BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 20, 2016

Cover ArtBrandon Vogt, from Strange Notions and Word on Fire, interviewed Matthew Levering about his new book, Proofs of God.

“I wrote this book because I know personally the pain of not merely not knowing whether God exists, but not knowing what the word ‘God’ is supposed to mean. For many people whom I knew during my childhood, ‘God’ has just as much meaning as ‘the Great Pumpkin’.”

Benjamin Gladd and Matthew Harmon’s Making All Things New was reviewed by Oren Martin at The Gospel Coalition.

At Desiring God, Tony Reinke interviewed Paul Heintzman about his book Leisure and Spirituality. Also, Leisure and Spirituality was reviewed at Wesley Nexus.

Joel Green, author of Conversion in Luke-Acts, discussed his book with the hosts of On Script.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 21, 2015

Cover ArtAt The Englewood Review of Books, Ben Simpson reviewed Leisure and Spirituality by Paul Heintzman.

“While Heintzman’s work focuses on leisure, he presents his research against the backdrop of work as it is understood within the current milieu, creating a relief. In this respect, Heintzman is like the sages of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32) a person who knows and understands the times, offering the church knowledge that can equip us to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus.”

James, at Thoughts, Prayers, & Songs, reviewed Harold Netland’s Christianity and Religious Diversity.

At RBL, Judith Lieu reviewed The Original Bishops by Alistair Stewart.

“In this closely argued and exegetically analytical study, Alistair C. Stewart (who, publishing as Stewart-Sykes, has an impressive record as a patristic scholar) presents a vigorous rebuttal of what he describes as the “consensus” position concerning the origin of the threefold order of episkopoi (bishops), presbyters (elders), and deacons.”

George Hunsinger’s Reading Barth with Charity was reviewed at Diglotting.

Also at Diglotting, a review of 2 Corinthians by George Guthrie.

Tony Reinke shared an excerpt from The Pastor as Public Theologian, by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – July 10, 2015

Cover ArtAt Exegetical Tools, Warren Campbell reviewed Stanley Porter’s How We Got the New Testament.

“Porter’s work will not only benefit the student as a substantial introduction to the many issues involved with the production, establishment, and transmission of the Greek New Testament, but it will also function as an excellence recourse for further study.”

Lindsay Kennedy, at My Digital Seminary, reviewed Encountering the Book of Romans by Douglas Moo.

Bob on Books reviewed Paul Heintzman’s Leisure and Spirituality.

“Many of us still struggle with reconciling the ideas of leisure and spirituality. After reading Heintzman’s book, these are a bit less of an oxymoron for me.”

Jennifer Guo, at Grace for Sinners, reviewed Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson.

At Learning While Teaching, Jerry Hillyer reviewed Karl Allen Kuhn’s The Kingdom according to Luke and Acts.

“I cannot say enough about how important and well done this book is and how, if you are a preacher, you should buy it, read it slowly, and carefully consider how you will challenge your congregation to live up to the high call of God.”

Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament by Stanley Porter was reviewed at Diglotting.

At The Gospel Coalition, John Starke discussed James K. A. Smith’s excursion on “catching sleep” in Imagining the Kingdom.

Norman Wirzba’s forthcoming From Nature to Creation was included in the Englewood Review of Books25 Books to Watch for in the 2nd Half of 2015.

 

Paul Heintzman – “Have Leisure and Know that I am God”

“Have leisure and know that I am God.”
Paul Heintzman

“Have leisure and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10 Septuagint)

Does this verse surprise you? Have you ever thought about what a biblical understanding of leisure might be? As we approach summer when many Canadians often take their holidays, it is helpful to pause and reflect upon a Christian understanding of leisure. Since most readers of this blog are Americans, I need to point out that Canadians receive a minimum of two weeks of annual paid vacation leave; the US is the only industrialized country without a minimum annual vacation law; 137 nations, including all developed nations except the US, have paid vacation leave; last year only 57% of Americans took a vacation of a week or longer and only 14% took two weeks or more; and the average American works 160 hours (one month) more today than in 1976 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 No wonder the First Annual Vacation Commitment Day was held this past March 31 and a Vacation Commitment Summit is being held in New York City on June 15, 2015.

