Author Interview with David Innes

This week’s author interview is with David C. Innes. He is the author of Christ and the Kingdoms of Men: Foundations of Political Life which is releasing 2 weeks from today — August 1st. Read a sample chapter of his book HERE.


  • Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I was raised Canadian in a Scottish household. But having come to this great country for graduate studies in 1985, I eventually married a girl from a log house in Massachusetts. We had four children in Iowa where I was a pastor. For the last 15 years, I have been a professor of politics at The King’s College in New York City. I became a U.S. citizen in 2010. In my spare time, I think about what to do in my work time, Sundays excepted.

 

  • What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

I have no patience for the religion of men. Give me God’s thoughts and God’s ways for God’s glory. It is also true in politics that the ill-advised traditions of men are passed off as the wisdom of God’s will. There is much confusion, flotsam, and imprecision on this subject, and I found myself in a position to contribute what no one else was offering.

 

  • Do you have a specific spot where you enjoy writing most?

I have a chair in my study from a living room set my parents bought in 1978 when I was 16. It is very comfortable, suitably sized, and surrounded by all that I need for writing.

 

  • What book are you reading now?

This summer I read The Children of Men, by P.D. James, set in England just 30 years after suddenly and inexplicably everyone in the world lost the capacity to reproduce. She thinks through the effects – political, economic, moral, and psychological – of there being no children and of the awareness of being the final generation on earth.

 

  • Do you have a favorite movie? What is it and why?

The Inner Circle with Tom Hulse about a newly married young projectionist in Stalin’s Kremlin. It’s about politics making itself everything and snuffing out private life and private affections and the tragedy of that. It’s a love story and it gets me every time.

 

  • Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and why?

My favorite quote is my senior quote in my high school yearbook: “But when one is young one must see things, gather experience, ideas; enlarge the mind.” Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

 

  • Favorite sport to watch? Why? Favorite sport’s team?

Hockey, but only the Stanley Cup series. As a boy, I watched Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday at 8. But now you have to buy an extra cable passage to watch hockey, so I don’t. My favorite team is the New York Rangers because they’re mine. Then the Boston Bruins because they were once mine. Then the Toronto Maple Leafs for old time’s sake. But I never see them.

 

  • Favorite food?

Mince and tatties. It is a Scottish meal. Ground beef simmered in a gravy salt (Bisto) and served over mashed potatoes. If it turns out that I’ll be eating this every night for all eternity in the eschatological kingdom, I’ll be fine with that.

 

  • Favorite animal? Why?

A liger. Definitely a liger. [Napoleon Dynamite fans with get the liger reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XVMfNIJ53I]

 


How can readers discover more about you and your work?


 

Excerpt from James (REC) by Dan Doriani

Here is an excerpt taken from Chapter 9 of James (Reformed Expository Commentary) by Dan Doriani.


9 — WHO CAN TAME THE TONGUE?

James 3:1–12

THE TRAITS OF THE TONGUE (3:6)

James rightly says, “The tongue . . . is a fire” (3:6a). Its propensity to gossip and its capacity to suggest sin establish it as a source of great wickedness.*4 It stains the whole body. It sets all of life on fire “and is itself set on fire by hell” (3:6b). James describes the tongue three ways.

Its character. The tongue is a microcosm, a concentration point of this world’s evils. James says the tongue is “a world of evil among the parts of the body” (3:6a). The tongue is not necessarily more evil than other members of the body, but speech is involved in almost every form of wickedness. Words themselves are often evil, but we also add wicked words to wicked deeds. Before we strike someone, we may curse him or abuse him. Before we rob someone, we plan it with words, or excuse it with words. So the tongue has a central place in this world’s evils. Yet the tongue is not simply “involved” in evil. It also has great influence.

Its influence. It corrupts “the whole body,” that is, the whole person. James says, “It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire” (3:6b). The tongue plans evil and utters hateful thoughts. We say someone is selfish or lazy because we think it, but when we say it, we think it all the more. Thus the tongue sets the whole course or cycle of life on fire. Throughout the changing circumstances of life, the tongue continues to create evils. When young, we whine; when old, we criticize. When we fail, we excuse ourselves and blame others. When we succeed or our children succeed, we foul it by boasting.

Through every turn of life, the tongue promotes evil. Jesus said, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’” (Matt. 15:11). So our mouths corrupt us. The tongue can create evil. Of course, all evils ultimately come from the heart, as Jesus also said: “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’” (15:18).

Its allegiance. In one sense, the evils of the tongue flow from the heart. In another sense, James says Satan himself gives the tongue its destructive power. Hell sets the tongue on fire (James 3:6b). If we wonder why the tongue generates so much trouble, James answers that it is set on fire by hell.

