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

Tim Challies

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interview

August 07, 2012

This morning I posted a review of Shon Hopwood’s new memoir Law Man. After reading the book I tracked down the author and did an interview with him. Give it a read, as I think you’ll enjoy it.

Law Man Cover

If you had to give a short summary of the theme of your book, what would it be? I don’t mean an outline of the contents as much as an underlying theme. What will the reader take away from it?
I think different people will find different themes, depending on their worldview. Some are going to come away from the book and say, “Why does a former bank robber deserve forgiveness, his wife, law school, and to tell his story in a book?” Others will see redemption through hard work and dedication—your typical pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps story. But the real crux of the story is God’s grace. He poured out his grace not only through my salvation, of course, but also through the help of others. I would love to sit here and tell everyone that I’m super smart and that it was my legal ability and hard work which resulted in the Supreme Court granting two of my cases. But that simply isn’t true.

You are a professing Christian and outline the story of your conversion in the story, yet this isn’t a “Christian book” per se. Why did you choose to for the mainstream instead of a book that would be sold in the Christian market?
I really struggled with that decision. At one point, Crown Publishing and I talked about writing two books: one mainstream book and one Christian book. It never materialized. And, after praying about it for a long time, I realized that there was a reason God had given me a book deal. It wasn’t just to tell my story of sin and grace to believers; it was to show unbelievers that, through Jesus, even those who committed crimes can be redeemed. I also knew that if the publisher labeled the book Christian and if it was segregated to the Christian section of bookstores or Amazon, very few unbelievers would read it. So, I decided to write a mainstream book that contains a Jesus story with the hope that those who don’t or won’t normally read a Jesus story, will still read this book and hear the good news.

Can you tell me about your local church and how you and your family are involved in it?
My wife, Annie, and our two children attend Mars Hill Church U-District in Seattle, Washington. We chose to accept a scholarship at the University of Washington School of Law, in part, because we found Mars Hill online, and we wanted to land in a Bible-based church. We love Mars Hill and our church family, especially our bible study leaders who have lovingly served us with friendship and leadership in community. And Pastor Justin Holcomb has gone out of his way to make us a part of the church’s future. Our faith has grown by leaps and bounds in the short time we’ve been at Mars Hill. In a few short weeks, Annie and I will, for the very first time in our lives, become members of a church. We are excited about that.

September 07, 2011

Book of RevelationThe iPad has proven itself a game-changing medium in many ways, not the least of which is in being a medium that Christians can use to share the good news of Jesus Christ. A few weeks ago I came across a fascinating app called The Book of Revelation App, a graphic novel adaptation of Revelation. I have been enjoying the app and recently got in touch with Chris Koelle, the artist, to ask him about the project. I hope you enjoy this interview.

Tell me a little bit about yourself—who you are, where you go to church, and so on.

I’ve been doing art and freelance illustration full-time for about 7 years now. Alot of my work has been providing illustration for books, graphic novels, documentaries, and album art for CDs and vinyl records. My wife Annie is one of the most wonderfully inspiring and passionate artists I know. We have a 4-year-old son named Marshall. We are, with much joy, a part of Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. I love a hot mug of strong coffee, cold, grey sweater weather, experimental music of all sorts, and intaglio printmaking, among other things.

Revelation App

August 08, 2011

I’ve got something a little bit different today. This is a kind of discussion or interview I had with my friend Julian, who was asking me about some of the questions and some of the complications related to having a popular blog. I thought it would be worth sharing since it addresses some of the criticisms people have lodged against me recently. And I hope it gives a little bit of perspective to the Christian blogosphere.

Here is Julian’s introduction follow by his questions and my answers.


In NHL hockey politics (which is big news here in Canada) there has been lots of talk over the last couple years about “the code.” Rumor has it that there is some moral code that guides how players hit each other or when they fight. Supposedly everyone knows it and it is universally seen as “dirty pool” when someone breaks this code. However, whether the code actually exists is a matter of debate.

It’s clear that for the average blogger with a readership of 20, anything is fair game. You can say whatever you want about whomever you want in whatever way you want whenever you want because only he and his mom will read it. But I think a lot of people suspect that there is a “code” in the evangelical blogging world. There are certain places you cannot go, certain things you cannot say, certain people or ministries that you cannot criticize.

I wanted to actually explore this a little bit, so I took the following questions to the biggest blogger I know, Tim Challies. I wanted to find out, “Is there a ‘code’ amongst big-name bloggers?”

