Author Interview with Christopher Watkin

This week’s author interview is with Christopher Watkin. He is the author of Thinking through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique (releasing 10/31).

Thinking through Creation_photo 2_small   Watkin_Chris_cropped

  • Question #1—When did you first want to write this book?

When I couldn’t find anything like it in the bookstore.

Since my undergraduate days I have wanted to read a book that brings biblical theology into careful dialogue with key thinkers and ideas in Western thought and culture. I have wanted to explore how the Bible’s storyline could be used as a tool of cultural critique and as a prism through which to cast a constructive vision of society and intellectual life. Over the years I have read some books that try to re-write the Bible’s storyline in ways that made it fit, in a suspiciously cozy way, within the assumptions of twenty-first century Western culture, and others that use the Bible as a weapon to attack that culture, but very little by way of genuine dialogue between biblical theology and culture at the level of assumptions and overarching themes.

 

  • Question #2—What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

Thinking Through Creation is the happy collision of two passions of mine: understanding and communicating the sweep of the biblical storyline to Christians, and understanding and teaching aspects of modern Western culture to university students. I have long been convinced that bringing a Bible overview into direct dialogue with specific Western thinkers, values and ideas can provoke both Christians and those of no religious faith to deeper engagement with the Bible and with the cultural world around and within us. I am also convinced that, more specifically, such an encounter can be of great use to Christian students and scholars, or at least it would have been just the sort of thing I was looking for all those years ago as a Christian undergraduate in the Arts faculty of a secular university. So in this book I try to host a dialogue between, on the one hand, the doctrine of the Trinity and the first two chapters of Genesis and, on the other, key thinkers and ideas in modern Western culture. In future volumes I hope to be able to work my way through the rest of the Bible, though not always at the rate of two biblical chapters per book!

 

  • Question #3—Do you have a specific spot where you enjoy writing most?

No: office, home and café are all good. I’ve even been known to do a bit of writing in the car, and I carry a Dictaphone round to capture thoughts I have on the go. Give me any old seat, a laptop and preferably an espresso, and I’m good to go. I sometimes prefer a café setting for sketching out the structure of books or reordering chapters, I suppose because the low level distraction tempers the intensity of the task a little. It’s funny how places then become associated with specific books (British Museum café: Foucault: Historian of the Present; Carla’s Conditorie, Achter de Dom, Utrecht: Thinking Through Creation). I love those associations and the way they knit together to form a personal cultural geography.

 

  • Question #4—What book are you reading now?

I have a few reading projects on the go at the moment. I’m systematically working my way through everything written by the contemporary French philosopher Michel Serres, on whom I’m trying to write a book. I’ve got my work cut out: Serres authored north of fifty volumes, made three TV series and has been interviewed countless times in French newspapers and magazines. Another readerly plate I’m attempting to keep spinning is a project looking at the ways in which contemporary Western thought and society imitates Christian patterns of thinking, to what extent that amounts to an indebtedness to Christianity, and what the implications of any such indebtedness might be. I think it’s a much more complex question than both Christian and secular writers usually allow. In relation to that project I’m half way through Jeremy Waldron’s One Another’s Equals, a very thoughtful book on the foundations Western equality, and before that I finished Simon Critchley’s Faith of the Faithless, the first two volumes of James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies series, and a volume of essays entitled Radical Secularization? Finally, I recently set myself the challenge of listening to the entire back catalogue of Francis Schaeffer’s lectures in the l’Abri ideas library, but I have to report that despite the very engaging content my progress thus far can best be described as plodding.

 

  • Question #5—What do you hope this book will achieve?

I would love Christians to see how the Bible’s storyline provides a rich trove of sophisticated patterns of thinking and living that can speak constructively into both the hot-button issues of contemporary culture and the perennial questions of Western thought.