WE CAN TAME ANYTHING BUT THE TONGUE (3:7–8)

James begins the next verse with the word “for” (ESV). That shows he is explaining what he just said. By this we know the tongue is enflamed by hell: mankind can tame anything but the tongue.*5 Every kind of animal “can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:7–8 ESV).

The tongue is restless, unstable, and liable to break out at any time. It is half-tamed at best. At an aquarium, we may behold whales, dolphins, and seals heeding human commands. At the circus, we see birds, horses, camels, elephants, and even tigers perform their routines. If an animal fails to perform, the trainer barks commands to bring it back into line. But who can force the tongue back into line? There is a touch of poetry in James’s answer:

Every kind of beast can be tamed by humankind,

but no one among humans can tame the tongue.

Humankind subdues every kind of animal, but it cannot subdue itself. James’s literal phrasing is a bit awkward: “No one is able to tame the tongue—among humans.” This stilted language makes us think. Human nature cannot control the tongue, yet the tongue must be tamed. Who then, will tame the tongue?

Augustine explains that James “does not say ‘no one can tame the tongue,’ but ‘no man,’ so that, when it is tamed, we admit that it was done by the mercy of God, the assistance of God, the grace of God.”*6 This clarifies James’s pessimism about the tongue. James says two things: The tongue has vast influence, so we ought to control it. Yet no human can tame the tongue. This is a paradox: James says we must do something that we cannot do. There are two ways to approach this problem.

First, we can soften James’s message. He means it is almost impossible to tame the tongue, therefore we must redouble our efforts. This view says: Since the tongue is the key to holy living, we must bend every effort to control it, for if we do, we control all. James’s illustrations seem to support this view. Just as a bit turns a large horse, just as a rudder turns a large ship, so the tongue the lives of men.

One writer compares the tongue to a master switch. The words that the tongue forms control our thoughts and plans. If the tongue were “well under control” so that it refused to formulate “words of self-pity” or “thoughts of anger . . . then these things are cut down before they have a chance to live.”*7

Rudders certainly are important. During World War II, the mightiest German battleship, the Bismarck, sank because its rudder failed. Germany launched the Bismarck to attack Allied shipping. When the British navy intercepted it, the Bismarck sank the Hood, the pride of Britain’s navy, in less than ten minutes. The British put everything into a counterattack while the Bismarck, lightly damaged, steamed to harbor. But one tiny plane dropped a torpedo that struck and irreparably damaged the Bismarck’s rudder. The Bismarck could only go in circles. Within hours, dozens of ships and planes brought all their firepower against that one ship until it sank.

Metaphorical rudders are crucial, too. A misdirected chief officer can wreak havoc upon a corporation. A heedless pastor can decimate a church. The first view says it is very difficult, but we can and must control the tongue, for it is the rudder for human life.

The second view interprets James rather literally. It says: It would be good to tame the tongue, but James says we cannot. Therefore, we must turn elsewhere for help. No one has sufficient self-control to govern his tongue: “We all stumble in many ways” (3:2).“No one”—no mere human—“can tame the tongue” (3:8).


This is an excerpt taken from the middle of chapter 9, pages 110—113 of James (Reformed Expository Commentary) by Dan Doriani.


4. Although many translations (NIV, RSV) say the tongue “is” a fire, the Greek verb kathistatai is not the common word for “is.” Kathistatai is typically translated as “set,” “appoint,” or “establish.” James says the tongue is set or established as a world of evil.

5. The four terms—“beast,” “bird,” “reptile” and “sea creature” (ESV)—correspond to the classes of animals listed in Genesis 1:26, suggesting that humans can tame the whole range of animal life.

6. Augustine, On Nature and Grace, in The Fathers of the Church, trans. John A. Mourant and William J. Collinge (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1992), 86:33.

7. Motyer, The Message of James, 121.


 

Author Interview with A. Craig Troxel

This week’s author interview is with Craig Troxel. He is the author of two Basics of the Faith booklets, What Is the Priesthood of Believers? and What Is Man?.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I was raised in Nebraska.  It is a place I love returning to for its open range, sunsets, and normal-sounding people. My wife is Carol who I met at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. We have five children. We enjoy (leisurely) walking.

 

  • Which writers inspire you?

J.R.R. Tolkien for his imagination; Alexander Dumas for his craft in telling a story; C.S. Lewis for his playfulness; Herman Bavink for his occasional theological sound-bites (amidst his erudition); and G.K. Chesterton for his wit.

 

  • Have you always enjoyed writing?

