Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

General News

June 15, 2005

I put hiring in quotation marks because in this case, “hiring” carries only part of its standard meaning. While I do intend to bring someone aboard, I will not be able to pay that person (with money). The reason, of course, is that the site does not generate much cashflow at this time (nor do I ever foresee it doing so as that is not its purpose). However, the person will get all sorts of free books, which for some people is payment enough.

What I am looking for is someone who can review books. Probably lots of books. It seems that just about every day I am receiving requests to read new books, and I simply cannot keep up anymore, even at my current pace of reading 3 to 4 books a week. While this could be a temporary situation, I suspect it is not, and so I would like to have a person who can share the reading with me.

While there are plenty of people currently reviewing books through the Diet of Bookworms’ programs, these people do so as off-site or unofficial reviewers. The person I am seeking to hire will review books for the Diet in an official capacity. This means the person will have to read and review books, add reviews to the Diet, provide consensus views of the books, add news items, etc.

Here are the qualifications I am looking for (in rough order of importance). Most of these are non-negotiable:

  • Theological discernment. You must be theologically conservative and discerning. The strength of Diet of Bookworms is that it provides a particular theological perspective. Thus you must be theologically conservative and/or Reformed, and must exhibit discernment.
  • Good reviewer. You must be able to write good, compelling, well-formed book reviews.
  • Web site. You must have the ability to post book reviews online. The more traffic your site receives, the better.
  • Dedicated reader. You must be willing and able to read a lot. A bare minimum of a book a week seems appropriate.
  • Well read. I’d prefer if you have read a lot of Christian books and are familiar with books and authors.
  • North American. With apologies to my international friends, I must keep this to North Americans since shipping to overseas locations can take too long and cost too much.

What do you get out of it? Probably not too much. You will get free books and possibly other media (for example, DVDs) on an ongoing basis. You will also get more traffic to your personal web site. It is also possible that you will get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, but I cannot guarantee it. Beyond that I can make no promises, except that you will have the privilege of helping other believers choose books that will bless and edify them.

If you meet the qualifications and are interested in speaking to me further, please contact me.

June 13, 2005

It is time once more for a giveaway. This month we’re trying something new - we’re giving away CDs along with a book. The CDs are from the Indelible Grace series, which feature such Christian Music stars as Derek Webb and Dan Haseltine (of Jars of Clay). The book is Twentysomeone written by Craig Dunham & Doug Serven.

As usual, I am indebted to my friend John at Monergismbooks for co-sponsoring this giveaway.

Indelible GracePilgrim Days: Indelible Grace II: This CD is the sequel to the popular Indelible Grace. It features traditional hymns but marries the time honored truths and senti­ments of the past to the fresh, acoustic music that flows from this generation, and the effect is wonderful. It includes such classics as Thy Mercy My God • Free Grace • Psalm 51:1 • Sometimes A Light Surprises • How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds • O Love Incomprehensible • Poor Sinner Dejected With Fear • O Day Of Rest And Gladness • Laden With Guilt And Full Of Fears • On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand. For more information, read the full description at Monergism Books.


Indelible GraceFor All The Saints: Indelible Grace III: This new CD carries on the tradition. It includes songs performed by Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb, Dan Haseltine (of Jars of Clay), Andrew Osenga and many others. It includes songs such as Jesus I Come (Out Of My Bondage); Jesus Everlasting King; O Come And Mourn; Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven; She Must And Shall Go Free; Jesus With Thy Church Abide; O Word Of God Incarnate; For All The Saints. For more information, read the full description at Monergism Books.


Indelible GraceTwentysomeone: In TwentySomeone, Craig Dunham and Doug Serven generously share their journeys through their own twenties decade in a fresh, thoughtful, and practical style that builds a bridge between key questions in the young adult years and the experience of Christian faith. This book will serve as a ‘mentor’ for many.


For all the details and to enter the giveaway, CLICK HERE.

June 12, 2005

Dan Edelen, because of his burning anger stemming from the article I wrote about Pyromarketing, has launched into a series about The Christian and the Business World. He is four or five articles into the series and so far so good.