Cover ArtIf you were asked to define leisure, what would your answer be? Leisure has been defined as free time, a function of social class, recreational activity, a state of mind (a psychological state), a state of being (an attitude to life), and holistically where leisure is not distinguished from work. While there is not a fully developed theology of leisure in the Bible, there are numerous biblical elements, including the principle of Sabbath and the concept of rest, that may guide us in our understanding of leisure.

The Sabbath taught that Israel’s life possessed the element of time free from work. The implication of this biblical understanding of leisure is that some rhythm or cycle of leisure (in a quantitative sense) and work is necessary for well-being and wholeness. This rhythmic pattern to life suggested by the Sabbath may constantly serve as a model for us in shaping and scheduling life. The benefit of a sabbatical structure to life is to provide special time on a regular basis for physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional renewal, which leads to better health for the individual and society.

Second, the Sabbath suggests that leisure may be defined in more than a quantitative sense, for the Sabbath is more than a time period, more than one day in seven. In the Old Testament the Sabbath, as a day of abstaining from work, is not entirely for the purpose of restoring one’s lost strength and enhancing the efficiency of one’s future work. Rather than simply an interlude between periods of work, it is the climax of living. Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel described the Sabbath as “not a date but an atmosphere—a taste of eternity—to come.” The Sabbath suggests the attitude of humanity’s basic posture in relation to God. The appeal to creation theology in the Exodus account of the Sabbath commandment suggests that the Sabbath is an invitation to the Israelites, in the act of Sabbath rest, to experience their God as a God whose very nature is one of rest and to rejoice in and celebrate God’s gift of creation.

The prophet Isaiah described the Sabbath as a delight. Jesus taught that the Sabbath was a time for bringing healing and wholeness. The Sabbath, and likewise leisure, is more than a time of non-work; it has a qualitative dimension. The biblical Sabbath teaches us that leisure need not be merely an external cessation from work in the rhythm to life but that it may also be an internal spiritual attitude. This qualitative understanding of leisure was clearly articulated by Roman Catholic theologian Josef Pieper, who wrote that leisure is “an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul . . . a receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude, and it is not only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the world of creation.”2

Leisure is frequently equated with the biblical concept of rest. This concept supplies a wide variety of clues that are descriptive of leisure: a pleasant, secure, and blessed life in the land (the Deuteronomic notion of rest); an entering into God’s rest (Ps. 95); a rest of completion, not inactivity, such as the Creator enjoyed when He had completed His works, and a Sabbath rest of peace, joy, well-being, concord, security (Heb. 4:10, 11); and a relief and repose from labors and burdens as well as a peace and contentment of body, soul, and mind in God (Matt. 11:28–30). While these elements of rest available through fellowship with God will be consummated in the heavenly rest, they are at least partially a present reality. They are one way of describing the quality of life that may be seen as fleshing out the qualitative dimension of leisure.

Thus, a review of the biblical concepts of Sabbath and rest suggests that leisure may encompass quantitative and qualitative dimensions: one related to our doing and the other to our being. These concepts teach a rhythm to life of work and non-work as well as a spiritual attitude for a person’s basic posture in relation to God—one of rest, joy, freedom, and celebration in God and the gift of creation. In addition, a variety of biblical elements (e.g., festivals, feasts, dance, hospitality, and friendships) may be viewed as non-work or leisure activities that along with work fit into the rhythm of life and reflect one’s celebration of God and His creation.

Christians down through the ages have applied these biblical notions to their understanding of leisure. Richard Foster described the early Christian notion of holy leisure as “a sense of balance in life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves.”3 Likewise, the medieval monastics advocated a similar balance wherein otium (leisure) was viewed halfway between the two dangers of otiositas (idleness) and negotium (business).

Leisure is crucial for spiritual growth and development. As people who live in a fast paced society we need to remember that a leisure atmosphere—where time and space is allotted for being as well as doing—is crucial for Christian spirituality.

References

1. J. de Graaf, The Case for Paid Vacations, 2015, https://www.takebackyourtime.org/the-case-for-paid-vacation/.
2. J. Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture (New York: Random House, 1963), 40–41.
3. R. J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: Harper & Row), 20–21.

