Books

Tetzel, eat your heart out...

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs." - Johann Tetzel's pitch as he sold the indulgences that funded the Sistine Chapel.

Amazon has started a Christian book imprint called Waterfall. Publisher Mark Pereira explains Waterfall's mission to the Library Journal:

Our main focus [at Waterfall] is to publish books that entertain and inform readers with a transforming message (that includes) Christian Living through spiritual refreshment and personal growth (as well as) stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Books with a transforming message that entertains readers. Christian Living and spiritual refreshment through mystery, suspense, and romance. 

The recent merger of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing is now called HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the same Library Journal article reports this explanation by HC Christian Publishing executive Tracy Danz of their market for Christian fiction...


How should we then lie...

In tribute to this wonderful article, I want to suggest a list specifically for Christians. This is not, I might add, because Christians need their own everything, including top 10 lists. Rather, it is because Christians have their own peculiar shibboleths and a similar penchant for lying to themselves and others.

Here then are the top 10 books Christians like to think they've read, but haven't...

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Gift suggestions...

Need some ideas for Christmas gifts? Some recommendations...


Tim Keller's "divine dance": the Trinitarian twist...

Reading some of Tim Keller's books recently, certain emphases stood out. One being something he calls the "divine dance." Keller prefers framing discussions of the Trinity with this analogy. He concludes with it in The Reason for God and opens with it in King's Cross (aka Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God)...

Exploring the background to this analogy, I came across a very helpful book, Engaging with Keller: Thinking Through the Theology of an Influential Evangelical, contributed by various authors, including Pastor Kevin J. Bidwell.


Recommended reading: Flannery O'Connor...

In March, 1961, an English professor wrote Flannery O'Connor asking for her intention in writing the story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." He and his colleagues, along with 90 students, had been debating its meaning for weeks. Finally, they'd settled on a clever, academic reading, which interpreted the Misfit and his murder of the Georgia family (spoiler alert) as an extended dream sequence. In other words, a twist ending that only a professor reading into things never meant to be read into could dream up.

O'Connor’s response?

If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction.

For she did intend something with the story...


Book recommendations: Baxter's Reformed Pastor and Shusaku Endo's Silence...

It seems inane to say so when so many others have said the same so often for so many centuries, but having recently led our Pastors College men through Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor, I was reminded how central to the development of my work as a minister of the Word Baxter has been. After seminary, I read The Reformed Pastor, followed quickly by Baxter's Autobiography, and it's impossible to overstate the impact both had on my pastoral conscience and commitments these past thirty years. Page after page, I see my markings and marginal notes and think to myself, "that's where I learned that" and "that's why I think that way!"

Whether you're a deacon, pastor, or elder, if you haven't read Baxter's Reformed Pastor, buy it now and read it yesterday! Then preach on Acts 20 and you're good to go! (Or to sit down and mourn and cry and beat your breast and confess your failures to the Chief Shepherd, asking for His mercy and renewed commitment to faithfully shepherd Christ's Church which He bought with His Own precious blood.)

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Speaking of books, I also just finished Silence by Shusaku Endo and recommend it to our good readers. (I was up staying with my brother, David, for a couple days and pulled it from his bookshelves, so thank David for the recommendation.) Silence is said to be the masterpiece of Japan's most respected novelist and the work is a fictionalized account of the great persecution Christians suffered in Japan during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries...


A presbyterian giant...

This is a review of The Life of John Murrayby Iain H. Murray (2007, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust). The review is written by Rev. David Wegener, a theological educator who, with his wife, Terri, works with the Reformed Baptists in Lusaka, Zambia as a missionary of the Presbyterian Church in America's mission arm, Mission to the World.

John Murray was the finest Presbyterian theologian of the twentieth century. Recently, I had a chance to read his biography written by Iain Murray (no blood relation). I love the way Iain Murray writes history: to instruct, to edify, to rebuke, and to encourage. Here is what I learned.

John Murray was born in the Highlands of Scotland and came from a strong believing family. His father was ordained to the Presbyterian eldership at the young age of 27 and was known for his physical strength, his integrity and his above-and-beyond fairness. Born in 1898, John was the last of eight children, six boys and two girls.

Murray was blessed in the home in which he was raised. His father was the finest example of genuine godliness that John ever encountered. Four Murray boys fought for the allies in WWI and only two returned. John was one of the sons who returned, although he had lost his right eye to shrapnel. He was given a glass eye and it so closely resembled his other eye even those who knew him well forgot it.