I was only kidding about the burning anger. The truth is, he mentioned that he had written a lengthy response to the article but had waited long enough to post it that he felt it was no longer relevant. So I encouraged him to try again, and that is where this series has come from.

Phil Johnson, who is the flavor of the week (or month) in the Christian blogosphere (and who just turned a year older) posted some words written by Gresham Machen over 80 years ago. They are still fitting today. “What a splendid cleaning up of the Gentile cities it would have been if the Judaizers had succeeded in extending to those cities the observance of the Mosaic law … Surely Paul ought to have made common cause with teachers who were so nearly in agreement with him; surely he ought to have applied to them the great principle of Christian unity. As a matter of fact, however, Paul did nothing of the kind; and only because he (and others) did nothing of the kind does the Christian Church exist to-day . Paul certainly was right. The difference which divided him from the Judaizers was no mere theological subtlety, but concerned the very heart and core of the religion of Christ.” And hey, Phil, instead of putting that picture in a column and then confining your article to a narrow little column, how’s about putting it all in one column and using align=”right” within your img tag? That will wrap the text for you.

It’s a big week (or two) for Justin Taylor. He and his wife adopted Malachi Xavier Taylor on June 9, 2005. He was born just two days earlier. And in just a few days, Sex and The Supremacy of Christ, which Justin edited, will be hitting the shelves. I am 160 pages into the book and hope to finish it off this afternoon. Anyways, congratulations to Justin on both accounts. You can congratulate him yourself right here.

Attention Publishers: John Schroeder who runs Blogotional, is buying a book because I reviewed it positively. Here is the evidence. You know what to do - send me your books!

And finally, you may already have heard, but Ken Taylor died this week. He is best-known for authoring The Living Bible. In my family he is best-known for authoring The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, which we have read many times with my children. Phil Johnson reflects here.

June 10, 2005

My apologies in advance for this awful display of fiction. It has been a long time since I wrote a story. I woke up at 4something this morning and wrote most of this before the sun came up. That’s my excuse.

“Hey, Drew! What’s happening?” That’s Darryl talking. He’s the guy who does second-level technical support in the office. If his lackeys can’t get the job done, they call on him. He’s the big gun. But he’s known around the office primarily for being a hockey fan, and not just a guy who dabbles in the game either. This guy is hardcore. He has had season tickets for as long as he can remember, and those things aren’t cheap in Toronto. He spends thousands of dollars every year and goes to every home game. If the Leafs are on the road, he’s in his living room, watching the game. Sometimes he even travels to Buffalo or Ottawa to cheer on the team. Every year he buys a new team jersey. Not the imitations, mind you, but the genuine jersey endorsed by the team - the one with the draw strings and the little vents under the armpits. The ones that cost $350.

“Oh, hey man. Not much,” said Drew. Drew is in the sales team and has an office down the hall from Darryl.

“Doing anything exciting this weekend?”

“Not really. I was just going to hang around with the family. Maybe mow the lawn.”

“I’ve got an extra ticket to the game on Saturday. Do you want to go?”

Darryl is always giving away tickets to the game. Hockey is not nearly as enjoyable when one watches the game alone. And his wife had long since tired of going to the games with him.

“I don’t know. I’m not a big hockey fan.”

“Dude! These are eighty dollar tickets! People wait in line for hours for these things.”

Drew looked around the room. He looked everywhere but at Darryl. A bit sheepishly he replied, “Problem is, I don’t really understand the game. You know, it’s all good for you, but for me it’s kind of embarrassing sitting in a room with 20,000 people who all know what’s going on when I don’t have a clue.”

Drew had grown up in England and had just moved to Canada a few years earlier. Like all Brits he had a fascination with soccer, and also enjoyed watching some rugby. He had never really caught on to cricket, though he had had to play it all the way through school.

Darryl lowered his voice a little bit. “This game will be perfect for you. There are so many people in the country that don’t understand the game anymore that the league has decided to make Saturday night games Inquirer Games.”

“What’s an Inquirer Game?”

“It’s a lot like the regular game, but it’s designed specifically for people who just aren’t comfortable stepping into an arena. Some people have had bad experiences with arenas in the past, and some just don’t understand what’s going on. So these games try to bridge that gap.”

