IVP - Andy Unedited - February 2018 Archives

February 14, 2018

The King Rides a Colt (Mark 11)

Each Wednesday until Easter I am posting a Lenten reflection, excerpted and adapted from Mark Through Old Testament Eyes.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here." . . . When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. (Mark 11:1-2, 7-8)

Why does Jesus specify a colt, and one that no one has ridden before? Animals without defect, or which had never been worked before, were considered holy--necessary for worship and sacrifices (Lev 22:19-25; Num 19:2-3; Deut 21:1-9). Animals which had never worked before were specified to pull one of Israel's holiest objects, the ark of the covenant, after it had been taken by the Philistines (1 Sam 6:1-9).

In donkey-3122392__480.jpgaddition, Genesis 49:10-11 associates a king from the line of Judah with a colt. Jesus's assumption that he could make use of the animal may reflect a royal prerogative of impressment (1 Sam 8:11, 16). We see a similar royal entrance announcing a new king when David designated Solomon to be king after him, with instructions that Solomon ride into the city, escorted by his followers with shouts of acclamation (1 Kings 1:28-38).

Here in Mark its significance is most tied to Zechariah 14:1-5, in which the Mount of Olives is identified as the place to which the Lord will return as a Divine Warrior to finally restore Israel and defeat her enemies. When this happens, Zechariah 9:9 tells us, her king will come humbly, riding on a colt.

Laying Mark Through Old Testament Eyes.jpgpalm branches and garments before Jesus recalls other such instances in the presence of royalty (2 Kings 9:13; see also 1 Macc. 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7). The theme of Jesus' Kingship, however, will reach its peak in Mark 15 which focuses on Jesus's death by crucifixion. There he is named Israel's king six times (15:2, 9, 12, 18, 26, 32). Why is this repeated? By doing so Mark signals that Jesus is ultimately revealed as king on the cross.

Jesus's public ministry opened with a declaration that the kingdom was at hand, just around the corner (Mk 1:15). Now his public ministry is concluded with the announcement to all that the king has in fact fully arrived. Not in military victory but in suffering and death the king is enthroned.

Excerpted and adapted from Mark Through Old Testament Eyes. Used by permission of the publisher.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:02 AM | Comments

February 9, 2018

The Ministry of Spiritual Grandparenting

Note: This guest blog is by Phyllis Le Peau, someone I've known quite well for over forty years. It was recently published in "The Well." The topic is one dear to both of us, as are our thirteen grandchildren.

Andy and I had some concerns when our first child was born. Our children would be the fourth Well grandparenting photo.jpggeneration of Christians in our family. In situations like that, faith can become merely part of the family surroundings and culture -- something that doesn't sink deep at a personal or conscious level. It can just be background music. As people grow and change, they often leave their parents' values and practices behind. Faith can seem unnecessary or optional. We wondered if that would happen to us.

Now that we have grandchildren, the same questions arise for the fifth generation -- but with an additional twist. What role do we have, or does any older family member have, for children who are not our own but for whom we care deeply?

Our Family's Story

Let me tell you the story of my own grandmother.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 2:06 PM | Comments

February 7, 2018

James W. Sire, 1933-2018

James Sire was a keystone in the intellectual renewal of evangelicalism in the 1960s and 70s, championing the work of Francis Schaeffer and contributing his own landmark books on world views. Joe Bayly, publisher at David C. Cook, once called Sire "the Maxwell Perkins of contemporary Christian publishing."

Sire James W Sire.jpgwas first to publish a number of influential figures. In 1971 he took a chance and published the first book (Despair: A Moment or a Way of Life) by the recent college graduate, C. Stephen Evans. That book on existentialism was the start of an illustrious career for Evans, now professor at Baylor Univeristy, who became a leading expert on Søren Kierkegaard and the philosophy of religion. Sire then traveled to Switzerland in 1972 to work with Os Guinness in developing his major cultural critique, The Dust of Death.

But Sire's finely tuned radar for quality was not limited to the academy. He had a major influence on the church when he saw the potential in the poetry of Calvin Miller's The Singer, published in 1975. Cautiously IVP printed five thousand copies for its first printing. But the book exploded on the scene and eventually sold over 300,000 copies.

I also remember the confidence Jim had in the work of Rebecca Manley Pippert, an unpublished evangelist with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. As the three of us talked at lunch in 1978 about her project (to be published in 1979 and which became Out of the Saltshaker), Becky asked how much Jim thought the book would sell. He said he thought it could do 20,000 copies. I thought he was very imprudent to put a hefty number like that in front of a new author. And of course, Jim was wrong. The book did not sell 20,000 but hundreds of thousands.

When Schaeffer started publishing elsewhere besides IVP, he requested that Sire, and Jim got permission to, continue as the editor for Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? In these and other books, Jim would often edit from transcripts of talks Schaeffer had given, reworking mightily the spoken word into publishable form.

Sire is probably best known for his book on worldviews, The Universe Next Door, now a staple of the classroom in its fifth edition. The origins of that book are told this way in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength., the history of InterVarsity Press.

Jim Sire Universe next door.jpgdrew his first diagram of worldviews in the early 1960s while teaching college students to distinguish Milton's theism from Hardy's naturalism and Wordsworth's quasi-pantheism. Tom Trevethan and Steve Board (both on IV campus staff in Illinois) invited Sire to give a lecture on the topic at the two-week Christian Study Project at InterVarsity's training facility, Cedar Campus, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The next year Steve asked him to expand it to six lectures. Then he suggested that Sire write a book, which became The Universe Next Door.
Given his experience with Papers on Literature [his first book], Sire did not expect the book to sell well and never expected it to be adopted as a text (which it was immediately). Because he didn't expect classroom use, he intentionally avoided an academic tone and wrote it at an accessible level, which possibly is the reason it was so well received at hundreds of universities and colleges around the country. (p. 76)

I have many memories of learning from and working alongside Sire for over twenty years. When I was a new editor he taught me about the importance of ideas, the importance of integrity in relationships with authors, the importance of staying true to yourself and not just trying to copy the success of others.

But I will end with one final memory. The two of us were at a large dinner held in honor of John W. Alexander, the recently retired president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. At the dinner, probably held in 1985, Dr. Alexander exhorted the group to not become too enamored with ideas about Christianity, its philosophical underpinnings, its intellectual implications. Yes, they had their place in apologetics and so forth, but these ideas were not the center of Christianity. Christ was. We should always and ever focus on Jesus. The person of Jesus is and should be our center.

As I sat next to Jim, I wondered what he would think of this as someone who had spent a career focused on the very kinds of ideas Alexander was saying were of secondary importance. After it was over, Jim turned to me and said, "You know, he's right. Jesus is the center."

I was surprised if not stunned. And from that point on I noticed a marked shift in Jim's own writing and his own spiritual life. In retrospect I see the humility of someone with substantial intellectual accomplishments, someone who was willing to remain open to the Spirit and to grow throughout life. That is perhaps the most important lesson he taught.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:58 AM | Comments (8)

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.