‘Books’ Category

A new “don’t miss” summer read from Dr. Haykin: 8 Women of Faith

July 28th, 2016 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books

HaykinWe know much about the great men from church history, but sadly, we tend to hear little about the scores of women who have been vital in the building of Christ’s church. A brand-new volume from Michael A. G. Haykin makes a much-needed contribution toward remedying this imbalance.

Released this week by Crossway, 8 Women of Faith examines the lives and impact of eight women with very different personalities and a diversity of gifts over two centuries. The book includes an excellent forward by Karen Swallow Prior.

Here’s the table of contents:

  1. The Witness of Jane Grey, an Evangelical Queen
    “Faith Only Justifieth”
  2. Richard Baxter’s Testimony about Margaret Baxter
    “Ruled by Her Prudent Love in Many Things”
  3. Anne Dutton and Her Theological Works
    “The Glory of God, and the Good of Souls”
  4. Sarah Edwards and the Vision of God
    “A Wonderful Sweetness”
  5. Anne Steele and Her Hymns
    “The Tuneful Tongue That Sung . . . Her Great Redeemer’s Praise”
  6. Esther Edwards Burr on Friendship
    “One of the Best Helps to Keep Up Religion in the Soul”
  7. Ann Judson and the Missionary Enterprise
    “Truth Compelled Us”
  8. The Christian Faith of Jane Austen
    “The Value of That Holy Religion”

Justin Taylor takes a more in-depth examination of the book and the women it features in an article today at The Gospel Coalition. This book would make an excellent final addition to that summer reading list.

Pilgrim Radio Network recently interviewed Dr. Haykin about the book. The interview is available here.

Book review: William of Orange

June 14th, 2016 Posted in 16th Century, Books

William of Orange book coverDaniel R. Horst,William of Orange, trans. Lynne Richards (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2013), 70 pages.

To a reader acquainted with English history rather than that of the Netherlands, the name William of Orange recalls the Dutch prince who played the key role in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 and became England’s William III. The subject of this small monograph, however, is the great-grandfather of the English king and is often known as William the Silent (1533–1584). This William was the central figure in the Dutch Protestant revolt against the Spanish Hapsburgs in the late sixteenth century and also has the dubious distinction of being the first head of state assassinated by a handgun. William died at the hand of a fanatical Roman Catholic Balthasar Gerards, who shot him in the chest with two pistols in the Prinsenhof, Delft, on July 10, 1584.

Horst’s monograph focuses on the portraits and statuary associated with the assassinated prince from the painting by Cornelis Anthonisz when William was twelve to his funerary monument to various prints and paintings done after his death (even including a 2007 poster relating to the integration of Morroccans into Amsterdam culture). Horst illuminates the way this art reflects the Dutch culture of the time and the way William became an icon of liberty. William’s tomb, for instance, is a stone illustration of the “frugality and humility” of the regnant Dutch Calvinism (p.49). Along the way, Horst gives the reader an excellent overview of the history of the Netherlands in one of the most important periods of Dutch history as well as a superb illustration of the importance of art in reading history (the lavish illustrations make the book a delight to read).

One point made by Horst, however, stuck this reader as questionable but all too typical of modern historians. The sculptor Hendrik de Keyser (1565–1621), arguably the most important Dutch architect of the time, was commissioned to build William’s tomb. De Keyser was also responsible for designing three of the oldest Protestant churches in Amsterdam—the Zuiderkerk, Noorderkerk, and the Westerkerk. But Horst believes De Keyser’s design and supervision of the construction of Amsterdam’s stock exchange was the most important task he accomplished for this structure was central to this city’s growth into a world mercantile power (p.42). Many of De Keyser’s contemporaries would certainly have disagreed: their Calvinist faith was absolutely central to their resistance to the Spanish.

