Home > Crossway Blog > Archive for November, 2013

Archive for November, 2013

Entertainment and the Christian Novel

This guest post is from Dr. Bryan Litfin, professor of theology at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of the Chiveis Trilogy (excerpts, trailer).

Why Do People Buy Novels?

I can only think of three reasons. Sometimes the reader expects to be elevated by classic literature. I tried reading War and Peace for such lofty reasons once. Truth be told, I didn’t finish.

Literary novels are also read by students. Most purchases of the great classics are probably intended for the classroom. For every copy of Moby Dick or To Kill a Mockingbird bought to pass the time on a plane, I imagine ten are bought by somebody in a literature class.

Most novels, however, aren’t fine literature. Few writers can expect future doctoral dissertations to be written about their works. And that brings us to the reason the vast majority of novels are published: for entertainment. People love to read stories—and any fiction writer who forgets that fundamental human motivation is in danger of becoming unemployed.

The Christian Novel

Surprisingly, though, many aspiring Christian novelists seem to think otherwise. Since Christians believe in absolute truth, they suppose novels ought to be written for didactic purposes. In such books the characters pause at critical junctures to give long sermons. Listeners sit in rapt attention while the mouthpiece character expounds his theological views. All of this lets the author convey divine dogma. But this isn’t realistic. People don’t sit quietly with bright eyes and busy little pens when somebody starts talking about doctrine. Believe me, I know – I’m a theology professor.

So does this mean the Christian novelist should “sell out”? Just write books that keep the readers turning the pages, with no intent to communicate lasting truth? Make our novels as vapid and nihilistic as secular fiction?  Surely there must be a balance.

When I wrote the Chiveis Trilogy, I had to confront these issues head on. I wanted to write a page-turner. My editor said the plot is “cinematic,” and I was glad to hear she thought so. I always felt I was writing a grand adventure that could sweep you into a swashbuckling escapade like the Indiana Jones movies I loved as a kid. However, my day job is teaching theology. Did I have to hang up my theological hat when I penned my three novels?

A Place for Theology?

I hope not. There’s a lot of theology in the Chiveis Trilogy, and my particular readership wants that. Yet you have to use subtle patterns as a writer. For example, the over-arching structure of my trilogy is Trinitarian. In the first book the characters encounter the Creator God as seen in the Old Testament. In book two they quest for God as he is known in Christ. The third book centers on the Holy Spirit in the catholic church. With this macro structure in place, various theological themes can be expressed naturally in the individual scenes—often without the readers even knowing they are imbibing theology!

One especially important theological topic is evil. The Christian novel must present sin on the page—sometimes with gut-wrenching, jaw-clenching intensity—and not gloss over it like cotton candy religious novels often do. Even so, evil must be revealed as grotesque. It always exacts a terrible cost, and in the end it does not win. My trilogy includes scenes with torture, rape, adultery, prostitution, violence. Those scenes make the reader’s heart beat faster because the terror is real. But I promise you, the depictions are not “gratuitous.” They are part of an overall narrative in which moral evil is shown as atrocious—yet the all-sovereign God still reigns on his throne. Christian novels should reflect this truth and not descend into pessimistic hopelessness.

Entertainment to the Glory of God

Some Christian novelists think they must aspire to something higher than entertainment to justify a novel. Though unbelievers might write for “mere entertainment,” Christian novels should always teach or they have little reason to exist. When this instinct leads to unpleasant sermonizing, readers see it and run.

But we’re all going to entertain ourselves with something. Much of what comes out of Hollywood or the New York publishing industry reflects an anti-Christian worldview. Believers consume these works for their excellent entertainment value while trying to filter what is objectionable. Doesn’t this indicate a crying need for works that are truly entertaining—but which glorify Christ as well?

