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Archive for May, 2013

On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (Video)

Why do you write?

How do you start writing professionally?

How do you bring the integrity of Christ to everything you do?

For acclaimed novelist Bret Lott, writing as a Christian necessitates bravery—bravery to look the world square in the eye with the unflinching eye of Christ, refusing to fit into the popular mold or forego quality for the sake of acceptance.

We invite you to watch this short and compelling video as Bret answers common questions about writing, shares about his life as writer, and talks briefly about his forthcoming book, Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (June, 2013).

Learn more about the book.

 

 

May 31, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Life / Doctrine,News,The Christian Life,Video,Work / Vocation | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:58 am | 1 Comment »

11 Criteria for Judging the Arts

Echoes of Eden Slide

Adapted from Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature and the Arts by Jerram Barrs

Often in magazine articles, on the radio and television, and in the pulpit we find preachers and commentators condemning all sorts of literature, music, visual art, theater, and films. “No Christian should watch this movie . . . listen to this music . . . read this book.” Certainly we should acknowledge that it is appropriate for us to test everything, to hold fast to that which is good, and to abstain from every form of evil, for Scripture commands us to do this. (In the context in 1 Thess 5:20–22, these words of Paul are written about the discernment of prophecy, bu we may quite appropriately apply them to the way we think about the arts as well.)

So, then, discernment is necessary. The question is, how are we to set about the task of testing everything and holding fast to that which is good?

The following are the beginnings of a suggested list of appropriate criteria.

  1. The Presence of a Gift

    Is giftedness from God evident in the work of a particular composer or performer of music, poet or novelist, painter, sculptor, or filmmaker? We should ask this question about the presence of giftedness for all artists, whether Christian or not.

  2. Development of the God-Granted Gift

    We should look for the dedicated development of the artists gift through humble learning from others, through practice, and through faithful application—in other words, through hard work as the artist lives as a good steward of the gift God has given.

  3. Service of Others in Addition to Self-Expression

    Is the artist using his or her gifts for others as well as for his or her own fulfillment? If either the creation of art or its performance is purely self-centered, even a great artist will not reach full potential, for God has made us to be other-centered. This will be true both for believing and for non-believing artists.

  4. Respect for the Traditions of One’s Discipline

    Is there a humble submission to the rules of one’s discipline, respect for its traditions, and a readiness to find freedom of expression within these forms and within the forms of God’s created order? As in every other area of human activity, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and are supported by those who stand alongside us.

  5. The Presence of Truth

    Is this work of art true? In other words, is this work of art in accord with reality? Even when a person refuses to bow before the Lord, he or she must live in the Lord’s world, and so, such a person’s art will have to be in touch with reality at some level, no matter what he or she may claim to believe. In this way, all genuinely great art will appeal universally because of this element of truthfulness to the world as God made it and to the world of our human existence.

  6. Is There Moral Goodness?

    We need to bring any work of art before the bar of moral criteria. I am not suggesting that we can readily judge and dismiss works because they have nudity, violence, explicit sex, blasphemy, or cursing. Our judgments must learn to be wiser than those simple tests. Basically, we must be prepared to ask questions about the moral intention of the artist. Is the purpose of a work to deprave or corrupt? If a work contains immoral behavior or evil, what is the context? It should be evident to us that the Bible contains many accounts of wicked behavior, sometimes very graphically portrayed. Works of art must not necessarily be condemned because they contain such sin and violence; rather, context and intention always have to be considered.

  7. Continuity of Form and Content

    We must ask questions about appropriate continuity between the form and the content of a given work of art. Is the form the artist has chosen one that works with or against the message of the piece the artist is creating?

  8. Technical Excellence

    In art as in any other area of human endeavor, we need to look for technical excellence. For the Christian especially, good work faithfully done is honoring to God. We look for work that is well done, and we find pleasure whenever we come across what is genuinely excellent.

