by David and Tim Bayly on February 12, 2005 - 6:36am
Note: At times I'm asked for book recommendations. Here's the first in a list I hope to add to, as time permits. First, the Book of Books and specific recommendations for which version of Scripture you should use, and what small number of Bible study helps and reference works you should have at home, with links to click where you can buy them at a good price.
Book Number One: The Bible, "New American Standard Bible Updated (1995) Edition"
The Bible is the only book without error:
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2Peter 1:20,21)
No other book is so worthy of our delight and constant meditation:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:16,17)
In Scripture we come to know the character, the perfections, of the Only True God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; here we have revealed to us the origin and nature of man, unique among all creation in his bearing the image of God, but sinful from the moment of conception by virtue of the federal headship of Adam; here, joyfully, we meet Jesus; here we read of His love for lost and sinful man; here we are brought to His Cross and promised eternal life if we believe on Him; here we find everything we need to know to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus.
Read this book as close to once a year as you can, never excluding the Old Testament. And as you read...
Speaking of Christian motherhood, if you have not read Augustine's Confessions, buy it and read it, and mark it up. No book in my library has as many markings and Post-It notes sticking out its side. Here is an autobiography whose ordering principle is the author's confession of sin--not exactly what Billy Graham or Bill Clinton filled theirs with.
But of all the things readers will remember, surely the godly character of Augustine's mother, Monica, and his love for her will be at the top. And here's a taste:
But I will omit not a word that my mind can bring to birth concerning your servant, my mother. In the flesh she brought me to birth in this world; in her heart she brought me to birth in your eternal light.
-Saint Augustine, Confessions, translated by R.S. Pine-Coffin, p. 192.
What a blessing that David and I have this same testimony concerning our own mother, Mary Louise Bayly; and that this is also the testimony of my wife, Mary Lee, about her mother, Margaret Louise Taylor.
Silence by Shusaku Endo is one of the great novels of the twentieth century. Great, first, in its writing: Endo, who died in 1996, was one of Japan's finest novelists and this is his greatest work. Great, second, in its story. A Roman Catholic, Endo takes as his theme in Silence a Portugese missionary priest to Japan in the early 1600s.
Unbeknownst to much of the west, the 1500s saw hundreds of thousands of Japanese convert to Christianity as a result of the work of Francis Xavier and his Roman Catholic missionaries.
In 1613, however, the Japanese government outlawed Christianity and a vicious attempt to stamp out Christianity followed. Thousands were martyred and in 1632 the first Roman Catholic priest apostasized.
Endo's novel takes its title from the "silence" of God as His people suffer under the persecutions of the shoguns.
This is as powerful a novel of Christian suffering as I've ever read. Beautifully told--though a somewhat difficult read--and powerfully challenging to Christians living in the ease and comfort of freedom. Ultimately, perhaps, Silence serves as a salutary warning for days ahead.
Buy Silence from Amazon for 9.56 in paperback and at Barnes & Noble at a members' only price of 9.67.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 22, 2005 - 12:28pm
Speaking of the Christian vs. secular college debate, a valid alternative to choosing a Christian college is choosing a secular school based on the churches/campus ministries resident on or around that secular campus. For instance, my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, has a campus ministry called Reformed University Ministries. RUM's work is called Reformed University Fellowship on each campus. Of course, this work is better on some campuses than others. It's excellent at Vanderbilt.
This was a prominent factor in our encouraging our second child, Joseph, to consider Vanderbilt.
RUF is self-consciously church-based and biblical exposition forms the centerpiece of their on-campus weekly meetings. Much different than every other evangelical parachurch campus ministry (trust me), RUF doesn't just pay lip-service to the local church but it pushes its students to be committed to a church--and not as secondary priority after their involvement in the RUF campus ministry, but as foundational to Christian discipleship.
On to a story. Joseph narrowed his choice down to Covenant College or Vanderbilt. He and I visited both of them and Joseph still couldn't choose. When we visited Vanderbilt, Marvin and Susan Olasky's son (Joseph, I think) hosted Joseph overnight and gave high marks to his experience there. Eventually, Joseph chose Vanderbilt.
So with some fear (but always faith), in the Fall of 2000 our family piled in the car and took Joseph to Nashville. We stayed at our son-in-law and daughter, Doug and Heather's, on Friday night and Saturday morning got in the minivan to move Joseph into his dorm room about half an hour away.
The building had only singles and was a pit. It's never easy to let a child go so I was feeling some gloom as we finished carrying boxes and clothes up to the room. The time came to leave and, after praying and giving him a kiss and a hug, we walked out of the room and headed to the staircase. Turning left out of his room and starting down the hall (with tears in my eyes, I admit), I was startled to look in the next door and see, exactly at the same place in the bookshelf over the desk, the same two-volume set we had just placed in the same position in Joseph's room: the Banner of Truth two-volume set of the Works of Jonathan Edwards.
I did a doubletake and looked again, thinking I'd likely been doing the moonwalk and not actually moving down the hall at all as I walked. I must still be looking through Joseph's doorway. So I looked more closely and saw through the door a stranger and his mother. I walked straight into the room and asked the young man, "What in the WORLD are you doing with a two-volume set of Jonathan Edwards on our bookshelf!? Come here, I've got to show you something."
We walked out the door and, turning right, I had him look in Joseph's room and see what he had on his shelf. Then it was time for our new-found friend to do a doubletake. Joseph's next door neighbor then told me how he had an older brother who had gone off to college--a non-Christian school by the way--and been led to faith in Jesus, there. His brother came home and told him about Jesus, at which point he too placed his faith in Jesus Christ.