During his school years in Scotland, Murray was an excellent student. In 1923, following the war, he received an M.A. from the University of Glasgow. The following summer the Northern Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church took him under care as a candidate for the gospel ministry and he went to America to study at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Princeton was passing through the most unsettled period in its long history. In 1921 B.B. Warfield had died, leading J. Gresham Machen to remark, “It seemed to me that Old Princeton... died when Dr. Warfield was carried out” (p.21).

At that time there were three groups battling for control of the Presbyterian Church...


New version of The Gospel Blimp released today...

Speaking of books, if you haven't yet read Dad's Gospel Blimp, you really should. Written back in 1962 after two decades working in the parachurch world of Evangelicalism, Dad's parable remains quite funny and painful.

Good news! Today Clearnote Press released a new version of this classic. With an intro by Doug Wilson, the Gospel Blimp is bound with a full set of Dad's other stories/parables formerly published as I Saw Gooley Fly.

The title is The Gospel Blimp (and Other Parables); (Kindle), (Paperback), (Nook), and (eBook-Kobo). Later this week it will be available on iTunes.

It would be a great encouragement to the men of Clearnote who did the work of revision, proofing, and design if readers of Baylyblog were each to buy a copy. And, if you're willing, you could like, share, and/or comment on the announcement on the FB page of Clearnote Fellowship. Thanks.

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BTW, for the foreseeable future, no Bayly family member will receive any royalties on the sale of this book.


An updated reading list on sexuality...

Here's a reading list of thirteen books on the meaning and purpose of the two sexes created by God—man and woman. It's been slightly reworked since it was last published.

1. Scripture, starting with these texts
2. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House
3. Paul King Jewett: Man as Male and Female
4. Stephen B. Clark: Man and Woman in Christ
5. Walter Neuer: Man and Woman in Christian Perspective
6. Steven Ozment: When Fathers Ruled
7. G. K. Chesterton: What's Wrong With the World or The Thing
8. Doug Wilson: Reforming Marriage


Some good listening as you drive or cut the grass...

In response to a reader's comment requesting recommendations of free books to listen to, I threw this together:

I'd start with this page of Chesterton's works available free on LibriVox. Chesterton is an acquired taste that assumes some ability on the part of the reader or listener. If you haven't listened to him before, maybe I'd start with What's Wrong with the World around chapter 15 or so because...


Books that make you think long and hard...

Recently, Tim commended the works of E. Michael Jones to our attention. Several of us have been reading them, but I've been complaining about their high prices. So Tim wrote Mr. Jones, and he reports that a number of them are back in print and available from Culture Wars for much better prices than you will find on Amazon. A few samples...


Copyright and Christian publishing, today...


If technology is behind many evils, although I wouldn't put it at the top of the list, the aggressive lobbying of publishers for expansion of their copyrights would be way up there. You know a recurrent theme here is the click we all are forced to perform before new software installations and updates: "Yes, I've read and agree with your 10,000 words of legalese here binding me to give notice to Apple if I ever put on a pair of socks again without explicit permission from Apple's in-house socks permissions department. And no, I will never, ever eat an apple again without paying you a user fee. Promise and cross my heart." You know the routines and the lies it's made pervasive.

But this is almost the least toxic part of the abuse of copyright, today. We have Christians threatening lawsuits against those who copy works in the public domain when those works are not and cannot be covered by copyright, so their threat is a lie. We have Bibles copyrighted when the Holy Spirit inspired every word, and Moses, Kings David and Solomon, and the Apostle Paul did the work and have been dead for many centuries. We have Mickey Mouse getting an extension of royalties for Disney simply because he has well-paid lawyers and lobbyists buying legislators who think making the Disney corporation filthy richer is fine because Disney is next to apple pie and motherhood.

It's a mess and we all need to remind ourselves that there's another way for believers...


For new Christians, a simple explanation of how to buy a Bible...

Do you have a Bible you hold and open and read and write notes in? Not a Bible app, but a real printed Bible? You ought to and here's a post giving some recommendations for choosing and using your Bible, as well as some recommendations for a few books you should have on hand as helps in your Bible reading.

As you read, always keep in mind that 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. Man alone (both men and women) bears the Image of God, although by virtue of the federal headship of Adam he is wracked by sin. Here joyfully we meet Jesus our beloved Savior. 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 lead a godly life in Christ Jesus.

