Month: June 2013

How much is your Bible worth?

So Einstein’s Bible was just sold for $68,500 at an auction in New York.$68500-in-nyc-auction/

How much is your Bible worth?

Einstein’s inscription says (translated from the German) that “this book is a great source of wisdom and consolation and should be read frequently.”

I agree.

A few years ago I had my old Bible re-covered because it was looking worn.

About 20 years ago, I drove past a church that had a sign out front that said,

“A Bible that’s falling apart, belongs to someone who isn’t.”

My Bible was falling apart, and while I’m not sure it’s appropriate to say I’m not falling apart, things would have been worse.

Seven Men by Eric Metaxas

For those of you who were interested in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas but were scared of the 624 pages, you should pick up a copy of Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness (April, 2013), which is only about 200 pages.

I read the Bonhoeffer book, and enjoyed it immensely, but it would have been a better book without about 150 pages (don’t ask me which 150 pages to cut, though).

In Seven Men Metaxas tells the story of, yes, you guessed it… seven men.  The 624 pages of Bonhoeffer is condensed into a chapter of 24 pages, alongside similarly sized chapters telling the stories of George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and Charles Colson.  

Before going any further, I must say I’ve loved reading Seven Men and will recommend it to the rest of my family, particularly my two teenage sons.

While it is not obvious from the title, Metaxas focuses on the faith of these individuals, which include two athletes (Liddell, Robinson), three politicians (Washington, Wilberforce and Colson) and two professional Christians (Bonhoeffer, JPII).  I would have liked to know how he decided upon these seven–why these seven?

And while I might be tempted to critique him for not including great Christian men from all over the globe, I appreciate the fact that he didn’t just include 7 Americans.  He chose:
3 Americans (Washington, Robinson and Colson),
2 English (Wilberforce, Liddell),
1 German (Bonhoeffer) and
1 Pole (JPII).

Here are some of the best bits (no spoilers yet, although see below):

1) Washington: The Father of our nation had no sons of his own.  He could have made the US into a monarchy with him as king.  Shortly before he died he rewrote his will to free all his slaves.

2) Wilberforce: Metaxas  wrote Amazing Grace the book because he was invited to do so by a publisher so that it would coincide with the film, Amazing Grace, that was already in the works.  Wilberforce memorized Psalm 119 (and I can’t even finish writing my blogs on the chapter).

3) Liddell: He discovered that the 100 meter trials would be on Sunday, not on the boat (as in “Chariots of Fire”), but the previous fall.  The story of him in the internment camp in China at the end of WWII was deeply moving.  He was scheduled to be freed in a prisoner swap shortly before the war ended, but he gave his place up to a pregnant woman.

4) Bonhoeffer: He was willing to learn from people he disagreed with, like liberal academics like Adolf von Harnack at Berlin University.  An African American from Alabama (Frank Fisher) had a deep impact on him while he was in New York and Fisher brought Robinson him to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.  While in NY, he attended there every Sunday.

5) Robinson: His faith was crucial to his ability to not respond violent to horrific racism.  Branch Rickey (GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers) guided Robinson to the Sermon on the Mount to help him deal with racism (“turn the other cheek”).

6) Pope John Paul II: Before JPII, it had been 456 years since a non-Italian was chosen as Pope (Adrian VI, a Dutchman).  I love that Metaxis, a Protestant, chose a Catholic in this list.  I’m sure he’ll take flack for that decision.  I applaud it.

7) Colson: He single-handedly took a creative image of 2nd birth from Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus (John 3:3) and transformed it into a catchy book title (Born Again), which then became a cliche in Christian culture.  His conversation was surprisingly emotional for an ex-Marine / Nixonian Watergate hatchetman.  Metaxis and Colson had a close personal relationship.

An unexpected perk, the hardback version stayed open nicely while I was riding on my exercise bike.

Spoiler alert: All seven have now died.

So, who are your top seven?  

3D Bible Reading Video

Hebrew and Greek Promo.PNG 2I still remember the first time I saw a film in 3-D, I kept trying to grab things in front of my face, a buzzing fly, a bouncing ball, a whizzing rocket about to crash into my monstrous nose.  I knew those things weren’t really there, but 3D was so different from the 2-D film experience, it seemed real.

Reading the Bible in the original languages, Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament, is like watching a film in 3D.  Films in 2D are still great, enjoyable, interesting, awesome, wonderful, but 3D is better–richer, deeper, more vivid, more colorful.

My New Testament colleague here at Biblical Steve Taylor and I were interviewed recently about why it’s important to learn the biblical languages, and here’s our take on why the 3D original language version of the biblical story is better than the 2D version in English.  Click here to watch or below (2 and 1/2 minutes).

Video filmed by Joel Limbauan.

Half price for God Behaving Badly @WTS Bookstore

Still don’t have a copy of one of IVP’s best-selling books?

The Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore is running a serious discount on God Behaving Badly.  To get it, click here: WTS Books Newsletter.

WTS Bookstore

The retail price for GBB is $15.
Amazon, which usually has the best price, is currently selling it new for $11.47.
As of today, the USED price on Amazon is $8.23.  (Readers keep this book.)
Until June 26, 2013, WTS Bookstore is selling it new for $7.50.

If you want to get it half-price you only have 6 more days.

God_Behaving_Badly_CoverGod Behaving Badly would make a great gift for a graduating senior.  The issues the book discusses are hot topics on college campuses.  Over the past two years, I’ve spoken at over a dozen campuses, and students desperately want to discuss the problematic portrayal of God in the Old Testament.  Christians, agnostics and even atheists are troubled by what they read in the pages of the Old Testament.

(Click on the cover image on the left for a vimeo of my Swarthmore talk under “Description” or a review under “WTS Review”.)

Is God angry?  Why is he always smiting people and destroying cities, women and children?  Why would someone want to worship a God like that?

Is God sexist?  Wasn’t Eve responsible for the fall of humans?  Why are women 2nd class citizens in the Old Testament?

Is God racist?  God likes the people of Israel, but seems to hate all the nations around Israel, and he ordered the genocide of the Canaanites.

Is God violent?  Jesus was into peace, but YHWH is into war.  He likes to destroy people.

Is God legalistic?  Why is YHWH so legalistic in the Old Testament, but Jesus and Paul are into forgiveness and grace in the New Testament?  (You’ll be surprised at God’s first command.)

Is God inflexible?  Christians are viewed in popular culture as being stubborn and inflexible.  Does God change?  The Old Testament says God does, and he doesn’t change?  How do we reconcile these contradictory portrayals of God?

Is God distant?  Where is God when I’m in pain?  God is God-with-us, the incarnate deity, but all of the negative things we see about God in the Old Testament make him seem distant.

These and other questions are addressed in depth in God Behaving Badly.  Check it out.

The half-price discount expires June 26, 2013.