Tag Archives: kevin deyoung

Is it Anti-gospel to Teach Kids Self-control Before Conversion?

Right now in conservative evangelicalism, there is an ongoing conversation about children, the gospel, and sanctification.  Kevin DeYoung’s book The Hole in our Holiness is the latest entry on this topic, and looks to be very helpful.

One side of the discussion emphasizes that no true transformation can happen without miraculous grace.  There is surely truth to this argument.  Without the gospel, we are slaves to sin.  We cannot conquer sin or master it; as long as we are unconverted, sin is in fact our master.  We need God-given faith in Christ to know true and lasting transformation.

But I am wondering if, in highlighting this ultimate truth, we might forget a penultimate (secondary) reality.  It is good and well to train children, pre-conversion, in obedience and self-control.  If you do this in a way that indicates that successfully resisting a given temptation equates with the highest form of pleasing God, then that’s problematic.  In other words, if you train kids that doing right actions saves them, that’s tragic.  But it’s also tragic to not raise children to discern right from wrong and to think that they have no ability whatsoever to follow commands.

If, though, you train children in good habits while always holding out the need for repentance and faith, I think you’re being a wise and godly parent.  The father who speaks repeatedly to his son in Proverbs clearly directs him to steer clear of sin.  The father is forming habits in his son, and those habits are not opposed to saving faith.  They are creating channels through which the life-giving water of the gospel will flow.

Christ is, of course, our ultimate motivation.  The gospel is, correspondingly, the ultimate force in sanctification.  But we should not make the mistake of thinking that obedience–even pre-conversion obedience–is antithetical to the gospel.  It most surely is not.  It seems to me that we are to follow the flow of Scripture in training our children.  They learn the need to obey, the requirements of God’s holy standards, and we train them to do so (working from the Old Testament on up).  But they quickly discover that they cannot ultimately fulfill the requirements upon them and must know Christ as savior if they are to be counted righteous before the holy judge (this is the miracle we discover in the New Testament).  After their faith and repentance takes root, they are now empowered in an unprecedented way to obey and give glory to God.  The Holy Spirit in us, through our union with Christ, provides a power and a motivation never before possible (this is what Paul and the apostles labored to help early Christians understand).

So: teach your young kids good habits.  Teach them good manners.  Train them in self-control.  Model what being a Christian is like, and encourage them to follow your behavior.  Instill in them that obedience is the cornerstone of being a child.  Discipline them when they fail on this point.  And consistently–though not mechanistically or fearfully–hold out their only true hope for life and faith, the message of free grace in Christ.

Your children will thank you after their conversion that you trained them in good habits, even as they will recognize that only the gospel truly sustains holy living.

(With thanks to the intrepid Matt Smethurst–and the Smethurst family–for copyediting services)


Filed under obedience, sanctification

“It Is Time for the Country to Grow Up”: On Penn State & Sports Culture

Howard Bryant of ESPN calls out American sports culture in the context of the recent Penn State football sanctions:

Penn State lost its fun and games, its diversion. It lost a fictionalized version of itself and its fallen, iconic coach. It lost numbers in a record book and money from its wallet. The sanctions against the football program were, in effect, significant only through one insular, unimportant lens: the overemphasis on football and big-time sports in general that created an environment for such a colossal mess to occur in the first place.

If anything of worth is to emerge, the Saturday afternoon tailgate, the bragging rights and the beer will be replaced by something far more valuable: responsibility. It is time for Penn State to grow up. It is also time for the rest of the country, those blinded by sports and money and power who think they can be smug because they didn’t attend or care about Penn State, to grow up as well. College is about building a foundation for seeing the world in its curious complex dimensions, and now the university community through the worst kind of scandal just received a heavy dose of reality. No one with a soul wanted it to be this way, but the students and the campus now have some necessary grit to accompany their stardust.

That’s a strong word.  Readers of this blog know that I really enjoy sports and consider them a common grace gift of God.  Furthermore, PSU is a school I’m familiar with, having had very close friends with ties to it.

But there’s a word we need to hear in Bryant’s piece.  You don’t need to be some sort of killjoy, sports-hating, unmasculine person to see that sports culture–clearly glimpsed in its worst, utterly-horrifying-to-the-point-of shock iteration in the Jerry Sandusky scandal–is, well, out of control in American society.  That’s true as well for American college and university culture.  I really wonder if we’ve reached a point where sports at many bigger schools are usurping the academic mission of the institution.  (I’ve written about an overemphasis on sports before, most publicly in the Kevin DeYoung-edited volume Don’t Call it a Comeback.)

