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August’s New & Notable Books

The Big Picture Family Devotional

Edited by David R. Helm

This 50–week family devotional helps parents teach their children about the Bible through memory verses, short lessons, and discussion questions for the whole family. Designed as a companion volume for The Big Picture Story Bible.

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The Big Picture Bible Verses: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible

David R. Helm

This simple catechism featuring 45 memory verses will help both children and adults memorize God’s Word through its easy-to-remember Q&A format. Designed as a companion volume for The Big Picture Story Bible.

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The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

John Piper

This book of 25 devotionals from John Piper helps readers refocus and meditate on the one thing that makes the Christmas season worth celebrating: the birth of Jesus, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.

“No one—in speaking, writing, or living—combines mind, heart, and faith more passionately than John Piper.”
Daniel Taylor, Professor of English, Bethel University

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The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth

Mike Cosper; Foreword by Tim Keller

Americans love movies and watch a lot of TV. Cosper helps readers effectively engage with and evaluate what they watch, highlighting how the stories we tell reveal humanity’s universal longing for redemption. Part of the Cultural Renewal series.

“With the amount of TV and movies our culture devours, this book is a must read.”
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

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God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey

Andreas J. Köstenberger and Margaret E. Köstenberger

A husband and wife team—both biblical scholars—set forth a robust biblical theology of gender, examining key texts, employing sound hermeneutical principles, and considering important historical influences related to the Bible’s teaching on manhood and womanhood.

“A refreshingly clear, well-informed, balanced, thorough, biblically faithful overview of the teachings of the entire Bible about manhood and womanhood.”
Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

Learn More | Excerpt | Study Guide | Buy Now


Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God

Dane C. Ortlund; Foreword by George M. Marsden

Offering readers an accessible portrait of Jonathan Edwards’s life and theology, this book highlights the central role of beauty in his understanding of the Christian life. Part of the Theologians on the Christian Life series.

“Grateful readers will find this book highly informative on Edwards and deeply encouraging for the Christian life today.”
Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

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Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion

Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks; Foreword by D. A. Carson

This book sets forth a compelling vision related to helping churches—big and small—develop interdependent partnerships and make a significant impact for the sake of the gospel—in their own communities and around the world.

“Many pastors and church planters will benefit enormously from the wisdom, biblical insight, and practical experience that Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks provide for us here.”
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Leland Ryken

A literary expert guides readers through Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet, exploring the play’s historical context, key themes, and overarching message. Part of the Christian Guides to the Classics series.

“Ryken is a warm and welcoming guide to the classics of Western literature.”
Andrew Logemann, Chair, Department of English, Gordon College

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

The Devotional Poetry of Donne, Herbert, and Milton

Leland Ryken

A literary expert guides readers through the devotional poetry of three seventeenth-century poetic geniuses: John Donne, George Herbert, and John Milton. Part of the Christian Guides to the Classics series.

“It is hard to imagine a better guide than Leland Ryken to help readers navigate the classics.”
Bradley G. Green, Associate Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition, Union University

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

August 15, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,New / Notable,News | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:45 am | 0 Comments »

The Danger of Labels When Discussing the Bible’s Teaching on Gender

guest post

This is a guest post by Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger, coauthors of God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey.

Of Limited Value

We believe that most labels are of limited value in describing any given topic or position, including the biblical terminology surrounding manhood and womanhood. Labels typically limit the description of a subject to a certain oversimplified caricature. The debates surrounding gender roles are no exception in that the discussion has been burdened with a simplistic kind of partisan, polemical, and politicized verbiage. As we’ve sought to elaborate in a recent post, the label “patriarchal,” for example, carries with it mostly negative baggage in our culture because of a heavy feminist influence and ideological propaganda.

Though the label “complementarian” seeks to avoid an undue focus on the man’s authority and for the most part explains the scope and emphasis of the category of thinking on the subject very well, it is incomplete (if not potentially misleading) in that it focuses unilaterally on one characteristic trait of the male-female relationship, namely complementarity. Man is created in such a way that he needs the woman and vice versa. They are perfectly and beautifully complementary in their sex, roles, and original purpose.

In truth, however, this is something that the opposing viewpoint holds to be true as well. Evangelical feminists affirm complementarity, albeit sans the belief in male leadership that is integral to the complementarian view (though that is only explicit in the label “complementarian”). This is why evangelical feminists published a book a few years ago, Discovering Biblical Equality, with the subtitle, “Complementarity without Hierarchy.” In other words, egalitarians believe in male-female complementarity, and complementarians believe in male-female equality! Partial labels can be confusing and tell only part of the story.

