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Archive for the ‘Early Church Fathers’ Category

Best Links of the Week

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I think some PAC published this video… worth watching

How to use Zotero to organize your personal library.  Zotero has personally saved me literally dozens of hours on a single project I worked on recently.  Any person in graduate school writing papers should use this tool.  The simple firefox/Office plugin will format your footnotes and create your Bibliography and/or Works Cited for you.  Hours saved.  I can’t believe more people don’t use this already.

The French are funny.  They are rioting because their version of Social Security got moved from age 60 to age 62.  I remember them getting all fussy when Sarkozy changed the work week from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Capitalism Saved the Miners

WSJ on the status of the mortgage mess in the U.S.

Spot on TIME Magazine piece on why young Italian professionals are leaving Italy in droves.  For once, an American journalistic enterprise hits a home run on understanding the many layers of Italian culture and economics.  Here is a bonus piece on the trash crisis in Naples, Italy.  I remember the citizens of Avellino getting so upset at their trash crisis that they started dumping trash on the city courthouse steps and lighting it on fire.  Awesome.

Inflation

Know Your Heretics

An interesting opinion piece on UGA’s new engineering school and the state of education in the state of Georgia.

 

 

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3 Month Introspective

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Introspective

So, I’ve been blogging consistently for three months.  This is the week of Christmas and I’ll be all over the place.  I thought I would briefly summarize the 3 months of blog series on here:

Blaise Pascal:  We took a look at Blaise Pascal’s thinking, its use of aphorism and its relationship to both tri-perspectivalism and presuppositionalism.  We also looked at his use of aphorism and his warnings against deism and atheism.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future, Parts 1-7:  We defined the term evangelical.  We looked at its historical roots in the First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, and its ties to celebrity culture, democritization of knowledge, and modernism.  Then we looked at the roots of liberalism, the Protestant split and suburbanization, and defined and outlined evangelical populism and their game plan for reaching America.  Finally we assessed the current status of American evangelicalism and then made some predictions of future trends.

Introduction to Apologetics, Parts 1-7:  We looked in broad strokes at the various schools of apologetics.  We then took a more in-depth look at:  Classical Apologetics, Evidentialist Apologetics, Presuppositional Apologetics, and the specific apologetics of Blaise Pascal and Alvin Plantinga.  Finally, we employed the three phases football as an analogy for the different apologetic schools and I likened Tim Tebow to the presuppositionalists.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Parts 1-10:  We looked at some analysis of some shifts evangelicalism will need to make moving forward:  Doctrine, Worldview, Urbanization, Globality/Mobility, “Post-Modernism,” American Culture(s), Contextualization, Balance, and Final Analysis.

Top ~10 Books by Topic:

Top 10 Systematic Theology Texts

Top 10 Devotional Classics

Top 10 Books on the Church

Top 10 Books on Science and Christianity

Top 10 Books on Christian Biography

Top 10 Books on Culture

Top 10 Books on Eschatology

Top 5 Books on Worldview

Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

Top 10 Books on Church History

Top 40 Books to Read While in College

Top 10 Books on Missions, Discipleship, and Evangelism

The 25 Most Destructive Books Ever Written…

Top 10 Apologetic Works

Top 10 Books on Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Top 10 Books by John Piper

Top 5 Children’s Books

Best Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms of the Christian Church

A Comprehensive List of Top 10 Book Lists of 2009

Up Next:  We will be looking at some thoughts on the economy and investment and then delve into the mind of Friedrich Nietzsche…

Written by Michael Graham

December 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

Best Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms of the Christian Church

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Trinity Shield from Athanasian Creed

Our faith is 2000 years old.  We have a long obedience in the same direction, affirming the same truths.  We are wise to be familiar with the many wonderful orthodox creeds, confessions, and catechisms of the Christian church.

Apostles Creed (~2nd century)

Nicene Creed (325)

Athanasian Creed (5th century)

Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451)

The Canons of the Council of Orange (529)

London Baptist Confession (1689)

Westminster Standards:  Westminster Confession of Faith, Westminster Shorter Catechism, and Westminster Larger Catechism (1646)

Heidelberg Catechism (1563) – Note:  Kevin DeYoung has a book coming out on the HC next year entitled The Good News We Almost Forgot.  I would be surprised if it was not excellent.  CJ Mahaney says, “Doubtless this will be the finest book I will have ever read on the Heidelberg Catechism. It will certainly be the first.”

