Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: The A.W. Tozer Bible


A.W. Tozer's eloquent and often prophetic challenge to the body of Christ in the twentieth century continues to build and mature the faith of many worldwide. Hendrickson celebrates Tozer's devotion to the Word of God and his penetrating commentary on contemporary Christianity with the new A.W. Tozer Bible. While neither a study Bible nor a devotional Bible, the A.W. Tozer Bible presents an aesthetically pleasing presentation of the KJV text partnered with consistent and weighty commentary from Tozer's works.


LAYOUT

The  A.W. Tozer Bible  is laid out more like a devotional Bible than a study Bible. The excerpts from Tozer's works stand more as full passages of commentary than as simple explanatory notes and are more spiritual than academic in content. This leads to a well thought out but flexible layout that accommodates the placement of large blocks of text. "Challenges" sections are shorter and are nestled in the corners of the page, while "On Scripture" and "Reflections" are at the bottom of the page in a single column. This retains quite a bit of readability, mostly because the "Challenges" are infrequent, but also because the intrusions have a nice order and are separated by shading and color as well as by position and font choice.

The KJV text is presented in two columns in a traditional verse per line format. This is partnered with an outside column of cross-references which are fairly small but very readable because of the font choice and the placement on the outside margin. The text stands in a nice nine point font, which is generous and readable but not quite large enough to be considered large print.

The text and layout is divided by color as well as by position, which gives it a nice aesthetic appeal and helps divide the portions of the text. This is similar to the Max Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, but is accomplished far better with different tones of red, orange, brown and gray.


Jesus words are presented in a very pleasing crimson; however, this inclusion of color in the rest of the layout makes it so that this feature doesn't pop as much as in other editions.


This layout succeeds in a complex arrangement of different text, color, column, and font styles. The shaded boxes accent the double column layout without detracting significantly from readability and the choice to make an outside column for the cross-references makes them highly accessible but also nearly invisible during casual reading. The design and purpose of this Bible does not lend itself to a consistent layout, but Hendrickson has created a well-laid out consistency that maintains readability and a heavy aesthetic style.




NOTES


The  A.W. Tozer Bible  allows Tozer's classic works to illuminate the Bible text and invigorate spiritual devotion and Bible meditation. The main feature used to accomplish this purpose is the "On Scripture" passages, which select passages from Tozer's writings and sermons that focus on the revelation within a certain scripture. The Bible includes over 365 of these selections, which stand out as the feature most akin to traditional study notes or devotional Bible material. In addition to the "On Scripture" passages, the Bible also features "Reflections" and "Challenges" which may relate thematically to scripture but stands more alone without direct relation to Scripture. The Bible includes over 500 passages within the text, which averages out to about one on every other page of the Bible. While this is not anywhere near a full study Bible, the selections are longer than study notes and occur often enough that one or more would be paired with daily reading selections.


Tozer maintains a strong literary style and a powerful, insistent tone. His writing is saturated with a heavy emphasis on holiness, an expansive view of God, a passion for intimacy with Christ, and a biting indictment of worldliness within the church. His writing is expressive of a deep love for God and a jealous fervor over the backslidden church. His words often jar the soul into life even as they inspire greater love and devotion to God.



FEATURES

This Bible features succinct book introductions, a brief biography of A.W. Tozer, well formatted cross-references, a 145 page concordance and eight multi-color maps.


Most of these features are standard in a reference edition, though the A.W. Tozer Bible features a larger concordance and fewer cross-references than most.


CONCLUSION

A.W. Tozer was extremely prolific and his journals and sermons are still being compiled into new volumes of work. In some ways I was disappointed that this edition didn't take greater advantage of his copious amount of writing, as a complete study Bible or commentary would almost be possible to extract from his life's work. However, this edition does present a large body of his material in close proximity of the biblical text. The 500 plus selections from his works are the equivalent of a full survey of his writing and will provide more than enough devotional and inspirational content for the average reader. In addition the formatting and layout of this Bible is well accomplished and aesthetically pleasing. Because of the intermittent nature of the selections, I would not recommend this as a reference work, but as a fully functional Bible for the A.W. Tozer aficionado or for those who wish to include Tozer's rousing words in their daily study of the Bible.

My thanks to Hendrickson for providing this complimentary review copy. I was not required to provide a positive review, but an honest review.