Many readers have said the Chiveis Trilogy brought them closer to the Lord. The person who finishes the three-part cycle can only look back on it and say it elevated God’s name. However, if it doesn’t also keep you up past your bedtime, dipping into the next chapter although you promised yourself you’d quit, then I haven’t done my job. Christians need entertainment that honors Christ instead of trashing him. A novel’s first purpose must be to tell a great story—and there’s no reason it can’t be glorifying to God as well.


Bryan M. Litfin (PhD, University of Virginia) is professor of theology at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of the Chiveis Trilogy as well as Getting To Know the Church Fathers. Bryan and his wife, Carolyn, have two children.

The Chiveis Trilogy is currently on sale for 40% off.

 


November 29, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,Culture,Fiction,Guest Post,Life & Doctrine,The Arts,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Coming Soon – Crossway Impact Cyber Monday Sale

On Monday, December 2, we’ll be launching our annual Crossway.org storewide Cyber Monday sale. The sale will run through Thursday, December 5, and will feature everything on Crossway.org at 40% off. Additionally, select books and Bibles will be featured at 60–70% off.

Please note: this sale is only available to Crossway Impact members. But don’t worry – signing up is easy and gives you access to a number of exclusive benefits.

For a one-time, choose-your-own membership fee, Impact members receive:

  1. 25% off everything on Crossway.org, all year round
  2. Flat rate shipping of $5 per order*
  3. Exclusive monthly offers and access to special sales (like our Cyber Monday sale)
  4. Discounts on book/e-book bundles (75% off e-books with purchase of print edition, when available)

Additionally, 5% of every purchase goes to a special ministry fund that helps distribute resources free of charge around the world to those who need them most.

Not a member?** Here’s how to sign up:

  1. Go to Crossway.org/impact and click on the “sign me up” button.
  2. Create a new Crossway.org account (or sign in, if you already have one).
  3. Name your own membership fee (can be as low as $1).
  4. You are now a Crossway Impact member!

See you Monday!

 *Does not include bulk orders of case quantities or special sales where specified.
**Only available to customers with a U.S. mailing address.
 
November 27, 2013 | Posted in: Books,Crossway Impact,Digital,ESV,Special Sales | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 10:09 am | (4) Comments »

Midweek Roundup – 11/27/13

Every Wednesday we like to share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These links will often be related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting break for the middle of your week, encouraging your faith and equipping you for life and ministry.


1. Kevin DeYoung responds to Christianity Today’s review of God in the Whirlwind by David Wells

[James K. A. Smith] thinks Wells’s prescription for our cultural predicament is too cerebral, too didactic, too intellectual and the expense of the imagination. Anyone familiar with Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom, will see those earlier concerns surfacing in this review. And I think Smith is on to something: we are feeling, worshiping, embodied, liturgical creatures, not just thinking brains in a vat. Change doesn’t come just from a new framework of our ideas. We need new patterns, new desires, a new rhythm. But again, I’m not sure that God in the Whirlwind is opposed to all that. It’s a different book than Smith would have written. It doesn’t hit on his themes. But, then, Wells is hitting on a biblical theme. The world does press us into its mold, and we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). Knowing the truth is not an insignificant concern in Scripture.

2. Anthony Bradley reflects on evangelicals’ tribal myopia

One of the profound realities of theology and ecclesiastical enclaves in which American Christians live is each tribal subculture views the world as if Christianity begins and ends with their tribe. Evangelicals are a great example of this trend. Some evangelicals write as if they are the only Christians doing God’s work in the world.

3.  Russell Moore offers some tips for dealing with family tensions during the holidays

God will allow you to be tested. He’ll refine you, bring you to the fullness of maturity in Christ. He probably won’t do it by your fighting lions before the emperor or standing with a John 3:16 sign before a tank in the streets of Beijing. More likely, it will be through those seemingly little places of temptation—like whether you’ll love the belching brother-in-law at the other end of the table who wants to talk about how the Cubans killed JFK and how to make $100,000 a year selling herbal laxatives on the Internet.