Many of us sports fans are accustomed to hearing this kind of argument–and to dismissing it immediately.  Of course we need big-time sports.  How else are we going to raise funds for our schools?  Where else will we go as a cross-campus rallying point?  How could alumni possibly be connected to the school without major athletic events to attend?  Yeah, there’s some lack of balance nowadays, when coaches get paid more than university presidents, but isn’t the world a messed-up place in the biblical worldview?

I hear all of these objections, and there’s something to consider in each of them.  I’m not anti-sports on college campuses.  I’m all for them.  I went to a NCAA Division Three school in New England and really enjoyed the basketball and hockey games.  They do promote a “university culture,” and they’re fun.  But the good thing about sports at Bowdoin College and NCAA D3 in general is that sports are held in check.  They don’t dominate the life of the institution (at least, not yet).  There were no (official) athletic scholarships, so the athletes really were students first, not essentially hired professionals forced to limit earnings to the price of a scholarship.

My college was academically oriented (as most are, thankfully), and yet it had absolutely zero trouble raising a massive endowment (one billion dollars).  Neither have many other schools.  Ivy League institutions like Harvard (30 billion), Princeton (17 billion), and Yale (17 billion) aren’t having much trouble in this front despite their focus on academics, not sports.  Sure, those are Ivy League schools, but the same is true of countless lesser-known schools.  The point: you don’t need big-time athletic programs to raise money for the school.

I really wonder about divorcing major sports from American universities.  British schools, for example, know no such uneasy marriage.  If you are going into a career in soccer, you enter the club system and pursue an education independently or through a sports academy.  American tennis works in much this way.  I don’t mean that even this system is perfect, of course.  But it seems to me a better model than our current one, in which–let’s be honest–sports are displacing academics as the core of college life.

Here’s a snatch from a recent hard-hitting article in the New York Times that illustrates the point:

Glen R. Waddell, associate professor of economics at the University of Oregon, wanted to know how much. In a study published last month as part of the National Bureau of Education Research working paper series, Oregon researchers compared student grades with the performance of the Fighting Ducks, winner of this year’s Rose Bowl and a crowd pleaser in their Nike uniforms in crazy color combinations and mirrored helmets.

“Here is evidence that suggests that when your football team does well, grades suffer,” said Dr. Waddell, who compared transcripts of over 29,700 students from 1999 to 2007 against Oregon’s win-loss record. For every three games won, grade-point average for men dropped 0.02, widening the G.P.A. gender gap by 9 percent. Women’s grades didn’t suffer. In a separate survey of 183 students, the success of the Ducks also seemed to cause slacking off: students reported studying less (24 percent of men, 9 percent of women), consuming more alcohol (28 percent, 20 percent) and partying more (47 percent, 28 percent).

This is disturbing stuff.  I’m reminded of Tom Wolfe’s depiction of whole packs of male college students glued to sports programming in the brilliant I Am Charlotte Simmons.  These boys–and sports are really the primary province of kids, right?–took sports incredibly seriously, and cared little about their studies.  I think we’re seeing the spread of this trend on a national level, and that does not bode well for our society, for our schools, and especially for young men (and the young women they fail to win).

So what does all this mean?  I think it means as Christians that we push in our little corners of life for sports to occupy an appropriately chaste place in public life.  We enjoy them, but we enjoy them in moderation (a HUGE challenge today, especially for men).  Perhaps we lend our voice to the side of the discussion that urges for the full professionalization of major sports.  It’s not really fair, after all, that universities profit massively from student-athletes.  I think our society might be healthier be shifting football, basketball, and other major sports away from the university model and moving them toward the professional model.  Let’s reclaim the idea of the college and university (and high school!) as an academic entity first.

It also means that we continue to take the life of the mind seriously, for our sake, the sake of the church, the sake of American culture, and most importantly, the glory of Christ, the one who is king over all things, including our sports and our minds.

(Image: Patrick Smith/Getty)

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Reflecting on the Reformed Resurgence: Band of Bloggers 2012

Timmy Brister, the mastermind/head/visionary behind Band of Bloggers, recently made this announcement:

We are excited about this year’s Band of Bloggers (on April 10, 2012, just before Together for the Gospel starts).  Each panelist has played a pivotal role with Band of Bloggers and the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement.  At our first Band of Bloggers (April 2006), we were thrilled to have Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Albert Mohler, and Russell Moore as panel speakers, and six years later we are even more happy to see that Justin and Tim will be joining us again.  Collin Hansen who coined the phrase “young, restless, and reformed” and wrote a journalistic book about it will also be joining us.  And for the first time, Kevin DeYoung, perhaps the most prominent Reformed blogger online has agreed to contribute his thoughts as well.  And I’m grateful for my good friend and fellow moderator, Owen Strachan, will be helping me lead the discussion at this year’s gathering.

