Search Results for: biography





Justin Taylor|6:00 am CT

20 Biography Recommendations: Nettles, Haykin, Finn, and Reeves

Nettles-TomTom Nettles is professor of historical theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His most recent publication, years in the making, is a major biography of Charles Spurgeon.

Here are his top biography recommendations:

1. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer.

This is a slap in the face for those of us who are always looking for the politically appropriate [safe] time to say something true.

2. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards.

For the purposes of seminary class, I use Murray’s biography. To show, however, in a charming but serious-minded way to a secular public how seriously and deeply a Christian can think about issues of ultimate importance, this is the book to loan (you could not give many of them away).

3. Roland Bainton, Here I Stand.

A beautifully crafted story of a rough and resolute man whose discovery of truth so melded itself into his soul that he feared to distinguish between his truth-informed conscience and the final claim of God on his life.

4. Sharon James, My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma.

Sharon James gives a sensitive and vigorous unfolding of one of the most intensely important lives of nineteenth-century American evangelicalism. Without Ann Judson, American evangelical foreign missions might never have gotten off the ground.

5. Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, 1899-1939 and D. Marty Lloyd Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981.

This provides great encouragement and instruction for pastors seeking a ministry given to scriptural and doctrinal edification of the Bride of Christ.

[JT note: see also an updated and revised one-volume abridged edition.]

Michael HaykinMichael Haykin is professor of church history and biblical spirituality, as well as director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Here are his recommendations, in chronological order:

1. Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards.

A biography of the remarkable American theologian that brings the reader face to face with Edwards’ God.

2. Faith Cook, William Grimshaw of Haworth.

A biography that I hold dear because it is a challenge to my wimpishness, something this Canadian Christian historian deeply laments. Grimshaw was a true radical.

3. Andrew Fuller, Memoirs of Samuel Pearce.

A classic biography that is focused on Pearce’ s piety, which cannot fail to impact the heart for good.

4. Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore.

A riveting missionary narrative of the life of Adoniram Judson.

5. Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, 1899-1939 and D. Marty Lloyd Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981.

The two-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd- Jones, the most powerful twentieth-century influence on my life.

NFNathan Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies, and fellow of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Here are his recommendations:

1. Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson (1956; reprint, Judson Press, 1987).

This is my all-time favorite biography. Anderson provides an appreciative, but realistic portrayal of an inspiring missionary pioneer.

2. Hugh Evan Hopkins, Charles Simeon of Cambridge (Eerdmans, 1977).

This is a winsome popular biography of a key pastor-theologian in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century British evangelicalism. Required reading for pastors.

3. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press, 2003).

Marsden’s work is the gold standard for a scholarly biography that is at the same time sympathetic toward its subject. His A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards is also great.

4. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 2nd ed. (University of California Press, 2000).

Many church historians consider this to be the best scholarly biography of a major Christian leader, and I’m often inclined to agree. A close second to Mardsen’s biography of Edwards.

5. David McCullough, John Adams (Simon and Schuster, 2003).

McCullough is a master storyteller. If I ever write a biography, I hope it reads half as well as this excellent popular biography of America’s second president.

Mike ReevesMichael Reeves is Theologian-at-Large at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology.

Here are his recommendations:

1. Roland Bainton, Here I Stand

A true masterpiece of a biography, Here I Stand draws you deep into Luther’s life so you both understand and feel the significance of what he faced and what he did.

2. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards

Marsden shows beautifully what a biography can do, for he not only tells a good story, his sensitive observations and reflections humanise you as you read.

3. Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror

Tuchman does two extraordinary things here: she maps the history of an age (fourteenth century Europe) through the story of one man, and she forms in us a real emotional attachment to this character who otherwise is so distant and foreign.

4. Paul Johnson, Churchill

This little book reads like champagne, Johnson’s very style of writing capturing the fizz and pop of his subject.

5. Faith Cook, William Grimshaw of Haworth

Atmosphere, action, great character: it’s Wuthering Heights meets Whitfield-Wesley revival.





Justin Taylor|6:00 am CT

15 Biography Recommendations: D.G. Hart, Sean Lucas, Kevin DeYoung

hartD. G. Hart is visiting professor of history at Hillsdale College and the author of the standard biography of J. Gresham Machen, and most recently, a history of Calvinism.