Albeit a minor point, this is a mistake common to many contemporary historians: religious convictions are not important to many in the modern world, or are seen as a screen for deeper convictions, and so the assumption is unconsciously made that the same is true of the past. But while the remarkable growth of the Netherlands as an economic power in this era is key to the Dutch “Golden Era,” so is Dutch Reformed theology and the houses of worship in which such theology was fleshed out. Whatever the faith commitment of men and women in the modern-day Netherlands (and large numbers are atheists), the history of this nation cannot be explained without taking into serious consideration the centrality of the Christian Faith to the Dutch men and women of the past.

Michael A.G. Haykin

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Unlocking the Cotton Mather Treasure Trove, Part I

May 5th, 2016 Posted in 17th Century, Books, Puritans

Jan Stievermann’s new book is “the most important book ever written on biblical scholarship in early American history,” according to Douglas Sweeney, Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity looks at how Cotton Mather struggled to read the Hebrew Bible as Christian scripture in the early modern era in a way that seemed intellectually honest and also, at the same time, spiritually satisfying. Prof. Sweeney says the work is “simply must reading for all who work on early modern Christianity.”

Ryan Hoselton, who is working with Prof. Stievermann on a dissertation on Mather and Jonathan Edwards, sat down with him to ask him a few questions about his work on Cotton Mather:

Hoselton: Some readers may find it curious that a German has devoted so much time and energy to studying Cotton Mather, and American religious history in general. What drew you to this field?

Stievermann: Some of it is biographical coincidence. Studying American literature and culture, I was lucky enough to have good teachers who believed in the crucial importance of religion, and especially New England Puritanism, for understanding the cultural and social life of the U.S. So reading the Magnalia and other texts by Mather was very much part of my training as an Americanist.

Later my fascination deepened for different reasons. Studying the Puritans and their different heirs gives you a very wide range of modern Protestant thought and culture, from strict Biblicism, creedal conservativism, revivalism to ultra-liberal. Mather’s religious and intellectual life is incredibly complex and complicated and well-worth studying.

Hoselton: What is the Biblia Americana project and what fruit has it yielded so far?

Stievermann: The “Biblia Americana: The Sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testament Illustrated” was supposed to be Cotton Mather’s magnum opus of biblical interpretation. Because he couldn’t find the necessary patronage, his manuscript was left unpublished. It’s more than 4,500 folio pages. Mather’s heirs bequeathed the manuscript to the Massachusetts Historical Society after the the American Revolution. It has slumbered
in the archives almost untouched for more than two centuries.

MatherSince 2010, Mohr Siebeck has started to publish what will be a 10-volume scholarly edition, amounting to about 10,000 pages in print. The scholarly edition is not only making the “Biblia Americana” readily available in transcription for the first time, but also, by virtue of extensive introductions, annotations, and translations, is facilitating access to its rich contents. In the past, the work had been largely unapproachable to most modern readers. Mather frequently uses early modern forms of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and he was engaging in dialogue with very specific, now often forgotten, debates and traditions.

Led by Reiner Smolinski (General Editor) and myself (Executive Editor), the Biblia Americana edition thus resembles an archaeological project in early American religious and intellectual history. An international team of experts is recovering and piecing together, shard by shard, the lost world of Mather’s biblical interpretation. We’re attempting to bring his thoughts back to life by placing the Biblia Americana within its larger discursive environment.

Four volumes have been published so far: Genesis (2010, ed. Reiner Smolinski), Joshua-Chronicles (2013, ed. Kenneth P. Minkema), Ezra-Psalms (2014, ed. Harry Clark Maddux), and now Proverbs-Jeremiah (2015, ed. Jan Stievermann). There has also been a collection of essays on Cotton Mather and the “Biblia America” (2010) that came out of a conference marking the launch of the editorial project. The positive reception of the published volumes is an encouraging sign that the scholarly community is beginning to recognize the importance of the “Biblia Americana” manuscript as a great untapped resource.

Hoselton: There’s been much attention given to Jonathan Edwards’ exegesis, recently. Why does Mather’s biblical interpretation deserve our consideration as well?