Read this book as close to once a year as you can. And never ever excluding the Old Testament. And as you read, don't hesitate to mark up your Bible...


Reading, writing, and E. Michael Jones...

All the time I remind people that I have nothing original to say or write. I'm a hack who reads and quotes others—especially my Dad. When I read his books, particularly the compilation of his monthly columns from Eternity titled Out of My Mind: The Best of Joe Bayly, I realize they are the footers and foundation and framing and drywall and flooring and windows and trim and shingles and paint of my thoughts—understanding, of course, that God's Word is our air and bread and water.

Whom/who do I copy? Mostly dead men. I've read little Lewis, but I've devoured Chesterton and do still. Also Luther and Calvin. Augustine. When talking with younger men and women, I try to get them to have a few great influences and be jealous for their sake. Don't go for breadth. Go for depth. Pick a couple church fathers everyone agrees on and devour them. Don't stop until you're in the grave. Give yourself to them completely so you know their errors, too. Then I always recommend they take Calvin as one of their men. You can't go wrong, particularly if you're a pastor and preaching and teaching is your calling. There's no one close to Calvin as an exegete and expositor, all in one. Buy everything of his in print, including his sermons. But hey, I've got to rein in this post.

All this as prelude to saying my friend E. Michael Jones has just reprinted several of his books and I encourage you to...


Used book stores: great deals and misplaced volumes...

One of my favourite places to go is a good used book store. Dad used to say you could take the "intellectual temperature" of a city by examining it's used book stores. We used to love to go to them together. 

Maybe some of our readers can write and share great used book stores and deals they have gotten around and about. Any used book store stories will work. Here's my latest.

Bloomington just got a Half-Price Book Outlet on the west side of town. I've been there twice already and it's great.

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Just a suggestion...

From the peanut gallery: Doug Wilson's book on Christmas might better be titled, "God Wrest Ye Merry."

Buy it anywho.

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The self-publishing revolution is a blessing...

Publishers Weekly announces self-publishing is up up up, and that's good good good--particularly for the Church. Remember how the printing press helped the Reformation? Rome couldn't block the direct pipeline the Reformers now had to expose the wickedness in high places, warning the sheep.

The same is true of the digital publishing revolution of the past three decades, starting with Macs and laser printers. Wheaton and Grand Rapids and Covenant and Redeemer can't block the direct pipeline reformers now have to the sheep.


Edwards on your iPhone or iPad...

We've linked to Yale's Jonathan Edwards Center before and I encourage readers to sign up for their e-mails. Good news. The Center has released an iOS system app at the iTune App Store providing access to Edwards works on your iPhone or iPad. 


Recovering devotional reading (part 3): read MLJ and the Puritans...

Nothing has given me more encouragement in my reading than the sermons of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I’m aware that reading sermons is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some find it enriching and others tedious. His sermons on Romans are excellent. These days I’m working through his preaching on the Sermon on the Mount. My wife has profited from his sermons on Philippians and Ephesians.

You can read the sermons of MLJ for many reasons. Though some read him for his theological exegesis of the text (see, e.g., Doug Moo’s comments on MLJ in his commentary on The Epistle to the Romans in the NICNT, p. xix), I read him to remind myself of the Gospel and to be challenged by his applications of Scripture. You can usually read a whole sermon in one or two sittings. Here are some sample gems ...

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Recovering devotional reading (part 2): you simply must read the life and testament of Jim Elliot...

When I was young, I listened to some phonograph records on the life of David Livingstone. One story was about his encounter with a man-eating lion. When I listened to it recently, I cringed at the racist undertones. “Bwana, him big like house. Him big like mountain.” “I know Juma …". But I was also reminded why it was so helpful. It probably shaped me in ways of which I had no idea at the time. Even though Livingstone shot the lion, it kept charging and mauled his arm before the bullet finally killed it. “You know, boys and girls, God did deliver David Livingstone from the lion. But he was unable to use that arm for the rest of his life.” Narration like that taught me from a tender age that following God was no guarantee that I wouldn’t suffer, even if I was utterly faithful. 

I also remember one scene where terrifying natives were on one side of a river, hurling spears and shooting arrows and yelling at Livingstone and his friends. I can still hear the angry chief calling out in a low, ominous voice, “Go back … Go back ….”