Here are five biographies he recommends:

1. Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950).

A colorful treatment of an even more colorful figure that captures the central dynamic of the Reformation, namely, how to be right with God.

2. Stewart Brown, Thomas Chalmers and the Godly Commonwealth in Scotland (1982).

A scrupulously researched inquiry that situates a hero of Scottish Calvinism within the political, educational, and ecclesiastical complexities of nineteenth-century Scotland.

3. Harry S. Stout, The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism (1991).

A provocative account that looks past hagiography to capture the human (and sometimes unflattering) aspects of Protestantism’s greatest evangelist.

4. Terry Teachout, The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken (2002).

Arguably the best biography of the infamous literary critic in part because the author, a music critic, takes into account the subject’s love of music.

5. Bruce Gordon, Calvin (2009).

A smartly conceived narrative that allows Calvin’s “greatness” to emerge not from hindsight but from the accidents of sixteenth-century Europe.

LucasSean Michael Lucas is senior minister at The First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, MS, and previously taught church history at Covenant Theological Seminary. Among his books is a biography of Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life (P&R, 2005).

Here are his top five picks:

1. D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Johns Hopkins, 1994; reprint, P&R).

2. Allen Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Eerdmans, 1999).

3. Bruce Gordon, Calvin (Yale, 2009).

4. Harry S. Stout, A Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism (Eerdmans, 1991).

5. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale, 2003).

“This is an odd list. I think the one common thread is that these are all intellectual biographies that pay attention to the way that their ideas or actions operated within their cultural systems. Another is that they all (except for Gordon) influenced the way I thought about biography when I went to write my Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life (P&R, 2005).”

kevinKevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester, studying John Witherspoon under John Coffey.

Here are his picks:

1. Allen C. Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Eerdmans 1999).

This book shines because Guelzo is an excellent writer, with a knack for penetrating insights and fresh interpretations. I felt like I got to know Lincoln, so much so that by the end I was terribly sad when he showed up at Ford’s Theater.

2. Paul C. Gutjahr, Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy (Oxford 2011).

While I don’t agree with every conclusion in the book, it is a great example of an academic biography that is eminently readable. The chapters are short and the story moves at a good pace. Gutjahr is sympathetic to Hodge without being uncritical.

3. David McCullough, John Adams (Touchstone 2001).

The guy can flat-out write. No one does popular (yet substantive) biography as well as McCullough.

4. Paul Johnson, Churchill (Viking 2009).

Johnson demonstrates that you can write meaningfully about a massive subject in a short biography (181 pages). This book is especially strong in the lessons it draws from Churchill’s life.

5. D.G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (P & R Publishing, 2003).

Hart writes lucid prose about a figure he knows inside and out. By helping us understand Machen, we come to understand an entire era in American church history.

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Justin Taylor|1:00 pm CT

15 Biography Recommendations: Thomas Kidd, John Fea, and Doug Sweeney

kiddThomas Kidd is professor of history at Baylor University and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion. Among other works, he is the author of Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots and a major biography due out next year from Yale University Press on George Whitefield (marking his 300th birthday).

He writes, “I am focusing on biographies from the colonial and Revolutionary eras of American history. I heartily agree with Mark Noll’s recommendation of my doctoral adviser George Marsden and his Jonathan Edwards biography, which would otherwise be at the top of my list. Since he’s already mentioned it, here’s the next five.”

1. David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (Oxford University Press, 1994).

Fischer not only offers an evocative treatment of Revere and his world—which was more interesting than what Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” told us—but one of the best books on the American Revolution, period.

2. Kenneth Silverman, The Life and Times of Cotton Mather (Harper and Row, 1984).

A Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of one of the most intense (some might say neurotic), prolific, and tragic of all the American Puritans. Reading this will help you understand why one of his opponents once firebombed Mather’s house!

3. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (Knopf, 1990).

Another Pulitzer Prize-winner, Ulrich’s remarkable recreation of Ballard’s compelling life is perhaps the best American social history biography ever written.

4. John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America (Knopf, 1994).

This is a biography of the Williams family, especially of Eunice Williams, who fell victim to a 1704 Native American raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts. Demos tells the poignant story of how the seven year old Eunice grew up among the Mohawks, married an Indian man, accepted Catholicism, and never returned to the Puritan fold in spite of fervent appeals by generations of her family.