Stievermann: Now that Edwards’ exegetical writings are published in the Yale edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards, his biblical interpretation has finally received the attention it deserves, including in Douglas Sweeney’s 2015 monograph, Edwards the Exegete. We hope to see the same for Cotton Mather. The “Biblia Americana” is a treasure trove, not only for early American studies, but also for scholars interested in the development of Protestant theology and biblical interpretation during a decisive period of intellectual change in the early modern Atlantic world.

The “Biblia” holds special potential since it’s the first serious engagement of an American exegete with critical-historical methods in biblical scholarship. With surprising breadth and depth, Mather discusses, among many other things, questions regarding the inspiration, composition, transmission, canonization, and historical realism of the biblical texts.

As one of the very first theologians in the British colonies, he pondered the quintessentially modern questions surrounding the Bible. He tackles issues that continue to concern those who seek to harmonize academic inquiry with a traditionalist faith. Mather was fully convinced that his “Biblia” offered just such a harmonization and effectively defended the authority and unity of the canon as well as the basic legacy of 17th-century Reformed theology.

Mather’s commentary is also an early attempt to reconcile a traditional Protestant biblicism with the emerging natural sciences and the philosophical challenges of the early Enlightenment. The “Biblia” pioneered a highly learned but apologetically-oriented type of biblical criticism especially invested in a new kind of factualist evidentialism, which would later flower among evangelicals. Thus, the “Biblia” can contribute much to a deeper understanding of the transformations of New England Puritanism into early evangelicalism.

Tomorrow: Part 2.

Editors’ note: This article was originally published on the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany website.

Beeson Podcast features “The Baptist Story”

March 3rd, 2016 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Podcast

In the latest Beeson Podcast, Timothy George talks with Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin about their book, The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement.

Book Review: History: A Student’s Guide

January 28th, 2016 Posted in Books, Church History

By Dustin Bruce

Finn, Nathan. History: A Student’s Guide. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. 111 pp. $11.99.

Nathan Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University and Fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center, has written an excellent primer on the discipline of history and the nature of the historian’s task. This volume forms part of the “Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition” series, published by Crossway under the editorial guidance of David Dockery. In keeping with the aim of the series, Finn examines history from the perspective of a Christian worldview, drawing insights from the Dutch Kuyperian tradition and the Lutheran tradition. Years of experience teaching history, completing an undergraduate and Ph.D. in history, and a thorough analysis of historiographical literature, provides Finn with insights and anecdotes that make for an enjoyable and informative read.

Finn’s audience is primarily the undergraduate student interested in history as a major or minor. As such, it is written to serve as something of a supplementary text that introduces readers “to the discipline of history from the perspective of a Christian worldview that is shaped by the great tradition and is in dialog with other key voices in the field” (18). Not meant as a comprehensive introduction, the volume contains an introduction and four chapters. Though short, at roughly 90 pages of text, the writing is characterized by a “lucid brevity” that leaves the reader feeling satisfied and not underserved. Quality footnotes allow eager students access to further resources.History

In the Introduction, Finn begins a discussion of how a Christian worldview affects history and the historian’s task. “Christians,” he argues, “should be keenly interested in studying the past since the very truth of the Judeo-Christian tradition is dependent upon certain historical events” (19). Furthermore, the great commandments of Matthew 22:34–49 serve as parameters for historical inquiry.

In chapter one, “Understanding History,” Finn lays out basic information, including the different between the “past” and “history.” He defines history as “the task of reconstructing and interpreting the past” (26). Other fundamentals are described, such as the difference between primary and secondary sources. Chapter two includes an overview of different “schools of history,” including an analysis of each school from a Christian perspective. The concept of “historiography” is also covered.

Chapter three, “Faith and the Historian,” picks up the controversial question of how one’s faith should influence one’s work as a historian. Finn rejects both a providentialist and naturalistic approach, arguing for an approach that recognizes the historian’s evidence comes from general revelation, where one cannot know the mind of God with certainty, and yet, must be tempered by the truths revealed in the Biblical storyline (73). Finn draws further insight from the Lutheran concept of vocation, before proposing Christian historians adopt a “bilingual” approach by developing the ability to serve academic and religious audiences. Chapter four, “History: An Invitation,” largely serves as an encouragement for students to pursue the study of history from a Christian perspective. Finn offers examples of how history and history degrees can be used both vocationally and in service to the church.

