WE ARE VERY EXCITED TO BE RELEASING THESE 3 NEW TITLES TODAY:
- What about Evil? A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory by Scott Christensen
- Immanuel Kant by Shao Kai Tseng
- Gilles Deleuze by Christopher Watkin
What about Evil? A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory by Scott Christensen
Reconciling the existence of God and evil has been a long-standing conundrum in Christian theology, yet a philosophical approach—rather than a theological one—dominates the discussion. Turning to the Bible’s grand storyline, Scott Christensen examines how sin, evil, corruption, and death fit into the broad outlines of redemptive history. He argues that God’s ultimate end in creation is to magnify his glory to his image-bearers, most notably by defeating evil through the atoning work of Christ.
“Scott Christensen has a real gift for answering difficult theological questions plainly, thoroughly, and above all biblically—with colorful, engaging writing that readers at practically any level can easily comprehend and learn from. If you’re troubled by the question of why a good and omnipotent God would create a universe that includes evil—or if you are a Christian struggling to explain the problem of evil to someone else—you will greatly benefit from this book.”
—John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; Chancellor Emeritus, The Master’s University and Seminary
“Christians take the problem of evil more seriously than anyone else. This book avoids simplistic philosophical solutions. Instead, the author appreciates that the historical fact of Christ’s incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and return provides the only hope when we just don’t know all the answers.”
—Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“Christensen gets beyond the more traditional approaches to the problem [of evil] by reminding us that God’s wisdom pervades everything he ordains so that the very existence of evil serves his purpose of maximizing goodness and glorifying himself. Of course, Romans 8:28 and other verses say that this is true. But Christensen shows us how it is true. . . . I commend this book to readers who seek a serious and thoughtful treatment of this issue.”
—John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
“Why is there evil in the world? Scott Christensen shows that this difficult question is bound up with two larger questions: ‘Why did God make the world?’ and ‘Why did God the Son become a man and suffer evil?’ Scripture gives the ultimate answer: to manifest the glory of God. Christensen’s articulate, inspiring, and gospel-driven presentation of the ‘greater-glory’ theodicy explores a significant way that God’s Word addresses the problem of evil to strengthen our faith and evoke our worship.”
—Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Immanuel Kant by Shao Kai Tseng
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
Immanuel Kant’s stature in the history of Western philosophy is almost unparalleled, and his sophisticated, complex works have impacted us in profound ways we barely recognize today.
Because his system of philosophy led to the secularization of society, Kant has often been considered a modern archenemy of Christianity. Writing firmly in the Reformed tradition, philosophy professor Shao Kai Tseng offers a reinterpretation and critical appreciation of his thought that shows his significance in art, science, and modern conceptions of human dignity, gives an overview of his philosophy, and closes with a critique from an orthodox Reformed perspective.
“Immanuel Kant is unquestionably one of the most significant and influential figures in the history of philosophy. Summarizing and assessing his thought in a concise, accessible, and responsible fashion is no easy task, yet Alex Tseng has accomplished it. While offering his own distinctively Reformed critique of Kant’s philosophical system, Tseng exemplifies scholarly integrity by challenging and correcting what he takes to be some interpretive missteps by earlier Reformed writers. The result is a fresh and thought-provoking introduction to a titan of Western philosophy.”
—James N. Anderson, Carl W. McMurray Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
“Immanuel Kant’s influence reaches far beyond that of nineteenth-century theologians, and contemporary scholars are still considering the ways in which religion and philosophy interact in his approach. In this excellent introduction to Kant’s work, Alex Tseng illuminates Kant’s ideas and contributions with pertinent and broad-ranging philosophical and religious back-ground, particularly on how Kant influenced theology as science. Even readers familiar with Kant will benefit from this fine neo-Calvinist response to one of the greatest and most influential figures in Western philosophy.”
