-than-thou. I think more people should consider living more sacrificially with the time, possession and income. This principle is not an endorsement of the lifestyle of a monk. I think there are good Scriptural reasons one should not be completely secluded from the world without any modernity.

  You can see there are many places that someone can fly off the handle with this book. Hence the mixed reviews out there. I think as long as you approach it the right way you can avoid most of the problems. It has been said that one should eat the meat and spit out the bones. This principle applies to many such books. Unless the author specifically states something and clarifies it, it's hard to know if he means something to the exclusion of something else. Take it with a grain of salt.

    Chapter seven takes us on a journey of the obsessed. This chapter shows the opposite of the earlier chapter where we profiled the lukewarm. Here various characteristics of the obsessed person, that is, one obsessed with Jesus are given. He lists (with exposition) lovers, risk takers, friends of all, crazy ones (because they do things that the world thinks is crazy, a personal story from Francis about when he came back from Africa and decided to down grade his house to be able to give more away), the humble, servers, givers, sojourners, the engrossed, unguarded ones, the rooted, the dedicated, and sacrificers. These are the things that one will exhibit, if he is obsessed with Christ Jesus. Next a number of stories of interesting men and women that display this obsessive attitude are chronicled. While intended to be more inspiring (I hope) it turns out be be almost braggadocio in some instances. I understand that many different pastors are very enthralled with their own churches and may brag about them (which if it is a pastor led church in most cases it is an indirect self-bragging, perhaps another post to come). It seems a little strange to include your own church in this list of "obsessed with Jesus" charactertures. It's like listing your mother in the worlds best cooks list. Maybe true but would need much more outside verification. Maybe a blind study would be more appropriate here.

     Chan ends this book by discussing what being obsessed with Jesus might mean for you. How you can apply this concept to your life. What specifically you might want to do without giving any specifics. Recommendations for living with crazy love, crazy love of God that inspires you to do bold things, to break the status quo, to stand out, to drop the apathy and get involved. Something I think we should all do. A message needed in today's world. A message that applies to every one in every age. Take a stand, start serving in a new way, reinvigorate your old ministry, prepare to break the standard mold and step out into a more obsessed life.

  This book has a section in the rear that is an interview with Francis Chan. The most interesting one is about the emergent church. Many have wondered if Chan is emergent or not. He says the difference between the emergent movement and his approach is the fact that the emergents seem to not love the church, but he is loving it. Sadly, more distinction is needed to truly distinguish yourself from such a dangerous, nearly (if not actually) heretical movement.

   While this book may have sections that are easily misinterpreted, or capable of being interpreted a number of different ways, the overall message is a good one. Live a life that is crazy in love with God. As with most books, eat the meat and spit out the bones. I'll leave you with an interview of Francis Chan about this book Crazy Love.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Read a Book

     Well, the weekend is now coming to a close and I was thinking about all the books I have on my reading list. So many different topics and subjects, so little time!

     As I was considering where to attack the list of things to read I was reminded of a classic book on that very subject. How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler is recommended by many and for good cause. You can find it as a Google book here.

     If you are not familiar with this book, hopefully you are at least familiar with the techniques of reading a book. I realize most people find it rather insulting for someone to recommend they read a book about how to read books. When the fury of the supposed insult passes consider the weight of such a recommendation. Perhaps there is some secret technique you are missing. Something that will unlock the literary world and allow you to gain untold knowledge. Hardly!

     What it really comes down to is shear hard work and toil. Like the time you thought you could make thousands by "working from home" but after the initial purchase of the "work at home" kit you learned you had to hunt down recently deceased people and ask them if they wanted the money they left in their bank account. Except this task will actually lead to some reward.