History: A Student’s Guide will undoubtedly serve students well as an introduction to the field of history and the task of the historian. It is small enough to be assigned as a supplementary text to a course without overburdening students, but comprehensive and compelling enough to warrant a close reading. Finn’s work may very well be used of God to inspire the next generation of Evangelical historians.

Books At a Glance Interviews the Authors of The Baptist Story

January 5th, 2016 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Podcast

Books At a Glance has posted a recent interview with Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A. G. Haykin, authors of The Baptist Story. 

Books At a Glance (Fred Zaspel): 
Hi this is Fred Zaspel executive editor here at books at a glance. Today we are talking with three authors Tony Chute, Nathan Finn and Michael Haykin about their new book The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement, a new textbook on Baptist history. We’re glad for the book. Were glad for them to be with us. Welcome you guys. Thanks for coming.

Click here for the full interview.

Book Review: What is the Incarnation?

December 29th, 2015 Posted in Books, Christology

 

William B. Evans, What is the Incarnation? (Phillipsburg. NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013; 31 pages.

Evans IncarnationI have a long-standing tradition of reading a book relating to Christology around the time of Christmas. This year it was a booklet rather than a book, a part of the series Basics of the Faith, whose general editor is Sean Lucas, namely, What is the Incarnation? by William B. Evans, the Eunice Witherspoon Bell Younts and Willie Camp Younts Professor of Historical Theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina.

Evans covers a tremendous amount of ground in the small compass of this booklet (a mere 26 pages): from the integral links between the person of Christ and his work (p.6–8), in which he draws upon insights from Athanasius and Anselm, to the sinlessness of the humanity assumed by the Son of God (p.24–25). Along the way, he delineates the biblical witness to the person of Christ (p.10–12), rightly pointing out that “the incarnation is a foundational assumption of the New Testament writers” (p.12), discusses the question of images of Christ (p.25–27), and summarizes six major Christological positions that Christian thought and reflection ruled to be heretical—Ebionism (the denial of the deity of Christ), Docetism (the denial of the humanity of Christ), Arianism (the reduction of Christ to a the rank of a “lesser” god, who is in fact a creature), Apollinarianism (which affirmed that the second person of the Godhead took the place of the human mind and soul of Christ), Nestorianism (the failure to maintain the integral unity of deity and humanity in the person of Christ), and Eutychianism (which so identifies the deity and humanity of Christ that Christ’s humanity is all but swallowed up by the deity) (p.13–16).

Evans identifies the creedal statement issued by the Council of Chalcedon (451), “one of the great watersheds in early church history” (p.16) as the Ancient Church’s definitive statement on the incarnation. This statement, which essentially affirmed the reality of the two natures, divine and human, in the one person of Christ—a union “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation”—held sway among Western theologians to the time of the early modern era in the seventeenth century (p.18). It was only then that theologians proposed radically different conceptions of the incarnation like the “kenotic” theory, which employed Philippians 2:7 to argue that Christ gave up all of his divine attributes when he became man.

All in all this is an extremely helpful summary of key details and issues relating to what Paul calls “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim 3:16), a work that would be ideal for a series in Sunday School or a mid-week Bible study.

Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Book Review: God’s Love for Muslims: Communicating Bible Grace and New Life

November 25th, 2015 Posted in Books, Current Affairs, Missions

Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, God’s Love for Muslims: Communicating Bible Grace and New Life (London: Metropolitan Tabernacle, 2015), 95 pages.muslimscoverart

For many in the West today, the very terms Islam and Muslims provoke fear, even hatred, and terrorist acts like the very recent Paris and Mali attacks only serve to reinforce these deep emotions. On the very day when news broke about the horrific attacks in Paris I received this new book by Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, the assistant pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in the heart of London. The author, whose roots are among the Tamasheq, the nomadic shepherds of the Sahara known to the outside world as the Tuareg, is deeply familiar with Islam—in fact, before his conversion, his devotion to Islam led him to burn the Scriptures. But, as he has said, the Scriptures “I had burned came and burned my heart.”

