New Series from Lexham Press: the Best of Christianity Today

Since 1956, Christianity Today has been the leading voice for evangelicalism in America—a bellwether of theology, politics, and culture for evangelicals. Some of the most influential and respected modern evangelical leaders have written for the magazine, including John Stott, Carl F.H. Henry, F.F. Bruce, Cornelius Van Til, J.I. Packer, and others.  

Now, the best of Christianity Today is being collected into books, and the first three are available for pre-order today.

These books mark the beginning of a three-year project between CT and Lexham Press, the publishing imprint of Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software.

Here’s a bit about each book.

The best of Carl F.H. Henry

Architect of Evangelicalism

No one is better equipped to provide a clear understanding of evangelicalism than the late Carl F.H. Henry, the founding editor of Christianity Today and an extremely influential theologian of American evangelicalism in the twentieth century. Architect of Evangelicalism helps us gain a better sense of the roots of American evangelicalism by giving us the best of Carl F.H. Henry’s Christianity Today essays.

 

 

 

Leading scholars on essential doctrines

Basics of the Faith

This work is an overview of essential Christian doctrines from some of the best minds of mid-twentieth-century evangelicalism around the globe. Originally appearing in the pages of Christianity Today in 1961–1962, this collection includes essays from influential theologians and biblical scholars. Basics of the Faith includes an introduction by Kevin J. Vanhoozer that lays out their original context and evaluates their ongoing significance.

 

 

 

John Stott on Jesus’ lordship

Christ the Cornerstone

The late Anglican pastor John R.W. Stott was committed to the notion that Jesus’ lordship has ramifications for all of life. Out of this conviction grew his contention that the whole mission of God includes both evangelism and social action. Christ the Cornerstone recovers several decades of his writings on this topic from the pages of Christianity Today, including the regular “Cornerstone” column he wrote from 1977–1981.

 

 

Learn more at LexhamPress.com/Christianity-Today.

Are We Sincere about Biblical Authority?

In my previous post, I noted that the right context for interpreting the Bible accurately isn’t the history of Christianity in any of its creedal distillations or denominational forms. But I went even further—I said that the biblical context isn’t any modern world context, period. The right context for understanding the Bible is the context that produced the Bible. That seems simple, but experience has taught me that commitment to this patently obvious truth isn’t easy. [Read more…]

Pastor as Spiritual Fitness Trainer—Preparing People for Daily Discernment

By Kevin Vanhoozer

The church is the body of Christ, and its core—the community of disciples, the faith corps—enables its characteristic bodily movements: witnessing to the gospel, worshiping the God of the gospel, maintaining the health of the body, performing works of love.

To perform these movements, and to have the strength to work and keep on moving, the church needs to attend to its core. In a word, the church needs theological exercises: training in godliness.

Spiritual fitness training

I describe the pastor-theologian in various ways, but here the metaphor I want to develop is that of a spiritual fitness trainer. To make disciples is to train men and women to perform the characteristic bodily movements that enable the local church to perform its roles as an embassy of the kingdom of God, a Christ corps.

To make or train disciples fit for purpose involves certain kinds of exercise. I have in mind not simply bodily exertions for the sake of physical fitness, but all sorts of actions intended to improve a specific skill, like finger exercises for the piano, a military exercise, and exercises at the end of every textbook chapter. [One essential skill] is reading Scripture theologically in order to take every thought, and imagination, captive to Christ in order to walk the Way of Christ and become more Christlike.

Spiritual exercises

Seeing the Christian life as a series of exercises is, of course, nothing new. The most famous example is the sixteenth-century classic Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola, a collection of prayers and meditations on what it means to live in relationship to God as a follower of Jesus.

The exercises are not bodily but interior: they are designed to strengthen not muscle but the heart, what the apostle Paul calls our “inner being” (Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16). They are recommendations for maintaining and improving the health of one’s soul: “We call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and . . . of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life.”1 The ultimate aim: to orient the heart to God, and to find God in all things.

Reality—the world we live in, the only world there is, the world created by God—always and everywhere presents everyone with a choice, an unavoidable “either-or”: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15)

Discernment and decision

An important part of the exercises is learning to discern one’s own “spirit,” that is, the inner motivation for our actions. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Roman Catholic theologian, believes that this emphasis on choice lies at the center of the Ignatian exercises: they’re all about helping persons to discern the heart of God, and the orientation of their own hearts, so that they choose God’s choice for them in joyful obedience.2

C.S. Lewis, though no Ignatian, had a similar concern for the centrality of “the choice” in the life of the disciple, as Joe Rigney explains: “Every moment of every day, you are confronted with a choice—either place God at the center of your life, or place something else there.”3

Reality—the world we live in, the only world there is, the world created by God—always and everywhere presents everyone with a choice, an unavoidable “either-or”: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15), either the one true God (the Father of Jesus Christ) or some false god, be it money, sex, fame, power, or something else—their name is Legion.

Discipleship involves waking up to the realization that there is a choice, and we must stay awake to the lordship of Jesus Christ long enough to make the right one: to obey, and thereby to exercise, like Jesus, genuine freedom.4

***

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, Cambridge University) is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine and Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity, both Christianity Today Theology Books of the Year (2015, 2017). He is married and has two daughters.

This post is excerpted from Dr. Vanhoozer’s new book, Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine, now available from Lexham Press. See the table of contents and preview pages. This post’s title and headings are the addition of an editor.

Do Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5 Contradict? On the Contrary . . . 

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
     lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
     lest he be wise in his own eyes. [Read more…]

What Is the Proper Context for Interpreting the Bible?

The Four Evangelists, Jacob Jordaens, 1626–1630, commons.wikimedia.org

Anyone interested in Bible study, from the new believer to the biblical scholar, has heard (and maybe even said) that if you want to correctly interpret the Bible, you have to interpret it in context. I’m certainly not going to disagree. But I have a question: What does that mean? Put another way, just what context are we talking about? [Read more…]

Bonhoeffer and a Prison Reflection

Today marks the beginning of the Days of Remembrance, the United States’ annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazi regime systematically persecuted and murdered an estimated six million Jews, as well as millions of others it deemed “politically, racially, or socially unfit.”1 Though well documented, the horrors of the Holocaust remain unfathomable. [Read more…]

5 Insights for Interpreting the Deaths of Ananias and Sapphira

The Death of Ananias by Raphael

The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 is difficult. It strikes many readers as harsh, a return to Old Testament retribution. “Why this swift act of judgment? Why no opportunity of for repentance and restoration?”

No amount of commentary will ever take the edge off this passage—and that may be the point. [Read more…]

If Bible Study Doesn’t Feel Like Work, You Aren’t Really Doing It

One of my favorite scholarly quotations about the hard work of seriously engaging the biblical text—what we popularly call Bible study—is that of the renowned Greek lexicographer, Frederick W. Danker (the “D” in BDAG). Danker famously said that “scholars’ tasks are not for sissies.” He was right, and I’m grateful he was willing to say what needed to be said. [Read more…]

Why the ‘Date’ of Palm Sunday Is so Profound

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.

— Isaiah 46:10, NIV

The significance of Palm Sunday was lost on me as a child. I suspect it’s lost on most Christian adults, too. [Read more…]

3 Practical Reasons David Chose Jerusalem—and 1 That Trumps Them All

Thirty-three miles east of the Mediterranean Sea on a limestone plateau in the Judaean Hills rests one of the oldest cities in the world: Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times in the Old Testament and 141 in the New—more if you count all its synonyms like Zion, city of God, and Salem.1

No city has been written and sung about as much as Jerusalem.2

Or fought over. [Read more…]