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Paul Heintzman (PhD, University of Waterloo) is associate professor of leisure studies at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario, and has extensive experience as a recreation practitioner throughout Canada. He previously taught at Brock University and at Acadia University. Heintzman is coeditor of Christianity and Leisure: Issues in a Pluralistic Society and is the author of numerous journal papers and book chapters on the topics of leisure and spirituality, recreation and the environment, and the philosophy and ethics of leisure.

For more information on Leisure and Spirituality, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 29, 2015

Cover ArtByron Borger, at Hearts & Minds Books, featured Leisure and Spirituality by Paul Heintzman.

Thank goodness for the great “engaging culture” series from Baker Academic, and for this long-awaited, just released new volume….I think this book is nothing short of magisterial, and stands, at this point, as the definitive Christian book in the field. There is simply nothing like it on the market, and it should appeal to any number of readers.

James K.A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism was reviewed by Renea McKenzie at Thinking Through Christianly.

Thomas Schreiner reviewed Simon Gathercole’s Defending Substitution for The Gospel Coalition.

We see the virtues of Gathercole’s scholarship in this stimulating work. Defending Substitution makes precise distinctions and carefully attends to Scripture. Gathercole’s use of primary sources is always illuminating, and his parallels to noble deaths in classical literature are particularly helpful.

CHOICEconnect reviewed The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church, edited by Khaled Anatolios.

Allen Mickle, at Books at a Glance, reviewed Jeffrey Weima’s 1-2 Thessalonians BECNT volume.

The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament is probably, in this reviewer’s opinion, one of the best series based upon the Greek text available. Baker released their newest, 1-2 Thessalonians by Jeffrey A. D. Weima (Professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary) and it is a welcome addition.

The Gospel of John, by Francis Martin and William Wright, was reviewed by Will Duquette at Cry Wolf.

Jim Fowler reviewed Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell.

Chris Tilling is organizing a Syndicate symposium to discuss Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism, edited by Christopher Hays and Christopher Ansberry.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 22, 2015

Cover ArtNijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Jeffrey Weima’s BECNT volume on 1-2 Thessalonians.

This is the most thoroughly-researched, soundly-argued evangelical academic commentary to date, and it will serve students and pastors well for a very long time. Weima has spent a lifetime researching these letters and there is hardly a soul in the world…who knows these letters and the history of their study better.

Paul Heintzman’s Leisure and Spirituality was reviewed by Andrew Spencer at Ethics & Culture, Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint, Casey Hough at The Renewed Church, and Nate Claiborne.

Fred G. Zaspel, at Books at a Glance, reviewed Defending Substitution by Simon Gathercole.

Defending Substitution is a text that will sharpen understanding of this vital doctrine. It is easily accessible for Christian readers generally, but it is a book pastors and teachers especially will read to great profit. When we preach that “Christ died for us! Christ died for our sins!” we desperately want to be clear. And for that clarity Gathercole has rendered a wonderful service to the church.

Defending Substitution was also reviewed by James at Thoughts, Prayers & Songs, and Simon Gathercole was interviewed on The Christian Humanist Podcast.

At An Accidental Blog, Steve Bishop reviewed the recent Paideia volume on Galatians by Peter Oakes.

The Washington Book Review reviewed Matthew Schlimm’s This Strange and Sacred Scripture.

The Brookside Institute recommended Encountering the New Testament by Walter Elwell and Robert Yarbrough, and The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

Justin Taylor shared Albert Mohler’s recommended books list for Preaching Magazine, with Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God and Terry Muck, Harold Netland, and Gerald McDermott’s Handbook of Religion taking the top spots.

 

The Secularization of the Protestant Work Ethic – an Excerpt from Leisure and Spirituality

The following is an excerpt from Leisure and Spirituality, by Paul Heintzman.

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The secularization of the Protestant work ethic was influenced by the deistic rationalism of the Enlightenment, which placed humans at the center of life. God was no longer viewed as the living God who desired people to serve him and one another. Rather God was considered as a distant being who, following the creation of the world, had left the world to humans. Thus the world was compared to a clock that God had wound up and then left to operate on its own. In this world humans were guided by reason and not God’s revelation.

