Final Call (January 24)

Welcome to Final Call, a brief, hand-picked selection of news, articles, videos, and curiosities from the Internet and beyond. Today, each of the items has a common theme: 2017.

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Two Documentaries

2017 is going to bring two promising documentaries that will be of particular interest to Reformed folk. Both debuted their trailers at the recent G3 Conference. The first is Calvinist, by Les Lanphere.

The second is Luther by Stephen McCaskell.

I’ve been tracking these productions for a while now, and it looks like both have come together very well.

John MacArthur’s Busy Season

2017 has gotten off to a busy start for John MacArthur. He has no fewer than six books releasing between January 3 and April 4.

  • January 3: The Deity of Christ and The Believer’s Walk with Christ. These are the first two volumes in the new John MacArthur Study Series. The series is comprised of chapters adapted from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary, and they have been arranged thematically for the purpose of topical study. “Accordingly, each chapter is designed to take the reader deep into a text of Scripture, while the volume as a whole addresses a specific biblical theme. This approach is ideal for anyone wanting to engage in a thorough study of what the Bible says about a given subject. It also serves as a valuable tool for pastors or Bible study leaders looking to teach a topical series.”
  • January 31: Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth. Co-authored with Richard Mayhue, this is a 1,000-page systematic theology of the Christian faith. It comes endorsed by a diverse range of theologians: Thomas Schreiner, Albert Mohler, Iain Murray, Derek Thomas, Andrew Naselli, Steven Lawson, Walter Kaiser Jr., and others. I also added my two cents with this blurb: “The emphasis of John MacArthur’s ministry has always been preaching—unleashing God’s truth by preaching God’s Word. All the while, his ministry has been undergirded by doctrine—doctrine drawn carefully, consistently from the Bible. His thousands of expository sermons stand as proof of his faithfulness to the work of the preacher; Biblical Doctrine stands as proof of faithfulness to the work of the theologian. May both be used to encourage a new generation of preacher-theologians to commit their lives to the high calling of teaching and equipping Christ’s church.”
  • February 2: None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible. I will allow the publisher to describe this one: “The Bible’s teaching on God’s love, holiness, and sovereignty is often met with questions about human responsibility, suffering, and evil. If God is in control of everything, can we make free choices? If God is good and all–powerful, how can we account for natural disasters and moral atrocities? Answers to these questions are often filled with technical jargon and personal assumptions that don’t take into account the full scope of biblical truth. In None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible, Dr. John MacArthur shows that the best way to discover the one true God is not through philosophical discourse but a careful study of Scripture—the primary place where God has chosen to reveal Himself.”
  • February 28: The Shepherd as Theologian. To be fair, this one has MacArthur as the general editor rather than author. This is the second volume in the The Shepherd’s Library series (The Shepherd as Leader released last year). These volumes compile some of the best messages from the annual Shepherd’s Conference with this volume including messages by MacArthur as well as William Barrick, Phil Johnson, R.C. Sproul, Paul Washer, and others. It includes a couple of MacArthur’s most “line-in-the-sand” messages: Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Must Be a Six-Day Creationist and Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Must Be a Premillennialist.
  • April 4: The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teachings. This book examines Paul’s letters to show what Paul taught about the gospel. The publisher says this: “The apostle Paul penned a number of very pithy, focused passages in his letters to the early church that summarize the gospel message in just a few well-chosen words. Each of these key texts has a unique emphasis highlighting some essential aspect of the Good News. The chapters in this revelatory new book closely examine those vital gospel texts, one verse at a time.”

Book geeks will be interested in this little fact: the six books come from five different publishers. The Deity of Christ and The Believer’s Walk with Christ: Moody; Biblical Doctrine: Crossway; None Other: Reformation Trust; The Shepherd As Theologian: Harvest House; The Gospel According to Paul: Thomas Nelson.

2017 Reading Challenge

The most common questions I receive about the 2017 Christian Reading Challenge are related to what counts as a book. Can it count as a book if it’s actually closer to a booklet? Can it count as a book if it’s an audiobook? What if it’s a children’s book?

My reply is almost always a variation of this: Grace, not law. The reading challenge has no governing authority, so you are free to define a book however you see fit. Speaking personally, I include just about everything that has its own page on Amazon, no matter how long or short. Audiobooks count by any definition!

Here is what I’ve read so far this year:

  1. The Vine Project by Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
  2. The Story of Reality by Gregory Koukl
  3. Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat (I read it to my girls)
  4. Praying Together by Megan Hill
  5. Week-day Religion by J.R. Miller
  6. Rethinking Retirement by John Piper
  7. Finishing Our Course with Joy by J.I. Packer
  8. Finishing Well to the Glory of God by John Dunlop
  9. How To Finish the Christian Life by Donald & George Sweeting
  10. One Man and One Woman by Joel Beeke & Paul Smalley
  11. Beggar’s Daughter by Jessica Harris
  12. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin