But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

Wednesday, 03 June 2020 10:34

Gentle Correction Featured

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On at least two occasions, John Webster reviewed combative books with which he largely agreed, but slipped in some gentle reprimands along the way. I think of these reviews often, as instructive instances of how a theologian can be constructive and peaceable even while entering into a charged...

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In the latest issue of the Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, I co-authored a book review with Chris Gibson, a PhD student at Gateway Seminary. Chris and I have been working on the doctrine of divine impassibility and how it relates to human suffering. So when we saw Scott...

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Sunday, 24 May 2020 10:42

Classical Theology Thesis Featured

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One year ago, Talbot School of Theology launched the Classical Theology Master of Arts. We’ve had a great first year: the right students, great collegiality, and a series of fascinating courses on Scripture (Sacred Page), great theologians (Master Practitioners), and major doctrines (Common...

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Sunday, 17 May 2020 10:21

Biblia Pauperum (Ascension) Featured

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There’s a particular type of late medieval document that we call a Biblia Pauperum. We call it that because at some point in the nineteenth century scholars started calling it that, but “Bible of the Poor” is not very descriptive: there’s nothing about these books that...

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Wednesday, 22 April 2020 04:22

The Joy of Psalmtooning Featured

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Psalmtooning? Well, I haven’t heard that word in about ten years. But I made it up, and I used to do it all the time back when my kids were little.

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Psalmtooning is a form of Bible study that encourages children to use their natural love of cartooning to draw out the meaning from Scripture....

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In Richard Muller’s volume on the doctrine of God (vol. 3 of his Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics series), he sets himself the task of reconnecting some broken links in the history of theology, links without which the doctrine of God cannot be grasped. It is a complex task, and no wonder...

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Tuesday, 14 April 2020 09:05

A Welcome to the Plague (Samuel Shaw) Featured

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The 2020 pandemic almost immediately brought out of obscurity a substantial library of historical Christian writing on plagues and mass illnesses. Lots of writing that we might call “plague spirituality” has been sitting on the shelves of the church, just waiting for moderns to get...

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Friday, 10 April 2020 11:18

How It’s Supposed to End Featured

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When you make a plan to kill a public person, the kind of public person who is animated by a powerful inner force, you’d better make sure to kill him. But even if you succeed there’s that powerful inner force to deal with: what if, by killing him, you just let it out?

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The problem is an...

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Tuesday, 07 April 2020 03:52

Godforsaken For Us Featured

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imageGolgotha (detail), Verna Smith, pen & ink on handmade paper

Jesus calls out from the cross: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Strong words of weakness. The very first hearers misunderstood them:...

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Thursday, 12 March 2020 11:08

Biola and the Flu, 1919 Featured

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A few notes here on how the Bible Institute of Los Angeles experienced the devastating influenza pandemic (the “Spanish Flu”) one hundred years ago. Gleaned from online back issues of Biola’s classic old King’s Business magazine.

Because the King’s Business was only a...

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Tuesday, 25 February 2020 08:45

Praying (Hard) Theology: Litany of the Summa Featured

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Imagine studying the doctrinal theology of Thomas Aquinas and then turning it, in considerable detail, into praise.That’s what sixteenth-century Jesuit Francis Borgia did. He wrote a bookwhich is basically key sections of the Summa Theologia cast into the form of prayers. Litanies, to be...

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Friday, 21 February 2020 08:33

Chester, Delighting in the Trinity Featured

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Here is an old book review of an older book: Tim Chester’s Delighting in the Trinity: Why Father, Son, and Spirit are Good News came out back in 2005. When it was re-released in 2010, a popular website asked me to review it. That review was published but has since gone missing from the web...

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020 02:51

Spiritual Manifestation of the Son of God Featured

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Fletcher of Madeley (1729-1785), one of the first Methodist theologians, wrote a small spiritual masterpiece called Six Letters on the Spiritual Manifestation of the Son of God. It gets republished now and then: In a 1968 printing, Martyn Lloyd-Jones called it “undoubtedly a spiritual...

