Thursday, March 22, 2012


Saturday morning from 10:30 until 12:30, I'll be signing copies of Phoenix at the Bread of Life Bookstore, 107 West Main St, Greenville, Ohio.

This is my first signing, so for me it will be very special.

Thanks in advance to any who come, and thank you to the Smearsoll's for allowing me to do this signing! See you there!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why study theology?

There is an important lesson waiting for us in Scripture, and it has to do with knowing God. The lesson is this: the true knowledge of God, when wholeheartedly embraced, is in itself sufficient to enable us to meet life's suffering and disappointments.
            We humans get this backwards. In our minds, what is necessary to meet the need of human suffering is human comfort. It certainly is important to care and express human sympathy, support, and compassion. And it is quite right and loving to do so. To do otherwise certainly would not express the love and kindness of God.
            But the Book of Job has something to contribute to this discussion of the sufficiency of the knowledge of God. Job suffered as few have. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health, all in a single day. His wife's helpful advice was, "Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9).
            Job had three outstanding friends who sought to comfort him, investing a huge amount of time with him, grieving silently with him for seven straight days and nights. Then they sought to help him by bringing some perspective to his suffering. It is easy to blame Job's friends, but you must admit that they had earned a hearing by their obvious care for him. But their attempts at comfort fell short. They blamed Job for sin he had not committed, and Job retreated into self-righteousness, ultimately intimating that God was unfair.
            But it was God who brought resolution and comfort to the situation. God sent a young man by the name of Elihu to set the stage by defending God's sovereign righteousness. God Himself then finally appeared and spoke to Job. What God said to Job is jarring to our perception of how a suffering person should be comforted. God essentially said, "Job! Look at me! Are you as great as I am? Can you do what I can do?"
            When God was finished, Job repented of his self-righteousness and became satisfied in his God. Did you get that? Job was comforted when he gazed on the greatness of his God!
            Think of the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation chapters two and three. Each of the churches was suffering some form of persecution. They each were facing certain dangers. But God opens each letter by describing Himself, and closes each by giving them a promise.
            What I am saying is this: we are so designed, so created, so wrought, that we find our greatest comfort, satisfaction and delight in knowing truly our God. At the end of the day, your proper knowledge of theology is comforting and sustaining. The Catholic Church has a name for this: they call it the Beatific Vision. The Beatific Vision is said to be the eternal and direct perception of God enjoyed by those who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness or blessedness [wikipedia]. What I am telling you is that we have the beatific vision now, in a sense, as we see our God through His Son and His Word. And it does indeed impart supreme happiness and blessedness as we glorify Him by knowing Him properly. Is there a better reason to study theology?

[This post comes from my introduction to Session 7 of our Advanced Theological Training course at BFC.]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review of Worldview as Worship

Worldview as Worship, by Eddie Karl Baumann

Baumann is a Christian educator who desires to be thoroughly biblical in the way he approaches education, particularly surrounding the issue of how one integrates biblical faith with content, irrespective of the particular teaching discipline. His goal is that education would be properly transformative for the student, not merely informative.

In order to introduce his ideas to the reader, Bauman very creatively assembles a fictional faculty at a Christian high school, and uses the characters as a foil for building his case at the beginning of many of the chapters. This is especially effective as he presents the faculty as attending a series of conferences conducted by a specialist who is challenging them to develop a truly biblically transformative educational environment.

Baumann has several basic points he wants to get across. He makes a case that the common conception of worldview as a rationally qualified philosophy actually confuses philosophy with worldview. Baumann argues that worldview is in fact inculcated by culture and is, in that sense, pre-rational. He contends that a particular worldview can actually support several disparate philosophies.

Second, Baumann argues that worldview formation (and transformation) is more akin to an apprenticeship model than to an academic model. As he says at the end of his book, it is more caught than taught (312).

His conclusion is that a genuinely biblical integration of faith and content must take place in the context of a faith community that is actively obeying Christ, fulfilling His commands to love our neighbors as ourselves. Merely having the right answers to questions does not display a genuinely biblical worldview. Hence the title, Worldview as Worship.

It is a well-written, carefully-argued book. Not all of his thoughts do I agree with, especially when he veers into areas such as economics. His division of the varieties of biblical worldview into types is interesting (pp 216-240). I think it is a little more tied to one's eschatology than Baumann does, nonetheless it was provocative.

Strengths of the book: exhaustively researched, theologically astute, carefully argued, well illustrated with examples and scenarios. Some of his thinking I would characterize as profound. He does a wonderful job of assembling the biblical data and then interpreting it in a theologically accurate way, all the while using numerous quotes from other writers to buttress his own thinking.

Weaknesses of the book: it was almost too much. His argumentation was so close and so detailed that I was frequently losing the larger picture of the points he was seeking to advance. It would help the readability of the book to use more subheadings that would guide the reader through the labyrinth of his argument with single sentences. At times I also lost the sense of the progression of the argument. I have to admit, however, that this might be less of a problem for most readers, as it took me a long time to read the book (my fault, not Baumann's), and therefore I may have lost track of the argumentation simply because of my own slowness in reading.

Worldview as Worship is an excellent book for thinkers who are at least somewhat conversant with philosophy and philosophical terms, and who are solidly biblically literate. It is college-level material, if not graduate-level, in my opinion.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Interview time has changed. . .

Okay, gang. I goofed.

The real interview time at 88.9 Joy FM is tomorrow (Thursday, March 8) from 7:00AM until 8:00AM, if you want to listen. You can also get it streaming, live, here. Naomi Cantrell will be interviewing me about Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix.

Another author-event is coming up on Saturday, March 24. I will be signing copies of Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix at the Bread of Life Bookstore in Greenville, from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM.

I've never done this sort of thing before, and haven't a clue. Come on out and say, 'hi!'