The Gospel According to Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly, discussing his youthdom in Catholic school:

I never met a  priest on earth who could tell you anything about heaven, but they knew every square inch of hell. Robert Burns said he can only presume it’s because they’ve had a guided tour of the place. When I started Catholic school sister Philomena was the headmistress, and she had pictures of hell on her office wall. I guess it was from Dante’s Inferno. Because God’s Dead, and it’s Your Fault. That’s what always got me. He died for me, but I hadn’t been born yet.

Unfortunately, that spark didn’t take, and the cat-lickers managed to turn him off from faith altogether.

The quote is from conversation in this interview (with some back-and-forth edited out). Warning, if you can’t tell from the name of the podcast, that interview is full of unsanctified words.

Posted in Gospel, Outhouse Quick Hits, Quotes, The gospel | Leave a comment

Vos Study #3

Vos study #3 was posted on Valentine’s Day; this review is a few weeks late, but I had time to listen to the podcast twice!

The assigned reading is the back half of chapter 1, covering the infallible nature of inspiration/revelation, the relation of BT to other disciplines (ST, etc), Vos objections to the term “Biblical Theology”, and practical uses of BT.

All that is great, but rather than reiterate what is in the book, I want to highlight two parts of this podcast that were especially helpful in bringing in outside material.

First, at about 12 minutes in, Tipton explains some of the competing perspectives that were in the background that Vos is opposing. First off, the liberal view of inspiration is exemplified by Schleiermacher, who views scripture as a record of human feeling (“gefühl”), so the words of scripture are a “dispensable doctrinal husk”, and BT becomes a study of religious history, in which studying Isaiah is no different than studying Augustine. On the other hand, the neo-orthodox (Barth) view is that scripture is an errant, human witness (inspired by God only in some vague, indirect way), which God chooses after the fact to quicken to his purposes.

Later in the podcast (about 44 min), when discussing the relation of BT to “Biblical Introduction” (author, audience, occasion, historical context, etc.), Tipton provides concrete examples of two approaches to this. First off, there is Peter Enns, who in the introduction to his book Inspiration and Incarnation, says “my aim is to allow the collective [extra-biblical] evidence to affect not just how we understand a biblical passage or story here and there within the parameters of early doctrinal formulations; rather I want to move beyond that and allow the evidence to affect how we think about what scripture as a whole is” (Enns’ own emphasis). That’s bad, m’kay. As a better example, they offer OHS MGK and his use of suzerain-vassal treaty structure to provide informative, not normative context to our understanding of God’s covenantal dealings with his people.

Great stuff, stay tuned for study #4!

Posted in Books, Covenant Theology, Plugs, Resources, Theonomy, Vos | Leave a comment



Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

Reading Scripture Together


I am very pleased to announce the release on Amazon of a study guide written my dear Aunt Barbara: Reading Scripture Together: A Comparative Bible and Qur’an Study Guide. Barb has been studying Islam (and the Bible), and working with InterVarsity and coaching college writing and teaching ESL and dialoguing with students for decades. Now she has finally brought all this experience together in this study guide, which is designed for you and your Muslim friend or neighbor to sit down together and delve into the Bible and Qur’an side-by-side, and develop a dialogue that can lead to the truth.

I think this bit from the Introduction sets a unique tone:

[Genuine dialogue] is not an agreement that all paths up the spiritual mountain to God are equal and equally valid. This pluralism, while commonly expressed on campuses and in the media and passing for dialogue today, is an insult to people of faith who believe that their religion is true, and that others which differ from it are therefore not true, or at least not completely true.

Neither is an “I’m right; you’re wrong,” closed-minded, tit-for-tat exchange a genuine dialogue. While dialogue partners may well believe they are correct, they maintain a deep respect for the other person.