Cover ArtSince humans were guided by reason and not God’s revelation, humans were seen to be autonomous and at the center of life; God and his kingdom were demoted to a place of secondary importance. Work came to be motivated by a humanistic work ethic founded on the Renaissance faith that autonomous humans can conquer the world by means of one’s own intellect and effort.

Christian belief in the sinfulness of humans and the necessity of God’s grace for salvation was replaced by a humanistic belief in the eventual perfectability of humans and human society through devotion to work. For example, the Puritan virtues of hard work and frugality were useful to Benjamin Franklin, but he severed them from the Christian faith that had embodied them. Hard work and frugality became important in and of themselves, and they were viewed to bring rewards in this world. It was thought that humans were self-sufficient; through intellectual effort, moral striving, and hard work a person could obtain all that he or she wanted. The world was a good and fruitful place; humans had only to take initiative and make the most of it. Work became a means to elevate and glorify humans, instead of a way to glorify God.

The social evolutionary theories of Herbert Spencer provided additional support to the belief that humans prosper by their own efforts. Through a free and unhindered quest for wealth, the strong would succeed while the weak and lazy would fall by the wayside. The secular work ethic gained further support from the view that “the progress of a society or a culture is something like the natural progress of a man; as he grows older and works harder, he accumulates more wisdom and more material things. . . . [Therefore] the idea of social progress and the sanctity of work as a means to achieve it grew into a now virtually unexamined ethic.”

The religion of deistic rationalism provided the context necessary for the development of free enterprise and the idea of laissez-faire (the lack of government regulation and interference in the economy), which subsequently greatly influenced the purpose and conducting of work. While the medieval theologians and the Reformers believed that Christians should refrain from seeking their own end, Adam Smith raised the principle of self-interest to the dominant motivation in society.

It was no longer necessary to consciously serve God and one another. Instead of people attempting to do good, goodwill emerges as the by-product of self-interest. According to Smith, the supposed “invisible hand” of the market will guarantee that everyone receives his or her due. Thus the government should not interfere in the market. God was nearly pushed out of the realm of work to be replaced by the god of profit and gain. Vanderkloet wrote that this humanist work ethic “was based on the so-called iron laws of nature; not on God’s law of love.”

©2015 by Paul Heintzman. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Leisure and Spirituality, click here.

New Release: Leisure and Spirituality

Cover ArtThis addition to the award-winning Engaging Culture series explores the link between leisure and spirituality, offering a Christian perspective on leisure concepts and issues in contemporary society.

Paul Heintzman, a respected scholar and experienced recreation practitioner, interacts with biblical, historical, and contemporary leisure studies sources to provide a comprehensive understanding of leisure. He also explains the importance of leisure for spiritual growth and development.

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“A triumph of scholarship and a helpful guide to thinking Christianly about leisure.” – Leland Ryken, Wheaton College

“This is, quite simply, the most thorough and thoughtful book about the relationship between leisure and spirituality.” – Robert Banks, Macquarie University

“The things closest to us are often the hardest to see, understand, and talk about….Heintzman does a masterful job of casting light on many of those crucial closest things: work, rest, leisure, time, body, and soul.” – Loren Wilkinson, Regent College

“The most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of Christianity and leisure.” – Karl E. Johnson, Cornell University

“Heintzman has given the Christian community a wonderful gift that will transform our perspective on common elements of our daily lives: work, rest, and play.” – Glen Van Andel, Calvin College

“Paul Heintzman has once again demonstrated why he is the quintessential Christian scholar in the study of leisure and spirituality.” – Steven N. Waller, The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Paul Heintzman (PhD, University of Waterloo) is associate professor of leisure studies at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario, and has extensive experience as a recreation practitioner throughout Canada. He previously taught at Brock University and at Acadia University. Heintzman is coeditor of Christianity and Leisure: Issues in a Pluralistic Society and is the author of numerous journal papers and book chapters on the topics of leisure and spirituality, recreation and the environment, and the philosophy and ethics of leisure.

For more information on Leisure and Spirituality, click here.