—Annette G. Aubert, Lecturer and Visiting Scholar of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary
“This short book packs a punch. In it, Tseng moves from historical exegesis to constructive theologizing, all the while in an accessible style, and with a clear commitment to his own branch of the Reformed tradition. For Reformed Christians looking both for a primer on Kant and for a guide to how their tradition might equip them to interact with him, this book makes a very useful contribution.”
—James Eglinton, Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Reformed Theology, University of Edinburgh
Gilles Deleuze by Christopher Watkin
Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995)
Gilles Deleuze gives us a sophisticated account of what happens to truth and ethics in a system that does not rely on God—and his thought makes visible how our society understands everything from knowledge and truth to sexuality and identity.
Christopher Watkin, a scholar of French literature and philosophy, presents Deleuze’s work in a way that is accessible to non-philosophers and brings his writing into sustained conversation with prominent biblical themes and with motifs from Reformed theology. As you engage with Deleuze’s thought, you will discover a model of cultural engagement that you can use to understand any contemporary or historical thinker or school.
“Watkin affords the Christian believer another fine entrée to participate in the philosophical life to which all humans are born: to understand both how Gilles Deleuze profoundly voiced our time, and also how very cool (adding to Peter Leithart’s designation of ‘weird’!) is the philosophizing that Christianity engenders. Christianity’s welcoming approach of the gospel breaks in and breaks open human thought and culture, as David Kettle describes it, winsomely rendering it more itself than it could otherwise be. And that’s true of Deleuze just as it was of Plato.”
—Esther Lightcap Meek, Professor of Philosophy, Geneva College; Author, Loving to Know: Introducing Covenant Epistemology
“A dear friend of mine in France seriously questioned his faith by reading Gilles Deleuze. He did return to the gospel, but might have done so sooner had he been able to read Watkin’s excellent volume. The author carefully and masterfully introduces us to Deleuze. One of the philosopher’s great appeals is his creative alternatives to typical atheism. Some of it sounds Christian: his celebration of difference; his critique of the chain of being; his appeal to dynamic, rather than static, ways of living. But it all ends up a brilliant caricature, and Watkin helps us see where Deleuze misses the boat. To boot, his presentation of the Christian worldview is marvelous. Why should any of this matter? If you think you have not been influenced by French poststructuralism, you need to think again. It’s in the cultural air we breathe. Watkin helps us clear away the smog. As someone I sat next to during a rather technical speech told me: ‘I don’t understand a lot of this, but I’m glad the speaker is on our side!’ Watkin does understand it, and he is on our side.”
—William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary
“Cutting through the often-impenetrable language of French poststructuralism, Chris Watkin has done us all a service. Few philosophers of the past fifty years have carried forward Nietzsche’s ‘inverted Platonism’ (i.e., nihilism) more compellingly than Deleuze. Besides letting Deleuze’s own views come through clearly, Watkin supplies an astute critique and hopeful alternative in Christian eschatology.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Prov. 27:17 NIV)
“I go out of my way to avoid conflict with my partner.”
It’s one of over two hundred statements on an assessment that I administer to couples to evaluate their matrimonial health. Potential responses range on a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” I’ve found that the most common response is “strongly agree.” In other words, couples love avoiding conflict.
This is bad for at least three reasons.
First, conflict avoidance is typically rooted in idolatry. If you’re consciously fleeing marriage conflict, it’s usually because you’re worshipping a false god. Take Mark as an example. When he would critique his wife Emily during their first few years of marriage, she would instinctively criticize him back—often to a harsher degree. She would raise her voice, call him names, and manipulate the conversation to make everything his fault. Things would rapidly spiral out of control, leaving him agitated, anxious, and upset. To avoid feeling this way, he stopped correcting her. When she sinned against him, he would shut his mouth and put a smile on his face. He chose serenity over her sanctification and harmony over her holiness. He avoided conflict with Emily because he was worshipping the idol of peace.
