Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Poll: Best Recent Evangelical Book

The Contenders

The Drama of Doctrine (WJK 2005) by Kevin Vanhoozer, winner of our Favourite Evangelical Theologian poll. Vanhoozer's dramatic attempt to rethink doctrine in a way that is faithful to Scripture and engaged with the postmodern world.

The Gagging of God (Zonervan/Apollos 1996) by D A Carson. The Don helps us to get to grips with postmodern pluralism.

God in the Wasteland (IVP 1994) by David Wells. Wells confronts decaying Western evangelicalism with the weightiness of a holy God.

The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth Trust 2005) by Iain Murray. Murray draws our attention to some old truths for a new awakening.

The Resurrection of the Son of God (SPCK 2003) by N. T. Wright. In this masterly volume, Wright defends the historicity of Christ's physical resurrection. Packed full of biblical exegesis and historical scholarship.
The books selected aren't necessarily my "top five", but they hopefully represent an interesting range of recent evangelical literature.
Cast your vote in the poll on the left and leave a comment to say which book you voted for and why.


Steven Carr said...

Is Wright's book packed with Biblical exegesis?

Why then does he not bring himself to quote the author of 1 Peter saying 'All flesh is grass'?

Because it is too awkard for his claims that early Christians believed that flesh would be made imperishable?

And Wright destroys Paul's carefully constructed typology in 1 Corinthians 15.

Paul writes ' If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.

48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.'

The typology clearly indicates that we too will become a life-giving spirit.

But Wright never discusses the obvious typology to be found in 'the last Adam became a life-giving spirit', although it is clearly an important topic.

Wright discusses a lot of rabbinical literature.

The rabbis posed this question 'An emperor said to Rabbi Gamaliel: 'Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?''

As we have seen, Paul denies that resurrected people will be made from the dust of the earth.

You would think Wright would bring these two on apge 345, and discuss how the dust of the ground can me made to live again.

But he does not.

Guy Davies said...

Steve Carr,

Yes, Wright's book is full of Biblical exegesis. On the points you raised, I refer you to a couple of earlier posts:



Aren't you that atheist bloke? I'm surprised that you are so interested in my poll about recent evangelical literature. Have you read Alister McGrath's The Twilight of Atheism (Rider 2004)?

Steven Carr said...

Why would I want to read McGrath's book? Atheism is increasing fast in Western Europe, no matter how much McGrath says it is not.

I've read your posts and the fact remains that Wright cannot dare to mention the fact that Paul's typology means that we too will become a life-giving spirit, and that God will not reform the dust that a corpse will dissolve into.

No matter how much you empty 'Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of god' of any reference to real flesh, or empty 'life-giving spirit' of any any reference to spirit, Paul's discussion of the material that bodies are made out of means that he is talking about material.

You say about Jesus ' his humanity was transformed into a new pneumatic or spiritual existence'.

If you want to teach that Jesus was God made Flesh, but that a body housing God itself is not a spiritual body...

Jesus was God before the resurrection, was he not? How spiritual was that?

Guy Davies said...

Jesus was uniqely a life-giving spirit as the Last Adam. When the New Testament says that believers will be made like Christ, or "bear the image of the heavenly man" at the resurrection, it does not mean like him in every respect.

Jesus' resurrection is about what happened to his humanity, not his diety. His humanity entered a new plane of pneumatic existece at the resurrection. Of course, he was the Son of God prior to and during the his incarnation and resurection. See

I think that you'd better read McGrath's book before dismissing his arguments.

Chris Tilling said...

Hi Steven,
Actually, I think you raise some interesting questions about certain material in the NT that sounds rather anti-Wright, though you do misrepresent Wright in your comments. I do, as a NT exegete myself, personally find that 1 Cor 15 is satisfactorily dealt with in Wright's exegesis. For those who simply read an English translation, some of the nuances will pass them by, as will many of the exegetical pitfalls and misunderstandings. See also Thiselton's treatment of 1 Cor in his commentary, and, though slightly tangential, the study in M Fatehi's, The Spirit's Relation to the Risen Lord in Paul

As to the 'All flesh are like grass'. First, Wright doesn't suggest 'flesh' is imperishable, not humanity in its fallenness. It will be transformed. Continuity, yes, but also discontinuity. I would suggest, then, that 1 Pet 1:24 is not saying something substantially different, especially when understood, as it should be, as metaphorical in the service of making a diffirent point.