     Mr. Adler does lay down a some very definitive and persuasive thoughts about how to read a book. Even though you think you already know how to read a book, it is worth a look. He starts by stating the importance of active reading. That is, being actively engaged with the reading material. This may be common sense, but think back to all the times you starting thinking about something else while reading and had to go back a few pages and pick up where you started day dreaming. Part of actively reading is asking questions about the book and the material. Simple things like:
- What is this book about as a whole?
- What is being said in detail, and how?
- Is the book true, in whole or in part?
- What of it? What does it mean to me?
These different questions allow you to "interact" with the author.  Mr. Adler cogently relays how one should be stretched by his reading. How one can view reading as a distinct science in itself. How to improve your skill as a reader and expand your mind.

     To often we allow ourselves to get bogged down with reading lists and tasks. We don't take the time required to properly read the material and absorb it. We should step back and see reading as an exercise all its own. We should challenge ourselves to become better at reading. Not just to settle for how we already do it. I think many of us do not continue to expand ourselves throughout time. We give only what is required. We rarely choose to expand our minds when not forced to do so either because of our college degree or our jobs. Take that step and read a book you never would just to learn something new. Yes, for some that might mean reading a nonfiction book. Scary isn't it? What is scary is knowing there are people out there who only read fiction.

     The advise and information that Adler gives about how to inspect a book for reading and how to prepare to read it is valuable stuff. Hopefully you already use some of these ideas when beginning to read a book. He recommends that you inspect the cover front and back. Read the information there. Spend time to familiarize yourself with the different sections contained in this particular work. Such as the table of contents, appendices, index etc. Learn what you can about the author to try to understand his viewpoint better.

     He then communicates the levels of reading. This is the main thrust of the book. The different levels and what each one is. How to determine where you are and how to improve. Which level most people are and why. He lays out the levels as follows:
-Elementary reading, one acquires initial reading skills, learns the rudiments of the art of reading
-Inspectional reading, getting the most out of a book in a given time
-Analytical reading, the best and most complete reading possible given unlimited time
-Syntopical reading, reading many books and placing them in comparison with one another

     He spends many chapters telling you how to approach different books on various subjects - works of mathematics, philosophy, stories, social science and more. Mr. Adler even provides a couple of appendices which give you a recommended reading list, and exercises and tests of the four levels of reading.

     I find that Mortimer Adel does a fantastic job of explaining in detail this rather mundane subject. He will cause you to expand what you thought you already knew. He will challenge you to take a deeper look at what you read - to wrestle with a book and allow it to expand you. I think everyone should be acquainted with these ideas. Reading is so foundational that this book becomes essential. I don't know how you currently read books, but this instruction manual will help you get the most out of them. I admit when I read it and considered some of the suggestions he makes I wondered how many people actually don't already read this way. The information seemed a little redundant. However, it appears that many people actually do not know how to get the most from a book. This book will get you on track and give you much additional information about reading. So, whether you do know how to read a book or not, you should read this one. That's right, one more book to add to the reading list. This might go against the message of the entire post, but you might be able to just watch the movie instead :-P

I thought you might like a little motivation! If LeVar Burton recommends reading as well, you can't go wrong.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Apposition

You may be wondering why the use of the word apposition. Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines the word apposition as follows:

"Apposition - 3: The state of being in juxtaposition or proximity"

On this blog "Science and Theology in Apposition" (STA for short) I will be opining on many topics related to both science and theology. I hold degrees in both areas and hope to offer you a unique perspective about such matters. Many think that science is in opposition to theology, no I tell you! Apposition not opposition, complementarity not exclusivity, I hope to demonstrate that one can both be a scientist and a theologian. Not to compromise on one or the other but to allow both to work out their relationships, hopefully without adulteration or ambiguity. I generally will not set out to bring you lengthy discourses on how a matter can be viewed as "either, or", "neither, nor", "on the hand of science, or theology"  but to bring you missives related to discoveries made from both ends. I hope you will be entertained, invigorated, expanded, uplifted, educated, edified and challenged. If nothing else, you can see life through the eyes of a chemistry doctoral candidate who is also pursuing a masters in biblical studies. Hope to see you down the road!