Karl Barth — Newest Release in the Great Thinkers Series

Today is the release of Karl Barth (Great Thinkers series) by Shao Kai Tseng.

Karl Barth by Shao Kai Tseng

256 pages | $15.99 $8.00 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Kindle: $8.99

Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968) has made a monumental impact all along the spectrum of theology and ethics. Among evangelicals, however, myths and caricatures have arisen that must be dismantled to achieve a critically and selectively fruitful engagement with his work.

A fresh look at Barth is necessary. Inviting readers to suspend their assumptions and calling evangelicals and Barthians to mutually edifying dialogue, Professor Shao Kai Tseng, a notable Barth scholar, seeks to establish a fair interpretation of Barth’s writings that honors his texts and heeds his intellectual-biographical and intellectual-historical context. He also provides a valuable overview of Barth’s theological impact in both the East and the West to the present day. In the words of Professor George Hunsinger, “This welcome volume takes ecumenical dialogue [on Barth] to a whole new level,” and Professor Michael Horton writes, “I know of no other work that . . . explains Barth’s theology with such skill.”

Endorsements

“Believing that Karl Barth has often been misunderstood by evangelicals, Shao Kai Tseng makes a solid case for taking another look at the Swiss theologian and shows us a way to read him charitably and profitably. If Herman Bavinck engaged and even learned from Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Feuerbach, the author argues, we can and need to learn from Barth. He’s right about that, and one need not agree with every detail of Tseng’s revisionary reading of Barth to profit a great deal from it. This is a model of how to read theologians with whom one disagrees.”

John Bolt, Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor of Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary

“Evangelical and Reformed engagement with the theology of Karl Barth continues to develop and mature, and may enter a new era with Shao Kai Tseng’s work. He advances the conversation by bringing Barth into dialogue with the voices of Herman Bavinck and Geerhardus Vos and also by probing more deeply than either knee-jerk rejection or slavish acceptance of what Barth offers. This study will prove invaluable not just to those who teach on Barth but to all interested in some of the most pressing concerns of the Christian worldview in the twenty-first century.”

David Gibson, Minister, Trinity Church, Aberdeen; author, Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth

“Karl Barth died more than fifty years ago, but he keeps on being a provocative theologian to new generations. In this book, a fine summary of Barth’s Reformed theology, neo-Calvinist theologian Shao Kai Tseng enthusiastically proposes and participates in a conversation with evangelicals about the core value of Barth’s theology and theirs, to the benefit of both.”

George Harinck, Professor of the History of Neo-Calvinism, Kampen Theological University

“On many points, as Professor Tseng shows, Barth has been misunderstood by friend and foe alike. I know of no other work that, in brief compass, explains Barth’s theology with such skill and engages it from a confessional Reformed perspective. Tethered to the primary sources, this work also displays the continuities and discontinuities with post-Barthian scholars—in Asia as well as the West. This is a gem.”

Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California

About the Author

Shao Kai (“Alex”) Tseng (MDiv, Regent College; ThM, Princeton Theological Seminary; MSt, DPhil, University of Oxford) is research professor in the philosophy department of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. He is the author of Karl Barth’s Infralapsarian Theology and Barth’s Ontology of Sin and Grace, as well as books on Hegel, Kant, and Barth in the Great Thinkers series, and a contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought.


All books in the Great Thinkers series are currently 50% off. Click HERE to view all books in the series.


Author Interview with Kevin Halloran

This week’s author interview is with Kevin Halloran. He is the author of When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve lived in Chicagoland most of my life. That’s where I grew up, met my wife Jazlynn, and where I live now with my wife and daughter. I’ve traveled to Latin America for ministry about a dozen times and have a heart to see the church in that region of the world strengthened and built up. I especially have a heart for Ecuador, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. I’m also excited for the probable release of my book in Spanish.

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

I wrote When Prayer Is a Struggle in large part for myself. About ten years ago, I realized that I complained too often about how prayer was hard. I also realized that I didn’t do much about it. One time as I complained, God stopped me in my tracks and reminded me what such an attitude said about Him and His gospel. I repented then and told the Lord I was going to do whatever I could do to grow, and that I wanted to help others overcome their obstacles as well. One of the most encouraging things I’ve learned in this process is that if we have a growing faith and love for the Lord, learning a few simple practical tools can help us overcome most of our struggles and pray more faithfully. That’s why I wrote this book. 

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

It’s hard to narrow down a favorite, but one quote that I love and use often (including in a footnote of my book) is this one by J.I. Packer:

“Christian fellowship . . . is not an end in itself. Fellowship between Christians is for the sake of fellowship with God.”