His brother also turned him on to John Piper, so this younger brother began reading Piper. And he noticed in the footnotes that Piper drank waters from Edwards' well, so he went out and bought this set of Edwards and brought it to school so he could read it. Cinching the matter, he told me his name was Joseph--my son's name, also.
Praise God for His loving provision for His children, even down to determining among thousands of students that two students matriculating at Vandy who love Him would have adjoining rooms and doctrine.
Both Josephs attended RUF which was absolutely critical in their spiritual lives while at Vandy; both grew stronger in their friendship and faith while at Vandy; and our family's faith was strengthened as we saw how much God protects those who belong to Him, including their children.
Incidentally, it turned out that their dorm was sort of a self-selective group of sold-out Christians because all the men living there had asked not to be placed in a co-ed dorm.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 15, 2005 - 1:32pm
Over at Zeitgeist, my friend John Mark Reynolds has this recommendation which I quote only in order to disagree:
Three reasons you should stop reading Dickens and get on the Trollope bandwagon:
1. Trollope never wrote a book with characters as sorry as those in the Old Curiousity Shop. Trollope can write about love without making the reader ill.
2. Trollope was a conservative who liked the Victorian era, not a hypocrite who made money in an era he attacked.
3. Trollope created Lily Dale a female character better than any in Dickens. His "Small House at Alllington" should be required reading for all lads heading off for College or the City.
Sorry, John Mark, but I'll take Dickens over Trollope at the drop of a hat. I've been at page 444 of the 499 page Penguin Classic edition of Barchester Towers for about twelve months now and I can't make myself finish it. Throughout I've felt like I was being hectored by a self-righteous schoolmarm who was incapable of leaving anything for the reader to discover. Maybe other works by Trollope are different but I'm sceptical. Seems the things I object to in Barchester Towers would be the product of Trollope's own nature. So who thinks I'm out to lunch on this one?
And while I'm on the subject of literature, a couple years ago I read George Eliot's Middlemarch . And although it did become tedious every now and then, I thought reading this work would be an excellent preparation for marriage for any man who sees a need to grow in his understanding of the weaker and fairer sex. What an excellent display of feminine character at both its best and worst, and how sympathetically Eliot presents both ends of the continuum.
PS: Trollope might well be the patron saint of bloggers. He wrote tweny-five hundred words at a rate of one thousand words per hour each morning before breakfast, then left for a days work at the post office.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 8, 2005 - 9:22am
The last two New Yorkers have a two-part piece by John McPhee titled "Coal Train I and II" that are great. If you too have a love affair with trains, get these articles and read them. They'll make you want to move west and become a coal train engineer or conductor. No one equals the fascination factor of McPhee's non-fiction writing. I've read many of his books (and will make some recommendations down below). My early love for the New Yorker was the result of two things.
First, when I was boy and young man living in my parent's home, Dad used to sit down in his recliner in our dining/fireplace room facing the big sliding glass door with the view of the corn and soybean field behind our house, and he'd flip through the latest New Yorker calling us over every thirty seconds or so with a "Look at this one" as he held out a cartoon he thought particularly funny. He'd always watch carefully to see if we got it. Now I do the same with my family.
Second, being a late sixties/early seventies romantic, I'll never forget the appearance of McPhee's spellbinding series of articles on that last bastion of true American frontier, Alaska. It was eventually issued as a book called Coming into the Country and it's one of the best reads I've ever had. So when a new McPhee piece appears, I'm licking my chops.
One caveat: for the past fifteen years or so the New Yorker has changed its editorial policy about the inclusion of foul language and McPhee's piece on coal trains follows that pattern. Having worked on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in the Proviso Yard as a car knocker, though, I can say that McPhee is restrained in recording true railroad language.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 29, 2005 - 9:48am
Alright, this one's out of left field...
Have you ever been frustrated by cook books? Bad recipes mixed with the good? Ingredients no normal person has ever heard of, let alone purchased? Techniques requiring training at a chef's school? Spotty results and blotchy appearances?
No matter what Mary Lee tries, it's the best we've ever had, including many dishes we've been very happy with for many years before trying the Best Recipe version. The editors take a normal casserole dish, cut of meat, or cookie and try every possible method of preparation until they find the one that's best. You buy the book and don't have to do the experiments--it's that simple. And down to earth? You bet.
Do yourself and your family a favor, and check it out. Or do what Mary Lee and I have been doing for the past year or so--give it as a wedding present. You can't lose.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 29, 2005 - 7:20pm
Look, if you like big bangs, if you live for the firecracker that can wake up neighbors six blocks away, you have a choice between constantly running from the ATF or doing something more constructive and less illegal than night runs to Tijuana.
Two years ago the manliest man on earth gave me a copy of Backyard Ballistics, commending it to me as the quarter-stick addict's equivalent of a Nicorette patch.
Last January a friend and I spent a happy afternoon with our sons sawing and assembling PVC pipe into two carbide cannon following directions in the book. Once done, place water in the reservoir, add a pinch of calcium carbide, stick the lighter by the touchhole and watch your neighborhood shake. BANG. Wonderful.
(If you happen to make a carbide cannon, forego the Bangsite calcium carbide recommended in the book. Sellers on Ebay will sell you perfectly suitable ground carbide for one-twentieth of the cost of the Bangsite product.)
Other cool projects in Backyard Ballistics include spud guns, tennis ball mortars, Greek fire, and ballistic pendulums.
Not only does the book contain detailed plans for each project, but scientific principles and histories of the various contraptions are covered in entertaining detail as well.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 10, 2006 - 3:34pm
Again, I've received a request for information on how to purchase one or more of Dad's books. So rather than dealing with these requests one by one, I'm posting the information here so it's always available. Here then are the books Dad (Joe Bayly) wrote as they're available today. If there's something you don't see, please feel free to send me an E-mail. The books are listed both by original and present titles. In some cases, more than one of Dad's original books are now bound together in a single volume, so look at the table of contents carefully.
