Category Archives: Reviews

I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution

No, not a confession from me, but rather the title of a book I recently reviewed for Discerning Reader. My first draft turned out way too long, so I trimmed it down to half the length for DR. Rather than let the longer version go to waste, I’m posting it here.

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Atheist Delusions

My review of David Bentley Hart’s book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies has been posted over at Discerning Reader.

Why There Almost Certainly Is a God

My review of Keith Ward’s book Why There Almost Certainly Is a God has been posted over at Discerning Reader.

The words “Not recommended” in bold red font at the top of the review make it look as though I’m more down on Ward’s book than I am, but the review itself should make clear why, despite the cogency of its central argument, I couldn’t recommend the book for DR’s particular constituency.

Review of Scholar’s Library (Logos Bible Software)

Installing a new software package on your computer is rarely an interesting or pleasurable experience. The longer it takes, the more irritating it becomes. Strangely, however, I found that installing the Scholar’s Library from Logos Bible Software flouted this principle. Even though it takes a good while to install, I didn’t resent the wait, because the installation process itself makes clear just why it takes the time it does. As all of the electronic books in the library are copied from the DVD to your hard drive, thumbnail images of their covers are displayed on the screen like playing cards dealt face-up on a table. And believe me, there are a lot of cards to be dealt!

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The Collected Works of John M. Frame, Volume 1

“The Collected Works of John M. Frame, Volume 1: Theology” is as descriptive and accurate a title as one could want for an electronic library. The first of three volumes to be released, it contains all six of Frame’s books on theological topics:

  • The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God is the first book in Frame’s ‘Theology of Lordship’ series. It’s essentially a detailed exploration of what Scripture has to say on the subject of epistemology: what knowledge is, what we can and do know, and how we know it.
  • The Doctrine of God, the second in the ‘Lordship’ series, is an exposition of the attributes and character of the God of Scripture, centred on His self-designation as ‘Lord’ (Yahweh). Among other things, it contains lengthy discussions of the problem of evil and the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord is an introductory systematic theology, based on a survey course Frame was invited to teach in 2004. As modern evangelical STs go, it isn’t a competitor to the weighty volumes by, e.g., Wayne Grudem and Robert Reymond, but neither is it intended to be. In keeping with Frame’s other writings, it’s clear, concise, reliable, readable, and edifying.
  • No Other God is Frame’s critique of Open Theism, the revisionist view of God promoted by Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, and others. One of the features that distinguishes it from other classical theist responses to openness theology is that it is explicitly and unashamedly Reformed. A large part of the book is devoted to refuting one of the driving presuppositions of Open Theism, namely, libertarian human freedom.
  • The Amsterdam Philosophy is one of Frame’s earliest publications: a short but penetrating critical assessment of the philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd and his followers. It isn’t as relevant today as it was in 1972, but it remains instructive as a critique of an influential movement that tended to put philosophy rather than Scripture in the driving seat.
  • Perspectives on the Word of God contains the text of three lectures delivered at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1988, applying (with relative brevity) Frame’s triperspectivalism to the subjects of divine revelation and ethics. As such, it offers a preview of the final two volumes in the ‘Lordship’ series: The Doctrine of the Word of God and The Doctrine of the Christian Life.

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Defending Life

My review of Francis Beckwith’s book Defending Life has just been posted over at Discerning Reader.

If you’re wondering what lies behind the review’s opening sentence, check out this article for starters, followed by this article.

Faith’s Reasons for Believing

The following is the unexpurgated version of a review of Robert L. Reymond’s Faith’s Reasons for Believing (Mentor/Christian Focus, 2008) published in Themelios 33:2 (September 2008). (The published version had to be trimmed to around 1000 words.)

Question: What do you get if you cross Gordon Clark’s apologetic with Cornelius Van Til’s apologetic and sprinkle it liberally (so to speak) with J. Gresham Machen’s historical evidences? Answer: Something like the case for the Christian faith recommended by Robert Reymond in Faith’s Reasons for Believing.

The subtitle gives a fair impression of its purpose and tone: “An Apologetic Antidote to Mindless Christianity (and to Thoughtless Atheism)”. Reymond’s goal is to counter not only the attacks of “militant atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, but also the “mindless Christianity” of believers who are unable or unwilling to offer any reasons for the faith they profess.

