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The Gospel

Good News

Os Guinness on the Crucifixion as Comedy

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The dynamics of the cross of Jesus are closer to those of comedy than tragedy. Both tragedy and comedy turn on the deep contradiction and discrepancies between the world as it is and the world as we humans wish that it would be — in other words, on present aspects of the world that are incongruous or ludicrous, and that defy the best pretensions of humanity. But whereas tragedy only reminds us of the iron bars of the prison of reality from which not one of us can ever escape, comedy shows a way to break out. In comedy, the pratfall and the setback are not the end, and in the Christian faith even death, the ultimate setback, is not the end. Because of the cross and the resurrection there is always a way out. Which means of course that when the contradictions are subverted and reality is turned right way up, the outcome can be gratitude, joy and hope, rather than pity and fear. Needless to say, the dynamic of the resurrection and a God who cannot be buried for long is the dynamic of a child’s jack-in-the-box writ large in golden cosmic letters.

 

Making Sense of God

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We live in an age of skepticism. Our society places such faith in empirical reason, historical progress, and heartfelt emotion that it’s easy to wonder: Why should anyone believe in Christianity? What role can faith and religion play in our modern lives? In this thoughtful and inspiring new book, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller invites skeptics to consider that Christianity is more relevant now than ever. As human beings, we cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope. Christianity provides us with unsurpassed resources to meet these needs. Written for both the ardent believer and the skeptic, Making Sense of God shines a light on the profound value and importance of Christianity in our lives.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Christmas

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God had looked upon the poor of the world and had himself come to help. Now he was there, not as the Almighty One, but in the seclusion of humanity. Wherever there are sinners, the weak, the sorrowful, the poor in the world, that is where God goes. Here he lets himself be found by everyone. And this message goes throughout the world, year after year anew. And it also comes once again to us this year… Perhaps, this year, something wonderful will occur that will help us to celebrate Christmas. Before our eyes stand the crowds of the unemployed, the millions of children throughout the world in hunger and distress, the hunger in China, the oppressed in India, and those in our own unhappy land. All eyes tell us of helplessness and despair. And despite it all, Christmas comes. Whether we wish it or not, whether we are sure or not, we must hear the words once again: Christ the Savior is here! The world that Christ comes to save is our fallen and lost world. None other.

Mark Galli on Being Sick or Dead

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In the New Testament era, by contrast, the big problem was the scandal of the Cross. It’s not hard to see why. Among the many things the Cross says is this: We’re as dead as Jesus. He hangs there as the true human, the sign of all humanity, dead to the world, dead to the future, and especially dead to God, who it seems has forsaken us. The situation is so bad that only the sacrifice of Another—again Jesus, who hangs there as true God — can remedy it. For people like us, who imagine we’re not so much dead as suffering a cold, and that if we take our vitamin C and will ourselves out of bed, we can make a go of it — well, this verdict can sound unnerving. Worse, to be told we can do nothing to revive ourselves, that we are left completely at the mercy of this Other—well, this doesn’t sit well in any culture, let alone in a culture that prizes individual initiative and heroic effort.

The King Jesus Gospel

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Contemporary evangelicals have built a ‘salvation culture’ but not a ‘gospel culture.’ Evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation. This book makes a plea for us to recover the old gospel as that which is still new and still fresh. The book stands on four arguments: that the gospel is defined by the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15 as the completion of the Story of Israel in the saving Story of Jesus; that the gospel is found in the Four Gospels; that the gospel was preached by Jesus; and that the sermons in the Book of Acts are the best example of gospeling in the New Testament. The King Jesus Gospel ends with practical suggestions about evangelism and about building a gospel culture. ~ Book Description

Barack Obama on Easter

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Then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection. In the words of the book Isaiah: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this “Amazing Grace” calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son — his Son and our Savior.