I love it because it reminds me of the link between knowing God and live together as the church, the body of Christ. Yes, sometimes life in the church has its challenges, but it has the best possible goal.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write as much as you can, get as much feedback from wise and gifted writers/editors as you can, and simply put in the work. It helps to know the goals you’re going after and to make a plan to achieve those goals. If you want to write a book, learn about the publishing process and break the project into pieces. Play the long game, and be faithful over the long-term.

Also, don’t let people tell you you’re too young to write. Robert Murray M’Cheyne died in 1843 at the age of 29, and his writings continue to influence many today. If you have a message burning inside of you that you’d like the world to know, do your best to get it out! You don’t want to die before you can bless people with it. You want to give your work as much time in the wild to bring as much blessing to the world as possible. But conversely, don’t rush the process without need.

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

I’m so thankful for both. But if I had to pick one, I’d choose Narnia for a couple of reasons. The first reason is nostalgia. I never got into LOTR as a kid but loved the idea of a magic wardrobe as soon as I heard about it. (I admit I didn’t read the books as a kid, rather my parents would check out VHS copies of the old BBC version of Narnia from the church library!) Another reason I’m more of a Narnia guy may seem petty to some, but it is the length of the books. I can get through a Narnia book much quicker than the longer LOTR books. I don’t have as much time to read as I would like and I value finishing fiction books!

  • Tea or coffee?

Coffee. Strong and black.

  • Do you have a favorite band to listen to? Or a favorite music genre?

I have a unique mix of musical interests and enjoy most genres. When my wife and I were dating, one of the ways we knew we were perfect for each other was realizing that we both liked Christian rap, Spanish worship music from the 80s/90s, and Juan Luis Guerra (a popular mainstream Latin artist who has some Christian songs). We both thought we were the only ones in the world with the same taste! I also enjoy Christian music from decades past like Keith Green and Petra.

  • How can readers discover more about you and your work?

NOW AVAILABLE — When Prayer Is a Struggle

Amazon: $13.99

Christianbook: $11.49

CVBBS: $9.50

P&R Publishing: $10.50

PCA Bookstore: $10.91

WTSBooks: $10.68

Kindle: $9.99

Also available as an audiobook!


Author Interview with Jenilyn Swett

This week’s author interview is with Jenilyn Swett. She is the author of the new book, Singleness: Living Faithfully (31-Day Devotionals for Life series).

  • When did you first want to write a book?

It may have actually been during childhood (I at least wanted to be published as a journalist!), but the first time I gave any real thought to writing a book was about ten years ago.

  • Have you always enjoyed writing?

I have. I loved writing when I was a kid, and was given many opportunities to explore and practice different forms of writing (correspondence, poetry, research, journalism, essays, etc.). In my first year or two of college, one of my favorite professors put a note in the margin of one of my papers: “You write well. What will you do with that?” That was the first time I began to realize that perhaps this thing I enjoyed could serve a greater purpose.

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

I’ve always wanted to be married, and grew up with the expectation that marriage was the natural trajectory of my life. But as the years went on and marriage didn’t happen, I started to ask more questions about singleness. How do I live as a single adult? How do I relate to others who are married? What do I do with my longings, desires, and disappointments? It was hard to find answers to these questions. My pastors, professors, and ministry leaders hadn’t experienced extended singleness. There were few solid resources on the topic of singleness. As I began answering some of my own questions “out loud” for others to read, I realized how much of a hunger there was for thoughtful, biblical writing on singleness. That’s when I began to think and pray about writing a book on singleness. I didn’t initially expect that book to be a devotional, but I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to write Singleness: Living Faithfully for the 31 Days series! This is a devotional I wish I’d had at 20, and 30, and am thrilled to have published at (almost) 40.

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

Before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time writing at two different coffee shops that had high-top bar seating along a window. I loved being able to enjoy the energy of a coffee shop while also being able to stare out the window when my eyes and brain needed a break. One of these coffee shops closed during the pandemic, and one lost its window seating when it relocated, so now that writing in coffee shops is possible again, I’m on the hunt for a new spot! The majority of this book was written at a desk in the corner of my bedroom.

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

For several years now, my e-mail signature has included this quotation from Madeleine L’Engle’s book Walking on Water: 

“… the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.” 

I’ve embraced these words as something as a mission statement for both my writing and the way I seek to live my life.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I still feel like an “aspiring writer” myself! My advice is to keep writing and to keep reading. Pay attention to what resonates with you as you read others’ work. Write well and artfully when you have the opportunity (even if it’s just in an e-mail or thank-you note), but also take time to just dump words on the page sometimes without overthinking.

  • Favorite food?

I love anything eaten in the company of good friends! I especially enjoy anything that involves either bread, cheese, gochugaru, brown butter, roasted veggies, or noodles.