5. Catherine Brekus, Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (Yale University Press, 2013).

As I wrote in my review for The Gospel Coalition, Brekus’s extraordinary portrait of Osborn may be the best biography we have of an American evangelical woman.

JohnFeamain2John Fea is associate professor of American history and chair of the history department at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and the author most recently of Why Study History? Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic, 2013).

1. Debby Applegate, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher.

A vivid portrayal of 19th-century culture through the life of a member of one of the century’s most famous families.

2. Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling.

Bushman brings the founder of Mormonism to life with elegant prose and scholarly insight.

3. Robert Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.

Caro is known today for his biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson, but this earlier biography of the urban planner and landscape architect who “built” 20th century New York City reads like a novel.

4. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life.

The best biography of Edwards ever written and a model for religious biography.

5. Eric Miller, Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch.

Miller’s bio of late-twentieth century cultural critic and historian Christopher Lasch is one of the best intellectual biographies I have read.

82758  PIC 47Douglas Sweeney is professor and chairman of church history and history of Christian thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, as well as director of their Jonathan Edwards Center. Among his books is the very helpful Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought.

1. Roland Baiton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther.

It remains the most widely read bio of Luther for good reason. It is a wonderful read on the most important Protestant pastor in history.

2. Skevington Wood, The Burning Heart: John Wesley: Evangelist.

Readers can feel Wesley’s heart burning on almost every page.

3. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography.

Brown has spent his career recreating the world of late antiquity. This biography places our most fecund doctor of the church in that context beautifully.

4. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life.

This is the definitive biography of our most important evangelical intellectual.

5. Alister McGrath, C. S. Lewis—A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet.

This brand-new book makes great use of the recently released correspondence of Lewis, making this late-modern evangelical hero come to life (warts and all) for his fans.





Justin Taylor|4:00 am CT

Iain Murray’s New, Condensed, Reworked One-Volume Biography of Lloyd-Jones

32 years ago today D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones—perhaps the greatest preacher of the 20th century—was laid to rest.

It’s a fitting occasion to mention he arrival of The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones—1899-1981, a new and revised one-volume edition of Iain Murray’s classic two-volume biography.

The publisher’s description explains:

This book is a re-cast, condensed and, in parts, re-written version of the author’s two volumes D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years (1982) and The Fight of Faith (1990). Since those dates, the life of Dr Lloyd-Jones has been the subject of comment and assessment in many publications and these have been taken into account. The main purpose of this further biography, however, is to put Dr Lloyd-Jones’ life before another generation in more accessible form.

The big story is all here. When Lloyd-Jones left medicine, he intended only to be an evangelist in a mission hall in South Wales. No one was more surprised than he in being called to a ministry which would eventually affect churches across the world. How this happened is here explained, but the theme is the person described by F. F. Bruce: “a thoroughly humble man. He was a man of prayer, a powerful evangelist, an expository preacher of rare quality, in the fullest sense a servant of the Word of God.”

Behind that theme a greater one emerges. In ML- J’s own words: “My whole life experiences are proof of the sovereignty of God and his direct interference in the lives of men. I cannot help believing what I believe. I would be a madman to believe anything else—the guiding hand of God! It is an astonishment to me. “





Justin Taylor|8:41 pm CT

The First Full-Scale Biography of Abraham Kuyper in English

In April of 2013 Eerdmans will publish James Bratt’s Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat in their Library of Religious Biography Series, with a foreword by Mark Noll.

Here is a description:

In this first full-scale English biography of Abraham Kuyper, the highly influential religious and political leader of Dutch Calvinists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, historian James D. Bratt draws connections between the life and thought of Kuyper and current debates in America today. Bratt’s study covers Kuyper’s early years, his development as a person, his various leadership roles and spheres of influence, and the considerable ongoing impact of his ideas.

A convinced Calvinist and a distinctly modern public figure, Kuyper held a wide variety of roles over the course of his life — minister, newspaper editor, educational innovator, politician, religious reformer, and prime minister of the Netherlands (1901-1905). Kuyper’s life demonstrates how devotees of any faith can carry on a responsible public life in contention — and concert — with people of other convictions.





