Justin Taylor|10:33 am CT

Why Book-Length Responses to Other Books Can Be Helpful

Should Christians ever take the time to assemble an entire book in response to another book? It depends on the significance of the book, the impact it could have, and the value of the response.

As someone invested in promoting the health of the church, who values robust interaction, and who is interested in publishing developments, two new books have decided to do exactly that, but through different means.

The first involves a multi-author response in print to Bart Ehrman’s new book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of  Jewish Preach from Galilee. RNS explains:

The two books are an unusual publishing experiment, in which HarperCollins subsidiaries arranged to have a team of evangelical scholars write a counterargument to the hot-selling superstar writer. [The arrangement was actually proposed by Michael Bird.] Ehrman and the evangelical team exchanged manuscripts and signed nondisclosure agreements so as not to pre-empt each other, but otherwise worked independently for their own HarperCollins imprints, HarperOne and Zondervan.

The books were released simultaneously. Anything Ehrman writes attracts mainstream attention, so it is helpful to have his arguments and fallacies publicly refuted from the get-go by the likes of Michael Bird, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles Hill, and Chris Tilling. At the Gospel Coalition, Andreas Köstenberger has reviewed both books: How Jesus Became God (by Ehrman) and How God Became Jesus (by Bird and company).

The second example is a new book, releasing today, authored by Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex RelationshipsThe book is a popularization of standard revisionist scholarship, but it is done by someone young, winsome, and purporting to believe in the full inspiration of Scripture.

In response, the folks at Southern Seminary have simultaneously published a free eBook response to the book, edited by Albert Mohler. The book consists of five short but substantive essays:

  • Albert Mohler, “God, the Gospel and the Gay Challenge: A Response to Matthew Vines”
  • James Hamilton, “How to Condone What the Bible Condemns: Matthew Vines Takes on the Old Testament”
  • Denny Burk, “Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness: Matthew Vines Takes on the New Testament”
  • Owen Strachan, “What Has the Church Believed and Taught?”
  • Heath Lambert, “Is a ‘Gay Christian’ Consistent with the Gospel of Christ?”

Dr. Mohler writes, “The church has often failed people with same-sex attractions, and failed them horribly. We must not fail them now by forfeiting the only message that leads to salvation, holiness, and faithfulness.”

There are often two sorts of reactions to book-length responses like this.

On the one hand, some celebrate that this ends the discussion (the book has been decisively refuted).

Others lament that this only provides free publicity (the book is being made into a bigger deal than it is).

Both responses could be true, depending on the book, the author, the critics, and the cultural moment.

But let me suggest a third alternative: responses like this can help to sway those who are uncomfortable with the revisionist proposal but do not know how to answer them adequately and carefully. This is not merely preaching to the choir, but the strengthening and equipping of the choir, as well as a timely word to those outside the choir who may be listening and unsure of what to think or how to respond. We should thank God for those who have the time, energy, gifts, and skills to assemble such learned and thoughtful interaction with proposals that undermine the teaching of God’s holy word.

So hats off to these brothers who have labored to give us careful, thoughtful, and timely responses to critics of the faith once delivered. I am happy to commend these responses as helpful tools for the church.





Justin Taylor|10:27 am CT

Livestream: ERLC Leadership Summit on “The Gospel and Human Sexuality”

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is hosting a summit on the gospel and sexuality, beginning today and going through Wednesday. You can stream the main sessions and panels here. The schedule is below. All times are central.

Monday, April 21, 2014

1:00-2:15 PM: Heath Lambert, “Finally Free: The Gospel and Pornography”

2:45-4:15 PM Brief Reflection: Jason Dees

Panel: “The Gospel and the Pastor’s Purity,” Moderator: Phillip Bethancourt, J. Kie Bowman, Denny Burk, Heath Lambert

7:00-9:30 PM J.D. Greear, “Mending Fences: The Gospel and Pastoral Care for Sexual Sin”

Panel: “The Gospel and Homosexuality,” Moderator: Andrew Walker, Greg Belser, Jimmy Scroggins, J.D. Greear, Mark Regnerus

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

8:30-10:00 AM Keynote: Mark Regnerus, “Sex in America: Sociological Trends in American Sexuality”

Brief Reflection: Paul Jimenez, “Biblical Reflection on Sexuality”

10:00-11:30 AM Russell D. Moore, “Q&A on Ethics, Culture and the Public Square”

1:00-2:30 PM: David Prince, “The Birds and the Bees: The Gospel and Your Childrens’ Sexuality”

Brief Reflection: Bart Barber, “Religious Liberty and Sexuality”

3:00-4:15 PM Brief Reflection: Matt Carter, “Biblical Reflection on Sexuality”

Panel 3: “The Gospel and Biblical Manhood,” Moderator: Phillip Bethancourt , Russell D. Moore, David Prince, Clint Pressley, Matt Carter

7:00-9:30 PM: Russell D. Moore “Walking the Line: The Gospel and Moral Purity”

Panel: “Ministering in a Sex-saturated Society,” Moderator: Phillip Bethancourt, Russell D. Moore, Tony Merida, Dean Inserra, Nathan Lino, Kelly Rosati

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10:00-11:30 AM Brief Reflection: Trillia Newbell, “Women and Sexuality”

Keynote: Kevin Smith, “Keeping the Marriage Bed Pure: The Gospel and Marital Sexuality”





Justin Taylor|12:01 am CT



The curtain is torn in two.

The cross and the tomb are empty.

The cup of wrath is drained.

The victory is won.