Second, conflict avoidance is bad because God uses conflict to sharpen us—to make us more like Christ. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” How does a metalworker use iron to sharpen iron? First, he heats a dull, jagged piece until it becomes ductile. He then takes a cold, sharp piece and uses it to cut a straight line along the molten piece’s edge to eliminate its surface irregularities. When the molten piece cools, it has a brand-new sharp edge. In a similar way, our skilled metalworker (God) uses intense heat (marriage conflict) to “melt” us. He then takes a cold, knifelike piece of iron (our spouses) and, through a process of calculated cutting (confrontation and admonishment), sharpens (sanctifies) us. When we avoid conflict, we miss out on being sharpened by our spouses and by God.
Finally, conflict avoidance is bad because it contradicts the conflict- saturated life and ministry of Christ. Jesus confronted sin (John 2:13–16). He challenged hypocrisy and wrong belief among influential religious leaders (Matt. 23). He even said to his good friend Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23). Ultimately, he faced the conflict of the crucifixion and willfully endured it to obey his Father and save his followers. He entered conflict out of love for God and love for others.
Will you do the same in your marriage?
—Steve Hoppe, Marriage Conflict: Talking as Teammates
Last week, two of my friends had major health crises, and all I could do was listen from afar. The details are not mine to share, but their stories left me with an unsettled feeling in my chest. The level of suffering my friends were enduring did not make sense. These were not stories you could wrap up in an important lesson. As I thought about how to respond to my friends’ pain, the goodness of God felt distant. It felt like God was being cruel, and I did not understand the point.
I feel this way about my own life at times. I have several chronic illnesses, and many days, my symptoms feel meaningless. It’s depressing to struggle in the same ways for so many years and even more depressing when new issues pop up out of nowhere to join a situation that already feels unmanageable. Life with chronic illness is filled with a continuous stream of losses. Small deaths pile on top of small deaths to our work lives, leisure lives, and social lives. As we wrestle with ongoing suffering, extra doses of encouragement and positivity are not enough. What we really need is space to cultivate a regular practice of lament.
1. We need lament because it is a godly response to loss. Think of lament as an honest outpouring of grief. It is in active process in which we recognize difficult thoughts and emotions inside ourselves and allow them to be expressed. The Psalms model this, portraying the words of godly men who called out to God in their pain. Lament is a proper response to loss because our emotions are designed to accurately respond to our circumstances. Many people feel bad or guilty when they don’t respond to suffering with joy and feelings of hope. In reality, it is healthy, appropriate, and godly to feel bad when bad things happen.
2. We need lament because it is honest. When your suffering is long term, it can be difficult to be honest about how you are actually doing. In the company of others, we want to seem as though we have it all together. In the solitude of our own homes, we hide how much we are hurting, because we don’t want to face the full force of our emotional pain.
Fake displays of positivity bear false witness to the real state of our lives, while honest lament helps us to move through our pain and invite others into our sorrow. Without lament it is not possible to live a Romans 12:15 life in which we weep with those who weep. Pretending we are fi ne threatens our own well-being while also removing permission for other people to be honest about their pain in our presence. Our communities are healthiest when we honestly share our hurt with those we trust.
3. We need lament because it is an active response to unﬁxable suffering. When life goes wrong, our natural urge is to want to fi x the problem. We often don’t know what to do with problems that have no earthly solution. When there is no cure and pain relief won’t be forthcoming and suffering will remain until you die, what in the world are we supposed to do? In these paralyzing moments, the urge to act can be met by practices of lament.
Call out to God in your grief. Identify the cry of your heart. Stop holding back the tears. Spend time on your knees. Listen to music that helps you know what you feel. Write out the words you have been holding back. Rely on the Holy Spirit who intercedes for you when you don’t know how to pray.
4. We need lament because it shows us the path forward when we feel hopeless. Does life with chronic illness feel unfair? Are you angry at God or questioning his character? Does it all feel so very pointless? The answer to these feelings is not to replace them with positive thoughts. We won’t find hope through circumventing pain. The answer is to lean into the questions that seem like too much and feel the feelings we would rather not feel.