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

The Chronicles of Narnia, because I’ve never been able to make it through The Lord of the Rings (I know, I’m a terrible Presbyterian! I share this because I’m guessing there are others out there who can relate).  

  • Tea or coffee?

Coffee! I take it black, which is something I never expected I’d do.

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

I’d love to meet Terry Gross, who hosts NPR’s Fresh Air. She has had conversations with so many fascinating people over the years, and I’d love to get to know her and experience what a conversation with her would be like! 

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

My extended family is from Wisconsin, so thanks to their influence I love watching and cheering for the Green Bay Packers.

  • How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Now Available — Singleness: Living Faithfully

Amazon: $9.99

Christianbook: $8.49

P&R Publishing: $7.50

Reformation Heritage Books: $6.50

WTSBooks: $7.63


New Series Release — Blessings of the Faith

Today is the official release of our new series, Blessings of the Faith. Written for the church, the Blessings of the Faith series introduces and celebrates Reformed doctrine and practice—each book features a brief and practical overview of its topic with discussion questions and an extensive Q&A section.

Covenantal Baptism by Jason Helopoulos

160 pages | Hardcover | $14.99 $11.50 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Kindle: $9.99 | iTunes: $9.99

Many are aware of the debate about infant baptism without knowing the biblical and theological case for it. In this pastoral introduction to the topic, Jason Helopoulos argues from Scripture for infant baptism in the context of the covenant God enters into with his people and the great blessings that flow from it. The practice of infant baptism benefits the children themselves, their parents, and the congregation as a whole. As do all books in the Blessings of the Faith series, this short volume concludes with answers to frequently asked and pertinent questions on the topic.

Informative and encouraging, this brief book will serve as a helpful primer and quick reference tool regarding Presbyterian baptism for pastors, elders, prospective new church members, parents, and family members of children.

Endorsements

“Jason Helopoulos has provided a concise yet robust resource for anyone who wants to know more about the truth and beauty of covenant baptism.”—Julius J. Kim, President, The Gospel Coalition 

“Biblically enlightening, doctrinally sound, experientially balanced, and practically helpful. The Q&A section is superlative—so  succinct, so wise, so ‘spot-on.’ . . . Highly recommended!” —Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary 

“An immensely helpful study of God’s Word on a very important topic. . . . If you want to understand Reformed teaching on baptism, look no further.” —Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California


Expository Preaching by David Strain

160 pages | Hardcover | $14.99 $11.50 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Kindle: $9.99 | iTunes: $9.99

Expositional preaching is highly regarded in Reformed churches—but do you sometimes wonder why? Isn’t it more efficient to study God’s Word in our own quiet times? Isn’t it more fun to discuss Scripture in a small group?

As a means of grace, preaching has a unique sin-killing, life-giving power that brings great blessing into our lives. Pastor David Strain establishes the basic biblical and theological foundations of preaching, highlights historical examples, and answers questions, fears, and objections about expositional preaching in a Reformed church.

Informative and encouraging, this short book serves as a helpful primer for pastors, study groups, and laypeople on expositional preaching and its place in the life of a Christian and the worship of the church.

Endorsements

“A thoughtful, engaging, stimulating primer. . . . Strain understands how vital it is for church members to hear God’s Word rightly and have it shape how they think and live.” —Ian Hamilton, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“A book written with ‘wisdom from above’ on hearing the Word preached. . . . Biblical, readable, and engaging.”—Harry L. Reeder III, Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham

“How refreshing to read a work that insists on the supremacy of preaching in the local church.”—Dale Ralph Davis, Minister in Residence, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina


Persistent Prayer by Guy M. Richard

160 pages | Hardcover | $14.99 $11.50 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Kindle: $9.99 | iTunes: $9.99

Praying should be as urgent and necessary to us as breathing—yet all too often we’re bored by it, distracted from it, or uncertain of its purpose. We don’t really know why we should pray.

We have many reasons to be excited about prayer, as Guy Richard shows us. It is the relationship glue that bonds our hearts more and more to the Lord. God commands us to pray, and he graciously answers our prayers. As we pour out our hearts to him, we and the world around us will be changed.

Informative, encouraging, and practical, this brief book will serve as a helpful primer for pastors, elders, study groups, and Christians who seek encouragement and instruction on prayer and its blessings. As do all books in the Blessings of the Faith series, this short volume concludes with answers to frequently asked and pertinent questions on the topic.