Justin Taylor|9:55 am CT

A Biography of John MacArthur

Dane Ortlund has a helpful review here of Iain Murray’s new biography, John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock (Banner of Truth, 2011).


What stands out above all in closing the book, however, is MacArthur’s steely love for truth, truth as revealed supremely in the Word of God. For this let us all give thanks for John MacArthur, quick to forgive any baggage this brings and quick to rejoice in this faithful expounder of Scripture. Iain Murray is right: John MacArthur is, above all, a servant of the Word and flock.

Update: Reformation21 has a lengthy excerpt from the book posted today.





Justin Taylor|3:48 pm CT

Don’t Know Much About History: The Allure and Danger of Sanitized Biography

Hagiography does no one any favors. It’s unfair to the subject, presenting a saint instead of a sinner. And it’s unfair to the audience, who make a good-faith assumption that they are not merely reading a well-written tale or watching a good film, but that they are reading or seeing something that reflects reality and basic accuracy.

Andrew Roberts’s Wall Street Journal weekend review of a new biography on Mahatma Gandhi serves as a good reminder in this regard. Contrary to the sanitized portrayal of Gandhi in popular culture, Roberts explains that Gandhi could be unusually cruel, racist, and sexually perverse—among other vices.

Those interested in the real story of Gandhi might also want to read Richard Grenier’s “The Gandhi Nobody Knows” (Commentary, 1983), which was a response to Richard Attenborough’s 1982 Gandhi film.

If a biographical subject seems too good to be true, there’s often a reason for that.





Justin Taylor|8:49 am CT

Biography of John Newton: Free on Kindle

For a limited time Jonathan Aitken’s recent biography of John Newton is available at the Kindle store for free.

HT: Jeff Brewer





Justin Taylor|3:22 pm CT

New Biography of Rick Warren

prophetpurposeCT’s David Neff reviews Jeffery Sheler’s new biography, Prophet of Purpose: The Life of Rick Warren (Doubleday, 2009). Neff writes, “The empirical, analytical Warren meets the mystical, subjective Warren at key points in Sheler’s narrative.” His conclusion: “Sheler, for many years the primary religion writer at U.S. News & World Report, delivers a solid journalistic biography that is a pleasure to read.”

(You can also read an excerpt from the book, on the Warren’s marriage, their disastrous honeymoon, and the counseling that they sought.)





Justin Taylor|10:45 am CT

A Spiritual Biography of Darwin

I haven’t yet seen this book, but the subject matter is certainly interesting:

Charles Darwin’s Religious Views: From Creationist to Evolutionist

Anyone here read it yet?

HT: Andrew Fuller Center Blog





Justin Taylor|7:48 am CT

A. Lincoln: A Biography

Ronald C. White Jr.’s new book, A. Lincoln: A Biography is now available. In addition to the 816-page hardcover, it’s also available in Kindle and as an unabridged audio CD set.

(You can read the first chapter online.)

Professor White–who is a Fellow at the Huntington Library, Visiting Professor of History at UCLA, and Professor of American Religious History Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary–previously wrote Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural and The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words.

The book is garnering some significant endorsements:

“Ronald C. White, an acknowledged expert on the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, has now taken in hand a full-length biography. To this task he brings the careful reading, patient attention to context, and special sensitivity to complex questions about Lincoln’s religion that characterized his earlier books. The result is a first-rate study that will probably be THE biography of the Lincoln Bicentennial Year.”
–Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

“Having given us two masterful studies of Lincoln’s eloquence, Ronald C. White now delivers a riveting biography. This page-turner narrates all the major events of Lincoln’s public career, including his military decision-making, but it does much more. No other book has so completely captured the elusive temperament of the man– his humility and confidence, heart and intellect, religious spirit and secular sensibility. If you thought you knew Lincoln already, you’ll know him better after reading this patient, probing work. A portrait for the ages.”
–Richard Wightman Fox, Professor of History, University of Southern California

“Ron White’s A. Lincoln is a superb biography of America’s greatest leader. It is fully fleshed, thoughtful, provocative, and scholarly. Lincoln is never out of fashion. After a generation during which three comprehensive one-volume Lincoln biographies appeared—Benjamin P. Thomas’s Abraham Lincoln: A Biography in 1952; Stephen B. Oates’s With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln in 1977; and David Donald’s Lincoln in 1995—A. Lincoln: A Biography, with its rich detail, will be the standard text for years to come. The author includes the religious connections to his subject like no other biographer. This is a remarkable Lincoln biography by an outstanding writer.”
–Frank J. Williams, Founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court