Captive to the Word of God

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Captive to the Word of God: Engaging the Scriptures for Contemporary Theological Reflection is a collection of six of Volf’s essays written over the last sixteen years that show this systematic theologian’s understanding of the role of the Bible for Christians in the twenty-first century. The only essay written for this text is the first: “Reading the Bible Theologically,” which explains how Volf engages Scripture in the other essays and in general. He describes the essays as “theological readings of biblical texts” (p.4) that are not dependent on a single method, but rather build upon the “return of biblical scholars to the theological reading of the Scriptures, and the return of systematic theologians to sustained engagement with the scriptural texts” (p.14) with “hermeneutic of respect” (p.34) that balances its “historicality” (p.16) with an understanding that the text speaks today (p.18). Rather than crafting a new method or defending an existing method of engaging Scripture, readers from many theological perspectives will be enriched through an encounter with a non-methodological dependent exploration of multiple texts. Thoughtful and thought provoking, this theologically moderate and modern text is an invitation to experience Volf’s work while also using it to refine one’s own way of engaging the biblical text. ~ Greg Smith at Amazon.com

Exploring Kenotic Christology

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This collection of essays, by a team of of Christian philosophers, theologians, and biblical scholars, explores the viability of a kenotic account of the incarnation. Such an account is inspired by Paul’s lyrical claims in Philippians 2:6-11 that Christ Jesus though God in nature, “emptied himself” or “made himself nothing” by becoming human. The biblical support for such a view can be found throughout the four gospels, and the book of Hebrews, as well as in other places. A kenotic account takes seriously the possibility that Christ in becoming incarnate, temporarily divested himself of such properties as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Several of the contributors argue that this view is fully orthodox, and that it has great strengths in giving us a picture of God who is willing to become completely vulnerable for the sake of human beings, and one that is completely consistent with the very human portrait of Jesus in the New Testament. The proponents of kenotic Christology argue that the philosophical accounts of God’s nature that have led to rejection of this theory ought themselves to be subjected to criticism in light of the biblical data. Some essays test the theory by raising critical questions and arguing that traditional accounts of the incarnation can achieve the goals of kenotic theories as well as kenotic theories can. The book also explores the implications of a kenotic view of the incarnation for philosophical theology in general and the doctrine of the Trinity in particular, and it concludes with essays that examine the validity of the ideal of kenosis for women, and a challenge to traditional Christology to take a kenotic theory seriously.  ~ Publisher’s Description

The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology

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This Companion offers an up-to-date overview of the beliefs, doctrines, and practices of the key philosophical concepts at the heart of Christian theology. The sixteen chapters, commissioned specially for this volume, are written by an internationally recognized team of scholars and examine topics such as the Trinity, God’s necessary existence, simplicity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, goodness, eternity and providence, the incarnation, resurrection, atonement, sin and salvation, the problem of evil, church rites, revelation and miracles, prayer, and the afterlife. Written in non-technical, accessible language, they not only offer a synthesis of scholarship on these topics but also suggest questions and topics for further investigation. ~ Product Description

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology

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Philosophical theology is aimed primarily at theoretical understanding of the nature and attributes of God and of God’s relationship to the world and its inhabitants. During the twentieth century, much of the philosophical community (both in the Anglo-American analytic tradition and in Continental circles) had grave doubts about our ability to attain any such understanding. In recent years the analytic tradition in particular has moved beyond the biases that placed obstacles in the way of the pursuing questions located on the interface of philosophy and religion. The result has been a rebirth of serious, widely-discussed work in philosophical theology. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology attempts both to familiarize readers with the directions in which this scholarship has gone and to pursue the discussion into hitherto under-examined areas. Written by some of the leading scholars in the field, the essays in the Handbook are grouped in five sections. In the first (“Theological Prolegomena”), articles focus on the authority of scripture and tradition, on the nature and mechanisms of divine revelation, on the relation between religion and science, and on theology and mystery. The next section (“Divine Attributes”) focuses on philosophical problems connected with the central divine attributes: aseity, omnipotence, omniscience, and the like. In Section Three (“God and Creation”), essays explore theories of divine action and divine providence, questions about petitionary prayer, problems about divine authority and God’s relationship to morality and moral standards, and various formulations of and responses to the problem of evil. The fourth section (“Topics inChristian Philosophy”) examines philosophical problems that arise in connection with such central Christian doctrines as the trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, original sin, resurrection, and the Eucharist. Finally, Section Five (“Non-Christian Philosophical Theology”) introduces readers to work that is being done in Jewish, Islamic, and Chinese philosophical theology. ~ Product Description

