31 August 2014

Alive to Beauty

Today my book Edwards on the Christian Life releases. How good of Steve Nichols and Justin Taylor to invite me into their Theologians on the Christian Life series. And George Marsden was kind enough to write a foreword. What grace!

I am happy about this book.

Why? What's it trying to do? After all, we have no shortage of books available to us these days. Billions of words clamor for our attention, in dozens of various print and digital formats. Why put in the time to write this one?

Well, what I'm not trying to do is set the record straight on any of the various intra-Edwardsian-scholarship discussions.

Nor am I telling the story of Edwards' own life.

Nor rehashing and synthesizing what others have said about Edwards.

Nor addressing his theology as a whole.

Nor doing mainly a historical/cultural/backgrounds study.

What's it for then?

I am trying to give readers a taste of what Edwards has given me. Something like pulling the shades up on a bright Spring morning to let the light stream in after waking from a nightmare. Or stepping into an air conditioned home on a hot, humid day. Or walking through the tunnel into the open air of an enormous football stadium and trying to take in what you're looking at.

It's a book that takes one specific aspect of Edwards' overall theology and vision of the universe--everyday living of the Christian life--and then tries, in explaining it, to create space for that to come alive in the lives of the book's readers. It's for tired Christians who on the one hand have tasted the sweetness of the Christian life but on the other hand find this sweetness constantly getting fizzled out through boredom, weakness, failure, loneliness, disappointment, weariness. It's for Christians like me.

There is simply no one like Jonathan Edwards when it comes to telling us of the Christian life. The sweetness, the blanketing shalom, the sun-like nature of it. The loveliness of walking through life with Christ as our beautiful, and beauty-nurturing, Friend. "There is a brightness and a glory in the Christian life," wrote Edwards. There was in his. I want there to be in ours. That's why I wrote.

Jonathan Edwards has left us such help in living the Christian life. If you long to live out of a stable calm and nobility that is beyond the reach of circumstance, weather, and finances, I hope you will consider picking up a copy. Above all, I hope you'll find yourself a tiny bit more radiant on the other side.

*This blog post and this brief online article will give you a flavor of the book. Neither is extracting content from the book, but both get at the heart of what I'm trying to say in it.

29 August 2014

O Give Me That Book

John Wesley:
I want to know one thing--the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way. . . . He hath written it down in a book! O give me that book! At any price, give me the Book of God!

I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. . . . I sit down alone: only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. . . . I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable.
--John Wesley, 'Preface,' in The Works of John Wesley (London: Thomas Cordeux, 1811), 7:4-5 ('homo unius libri' = 'a man of one book')

28 August 2014

24 August 2014

Hope Beyond the Walls of the World

Tim Keller addressing Hong Kong University, on the subject of hope. Q&A for the last half hour. Good stuff.

21 August 2014

'Overcoming Chronic Temptations'

C. S. Lewis, letter to Mary Neylan, January 20, 1942:
I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations.

It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience etc doesn't get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are airing in the cupboard.

The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.
--The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 2 (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 507; emphasis original

11 August 2014