Forster, Greg. Starting with Locke. New York: Continuum, 2011.
The publisher says that the "Starting with . . . series offers clear, concise and accessible introductions to the key thinkers in philosophy." Greg Forster lived up to this expectation in Starting with Locke. He helpfully positioned Locke in his historical setting and then showed how his philosophy emerged through wrestling with the major issues of his day in England. According to Forster, England in Locke’s time was politically tumultuous because the religion of the nation was tied to the religion of the rulers. As the rulers moved between Catholicism and Protestantism, the politics of England became bloody. Upon a visit to Cleves, a city in Germany that due to a strange confluence of circumstances practiced religious toleration, Locke realized that religious toleration, far from exacerbating political tensions, would ease them. In his epistemology, Locke seeks to drive his readers to admit the limits of what they can know. Given this, people should be slow to impose their beliefs on others. This does not mean that Locke was not a Christian (though his silence on certain points have raised questions as to what kind of Christian) or that he did not believe the Bible to be revelation from God. He did believe the Bible was God’s revelation. But he believed that natural law, rather than Scriptural revelation, ought to serve as the basis for a societies common morality. This obviated the need for a common religion. The other major question that Locke addressed was who has the right to rule. He argued from Gen. 1:26-28 that all men are given the right of dominion over the earth. Contrary to divine-right theorists, Locke argued that no one could prove a heredity right to rule through a certain line of persons from Adam. Thus if all had the right to rule, then the investiture of that right in an organized government must occur with the consent of the governed, if only tacitly. This therefore underlies Locke’s theory that rebellion is justified when a government violates its trust and turns from a government into a tyranny. Forster closes the book by reflecting on the present political situation in the United States. Here he has two main concerns. First there is a great breakdown of moral consensus on issues far more fundamental than those Locke faced. Second, he notes a divide in American society between those who think of politics from a Lockean perspective (mainly on the right) and those (mainly on the left) who approach it from the perspective of John Stuart Mill. Forster worries that Americans will slip into a kind of confessionalism in which morality (from left or right) is imposed from a particular viewpoint or move into a society in which the "state may simply give up trying to justify itself morally." To avoid these Forster says we must find some way to "maintain moral consensus without religious consensus."
Welch, Edward T. Blame It on the Brain: Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience (Resources for Changing Lives). P & R Pub., 1998.
Welch’s Blame It on the Brain? is a good lay-level introduction to mind-body issues in a counseling context. The details he leaves to other resources (e.g., for the theological debate about dualism vs. monism he refers readers to Cooper’s Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting), but the framework he provides is very helpful. Welch’s basic thesis is that the brain never causes people to sin. Brain injuries may remove the abilities of some to restrain the impulses of a sinful heart, but the brain is not forcing people to sin. In areas less traumatic than head injury, Welch argues that the brain may make certain temptations stronger but that this does not remove the responsibility to resist temptation. Welch does recognize that the complexity of mind-body issues may mean attempting to treat medical aspects of a problem medically and spiritual aspects of the problem biblically.
McCullough, David G. 1776. Simon and Schuster, 2005. [Audio Book]
McCullough knows how to write engaging history. I enjoyed the audio book, narrated by the author.
Austen, Jane. Emma. New York: Modern Library, 2001.
Jacobs, Alan. Original Sin: A Cultural History. New York: HarperOne, 2008.
Jacobs’ work is similar to a historical theology of original sin. He outlines how the doctrine emerged, its historical context, and the thinking of the theologians who formulated and defended it. But Jacobs’ cultural history is much more than a historical theology. He also looks at broader cultural reactions to the doctrine of original sin and cultural events (such as utopianism) in light of original sin. G. K. Chesterton once marveled that people doubted the doctrine of original sin since it is the one doctrine open to empirical verification. Jacobs’ broad cultural sweep seems intended, in part, to document the verification.
Murray, Iain H. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1982.
Iain Murray always writes biographies for the purpose of edification. This does not mean that he writes hagiographies or that he tolerates historical inaccuracies. It does mean that his biographies are no mere record of events. He attempts, as much as is possible with external records, to chart not only the life events but also the spiritual and theological growth of his subjects. Lloyd-Jones is without a doubt a worthy subject for such a biography. His growing conviction that the world and the church needs not political triumph, engaging drama to draw in crowds, or a new program to bring in the unchurched but that the world and the church need doctrinal preaching needs special enunciation today. Even in many theologically-conservative Reformed circles the church marketing mood of broader evangelicalism has replaced the conviction that mankind has changed only on the surface and therefore the church need not discover a new method or program to reach the lost. This message is found in many of Lloyd-Jones’ sermons, but Murray, in biographical form, contextualizes these convictions so that it becomes plain that they were coupled with loving personal attention to the members of his congregation and community.