Reasonable Faith

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Perfect as a textbook yet excellent for lay readers, this updated edition builds a positive case for Christianity by applying the latest thought to core theological themes. J. Gresham Machen once said, “False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel” — which makes apologetics that much more important. Wanting to engage not just academics and pastors but Christian laypeople and seekers, William Lane Craig has revised and updated key sections in this third edition of his classic text to reflect the latest work in astrophysics, philosophy, probability calculus, the arguments for the existence of God, and Reformed epistemology. His approach-that of positive apologetics-gives careful attention to crucial questions and concerns, including: the relationship of faith and reason, the existence of God, the problems of historical knowledge and miracles, the personal claims of Christ, and the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. He shows that there is good reason to think Christianity is true. As Craig says, “If you have a sound and persuasive case for Christianity, you don’t have to become an expert in comparative religions and Christian cults. A positive justification of the Christian faith automatically overwhelms all competing world views lacking an equally strong case.” ~ Publisher’s Description

The Big Book of Bible Difficulties

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Your most difficult Bible questions — answered. The Bible is full of difficult passages that are hard for believers to understand, let alone those who doubt Scripture. Where can you turn for solid answers on the thorny and complex parts of God’s Word? This comprehensive volume offers clear and concise answers to every major Bible difficulty from Genesis to Revelation, staunchly defending the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Written in a problem/solution format, the book covers over eight hundred questions that critics and doubters raise about the Bible. Three extensive indexes — topical, Scripture, and unorthodox doctrines — offer quick and easy access to the answers you need. Multipurpose in scope and user-friendly in format, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties offers the resources of five books in one: a critical commentary on the whole Bible, » an apologetics text, a Bible difficulties reference, a theology manual treating important doctrines, » and a handbook on verses misused by cults. Norman L. Geisler is cofounder and former dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is the author of more than seventy books, including the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Thomas Howe is professor of Bible and biblical languages and director of apologetics at the Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College. ~ from the Back Cover

True Story

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In this engaging narrative, James Choung weaves a tale of a search for a Christianity worth believing in. Disillusioned believer Caleb and hostile skeptic Anna wrestle with the plausibility of the Christian story in a world of pain and suffering. They ask each other tough questions about what Jesus really came to do and what Christianity is supposed to be about. Along the way, they have some surprising realizations that real Christianity is far bigger than anything they ever heard in church. And the conversion that comes is not one that either of them expects. Join Caleb and Anna on their spiritual journeys as they probe Christianity from inside and out. Get past the old cliches and simplistic formulas. And discover a new way of understanding and presenting the Christian faith that really matters in a broken world. ~ Product Description

The Reason for God

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In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author’s encounters as founding pastor of New York’s booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church. One of Keller’s most provocative arguments is that all doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs. Drawing on sources as diverse as 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, Keller attempts to deconstruct everyone he finds in his way, from the evolutionary psychologist Richard Dawkins to popular author Dan Brown. The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God’s existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller’s condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism make the scope of the book overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, it should serve both as testimony to the author’s encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to re-evaluate what they believe, and why. ~ Publishers Weekly

J.P. Moreland on Rival Worldviews

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An important and, sadly, often neglected component of Christian apologetics is the task of showing how Christian ideas enhance and do explanatory work across the academic disciplines and how rival worldviews harm and fail to do commensurate work in those same fields. And given that the various aspects of the image of God are recalcitrant facts for rival worldviews such as naturalism and postmodernism, one would expect that in those fields that examine that image, Christianity would enhance and its rivals would harm work and practice in these fields in particular. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of psychology.

The God Conversation

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In The God Conversation veteran apologists and communicators J.P. Moreland and Tim Muehlhoff say that often the best way to win over others is with a good story. Stories have the ability to get behind our preconceptions and defenses. They can connect both emotionally and intellectually, appealing to the whole person rather than just to the mind. The authors offer a wealth of penetrating illustrations, examples and quotes that respond to these issues and more. In these pages they enhance the logic and evidence found in other books defending the faith, with things your friends, relatives or coworkers will ponder long after a conversation is over. "This book is a well crafted intro into many of the most famous arguments for the existence of God, and other pressing problems that confound Christians in all ages. It’s divided into Seven Section over 11 chapters and an afterthougt. What seperates this book from many other apologetics works is it’s heavy reliance upon illustration. In dealing with ehtics it has a sidebar on the movie Munich and how it might be used as an illustration on dealing with that we intuitively know that somethings are morally wrong, etc… The use of a vertical line next to the illustrations makes them easy to find. The book covers The Problem of Evil, Pluralism, The Ressurection, Ethics and Moral Relativism, and the Design Argument, as well as an exceptional 2 pg afterword about listening before you speak with all your new found knowledge." ~ D. Westfall