  9. Integrity of the Artist

    How well does the work of art reflect the integrity of the artist? Is the work true to who the artist is? Or is it merely fashionable or commercial, or even false to the artist’s own convictions and understanding? Is there integrity in the heart as one does his or her work?

  10. Integrity of the Work

    Is there integrity in the work itself? For example, we all know that there is a difference between genuine sentiment and sentimentality. This is true in painting, in writing, in music, and in all other artistic disciplines. Does the artist seek to manipulate our emotional response by cheap tricks, or does the artist seek to generate genuine emotional response by the power of the work?

  11. Simply Entertainment!

    Lastly, we should be aware that simple entertainment is fine in almost all the art forms, for God has indeed created us to enjoy his gifts and to enjoy one another’s gifts. Human art, just like God’s art, need not always have a “higher” purpose than enjoyment—ours and God’s. Very often we will watch a movie, listen to music, read a book, or hang a painting simply because we like to do so. What matters here is the purpose or kind of art in question. Does this piece of art succeed, for me, at what it sets out to do?

For a more in-depth look at these criteria and other reflections on Christianity and the arts, learn more, preview an excerpt, or buy now.

 

 

May 30, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Culture,Life / Doctrine,The Arts,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:36 am | (4) Comments »

Video: Knowing the Bible Book Introductions

We asked the authors of each of our Knowing the Bible studies to provide a brief video introduction to their study. These introductions are now posted on the Knowing the Bible series website.

Mitchell Kim’s introduction to his study on Genesis:

Drew Hunter’s introduction to his study on Isaiah:

Dane Ortlund’s introduction to his study on Mark:

Justin Buzzard’s introduction to his study on John:

Jared Wilson’s introduction to his study on Romans:

 

 

May 17, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:29 am | 0 Comments »

Crossway Flood Update: Help Still Needed

Dear Friends of Crossway,

You may have recently heard from us about the flood at Crossway and its impact on our ministry. Last week, we reached out to ask for help at this challenging time, and we wanted to send this update on our progress.

Over 1200 people have responded to offer prayer and gifts of support. These gifts have enabled us to reach 53% of our goal, which was to raise $360,000 by May 31st so that we could pursue necessary repairs and maintain progress with key ministry initiatives. We’re humbled and encouraged by the Lord’s provision and the response so far, but still have a significant way to go.

Below is a message from our president, Lane Dennis, on the recovery needs:

 

As you may have heard, a flood recently swept through Crossway’s headquarters. About two feet of water poured into our 32 first-floor offices due to unrelenting rains. The damage was extensive and repairs and rebuilding will take five or six months. You can see the damage here in this video.

More important, however, is the impact this could have on major ministry projects that we have planned.

As a not-for-profit ministry, Crossway is not only committed to publishing the ESV Bible and gospel-centered content, but also to providing God’s Word to hundreds of thousands of people overseas, either free or at a substantially reduced cost. Because of the recent flood, however, some of these international ministry efforts are now at risk.

Your willingness to stand with us today will help Crossway recover and carry forward our not-for-profit ministry and our strategic efforts to reach the world with the gospel and the truth of God’s Word.Give Now

That’s why I’m writing to you — first, to ask for your prayers at this critical moment; and, second, to ask (if the Lord should lead you) for a gift of support. Your gift will help us cover three things: (1) the portion of the damage not covered by insurance, and (2) the installation of new safeguards to flood-proof our building. But most importantly (3) your gift will help ensure that crucial Bible ministry projects can continue to advance.