I hope that the book will help Christians and other interested parties to see that the Trinity and the opening chapters of Genesis, far from being an embarrassment to thoughtful people, are crucial to shaping some of the Christian’s most incisive and fresh-thinking contributions to contemporary debates in thought and culture.

I would love the book to help people see that biblical patterns of thinking often cut across and disrupt the choices, divisions and categories that can seem self-evident in our culture, like facts/values or unity/diversity.

I would love readers to take some of the patterns I explore in this book, like diagonalization and the n-shaped and u-shaped dynamics, and set them to work in areas far beyond my own area of expertise. I’m grateful if readers find the book interesting, but my real hope is for it to be useful: a toolbox rather than a pretty picture. I’d like nothing more than to be found guilty of “incitement to biblical thinking”.

Finally I hope that, one day, some Christian undergraduate in a secular university will wander into a bookstore, pick up Thinking Through Creation, and find it to be the book they were looking for.


How can readers discover more about you and your work?


 

BOOK HIGHLIGHT — Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness by Barbara R. Duguid

Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness by Barbara R. Duguid

240 pages | On sale from wtsbooks.com: $8.18 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Kindle | ePub

About

Why do Christians—even mature Christians—still sin so often? Why doesn’t God set us free? We seem to notice more sin in our lives all the time, and we wonder if our progress is a constant disappointment to God. Where is the joy and peace we read about in the Bible?

Speaking from her own struggles, Barbara Duguid turns to the writings of John Newton to teach us God’s purpose for our failure and guilt—and to help us adjust our expectations of ourselves. Her empathetic, honest approach lifts our focus from our own performance back to the God who is bigger than our failures—and who uses them for his glory. Rediscover how God’s extravagant grace makes the gospel once again feel like the good news it truly is!

Endorsements

“Take this book to heart. It will sustain you for the long haul, long after the hyped-up panaceas and utopias fail.”

—David Powlison, Faculty Member at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

“Buy this book. Buy one for a friend and live in the freedom that only the good news of the gospel can bring.”

—Elyse Fitzpatrick, Author of Idols of the Heart

“Barb tells the story of God’s unrelenting compassion toward sinners like us with profound wisdom.”

—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

The Author

Barbara R. Duguid

Barbara R. Duguid holds an advanced certificate in biblical counseling from the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania. She is a counselor and ministry assistant at Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Glenside, a pastor’s wife, and the mother of six children.


Author Interview with Josh Mulvihill

We are rebooting the weekly author interview section of our blog! This week’s interview is with Josh Mulvihill. He is the author of our new book, Preparing Children for Marriage: How to Teach God’s Good Design for Marriage, Sex, Purity, and Dating.

 Mulvihill_Josh

  • Question #1—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 Texas and live in Minnesota. I’m married to Jen and we have five children. I enjoy fishing with my family, cheering for the Twins and Vikings, a crackling bonfire, fresh snow, and a good laugh with lifelong friends.

  • Question #2—Which writers inspire you?

JC Ryle and Charles Spurgeon. I appreciate their laser focus on the gospel and application to life.

  • Question #3—Do you have a specific spot where you enjoy writing most?

My most productive writing happens in my home office. I write best in the early morning in a comfortable chair with absolute quiet. I need to eliminate distraction and focus my attention.

  • Question #4—Do you have a favorite movie? What is it and why?

“What About Bob” – anyone in ministry can sympathize with Dr. Leo Marvin’s experience!

  • Question #5—Do you have a favorite quote? 

“He who chases two rabbits catches neither” and “living in light of eternity”.

  • Question #6—How do you deal with writer’s block?

Drink coffee, take a walk, or read a book.

  • Question #7—Favorite sport (team) to watch?

Football. The Vikings.

  • Question #8—Favorite food?

Canadian Walleye and raspberries.

  • Question #9—Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Vanilla.


How can readers discover more about you and your work?


Buy Josh’s book:

CBD: $13.49

WTSbooks: $15.29

Amazon: $16.97


 

 

Table of Contents — Thinking through Creation

Here is the Table of Contents for Thinking through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique by Christopher Watkin.