What is more, evangelical feminists (egalitarians) sometimes call complementarians “hierarchicalists,” which somewhat tendentiously and erroneously portrays them as being fixated with male authority in a top-down hierarchical fashion. Clearly, labels can become rhetorical weapons that are hurled at their opponents in order to cause calculated damage for the sake of winning an argument but that have limited value in delimiting a particular position or category of thought.

A More Nuanced Approach

Though the issues are fairly complex, a nuanced approach to the use of labels can provide several benefits in clarifying some very important and necessary distinctions. In our study, complementarian relationships differ from egalitarian ones in several distinct ways that we can affirm as we work through the dazzling maze of the ever-increasing options to gender in our world.

Complementarians acknowledge a woman’s main role to be a helper to her husband in managing and subduing the earth together and in partnering with him to raise and nurture a family. Egalitarians affirm male-female partnership but not male leadership and female submission (unless roles are entirely interchangeable along the lines of “mutual submission”) and tend to see men and women on the same plane in every sphere of life, including in leadership roles that complementarians believe God’s Word limits to men. Though complementarians may acknowledge that these are “restrictions” in a certain sense, they prefer to view them as “assignments” and contend that these role distinctions have nothing to do with any difference in worth between men and woman. In fact, all humans are created in God’s image, which is glorious for both men and women! According to complementarians, these unique assignments are fully God-ordained and perfectly designed to suit and satisfy both sexes.

What these examples show, in our opinion, is that while labels have some benefit, there is no satisfactory substitute for exploring the biblical theology of manhood and womanhood as a whole as it naturally unfolds throughout the entire Bible. As a result, we limit the use of labels in our book except to explain some of the necessary and important differences in views. We seek instead to focus on Scripture’s consistent and coherent pattern of male and female identity and roles, a pattern that is present from Genesis to Revelation.

At the root, we want God to be glorified in his church, people to be saved, and men and women to live fully satisfying and holy lives before their God. To this end we dedicate our book as we strive to unveil God’s good design for men and women. Similar to other biblical paradoxes, some would have you believe that Scripture cannot at the same time teach male leadership and male-female partnership. This may be hard for finite human minds to understand, and impossible for those committed at the outset to unfettered male-female equality to accept, but we believe it is nonetheless true, and if Scripture is allowed to speak for itself, best characterizes God’s sovereign, wise, and loving design for man and woman.

What Do I Use to Write in My Bible?

ESV Bible header

When it comes to underlining and writing in the margins of our Bibles, the choice of writing utensil can make all the difference in preserving the appearance and longevity of the thin Bible paper. Here’s a comparison of four commonly used writing utensils.

  • Basic BIC Pen, M (black and blue ink)
  • Pilot G2, .07mm  (black and blue ink)
  • BIC Velocity Pencil #2, .5mm
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, .01mm

Each pen/pencil was used to highlight the same passage of Scripture (Matthew 6:31–34) in four copies of the ESV Single Column Heritage Bible.



1. Basic BIC Pen, M

Bic Pen Blue

Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in blue and black ink:

BICFront copy

The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: a package of 36 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: moderate
  • Other Observations:
    • Need to bear down, and sometimes, retrace to produce consistent lines, but bearing down too hard can stretch the paper.
    • Ink typically does not bleed or smear


2. Pilot G2, .07mm


Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in blue and black ink:


The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: a package of 2 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: significant
  • Other observations:
    • No need to bear down for consistent lines
    • Ink takes some time to dry and therefore smears very easily, especially if you’re left-handed
    • Unexpected clogging/ink blots
    • Ink can be too think for smaller writing


3. BIC Velocity Pencil #2, 0.5mm


Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in pencil:


The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: a package of 2 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: minimal
  • Other observations:
    • Can easily produce consistent lines
    • The pencil removes the permanent nature of a highlighter or dark pen
    • The subtle grey gives underlining a more dignified look than a big, bright stroke that bleeds through to the other side


4. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, .01mm


Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in black ink:


The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: $2.50–$3.00 each
  • Availability: found at an art or office supply store
  • Ghosting: minimal
  • Other observations:
    • Easily produces consistent lines without needing to bear down
    • Uses archival ink, as opposed to a dye-based ink found in most pens and markers. The benefit is it won’t fade or bleed through the paper.
    • Six different point sized are available
    • Assorted color options are available


Additional Resources

This is not an exhaustive comparison of writing utensils, so if you would like more information on this topic here are a few bloggers who have shared their experience and expertise:


What do you think?