If you want to go to BoB, you need to register ASAP.  Last I heard, the event was 2/3 full a day or two after it was announced.

I’m looking especially forward to this year’s gathering, because we’re going to reflect on the reformed resurgence and how blogging has contributed to it.  It will be fun to do that with some young leaders, and I know that many who join us will have made meaningful contributions to the broader movement.  The whole point of this is that we’ve witnessed “a thousand points of light” come to life in the last 5-6 years, a development that has allowed the books, talks, sermons, and discussions of the reformed world to spread like wildfire all over the world.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing, one worth celebrating in six weeks’ time.

By the way, I think Southern Seminary still has some spots open in the special Together for the Gospel class.  It’s led by Russell Moore, Dean of SBTS, and will allow students to hear some great material, attend some pre-conference panels with a range of Southern faculty, and then attend the full conference.  You get three credit hours from SBTS.  It’s a fantastic bargain and has people enrolled from all over the country.

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Doing Ministry with a Shelby Cobra Mustang Engine (Like Piper & Carson)

I just did an interview with Christ the Center, a podcast produced by the Reformed Forum, which is associated with Westminster Theological Seminary.  This is a high-powered theological podcast that has hosted such important discussions as the recent debate among Presbyterian theologians over justification and union with Christ (with Michael Horton and Lane Tipton) and the ongoing conversation about the gospel and sanctification (with Rick Phillips and Kevin DeYoung).

Camden Bucey, Jared Oliphint, and Nick Batzig hosted the conversation.  The topic was pastor-theologians and the book The Pastor as Scholar, the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry (Crossway, 2011), which John Piper and D. A. Carson wrote and David Mathis and I edited.

I had a fun and extensive conversation with the CTC guys, who are great guys with keen theological minds.  The topic in question related directly to the Reformed tradition, which has produced so many fantastic pastor-scholars (Calvin) and scholar-pastors (Warfield).  J. Gresham Machen is of course one of the five most important Christian figures of the twentieth century and fits nicely into the scholar-pastor mold.  He was a brilliant theologian who was nevertheless keenly focused on the church.  Much of his writing is deep but directly accessible to the thoughtful layperson.

Head over to the Reformed Forum and give this podcast a listen if you’re so inclined.  During the course of this hourlong conversation, we covered all kinds of things: why Piper and Dever might be wary of the term “pastor-scholar,” how pastors can own this role as theologian, and how church history relates to the present discussion.

About 15 minutes in, we cover the idea that being a pastor-theologian isn’t about escaping the hard work of pastoral ministry–counseling, evangelism, discipleship.  Instead, it’s about infusing all of that valuable pastoral labor with a 500-horsepower theological engine such that the work of the pastor is transformed and Christ is richly displayed in churchly ministry.

That’s what I’m after.  I think that’s what the CTC guys are after.  Can’t you hear the roar of that Christocentric engine?

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Ed Stetzer on DeYoung/Gilbert: Are Pastors Qualified to Speak on Theology of Mission?

The pastor-theologian is a subject of great interest to me, as my introduction to the book The Pastor as Scholar, the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry (Crossway, 2011) by John Piper and D. A. Carson  shows.  Because of this, my ears perked when, in the recent debate over the mission of the church, missiologist Ed Stetzer suggested that pastors Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert were not adequately prepared to do “careful theological thinking” on the topic du jour.

Here’s what Stetzer in the middle of his lengthy and stimulating Themelios review of What Is the Mission of the Church? (Crossway, 2011) by DeYoung and Gilbert (HT: JT):

Herein may be the book’s greatest challenge. The authors list the books they read to prepare for this response to the widening of the mission. Yet reading a couple dozen books is simply not adequate (or appropriate) to prepare themselves to stand against the careful theological thinking that has contributed to the widening of our understanding of mission and the prevailing view of evangelicals (if Lausanne’s Cape Town statement is a gauge).

At the conclusion, he had this to say in reference to the lack of “background and engagement” on the part of DeYoung and Gilbert:

However, I think it ultimately will not succeed at its task. Instead, it will have some people needlessly looking to parse terms when the mission instead is more about faithfulness. Those who read and share the book may very well be those who most need a stronger missional focus—the theologically minded who think deeply but engage weakly. Yet those who could benefit from the book will not read it because the authors lack the background and engagement to make the case to the missional and missiological community.