Release date: 10/31

Available for pre-order from Amazon: $17.99



Contents

Foreword by John M. Frame

Preface

Acknowledgments

1. Introduction

Listening to the Word

Listening to the World

The Trinity and Creation: From Embarrassment to Riches

2. Who Created? Thinking through the Trinity

Giving Content to the Empty Signifier “God”

What Do We Know about God before He Created the Universe?

What Difference Does It Make?

3. Thinking through the Creation of the Universe

Reading Note: Our Questions to the Bible and the Bible’s Questions to Us

Who Created?

How Did God Create?

4. Thinking through the Creation of Humanity

“According to Their Kinds” / “In Our Image”

The Creation Mandate

“He Rested on the Seventh Day”

5. Conclusion

Explaining the Bible to the Culture; Explaining the Culture through the Bible

Biblical and Cultural Patterns

Beyond the Trinity and Creation

Now Over to You

Glossary

Bibliography

Index of Scripture

Index of Subjects and Names


endorsements (Listed alphabetically)

“This is one of the most refreshing books I have read in a long time. With deceptive simplicity, Watkin defends exegetical, theological, and philosophical verities that are much needed in today’s discussions. Rather than being embarrassed by Christian doctrines such as creation ex nihilo, the Trinity, and the Sabbath, he sees them as unique strengths in the quest for truth. Among his most helpful strategies is diagonalizing, which we used to call the third way: a corrective to scores of false dichotomies, such as functionality vs. beauty, corrected by the meaning of God’s creation; fact as objective vs. value as subjective, corrected by the ‘and there was . . . and God saw that it was good’ of Genesis 1; and nature vs. culture, corrected by the cultural mandate. For those who thought that all had been said about Genesis, philosophy, and culture, this marvelous book will convince them otherwise, and it will inspire them to explore further.”

—William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

“For years, as an academic sociologist and a volunteer leader in the Engaging the University initiative of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), I have been urging faculty and students worldwide to bring their disciplines, their scholarly debates and research agendas, and their teaching and writing into close creative encounters with powerful biblical motifs and theologies. Too often they reply, “Where is the theology, what are the motifs, that apply to the big issues in my field, to my research agendas?” In Thinking through Creation, Chris Watkin, a leading scholar of French social thought, presents a paradigmatic response. This learned, beautifully written, theologically infused, and highly evocative work provides all of us in the academy—students and senior faculty alike—with a creative theological armory that reflects the glory of our Creator God and can transform our scholarship. The book is readily accessible to any thoughtful student or professor, complete with aids to understanding difficult issues, study questions, and a rich bibliography. Watkin’s deep insights carry rich value far beyond the social sciences and humanities to every corner of the twenty-first-century university.”

—Terence Halliday, Co-Director and Research Professor, American Bar Foundation; Honorary Professor, Australian National University; Adjunct Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University

“Christopher Watkin’s Thinking through Creation could not be more aptly named. Here is another excellent tool for contemporary Christians as they confront the challenges of postmodern culture. Watkin bores in on one of the nonnegotiable elements of the biblical narrative—the idea of creation. Of course Christians want to use the Bible and its teaching in the first two chapters of Genesis—but how? Especially when secularists have co-opted the term with their focus on the three Ds—dinosaurs, Darwin, and the days of creation? Watkin answers by insisting that we develop a clear understanding of the doctrines of the Trinity, human nature, and culture. The Trinity and creation are not irrational ideas to be rejected as embarrassing and outmoded. Just as Charles Cochrane in his enduring work Christianity and Classical Culture demonstrated how Augustine’s Trinitarianism replaced the classical Greek worldview, Watkin deftly unpacks how a fresh understanding of the Trinity enables Christians in the twenty-first century to avoid the trap of debating the three Ds and instead to discover the riches of biblical teaching. But Watkin goes further than simply developing these ideas; he insists that we think with them. His creative use of diagonalization offers a fresh way of resolving apparent dichotomies that has captured contemporary thinking. Watkin’s work deserves to be in the hands of pastors as well as all students—from college freshmen to seminarians.”

