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God With Us by Glenn Kreider: A Review

(Lisa Robinson)

P&R Publishing, 240 pages

P&R Publishing, 240 pages

While in seminary, I became fascinated with the study of revelation. God’s disclosure of his actions and character took on heightened meaning in consideration of the biblical story and what God wanted to be made known about himself. But I’ve noticed that this topic can be treated with some remote detachment in the quest to understand God’s character and promises.

God With Us: Exploring God’s Personal Interactions with His People throughout the Bible pops this airy bubble. Glenn Kreider, professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Seminary (he also was my thesis advisor) provides a refreshing look at God’s revelation as he interacts with his creation. Kreider anchors the theme of God’s revelation in terms of his condescension, which he defines as “to descend to a less formal or dignified level.” (24) It is a downward act of condescension that we can know God and it also reveals this heart for his creation. Kreider states, “From the beginning of the biblical story, God’s humility is on display in his activity in the created order. Since what he does reveals who he is, God is revealed as a transcendent being to care for his creation.” (16)

Kreider continues by saying the ultimate expression of condescension is in the incarnation noting, “The Creator of the universe became a creature without ceasing to be the Creator.” (33). In Jesus divine humility he secures redemption for those who will trust in him and Kreider points to the fact that this is instructive for the attitudes of Christians and how they represent Christ. But Kreider broadens the scope of revelation to give a holistic view of God’s condescension in terms of creation, fall, redemption and re-creation.

Thus, in God With Us, Kreider wants to show that divine condescension happened from the beginning of Genesis, stating “any involvement of God in his world is an act of condescension. Further that God humbles himself and interacts with his creation is the major plot line of the Bible and each of the Biblical stories.” (24) Since Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s condescension, Kreider aptly notes that Scripture must be read through a Christological lens. With this foundation, he traces through the biblical narrative noting God’s intentional interaction with his creation as he interacts with selected texts of Scripture.

As he goes through the Old Testament in Chapters 3-5, a few features prominently will hit the reader in context of the overarching theme as Kreider highlights the trajectory of God’s implementation of his covenantal promises.First, God interacts with the culture of time [I would add it actually comes from him anyway in the form of imitation]. Second, God does so with some of the most unlikely candidates. Third, God demonstrates continual mercy in the face of human failing and judgment.  Continue Reading →

The Intolerance of Tolerance

toleranceIn Ecclesiastes 12:12 we read, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” The more I am around the publishing world I realize the truthfulness of these words.

I read a lot. Just last night my wife, who fully supports my reading disease, asked me to put the book down and walk away. It’s my fantasy to have many uninterrupted hours of reading. Yes, it’s a disease.

Even if you have the reading disease worse than me, it is still impossible to read every worthwhile book. Just devoting yourself to reading the works of: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Owen, Barth, Machen, Solzhenitsyn, Lewis, Chesterton, Kierkegaard, MacDonald and Bunyan would take many years. If you read the works of all those dead people you would only see the tip of the iceberg of all the dead people you should read.

While you may be devoting your time to be “well read” among the gigantic list of dead people there is, in addition, at least one book coming out every week that you really should read. I occasionally have a desire to give up. Throw my arms up in the air and simply transfer all my hard fought reading time over to Netflix. To stop reading and start binging on endless seasons of Netflix offerings. My disease, however, prevents me from giving up. I find I’m a better father, husband, friend and leader when I keep my nose consistently in good books.

Harry S. Truman is known for saying, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Why all this focus on reading? Well, in an age of non-stop book releases it is more challenging than ever to know what books to read. You can devote 8 hours a day to reading worthless books and you will never run out.

This post could become a post about how to know what to read, perhaps that post will come one day. For the time being, however, I want to direct your attention to just one book. If you didn’t notice D.A. Carson’s book The Intolerance of Tolerance when it first came out a couple years ago I want to bring it to your attention.

I think the book is a pivotal work to make sure you are aware of the massive shift that has happened in Western culture around the topic of tolerance. Here’s just one paragraph to give you a taste:

This shift from “accepting the existence of different views” to “acceptance of different views,” from recognizing other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance. To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it. The new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another’s position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as your own.

That paragraph should take your breath away. We have experienced a massive cultural shift. As Ambassador’s of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) it is important for us to understand our culture so we can best communicate Jesus to our culture. Paul knew the currents of Athenian thought in order to share Jesus to the elites on Mars Hill.

Reading at least the first half of Carson’s book is, in my 2-cent opinion, worth the time, effort and money.

