This week’s author interview is with Vern Poythress. He is the author of Understanding Dispensationalists, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, God-Centered Biblical Interpretation, The Returning King, Symphonic Theology, Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God, What Are Spiritual Gifts?, Christian Interpretations of Genesis 1, and Did Adam Exist?.
- Question #1 - When did you first want to write a book?
I got the idea for my first book while writing my Th.M. thesis at Westminster Seminary in 1974. I decided that the ideas for a Christian approach to systematic philosophy might draw wider interest, and so my thesis got published in revised form as Philosophy, Science and the Sovereignty of God (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976).
- Question #2 – Which writers inspire you?
I have been influenced by many. Here are some of the primary ones: Augustine, John Calvin, C. S. Lewis, J. I. Packer, Edmund P. Clowney, Meredith G. Kline, and John Frame.
- Question #3 – Have you always enjoyed writing?
No. I really struggled in high school English. But, looking back, I’m glad my teachers pushed me.
- Question #4 - What inspired you to write your book, about this topic?
I already mentioned earlier Philosophy, Science and the Sovereignty of God. In this book I was trying to work out the implications of the Lordship of Christ for all of life. Symphonic Theology resulted from my trying to communicate clearly the spirit and benefits of multiple perspectives in theology. Understanding Dispensationalists arose because I wanted to build bridges of dialog with dispensationalists, which Reformed and covenantal people could use to help dispensationalists reconsider some of their commitments. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses arose from two motivations working together. The first was that many Christian people want to read and understand the whole Bible, but they get bogged down in Exodus and Leviticus. They never get any further, because they cannot see how it is relevant. I wanted to show them how the material there points forward to Christ. The second reason is because of the rise of discussion about theonomy. I thought that a careful and respectful interpretation of the Mosaic laws was valuable for understanding principles of justice, but that more attention to the typological and symbolic dimensions of the law, and its functions in redemptive history, led to more accurate interpretation and application. God-Centered Biblical Interpretation arose from my trying to rethink the foundations and principles of interpretation from a biblical, Reformed, presuppositional standpoint. The Returning King was written after I had been teaching Revelation for years in seminary, and decided that an accessible introduction to Revelation would help the people of God.
- Question #5 - Do you have a specific spot where you enjoy writing most?
I mostly write in my office at seminary, with two good-sized flat screen monitors linked to my computer, so that I can spread out my work.
- Question #6 - Do you have a favorite author? Who is it and why?
John Frame. His theology and mine have many resonances.
- Question #7 – Do you have a favorite book that you have written?
Maybe my language book, In the Beginning Was the Word: Language—A God-Centered Approach (Crossway, 2009), because language is a special interest of mine and I think a Christian view of language is important in our time.
- Question #8 - What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
In one way, my toughest criticism has been from my wife, who has been willing to be a kind of early editor before the manuscript goes to the publisher. Sometimes when I think that something is clear and straightforward, she accurately points out that it could or will be misunderstood.
- Question #9 - Favorite sport to watch?
Pro-football. My wife and I watch together (and on occasion college football). It’s the complexity of the strategy and the surprises, rather than the physicality, that engages us.
- Question #10 - Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Mint chocolate chip.
- Question #11 - The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia? Why?
Chronicles of Narnia. I like the allegorical aspect, which Tolkien shied away from. But, mind you, I also greatly appreciate The Lord of the Rings.
- Question #12 – If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?
The book of Revelation. It has wonderful organization and powerful symbolism.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
- Website: http://www.frame-poythress.org