”Lincoln’s bicentennial will bring a flood of books about the sixteenth president. Anyone seeking an expansive, thoroughly engaging biography should turn to Ronald C. White’s gracefully written narrative. It does full justice to the complexity and drama of the era and allows readers to understand how Lincoln ultimately triumphed in guiding the nation through its greatest trial.”
–Gary W. Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor of History, University of Virginia

“Ronald C. White’s A. Lincoln is the best biography of Lincoln since David Donald’s Lincoln. In many respects it is better than Donald’s biography, because it has incorporated the scholarship of the past fourteen years and is written in a fluent style that will appeal to a large range of general readers as well as Lincoln aficionados. The special strengths that lift this work above other biographies include a brilliant analysis of Lincoln’s principal speeches and writings, which were an important weapon in his political leadership and statesmanship, and on which Ronald C. White is the foremost expert, having written two major books on Lincoln’s speeches and writings. Another strength is White’s analysis of Lincoln’s evolving religious convictions, which shaped the core of his effective leadership, his moral integrity. White’s discussion of Lincoln’s changing attitudes and policies with respect to slavery and race is also a key aspect of this biography. Amid all the books on Lincoln that will be published during the coming year, this one will stand out as one of the best.”
–James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“A beautifully written, deeply personal story of Lincoln’s life and service to his country. Ronald C. White’s moving account is particularly strong in its analyses of Lincoln’s rhetoric and the process by which the president reached decisions.”
–Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

“Each generation requires–and seems to inspire–its own masterly one-volume Lincoln biography, and scholar Ronald C. White has crowned the bicentennial year with an instant classic for the twenty-first century. Wise, scholarly, evenhanded, and elegant, the book at once informs and inspires, with a rewarding new emphasis on the complex meaning and timeless importance of Lincoln’s great words. Brimming with new anecdotes and informed interpretations, White’s superb study brings vivid new life to an American immortal.”
–Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln: President-Elect, and co-chairman, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Here’s the book description:

Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name “A. Lincoln.” In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln according to their own label or libel. In this magnificent book, Ronald C. White, Jr., offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as a man of integrity–what today’s commentators would call “authenticity”–whose moral compass holds the key to understanding his life.

Through meticulous research of the newly completed Lincoln Legal Papers, as well as of recently discovered letters and photographs, White provides a portrait of Lincoln’s personal, political, and moral evolution. White shows us Lincoln as a man who would leave a trail of thoughts in his wake, jotting ideas on scraps of paper and filing them in his top hat or the bottom drawer of his desk; a country lawyer who asked questions in order to figure out his own thinking on an issue, as much as to argue the case; a hands-on commander in chief who, as soldiers and sailors watched in amazement, commandeered a boat and ordered an attack on Confederate shore batteries at the tip of the Virginia peninsula; a man who struggled with the immorality of slavery and as president acted publicly and privately to outlaw it forever; and finally, a president involved in a religious odyssey who wrote, for his own eyes only, a profound meditation on “the will of God” in the Civil War that would become the basis of his finest address.

Most enlightening, the Abraham Lincoln who comes into focus in this stellar narrative is a person of intellectual curiosity, comfortable with ambiguity, unafraid to “think anew and act anew.”

A transcendent, sweeping, passionately written biography that greatly expands our knowledge and understanding of its subject, A. Lincoln will engage a whole new generation of Americans. It is poised to shed a profound light on our greatest president just as America commemorates the bicentennial of his birth.





Justin Taylor|5:44 am CT

Biography of George Ladd

Oxford University Press is publishing a biography of the late, influential NT scholar, George Ladd and his role in reviving evangelical scholarship: A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America, by Dr. John A. D’Elia, senior minister of the American Church in London.

Here’s the description:

George Eldon Ladd was a pivotal figure in the resurgence of evangelical scholarship in America during the years after the Second World War. Ladd’s career as a biblical scholar can be seen as a quest to rehabilitate evangelical thought both in content and image, a task he pursued at great personal cost. Best known for his work on the doctrine of the Kingdom of God, Ladd moved from critiquing his own movement to engaging many of the important theological and exegetical issues of his day.