The serpent is crushed.

The new creation is dawning.

The throne is occupied.

It is finished (τετέλεσται).

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!





Justin Taylor|9:16 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 8: Sunday

Sunday, April 5, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo and Andreas Köstenberger on the importance of women being the first to discover the empty tomb and the meaning of Easter Sunday.





Justin Taylor|10:25 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 7: Saturday

Saturday, April 4, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament scholars Andreas Köstenberger and Douglas Moo. Dr. Köstenberger looks at the role of Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’s burial, the rules for burial at the time, and what we know about first-century tombs. Dr. Moo answers the question of where Jesus was between his death and his resurrection, focusing on 1 Peter 3, which says that Christ preached to spirits in prison. Is this a reference to Jesus descending into Hades?





Justin Taylor|8:33 am CT

It’s Friday—But Sunday’s Comin’

I never get tired of listen to this Easter meditation S.M. Lockridge (1913-2000), pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego from 1953 to 1993.

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place

But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!





Justin Taylor|9:32 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 6: Friday

Friday, April 3, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with historian Paul Maier and New Testament scholar Andreas Köstenberger, looking at the origin, object, and purpose of Roman crucifixion, along with one difference in emphasis between the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and John on suffering and glory.





Justin Taylor|12:11 pm CT

Christianity Is the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion and Yet Survived

Michael Patton, author of Now That I’m a Christian: What It Means to Follow Jesus, writes:

The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically.

We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting).

Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them.

Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.

This is what it looks like:

Read the whole thing here.





Justin Taylor|9:11 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 5: Thursday

Thursday, April 2, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with scholars Doug Moo, Nick Perrin, and Paul Maier, focusing on the background of the Passover, why Jesus and the disciples reclined at the Last Supper instead of eating at a table, and why the Jewish officials had to get Pontius Pilate involved after beginning their judicial proceedings against Jesus.





Justin Taylor|1:20 pm CT

David Platt on Why You Should Not Believe “Heaven Is for Real”

As noted on the Radical blog, in the following David Platt offers a critique based on this resource put out by Phil Johnson of “Grace to You,” the ministry of John MacArthur.

Here is the MacArthur book that Platt is quoting from: The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (2nd edition, Crossway, 2013).

In this podcast, John Piper argues against such books from Isaiah 8:19 (And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?)

God’s beef with necromancy is that it belittles the sufficiency of his communication. Why would you inquire of the dead to find out what you want to know instead of inquiring of me? And if they say: Well, I have inquired of you and you didn’t tell me what I want to know. He would say: Well, that is your problem. I have told you what you need to know. You don’t need to know about such and such if I haven’t told you. And, in fact, if you go trying to inquire about such and such that I haven’t told you, you are dishonoring me. So that is the nature of the argument. And, therefore, I think the prohibition of séances and necromancy applies to this kind of thing and people ought to stop writing those books.

Here is the trailer for the film coming out on Easter that will have everyone talking about this again:

HT: @jnjbrewer





Justin Taylor|9:41 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 4: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 1, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with historian of ancient history Paul Maier (of Western Michigan University) and New Testament professor Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing on the behind-the-scenes motivations and actions of the Sanhedrin as they plot to put an end to Jesus once and for all.





Justin Taylor|10:35 am CT

Why It Matters Theologically and Historically That Women Were the First to Discover the Empty Tomb


In a new piece for Christianity Today online, Andreas Köstenberger and I look at Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon. Here is a comment on the role of the women that may be helpful to remember:

As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail.

In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law.

Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable “because of the levity and boldness of their sex.”

Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a “hysterical female . . . deluded by . . . sorcery.”

This background matters because it points to two crucial truths.

First, it is a theological reminder that the kingdom of the Messiah turns the system of the world on its head. Into this culture, Jesus radically affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness.

Second, it is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts. If these were “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pet. 1:16), women would never have been presented as the first eyewitnesses of the risen Christ.

For a quick guide to the identity of these women, go here.





Justin Taylor|10:13 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 3: Tuesday

Tuesday, March 31, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Andreas Köstenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) along with historian of ancient history Paul Maier (of Western Michigan University), focusing in particular on the opposition to Jesus and what angered his Jewish antagonists so much.





Justin Taylor|1:47 pm CT

One Jesus: Four Pictures

Author Date Audience Picture of Jesus
Matthew Tax collector turned follower of Christ; one of the Twelve 50s or 60s Jews Jesus is the Jewish Messiah predicted in the OT, the son of David who comes to establish the kingdom of heaven
Mark Close associate of the Apostle Peter; may be the young man in Mark 14:50-51 mid to late 50s Gentiles in Rome Jesus is the authoritative, suffering son of God who gives his life as a ransom for many
Luke Gentile physician and companion of the apostle Paul who interviewed eyewitness for his two-volume work (Lk 1:2) 58-60 a man named Theophilus Jesus is the Savior of the world who seeks and saves the lost in fulfillment of the OT promises to Israel
John The beloved disciple; not only one of the Twelve but in the inner circle of Jesus’ closest friends (with Peter and James) mid to late 80s or early 90s the church in Ephesus Jesus is the messiah who demands belief and the lamb of God who dies for the sins of the world and gives those who believe eternal life

For a short and accessible introduction to this, see T. Desmond Alexander’s Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person?





Justin Taylor|11:00 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 2: Monday

Monday, March 30, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Nicholas Perrin (of Wheaton College) and Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing in particular on the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, and the role of the temple in the theology and practice of Jesus. We will be releasing a new video each day this week.