What do you use to write in your Bible? Do you have any recommendations or advice to share?

August 14, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:44 am | (12) Comments »

Midweek Roundup – 8/13/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.

1. Denny Burk on how gay marriage will impact your marriage

If you’ve ever been in a debate with someone about gay marriage, one of the conversation stoppers that proponents often throw out is this: “How does gay marriage hurt traditional marriage?” Or more personally, “How does my gay marriage corrupt your straight marriage?” The thinking goes like this. What two people do in the privacy of their own home ought not concern you, even if they choose to reinvent society’s most basic institution. After all, who are you to judge someone else’s pairing? If some people want to call gay unions a “marriage,” what’s that to you?

2. Jon Bloom on help for those grieving a suicide

Robin Williams’s alleged suicide has sent shock waves through the world.

Williams was a man bursting with manic energy, an out-sized personality, prodigious dramatic talent, and a completely unique comic genius. He could make us roll on the floor in laughter and he could move us deeply to tears. Many of us have memories of his performances that stretch back into our childhood.

Now, suddenly, at age 63, it appears that he has taken his own life. For this tragedy it is too early for any more words. Let us cover our mouths, weep, and pray for his family.

3. Reformed Forum interviews Marcus Johnson about his new book, One with Christ

Dr. Marcus Johnson speaks about One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation, his recent book, published by Crossway. While many books have been published recently on the topic of union with Christ, Dr. Johnson’s book stands out for its up-to-date analysis and unique approach. One with Christ charts a via media between federalist and realist approaches to the doctrine of union with Christ, a way which Johnson calls Christological realism. Listen to understand Dr. Johnson’s unique but scriptural treatment of the doctrine of union with Christ.

4. Joe Thorn on whether or not the Lord’s Supper should be open or closed

In baptist circles there are three positions regarding who are the proper communicants to receiver the Lord’s Supper: closed, close, and open communion. These positions are not addressing the spiritual readiness of the individual (see yesterday’s post), but are focusing on the stewardship of church authority and “fencing the table.” Fencing the table is the means by which we protect people from partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner” (1 Cor. 11:2728).

5. Gene Veith on the political roots of atheism

Atheists are always invoking science, but notice how often their arguments and rhetoric use political language.  God allegedly “oppresses” human beings, taking away their “freedom.”  They say that God is “immoral,” that, in the words of John Lennon, if we imagine no religion, “the world would live as one.”

In fact, as Nick Spencer shows in Politico, the origins of atheism in the West had little to do with the rise of science; rather, it grew out of radical political movements.

August 13, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Midweek Roundup,News | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:15 am | 0 Comments »

5 Things to Avoid When Discussing the Bible’s Teaching on Gender

guest post

This is a guest post by Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger, coauthors of God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey.

An Important Conversation

When it comes to gender, we live in confusing times. For many, gender has become merely a subjective reality. We are male or female because we perceive ourselves as such. As a result, we can alter our gender identity at will, because our perception of ourselves may change over time. In addition, gender is often viewed as socially constructed. We are male or female because we were raised as boys and girls according to certain stereotypes of what it means to be a boy or girl. But again, these stereotypes are changing, and so may our gender identity.

Where do we turn in this age of rapidly increasing gender fluidity? Arguably, the answer is God’s word. But even here Christians don’t always agree on how to understand the biblical teaching on gender.

Here are 5 cautions for you to consider when discussing the Bible’s teaching on gender:

1. Avoid looking at the biblical teaching on gender piecemeal.

In previous decades, many biblical scholars have studied individual passages of Scripture on men and women, interpreting each in a way that favored particular presuppositions. They reinterpreted conventional readings on a case-by-case basis, resulting in a cumulative case made up of weak links that ultimately made for a less than persuasive case overall.