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By Hendrickson Publishers

567229: The A. W. Tozer Bible: KJV Version, hardcover The A. W. Tozer Bible: KJV Version, hardcover
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568943: The A. W. Tozer Bible: KJV Version, Flexisoft leather brown/teal thumb-indexed The A. W. Tozer Bible: KJV Version, Flexisoft leather brown/teal thumb-indexed
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568936: The A. W. Tozer Bible: KJV Version, Flexisoft leather brown/teal The A. W. Tozer Bible: KJV Version, Flexisoft leather brown/teal
By Hendrickson Publishers


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bible, the Koran and Confrontation with the Truth

This brief but well articulated video has some great information about the Bible and the Qur'an. I attended the Bridges Seminar taught by Fouad Masri of the Crescent Project and found it to be some of the most applicable and relevant teaching for the local church on how to reach Muslims.



My interaction with Muslims forces me to view the Bible in new ways and find new ways to articulate its authority. It has also reminded me again and again of the transforming power of God's Word. According to the Crescent Project the top three reasons Muslims come to know Christ are:

1. They met an authentic Christian
2. They read the Bible
3. They had a dream or vision

Usually number one and two go together. While many evangelists (and Scripture itself) teach that the truth of Scripture is veiled to the eyes of the unbeliever (Romans 1:18, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18), the Holy Spirit works with the Word to bring revelation.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
Psalm 19:7

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
Proverbs 13:13

Scripture confronts both unbelievers and believers with the truth. We experience life or death according to our reception of the truth by faith. This confrontation creates a conflict within, and out of that conflict comes transformation either to new life or to greater rebellion and condemnation. May we read the Word with faith and may we confront the world with the truth.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Called to Controversy by Ruth Rosen

Called to Controversy is a stirring, encouraging and often candid account of the life of Moishe Rosen and the founding of Jews for Jesus. The book moves from Moishe's upbringing through his journey to faith and onward to his journey of faithful and zealous service. The biography, though written by his daughter and vetted by Moishe himself before his death, presents an incredibly human being, albeit a man of both extreme strengths and extreme weaknesses. In addition to being a biography of a Jewish believer in Jesus, a missionary and a visionary, it is the biography of a movement and an organization. The life of Moishe Rosen and the birth and growth of Jews for Jesus are often inextricable. Like Rosen himself, his organization is both lauded and hated, complimented and controversial. The biography does not shy away from the reality of weaknesses, failures and issues within Moishe Rosen's life and within the organization of Jews for Jesus though it is almost certain that it does not detail them enough to satisfy the organization's critics. Instead, the biography focuses on who Moishe was, attempting to communicate and enable a discovery of the character and calling of the man himself by traveling through his history in narrative, interviews, anecdotes and frank analysis.

Ruth Rosen displays talented, balanced and empathetic writing, allowing Moishe to come off the page and speak in his own words. She allows Moishe to inspire the reader, but not at the expense of keeping his humanity front and center. Moishe Rosen was a complex man with a simple mission. Called to Controversy achieves its highest success in consistently and successfully portraying the frail humanity of Moishe Rosen with a sympathetic and respectful context and tone. Rosen was a man who inspired an entire generation of evangelists and revolutionized missions and evangelism to the Jewish people. His real zeal and passion speak for themselves. His successes are preserved in the pages of this book; however, his mistakes and shortcomings are preserved here too. We don't always seem them specified or distinctly portrayed, but they are unmistakably there. Moishe Rosen was a man who was mightily used of God in spite of his humanity and weaknesses and this biography challenges and inspires in the face of our real humanity.

In addition to the story of the man, the book uncovers a journey into discovering evangelism, missions, vision and the establishment of a work for God. It works to inform the reader of the Jewish heart and mind, while also passing on the lessons Moishe learned and passed on to others regarding how to reach the lost and be faithful in leading an organization. These lessons are well articulated, but subtly spun into the retelling of the man's life. The lessons are impacted and qualified by the controversies that surrounded Moishe's life and ministry.

In dealing with the controversies, pain and anger surrounding Jews for Jesus and Moishe Rosen, the author maintains an quiet honesty. There is a consistent subtle tension between the lines of the text: an almost apologetic tone, which seems to acknowledge, albeit not quite directly, that there were times when Moishe Rosen's leadership was toxic. There are hints and sometimes outright admissions that Rosen hurt and perhaps damaged a number of those who ministered with him. The presentation of the man presents a conflict as the reader is inspired, awed and blessed by this very human example of strong faith and indefatigable zeal, but also pained and disheartened by the indication of difficult conflicts and mistakes in ministry. It is faith in Christ that answers and resolves this humanity and Called to Controversy is very much a challenge to believe, recognize and admire what Christ can and will do in even the most flawed vessels.