A Voice in the Wilderness (compilation of many of Dad's stories, poems, and articles):
The Gospel Blimp/I Saw Gooley Fly/Celing Zero/How Silently, How Silently (and other parables):
by David and Tim Bayly on February 23, 2006 - 9:56am
Tim's and my father used to say that there was no market for quality Christian fiction. Of course, he said this as a Christian author and publisher in the early 1980s when Christian publishers' catalogs avoided fiction like the plague.
But it's still an open question. Is there a market for quality Christian fiction?
Sally Wright, part of the CTW church family together with her husband Joe, in her Ben Wright mystery series gives evidence that good Christian novelists exist beyond Jan Karon and Marilynne Robinson. The New York Times says of Sally's series:
A year ago, I asked Marvin Olasky what he was working on that he was excited about, and he mentioned he was writing a novel. Several months later, he sent me the manuscript and I enjoyed reading it. Now Scimitar's Edge has been issued by Broadman & Holman and Stephen Roberts has reviewed it. Check it out, particularly you who profess Christ in academia.
How about we all go together and buy a high-speed scanner to produce electronic versions of books no one's yet seen fit to publish electronically?
I've been frustrated in recent days by not being able to find Calvin's Sermons on Deuteronomy, Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology and Bannerman's The Church of Christ in electronic format. Incredibly, two of the three (Bannerman and Calvin) aren't even in print. If there's ever a place for an electronic book, it's to satisfy demand for out-of-print titles.
But while we're at it, rather than simply grab low-hanging fruit by converting old versions of classics to electronic format, why not add value, electronic publishers, by commissioning new translations of works like Calvin on Deuteronomy where existing translations into English are centuries old? Then you can honestly claim copyright--creative value has been added--and justify a price equal-to-or-greater-than the print version.
I'm frustrated by the tendency of Christian software publishers to charge more for electronic versions of public domain works than normal publishers charge for print versions.
And while the move toward republication of classic works pioneered in the fifties and sixties by Banner of Truth has been truly beneficial, many of the works could use a translation fresher than the eighteenth century.
When I buy electronic books I primarily do so from Ages Software or Logos. I prefer buying from Logos because Logos makes it easier to manage a multi-book collection. But that's also Logos' achilles heel. I do ten times as many "Bible" searches as "Basic" searches in Logos because with every additional book Logos crams into its editions the number of junk hits in a "Basic" search increases. At this point, I find most "Basic" searches quite useless.
In the end, if Adobe would increase Acrobat's usefulness with multi-book collections, Acrobat would prove a serious competitor to Logos. Bibles and Biblical reference books would continue to benefit from Logos' hyperlinks and search capabilities. But the bigger a library gets in Logos, the clunkier the program becomes--and the more attractive a simple E-book manager/reader appears.
There are ways around the vast quantities of unhelpful hits in Logos searches. For instance, I could set up collections and search them individually. But frankly, weeding through hundred of books in Logos' collection manager is laborious. It would be easier and probably cheaper to buy books in PDF format, put them in categorized folders on my HD and use Acrobat Professional to index each folder.
I suspect that over time books published in in PDF format will prove Logos' primary competitor. Ages Software already uses Acrobat as its volume management system and their collections are increasingly potent--and great values to boot.
But Acrobat's library collection management capability is marginal. It annoys me that I have to back out to the initial screen each time I want to change volumes in a multi-volume book in Ages.
Logos has one marketing feature no one else can touch--the capability of their software to inform you of new books in the Logos collection. Each time the Logos software starts up on a computer linked to the internet it checks with a Logos server. As new books and sets become available, a pop-up window appears hyperlinked to a web page from which existing customers can one-click order. For this reason, if for no other, publishers are likely to continue using Logos for electronic publication of copyrighted materials.
In the long run I suspect Acrobat will overtake proprietary Christian publishing models--unless, of course, Logos changes its business model to resemble Adobe's and begins selling software rather than books. Then competition could develop within the Logos marketplace.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 28, 2006 - 12:08pm
Last night I finished a book recommended by my good friend, Bob Patterson, titled Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America (2004). We started the book during our family vacation, reading it aloud in the car as we drove. But we didn't get to the end so now we all have to finish it on our own.
Born Fighting is a broad-stroke history of the Scots-Irish, combined with a good bit of personal narrative by the author, James Webb, whose love and respect for his ethnic background runs gold-mine deep.
Webb's father was an Air Force colonel who clawed his way up the ranks by sheer determination. Webb followed in his father's footsteps, graduating from the Naval Academy, then serving as a Marine officer in the An Hoa Basin in Viet Nam. He was wounded twice and decorated with the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. Forced to leave the military because of a wound that wouldn't heal, Webb went on to earn his J.D. at Georgetown University where the faculty sought to humiliate him for his military service. His final work with the military came as Secretary of the Navy in the late eighties.
Since then, Webb has been a journalist. His work includes what many consider the classic novel of the war in Viet Nam, Fields of Fire (1978). Tom Wolfe writes, "In my opinion (Fields of Fire is) the finest of the Vietnam novels."
If you've read The Great Santini to which Webb makes a glancing allusion in the final pages of his book, you could say Webb is the mirror image of the Great Santini's biographer-son, Pat Conroy; and therefore, his precise opposite. Many of his father's traits Conroy portrays as despicable could easily serve as the basis of Webb's honorable and loving tribute to his own dad. It's all in the perspective. Only one of these men has learned the truth of Wilde's observation, "Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them."