His profound familiarity with Islam, and also his extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, is evident throughout this handsomely-produced book in which he deals with Muslim beliefs and practice (9–42), their misunderstandings about the Christian Faith (43–83), and then how believers in the West especially can help Muslims come to true faith in the Lord Jesus (84–95). While much more could be said in each of these sections, what Mohamed includes is germane and very much to the point, and the result is an extremely helpful handbook for Christians to learn about Muslims, some of whom are now their neighbours. The final section, in which Mohamed provides details on how to develop true friendships with Muslims and share the gospel with them, is extremely helpful.

Noteworthy aspects of the book also include Mohamed’s excellent discussion of violence within the Qur’an and its advocacy by many Muslims (38–42), how the Qur’an views women (29–30), and his emphasis on the importance of faith in the Triunity of God: “without the doctrine of the Trinity, there would be no salvation, because only the God-man, Christ, could offer a sufficient sacrifice to atone for the sins of men and women” (51–54, quote from page 54). One small lacuna is that there is very little said about the history of Islam. A few pages could have easily been devoted to outlining this history. If a second edition is done, such could be easily added.

Given the global situation in which we find ourselves today, a work like this is gold! Highly recommended!

Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Interview with Matthew Barrett and Michael Haykin on “Owen on the Christian Life”

October 23rd, 2015 Posted in Biblical Spirituality, Books, Puritans

Recently, Pilgrim Radio interviewed Dr. Matthew Barrett and Dr. Michael Haykin on their newly released volume, Owen on the Christian Life: Living for the Glory of God in Christ. 

This work, part of Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series, explores how Owen’s theology informed his deep piety in a way that proves instructive for Christians today.

Listen to this interview for more information on this exciting new release.

Book Review: Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past

October 12th, 2015 Posted in Biblical Spirituality, Books

By Dustin Bruce

Robert L. Plummer and Matthew D. Haste, Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015), 132 pp., $14.99.

 

Held In HonorHeld in Honor represents the combined efforts of AFC Fellow, Matthew Haste, and Southern Seminary professor, Robert Plummer, to provide an accessible treasure trove of biblical wisdom on marriage, as cultivated within the great history of the Christian church.

The book contains 50 devotionals inspired by sources from the Patristic, Medieval, Reformation and Puritan, Early Evangelical, and Modern era. Within each devotional one will find a brief introduction to a historical figure, an excerpt from that figure on marriage, and a devotional tying the passage to biblical truth. While these devotionals are brief, they are packed with biblical truth and historical insight.

Andrew Fuller makes an appearance with an excerpt from his discourse on the creation of woman in Genesis 2:18. Fuller is quoted at length,

Christianity is the only religion that conforms to the original design that confines men to one wife and that teaches them to treat her with propriety. Go among the enemies of the gospel, and you shall see the woman either reduced to abject slavery, or basely flattered for the vilest of purposes; but in Christian families you may see her treated with honour and respect; treated as a friend, as naturally an equal, a soother of man’s cares, a softener of his griefs, and a partner of his joys.[1]

Haste and Plummer, commenting on the passage, note,

Atheists explain marriage as an accommodation of biological impulses to societal constraints. God tells us that marriage is (among other things) His good gift of companionship to humanity. As Andrew Fuller notes, when a society properly values women as created in the image of God and of equal worth with men, the human race flourishes.[2]

The truths and examples found in this book will prove an encouragement to any couple. Get a copy for your nightstand, read it with your spouse, and ask the Lord to bless your efforts. This book is a powerful resource, distilling Christian reflection on marriage throughout the centuries that is sure to strengthen your twenty-first century union.

 

[1]Andrew Fuller, Discourses in Genesis in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society; 1845 repr., Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1988), 3:9–10.

[2]Robert L. Plummer and Matthew D. Haste, Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past, (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015), 99.

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Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama. They have two daughters, Marlie and Bella.