Category Archives: Reviews

The Humor of Christ

By Elton Trueblood ( Quaker )

An ephemeral (and rightly so) study of the wit and ‘humor’ of our Lord. While I acknowledge the fullness of the humanity of Christ, and his use of piercing wit (for he has perfect knowledge of the hearts of men) and irony, this study falls far short of reasonable analysis, and into the pit of fancy. Trueblood relies heavily on quotes by predecessors such as Chesterton and contemporary writers of his time, while he’s emphasizing what he considers to be a ‘laugh out loud’ moment in the teachings of Christ, his sources seem to be in contention with his thesis.

What he brings to our attention is nothing new, and/or unrecognized in the theological community. It was plain practice for Hebrews to use sharp or extreme contrasts…

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. -Matt 18:9

…to vividly illustrate an important teaching. We all know, I hope, this passage is not literal, for we would all be blind, deaf and mute. What he wants, from Chapter 1, is for his readers to notice that Christ was not the ‘…mild in manner, endlessly patient, grave in speech and serious almost to the point of dourness,’ Christ caricature popular ‘Christianity’ (particulary in America) has shamefully espoused in the 20th century. I’ll raise my glass to his intent as well, and the truthfulness only if it’s expounded reasonably.


The God Who Is There

I just finished Schaeffer’s seminal work this evening. In this work, Schaeffer brings us into the world of art, language, music, literature, distributes each through there respective philosophical frameworks. In doing so traces the excising of God and true truth from society, the import of eastern mysticism, theological liberalism, many and varied (yet hopelessly inadequate) secular philosophies.

Just a few highlights:

From Chapter 2, The First Step in the Line of Despair, he introduces German philosopher Hegel. Before Hegel:

truth, in the sense antithesis, is related to the idea of cause and effect. Cause and effect produces a chain reaction which goes strait on in a horizontal line. With the coming of Hegel this changed.

Instead of logical cause and effect, thesis and antithesis, he emphasized synthesis. According to Schaeffer’s very brief introduction, the Hegel’s attempt to synthesize thesis and antithesis through reason failed.

Which lead to Christian Existentialist Søren Kierkegaard, who Schaeffer places as the first below what he calls, the line of despair. How? He, like Hegel, could not make synthesis work by reason, he postulated that important decisions can only be determined by what has since been coined ‘a leap of faith.’ And this gave birth to the modern disparity between faith and reason.

Thanks Søren. Jerk.

Holiness: Growth

I’m reading the chapter on growth in J.C. Ryle’s classic ‘Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots‘ for discussion at Tim Challies blog. I’m kind of late to the discussion but I won’t let that stop me.

Ryle writes with zeal, passion and a sense of immediacy for his readers. He also pulls no punches in the vein of Piper or MacArthur in telling it how it is, something we can all appreciate, with a hearty 19th century panache.

Before taking us to task with The Reality of Religious Growth, he remarks…

It is an eminently practical subject, if any is in religion. It is intimately and inseparably connected with the whole question of sanctification. It is a leading mark of true saints that they grow. The spiritual health and prosperity, the spiritual happiness and comfort of every true–hearted and holy Christian, are intimately connected with the subject of spiritual growth.

In The Reality of Religious Growth, Ryle clarifies what he terms ‘growth in grace.’ He denies that a believers interest in Christ can grow, nor can we grow in safety, acceptance with God or security, nor can he be more justified, as we know, justification of every believer is complete in Christ (Col 2:10)

Growth in grace, as he describes is… I only mean increase in the degree, size, strength, vigor and power of the graces which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart.…that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual–mindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life. He is going on from strength to strength, from faith to faith and from grace to grace.

As any classic of the true religion, we are given obligatory scripture reference following his thoughts. He also attests to his view of growth in grace on a ground ‘of fact and experience.’ Appealing to readers of the New Testament, asking if we see varying degrees of grace in lives of saints recorded. He refers to passages of ones with ‘weak faith’ or ‘strong faith’, new Christians as ‘newborn-babes,’ ‘little children,” young men and fathers.’ He also appeals to our own observational prowess in our own lives as well those of other saints.

He then emphasizes grace as ‘a thing of infinite importance to the soul.

a. Growth in grace is the best evidence of spiritual health and properity.
b. Growth in grace is one way to be happy in our religion.
c. Growth in grace is one secret of usefulness to others
d. Growth in grace pleases God

The Marks of Religious Growth

a. Increased humility
b. Increased faith and love towards our Lord Jesus Christ
c. Increased holiness of life and conversation
d. Increased spirituality of taste and mind
e. Increase in charity
f. Increase of zeal and diligence in doing good to souls (others).

The Means of Religious Growth

a. Diligence in the use of the private means of grace (ie. private prayer,Scripture reading, meditation.
b. Carefulness in the use of public means of grace
c. Watchfulness over our conduct in little matters
d. Caution in the company we keep
e. Habitual communion with Christ (sim. to a )

We must seek to have personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus and to deal with Him as a man deals with a loving friend. We must realize what it is to turn to Him first in every need, to talk to Him about every difficulty, to consult Him about every step, to spread before Him all our sorrows, to get Him to share in all our joys, to do all as in His sight, and to go through every day leaning on and looking to Him.

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On the Character of Christ

I’m reading, among other things, John Stott’s Basic Christianity. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this small volume, I came to find out it could very well serve as tool for evangelistic training, if not just handing out copies. I would reserve handing out copies only after personal evangelism, as it is small, but dense.

Part One: Christ’s Person – is the first third of the book, wherein lies my topic. Stott draws, if not drives a wedge between the earthly ministry of Christ and His teaching, and all other ‘great’ teachers, prophets, eastern religious figures &c. This distinction is, in the plainest terms, His self-centered teaching. It’s interesting when I first read those words, I did a double take. I knew his ministry was not the all-inclusive hippyfest some would like us to believe, but some pop-culture greeting card view of Christ floating around in my cranium reared its irreverent head. I crushed that quick, needless to say.

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Genesis in Space and Time

I’m 2/3 of the way through this fabulous find at the used bookstore. Francis Schaeffer, known best for A Christian Manifesto and How Should We Then Live?, expounds on the Creation story ( Genesis 1-11) as literal and… shows how the first eleven chapters of Genesis stand as a solid space-time basis for answering the tough questions posed by modern man. from BP.

Chapter 6 titled The Two Humanities draws attention to a messianic foreshadowing in Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel. (NASB)

Having read this passage a few times and it did seem cryptic or vague, Schaeffer points out that in patriarchal cultures such as that of the Jews (as well as most other), when seed is spoken of, it is always in reference to offspring by the male head of the family (because he has the seed). The offspring here is also referenced as he.

Of course, the parallel here is the virgin birth of Christ, with conception void of the male seed, Christ’s lineage traced back though Mary’s bloodline. He also, among too much to write here, in reference to the last 3 lines of this verse draws a parallel to Hebrews 2:14:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (NASB)

This passage shows us that in Christs’ bruising, the crucifixion, the devil’s power over death was destroyed for the elect …

and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:15 (NASB)


The Cross of Christ – Stott, John

I will be outlining the major points of this book, discussing them, mainly engaging my own mind to remember the points represented. There will be a slight delay, as I have discovered Stott is not only an Annihilationist, but is as well a subscriber to Patripassianist (modalist), non-Trinitarian doctrine, which is historically considered non-orthodox (heretical). As a service to concerned parties, I will be sifting, clarifying and synthesizing this information.