How Jesus Became God—or How God Became Jesus? A Review of Bart Ehrman’s New Book and a Concurrent Response

Bart Ehrman’s book How Jesus Became God, released just yesterday, is the most recent example of a scholarly tradition of books with similar titles offering to explain how Christianity turned a simple itinerant Jewish teacher into the Second Person of the Trinity. Two of the earlier, notable such books were Richard Rubenstein’s When Jesus Became God (1999) and Larry Hurtado’s How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (2005). In what may be an unprecedented publishing event, a book by evangelical scholars critiquing Ehrman’s book was released at the same time yesterday, entitled How God Became Jesus. The concurrent publication of the rebuttal book was facilitated by the fact that its publishing house, Zondervan, is owned by HarperCollins, which published Ehrman’s book under the HarperOne imprint.

Ehrman, of course, has more name recognition in the English-speaking world than any other biblical scholar today, due especially to his de-conversion story (enthusiastically disseminated in the mainstream media) of abandoning evangelical Christian belief and becoming an agnostic. Sadly, he is probably a hundred times better known than any of the five scholars who contributed to How God Became Jesus. In particular, it is a shame that Craig A. Evans is not better known. Evans is also the author of what I consider the stand-out chapter responding to Ehrman. More on that later.

An Overview of the Two Books

Ehrman’s thesis is that Jesus was not viewed, by himself or his disciples, as in any sense divine during his lifetime, but that belief in his divinity arose almost immediately after his disciples had visions of Jesus that they interpreted as meaning that God had raised him bodily from the dead. Continue Reading →

My New Book is Now Available

Now-that-im-a-ChristianI am really excited to announce my new book Now that I’m a Christian published by Crossway. It has been released as of this week!

It is a book that one can (hopefully) hand out to new believers and use in discipleship circles and small groups. There are 10 chapters, 5 on orthodoxy (what every Christian believes) and 5 on orthopraxy (what every Christian does). I have tried to only include the essentials on each, that way any evangelically minded church can hand this out to their members and be confident that the main things have remained the main things.

Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Crossway

Purchase from Credo House (this option does support Credo House the most)

If you could review this on Amazon ASAP (esp if you get the Kindle version), I would be so grateful (especially if it is a good review!).

Also, I would be in your debt if you would write a review about this on your blog (I think I can get a copy sent to you, just let me know) or shout it out through Twitter.

Pastors, buy in bulk (!) and hand out to your congregation.

Stephen Hawking Detained in Russia for Bible Smuggling

hawkingThe new autobiography from scientist and well-known atheist Stephen Hawking entitled My Brief History is full of many interesting and at times surprising details.

One of the most surprising stories can be found on page 123:

I believe that disabled people should concentrate on things that their handicap doesn’t prevent them from doing and not regret those they can’t do…I visited the Soviet Union seven times. The first time I went with a student party in which one member, a Baptist, wished to distribute Russian-language Bibles and asked us to smuggle them in. We managed this undetected, but by the time we were on our way out the authorities had discovered what we had done and detained us for a while. However, to charge us with smuggling Bibles would have caused an international incident and unfavorable publicity, so they let us go after a few hours.

Stephen Hawking must be the only quadriplegic atheist to ever be detained for Bible smuggling. For nearly 50 years Stephen Hawking has been living with a progressing motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As I read his autobiography I wanted to both spend time joking with him, honor him for all he has been able to accomplish with such a health condition, but then have a very serious adult-level conversation about a God I believe he should take more seriously. More on this a bit later.

In order to write a book Stephen Hawking must twitch his cheek until a computer can recognize what word is in his mind. It takes an average of a minute for him to type just three words. A small 125-page autobiography seems like a long Russian novel when you realize how much work it took to communicate his story.

Hawking spends roughly half his book in the world of his professional passion: theoretical physics, cosmology and mathematics. The other half of My Brief History focuses on his personal life.

Hawking made front-page news in 2011 when he spoke boldly against Christianity. He said, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

I wondered if Hawking was on a trajectory from being a pretty friendly atheist to now going on the attack following the lead of men such as Richard Dawkins. I was surprised how his autobiography was free from polemical statements against Christianity.

Hawking only mentions his “run in” with Christianity a few times. A prominent memory of the Bible was having a tutor use the Bible in English class. He writes:

To keep us occupied, he therefore set us to read a chapter of the Bible each day and write a piece on it. The idea was to teach us the beauty of the English language. We got through all of Genesis and part of Exodus before I left. One of the main things I learned from this exercise was not to begin a sentence with “And.” When I pointed out that most sentences in the Bible began with “And,” I was told that English had changed since the time of King James. In that case, I argued, why make us read the Bible?”