And as an aside, I've rarely hated a book as much as I hated The Great Santini. Vulgar, sanctimonious (although I doubt anyone has ever applied this term to Conroy's work before), and patricidal, I do wish Conroy had read the account of Noah's drunkenness before taking up pen. Does America really need one more child bent on destroying his father's reputation? Conroy and Frankie Schaeffer would have done better to shut up. How do men cash royalty checks they receive for this kind of work?
But back to Webb. I'm telling you, this book is required reading for Baptists and Presbyterians with Scots-Irish blood. With me, you also may have the joy of recovering your ethnic roots and pride, realizing why, raised on Handel's Messiah playing from a stereo speaker above your crib in infancy in a suburb of Philadelphia, as you grow older you find yourself growing in your love for most things Southern. You love it's humor (Jerry Clower and Barney Fife/Citizen's Arrest); its music (Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe); it's manners (from the time of first meeting, your daughter's husband [a Nashville man] addressed you and your wife "Sir" and "Ma'am"); its literature (Flannery O'Connor, Dabney's bio of Stonewall Jackson); its sports (Nascar); its denominations (Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention); its movies (Driving Miss Daisy and Deliverance [yeah, I'm joking--it's just a joke, chill out, wouldya?]...
The unavailability of English print versions of numerous great Christian works remains a scandal. When Google is seeking to digitize the whole world for free, the lack of Christians seeking to digitize great Christian works for the general good is astounding.
What are we going to do, folks, leave such works to Logos and Ages so that they can profit from them? CCEL is a great resource for classic works but it's somewhat too broad for my taste.
I just bought a facsimile version of Calvin's sermons on Job--750 pages typeset (and translated into English) in the 1500s. I have half a mind to take the binding off, feed it through the church's high speed copier/scanner and see if my copy of OmniPage 15 can be trained to read the old typeface.
Then, if that works, on to Calvin's sermons on Deuteronomy (which I ordered in facsimile form from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom and never received), Bannerman's The Church of Christ, etc....
But first I have to reconcile myself to hacking apart a $55 book I just bought....
Buried in a comment is this list of works by Princeton Seminary professor and presbyterian pastor, Samuel Miller. Many of us have found Miller's works to be wonderfully pastoral and wise, but also blissfully short. Here's a list of his works available for downloading and reading, at no cost. The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions This is a wonderful antidote to the liberal experiential and emotive community masquerading today under the title "evangelical." For summer reading that would go far to opening one's understanding of the contemporary evangelical/seeker-sensitive/emergent church, I suggest pairing Miller's Creeds and Confessions with J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism. Adherence to Our Doctrinal Standards
by David and Tim Bayly on September 4, 2007 - 11:32am
(Tim) The second group of men have now matriculated in our pastors college and, as part of the heart religion emphasis during the first of three years' study, I'm leading a seminar on Luther's commentary on Galatians. I have an old copy of the commentary published in 1953 by London's James Clarke & Co. which I've used preaching through Galatians the past couple of years. But I went ahead and bought a second copy of the commentary since the most widely available and cheapest printing today is a paperback edition sold by Wheaton's Crossway Publishers. It's one volume in their Crossway Classic Commentaries series and we had assigned it as the edition of Luther's commentary the men were to read for the seminar. It made sense for me to be on the same page with the men. Literally.
Still, I wasn't entirely happy with the situation. Concerning evangelical publishers and their theological trustworthiness, I have a naturally suspicious mind. "Surely no need to worry about Crossway, though," I thought. "They publish many good authors and, although Alister McGrath is one of the series' editors, Jim Packer is the other and he wouldn't allow them to bowdlerize Luther." In his essay, "Sola Fide: The Reformed Doctrine of Justification," Packer cites the same edition of Luther on Galatians I use, translated by Philip S. Watson and published by James Clarke & Co. He's drunk at the same well so he'll not allow anyone to ruin Luther.
And yet I had a nagging thought at the back of my mind that we'd made a mistake by going with Crossway's edition...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 19, 2007 - 1:00pm
(Tim) Lucas Weeks just posted the good news that Watson's translation of Luther's commentary on Galatians published by London's James Clarke is available on Amazon for the unbelievably good price of $16.50. This version has double the pages of the version Crossway sells as one of its Classic Commentaries series, but is only a few dollars more. So trust us: forget the Crossway edition and buy it on Amazon.
Even though J. I. Packer edited the Crossway version, he uses the unabridged Clarke version himself. And what's sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.
If you love the Lord Jesus Christ and are terminally committed to His Bride, the Church, may I suggest you go out and buy a copy of Soren Kierkegaard's Attack upon Christendom?
Not looking to him as a philosopher, but to his understanding of how Official Christianity--what he calls "Christendom"--is the lethal enemy of true Christian faith, I have taken many hours of comfort and delight from this masterpiece. Although the Christendom he himself fought against was the state church of his native Denmark, his parables work almost seamlessly in our own context; particularly my own heritage, the Wheaton/Colorado Springs evangelical "church."
As there are some conferences where enrollment is limited to men who are elders, pastors, or aspiring to church office, maybe this book ought only to be read by church officers; and not just any church officers, but only those who believe discernment is still a gift given to the church for her edification, and who ask the Holy Spirit for that gift.
Attack upon Christendom is not for those who think it's a sin to examine their own hearts, or the hearts of their sheep, for hypocrisy. It's not for those who believe that the New Testament church and the Reformers had to go through conflict and say some harsh things so that we could escape such conflict and limit our own rhetoric to healing, uplifting, graceful, peaceful, "look to your baptism" words...
(Jesus said) I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. (John 10:11-13)
(Tim) Tonight I'm leading a discussion of Herbert Workman's Persecution in the Early Church (Oxford Paperbacks) with our first year Pastors College men. If you haven't read this book, you simply must. Nothing has helped me understand our present pressures and how best to prepare our children for the coming persecution as well as this little treasure.