4. Marshall Segal encourages us to read John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God

The book was written for the broken, but not for some elite group of the sad and discouraged. It was written to help us all live the truth we had fallen in love with in Desiring God. I can’t imagine anything better than knowing that the one who created the world and everything in it wants what my soul wants — that what pleases him in all his wisdom, power, and authority will also make me most happy forever. But how does that happen for me?

5. Video: Liberating prostitutes in Italy with the power of the gospel

Vite Trasformate (transformed lives) is a gospel-centered ministry to reach those trapped in prostitution in Italy. Many thousands of women are on the sidewalks each night. Most of them are victims of human trafficking and exploitation, and they are all without hope. The primary objective of Vite Trasformate, which operates under the leadership and partnership of local churches, is to see lives transformed by Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,Midweek Roundup,Midweek Roundup,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:31 am | 0 Comments »

A Message from Crossway’s President

This is a special message recently sent to our friends and supporters from Dr. Lane Dennis, president and publisher of Crossway. For more information related to Crossway’s 75th anniversary celebration, please visit Crossway.org/75th.

Dear Friend of Crossway,

On this 75th anniversary of our ministry, we are overflowing with thanks to the Lord for His great faithfulness.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies…are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness”! (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Likewise, I want to thank you in particular for your partnership, prayers, and gracious support – all of which is an integral part of what the Lord has accomplished over these last seven decades.

Crossway, as you may know, was founded originally as Good News Publishers in 1938.  It was founded with a $20 tithe, saved up by Clyde and Muriel Dennis (my parents), that they dedicated to the Lord for the publication of the first gospel tracts.

It is amazing to see how the Lord has multiplied that first twenty-dollar gift – and the faithful gifts of untold thousands – over these last 75 years:

  • To distribute over 2 billion pieces of gospel-centered literature worldwide,
  • To publish tens of millions of Crossway books (with 800 titles by 350 authors currently in print),
  • To distribute 80 million ESV Bibles worldwide since 2001,
  • And to reach untold numbers of people around the world who have come to know Christ as their Savior.

During this past year, the Lord has continued to work through our ministry in a special way.  In only 12 months, God has enabled Crossway to distribute 23 million gospel tracts (the most in over 30 years); to publish over 1.9 million gospel-centered books (many of which are available in over 50 languages); to launch the new ESV Gospel Transformation Bible; and before the end of this year, to distribute more than 1 million ESV Study Bibles worldwide, since its first printing in 2008.

In addition to these evidences of the Lord’s hand, we have also seen his gracious provision for us in two significant ways:

1.  The Crossway Flood: After a major flood swept though our offices last April, the Lord moved the hearts of people from 35 countries to help us recover.  Through an outpouring of generous gifts – from more than 2,000 of his people worldwide – we were able to maintain funding for critical Bible projects in China, and still meet the unexpected costs of damage recovery and flood-proofing our building. It has been remarkable indeed to see God’s gracious provision, in almost exactly the amount that He alone knew we would need.

2.  Strategic Bible Projects in China:  Perhaps most significantly this last year, we have seen the Lord’s hand of provision in three ministry projects in China.  These include:

  • Chinese Translation of ESV Study Bible Notes – This major effort, to produce a Chinese Study Bible for distribution throughout Mainland China, has been fully funded for the New Testament.  God willing, we anticipate publication of a Chinese Study Bible New Testament in 2014 (followed by the Old Testament).
  • Chinese-English Gospels of John – 1 million Chinese-English Gospels of John are being distributed in China (in partnership with the Pocket Testament League).  Each copy includes a clear presentation of the gospel in English and Chinese.
  • Chinese-English Bilingual Bibles – The total number of full Chinese-English (ESV) Bibles distributed in China has now reached 250,000 copies this year, through funding provided by Crossway and its supporters.

The Lord has indeed done far beyond anything we could ask or think during this last year – and certainly throughout the last 75 years of our ministry. He is our Lord and Savior, and His grace is always sufficient.  With this confidence in the Lord, all of us at Crossway are deeply grateful to you, as we look forward to seeing the Lord’s continued provision for our ministry – to share the truth of God’s Word and the riches of the gospel with a world that is desperately lost apart from Christ our Savior.