To give some context to “big-name blogger,” how many people read your blog? 

I do not track statistics as much as I probably should (at least according to all the blogging experts) but I think if I were to add up people who visit the blog and who read it through other media (RSS, Facebook, etc.) it would be somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million reads per month. With all the different ways people can digest the content today, it’s increasingly hard to get an accurate measure.

And how long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging since late 2002 or so, and I’ve been blogging every day since late 2003. I’ve probably posted around 5,000 articles in that time.

What’s the purpose of your blog?

I think the purpose has evolved over the years, but as it has gained an audience, I think it’s become a place to discuss what is of particular interest to Christians, and especially those Young and/or Restless and/or Reformed Christians. I consider what I do thinking out loud about important issues and then allowing other people to help me think better. That is why I write about relevant topics, why I review books and why I try to draw attention to good resources.

I do not consider it my job to critique everyone or everything. Yes, there are times when I use the blog to critique, but largely I want the blog to be positive in tone. I have no interest in being one of those watch-bloggers who has a ministry of criticism.

Would you say there is a “code” in the Christian blogosphere?

February 09, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I asked the readers of this site to help me interview John MacArthur. I collected several of the best questions, added in a few of my own, and sent them off. Dr. MacArthur was kind enough not just to answer them, but to answer them very thoroughly.

I am posting the first 5 questions and answers today and will follow up with the next 5 tomorrow. Today the questions revolve around his new book Slave, the best Bible translations, avoiding scandal, the challenges he has faced in ministry, and the advice he would give himself if he could go back to the early days of his ministry. Tomorrow he talks about time management, about critiquing people “in our camp,” about theological crises, about the Reformed Charismatics and about Christians who deny a literal 6-day creation.

Without further ado, here is the interview with Dr. MacArthur:

Slave. What is it about this word that merits a whole book?

MacArthur SlaveSometimes one word can make an enormous difference. For example, the Latin Vulgate’s translation of metanoia (repentance) as paenitentia (penance) in places like Acts 2:38 led to all sorts of problems in the Roman Catholic Church.

The slave concept is a major theme in Scripture. In fact, believers are referred to as “slaves” hundreds of times throughout the Old and New Testaments. Yet, the American church is blind to this critical theme because most English versions translate the word as “servant” instead.

While it is true that the duties of slave and servant may overlap to some degree, there is a key distinction between the two: servants are hired; slaves are owned. Servants have an element of freedom in choosing whom they work for and what they do. The idea of servanthood maintains some level of self-autonomy and personal rights. Slaves, on the other hand, have no freedom, autonomy, or rights. In the Greco-Roman world, slaves were considered property, to the point that, in the eyes of the law they were regarded as things rather than persons. To be someone’s slave was to be his possession, bound to obey his will without hesitation or argument.

This reality has major implications for our understanding of the gospel. Christ’s call to follow Him is not simply an invitation to become His associate, but a mandate to become His slave. That message is especially needed in American culture, where a man-centered, feel-good, cheap-grace gospel has become so popular. But nothing could be farther from the biblical reality—a reality which is brought to the forefront by rightly translating that one word: “slave.”

In the past I’ve written many books that focus on a right understanding of the gospel—The Gospel According to Jesus, The Gospel According to the Apostles, Hard to Believe, and so on. But, as I note in my preface to Slave, “I have no doubt that this perpetual hiding of an essential element of New Testament revelation has contributed to much of the confusion in evangelical teaching and practice. In fact, I wonder if it wasn’t the reason I felt the need to write so many books to clarify the gospel. If this one reality had been known, would any of those books have been necessary?”

So, I see this as a vitally-important issue with far-reaching implications for how the gospel ought to be understood, preached, and lived.

July 11, 2010

Today’s guest blogger is Danielle Evans. Like me, Danielle is a member of Grace Fellowship Church. Unlike me, Danielle is a graduate of Southern Seminary. When I asked if she would like to contribute a guest post, she decided to talk to Dr. Russell Moore to ask him a few questions about adoption. (You may also like to read my review of his book, Adopted for Life)

*****

Dr. Russell Moore, author of Adopted For Life, shows why Christians are exhorted to take care of orphans and widows.   He has first hand experience with adoption, as he has adopted two of his sons, Benjamin and Timothy.  I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Moore a few questions regarding this important subject.

1.) Please share a little about your experience with adoption and how you and Maria decided to adopt.