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Saturday, 25 January 2020 04:54

“Does it Render Men More Holy and Happy?” (Fletcher) Featured

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The important early Methodist John William Fletcher (1729-1785) wrote a short piece called Remarks on the Trinity, which has some, well, remarkable lines in it. On the Trinity.

Fletcher has much to say on the subject of the Trinity, but apparently he was specifically provoked to write by Joseph...

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Thursday, 23 January 2020 07:58

Leontius of Byzantium (Works) Featured

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Brian Daley has published (2017) his edition of Leontius of Byzantium’s Complete Works. in a handsome 600-page volume from Oxford Press (at a handsomely huge price, of course). It’s got Leontius’ Greek on the left pages and Daley’s English translation on right, plus a...

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Monday, 20 January 2020 01:06

Trinity and Ecclesiology Featured

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When theologians try to make a connection between the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the church, they take three main approaches: communion, mission, or structural analogy.

  1. Communion: This approach emphasizes the overlap between two vocabularies of communion: inner-trinitarian...

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Wednesday, 08 January 2020 09:29

Levy, Introducing Medieval Biblical Interpretation Featured

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Here’s a very short (350 words) review of Ian Christopher Levy’s book Introducing Medieval Biblical Interpretation (Baker, 2018). The review just came out in the Jan 2020 issue of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology.

My Torrey colleague Greg Peters endorsed the book with...

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Monday, 23 December 2019 23:09

God was Always Ready for Christmas Featured

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Here’s a three-minute lesson I taught to the kids (ages 5-11) at church last week.

This is a wrapped Christmas package. It takes some planning to put together a Christmas present like this. You have to think of what somebody wants or needs, then go get it, then find a box the right size, then...

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Saturday, 30 November 2019 06:07

Voice of the Father (Hugh of St. Victor) Featured

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In his work On the Three Days, Hugh of St. Victor considers some pretty profound trinitarian theology, giving special attention to how the Father loves the Son. It’s a complex meditation, and maybe all I need to say is that it is very Augustinian, and very invested in recognizing that since...

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Thursday, 07 November 2019 07:18

Killer App: Theology.News Journal TOC Feed Featured

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Theology.News is a new website that Chris Woznicki, Jesse Gentile, and I are running. It’s a clearing house for all kinds of current activity in the field of academic theology, and with all kinds of user-reporters pitching in, it will be a great channel that people can use to stay current...

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Tuesday, 05 November 2019 00:34

Ratzinger on the Undiminished Trinity Featured

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imageHere’s a new book worth looking out for: The Theology of Benedict XVI: A Protestant Appreciation , ed. Tim Perry (Lexham, 2019). It’s just an interesting idea to call on Protestant witnesses to write about the theology of this very theological Pope, and Tim Perry pulled...

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Thursday, 31 October 2019 17:36

Class on the Third Person of the Trinity (LATC 2020) Featured

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In the spring semester —really in January 2020— I’ll be offering a short course on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology.

It’s a course based on the annual Los Angeles Theology Conference, and it’s the easiest course in the...

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Wednesday, 30 October 2019 05:16

Chalcedonian Box Featured

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When I lecture on christology, I often use an illustration that I call the Chalcedonian Box. It’s a diagram that emphasizes the theological boundaries around the mystery of the incarnation. As a visual aid, the box is easy to sketch on the spot (on blackboard, whiteboard, or flipchart paper)....

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Tuesday, 29 October 2019 15:54

Coptic Theology with Vince Bantu (Reading Theology African) Featured

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imageWe read a lot of classic theology from ancient Africa.

By “we” I mean the students in two programs: Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute and Talbot School of Theology’s Master of Arts, Classical Theology. Both programs are very Great Booksy, driven by the reading and discussion of...

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Saturday, 26 October 2019 16:01

Providence and Divine Action Book Featured

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imageHere’s a new book with eleven essays on Divine Action and Providence. As co-editor of the collection, I do hereby commend it for your consideration. I don’t know of another recent book that would serve so well as an introduction to the theology of providence.

The opening two chapters by...

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