—Andrew Hoffecker, Professor of Church History Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson

“On a dramatic and unprecedented scale, historic Protestantism is today a global phenomenon, and its maturing presence in countries and cultures far and vastly different from its native contexts is an urgent call to pursue biblical wisdom on what it means to be an image-bearer in God’s world. Chris Watkin’s Thinking through Creation takes up this task with winsomeness, style, and insight. His approach to Scripture combines humility with rigor, and his theological offerings make free use of a vast range of explanatory tools and concepts that he commands with ease and deploys with didactic mastery. This is a delightful, easily accessible text, which promises a fruitful and enjoyable encounter with the wealth of the Word of God for Christian living and witness today.”

—Nathan D. Shannon, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Torch Trinity Graduate University, Seoul; editor, Great Thinkers series

“Just brilliant! A great gift to Christian thought and discipleship. In a rare combination, Watkin shows us at the deepest level what it means to read the world through the Word, but in a way that is genuinely accessible. His demonstrations of biblical patterns and structures are incredibly helpful. With the excitement of a kid at Christmas, I opened the gift of ‘diagonalization,’ and it has already become a favorite tool for my lectures on culture and Christian worldview.”

—Dan Strange, Acting Principal, Oak Hill College, London

“If theology is the application of God’s Word to all areas of life, then we have to understand not only Scripture but the world in which we live and move and have our being. Cultural studies are all the rage in secular universities, but Chris Watkin here sketches the contours of a distinctly biblical and Christian theory for interpreting our contemporary culture with theological categories, such as Trinity and creation, doing the heavy lifting. Watkin does much more than round up the usual proof texts: he also calls our attention to biblical patterns that diagonally cut through taken-for-granted false dichotomies such as the fact-value distinction. In so doing, he convincingly shows that Genesis 1 and 2 offer much more than fodder for debates about creation vs. evolution. Their enduring contribution has as much to do with ways of human thinking and being in the world (culture) as with cosmological origins (nature). Modern theory may have disenchanted the world, but Watkin’s book, like the world that God created good, is ‘enchanted’ in the best sense: run through with Word, song, and meaning. Take up and take heed.”

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Chris Watkin explores two controversial and often overlooked doctrines (the Trinity and Creation) in order to tear down false dichotomies in philosophy and lift up treasures of truth just below the surface of our creedal affirmations. This book helps us to inhabit biblical worlds of thought so that we can see, interpret, and reach our world with the gospel.”

—Trevin Wax, Bible and Reference Publisher, LifeWay Christian Resources, author of Eschatological Discipleship, This Is Our Time, and Counterfeit Gospels

“I give a high endorsement to Christopher Watkin’s little book Thinking through Creation. It is a fine contemporary example of the kind of Christian thinking that connects biblical teaching and historic Christian orthodoxy with the challenges of contemporary culture, but does so in a way that does not resort to proof-texting or to the shibboleths of the contemporary culture wars. Instead, it uses Scripture to break through the many false dilemmas that bedevil much contemporary thinking, both secular and Christian. Thoroughly conversant with a broad range of contemporary and classical thinkers, Watkin offers a radical and trenchant critique of contemporary culture and a well-grounded alternative shaped by the Christian Scriptures. I regard this slim volume as a seminal work, and I predict that it will become a classic of its kind.”

—Albert M. Wolters, Emeritus Professor of Worldview and Biblical Studies, Redeemer University College; author, Creation Regained


 

Four NEW RELEASES

   



Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and Its Significance by John M. Frame

Pages: 136 | List Price: $12.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER

About

Because God created all things with coherent unity, everything can be understood from the perspective of everything else. We experience the world in the context of our own bodies, but every day we broaden our understanding through the perspectives of others. Meanwhile, our omniscient God is also omniperspectival. Through his revelation, he allows us a glimpse of his own divine perspective.