Carson, D. A. “Spiritual Disciplines.” Themelios 36, no. 3 (2011): 377-79.
An excellent, brief article that defines what it means to be spiritual (to have received the Holy Spirit through the new covenant) and thoughts about labeling and practicing of spiritual disciplines (e.g., "unmediated, mystical knowledge of God is unsanctioned by Scripture, and is dangerous"; not every Christian responsibility is a spiritual discipline—a means of grace in conforming us to God).
Hoehner, Harold W. "Jesus’ Last Supper." In Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost,. Edited by Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer. Chicago: Moody, 1986.
A helpful essay which deals with chronology and background
Weithman, Paul. "Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs: An Introduction," Journal of Religious Ethics 37, no. 2 (2009):179-92.
A summary of Wolterstorff’s book with some comments about the articles to follow
O’Donovan, Oliver. "The Language of Rights and Conceptual History." Journal of Religious Ethics 37, no. 2 (2009): 193-207.
O’Donovan identifies three problems with Wolterstorff’s approach to justice. First, "a political problem with the language of rights, which is its apparent serviceability to the subversion of working orders of law and justice" (194). In other words, a rights approach to justice lends itself to revolutions. Second, "a conceptual problem with the language of rights: it appears to be in conflict with the language of right" (194). By this O’Donovan is asserting his counter-view that rights derive from what is right, or that moral order precedes rather than is derived from rights. Third, "a historical problem: the use of the word [rights] in the plural is not found in the ancient world" (195). By establishing this final assertion O’Donovan says that he calls in question Wolterstorff’s attempt to claim that while the Bible does not speak of justice in terms of individual rights, it presupposes the idea. For instance, Wolterstorff says that the wronging of individuals in Scripture implies they had rights that were violated; O’Donovan says this only means that a wrong (a violation of moral order) occurred. Why does this matter? The difference, says O’Donovan is of moral ontology: "Multiple rights expresses a plural ontology of difference, the difference between each right-bearer and every other, instead of a unitary ontology of human likeness. Suum cuique, to each his own, is their formula for justice, not similia similibus, like treatment for like cases. This has the effect of setting what is due to each above every idea of moral order" (202). Another way of putting this is that for Wolterstorff murder is wrong because of the other’s right to life; for O’Donovan he has a right to life because murder is wrong. Finally, O’Donovan criticizes Wolterstorff for cutting the tie between justice and righteousness. In O’Donovan’s words, Wolterstorff says that morality "is not confined to the language of rights" whereas "justice is based on rights, and justice is based only on rights." Thus the link between morality and justice, between righteousness and justice, have been severed.
Attridge, Harold W. "Wolterstorf, Rights, Wrongs, and the Bible." Journal of Religious Ethics 37, no. 2 (2009): 209-19
Attridge is sympathetic to Wolterstorf’s position, but he concludes from a survey of δικαιω- words that Luke’s emphasis is on conformity to what God requires rather than on fulfilling obligations to neighbors in recognition of their rights. (Less related to Wolterstorff’s thesis, Attridge notes that Wolterstorff’s preference for δικ- words to be translated in terms of justice rather than righteousness moves the focus from virtue to objective rights and wrongs. Attrdridge is more sympathetic translating these terms with "righteousness" language, while still acknowledging a justice aspect.) Attridge thinks that Luke’s material is compatible with Wolterstorff’s approach, but he doesn’t think that Luke himself was thinking in terms of rights-based justice.
Moo, Douglas J. "A Review of John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life (A Theology of Lordship Series; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008), ETS National Conference, New Orleans, 2009.
Colin J. Humphreys, "The Number of People in the Exodus from Egypt: Decoding Mathematically the Very Large Numbers in Numbers I and XXVI," Vetus Testamentum 48, no. 2 (1999): 196-213.
Humphreys presents a fairly detailed and conservative argument for understanding ‘elp as "troop" rather than "thousand" to reduce the large numbers in Exodus and Numbers. But in the end he resorts to conjectural emendations which I find less plausible than the solutions to the main objections to large numbers that he raised in the first place.