Read all of Stetzer’s review.

This review will not attempt to answer the question front and center in this debate; I have not finished the text by DeYoung and Gilbert, but am resonating deeply with it.  My review of Gabe Lyons’s Next Christians finds much sympathy with What Is the Mission of the Church?.  Nor am I taking on Ed Stetzer in this little blog post.  He’s a gifted thinker and leader, and I appreciate much of his scholarly and churchly program.  He is the go-to evangelical theologian on “missional” ministry, a churchman, and a Southern Baptist leader.

I would say, though, that Stetzer’s comments on the inadequate preparation of Kevin and Greg took me aback.  Merely reading books does not make someone an expert, it is true.  But that’s hardly all that these two young pastors–friends of mine–have done.  Kevin has an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Greg has an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and did PhD work at SBTS before taking up pastoral work.  If an MDiv is not adequate preparation for high-level theological thinking, many of us have wasted our money and hard-earned effort.  Both of these men have proven themselves, furthermore, to be gifted thinkers (In fact, I think both of them won “top graduate” awards or some such thing at their respective seminaries).

If only doctors in missiology can participate in missiological conversations, then we’re in trouble, because the group will be very small indeed.  Kevin and Greg have read widely to prepare themselves for the task before them in their missiology text, and they are most definitely up to said task.  Their extensive reading on the subject, coupled with their own preparation, fits them very well to speak into the subject.  Who is not a practitioner of “mission,” after all, if pastors are not?  Surely missionaries lead the front-lines challenge, but hasn’t the whole discussion on “missions” broadened in the last decade or two to include a wider scope of activity?  Isn’t a crucial part of the “missional” conversation that pastors are at the forefront of “missional” ministry?  Are not pastors like Mark Driscoll, Jeff Vandersteldt, and Tim Chester leading the way in “missional” strategy, whether through books, speaking, or practice?  Or am I missing something?

Pastors who lead their church members to support missions, pray for missions, go on missions trips, give their very lives to the missions cause, live evangelistically, reach out to the local community in myriad ways, and generally “be on mission” everyday seem to eminently possess the “background and engagement” necessary to comment on missions, particularly if these pastors have strong theological and biblical preparation and have acquitted themselves well in the evangelical public square.  Other than a missiologist or missionary, who is more prepared than a local church pastor to speak about the mission of the local church?  I’m baffled as to whom else we might call upon.

Let me push this a little further.  Mark Dever’s endorsement of the book references Kevin and Greg as “pastor-theologians.”  I think that’s exactly right.  I fear that at least part of Stetzer’s critique of the credentials of these men owes to an unhelpful divide between church and academy that has exploded the traditional model of the pastorate.  Pastors, goes the line, do ministry; academics, goes the line, think and write.  Sure, maybe pastors write books on practical spirituality or tithing or overcoming temptation.  But they can’t really step up to the plate and actually do theology.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The historic Reformed model of the pastorate is that of the pastor-theologian.  Luther, Calvin, the Puritans, Edwards, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones–these were pastors who wrote theology.  They knew no unhelpful divide between church and academy.  Neither do Kevin and Greg.  Their text is not published by Brill or T&T Clark, of course–it is aimed at pastors and thinkers.  But it is undoubtedly a work of theology.  The authors are undoubtedly pastor-theologians, agree with them or not.

We are in trouble if we assume that pastors–especially well-trained and widely published pastors–are not qualified to participate in theological conversation.  In all of this, by the way, I should not be read as critical of “missional” thinking.  I try to practice a form of it and appreciate it and have many friends and colleagues who feel the same way.

Now, Stetzer has qualified his position in a later post.  He’s backed off the remarks I quoted above and suggested that “an academic book review would be incomplete without asking if the authors were adequately prepared to make their case.”  I’m not sure that’s exactly what Ed was getting at; I think he actually seemed to be saying, pretty clearly, that Kevin and Greg frankly aren’t prepared for this conversation.  He went on to say in his response that “I think more preparation, experience, and conversations would have served them well.”  From my read of the Deyoung and Gilbert book, there’s a great deal of interaction with “missional” thinkers and writers.  The issue here is not really preparation or interaction, as I am able to piece things together, but agreement.  Kevin and Greg have plenty of preparation and outdid themselves in terms of interaction.  They just parse things a bit differently than Stetzer and some self-professed “missional” folks.