What does this mean for us? One valuable dimension of this reality is that theological issues can also be helpfully viewed from multiple perspectives without compromising their unity and truth. In this accessible introduction to his Bible study and theological method, John Frame teaches us to approach doctrine with situational, normative, and existential perspectives modeled on the Trinity.

Endorsements

“A clear and refreshing explanation of John Frame’s insightful approach to studying the Bible (and everything else!) from three different ‘perspectives.’ It is the fruit of a lifetime of thinking and teaching.”

Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

“As one of the foremost Christian philosophers and theologians of our day, Frame argues for us to think of theology not only as the accumulation and memorization of doctrinal ideas, but also as the practical application of those ideas to hearts and lives.”

Steve Childers, President, Pathway Learning

“Frame shatters the common notion that profundity and scholarship must be long, tedious, arcane, and impractical. . . . The crisp text, usable discussion questions, handy glossary, and additional resources make this work an accessible gateway for exploring and habituating ‘what God’s Word requires me to do now.’”

Jeffery J. Ventrella, Senior Counsel, Senior Vice-President, Strategic Training, Alliance Defending Freedom

About the Author

John M. Frame (AB, Princeton University; BD, Westminster Theological Seminary; MA and MPhil, Yale University; DD, Belhaven College) holds the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and is the author of many books, including the four-volume Theology of Lordship series.



Preparing Children for Marriage: How to Teach God’s Good Design for Marriage, Sex, Purity, and Dating by Josh Mulvihill

Pages: 256 | List Price: $16.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER

About

“My kids are way too young to be thinking about dating and marriage already! Why would I begin ‘the talk’ now, before they’ve even started asking questions?”

Many parents find it difficult to broach these topics with their children, especially in age-appropriate ways. But our choice is no longer between teaching them now or later—if we do not reach them first, our culture is happy to step in with messages of its own. Someone is going to shape our children’s beliefs—so the time to start biblical conversations is now!

In this foundation-laying book, Josh Mulvihill offers theological training for a critical area of parenting. He walks parents through how to begin conversations, then teaches them God’s purpose for dating, marriage, and sex so they can pass this teaching on to their children.

The Bible says children are never too young to learn God’s plan for this area of their lives . . . so prepare yourself to prepare them for one of the most important decisions they will ever make.

Endorsements

“Wow! What a great book to empower parents to have early-and-often discussions with their children about love, sex, and marriage.”

—Scott Turansky, Cofounder, National Center for Biblical Parenting

“Josh Mulvihill has given parents an invaluable resource to help them present a biblical worldview of sexuality, marriage, and dating to their children.”

—Marty Machowski, Family Life Pastor, Covenant Fellowship Church, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania; Author, The Ology

“Josh Mulvihill’s approach is straight from the Bible, full of great insight and advice, and incredibly helpful.”

—Larry Fowler, Founder, The Legacy Coalition

About the Author

Josh Mulvihill is the executive director of church and family ministry at Renewanation, which trains children to develop a biblical worldview. He has also served as a pastor for nearly twenty years and is a founding member of the Legacy Coalition and Roots Kids Worship. He is the author of Biblical Grandparenting and the Rooted Kids curriculum and is the editor of Equipping Grandparents. Josh is married to Jen, and they have five children.



The Complete Husband, Revised and Expanded: A Practical Guide for Improved Biblical Husbanding by Lou Priolo

Pages: 320 | List Price: $17.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER

About

Being a consistently biblical husband is not for the faint of heart! God has given husbands huge responsibilities to their wives, but the good news is that God also gives husbands the grace and resources to obey his commands. In The Complete Husband, experienced biblical counselor Lou Priolo delves deep into the skills, goals, and attitudes a God-honoring husband must develop, giving practical advice throughout. If you’ve ever wondered how to best protect, please, and lead your wife, how to communicate with her, how to disagree with her—even how to talk to her!—you will find comprehensive guidance here. Yes, being a biblical husband is not for the faint of heart—but those who boldly follow God’s Word will reap great and lasting benefits in their marriages.