With my great appreciation for your partnership in the gospel,

In Christ,

 

 

Lane T. Dennis
President


Lane T. Dennis (PhD, Northwestern University) is president and publisher of Crossway. He is the author and/or editor of three books, including the Gold Medallion-award-winning book Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer, and he is the former Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Dr. Dennis serves as the Chairman of the ESV (English Standard Version) Bible Translation Oversight Committee and as the Executive Editor of the ESV Study Bible. Lane and his wife, Ebeth, live in Wheaton, Illinois.

 

November 26, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,Company Updates,ESV,General,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | (5) Comments »

Weekly Specials – Top Sellers

Great Discounts on Some of Our Top Sellers

These books are some of our bestsellers from the past year.

If you missed them before, here’s your chance to pick one up at a special discount!

To learn more about each title, click on the covers below. The print deals are only available on Crossway.org. The e-book deals are available on Crossway.org; after 24-hours, they will also be available at AmazonBarnes & NobleBookshoutChristianbook.comeChristianibooks (apple)Vyrso, or your participating independent bookstore’s site (at each distributor’s individual discretion). Discounted prices available through 12/1/13.


Sex and Money

Sex and Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies

By Paul David Tripp

Print: $22.99 $11.99

E-book: $15.99 $6.99

Sex and money can easily captivate our minds and steal our worship. Paul Tripp unmasks the hollow lies of this world, directing readers to the liberating power of the gospel and offering real-world advice for fighting sexual and financial idolatry.

“I’ve come to count on Paul Tripp’s books being biblical, Christ-centered, deep, engaging, and well-written. Sex and Money is no exception. Its insights into our cultural idolatries and God’s transforming grace are priceless.”
Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries

Buy: Print | E-book

 

The Glory of Heaven

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

By John MacArthur

Print: $22.99 $11.99

E-book: $15.99 $4.99

This in-depth look at what the Bible has to say about heaven, angels, and the afterlife gives Christians an encouraging glimpse of the home that awaits them. Now redesigned, re-edited, and expanded to include 3 new chapters and a revised introduction.

“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.”
Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church, Chicago, IL

Buy: Print | E-book

 

Name above All Names

Name above All Names

By Alistair Begg, Sinclair B. Ferguson

Print: $19.99 $9.99

E-book: $13.99 $3.99

Jesus is the most important person in the life of the Christian. In this stimulating book, Begg and Ferguson explore the Bible’s teaching on seven key attributes of Jesus’s life and ministry, from Genesis to Revelation.

“You can’t have too many good books about the person and work of Jesus Christ. And this is a great book.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

Buy: Print | E-book

 

Everyday Church

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

By Tim Chester, Steve Timmis

Print: $14.99 $7.99

E-book: $11.99 $2.99

Offers a missional reflection on the book of 1 Peter as well as practical ideas for churches to engage those who are unchurched in an increasingly post-Christian context.

“Chester and Timmis have once again challenged us to think differently and diligently about gospel-centered community and gospel-centered mission.”
Matt Chandler, Pastor, The Village Church; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Buy: Print | E-book

 

Glimpses of Grace

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home

By Gloria Furman

Print: $14.99 $7.99

E-book: $11.99 $2.99

The work that goes into managing a home can sometimes feel boring and insignificant. Furman reminds women of the gospel’s extraordinary power over ordinary life, helping homemakers see and savor the miraculous in the mundane.

Glimpses of Grace is a beautiful picture of what it looks like to see Jesus Christ every day in every circumstance. Our friend Gloria takes the glories of Christ’s life and opens our eyes to their realities in the seemingly mundane circumstances of our lives.”
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, authors, Give Them Grace

Buy: Print | E-book

 

*Note: Some discounts may be unavailable outside the United States due to international rights agreements.

November 25, 2013 | Posted in: Books,Weekly Ebook Specials | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | (2) Comments »