There are 7 studies in the guide, each containing a bible passage and a qur’an passsage. (The whole can be tackled in either 7 or 14 sessions.) Each text is followed by discussion questions, and then by a Challenge, and Dialogues to Witness. In the studies, the biblical and qur’anic parts are well-balanced, as well as in the Witnesses. (Indeed, giving equal time to Christian and Muslim ‘witnesses’ will give everybody something to resonate with, and something to squirm at…) The biblical and qur’anic quotes that describe the seven studies are:

  1. “God heard the boy crying” and “We covenanted with Abraham and Isma’il”
  2. “This is my name forever” and “In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful”
  3. “Who do you think you are?” and “O Jesus, son of Mary, recount…”
  4. “His father saw him and was filled with compassion” and “Those who obey Allah and his messenger will be admitted to gardens”
  5. “And they crucified him” and “But they killed him not, nor crucified him”
  6. “You have known the holy scriptures” and “To you we sent the scripture in truth”
  7. “Seek first his kingdom” and “Fight for the cause of Allah…but do not be aggressive”

After the 7 studies, there are three sections of resources. The most important is the first, the Leader’s Notes, which give depth and background that will be helpful. It is in the Leader’s Notes that it is most apparent that the whole study guide is a resource for Christians witnessing to Muslims. After the Leader’s Notes, there are References, and then an Annotated bibliography for what to study after a dialogue has been established through these studies.

I hope you will consider buying a copy; it’s a novel way to learn about Islam, in a context that keeps the Bible also in view. Or buy two copies, one for you and one for a Muslim friend or neighbor who might be willing to go through it with you. Or hey, see if your church wants to buy 10 or 20 and have a 7 – or 14-week group study!

A bit of information about the cover and visual design, which was my contribution added to Barbara’s many years of work on this project. On the left, tinted blue, is an excerpt from John 1, plainly reading “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God.” And lower down, “The Word became flesh.” On the right, tinted in green (a traditionally Qur’anic color), Muslims should recognize the text of Surah 1 by the sweeping, decorative script of the first word; the visible part of the first line begins “In the name of Allah…”, which is kind of the “In the beginning…” of the Qur’an. Note that, since Arabic reads leftwards, both texts begin on their respective edges of the page, and “meet in the middle” — at least visually come together. Also, the line separating the two fades from black to nothing. These visual cues are not meant to indicate any oneness between the Bible and Qur’an, but rather the opening of dialogue as these studies open both side-by-side and let them each speak.

Inside, the Bible-left/Qur’an-right theme is maintained. Each study has, not quite a “title” in the traditional sense, but a snippet from the bible and qur’an studies inside. Sometimes the bible passage is presented first, sometimes the qur’an, but always the biblical passage is flush-left, and the qur’an flush-right. And the running page headers are, instead of the traditional book title on the left and chapter title on the left, the current bible and qur’an snippets on the left and right, respectively.

The entire book was laid out in LaTeX using the KOMA-script scrbook package (just like my previous publishing project). Soon, there will also be an eBook version released, in the Kindle store, and perhaps also an .epub version on iTunes.

Posted in Books, Compare and Confess, Islam, Plugs, Review | 2 Comments


This week, question 5:

What else did God create?

God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule.

The verse is fitting, Gen 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Commentary by Bullinger is mostly anti Deism. The video by R. Kent Hughes (sorry, no lookalike joke, he didn’t look like anybody to me) brings a nice Christological focus. Prayer by Richard Baxter.

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | Leave a comment


This week, question 4:

How and why did God create us?

God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

This week’s question seems to be drawn from SC1 and SC10.

The accompanying verse is of course Gen 1:27. Commentary by John Charles Ryle (never heard of him); video by Larry David; prayer by Jonathan Edwards.

On first blush, this question seems redundant with NCC1 (God owns/created you, so live for his glory rather than your own), which is kind of a waste of space when restricting to only 52 questions and having to leave out some important material. It would have been better if the “How” part of the question were to include more than just “male and female”, but also “in knowledge, holiness, and righteousness,” i.e. unfallen, rather than spending 16 words on the redundant second sentence of the answer. See also upcoming Q14, where the pre-fall state is given rather short shrift.

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | 1 Comment


This week, question 3:

How many persons are there in God?

There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

We continue stealing (and again, that’s a good thing!) from Westminster. This is basically the same as SC6 (and LC9). Hard to go wrong there.

The accompanying verse is the benediction in 2 Cor 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Probably good not to lean on the Johannine Comma. I’ll throw the Great Commission in there as well.

Commentary by Richard Baxter, prayer by Heinrich Bullinger, and the guy on the video doesn’t look familiar to me, but he’s Young, and he looks kinda restless. The video is really a pretty good overview of the Trinity, but I’ll be supplementing also with this video (which my boys already know and love).

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | 2 Comments