Radical. Crazy. Transformative and restless. Every word we read these days seems to suggest there s a next-best-thing, if only we would change our comfortable, compromising lives. In fact, the greatest fear most Christians have is boredom the sense that they are missing out on the radical life Jesus promised. One thing is certain. No one wants to be ordinary.
Yet pastor and author Michael Horton believes that our attempts to measure our spiritual growth by our experiences, constantly seeking after the next big breakthrough, have left many Christians disillusioned and disappointed. There s nothing wrong with an energetic faith; the danger is that we can burn ourselves out on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. What s needed is not another program or a fresh approach to spiritual growth; it s a renewed appreciation for the commonplace.
Far from a call to low expectations and passivity, Horton invites readers to recover their sense of joy in the ordinary. He provides a guide to a sustainable discipleship that happens over the long haul not a quick fix that leaves readers empty with unfulfilled promises. Convicting and ultimately empowering, Ordinary is not a call to do less; it s an invitation to experience the elusive joy of the ordinary Christian life.”
Currently reading and enjoying Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples by Michael Horton and Covenantal Apologetics by K. Scott Oliphint.
Pilgrim Theology is based – in part – on the much larger The Christian Faith, although it is no simple abridgment; rather, Michael Horton has sought to write for an entirely new and wider audience, intentionally making it more useful for both group and individual study.
Horton reviews the biblical passages that have given rise to particular doctrines in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection.
Pilgrim Theology is especially appropriate for undergraduate students, educated laypersons, or anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of Reformed theology’s biblical and historical foundations.
Like the directions on a compass, there are four coordinates that guide us in our journey to know God: drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship.
All of our faith and practice arise out of the drama of Scripture, the “big story” that traces the plot of history from creation to consummation, with Christ as its Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. And out of the throbbing verbs of this unfolding drama God reveals stable nouns – doctrines. From what God does in history we are taught certain things about who he is and what it means to be created in his image, fallen, and redeemed, renewed, and glorified in union with Christ. As the Father creates his church, in his Son and by his Spirit, we come to realize what this covenant community is and what it means to belong to it; what kind of future is promised to us in Christ, and how we are to live here and now in the light of it all. The drama and the doctrine provoke us praise and worship – doxology – and together these three coordinates give us a new way of living in the world as disciples. (pg.16)
Defending the faith can be daunting, and a well-reasoned and biblically grounded apologetic is essential for the challenge. Following in the footsteps of groundbreaking apologist Cornelius Van Til, Scott Oliphint presents us with an introduction to Reformed apologetics as he sets forth the principles behind a distinctly “covenantal” approach. This book clearly explains the theological foundations of covenantal apologetics and illustrates its application in real-world conversations with unbelievers—helping Christians to boldly, knowledgeably, and winsomely proclaim the gospel.
Includes a Foreword by William Edgar
“With seismic changes in our society’s perception of life—and especially of human rights—the need for Christians to give reason for their faith is even greater today. Scott Oliphint comes to our aid by bringing what is often food that only giraffes can eat (the field technically called apologetics) right down to the grasp of Christ’s lambs. Here is a book that will enable you to argue intelligently from Scripture, in the midst of a plethora of false philosophies and religions, as to why the world needs Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So come to the table, O lambs of Christ, and enjoy a culinary experience you once only wistfully watched at a distance!”
– Conrad Mbewe, Senior Pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia, Africa
“In a day marked by shallow thinking, weak reasoning, and arguments lacking in both theological and biblical depth, Oliphint offers an arsenal of apologetic insight. His affirmation and exposition of a covenantal apologetic brings a vital biblical and theological dimension to the apologetic task. Believers seeking to give an answer for the hope that is in us will enthusiastically receive this book.”
– R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“In a pluralistic world, Covenantal Apologetics expertly equips pastors, teachers, parents, and students with a superior biblical and theological framework for defending the faith in the public square. For Christians who seek to have a credible voice at the ‘Areopagus’ of our day, this book will help them to dismantle unbelieving worldviews with razor-sharp precision while honoring God’s redemptive mission. Oliphint reminds readers that any form of Christian apologetics divorced from the Triune God’s covenant realities will send the church on a fool’s errand. Covenantal Apologetics is faithful to the Bible, the gospel, and redemptive history. This book should be read widely.”
– Anthony B. Bradley, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, The King’s College
Michael Horton on Christ and Islam:
When Christians do “Christendom,” they are dangerously misinterpreting the whole character of Christ’s teaching concerning his kingdom. They must interpret the Old Testament allegorically, as if it were a pattern that any modern nation could invoke. They must confuse the old and new covenants—the geopolitical theocracy established at Mount Sinai with Christ’s reign from Mount Zion. They must ignore Christ’s explicit statements that his kingdom is distinct from Caesar’s, that instead of holy war believers are to suffer persecution for their witness and pray for their enemies, and that by no means are they to prosecute his peace treaty by physical coercion. They must ignore the explicit statements in the New Testament that the old covenant, having been fulfilled by Christ, is now “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13). In declaring any nation or land holy (thus justifying holy wars), interpreters must contradict the clear New Testament teaching that the true Israel is Christ together with all who, with Abraham, place their faith in him alone. Jesus is the temple, his worldwide body is the holy land, and the war we wage is not with temporal swords. continue reading