I first started writing free-verse poetry soon after college (none of which is publishable). I realized that I enjoyed writing when I entered into graduate work, but my very first article that was published in a scholarly journal proved that my writing skills were in need of significant improvement. I would still not regard myself as an “author” since I think of that as an honorable title that must be earned after repeated success.

 

  • What book are you reading now?

I recently completed reading again, The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my favorites), and before that The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.

 

  • Do you have a favorite movie? What is it and why?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? Everything about it is fabulous. Amazing script, good characters, the sepia styling, the soundtrack (Allison Kraus!) and all of it built on a classic story (The Odyssey).

 

  • Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and why?

Noblesse oblige (“nobility obligates”). It is alleged that Winston Churchill posted this over his doorway to his study. It reminds us that the privileges we have put us in a position to serve those less fortunate.

 

  • Favorite sport to watch? Why? Favorite sport’s team? 

Most often college football is my favorite sport and the Nebraska Cornhuskers are my team (Go Big Red!). But every spring my family enjoys watching March Madness and competing against each other with the brackets.

 

  • Favorite food?

It’s a tie between a perfectly grilled T-bone, Thai food, or Mangos.

 

  • The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia?

The Lord of the Rings. Nothing else comes close. I appreciate how he paints virtue and vice in their brightest and darkest shades respectively. His noble characters inspire me to be better and braver, and his antagonists bring out the repulsive nature of evil.

 

  • Tea or coffee?

Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon. Tea in the evening with my wife.

 

  • What famous person (living or dead) would you like to meet and why?

I would have enjoyed meeting G.K. Chesterton—just to hear his humor in every day life.

 

  • If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

Esther is the one book of the Bible that when I read it, I cannot stop. It is so exciting and interesting.


 

Four New Releases Today!

Hope: The Quest for Truth, Book 5 by Brock Eastman

512 pages | $14.99 | Mobi: $4.99 | ePub: $4.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | The Quest for Truth series

Austin could barely hear Mason. “We’re not going to make it!” 

Matching wits with the Übel and the Corsairs, the Wikk kids learn to rely on Creator as they use Bible clues, artifacts, and maps to complete their quest’s final mission. But when the young Wikks fall into enemy hands, they are forced to tell what they know about the secrets of Ursprung. Will the enemy use this information to silence the Truth forever? Fighting weaponized tyrannosaurs and even speeding up time, friends and foes lock into a life-and-death race to reach the lost planet. Will Ursprung reveal the secrets of the human heart? Will Truth prevail and bring hope?

THE QUEST FOR TRUTH series follows the four Wikk kids in their desperate race to find the planet Ursprung and stop the Übel renegades and dangerous Corsairs from misusing its long-lost secrets. Ancient cities, treacherous villains, high-tech gadgets—encounter all these and more on this futuristic, interplanetary adventure!

Endorsements

“Eastman pens a compelling, twist-laden adventure that will grab you by the throat and won’t let go! A must-read!”

—Ronie Kendig, Author of the bestselling Tox Files series

“A fast-paced, riveting sci-fi adventure with thrills, plot twists, and a wildly unique story line. . . . You won’t be able to put these books down!”

—Melissa Taylor, Blogger and Writer, www.imaginationsoup.net

“Imagination abounds in this epic series that speaks to the importance of family and truth. I can’t wait to watch the Wikk kids take on their greatest adventure yet! Don’t miss this one!”

—Laura Martin, Author, Edge of Extinction series, Float, and Hoax for Hire

“Strap in and prepare for the final adventure into hyper flight. The rip-roaring action will take you to the edge of the galaxy. Hope pulled me in until the very end.”

—Jedidiah Duggar, Cast Member, 17 Kids and Counting


Reformed Expository Bible Studies Series 

These Reformed Expository Bible Studies are designed for personal and group use. Each lesson connects to the rest of the Bible and holds to the same standards as the Reformed Expository Commentary series: a high view of Scripture; a Christ-centered focus; a Reformed theological basis; and an emphasis on personal application and prayer.

“Having benefitted, along with many others, from the excellent and accessible Reformed Expository Commentary series, I heartily commend this companion initiative.” —Harry Reeder

“I am thankful to see this development in the Reformed Expository Commentary series, allowing these excellent, pastoral commentaries to get an even wider use in the church.” —Bryan Chapell

“Jon Nielson asks questions on the text that will make the reader think. . . . The Reformed Expository Bible Study series will help readers to understand every text in light of the whole of the Bible—as well as the person and work of Christ.” —Nancy Guthrie

“I highly recommend the Reformed Expository Bible Study series for those who desire to read the Bible through a redemptive-historical lens that will help them to draw out good gospel implications for all of life and ministry.” —Stephen T. Um

Daniel: Faith Enduring through Adversity, A 13-Lesson Study by Jon Nielson

120 pages | $9.99 | Mobi: $7.99 | ePub: $7.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER

The fiery furnace. The lions’ den. We all know the stories. But the book of Daniel, with its high moral standard and bewildering prophecies, is daunting nonetheless. Dare to be a Daniel? How could we even begin? Yet one greater than Daniel has perfectly lived a life of exile on our behalf.