“But I just wouldn’t enjoy it! I don’t know when to sit down, when to stand up, when to cheer, when to boo!”

“Drew! It’s an Inquirer Game! It doesn’t matter if you stand or sit. You can boo or cheer whenever you want. Heck, you can do the wave all on your own if you want.”

“Have you seen the rule book for hockey? It has to be 300 pages. At least! I’ll have no idea what’s going on!”

“You don’t need to know the rules to have a good time. Just go, be yourself and have fun. It’s going to be a great night!”

Drew sighed. He felt defeated. “Alright, I’ll go.”


Saturday night rolled around and precisely two hours before game time, Darryl pulled up in front of Drew’s house. Drew was waiting anxiously inside the door. He gave his wife a quick kiss and walked out to the car.

“This is going to be great,” Darryl said. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

“I thought you’d be wearing your jersey.”

“I usually do, but not for the Inquirer Games. They ask us not to in case they make other people feel like there is some kind of dress code. It can also offend out-of-towners if they’re cheering for the other team.”

As they drove Darryl chatted, rambling on about the Maple Leafs - his favorite players, the strength of the organization and the growth in the popularity of the sport. Drew nodded politely when appropriate and answered questions when required, but mostly sat in silence.

Finally they pulled into a lot near the stadium that was prominently marked with a sign emblazoned with the word “Inquirers.”

“Lots of parking,” Drew remarked as he watched a man in a blue vest cleaning up bits of paper and trash from the ground. Other men in blue blazers were directing traffic.

“Yup. A stadium can’t survive if there isn’t lots of parking, can it?” said Darryl cheerfully.

They walked towards the arena. As they approached the door, another man in a blue vest smiled warmly a took a step towards them. Plastered to his vest was a printed sticker that read, “Hello My Name Is STAN.” “Hi! My name’s Stan. Is this your first time here?” He seemed genuinely friendly.

Darryl replied for both of them. “Not for me, but it is for him. I’m Darryl and this is Drew.”

“Welcome! Welcome! We’re glad to have you here today. Tonight we’re hoping that everyone will wear nametags. Is it okay if I make one for you?”

Darryl nodded. Stan walked over to a table that had stacks of stickers and a few Sharpies lying on it. He returned a moment later with stickers for each of them. After putting the stickers on their chests and handing them a few pieces of paper they shook hands with Stan and walked into the stadium.

“You know,” Darryl said. “They usually call this the ‘Air Canada Centre.’ But for Inquirer Games they prefer to call it an activity centre.”

Drew mumbled something he thought sounded polite. But by this time his eyes were wide. He looked around the activity centre, taking in the thousands of seats, quickly filling with other people, most of whom were wearing nametags.

“24E and 24F. Here we are!”

They sat down. Their seats were red and padded. Quite comfortable, especially in comparison to the hard benches that pass for seating in the stadium back in London. Drew took the opportunity to look through the papers Stan had given him.

“What’s with the suggestion card?,” he asked Darryl.

“If you think of some things that would make the game better, jot them down and turn the card in at the end of the game. They’re always looking to make the game better.”

“But I don’t know anything about the game. I don’t even like the game!”

“But that’s what makes your input valuable. Just tell them what would make you like the game.”

Drew shook his head.

“Is that a band down there?” he asked, pointing to a group of guys hastily arranging their instruments just beyond the glass on the far side of the activity centre.

“Yup. They’re called The Forwards. They play during the Inquirer Games. There’s still an organ that plays during other games, but they know that it’s an old-school instrument and people don’t really relate to it anymore. So they brought in a band. These guys rock!”

A few minutes later the band began to play, “Take Me Out To The BallGame,” substituting a few words here and there to make it appropriate to hockey. The words flashed up on the video screens overhead and a few people joined in the music. Most just talked amongst themselves, biding their time. A few minutes later they launched into a rocking version of “The Good Old Hockey Game.” They bypassed the verses and chose instead to simply repeat the chorus.

Oh! The good old hockey game,
Is the best game you can name;
And the best game you can name,
Is the good old Hockey game!

