Thursday, May 22, 2008

Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal

Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal, David S. Dockery
(B&H Academic, 2008), pb., 238 pp.

Many of the readers of this blog are not affiliated with the SBC, but many are. Also we can learn from noticing what is going on within one another’s denominations.

For the SBC these are interesting days (have there ever been any other kind?). The vision for the future seems to be up for grabs. There are many voices and various ideas. In the midst of all this David Dockery is a voice of calm, conservative consensus. His latest book has just been released and is a voice of sanity in what is at times a storm. I have read the book and think it provides a healthy, helpful way forward. Dockery rightly calls us to center on the gospel and to recognize which issues are secondary and tertiary. Secondary issues can be important but need not be the cause of division. This is crucial in a time when some are restricting boundaries unnecessarily.

If you are interested in the work of the SBC or are simply interested in the general work of helping churches work together, cohering around central principles while living with certain differences, then this is a valuable book. It is also available for only $9.99!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Calls to Worship

Christian Focus has recently published an interesting little book titled, Calls to Worship: A Pocket Resource, by Robert Vasholz. I was interested in this book because I think we fail to think enough about how Scripture can function as a true call to worship.
Bryan Chappell in the foreword makes an excellent point:

“The call to worship is not simply a perfunctory greeting of human cordiality, but is at once a weighty responsibility and a joyful privilege.” (10)

“With a scriptural call to worship God invites us by his Word to join the worship of the ages and angels. God does not simply invite us to a party of friends, or a lecture on religion, or a concert of sacred music – he invites us into the presence of the King of the Universe before whom all creation will bow and for whom all heaven now sings. With the call to worship God’s people are invited to participate in the wondrous praise that already and eternally enraptures the hosts of heaven. This awesome news and great privilege should be reflected with appropriate enthusiasm and joy by the worship leader in the call to worship. Such a call will typically lead directly into a corporate or choral hymn of praise as God’s people respond to the blessings of worship into which they are called. A well-planned call to worship often reflects the theme of the service or the nature [of] the occasion so that the remaining elements of service are a natural outflow of, and response to, the content of the call.” (11)

The book then contains brief (typically two to three lines) calls to worship using biblical language and suited to various occasions in the church. These will no doubt be helpful to many. What I had hoped for, however, particularly after the comments quoted from the foreword, was suggestions about specific direct texts which could be used for calls to worship. I prefer to use full texts (complete Psalms, or discrete portions of scripture) as calls to worship.

Monday, May 12, 2008

In My Place Condemned He Stood

In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement
By J.I. Packer & Mark Dever
(Crossway, 2008), pb. 188 pp.

I received my copy of this book today and have just enjoyed looking through it. It is primarily a compilation of three classic Packer essays on the atonement. The T4G guys (Duncan, Mohler, Dever and Mahaney) decided to gather these into one volume after reflecting on how beneficial these essays had been to them. I can say that these three essays have also been beneficial to me along the way. The essays are:

“The Heart of the Gospel” from Knowing God- I still remember reading this for the first time and then the basic content of that chapter becoming the sermon I preached at every opportunity for months. It continues to be a key shaping element in my thought.

“The Logic of Penal Substitution”, first delivered as a Tyndale lecture

Packer’s introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ- I suspect I am like many others who have greatly benefitted form this introductory essay even though I never read (completely) Owen’s book itself! This essay is already legendary!

Added to these essays is Dever’s “Nothing But the Blood” which previously appeared in Christianity Today, some brief introductory and concluding essays and some very helpful bibliographic remarks from Ligon Duncan. The annotated bibliography on the atonement will be a very helpful resource.

This is a great book to have and to make availabel to others.