I believe, sadly, Stephen Hawking received bad biblical information. I wish I could get in a time machine to provide an alternative response to the inquisitive young Hawking. One of those frustrating moments in history where his English teacher doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Continue Reading →

John Shelby Spong on the Gospel of John

John Shelby Spong’s newest book, The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic, was released this week. For those unfamiliar with Spong, he is a retired Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, and the author of a string of notorious books such as Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism (1992), Why Christianity Must Change or Die (1999), A New Christianity for a New World (2002), and Jesus for the Non-Religious (2008). The recurring theme in these books, reflected in some of the titles, is that Christianity must stop being Christianity and become a mildly spiritual humanism. (Spong actually won the 1999 Humanist of the Year award.) Spong is a devotee of the liberal humanistic theology of Paul Tillich (1886-1965), a German-American theologian who argued that God was not a personal Creator but the ground of being, or being itself. This is a philosophically sophisticated way of saying that God does not exist, of having one’s God and eating It too. Spong has also written several books attacking specific traditional Christian beliefs and values, such as Living in Sin? (1990, against traditional Christian sexual values), Born of a Woman (1994, no virgin birth), Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (1995, no resurrection of Jesus), and Eternal Life: A New Vision (2010, no heaven or hell).

Spong claims, both in the book and in an article on Huffington Post promoting the book, that The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic is the result of an “intensive five-year-long study” of the Gospel of John and of Johannine scholarship. “I have now read almost every recognized major commentary on John’s gospel that is available in English from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries” (Fourth Gospel, 8). Unfortunately, it doesn’t show. Continue Reading →

14 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ—and 14 References

In this article I will summarize, as briefly as possible, fourteen evidences for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The summaries of each point are deliberately brief and undeveloped. No pretense is made here of having anticipated every response that skeptics might make. Nor is this an exhaustive list of evidences. Rather, it is a simple overview of many of the factual elements that contribute to the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection. No one point is by itself absolute proof that Jesus rose from the dead, but the evidence is cumulative (that is, each piece adds further weight to the total) and integrative (that is, the various facts fit together in a meaningful whole). The result is a very strong case that Jesus (a) died, (b) was buried, (c) rose from the dead, and (d) appeared alive to a variety of persons (1 Cor. 15:3-8). At the end of this article is an annotated bibliography of 14 books that examine in great detail the issues touched upon in the list of 14 evidences.



  1. JESUS’ EXISTENCE. That Jesus was a historical individual is granted by virtually all historians and is supported by ancient Christian, Jewish, and pagan sources. Yet modern skeptics often feel that their best strategy for denying the evidence of his resurrection is to deny that he even existed.
  2. JESUS’ DEATH. The most popular counter to the Resurrection in non-Christian and heretical beliefs is to deny that Jesus died on the cross (e.g., this is the position of Islam). However, historians regard the death of Jesus by crucifixion as ordered by Pontius Pilate to be as historically certain as any other fact of antiquity.
  3. CRUCIFIED MESSIAH. Crucifixion was a horrible, shameful way to die, so much so that it would never have occurred to anyone in the first century to invent a story about a crucified man as the divine Savior and King of the world. Something extreme and dramatic must have happened to lead people to accept such an idea—something like his rising from the dead. Continue Reading →

Dan Wallace on “The New New Testament”

In a new book called The New New Testament, a certian group of more liberal minded scholars proposes a new canon of the New Testament. In this canon, the following books are included:

  • The Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
  • The Thunder: Perfect Mind
  • The Gospel of Thomas
  • The Gospel of Mary
  • The Gospel of Truth
  • The Acts of Paul and Thecla
  • The Letter of Peter to Philip
  • The Secret Revelation of John
  • The First, Second, Third, and Fourth Books of the Odes of Solomon

Have not ever heard of them? Read Dan Wallace’s review and his reminder of what criteria should always be used when establishing the canon of the New Testament.

Dan’s conclusion:

In short, the New New Testament is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The council that put these books forth is a farce. It has nothing to do with the councils of old, yet implicitly seeks to claim authority on the basis of concocted semblance. The books were selected by those who, though certainly having a right to scholarly examination of the Christian faith, are not at all qualified to make any pronouncements on canon. That belongs to the church, the true church. Outsiders may address, critique, and comment on the New Testament. They have that right—a right given them by the very nature of the Bible: this book is the only sacred document of any major religion which consistently subjects itself to historical inquiry. Unlike the Bhagavad Gita, the Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, the Qur’an, or the Gospel of Thomas, the Bible is not just talking heads, devoid of historical facts, places, and people. It is a book that presents itself as historical, and speaks about God’s great acts in history, intersecting with humanity in verifiable ways. This is where orthodoxy and heterodoxy should meet, dialoging and debating over whether the Bible is in any sense true. But to suspend the discussion by a sleight of hand is both cowardly and bombastic.

Again, his review is well worth your time.