I would be deeply grateful to you if you are able to help us at this critical time. Specifically, we need your help to raise $360,000 by the end of our fiscal year, May 31st. Your support will make it possible especially for us to continue moving forward with the following priority projects:

  • Translation costs for the ESV Chinese Study Bible, to be published in Mainland China
  • Printing costs for 60,000 copies of the Chinese-English ESV bi-lingual Bible, also for publication and distribution in Mainland China
  • Completion and global distribution of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible this fall
  • Development of the Knowing the Bible studies, to be offered free digitally worldwide

Though we don’t know exactly how the Lord will use these events for his kingdom and for his glory, we are confident in his grace and mercy and in his gracious provision for the work he has called us to do – trusting his words in Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

With my great appreciation for your prayers and support,

Lane T. Dennis, PhD

President

May 15, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Company Updates,News | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 2:01 pm | 0 Comments »

New Books in May

Below are our new releases for May. With books from J. I. Packer, Jerram Barrs, Gloria Furman, Alistair Begg & Sinclair Ferguson, Andy Farmer, Kent Hughes, and John MacArthur, we have a feeling you’ll find some good titles to add to your summer reading list. Enjoy!

Weakness is the Way Cover Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength
by J. I. Packer

“If you, like me, struggle with discouragement over your weaknesses, you need to read this book. We all long to be admired for our strengths, yet we all find ourselves, ‘beset with weakness’ (Heb. 5:2). Does this mean we’re stuck living with discouragement? No! There is an escape to joyful freedom. Dr. Packer knows the way. Walking us through 2 Corinthians, he shows it to us so that we, like Paul, can ‘boast all the more gladly of [our] weaknesses.’”
—Jon Bloom, President, Desiring God Ministries; author, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith

Name above All Names Cover Name above All Names
by Alistair Begg & Sinclair B. Ferguson

“As Christians, we find it easy to talk about God’s work in our communities and around the world. It’s easy to describe our growth in Christ and what we are learning from him. But how many of us simply delight in talking about Jesus? The art of contemplating the loveliness of Christ—and infusing those admirations into everyday conversation—is a dying discipline. But in Name above All Names, my friends Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson invite us to meditate afresh on our wonderful savior and all that makes him beautiful and praiseworthy. I highly recommend this remarkable volume!”
—Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

Glimpses of Grace Cover Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home
by Gloria Furman

“This is sustaining grace, this is the desired haven: to know his steadfast love that saves and keeps us. Glimpses of Grace is not a how-to. It is a true friend’s invitation to see and know the Lord’s steadfast love displayed in every wave, big and small. Gloria offers encouragement rooted in her personal experience and wisdom from saints who have weathered the storms decades and even centuries before us. May you catch glimpses of his steadfast love and find an anchor for your soul.”
—Lauren Chandler, writer; speaker; singer; wife of Matt Chandler, The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas

Echoes of Eden Cover Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts
by Jerram Barrs

Echoes of Eden is the most accessible, readable, and yet theologically robust work on Christianity and the arts that you will be able to find. It is biblical, theologically sound, filled with examples, and edifying. It anticipates and answers well all the most common questions that evangelical people ask about the arts. I highly recommend it.”
—Timothy J. Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City; author, The Reason for God

Real Peace Cover Real Peace: What We Long for and Where to Find It
by Andy Farmer

“There are many books I can recommend on finding peace with God. There are far fewer I can recommend on experiencing the peace of God. Real Peace is a book I highly recommend for real people facing real trouble in a really messed up world. It paints gospel-centered portraits, explaining how to apply John 16:33 in the midst of our struggles with stress, anxiety, grief, depression, and conflict. Reading Real Peace pointed me not to a system, but to a person—The Prince of Peace.”
—Bob Kellemen, Executive Director, The Biblical Counseling Coalition; author, Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure

The Glory of Heaven Cover The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition)
by John MacArthur

“John MacArthur cuts through the sentimentality that often accompanies so-called visits to heaven by taking us back to the Scriptures, the only reliable guide when investigating our eternal home. In the process, John teaches us much needed lessons in biblical discernment. Read it and share this book with a friend.”
—Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church, Chicago, IL

Romans: Righteousness from Heave Cover Romans: Righteousness from Heaven (ESV Edition)
by R. Kent Hughes

This commentary on Romans, redesigned with a new cover and updated ESV Bible references, explores justification by faith, freedom from sin, substitutionary atonement, and God’s adoption of sinners. Part of the popular Preaching the Word series.

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,New / Notable,News | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:58 am | 0 Comments »