Endorsements

“Be prepared: after reading this book, you’ll want to pray big, God-honoring prayers.” —Christina Fox, Author, A Holy Fear: Trading Lesser Fears for the Fear of the Lord

“I love this book! . . . Thank you, Guy, for giving us such clear answers, anchored in the Scriptures, for why we should pray. What a gift.” —Crawford W. Loritts Jr., Author; Speaker; Radio Host

“Guy Richard is such a mentor. . . . Here’s a rich source of encouragement to spend time with our loving God!” —Sean Michael Lucas, Senior Pastor, Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee


Foreword by Ligon Duncan (Ethics As Worship)

Many of us live in a society in which sexual orientation and gender identity, climate change and care for the environment, capital punishment and criminal justice reform, racism and poverty, abortion, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide are hotly debated and polarizing issues. Who would have thought they were all about worship? Allow me to explain.

Christians believe that two aspects of worship are very important for the believing life: congregational worship and worship in all of life. In congregational worship (which is sometimes called corporate worship or public worship), God’s people gather on the Lord’s Day to meet with God and give him the glory due his name according to his Word, as his Word is read, preached, prayed, and sung, and as baptism and the Lord’s Supper (his “visible words,” Augustine called them) are administered. This aspect of worship (public worship) actually disciples Christians in how they are supposed to live the rest of their lives (worship in all of life).

Worship in all of life is what Paul is especially talking about in Romans 12:1–2: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” This passage begins an extended treatment of ethical issues in Romans 12–15. There, Paul is especially exhorting us about our whole manner of life, what we do in the totality of our thoughts, desires, speech, and actions. In other words, he is calling us to live our whole lives as worship to God. He wants believers to approach their lives by viewing themselves as living, breathing, walking, talking offerings to God (hence “living sacrifices”). To say it yet another way, Paul wants us to give our whole selves, the whole of our lives, to God as an act of worship. This means that how we live is worship. It shows our ultimate allegiance and our highest priority. It reveals our deepest convictions.

This is why Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, in her novel disguised as a journal, Stepping Heavenward, has Ernest say to Katy, “Every act of obedience is an act of worship.” What we believe, desire, say, and do are all expressions of worship. Hence, ethics is worship—the very thing that the writers of this book, Ethics as Worship, are considering. Personally, I believe that this aspect of the work, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission. They ask us to consider all our conduct, private and public, internal and external, individual and corporate, as worship.

And so whether we are considering justice and social engagement, race, ethnicity, and kingdom diversity, wealth and poverty, creation care and environmental stewardship, capital punishment, war, abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and end-of-life decision-making, sexuality, marriage, divorce, and remarriage, contraception, birth control, and reproductive technologies, and the like, it’s all about worship. Whom we worship, from the heart, according to his instruction, in all of life, will show itself in our ethics. In fact, Liederbach and Lenow define Christian ethics as “a Christ-centered response of thanksgiving, rightly ordered by Scripture to be a service unto God in obedient love that is formed and embodied in a discipleship that is oriented missionally, such that all creation might once again do what it was created to do: maximally render unto God all the praise, honor, and glory that he is due.”

The very first course I taught as a newly minted systematic theology professor at Reformed Theological Seminary was Pastoral and Social Ethics. I wish I had had this volume to help me put that course together. Numerous features in this book stand out to me. For one, the tables sprinkled throughout the book are especially useful, for students and teachers alike, and I can see this volume as providing great assistance to both.

Their discussion of worldview (an idea that has undergone a serious cross-examination in the last few years) in relation to ethics is very helpful. Their inclusion of topics sometimes overlooked in evangelical ethical discussion (racism, societal justice, culturally embedded sin patterns, etc.), and their clear, calm, careful treatment of them, would make many of our current arguments better. I love their embrace and deployment of the threefold aspect of the law, and of the so-called third use of the law, as well as their gracious and compelling articulation of complementarianism, biblical sexuality, and more.

Liederbach and Lenow also engage knowledgeably and widely with the historic Christian tradition’s teaching on ethics and with the Protestant confessional legacy, thus grounding their consideration of Scripture in the wisdom of the church’s reading of the Scriptures. At some points, I would go in a little different direction from the one that they chart out. For instance, concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage, my views are those of Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 24, helpfully elaborated by the PCA Study Committee Report on Divorce and Remarriage (1992)—but this does not take away at all from the help and clarity that I get from their treatment of even that topic.

This is a volume that I will use myself and commend to others for use in seminaries, universities, schools, and churches. Pastors, in particular, looking to disciple Christians in order that they would obey all that Jesus has commanded (Matt. 28:20) will be edified and equipped by this volume.

May your careful reading of this book help you to become a more grateful and faithful hearer and doer of God’s Word (Matt. 7:24), and so to worship God.

— Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary

Ethics as Worship: The Pursuit of Moral Discipleship by Mark D. Liederbach & Evan Lenow

Available from:

Amazon ($49.99)
Christianbook ($38.99)
P&R Publishing ($37.50)
PCA Bookstore ($38.99)
Reformation Heritage Books ($27.00)
WTS Books ($34.99)