Hope is on the other side of lament. Somehow we must face and traverse the tears of today to find the true joy of tomorrow morning (see Ps. 30:5). Lament leads us toward hope when it becomes a vessel that places us in front of God. Our tears compel us to pray. Our fears invite us to trust. Weakness and frailty beckon us to receive God’s strength and look for the living hope we need.
If today promises to be difficult and nothing can fix the pain, turn your urge to act into a prayer of lament. God is on your side.
—Esther Smith, author, Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith
Preface to 2 Timothy
Each book in the Reformed Expository Commentary series is designed to assist pastors as they preach and teach Scripture, but 2 Timothy is for pastors twice over, for Paul writes as apostle and pastor to Timothy, his primary successor, as he faces the end of his ministry—indeed, the end of life itself. The epistle therefore contains Paul’s reflections on his ministry as it ends and his instruction to Timothy as his ministry begins in earnest. His convictions pour out in all directions:
- “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner” (2 Tim. 1:8).
- “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1).
- “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2:3).
- “Remember Jesus Christ . . . . If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2:8, 13).
- “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies” (2:23).
- “The Lord’s servant must . . . be . . . able to teach, . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2:24–25).
- “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (3:16–17).
- “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (4:2).
Second Timothy has a bracing urgency, a lack of pretense, born of the situation. Paul expects to die soon, and Timothy, an imperfect man, must take up the reins of leadership, whether he is ready or no. He has one last chance to see his spiritual son—“Do your best to come to me soon” (2 Tim. 4:9). He has one last chance to look his friend in the eye, one last chance to address a man upon whose shoulders a great part of the church will rest. And we get to listen.
Second Timothy is a short epistle and little studied. I hope to change that, slightly, by offering it to you, my readers, and by urging you to share it with each other and the church. The book’s brevity (eighty-three verses) and relative simplicity (compared, for example, to Romans) allow the commentator the luxury of addressing matters that might have to be skipped in other circumstances. The amazing vice list in chapter 3 comes to mind. More than that, however, I offer Paul’s testimony as his coda, and perhaps yours and mine: “The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6–7). May you and I say the same, one day, as God strengthens us by his grace.
—Daniel M. Doriani, coauthor, 2 Timothy & Titus
Preface to Titus
The influence of the apostle Paul on evangelical churches cannot be doubted. Ever since Martin Luther, the books of Romans and Galatians have formed the spine of the Protestant gospel. It is a curious inconsistency, then, that the same cannot be said for the influence of Paul’s Pastoral Letters on the evangelical doctrine of the church. It is not as simple to draw a complete ecclesiology from the letters to Timothy and Titus as it is to deduce justification from Paul’s more famous letters. Nonetheless, the Pastoral Epistles drive stakes in the ground that outline a vital foundation for apostolic church structure and practice. From this perspective, we can appreciate the great importance of Paul’s Spirit-inspired letters to Timothy and Titus. From his clear teaching on the qualifications and functions of elders and deacons to the crucial role of clear doctrinal standards, Paul’s instructions to his pastoral colleagues are of enormous value to church leaders today.
Beyond its contribution to a sound ecclesiology, Paul’s epistle to Titus deserves to be deeply loved by God’s people for its display of manifold colors of grace and love amid the struggles of ministry. It is also a tough and realistic instruction that faces head-on the dangers of false teaching, cultural accommodation, and human sin. Paul believed that Christian leaders must employ sound spiritual authority in protecting the flock, relying above all on the sheer power of biblical truth. Finally, the warmth and shared commitment enjoyed by Paul and his associates inspire the servants of Christ today to a comradeship in gospel ministry that is sorely lacking but will both strengthen and sweeten our vital labors in the cause of the gospel.
—Richard D. Phillips, coauthor, 2 Timothy & Titus