May 22, 2013
More and more I am convinced that the doorway into understanding the New Testament is the Old Testament. It's not a new idea. I think Jesus had something to do with it. But it's one of the reasons we made this a major feature in our recently released LifeGuide in Depth series, including A Deeper Look at James, that my wife, Phyllis, and I wrote. An example can illustrate the point.
One of the best-known verses in the letter is James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (NIV). But almost immediately James jumps to issues of rich and poor (1:9-11) and doing the word (1:22-24) and helping widows and orphans (1:27). And the rich and poor make several more appearances in the letter. Why, after headlining the topic of wisdom, does James make this leap to these other topics?
One well-known Old Testament use of the idea of wisdom orbits around craftsmanship. Bezalel was filled with "wisdom" in making artistic designs, metalworking and woodworking (Ex 31:2-5). It is also evident when people obey God's law: "Observe them [God's decrees and laws] carefully, for this will show your wisdom" (Deut 4:6).
But there is a third meaning that is less well-known, even though it is found in the very famous story of Solomon discerning who the true mother is when two prostitutes come to him with a baby. When he indicates he will give half to each, the true mother pleads with the king to not do so and to instead give the child to the other woman.
And what was the reaction of the people? "When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to figure out who the real mother was." Well, no, it doesn't actually say that. It was "because they saw that he had wisdom from God to really put that wicked woman in her place." Um, no, it doesn't say that either.
What happened was, "When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice" (1 Kings 3:38). Wisdom and doing justice are also equated in Psalm 37:30.
So when James mentions wisdom in the context of rich and poor, and helping the marginalized like widows and orphans, he's not talking about how we can up our IQ or get some street smarts. He's telling us that doing what is good and right for the oppressed is true wisdom.
The Old Testament can help us not only interpret the New Testament correctly but apply it correctly as well. Sounds like a wise thing to do. That's why we wrote A Deeper Look at James.
Nineteenth-century engraving by Gustave Doré.
May 8, 2013
Dallas Willard went to be with his Lord this morning. Many people will miss his strong, gentle wisdom, remembering him as someone who was soaked in the presence of Christ. He was a beloved friend and writer to many. We enjoyed publishing a number of titles by Dallas (1935-2013), especially one of his signature books, Hearing God.Continue reading "Remembering Dallas Willard"
April 30, 2013
In an era of extreme, vitriolic rhetoric, when someone offers calm, straightforward fairness, it is like a cool, refreshing breeze on a hot, muggy day. That is what Gerald Rau provides in Mapping the Origins Debate on the very contentious issue of evolution and creation. He offers a model not only of clarity in thought but of civility in presentation.Continue reading "Mapping the Origins Debate"
April 16, 2013
Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. issued his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" responding to local clergy who felt King and others were moving too quickly, too disruptively in advancing civil rights. To mark the occasion, IVP has published Ed Gilbreath's ebook short Remembering Birmingham, which puts King's letter in historical context and offers reflections on its significance then and now.Continue reading "Remembering Birmingham"
March 26, 2013
Here's a doom-and-gloom article about the publishing industry with a twist: it might not all be doom and gloom.
Despite the continual stream of stories about authors making $10,000 a month or more on self-published ebooks and in the process crushing traditional publishing out of existence, Evan Hughes in Wired magazine (April 2013) says there's another side of the story.Continue reading "The Silver Lining on Doom and Gloom"
March 19, 2013
Once I was harassing (in a good-natured way, of course) an editor I knew well from another publisher about a book she had put out. It was a biography that was overwritten and frequently lapsed into a sentimentalized caricature of the main subject. How could she have let that go through? "Oh," she said, smiling. "You should have seen it before we edited it!" I knew exactly what she was talking about.