I would recommend this book to those in missions, leadership or in the process of founding a work for God. It is an inspiration, a warning and a call to compassion. It is an exhortation to believe and serve a great and merciful God in the name of Jesus Christ.


My thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review, but an honest review.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Christ is Willing to Cleanse (Newsletter)


And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. Mark 1:40-42

Leprosy spread uncleanness. It was contagious, and it was powerful to defile your body and damage your soul. The leper was a man marked as inescapably and chronically unholy before God. He was a cursed man, a man without friends and without a place of hiding. His uncleanness was evident; he was compelled to announce it before all, to shout “Unclean!” to the passing stranger. He declared the power of the disease within his body. If someone touched the leper, they became unclean. The uncleanness overcame them and their standing before a holy God. The leper knew that Jesus could heal him. He had faith in his power, but was Jesus willing? When Jesus touched the leper, He told the world that God’s power and compassion walked the earth, and the leper became clean. Cleanness overcame uncleanness, and the Spirit of Holiness overpowered the spirit of disease. It turned the legalistic understanding of holiness upside down (Haggai 2:11-14). This overwhelming display of cleansing power and life reveals the gospel of redemption.

Jesus healed when there was no healing. He opened the door of grace when the access to the throne of God was barred. He touched the untouchable. He had compassion on the poor, care for the young, and friendship for sinners. He had mercy on the brokenhearted, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He imparted life. When He touched the leper, His God-life poured out and overcame the disease in the man’s body. It was a miracle. Jesus was willing to perform it. He was not just willing to heal the man, which He could have done with a word; He was willing to touch him. He was willing to place His hand on the man’s diseased flesh. This great Jesus, the Creator of the universe wrapped in human flesh was willing to connect with the unclean and diseased. When He went to the cross, He took the sin of our diseased souls upon himself. He was willing to touch us, to take our sin, and from the darkness of the grave He arose in the triumph of resurrection life. Our sin did not overcome His life. His purity overcame our uncleanness. This is not just the work of another prophet. This is the life and love of Almighty God.

As I sat in a Muslim friend’s house and shared the story of Christ’s willingness to touch the leper and the unwanted, to have mercy and compassion on the sinner and the sick, I felt the joy of the Lord touch my heart. This is Christ’s pleasure. To declare Himself loving and strong to a people who have yet to hear His voice.  This wonderful Jesus is alive today, and He is still willing to cleanse the leper. We the body and the church are His hands and feet, His vessels, the ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom. Christ is calling His body to open themselves to His Spirit, arm themselves with the words of life and represent Him here on the earth. This life is a puff of steam and time does not forgive. I must live and die for a cause and a kingdom. I was bought with a price and for a purpose, and I must see the great glory of God here on the earth. I must see a testimony established that will last for eternity.

I have been sent to thousands who have never heard the gospel. They come from whole nations restricted from missionary access. They come from crime and poverty stricken cultures where the enemy has attempted to keep millions upon millions from ever hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. Now these nations have come to us. They are gripped by Islam and marginalized by a culture that vacillates between fear and fascination with the Muslim world. There is compassion in the heart of Jesus. There is power in the presence of the Holy Spirit. There is a promise to break every chain and reveal the goodness of God here in the land of the living. May I be a vessel fit for His service.

Read the rest of the February 2012 Newsletter.
Read past Newsletters.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interactive Cross Reference Visual

The geniuses over at OpenBible.info have outdone themselves once again with a massive interactive visualization of Bible Cross References. This is way too good not to share. I quote their post and project below, but by all means head over to OpenBible and check out their amazing work. There are plenty of cool projects to keep you absorbed.


Re-visualizing Cross References (Interactively)
Browse this grid interactively.
Visit an interactive visualization of Bible cross references.
This visualization is arranged by book, showing cross-reference sources on the y-axis and targets on the x-axis. Within each square, the first verse in the book or section is at the top, and the last verse is at the bottom. Here’s what a detail of a square looks like:
Cross references between Genesis and Daniel
Genesis 1 is at the top left; Genesis 50 is at the bottom left. Daniel 1 is at the top right; Daniel 12 is at the bottom right. The most-striking cross references between these two books, to me, involve Joseph’s interpretation of dreams in Genesis 40-41 and similar stories in Daniel.
Also see a previous cross reference visualization.