Endorsements

“Fills a large, empty space on the pastor’s and parent’s resource shelf. It is simple without being shallow and comprehensive without being tedious. A man will find solid, biblical counsel here on how to know and love his wife. A book to read and return to often.”

—Tedd Tripp, Author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Instructing a Child’s Heart

“A great book about being a great husband. And now, with its updated text, plus application questions and exercises, it’s even better.”

—Amy Baker, Instructor and Counselor at Faith Biblical Counseling

“This practical book helps husbands to love their wives as Christ loves his church, treating such topics as loving leadership, communication, and sexual relations. Oh—and wives are encouraged to read it also.”

—Jay Adams, Author of Competent to Counsel and The Christian Counselor’s Manual

About the Author

Lou Priolo is the founder and president of Competent to Counsel International and is an instructor with Birmingham Theological Seminary. He has been a full-time biblical counselor since 1985 and is a fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Lou has been married to his wife, Kim, since 1987 and has two daughters, Sophia and Gabriella.



The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge by Alan D. Strange

Pages: 432 | List Price: $59.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER

About

Charles Hodge (1797–1878) was arguably the leading Old School Presbyterian of the nineteenth century. He was involved with all the great ecclesiastical controversies of his day, including the question of the spirituality of the church. In Hodge’s hands the spirituality of the church functioned as a complex and subtle doctrine, not serving, as it did with some, as a “muzzle” for the prophetic voice of the church into society, but as a means of keeping its ecclesiastical focus from being swallowed by the political. For Hodge, the spirituality of the church meant that the primary calling of the church was  not, first of all, temporal but spiritual, especially in its carrying out the Great Commission. Hodge believed, however, that even in carrying out its essentially spiritual duties, the scope of the church’s concern was broader temporally than some partisans of the spirituality of the church constructed it.

Endorsements

“Carefully researched, copiously annotated, and enthusiastically written, these pages provide a vibrant and fascinating account . . . of issues that are still profoundly relevant to the church today.”

—Sinclair B. Ferguson, Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries

“Strange’s analysis is well researched, balanced, and enlightening.”

—J. V. Fesko, Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Westminster Seminary California

“Alan Strange gives Charles Hodge, arguably the leading nineteenth-century American Calvinist, the attention he rightly deserves.”

—D. G. Hart, Distinguished Associate Professor of History, Hillsdale College

“Essential background reading for Reformed thinkers who have an interest in cultural engagement.”

—Paul Kjoss Helseth, Author, “Right Reason” and the Princeton Mind: An Unorthodox Proposal

“Strange weaves thorough documentation into a riveting narrative.”

—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“What should be the role of the church in the affairs of the state? . . . Provides helpful insight for the church today faced with the same difficult question.”

—Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary

About the Series

P&R’s Reformed Academic Dissertation (RAD) series consists of top-tier dissertations (Ph.D., Th.D., D.Min., and Th.M.) that advance biblical and theological scholarship by making distinctive contributions in the areas of theology, ethics, biblical studies, apologetics, and counseling. Dissertations in the RAD series are carefully selected, on the basis of strong recommendations by the authors’ supervisors and examiners and by our internal readers, to be part of our collection. Each selected dissertation provides clear, fresh, and engaging insights about significant theological issues.

About the Author

Alan D. Strange (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary; MA, College of William and Mary; PhD, University of Wales) is professor of church history at Mid-America Reformed Seminary and associate pastor at New Covenant Community Church (OPC) in Joliet in Illinois. He has written for and serves as a contributing editor to The Confessional Presbyterian.