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The Works of Cornelius Van Til

According to one leading Reformed theologian, Cornelius Van Til is “the most important Christian thinker of the twentieth century.” If that’s an overstatement, it’s a forgivable one. Van Til’s thought was profound, innovative, and provocative. He wrote voluminously, and his most prominent publications have been variously engaged, praised, and condemned by Christian scholars from practically every point on the theological spectrum. His ‘presuppositionalist’ Christian philosophy with its sharp distinction between analogical thought (“man thinking God’s thoughts after Him”) and autonomous thought (“man is the measure of all things”) has wide-ranging implications for many other disciplines: apologetics, education, systematic theology, biblical hermeneutics, scientific inquiry, counselling — indeed, for any area of human study and endeavour one cares to mention.

In 1997 Logos published The Works of Cornelius Van Til on CD-ROM in their Logos Library System format. For those of us with a more than passing interest in Van Til’s thought, this was a gift from the heavenlies. A labour of love by Eric Sigward (who must have spent hundreds of hours assembling, editing, and formatting its content) the CD-ROM contained 29 of Van Til’s books (including both editions of The Defense of the Faith) and over 200 other articles, pamphlets, reviews, and unpublished manuscripts. It also boasted over 50 hours of audio recordings. In addition to this wealth of content, the Logos Library System provided a fully indexed search facility that enabled complex searches for words and phrases (e.g., display every paragraph in which Van Til used the phrase ‘natural theology’ near the word ‘Arminian’).

At this point, I have to make a shameful confession. The Works of Cornelius Van Til has been utterly indispensable in helping me to sustain a wholly undeserved reputation. By serving as the moderator for the Van Til email discussion list for 8 years, and the maintainer of for 6 years, it seems I’ve inadvertently given people the impression that I’m an ‘expert’ on all things Van Tilian. (Sadly, this is far from true, but I’ve been reluctant to come clean on the matter until now.) As a consequence, with some regularity I get emails asking me what Van Til thought or wrote on such-and-such a matter. Without the Van Til CD-ROM, my ignorance would be manifest; but with its help, I’m invariably only minutes away from an answer that makes me look like the world’s greatest living authority on the Dutch Calvinist philosopher.

“Can you tell me what Van Til had to say about the New Testament canon?”

“What’s Van Til’s take on the Sermon on the Mount?”

“Did Van Til ever interact with Dietrich Bonhoeffer?”

No problem! (Click, click, tappety-tap, click.) You want citations with that?

Imagine then my delight on learning that Logos have issued an ‘enhanced edition’ of The Works of Cornelius Van Til. All the original content has been preserved, but also updated to take full advantage of the Libronix Digital Library System (the successor to the Logos Library System). The material has been arranged into 40 volumes to facilitate navigation and searching. Furthermore, the new edition includes thousands of indexed hyperlinks to other Libronix resources, such as Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and Barth’s Church Dogmatics. By means of the same technology, it is now possible to find out — in a matter of minutes — in which of his writings Van Til interacts with, for example, Calvin’s discussion of the sensus divinitatis or Barth’s treatment of the doctrine of Scripture. Provided that no one reads this review, I’m confident that my ill-deserved reputation as a Van Til scholar will be secure for many years to come.

Whatever one thinks of Van Til’s work, there’s no denying that The Works of Cornelius Van Til is a fantastic resource. At the time of writing, Logos are offering it on sale at a substantial discount, but I’ve been told that if readers of this review use the magic coupon code ‘VANTIL’ they’ll receive a further 25% discount when they order the product before 31st July 2008. And those who own the original Logos version of the CD-ROM are entitled to a free upgrade.* What more could one ask for? (Did someone say, “The Collected Works of John M. Frame”? Volume 1 is already available; 2 and 3 are the pipeline.)

*As Phil Gons of Logos explained to me: “It is true that owners of the old Logos version of the Works of Van Til get the new version for free. We’ve actually already activated the new version in the Libronix accounts of everyone who owned the old version; however, if someone never made the switch to Libronix, this automatic upgrade wouldn’t have worked for them. They will have to call our customer service (800-875-6467) and have it manually unlocked. There is a qualification, though. The individual must have owned the old version prior to the release of the new version or at least not purchased the old version as a way to get the new version at a significantly reduced rate.”