By the way, Stetzer references the “Cape Town Statement” of Lausanne 2010 as–unlike What Is the Mission of the Church?– a piece of careful theological thinking.  But if one thinks about the earlier Cape Town Statement of 1974, the foundational theological document of the Lausanne movement, was it not John Stott who essentially drafted it in 1974?  It seems it was.  What was Stott for much of his life?  A pastor.  And what was Stott when he drafted the Statement?  A pastor.

There is some irony, then, in Stetzer’s critique, which otherwise offers much food for thought.


Filed under church life, missional, missions

Kevin DeYoung Speaks Wisely About Celebrity Pastors

Kevin DeYoung has just posted a manifestly helpful piece on the hot-potato topic of “celebrity pastors.”  I commend it to you; it’s full of wisdom and good theological thinking.

Here’s a snatch:

Give glory to God for his gifts wherever you find them.This entails three things:

1) We must always remember—and not just give lip service to the fact—that God is the one who apportions gifts to teachers, pastors, and authors. The churches get edified. God gets the glory.

2) Some Christians are more gifted than others. That’s not just reality; that’s the way God designed things. It will be better to learn about John Calvin from some teachers than from others (one of the reasons speakers are advertised at conferences). Often those with the more pronounced gifts are those with more pronounced influence. And those with more influence are usually better known than those with little influence. So as long as God apportions gifts as he sees fit, we will not escape the fact that some men have more notoriety and are used more powerfully than others. If you had to teach a class on the Reformation you’d certainly spend the bulk of your time on the likes of Luther, Calvin, Know, and Zwingli. The human mind can only comprehend so much, so we tend to focus on the men who (to our imperfect eyes) seemed to be used uniquely by God in his plan.

Read the whole thing.  There are seven theses.

We must hear the cautions about evangelical “celebrities.”  Certainly we all are sinners, and a part of that sin can be seeking fame and power.  If many of us are honest, there is surely a part of our hearts that craves renown.  As with any other sin that tempts us, we need to remain vigilant about this tendency.  We should invite accountability from local church members on this point, encourage feedback from our spouses in this area, and pray against our natural propensity for self-glorification.  It would be ironic for Christians enthralled by a supreme Lord–and championing that God in front of hundreds or thousands of people–to focus attention on puny, insignificant vessels like us.

We must also remember, though, that as Kevin says, God raises up leaders.  Those leaders will naturally draw followers; it’s supposed to work that way.  Christians are call to “outdo one another in showing honor” according to the apostle Paul, a man of great prominence in the apostolic age (Romans 12:10).  We certainly can pay slavish homage to evangelical leaders; that’s not good.  But we shouldn’t forget that it is deeply biblical to go to great lengths to encourage and honor fellow believers.  This will surely include our pastors, movement teachers and leaders, and writers.

We should remember that when we’re feeling grateful for John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or John Piper, we’re not really, at the end of the day, grateful for them.  We’re thankful to the God who drove their every effort.  That’s what we’re truly excited about–a great God who uses fallen people to advance the gospel of his kingdom.  We can very much voice appreciation for our leaders, but we do so knowing and even expressing that it is God who raises men up and takes them down.  This is just what Daniel 2:21 says:

“He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings”

In other words, God controls who leads and who does not.

It is no bad thing, furthermore, to Christians to get together for mutual exhortation and great teaching.  The local church, the keeper of the ordinances, has the primacy.  It is the only institution Christ founded.  But this does not mean that Christians cannot get together to hear from particularly skilled preachers and teachers.  We can.  We should.  It’s a great thing for evangelicals to share fellowship with believers from other confessional traditions.  All this will necessarily mean that some leaders receive a good deal of attention.  But that does not need to be a bad thing; indeed, it was true of many biblical figures, it has been true of Christians throughout history, and it will continue to take place.

God uses leaders.  God raises them up.  God calls them to speak for him.  People will naturally thrill to potent proclamation.  Praise God for that.  We must watch our hearts.  But we should not shy away from leadership.

We should, however, shy away from green shirts like Kevin is wearing in his photo.

(Image: University Reformed Church)


Filed under ministry, pastors

Is President Obama the First Female President?

Don’t ask me.  Ask Kathleen Parker.  She just suggested so–in the Post, no less.  However you answer this question, it seems incontrovertible that men have adapted womanly traits and habits in just about every category–dress, speaking, physicality, you name it.  You have to hand it to Parker–she speaks her mind, with no quarter given to anyone.  I admire that.