Are these comments useful, or do I misunderstand you? I must get round to engaging with such questions as you raise in more detail on my blog sometime.

Steven Carr said...

Wright doesn't even quote 'the last Adam became a life-giving spirit'. Not in full.

And he adds the word 'body' to this perishable must put on, and thisn corruptible.

Not does he ever quote 'All flesh is grass'.

Not does he ever quote Paul saying 'The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.', which is a totally straight-forward denial that God will make dust live again - the dust that a corpse dissolves into.

And why does the author of 1 Peter hit upon 'flesh' as the best metaphor for something temporary and perishable?

Your suggestion that 'flesh' and wickedness were virtually synonymous is an admission that the early Christians shared the Gnostic view that flesh and wickedness were virtually synoymous.

Guy Davies said...

Hi Steven,

Wright refers to Christ as a "life-giving Spirit" on p. 355

He alludes to 1 Peter 1:23-25 in a footnote on p. 461, where NTW is commenting on a similar passage in James.

The words "all flesh is grass" in 1 Peter are a reflection on the transience of human life in comparison with eternal Word of God. We die. The Word of God lives on. Peter is alluding to Isaiah 40:6-8:

The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “ All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.The grass withers, the flower fades,But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah teaches the resurrection of the dead in 26:19.

Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.

Peter's words "all flesh is grass" cannot be taken as a denial of bodily resurrection.

It was not Wright's intention to give an in-depth word by word commentary on 1 Corinthians 15 in his book. The volume is lengthy enough as it is! The fact that he may not have given detailed attention to some of Paul's phraseology does not suggest some kind of cover up or conspiracy of silence.

I can recommend a good commentary on 1 Corinthians that discussed chapter 15 in greater detail that was possible in NTW's book.


"Flesh" is often used as a synonym of the sinful nature in the New Testament. (Eg Romans 8:8) But that does not mean that physical matter is inherently evil as the Gnostics taught. Rather the present life in the body is subject to sin and weakness. The doctrine of bodily resurrection affirms the goodness of human physical life. (Romans 8:11 & 23)

Steven Carr said...

'Wright refers to Christ as a "life-giving Spirit" on p. 355

He alludes to 1 Peter 1:23-25 in a footnote on p. 461, where NTW is commenting on a similar passage in James.'

Yes, I said Wright dare not quote in full 'the last Adam became a life-giving spirit' and that he never quotes 1 Peter saying 'All flesh is grass'.

And Paul never quotes Isaiah, or Daniel or any other obvious proof-text. Instead, he tells the Corinthians that they are idiots for not realising that what goes into the ground dies.

And he also claims that resurrected people will not be made from the dust of the earth.

Elijah the Strict Baptist said...

As with the theologian poll,can I make a couple of other suggestions?? How about Evangelicalism Divided by Iain murray, or Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever.But then,asGuy said before,there is only so much room on one poll!

Guy Davies said...

Hello again elijah the strict baptist. Thanks for your most welcome comments and suggestions.

If you would like people to vote on a poll of your favourite books, why don't you do a poll of your own? ;-)

Click "see map" on my poll, sign up to Blogflux and enter the world of theological democracy. Then let me know about you poll & I promise to vote & comment - if I like your choices! He he!


Steven Carr said...

'Jesus was uniqely a life-giving spirit as the Last Adam. When the New Testament says that believers will be made like Christ, or "bear the image of the heavenly man" at the resurrection, it does not mean like him in every respect.'

So why call Jesus the last Adam, if we are not going to share in the nature of this last Adam, and become a life-giving spirit?

And how would it help, telling the Corinthians that they can believe in a resurrection because Jesus became a lifegiving spirit, if that is not how we will be resurrected?

After all, they had already converted to Christianity and believed Jesus was resurrected. Their whole doubts were centred on their thinking the resurrection of Jesus was special.

And you want to say that Paul is telling them they were right to think that.

Steven Carr said...

'Peter's words "all flesh is grass" cannot be taken as a denial of bodily resurrection.'

Of course not. It says as plain as daylight that flesh will be made eternal, doesn't it?

I wonder why neither Paul nor the author of 1 Peter ever thought of quoting any OT scripture which could mean the resurrection of dead bodies.

Almost as they had no idea that Isaiah 26:19 was relevant. A pity that ExiledPreacher was not there to teach them scripture.