Belgic Confession (1618)

Canons of Dordt (1618)

Second Helvetic Confession (1536)

Genevan Catechism (1536)

The Thirty Nine Articles (Anglican, 1572) and Augsburg Confession (Lutheran) are not bad and worth familiarizing oneself.

Also of note is the Westminster Shorter Catechism for kids – the entire list of questions and answers can be found here for free.

Top 10 Books by John Piper

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Desiring God by John Piper

This list is what I think are the 10 best books that I have read from John Piper.  I haven’t read some of the more recent ones, but have heard good things about This Momentary Marriage (a book on marriage apparently).

1.  Desiring God [y, l, e, p, s]

This classic is what introduced me to a sovereign God and the doctrines of grace.  It also taught me that my pursuit of joy and my pursuit of God were one and the same pursuit.  If you cannot get through it or are intimidated by its size, try The Dangerous Duty of Delight, he essentially says the same things, just more concisely.

2.  Don’t Waste Your Life [y, l, e, p, s]

Quite simply this book needs to be read (and can be) by everyone.  The title says it all.  His passion for living a worthy life is infectious.

3.  Let the Nations Be Glad [y, l, e, p, s]

This is his book on missions.  It is excellent.  Reading this book is what compelled me to spend time overseas investing the Gospel into people.

4.  Brothers We are NOT Professionals [l, e, p, s]

Just as relevant in 2009 than it was in 2002.  I agree with my friend James W. that this book ought to be read by every seminarian before and after seminary.  Piper takes aim at the professionalization of the ministry.  We are not professionals, we are shepherds.

5.  The 5 Book Biography Set [y, l, e, p, s]

Each book has three or so vignette-length biographies.  They are all good and the link above takes you to DG’s Christmas sale.

6.  Finally Alive [l, e, p, s]

This book may prove to be one of Piper’s most important contributions.  The book concerns the rarely written on, doctrine of regeneration.  Definitely one of the best books of 2009.

7.  Battling Unbelief [y, l, e, p, s]

This book gives you tools to fight for your joy in Christ when you don’t feel it.  Also, I am told that, When I Don’t Desire God, and When the Darkness Will not Lift are both quite good and in the same vein.

8.  The Supremacy of God in Preaching [e, p, s]

One of the best books on preaching.  Period.

9.  Future Grace [l, e, p, s]

The superior pleasure of Christ and the hope of future grace are our tools in fighting against sin.

10.  God’s Passion for His Glory [y, l, e, p, s]

This books is Piper channeling Jonathan Edwards thoughts (which is much of what Piper has done his entire ministry… and that is a good thing).  We would be wise to listen to Edwards and his vision for a God who is passionate for His own glory.

Honorable Mentions:

What’s the Difference – book on Biblical manhood and womanhood.

Counted Righteous in Christ – book defending the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness.  A critical doctrine and a solid book on the matter.

The Justification of God – rock solid exegesis of Romans 9.  If you have ever had questions about Romans 9, this book will answer them.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Top 10 Books on Church History

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Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley

These books are more or less on church history.  I am intentionally not including major works on America and evangelicalism as there will be a post later on Top 10 books analyzing American evangelicalism.

1.  Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley  [y, l, e, p, s]

A classic, readable, simple yet thorough book on church history for everyone.

2.  Turning Points:  Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll  [y, l, e, p, s]

A nice summary of the major turning points in church history.

3.  Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark  [y, l, e, p, s]

Absolute classic, read write-up here.

4.  Church History Volume One:  From Christ to Pre-Reformation:  The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context by Everett Ferguson  [e, p, s]

Probably the best technical volume on church history up to the Protestant Reformation.

5.  The Story of Christianity Volume Two – The Reformation to the Present Day by Justo Gonzalez  [e, p, s]

Probably the best technical volume on church history from the Reformation to present.