Anyhow, I was reminded of Workman's book while reading this excerpt from an account published in the Times of the recent persecution of Buddhist monks in Burma:
A teacher talked about the pain of seeing Buddhism desecrated and the fear of the military that spread among the monks.
I know dozens of monks. One monk is very old. He is 78. It never occurred to him that in his lifetime he would have to hide. The day after the shootings started, I went to this monastery and the faces that I saw on those monks was something I had never seen. It is not fear. It was a sadness so unbelievable.
Now the young monks that I talked to--who weren't rounded up--they want to disrobe...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 30, 2007 - 5:03pm
(Tim) Despite all the brilliant scholars, today, who show they're in vogue by dissing Edwards for his purported "immediatism" and "populism," my dear friends pay, them no heed. No heed at all.
Rather, put a finger in their eye by ordering Hendrickson's (thanks for the correction, David Gray) two-volume set of Edwards' works at the great price of $40 now being offered by Cumberland Valley Bible Bookstore, a place we like to do business. Drink from the well men like John Piper have been drinking from for many years, now. Apart from a Bible, it's hard imagining any Christian work you could buy that would provide the same bang for the buck. This is spiritual meat for your soul and the souls of your loved ones.
And by the way, the J. C. Ryle set on the Gospels they're also offering is some of the best devotional, expositional reading I've ever done. If you want only one set of commentaries on the Gospels, get this one.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 25, 2007 - 8:26am
(Tim) When I was in my late twenties, soon to enter the pastorate, my father gave me a little copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, with the comment, "Read it until you have it memorized." It was, and still is, good advice for anyone who writes. Since then, I've given away more copies than I could count, always passing along to the recipient the same advice my father gave me.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 14, 2008 - 12:34pm
I hope you won't take it as bragging on my part if, before recommending books on the authority and inspiration of Scripture, I report that I have a large collection of books on this subject in my library--maybe as many as fifty. So knowing I have some grasp of what's available, here are the four volumes I suggested the men of our church buy and read this past Saturday at our David's Mighty Men meeting. The list is from less to more difficult.
Authority by Martyn Lloyd Jones (available used at ABEBooks.com for $1)
Christ and the Bible by John Wenham (available used at ABEBooks.com for $1.55)
Fundamentalism and the Word of God by J. I. Packer (available used at ABEBooks.com for $3.90)
The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible by B. B. Warfield (available used at ABEBooks.com for $6)
by David and Tim Bayly on January 16, 2008 - 6:57am
(Tim) The highest literacy rate the world has ever known was in Colonial America where every Christian father and mother knew the ability to read the Word of God was the greatest treasure they could pass on to their covenant children.
What about literacy in America today? Speaking to the New York Times' David Pogue and John Markoff, Apple's Steve Jobs said the Amazon Kindle book reader "would go nowhere."
"It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that
people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in
the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is
flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore."
Incidentally, while many reformed men are having hissy-fits today over the guitar replacing the organ in the accompanying of hymns in reformed worship services, I've been noticing the decline of what's included in reformed worship services--what we usually refer to as the liturgy. Specifically, I've noted how little Scripture is being read. For centuries books of the Bible were read aloud during (or prior to) worship services; books of the Bible, consecutively by chapter. This is what we do here at Church of the Good Shepherd: In addition to our sermon text read aloud as a part of the sermon (and usually not small), we read books of the Bible aloud as one of our Scripture lessons. Currently we're completing Hosea.
(David) April's Harpers Monthly has an excerpt from The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski. The book (from Crown Forum, a division of Random House) isn't available yet, but if the excerpt in Harpers is any indication, it promises to be a powerful indictment of scientific assumptions at the root of militant atheism.
Also, April's Atlantic Monthly contains a review of British Christian literary critic Ian Robinson's latest book, Untied Kingdom. Publisher of the book, Edgeways, has information on the book and its upcoming availability here. Unfortunately, the review isn't yet available on Atlantic's web site, but Robinson's thesis, that literary and linguistic decline precedes and produces coarsening of civilization, is certainly stimulating. My one worry on the basis of the review is that Robinson appears somewhat of a linguistic snob--he argues for the continued superiority of the KJV, an argument that can only be made on the basis of the literary inadequacy of modern translation, not on the basis of the KJV's usefulness as a means of training modern men and women in the Word of God.
by David and Tim Bayly on April 30, 2008 - 12:53pm
(Tim, w/thanks to Jeff) Have I ever said anything about commentaries? Sure, but I'll have another hack at it.
When I left seminary, we had no money, so book purchases were mostly from used bookstores and resale shops. But I felt the need to have something "substantial" on at least one of the Gospels, so I took everyone's advice and spent about 40 of our limited dollars on I. Howard Marshall's commentary on Luke. "Stupendous example of evangelical scholarship at its very best" they all said, and I took the bait.
We moved to Pardeeville and I began preaching. Immediately, I looked for an occasion to use my most-excellent new tool and it wasn't long in coming. Choosing a text in Luke, I opened Marshall and...
(Tim) Several of us have been having a conversation about what I consider far and away the best work on sexuality in print today, Stephen B. Clark’s Man and Woman in Christ. If you’re a Titus 2 woman, a pastor, or an elder and you haven’t read Clark, you should know that this book written by a Roman Catholic layman is indispensable. Traditional complementarian literature such as Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood can never be more than a stopgap measure. Although helpful, such works are only a hodgepodge of viewpoints and perspectives, never approaching a theology of sexuality. Why?
At the heart of the movement known as “Complementarianism” is the commitment to saying sex matters only in the church and home and only among Christians. It’s a private affair for those who affirm the authority of Scripture because of their Christian faith, and this private affair is only applicable in the private Christian spheres of the church and the home. One looks in vain for complementarians’ application of the order of creation to the military, courts, law enforcement, education, business, or government. The silence is deafening.