Divinity and Humanity

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The doctrine of the Incarnation lies at the heart of Christianity. But the idea that ‘God was in Christ’ has become a much-debated topic in modern theology. Oliver Crisp addresses six key issues in the Incarnation defending a robust version of the doctrine, in keeping with classical Christology. He explores perichoresis, or interpenetration, with reference to both the Incarnation and Trinity. Over two chapters Crisp deals with the human nature of Christ and then provides an argument against the view, common amongst some contemporary theologians, that Christ had a fallen human nature. He considers the notion of divine kenosis or self-emptying, and discusses non-Incarnational Christology, focusing on the work of John Hick. This view denies Christ is God Incarnate, regarding him as primarily a moral exemplar to be imitated. Crisp rejects this alternative account of the nature of Christology. ~ Product Description

William Lane Craig on Plausibility

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The gospel is never heard in isolation. It is always heard against the background of the cultureal milieu in which one lives. A person raised in a cultural milieu in which Christianity is still seen as an intellectually viable option will display an openness to the gospel which a person who is secularized will not. You may as well tell the secular person to believe in fairies or leprechauns as in Jesus Christ! Or, to give a more realistic illustration, it is like a devotee of the Hare Krishna movement approaching you on the street and inviting you to believe in Krishna. Such an invitation strikes us as bizarre, freakish, even amusing. But to a person on the streets of Delhi, such an invitation would, I assume, appear reasonable and cause for reflection. I fear that evangelicals appear almost as weird to persons on the streets of Bonn, Stockholm, or Toronto as do the devotees of Krishna. ¶ Part of the broader task of Christian scholarship is to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women. Therefore, the church has a vital stake in raising up Christian scholars who will help to create a place at the university for Christian ideas. The average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual war going on in the universities and in the professional journals and scholarly societies. Christianity is being attacked as irrational or obsolete; and millions of students, our future generation of leaders, have absorbed that viewpoint.

Christ and Horrors

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Who would the Saviour have to be, what would the Saviour have to do to rescue human beings from the meaning-destroying experiences of their lives? This book offers a systematic Christology that is at once biblical and philosophical. Starting with human radical vulnerability to horrors such as permanent pain, sadistic abuse or genocide, it develops what must be true about Christ if He is the horror-defeater who ultimately resolves all the problems affecting the human condition and Divine-human relations. Distinctive elements of Marilyn McCord Adams’ study are her defence of the two-natures theory, of Christ as Inner Teacher and a functional partner in human flourishing, and her arguments in favour of literal bodily resurrection (Christ’s and ours) and of a strong doctrine of corporeal Eucharistic presence. The book concludes that Christ is the One in Whom, not only Christian doctrine, but cosmos, church, and the human psyche hold together. ~ Product Descritption

Simply Christian

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Why do we expect justice? Why do we crave spirituality? Why are we attracted to beauty? Why are relationships often so painful? And how will the world be made right? These are not simply perennial questions all generations must struggle with, but, according to N. T. Wright, are the very echoes of a voice we dimly perceive but deeply long to hear. In fact, these questions take us to the heart of who God is and what He wants from us. For two thousand years, Christianity has claimed to solve these mysteries, and this renowned biblical scholar and Anglican bishop shows that it still can today. Not since C. S. Lewis’s classic summary of the faith, Mere Christianity, has such a wise and thorough scholar taken the time to explain to anyone who wants to know what Christianity really is and how it is practiced. Wright makes the case for Christian faith from the ground up, assuming that the reader has no knowledge of (and perhaps even some aversion to) religion in general and Christianity in particular. Simply Christian walks the reader through the Christian faith step by step and question by question. With simple yet exciting and accessible prose, Wright challenges skeptics by offering explanations for even the toughest doubt-filled dilemmas, leaving believers with a reason for renewed faith. For anyone who wants to travel beyond the controversies that can obscure what the Christian faith really stands for, this simple book is the perfect vehicle for that journey. ~ Product Description