6.  The New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable by F.F. Bruce  [y, l, e, p, s]

The best little book (and extremely readable) confronting the tsunami of criticism heaped on the Bible.  The book is mentioned here for its concise explanation on the formation of the canon of Scripture.

7.  Documents of the Christian Church edited by Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder  [p, s]

Primary sources are important.  It is rare for people to read primary sources anymore.  Sometimes it is rare to read secondary sources anymore… in the digital age, we read the wikipedia article or a blog post or a book review/summary about a book that is about a primary source.  With that said, this is a great compendium of primary sources of which church histories are written from.

8.  Readings in Christian Thought edited by Hugh Kerr  [p, s]

This volume serves as a good introduction (or remainder) of the main thoughts of the major thinkers/theologians/figures in church history.

9.  Cities of God by Rodney Stark  [y, l, e, p, s]

I have yet to finish this book but it has been quite good thus far.  He draws heavily on themes from his Rise of Christianity, where he demonstrates how Christianities urban presence during plagues and persecutions afforded it incredible influence in a Roman empire that was overwhelmingly non-urban – making the case that Roman culture was made in the cities.  I think there are incredible insights that need to be applied here today and am disturbed at the under-representation of churches in urban areas (for more on this see this post and this post).

10.  The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark  [y, l, e, p, s]

Stark makes the list again for some keen analysis on the affect of the church on the world throughout history.  If you like any of his works, you might also check out his For the Glory of God.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Introduction to Apologetics, Part 2: Classical Apologetics

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Augustine

St. Augustine

Again, classical apologetics focuses on the rational basis of the Christian faith.  It establishes this through several rational arguments for the existence of God (Cosmological, Teleological, and Ontological), and evidences for the reliability of the Bible and miracles.

Some main characters:

-The Apostle Paul (first century) would sometimes cite the resurrection and fulfillment of miracles in his preaching of the Gospel (Acts 17…).

Justin Martyr (100-165 ad) focuses much of his attention defending Christianity to the Roman government and arguing against prominent heretics of that day, particularly Marcion.  Justin keys in on defending the Incarnation of Jesus as the Divine Logos, emphasizing prophecies fulfilled, and highlighting the reality of Jesus’ Second Coming. [there are some presuppositional veins in Justin Martyr as well – most notably, he thinks God’s existence needs no proof]

St. Augustine wrote very widely defending Christianity against the heresy of Pelagius as well as positively refining/defining many central elements of orthodox Christianity.

St. Anselm (1033-1109) is most famous for the original formulation of the Ontological Argument.  The ontological argument for the existence of God is exceedingly difficult to understand, requiring heavy thinking to comprehend its brilliance.  I happen to think that the ontological argument actually establishes the existence of God.  I also happen to think that it is the second best argument behind the presuppositional Transcendental Argument.  I think the best formulation of the ontological argument is Alvin Plantinga’s version employing modal logic.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) also wrote very widely, providing much of the foundations for the Roman Catholic tradition up til Vatican II.  Aquinas is a central figure in Classical Apologetics for his 5 arguments for the existence of God.  The 5 arguments are:

  1. Many things are moving.  Everything that is moved was moved by something.  An infinite chain of movers is impossible.  Therefore there had to be an unmoved mover.  We call this unmoved mover God.
  2. Many things are caused.  Existence is a series of causes and effects.  There had to be a beginning, hence there must be a first cause to this chain of causes and effects.  We call this unmoved mover God.
  3. Some things in the Universe may or may not exist, these beings exist contingently.  However, it is impossible for everything in the Universe to be contingent, because something exists right now.  Therefore, there must be a being whose existence is not contingent but necessary.  We call this necessarily existent being God.
  4. Different perfections of a wide range of degrees can be evidenced  in the Universe.  These degrees of perfection assume an ultimate standard.  The ultimate standard is God.
  5. All natural bodies work toward a purpose.  These objects are unintelligent in an of themselves.  Acting towards a purpose is a sign of intelligence.  Therefore, there is an intelligent being that guides these natural bodies to those purposes.  This intelligent being is God.

In recent times several key apologists continue on the rich tradition behind them:  R.C. Sproul, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, and J.P. Moreland.

Up next, we will take a look at Evidentialist Apologetics.

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