Stephen Witmer, a Massachusetts pastor with a PhD from Cambridge, writes on a “God-Centered Understanding of Sin” at Ref21.  An excellent piece worth the extensive reading.


Kevin DeYoung “witticisms,” including the immortal term “squishitude.”  That is a neologism worth passing on.


Old media?  New media?  David Brooks and Gail Collins discuss.


How has John Roberts changed the culture of the Supreme Court?  Here’s how.


James Boice, remembered. (HT: Challies)


By the way, I don’t know if you get Christianity Today, but the new issue has a noteworthy piece by Russ Moore on adoption (not yet online).  Here’s one memorable line: “The adoption movement is challenging the impoverished hegemony of our carnal sameness, as more and more families in the church are starting to show fellow believers the meaning of unity in diversity.”  That’s a heavy-hitter.


Filed under adoption, links, politics

Naselli on Keswick, Paralyzed Rodney Rogers, and Kluck’s New Press

TEDS PhD student Andy Naselli just published his first dissertation with Logos, Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology (2010).  It is a rich and engaging analysis of Keswick theology that is a genuine contribution to the academic guild.  Graced with a foreword by Tom Schreiner, it is worth your attention–and your dollars.  Learn more about how to understand Keswick theology through Andy’s scholarly spade-work (interview with Kevin DeYoung here).


This is a deeply moving story on paralyzed former NBA player Rodney Rogers, one-time sixth man of the year.  A father of three, Rogers broke his neck while riding dirt bikes.  He now merely hopes to walk again.  Stuff like this makes one sit up and take life seriously (and pray for people like Rogers).  Time is precious; bodies are fragile; others need us.


Ted Kluck, evangelical provocateur, has just started up a virtual publishing press with a buddy of his, Zach Bartels.  I haven’t read their first book, but it looks typically enjoyable and enlightening (Denny Burk liked it).  Look for more from Gut Check Press (make sure to check out Ted’s new Hello, I Love You, a looked-for book on adoption by Moody).

Ted is quotable.  Here’s a funny line from the story on the press from the Grand Rapids Press:

Bartels and Kluck plan to publish more books through Gut Check Press, though at the moment are accepting manuscripts only from themselves.

And another:

“We want to publish books your mom wouldn’t like, that are too edgy for the middle-aged women running publishing, “ said Kluck.

Ted throws his punches hard at times, but he’s a funny dude and an evangelical voice worth hearing out.

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BookNotes: Coppenger on GCR, DeYoung on Heidelberg, Anyabwile on Muslims

It’s time for a new BookNotes list.  This being the list where we list a few recent noteworthy books.  I’ve got four for you today.

You’ve likely heard talk about the Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, but until now, there has been no small, easy-to-read introduction to it.  Jedidiah Coppenger of B&H Publishing has just edited a little volume entitled Retreat or Risk: A Call for a Great Commission Resurgence (B&H, 2010).  I’ve looked through it, and it has some great material.  Jed contributes a helpful chapter on the SBC,  David Platt challenges readers to take the gospel to the nations, and Al Mohler writes on the future of the SBC.  All well worth reading.  Pick it up–it’s cheap and accessible.

Kevin DeYoung recently released his interaction with the Heidelberg Catechism, entitled The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody, 2010).  The Heidelberg Catechism is perhaps best known for its question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?,” and its answer, “That I am not my own, but belong–body and soul, in life and in death–to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”  This is a book worth picking up, one filled with stout commentary on Scripture and the need for holy living before the Lord.  Plus, it’s got Kevin’s trademark wit and insight, and will be a fun read besides.

Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, has just published The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Moody, 2010).  This pastoral work is a helpful primer on the sometimes fearsome task of Muslim evangelism.  In part one of the text, Anyabwile walks through differences between Christian and Muslim theology.  In part two, he offers practical evangelistic suggestions.  I found Thabiti’s own testimony about his conversion from Islam encouraging.  This little book will help to equip those of us who want to share the gospel with Muslims to do so with confidence and hope.

Finally, M. David Sills has written Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience (Moody, 2010).  This book offers a holistic look at missiology.  Danny Akin of Southeastern Seminary says the following about this new text: “David Sills makes the argument that a holistic and biblical methodology for missions must include both search and harvest strategies.  It must include evangelism and discipleship, church planting and theological training….This book is long overdue.”

If you are looking for further book reading recommendations, see Collin Hansen’s summer reading list, which was commented on in a prominent USA Today blog run by Cathy Lynn Grossman of that paper.

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