The Gospel According to America

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Readers of Dark’s book Everyday Apocalypse know that this high school English teacher is a passionate, articulate, absurdly well-read interpreter of popular culture. But even the forewarned may be astonished by this latest effort. Dark’s skill at probing the spiritual resonances of American culture — in forms high and low, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville to Bob Dylan and David Lynch — is matched by his uncanny ability to select telling moments from America’s common story. Whether it’s Elvis taking a shotgun to his television sets, Dylan confessing a sense of common humanity with Lee Harvey Oswald or George Washington treating British prisoners of war with unprecedented civility, Dark excavates a series of witnesses who speak prophetically to what he sees as our media-saturated overconfidence in our own righteousness. Moreover, he offers a convincing and unsettling account of the gospel itself — the “Jewish Christian” story of forgiveness and human dignity that, Dark argues, has animated America’s ideals even as it has continually critiqued America’s practices. Dark’s Southern heritage is evident in his literary allusions (the subtitle echoes Flannery O’Connor) and in his affection for egalitarian conversation. Nearly every page has something to make readers pause, laugh, think or pray; perhaps most amazing is Dark’s skill at burying layers of meaning for the reader to discover. It’s hard to imagine a better tonic for our age than this unblinkingly honest exercise in faithful patriotism. ~ Publishers Weekly

The Case for Easter

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Strobel, a former journalist for the Chicago Tribune, affirms that Christ really did die on the cross, and not just faint from exhaustion; that he experienced a bodily, and not just a spiritual, resurrection; and that he was seen alive after his death. In journalistic style, he interviews several experts like Gary Habermas, corrects inaccuracies (the nails would have been driven through Jesus’ wrists, we learn, and not his palms) and tells stories. But at its heart, this is an editorial rather than a journalistic account, as Strobel most definitely has an opinion and wants readers to share his own pilgrimage from doubt to rock-solid faith. ~ Publishers Weekly

Why I Am a Christian

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In a time when many Christian authors recommend the claims of Christian faith by descriptions of faith encounters and invitations to “dance with the mystery,” Stott, author of many foundational apologetic works, offers a clear and compelling account of the theological basis for his own belief. He begins by explaining the sense of God’s own pursuit of him, providing illustrations from the lives of famous Christians with similar experiences. He continues with a logical examination of the claims and character of Jesus as seen in Scripture. The last section discusses the nature and needs of human beings, explaining how those needs are fully met through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The book concludes with a simple invitation for the reader to respond to the claims of Christ personally, offering a sample prayer. For some readers, the book will seem overly structured, since Stott frequently reviews the logical points of each section. For those accustomed to arguments conducted by way of emotive stories, his reliance on logic may feel a bit dry. But readers of a more analytical temperament will find a compelling discussion of the claims of Christ in a remarkably readable, brief form. It’s the sort of book that Christians who need a more reasoned, thoughtful approach to their faith will read and then pass along to skeptical friends. ~ Publishers Weekly

That’s Just Your Interpretation

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In our relativistic society, Christians more than ever are bombarded by tough questions about their faith. Author Paul Copan has observed that many of these questions emerge as "anti-truth claims" that are part of today’s skeptical mind-set. Christians defending their faith often hear slogans and questions such as: It’s all relative; Everything is one with the Divine, all else is illusion; The Gospels contradict each other; Why would a good God create hell? This book provides incisive answers to slogans related to truth and reality; theism, pantheism/Eastern religion, and naturalism; and doctrinal issues such as the incarnation and truth of Scripture. Each of the twenty-two chapters provides succinct answers and summary points for countering the arguments. Copan’s book is accessible for all Christians who want to defend the plausibility of Christianity in the marketplace of ideas. It also includes helpful summary sections, additional resources, and additional documentation in the endnotes for review and discussion.

Cary Tennis on Alcoholism and Redemption

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It’s that experience of utter hopelessness, or moments of clarity, or hitting bottom, at which some sufferers typically call out to a higher power for help and others seek the aid of psychiatrists, healers and scientists. The common paradox in all these experiences is that personal powerlessness is twinned with personal responsibility: You suddenly realize that while no one can cure you, neither can you cure yourself on your own. You need God, or friends, or an institution, or a belief system, or something — anything — not yourself. And thus begins, in myriad forms, the archetypal untangling of epistemological knots that results, ultimately, in an unaddicted ego that knows it is both profoundly free and profoundly interdependent. And that’s the basis of a healthy society. For that reason, many recovered addicts view with suspicion systems of government aid that seem to prolong dependency and/or to shield sufferers from the fundamental hopelessness of their situation. Thus we would expect Bush, not just as a political conservative, but as somebody who’s experienced deep hopelessness, aloneness in the universe and the need for God, to view welfare and other government attempts to eliminate suffering as simply, and wrongly, shielding people from their true problems, the recognition of which alone could catalyze deep change.