Ladd was a strong critic of dispensationalism, the dominant theological system in conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism, challenging what he perceived to be its anti-intellectualism and uncritical approach to the Bible. In his impressive career at Fuller Theological Seminary, Ladd participated in scholarly debates on the relationship between faith and historical understanding, arguing that modern critical methodologies need not preclude orthodox Christian belief. Ladd also engaged the thought of Rudolf Butlmann, the dominant theological figure of his day. Ladd’s main focus, however, was to create a work of scholarship from an evangelical perspective that the broader academic world would accept. When he was unsuccessful in this effort, he descended into depression, bitterness, and alcoholism. But Ladd played an important part in opening doors for later generations of evangelical scholars, both by validating and using critical methods in his own scholarly work, and also by entering into dialogue with theologians and theologies outside the evangelical world.

It is a central theme of this book that Ladd’s achievement, at least in part, can be measured in the number of evangelical scholars who are today active participants in academic life across a broad range of disciplines.

And here are some blurbs:

“George Ladd was arguably the leading ‘new evangelical’ biblical scholar in the mid-decades of the twentieth century. He was also a person whose life and work were filled with intriguing tensions and contrasts. John D’Elia tells this poignant and fascinating story well.” –George M. Marsden, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Fundamentalism and American Culture

“In this poignant and gracefully written account, John D’Elia unflinchingly but sympathetically recounts the personal and professional torments of George Eldon Ladd. Making extensive use of Ladd’s own files, D’Elia sketches the twin paradoxes of Ladd’s life: although eager to find ‘a place at the table’ of the larger scholarly community, Ladd deemed his own efforts towards that end a failure, and although he wrote extensively of the presence of the kingdom, he struggled to taste its fruits in his own life. Ironically, Ladd never truly understood his greatest legacy his crucial role in the development of evangelical biblical scholarship. D’Elia offers a welcome tribute to Ladd’s legacy.” –Marianne Meye Thompson, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

“D’Elia’s biography of George Eldon Ladd is powerful and perceptive. He introduces us to a person who is spiritual and ambitious, intelligent and insecure, bold and troubled all at the same time. This is compelling reading for anyone interested in either the intellectual history of Evangelicalism or the movement’s continuing struggle to secure and maintain ‘a place at the table’ of the mainstream scholarship.” –Douglas Jacobsen, Distinguished Professor of Church History and Theology at Messiah College, and author of Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement

HT: James Grant





Justin Taylor|10:05 am CT

A Biography for the Rest of Us

C. J. Mahaney:

Normally, biographies are written about unusually gifted men. Edwards. Whitefield. Spurgeon. Calvin.

Biographers remind us of exceptional character, extraordinary gifting, and impressive intellects. And I’m grateful to God for these men and the effect of their example on my life.

But at times, reading these biographies is discouraging, rather than edifying, as we are reminded afresh about the difference between the great leaders in church history and our sorry selves.

And though we benefit from the example of these men, most of us cannot relate to them because we’re aware of our average intelligence, average gifting, and our preaching is—not surprisingly—average as well. (Raise your hand if you’re working with that package?)

As I read their biographies I know I should be inspired, but at times I find myself increasingly discouraged (and let me be clear—this is because of my pride). Rather than filled with faith to charge into my day and prepare a sermon, care for God’s people, and preach, I feel a bit hopeless.

And while reading these biographies I also hope my church members never read these books because they could only compare me to this individual and that would prove unfavorable!
What’s a pastor to do? Here is one recommendation.

For pastors like myself with average gifts, Dr. Don Carson has given us a unique biography of the life and ministry of an ordinary pastor—his dad.

Read the whole post. Carson’s book, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, is available for pre-order, and will be due out in the next week or two.





Justin Taylor|8:31 am CT

John Newton Biography

The book I’m most excited to read next is Jonathan Aitken’s biography, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, which I just received. Aitken has previously written major biographies on Richard Nixon and Chuck Colson.