Increasingly, in recent years, biblical scholars have been discovering the importance of understanding a given passage in light of the larger storyline of the Bible. In our recent book on the subject, we try to show that the overall story of Scripture, and God’s design for man and woman in particular, is wonderfully consistent and coherent. Our understanding of this design doesn’t just rest on interpreting only one passage but reflects the cumulative picture painted by Scripture as a whole. Even if we didn’t have 1Timothy 2:12 in our Bibles, we’d still find the same pattern of male leadership and male-female partnership that is characteristic of God’s plan for man and woman from the beginning! We see the same pattern throughout Old and New Testament times.

We believe this emphasis on biblical theology is a unique contribution we are able to make to the body of literature on this topic when most volumes contain individual chapters devoted to key passages that do not connect the theological “dots” between these passages. With this in mind, we’ve set out to trace the theme of God’s design for man and woman through Scripture.

2. Be careful not to embrace the idea that male leadership is merely a result of the Fall.

The apostle Paul didn’t think so. Among other things, when he wrote “I don’t permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,” he grounded his directive in the fact that the man was created first, and then the woman (1 Tim. 2:12–13). In other words, the man’s leadership is shown to be embedded in God’s creation design, preceding the Fall. That’s the way Paul read the Genesis narrative, especially chapter 2, and while he only cited one aspect of it in 1 Timothy in support of his contention, there are several other indications of male leadership in Genesis 2 as well: the fact that the woman is created from and for the man (Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 11:8–9); the fact that she is called the man’s “suitable helper” (Gen. 2:18, 20); and the fact that the man names the woman in this inconspicuous but culturally significant act of leadership (Gen. 2:23).

Those who claim that the man assumes authority over his wife as a function of the subversion of God’s original design after the Fall have not seriously taken into account the discussion of God’s original purpose for gender given in Genesis 2 before the Fall and the New Testament references to Genesis 2 in support of sustaining the same pattern in the church as it awaits Christ’s return.

3. Avoid equating traditional with biblical marriage.

Traditional marriage may be rooted in Christian teaching on marriage, but it is not the same as a truly biblical marriage. Traditional marriage is often described as some kind of division of labor, such as the man going to work and providing the family income, and the woman staying home, doing household chores, and taking care of the children.

However, biblical marriage goes much deeper than this kind of division of labor. It is based on a heart-felt embrace of God’s good, wise, and beautiful design of male leadership and male-female partnership that can only be experienced by Spirit-filled disciples (Eph. 5:18). It is part of God’s end-time purpose of bringing all things in this universe back under Christ’s lordship (Eph. 1:10). In this way, the husband and wife witness to God the Creator and to Christ his Son who died on the cross to reconcile us to God. The two become one just as Christ and the church become one, as head and body (Eph. 5:31–32). There is unity, there is sacrificial love, but there is still authority. However, it’s an authority that has the best interests of the other person at heart and is not simply a structured division of roles.

4. Recognize the limitations of compartmentalization when assessing the significance of God’s design for man and woman.

In the evangelical world it has become quite common to compartmentalize issues into first-, second-, and third-level doctrines in order to distinguish between the core gospel message and ancillary issues. This is understandable and helpful for the most part, but it doesn’t do full justice to our particular topic. Being male or female is a foundational and integral part of every person’s existence. To relegate our sexual identity and roles to the periphery is inadequate.

While technically God’s design for man and woman may not be a salvation truth, practically it is indispensable for every person to know and experience in order to live their lives as followers of Christ in this world, as beings created by God as male or female by design and for a purpose. Ultimately there may be implications for the salvation of souls in that the living out of our roles is an integral part of living on mission for God, especially in testifying to our great God who has a wonderful plan for the confused and struggling people in fractured relationships all around us.

5. Finally, avoid the avoidance of the topic of biblical manhood and womanhood in your church!

Don’t be afraid to talk about it! True, the topic has often proved to be difficult and divisive in the past, so it’s understandable if pastors and leaders shy away from penetrating and convicting teaching on the subject. Why would anyone want to antagonize those in their church who may differ with regard to what men and women may or may not do?

Avoiding the subject, however, may come with a hefty price tag: the loss of couples and families entering into a more profound understanding and deep maturing experience of how God designed them as men and women, learning how he wants them to relate to each other and to partner together by exercising their own unique and distinctive roles together on mission for God. This loss of the opportunity to tenderly attest to the God who created us according to his sovereign design may be considerable.

While we should be sensitive to the challenges we face in addressing this topic, we would also encourage each other and our church leaders to be bold and courageous, embracing the responsibility to teach people about God’s design for man and woman!