Monday, February 6, 2012

2nd January 2012 Blog Giveaway Winner

The first winner to the January 2012 Blog Giveaway of a brand new edition of the Expositor's Bible Commentary Volume 7 Jeremiah - Ezekiel did not respond with their email address within five days as specified, which means I'm picking a new winner: 


Sehwan Kim


Please send your U.S. mailing address to biblereadingproject@gmail.com


If you don't respond within five days the book will go on my shelf and probably pop back up for a later giveaway.




Please keep your eyes open for new giveaways, and if you enter remember to subscribe and check on the results so you can claim the book if you win.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Removing "Father" and "Son of God" from the Bible Part 3

Lost In Translation: Keep "Father" & "Son" in the Bible

Please read Part 1 and Part 2.

2 Corinthians 4:2

2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.


A good friend of mine and brother in missions has an adopted son. When he takes his son to hockey practice, he doesn't say to him, "Now, when you are at hockey practice don't call me Dad, because I don't want the other kids to think I'm married to your mom, because that isn't true. Why don't you call me Guardian instead." How would his son feel? Does that accurately reflect their relationship? Obviously this analogy isn't wholly accurate, but it does reveal some of the issues at stake here.

I'm not an enemy of contextualization. Contextualization is a positive thing and when led by the Holy Spirit is uniquely powerful to reach someone's heart. I'm not an enemy of being tactful or appealing to Muslims first on what they already recognize as true, such as the eternal, incorruptible nature of God's Word. But tampering with God's word is deceptive and dangerous to evangelistic efforts and to new believers.

I understand the issue. I sympathize with the translator's concerns. If there was a way to translate "Father" or "Son of God" in an accurate, inoffensive way, I would suggest we take it. But there has been no alternative suggested that does not rob the essence of the Father/Son relationship, the doctrine of adoption and undermine the deity of Christ as proclaimed in Scripture.

Wycliffe and SIL have responded by stating that the accusations against them are false, but they have failed to state anything specific. They have repeatedly made it clear in what they have published and what their translators have published that they believe that these choices do accurately translate the terms. Those making these appeals to Wycliff, SIL and Frontiers are not sensationalists out to make a name for themselves or to run these often admirable organizations through the mud. They are published Bible translators, linguists and missionaries to Muslims who see these translations as damaging to the work of Christ among Muslims. I have interacted with some of them in person and I have been greatly blessed by many of their training materials. Simply reading the articles written by SIL linguists should establish that these appeals have a basis and merit.


SIL International Statement of Best Practices for Bible Translation of Divine Familial Terms
Translation of the familial terms of God in Scripture has unfortunately generated considerable controversy. We want to clearly state our position on this important subject.
In SIL, we strongly affirm the eternal deity of Jesus Christ and require that it be preserved in all translations. Scripture translations must promote understanding of the term ‘the Son of God’ in all its richness, including Jesus’ relationship as Son with God the Father.
Without reservation, SIL’s Scripture translation practice is to use wording which accurately communicates to the intended audience the relationship of Father by which God chose to describe Himself in relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ, in the original languages of Scripture.
There are some cases in which it can be shown that a word-for-word translation of these familial terms would communicate an incorrect meaning (i.e. that God had physical, sexual relations with Mary, mother of Jesus; not only does this communicate obvious wrong meaning, but can also give readers the impression that the translation is corrupt). In these situations, the translations convey the accurate meaning by using terms that clearly have familial meaning but do not imply a procreative relationship. Where necessary, Scripture translations should include an explanation of the meaning of divine familial terms. This may be in an introduction, in one or more footnotes, or as a glossary entry, as seems appropriate to the situation.
Bible translation is complex work carried out by translation teams of highly skilled and dedicated people. In SIL, all personnel subscribe to a statement of faith which affirms the Trinity, Christ’s deity, and the inspiration of Scripture. SIL is committed to translating the Scriptures in the best way possible to preserve and not distort these truths. Respecting well-established Bible translation principles and practices, translation decisions are always made in consultation with other partners and the host communities, in order to achieve the best possible translation of God’s Word.
January 2012

I strongly disagree with their conclusions and feel that their statements regarding the debate are misleading. The charts below, taken from a presentation by Jay Smith and Bill Nikkides (available here), show some of the choices being made. Click on the images to view a larger size. For a full treatment of this subject and more thorough charts read: Chrislam: How Missionaries are Promoting an Islamicized Gospel.

Biblical Missiology has created a page to track media exposure of the issue and response from Wycliffe and SIL. I urge you to view the page, read the petition and sign it.