Five minutes after the game was supposed to have started the announcer sounded over the loudspeakers. Drew glanced to Darryl and whispered, “Aren’t they going to sing the national anthem?”

Darryl smiled. “No, some people don’t like it. Especially Americans. So they don’t sing it at these games. I mean, come on! Nobody ever sings the anthem anymore excepting at sporting events, so they leave it out.”

The announcer spoke up. “Ladies and gentlemen. We’d like to welcome you to tonight’s game featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Ottawa Senators.”

Drew quickly tuned him out. Or he did until the announcer began to introduce people.

“Tonight’s facilitator for the Toronto Maple Leafs is Paaaaat Quinn!”

“What’s a facilitator?”

“They used to call them coaches, but people associate that with hierarchy. So at these games, instead of telling the players what to do, they facilitate a game plan where all of the players contribute. Quinn’s job tonight is to help all of the players understand how they can be better players and better people.”

Players began to file onto the ice.

“Hey Darryl, why aren’t they wearing uniforms?”

“It’s an Inquirer Game. If they wore uniforms they wouldn’t fit in, would they?”

“So how do we tell them apart? They’re all wearing jeans and t-shirts.”

“That’s the point, man. We’re here for them as much as they’re here for us. We don’t need to be able to tell them apart.”

“Aren’t there usually lines on the ice? A red one and two blues?”

“You’d see them if you came back next week, but they take them off for these games. They confuse people too much.”

“Gotcha!”

The game began with a bang. The Leafs won the faceoff and their forwards sped down the ice. It was then that Drew noticed the net was undefended. “What happened to the tender?”

“You call him a goalie in hockey. We don’t need ‘em. This is a celebration! No goalies means more goals and that means more celebrating!” Darryl stood up and did a spontaneous, solo wave. No one seemed to disapprove.

The puck found its way into the opposing team’s net and the crowd went wild. The band struck up a rousing chorus repeating the words, “Go Leafs Go” just a few times too many.

The referee waved his semaphore (whistles being far too obnoxious, outdated and difficult to understand) and the action began again.

Drew was beginning to enjoy himself. This wasn’t so bad, was it? No one cared if he knew the game or not. No one cared if he didn’t know when to cheer or boo or even if he despise the game itself. They were just glad that he was here to celebrate with them.

Two hours later the game wrapped up with the home team winning 86 to 73. Drew’s face was positively glowing. His eyes were bright and his hands were red from clapping.

“So did you have a good time,” asked Darryl as he headed towards the parking lot, his voice hoarse from shouting and cheering.

“I did! It was great.”

For a moment Drew looked pensive. A little quieter he said, “But it wasn’t really hockey was it? I mean…I still don’t know anything about the game.”

Darryl smirked. “Not if you mean hockey the way your grandpa played it. And not if you mean hockey the way the rule book tells you to play it. But you had a good time, right?”

“Yeah, it was great!”

“Then that’s what matters, right? You had a good time.”

“I guess so. Do you have an extra ticket for next Saturday?”

June 10, 2005

I’m jumping on a bandwagon. I’ve read a few of the “You Might Be A…” lists lately and have gotten a chuckle from them. Or some of them anyways. Jollyblogger tells us how to know you’re a Presbyterian, Semper Reformada tells us 10 Reasons Why She’s a Calvinist and Tim Irvin tells us that you may just be a BMAA Baptist if….

So here is my humble attempt. Here is how to know that you’re new to the blogosphere:

  1. You have links on your site to Blogshares and BlogExplosion and think these will actually drive traffic your way.
  2. You are a member of more than three aggregators.
  3. A word count on your blogroll turns up a higher number of words than in every article you’ve written.
  4. You think that Michael Spencer is a Calvinist (sorry Michael!).
  5. You think a link from Boarsheadtavern is necessarily an endorsement of the quality of your writing (I’ll stop now).
  6. You think that the number of comments on a site somehow correlates to the quality of the author’s commentary.
  7. All your comments and trackbacks are from friends you didn’t know you had inviting you to play poker.
  8. You actually care what character from Napoleon Dynamite you most resemble or what vegetable you’d be (if you were a vegetable, which you may just be if you enjoy memes this much).
  9. You think that writing good articles will make you a popular blogger. (I’ll let you in on the secret. The fact is that you have to be either famous, contentious, or Phil Johnson to make people notice you.)
  10. You still believe that just because you can find some readers that agree with you it means you are right.
June 09, 2005