As with abortion in the late seventies and early eighties, we again are humiliated by having to turn to Roman Catholics for the doctrinal work needed for our time. While evangelical marketing mavens cop relevant postures and talk loudly in restaurants about being missional and the necessity of contextualizing, Roman Catholics do the heavy lifting against the heresies of our time. What shame we should feel.
These comments exchanged with several brothers by private E-mail led to this response by Bill Mouser, a dear brother in the Lord who's been a great encouragement to me for many years, now. Mouser, the head of the International Council for Gender Studies, writes...
(Tim) As I'm working on a sermon on Matthew 23:16-24, I'm again struck by how good Don Carson's commentary on Matthew (Expositor's Bible Commentary series) is. Typical of his ability to get to the heart of the matter is this comment on Jesus' third woe dealing with oaths found in verses 16-22. Note particularly his final statement:
Some writers have supposed that 5:33-37--which, formally at least, abolishes oaths--contradicts 23:20-22, which maintains that all oaths are binding but does not abolish them. In fact, however, verses 20-22 provide the rationale for 5:33-37. All oaths are in some way related to God. All are therefore binding, and thus evasive oaths are disallowed. On the other hand, the heart of the issue is telling the truth; and it is probably a new kind of casuistry that, failing to see this, insists that Jesus in 5:33-37 abolishes all oaths of every kind. (Carson, p. 479)
Normally, I wouldn't post such a simple thought and recommendation, but having drubbed Dr. Carson in a post earlier this week for his promotion of gender-neutered Bibles, it seemed right to say the good publicly.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 10, 2008 - 11:45am
(Tim) Each week, our church has a pickup soccer game at an elementary school near an apartment complex where a number of Muslim law school students live. When we're playing, one or more of the men (and sometimes their wives and children) come over to watch, and occasionally to play. Always, we talk afterward inviting them over for dinner and to church Lord's Day morning. A week and a half ago, one of the men came to both Sunday school and church.
Most of the men are from Turkey, but one is Liberian. During a conversation, the subject of Senator Barack Obama's faith came up and the Liberian gentleman said, "Barack Obama's a Christian, isn't he?"
"No, he's not a Christian," I answered.
"But doesn't he go to a Christian church?" he asked in some confusion.
"Well yes, he holds membership in a church that claims to be Christian, but it's not...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 19, 2008 - 7:23am
(Tim) Last week, three links were added at the top of the left column. The first is titled "Book of the week," and this is my first recommendation.
When Mary Lee and I were first married, we'd moved to Madison, Wisconsin and had no idea what church to become a part of. We had no friends in the city when we moved there so we spent quite a bit of time looking for a church home. Visiting church after church, nothing drew us in. We didn't like this church because every sermon was a Gospel appeal; that church because people weren't warm to us; the third church seemed snooty; and so on.
Then, somehow or other, we got a hold of Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and everything changed. One of the many parts still burning in my heart now thirty-two years later--the roundhouse punch that got us to find a church and stay throughout our years in Madison--was the section of the first chapter where Bonhoeffer says "God hates visionary dreaming." It's a knife in the heart of souls who judge the church rather than loving her (I've put an excerpt on the next page). As Mary Lee and I read it aloud, we saw our pride and lack of gratitude and started to repent...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 1, 2009 - 10:12am
(Tim) I have tender childhood memories of sitting in front of the fireplace roasting my back, my two younger brothers lying on the floor falling asleep, while Mud (affectionate diminutive of Mother) read to us. Dad was on the road speaking at conferences much of the time those years, and when he was gone our evenings had a certain leisure. Not that we lived under joyless discipline when Dad was home, but like most men, Dad was sort of daddish.
So the Life without Father routine was that, following dinner and devotions, a fire was built, and as it crackled, Mud read to us by the hour.
Books were the main course in our home, just as they were in the homes of three other families whose children were all growing up at the same time within the same congregation, College Church in Wheaton: the Ken Taylors (Mary Lee's family), the Ken Hansens (ServiceMASTER's founder), and the Hudson Armerdings (Wheaton's prez). All the children of these homes loved to read.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 2, 2009 - 5:53am
(Tim, w/thanks to Lillis) Although for myself, I'll be waiting for a good tethering solution before I use an iPhone, many of you already have them and I wanted to pass on some information about a new Bible that's been produced for it. It's called Bible Touch and it runs on the iPhone and iPod Touch--not over the network. So you don't need internet access to run it.
It's encouraging they've only released it with true translations so far, and not the neutered non-Bibles known, for instance, as the TNIV and the NLT.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 5, 2009 - 10:15am
(Tim) Last week, Nat Hentoff was laid off at the (Greenwich) Village Voice. This brings an abrupt end to Hentoff's fifty year run there, appropriately and affectionately titled "Fifty Years of Pissing People Off" by fellow Voice columnist Allen Barra in his recent tribute to Hentoff.
Hentoff started as a staff writer for the Voice back in 1958. His dismissal fifty years later coincides, almost to the day, with Louis Menand's short history of the Voice that ran in the current New Yorker. Beyond the Voice, Hentoff has also published in the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, JazzTimes (his best-known work may be as a jazz critic and historian), and Atlantic Monthly.
I note the dismissal of Hentoff, as well as the profile of the Voice in the current New Yorker, because this past week I've been enjoying a Christmas gift received from a friend in New York City who knows me well. A former member of Church of the Good Shepherd while studying at IU's School of Music, Regina Scow sent me an autographed copy of The Nat Hentoff Reader which I've been relishing this past week.