Here are some of the blurbs:

“A rip-roaring adventure, a passionate romance, and an astonishing journey of faith all in one. I knew the story well, but this telling made a deep impression on me.”
Os Guinness, author of The Call

“Jonathan Aitken’s fast-paced, well-researched, and detailed book shows why Newton was such an important figure. This is a book to read, ponder, and read again.”
Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

“A fresh, insightful, and inspiring account of this great figure. With that rare skill of a superb biographer, Aitken brings Newton to life for a new generation of admirers.”
Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology, Oxford University

“Skilled biographer that he is, my friend Jonathan Aitken has brought to life one of eighteenth-century England’s most influential Christians. The story of amazing grace both in the life of Newton and in the song that has become the Christian national anthem.”
Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship

“Only God could take a vile slave trader and turn him into a useful instrument in abolishing the slave trade and igniting a gospel revival, the flames of which are burning still. The story of Newton’s life inspires all who seek to follow the path of Jesus today.”
Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University; Executive Editor, Christianity Today

“An informed, authoritative biography of the man who played a critical role in helping William Wilberforce abolish the slave trade. His life story is absolutely spell-binding. I could not put the book down.”
Armand M. Nicholi Jr., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; author of The Question of God

“A new life of John Newton is a fitting celebration of the bicentennial both of Newton’s death and of the abolition of the slave trade, Wilberforce’s triumph in which Newton played a key role. Master biographer Jonathan Aitken is in fine form, sympathetic, insightful, scholarly, and vivid, and his book, like its subject, must be rated spectacular.”
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College





Justin Taylor|9:06 pm CT

Biography of Roger Nicole

David Bailey has now written an authorized biography of one of the great Reformed theologians of our time, Dr. Roger Nicole. It is entitled Speaking the Truth in Love: Life & Legacy of Roger Nicole.

You can read online J. I. Packer’s Introduction.

Here are a few of the endorsements:

“This is a fascinating overview of the life and labors of one of the America’s most gifted evangelical theologians. Drawing deeply from the wells of Reformation theology in the tradition of Calvin, Bunyan, Owen, Edwards, and Bavinck, Roger Nicole has set forth a compelling vision of theology as a discipline in the service of the church. And he has done so with grace, wit, insight, passion, and the kind of wisdom evangelicals need more of today. Though I never took a class with Roger Nicole, I am certainly one of his students and I commend this telling of his story to all who care about the Bible’s God, the church’s faith, and the world’s need for the gospel of grace.”
-Dr. Timothy George

“Here is a review of one of the most interesting Reformed theologians of the last seventy years. Roger Nicole’s life has been spent in training ministers. Most of his students have known him only behind a lectern or in a brief meeting; here is much more of the story from WWI Germany to pre-War Paris, to Canada and beyond. Read and be encouraged to give your all in service to Christ.”
- Pastor Mark Dever

“This is a moving tribute to one who has been valiant for the truthfulness of God’s Word throughout his whole life. Not only is the measure of the man included, but amazing story here is the way Dr. Nicole’s life has intersected with almost all the major events of the evangelical world in the past three-quarters of a century. It is a vivid reminder of the faithfulness of God and the bold necessity of ever speaking the truth in love both to those both who are part of the household of faith and those who are not.”
- Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

“Awesome for brain power, learning and wisdom, endlessly patient and courteous in his gentle geniality, and beloved by a multitude as pastor, mentor and friend, veteran Reformed theologian Roger Nicole comes beautifully to life in this warm-hearted biographical tribute. Thank you, David Bailey.”
- Dr. James I. Packer

“The biography, based as it is on lengthy personal interviews with Dr. Nicole, has been both thoroughly researched and is well written. Between his Preface and Conclusion Bailey takes us in the eleven intervening chapters from Dr. Nicole’s paternal grandfather’s professorship in Greek language and literature at the University of Geneva and his father’s pastoral ministry in Germany and Switzerland through his childhood and education and his teaching and pastoral ministry both in Europe and America up to the present. More, much more, could be written about this biography of Dr. Nicole’s life and legacy but space constraints will not allow it. So I will close by stating unequivocally that anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to read it will be richly rewarded. He will be moved many times, as I was, both by Dr. Nicole’s encyclopedic knowledge of the entire theological terrain and by his deep personal Christian humility. I can only hope and pray that through this biography more people will come to know and appreciate what a choice gift God has given to his church in the person of Roger Nicole.”
- Dr. Robert Reymond