Human Events, the conservative news magazine, asked a panel of fifteen conservative scholars and public policy leaders to compile a list of the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries. “Each panelist nominated a number of titles and then voted on a ballot including all books nominated.” A title received a score of 10 points for being listed No. 1 by one of the panelists, 9 points for being listed No. 2, and so on.

Here is the list:

  1. The Communist Manifesto
  2. Mein Kampf
  3. Quotations from Chairman Mao
  4. The Kinsey Report
  5. Democracy and Education
  6. Das Kapital
  7. The Feminine Mystique
  8. The Course of Positive Philosophy
  9. Beyond Good and Evil
  10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

A few rather random and unformed observations:

First, I am ashamed to admit that I have not heard of several of the titles, especially the titles that did not make the top ten. And this from a guy who graduated college with a degree in history (though I did graduate summa cum averaga and was far more interested in being the best euchre player in the cafeteria than being the best student). I spent most of my time studying the early and mid 20th century, so have no excuse.

Second, it would be difficult to argue that the first three titles (as well as the sixth) would be any different if this panel had been composed of liberals. The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf and The Little Red Book surely contributed to untold amounts of evil and bloodshed. Each of them led to the rise of a government known primarily for atrocities committed against not only other nations, but against its own people. Where the list diverges radically from what liberals might choose is at number four, The Kinsey Report and at number seven, The Feminist Mystique. These titles would be held by many as great contributors to society rather than books that are deemed harmful. These books served to advance agendas in direct contradiction to the Scriptures, but advances that many today consider beneficial (though apparently not conservatives).

Third, buried at number 17 is the title I probably would have chosen first overall, Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Why? Because I don’t think any single person in history has done so much to degrade human beings as Charles Darwin. And it all began with this book. He set out to prove that man was not created in the image of a Creator, as men had long believed, but was merely the product of chance. And not only that, but man is merely a species in process, and will surely become something better as evolution continues. It is not difficult to argue that Darwinism contributed to many of the other titles on the list, and that without his “advances” in science, the others may never have gained a voice. Thus his book is important not only by its own merits but because of who and what it later inspired. Darwin’s great contribution was to make man only a little higher than animals, and even then only because of fortuitious random occurences.

What are your thoughts on this list? Are there titles that are far out of place? Are there titles missing that you feel should be added?

June 08, 2005

John Hendryx, proprieter of that fine theological establishment, Monergism.com (and the associated bookstore, Monergismbooks.com has posted a plea for help. His employer has decided to outsource his job, which provides John the opportunity to make Monergism a full-time gig. But because the store is not yet paying the bills, he is asking for some financial assistance. He says, “It is our desire to make Monergism.com even better by focusing our vocation here, and feel the call of God to do so - this way we would have no need to go out to find an additional full time job. With your financial help this can become a reality. Therefore, I would ask that you prayerfully consider a monthly contribution to Mongergism.com. All material on Monergism.com is free, and your support can continue to make it possible for this site to remain a free resource to all.”

Visit this page to get the lowdown or to find out how to make a donation. You can even get a tax receipt for your donation if you’re fortunate enough to live in the United States. At the very least, when you are ordering a book, check to see if you can get it from Monergismbooks.

June 03, 2005

BibleLiteracy.org has a link to a video clip from Jay Leno’s show, in which he asks people on the street simple questions about the Bible. The questions are very basic. “God created the world in ______ days.” “Eve was made from a ______.” “Adam and Eve’s children were ______.” And of course, “How many of the ten commandments can you list?”

As one would expect, since it would make for pretty poor television if it were otherwise, the people fail miserably. Very few can name Adam and Eve’s children or tell him where Eve came from.

This all makes for good television. But do you think the men and women of your church would do much better? Would you do better? Biblical literacy is shockingly low. People know the mantra of “I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior” but not so many can tell you much more than that.