So far, I've read a short piece on jazz clarinetist, George Lewis; a longish one on my longtime favorite, Merle Haggard; some superb essays on racism in America including a good profile of Ken Clark titled, "The Integrationist;" and a rare glimpse of the racial suffering of Louis Armstrong in "Louis Armstrong and Reconstruction." The book also reprints Hentoff's classic essay exposing the practice of infanticide in America today titled, "The Awful Privacy of Baby Doe." I'll never forget reading it when it first appeared back in 1985. When I finished the piece, I remember feeling deep gratitude for Hentoff's leadership and courage.
I've been a fan of Hentoff for years now, largely (but not exclusively) because of his heroic defense of the First Amendment, the newborn, and the unborn. Interesting trio, aren't they? Imagine someone who tenaciously defends the First Amendment against the depredations of p.c. nannies also tenaciously defending the unborn and newborn against oppression and murder. He'd have to be a Christian, wouldn't he?
by David and Tim Bayly on January 14, 2009 - 7:45am
(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) Since moving to Bloomington, I've often read aloud to one of my younger brothers or sisters in Christ, seeking to innoculate them against this or that part of our cultural decadence. Scripture always and foremost. But also Bonhoeffer (Life Together). Calvin. Kierkegaard (Attack Upon Christendom). A. A. Milne. The "Preliminary Principles" from America's first Presbyterians. Blamires. Baxter. Bayly--Dad of course. Sayers...
In frequency and zeal, though, my use of Chesterton far surpasses the others. For the lies popular among young men and women today, particularly those being propagandized on university campuses, Chesterton is God's man on the spot. Specifically, no one does a better job of exposing feminism's humorless and bloody corpse.
Among Chesterton's essays, read "The Drift from Domesticity" found in The Thing. (You'll find the full text at the bottom of this post.)
Sit your mother down; call your daughter or wife; read it to the woman of your love right now. You'll both laugh with delight.
Then buy Chesterton's What's Wrong With the World
and read the essays comparing the work of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. You'll never again think big thoughts about business and small thoughts about motherhood. Chesterton will have given you a lifelong innoculation against such stupidity.
All this comes to mind with this from Australia recording the growth in love for the household arts among women there. Now that's good news!
By the way, when I recommend Chesterton, people occasionally get a look of horror on their faces and inform me that he's Roman Catholic and hates Calvin...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 11, 2009 - 6:56am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) For a number of years, Yale's been hard at it putting the works of Jonathan Edwards online, freely available for hoi polloi who can no longer afford the critical edition now running around $110 per volume
. It's an ill wind that blows nobody some good, though, and I suspect the high price of the hard copies is part of the reason all of us are now able to search the volumes online. So I'm happy.
Don't allow anyone else to give your Edwards to you. When I was at seminary in New England, I took a course in Edwards' works under Richard Lovelace. One night (it was a small evening seminar), I well remember coming to the session with great anticipation, having read a good portion of Edward's harder truths that week. But then, Dr. Lovelace started the class with a statement to the effect that "Here, Edwards goes a little bit off the deep edge, engaging in his well-known penchant for negativity."
Yes, yes; that's the problem with Edwards. He's so negative you get an ulcer reading him. What we need today is something positive that people can relate to; something that will give people hope and not lead them into despair.
Well, if you've read Edwards, you know that there are few men in the history of the Church who are more...
(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) If you want to begin to understand our day--the switch of the central currency of cultural engagement from the Bible to moving pictures, the use of film clips in Gospel preaching, the building of congregations around virtual images of themselves on the movie screen each Lord's Day employed by men like Mark Driscoll and John Piper, and the gift our head of state and his wife gave the Queen, recently--only two things are necessary: first, read the Second Commandment; and second, read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.
And while we're talking about the gifts the monarchs exchanged...
(Tim, w/thanks to daughter, Michal) Got this Facebook thingie from Michal today. First, her list; then my own:
This can be a quick one. Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen
books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you
can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, including me
because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose...
Okay, Talia, off the top of my head (I knew I had to do it right away
or I'd be formulating the list in my head for the rest of the day,
which is kinda cheating):
Michal Crum's List:
1. St. Augustine's Confessions
2. There is No Me Without You, Melissa Fay Greene
3. Howard's End, E.M. Forster
4. King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild
(Tim, w/thanks to TidBits) The second comma in this sentence cost the Canadian telecom company, Rogers Communications Inc., 2.13 million dollars:
The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from
the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms,
unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by
When I was in my early twenties, Dad told me, "Get Strunk & White and read it. Read it until you have it memorized." For the uninitiated, that's Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.
(Tim, w/thanks to David B.) Shortly after posting on the charade-posing-as-debate-over-woman-officers-in-the-PCA, I opened an old e-mail from David Baker and read this one-paragraph review of a book that might have arrived in the nick of time. We're at a kairos in our denomination, and before we go whole hog for submergent contextualization, we ought to give Harry Frankfurt's latest work a chance. Here's a description:
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 16, 2009 - 9:24am
(Tim, w/thanks to Bob and Brian) At church the other day, I was talking with Bob Sands, a young father of ten or twenty (I've lost track), and he mentioned another man in our congregation, Brian Bailey, had sent him a link to a book on Google Book that he'd found very helpful titled The Dread of Responsibility by Emile Faguet.
"The dread of responsibility," I thought, "that's the perfect summary of leaders today--teachers, principals, professors, judges, senators, presidents, and of course, pastors, elders, deacons, fathers, and husbands. All of us have a dread of responsibility."
Bob told me the book emphasized the courage fatherhood required and I was reminded of a quote I've used at times that says something like, "The father of a family is the world's first and greatest adventurer."