Galatians: The Gospel of Free Grace, A 13-Lesson Study by Jon Nielson

120 pages | $9.99 | Mobi: $7.99 | ePub: $7.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER

We’re all tempted to think there must be something we can do to make ourselves good enough for God—or at least to put ourselves more in his favor. But Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to liberate us from any form of performance-based religion, no matter how alluring.

James: Portrait of a Living Faith, A 13-Lesson Study by Jon Nielson

120 pages | $9.99 | Mobi: $7.99 | ePub: $7.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER

The letter of James, overflowing with literary simplicity and theological depth, rewards thoughtful study. Moreover, it contains the wisdom of God for daily life and points to Christ as the Lord of the church and the giver of grace.


 

Author Interview with Jon Nielson

This week’s interview is with Jon Nielson. He is the author of the 3 upcoming Reformed Expository Bible Studies: DanielGalatians, and James. He also wrote Bible Study: A Student’s Guide and The Story: The Bible’s Grand Narrative of Redemption.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and have basically lived in the Chicago area for most of my life (other than 2 years in Princeton, NJ from 2015-2017). My wife Jeanne and I met on the west side of Chicago in 2007 . . . we’ve been married for almost 11 years and have four beautiful daughters. We love serving our dear church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago – Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) – and also enjoy staying active together. Jeanne is a marathon runner and exercise coach . . . and I desperately try to keep up with her!

 

  • Which writers inspire you?

Some of the usual suspects inspired me during my youth and young adult years – C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Tolkien. As an English Literature major, I also loved the great novels of Dostoevsky, Dickens, Twain, Faulkner, Austen, Bronte . . . and I had a season in seminary where I tried to read everything by Thomas Hardy. Theologically, Graeme Goldsworthy’s books shaped a lot of my thinking on biblical theology. Currently, I’m encouraged by Kevin DeYoung’s writing in many different areas of interest to local church members and pastors.

 

  • What inspired you to write these Bible studies?

I’m excited to play a small part in encouraging and enabling church members to dig into the riches of Scripture and study it for themselves – individually or in small groups. I love helping God’s people study his Word!

 

  • Do you have a favorite author?

I love Chesterton and Tozer. Thomas Hardy as a novelist.

 

  • Do you have a favorite movie?

Yikes – hard to say! Definitely some of the classic action/adventure series of movies (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Bourne, etc.). I’m also kind of a sucker for superhero movies, which drives my wife nuts. I’m way behind on those, though . . . and the young adults in our congregation keep telling me I need to catch up!

 

  • Do you have a favorite quote?

I’ve always loved the Teddy Roosevelt “the credit belongs to the man in the arena” quote. And Jim Elliot’s simple advice: “Wherever you are, be all there!”

 

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would encourage them (I’m thinking of Christian writers specifically) to find that place where their particular gifts and passions match up with a real need (and potential great benefit) for Christians and the local church.

 

  • At what time of day do you write most?

Early mornings – for sure. I’m definitely most productive, thoughtful, etc. between the hours of 5 and 7 am. I’m useless in the evening.

 

  • How do you deal with writer’s block?

Push through. Walk around. Yell at myself!

 

  • Tea or coffee?

Coffee. Is this really a question?

 

  • Favorite sport to watch? Favorite sport’s team?

Definitely NBA basketball, much to the chagrin of my soccer-loving wife. I’m a Chicago fan . . . which means we’ve had some painful years recently watching the Bulls. But, I love watching good basketball . . . and we’re in an exciting, high-scoring era for the league currently.

 

  • Favorite food?

Probably good barbeque or good, authentic Mexican.

 

  • Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Cookies & Cream.

 

  • Favorite animal? 

Love seeing the big cats at the zoo with my kids.

 

  • The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia?

Yes.

 

  • What famous person (living or dead) would you like to meet and why?

Any of the Apostles. I would absolutely love to get their take on the church today – and learn from them. What blind spots would they identify? How would they challenge us? What might encourage them? What would they think of our preaching, discipleship, evangelism, cultural engagement, etc.?

 

  • If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

I love 1st and 2nd Peter. I love Peter’s clarity, challenge, focus on the Last day . . . and I love the story of the man as well.


Follow Jon on Twitter: @jonnielson