Looking to gauge your biblical knowledge? Why not try this Bible, Theology, and Apologetics Assessment Test posted at Dr. Mike’s blog.

June 02, 2005

When the Internet first began, there was a semblance of order in assigning top-level domain names. .com domains were to be used only for companies. .net were to be used for Internet-related businesses, .org for non-profit organizations, and so on. Canada had very strict rules about the .ca suffix, legislating that only businesses that operated out of at least two provinces could use the .ca suffix. All others had to use a provincial suffix such as .on.ca, or even lengthy regional suffixes.

For good or for ill, this has long since fallen out of favor and at this time anyone can register just about any suffix. One of the few exceptions is .gov, which is still restricted to American government sites (so much for international equity in assigning domain names).

For many years now there has been talk of adopting the .xxx suffix for pornographic web sites. To this point proposals have been rejected, but it now seems that we will soon see such a suffix. The industry that drives much of the Internet, bringing in some $12 billion per year, will have its own “virtual red light district.”

An article at FoxNews says “ICM (an Internet Registry) “ ‘xxx’ Web addresses, which it plans to sell for $60 a year, will protect children from online smut if adult sites voluntarily adopt the suffix so filtering software used by families can more effectively block access to those sites.” Of course this is only partially true. If it was legislated that all pornographic content must be hosted at a .xxx domain, it would be wonderful and would go a long ways to protect children (and adults). However, this obviously will not be the case. While Internet filters can be quickly adapted to block all .xxx domains, this does not mean that there will be any fewer nasty sites using domains in .com, .net, .us and so on.

While there will no doubt soon be thousands or tens of thousands of active sites using the new .xxx suffix, this will do nothing to advance the cause of protecting us against pornography. In reality, it will only help Internet pornographers take their smut to a wider audience.

June 01, 2005

Just over a month ago, Lighthouse Trails Research posted a press release at their web site entitled Rick Warren Teams Up With New-Age Guru Ken Blanchard. I do not know how many people read this press release, but one person who did was Rick Warren. Richard Abanes, who is a Warren apologist and has a forthcoming book entitled Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him, has posted Warren’s response on his site. You can read it here.

Abanes first writes about Ken Blanchard’s errors in discernment (which are serious enough that one could legitimately wonder if Blanchard even understands the Gospel). He then posts Warren’s email to Lighthouse Trails.

A short summary of Warren’s email is that George Mair, who wrote an unauthorized biography of Rick Warren, is a complete fraud and liar. He took the facts about Warren that are publically available and made up any other information he needed. I picked up on some of this in my review of the book, suggesting: “In the end, it seems that this is a book designed to cash-in on the success of The Purpose Driven Life…” and “the author also makes several factual mistakes and I was often left with the impression that he had filled-in details about Warren’s life where such information was missing.” Warren discredits Mair because he is the source for Lighthouse Trail’s information about Ken Blanchard. Warren also denies that he has ever had so much as a single private one-on-one discussion with Robert Schuller.

[Note: it has come to light that Mair disputes that there are many errors in the book. Read this.]

I will withhold comment on most of what this email contains until I have read Abanes’ book, which is sure to provoke a great amount of discussion at this site and elsewhere. But Warren’s email seems to confirm what I believe and have tried to make clear: Rick Warren is a sincere man. He sincerely believes that “Purpose Driven” is biblical. He is not knowingly and deliberately trying to tear apart the church (as some may have you believe).

But I will suggest, once more, than a man can be sincere, but sincerely wrong.

I do respect Rick Warren for his zeal and his desire to lead people to Christ. But I still feel, after a close examination of his books in the light of Scripture, that he is doing harm to the church through his Purpose Driven philosophies, through his ecumenism and through various other avenues.

A couple of small points. Warren chastises Lighthouse Trails for not contacting him before posting the press release. But I know of many, many people who have tried to contact Warren with no success. But in this case they probably should have because of the credibility (or lack thereof) of the source. I would also suggest that this situation does not fall under the teachings of Jesus outlined in Matthew 18 as Warren suggests, so that Lighthouse Trails did not err in that regard.

Pages