So today, I went and read the part of the book Brian had recommended...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 23, 2010 - 8:23am
(Tim) This excellent exhortation to church planters and other pastors by son Joseph was just posted on the ClearNote Fellowship Blog. With his wife, Heidi, Joseph is planting a church in Indianapolis and I commend the work to our readers if they know residents of Indy looking for a church home. For more information, please e-mail Joseph.
* * *
Currently, my wife and I are reading out loud together volume one of
Iain Murray’s two-volume biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years 1899-1939 (v. 1). (By the way, reading out loud is an excellent way to pass the time, but more about that another day.)
Whenever I read history, I find myself wondering at my own
stupidity... It's truly amazing I so easily forget the
truth of God’s declaration through King Solomon that “there is nothing
new under the sun.” But I always do, and this is why it's so
important to read history. Whenever I read about the past, I find that
it's just like the present. Only today we’re so conceited we
honestly think we’re the first ones to…
by David and Tim Bayly on February 10, 2010 - 10:42am
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.... (2 Timothy 4:3).
(Tim) Darryl Hart is Director of Partnered Projects at the
Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) and an adjunct faculty member at Westminster Seminary in California (WSC). He wrote a helpful bio of J. Gresham Machen titled Defending the Faith. He's also done a short history of the OPC titled Fighting the Good Fight
which made me want to go back to my roots there in that denomination--that is, until I remembered what the OPC actually was like. As in somnolent by way of its distinctives, one of which is variously referred to here and other places as R2K (radical two kingdom), 2K (two kingdom), or "the spirituality of the Church."
Concerning the two books above, buy and read them, carefully. If you trace your spiritual or cultural lineage back to the popular evangelicalism of the twentieth century as many of Dr. Hart's admirers do, you need to know the history of men like J. Oliver Buswell, J. Gresham Machen, and the denomination Machen founded called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. You need to know how real dispensationalism with its always-attendant moralism dogged fundamentalism and the early evangelicals; but also Machen's courageous stand against it. This history will go a long way toward explaining why many otherwise good reformed men today seem careless about cruelty and injustice, and indifferent to the sodomitic bondage and slaughtered babies at the headwaters of the river of blood we drive through each day in this Babylon that is our home.
Dr. Hart does a superb job documenting Machen's opposition to the binding together of the Church and the feminine anti-alcohol and tobacco crusade that, by way of Fundamentalism, sought to extend its reach into conservative presbyterianism. He said "no," and our R2K brothers think of themselves as the true keepers of Machen's flame. Sadly, though, what started out as opposition to teetotalers, prohibitionists, and other moralistic crusaders has morphed into what appears to be a lack of compassion and love for our neighbors and opposition to the Moral Law itself in our work of obedience to the Great Commission...
(Tim) The latest New Yorker has an article by Ken Auletta chronicling the death throes of bookstores and traditional book publishers. People are still buying books, but there's a hostile takeover of these legacy hard copy businesses being waged by authors and their strong allies: particularly the explosion of e-books and the pricing structure and self-publishing services of a number of companies; most especially, Amazon.
It's been a long time coming and nothing but good that authors are regaining some authority over the marketing and distribution of their work.
Take, for instance, self-publishing. In the old days, traditional book publishers cultivated the notion that anything worth publishing would be recognized and put under contract by a reputable publisher. If you weren't able to interest the big name publishers and went the vanity press route, it was because you were vain and wouldn't listen to the simple truth acquisitions editors kindly sent you by letter--that your book had no market. So hardheaded authors who wouldn't take "no" for an answer went off to a vanity press and paid, rather than being paid, for their book to be published. They spent money out of their own pockets to purchase a few hundred copies they could pawn off on business associates or family members.
But no serious man with serious credentials and serious things to say would be caught dead going that route. That's what was meant when you heard the suits say "he went with a vanity press."
Of course those who live in the publishing world know how fallible acquisitions editors and publishers are. John Grisham had his first mystery turned down by twelve publishers and sixteen agents before he found someone willing to take him into print...
(Tim) Yesterday, a friend sent me a satirical piece his son and
several friends had written about a bunch of new city church plants with
names like Elevation Church, Dust, The Line, Infusion Church, and
Austin City Life (see Howard Davis' comment, below). He commented, "What is really amazing is their unique
web sites all look alike (and) I bet all their unique worship services
are the same. And... they're all about being in the 'city.'"
reading many city
church web sites, it's clear such churches normally aren't missional if missional means faithfulness to Jesus' Great Commission commands. Most indicate no practice of rebuke, preaching God's Law, or calls to repentance. Instead, they prattle on about being "for the city" and they're positively chipper.
It's all about seeking common ground with
unbelievers. And if they mention God's perfections, it's only those
perfections that would be likely to make unbelievers feel good about
themselves and think God might not be so high and mighty and scary
after all. Christian faith and the Church are presenting as uniting believers
and unbelievers in the same brotherhood and sisterhood of man in and for the city. Convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment is out and assuring the world of our goodwill toward them in God's Name is in.
Reading Augustine's City of God
earlier today, I came across this excerpt. Augustine knew something about preaching the Gospel in the city and contextualizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ to urbane men and women world-weary in a decadent
(Tim) Over at ClearNote Blog, Jake Mentzel posted an introduction and has been putting up paraphrased excerpts from John Owen's Mortification (The Killing) of Sin in Believers. If you refuse to forgive others, look longingly at men's or women's bodies, wish you had your neighbor's Kubota, are prayerless, comfort yourself with ice cream, numb yourself with alcohol, bale hay during worship, and are bitter against God, this book's for you...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 28, 2010 - 11:32am
(Tim: Nathan Alberson writes) Dear Dad or Mom:
Your average teenage boy already knows about the birds and bees. But how on earth are you going to talk your darling child through all the issues that come along with it: from lust to porn... Wouldn't it be nice if there was some sort of book about sex written for young men...