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

Tim Challies

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reviews

October 06, 2009

John Calvin by Bruce GordonIt is here at last. For years now I have been waiting for a great biography of Calvin—the kind of biography which I would recommend without hesitation for those who would want to learn about the life of the great Reformer. In a year that has seen the arrival of at least half a dozen biographies of Calvin, this one, I believe, stands as the best. Written by Bruce Gordon, professor of Reformation History at Yale University, it is titled simply and properly, Calvin.

September 29, 2009

Understanding English Bible TranslationWhen it comes to the Bible, we, in the English-speaking world, are profoundly blessed for we have at our disposal scores of translations of Scripture. While they range from excellent to abysmal, in many cases even the worst of them is far superior to the best available in any number of other languages. And, of course, we acknowledge that multitudes of languages remain which still have no access at all to God’s Word. Certainly we have little cause to complain and every cause to express gratitude to God. We have the luxury and responsibility even, of not just studying the Bible, but of first seeking out the best translation available. And that is increasingly becoming a daunting task as each seems to have its strengths and its weaknesses. Meanwhile, the translation philosophies that bring about such strengths and weaknesses remain hidden to most readers who prefer to leave such discussions in the hands of the academics.

September 22, 2009

Gospel Powered Parenting by William FarleyAccording to George Barna, there have been approximately 75,000 books on parenting published in the past decade. I sometimes feel like I have read all of them. It strikes me, though, that publishers must feel the same way and that, hopefully, they think hard before releasing yet another book into such a crowded marketplace. I at least wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to P&R with the release of William Farley’s Gospel-Powered Parenting. And I’m very glad that I did.

September 08, 2009

Words from the Fire by Al MohlerThe Ten Commandments was among the first lengthy passages of Scripture I ever committed to memory. Like most children, I was told to memorize the commandments and did so. Every week they were read in church, ensuring that they remained fresh in my mind. And yet, as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I think little about these Commandments, usually convinced that I am living by the letter of the law but rarely pausing to consider whether I live in the spirit of them. I’m a New Testament Christian, I suppose, often seeing little reason to look back to these laws, given so long ago. And it is to my shame, I’m sure. So it was some interest that I turned to Words from the Fire, a new book in which Al Mohler calls Christians to hear the voice of God in the Ten Commandments.

September 01, 2009

Forgotten God by Francis ChanCalling the Holy Spirit “Forgotten God” may be a bit of an overstatement. Or perhaps it is an understatement. Some Christians seem to show little evidence that they have any theology of the Spirit while others seem to emphasize the Spirit at the expense of other biblical doctrine. What seems clear is that few Christians have it quite right. In this new book Francis Chan says, “From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.” With the entertainment (or perhaps “edutainment”) model of church so prevalent today, churches have become filled with self-focused consumers instead of Spirit-filled believers.

August 29, 2009

Money Greed and GodThe twentieth century was witness to a great battle between capitalism and communism. Early in the twenty-first century it is clear that capitalism won a resounding victory. Yet many people living in victorious nations continue to be uncomfortable with capitalism. They see it as a system of economics, a way of life that transfers wealth from poor to rich, that exploits the planet, that is somehow inherently biased toward the few at the expense of the many. An increasing number of increasingly vocal Christians even claim that capitalism is at odds with the teachings of the Bible. After reading Jesus’ words that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” they determine that capitalism, which seems to be founded on just such a love, must also be evil. Could it be, though, that such claims are based on a misunderstanding of capitalism? Could all these people be battling against a mere caricature?

August 25, 2009

Glory RoadThere are certain things I never get tired of hearing. I never get tired of hearing Tom Cheek’s call of Joe Carter’s home run—the one that won the Blue Jays the World Series in 1993 (“Touch ‘em all, Joe! You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”). I never get tired of hearing the “Hallelujah Chorus” performed by a world-class choir. I never get tired of hearing the laughter of little children (Okay, this is a lie, and especially so when I hear kids laughing and giggling with hyperactivity in that witching hour before dinner). And I never get tired of hearing testimonies of God’s grace in the salvation of his people.

August 18, 2009

The Death Penalty on TrialThat the Bible advocates and even commands the enforcement of the death penalty seems almost like it should be beyond controversy. The dignity God gives to humans, created as they are in his image, demands the utmost penalty for those who would recklessly and deliberately destroy life. Yet controversy abounds with many of those who profess Christ insisting that a God of love and justice would never endorse the use of this ultimate human punishment.

August 13, 2009

A Lovers Quarrel with the Evangelical Church“My name is Warren, and I’m a recovering evangelical.” There are plenty of books today that begin in roughly this way—biographies by Franky Schaeffer and Bart Ehrman come to mind. But Warren Cole Smith is different in that he remains an evangelical, he remains a professed Christian. His recovery from evangelicalism does not involve tossing away the faith, as others have prescribed. His recovery involves reformation, not of the Christian faith but of its evangelical (and largely American) expression. His quarrel with evangelicals is a lover’s quarrel, not a pitched battle. A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church is “intended primarily for Christian believers, particularly those who might generally fit into the category of theologically conservative, evangelical believers.

August 07, 2009

At a time of global economic crisis, in all of the talk of a subset of that crisis, the housing boom and bust, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the cause of that bust is so very simple. “Behind all the esoteric securities and sophisticated financial dealings are simple, monthly mortgage payments from millions of home buyers across the country.” When the housing payments slowed or stopped, sometimes by necessity and sometimes by choice, the boom turned to a bust. Real estate markets that had seen an unparalleled explosion of growth suddenly saw a catastrophic fall. Behind all the talk of stimulus and bailouts and increasing billions and trillions of dollars is normal people unable to make their $1000 or $2000 monthly mortgage payments.

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