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.

Aquinas on the Existence of God – an Excerpt from Proofs of God

The following is an excerpt from Proofs of God by Matthew Levering.

——–

In his Summa theologiae, Aquinas very briefly offers five ways of demonstrating God’s existence. These are found in question 2, article 3 of the Prima Pars.

The first way is the argument from motion or change. Aquinas states that “motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality,” and he adds that “nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality.” The same thing cannot be in potency and actuality in the same respect, and so a thing cannot be both mover and moved in the same respect. This shows that “whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another,” but this cannot proceed to infinity, since if there is no first mover, there can be no intermediate movers either. The first unmoved mover, who is pure actuality and the source of all act and potency composites, is God.

Cover ArtThe second way is the argument from efficient causality, understood again in terms of act and potency. Nothing is the efficient cause of its own finite actuality (or act of existing), and it is not possible to proceed to infinity in essentially ordered efficient causes, since without a first cause—which itself needs no efficient cause of its act of existing and is therefore pure actuality—there can be no intermediate causes and no ultimate effect. Since there obviously are intermediate causes and an ultimate effect, there must be a first cause, which is God.

Necessarily, then at some time (given infinite time on an endless continuum) everything would have not existed, since “that which is possible to be at some time is not.” If so, then there would now be nothing in existence, since nothing can come from nothing. The fact that something now exists, therefore, means that there must be some thing or things whose existence is necessary. As shown by the argument from efficient causality (the second way), it is impossible to proceed to infinity in necessary things that are caused by another. There must be one uncaused necessary being that causes all others, and this is God.

The fourth way is from the degrees of perfection found in finite things: “Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble, and the like.” The predication of “more” or “less” good or true requires that there be a measure of the degree to which something “resembles” goodness or truth. This measure must be maximal goodness or truth, for otherwise it would itself be measured rather than being the measure. For a maximum in perfection to exist, it must be maximal actuality, “for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being.” This maximum, as perfect actuality, “is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection.”

The fifth and final way comes from the governance of the world. Nonrational things cannot direct themselves to an end, and yet nonrational things in the universe generally repeat the same actions to achieve the same ends. This could not be the result of chance. Thus nonrational things are ordered to their ends by an intelligent orderer who, as the one who orders this-worldly things to their end, transcends and governs this world.

©2016 by Matthew Levering. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

——–

For more information on Proofs of God, click here.

New Release: Proofs of God

Cover ArtLeading theologian Matthew Levering presents a thoroughgoing critical survey of the proofs of God’s existence for readers interested in traditional Christian responses to the problem of atheism. Beginning with Tertullian and ending with Karl Barth, Levering covers twenty-one theologians and philosophers from the early church to the modern period, examining how they answered the critics of their day. He also shows the relevance of the classical arguments to contemporary debates and challenges to Christianity.

——–

“A splendid survey; ideal for students and for the intellectually curious of every vocation. Levering fits an enormous range of information in a small space without any sacrifice of detail or clarity.”—David Bentley Hart, author of The Experience of God

“This is the best kind of book: intellectually serious, lucid, and covering a topic of great importance and perennial interest….For a reliable depiction of the Christian enterprise of thinking about reason and the question of God’s existence, this is the book to read.”—Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School

“A careful, scholarly treatment of the history of attempts to argue for and against the existence of God.”—C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

“Matthew Levering’s panoramic, well-documented Proofs of God is a wonderfully insightful and wisely argued defense of theistic proofs.”—Paul Copan, Palm Beach Atlantic University

“An indispensable point of entry into the seminal texts on God and his existence. No philosophy or theology bookshelf should be without this gem.”—Michael G. Sirilla, Franciscan University of Steubenville

“In this extremely helpful book, Matthew Levering offers what is perhaps the best contemporary historical overview of the major positions on the subject of natural knowledge of God.”—Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, Thomistic Institute, Washington, DC

——–

Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is the James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He previously taught at the University of Dayton. Levering is the author of numerous books, including The Theology of Augustine, Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, and Ezra & Nehemiah in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series.

For more information on Proofs of God, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – June 19, 2015

Cover ArtAt First Things, Peter Leithart discussed Simon Gathercole’s Defending Substitution.

“Gathercole finds a common theme running through alternatives to substitutionary conceptions of atonement: They emphasize the cosmic and oppressive power of Sin, but downplay the role of specific acts of sin—sins—in Paul’s theology.”

Justin Mihoc and Joshua Mann reviewed the second volume of Craig Keener’s commentary on Acts for RBL.

“[Acts: An Exegetical Commentary] has already become, and will certainly remain for a long time, a standard reference work in Acts studies. His encyclopedic opus is certainly to be praised and valued by scholars as the most extensive study of sociorhetorical exegesis of Acts.”

Johnny Walker, at Freedom in Orthodoxy, reviewed Matthew Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation.

“Wonderful in its clarity and in its breadth of engagement with contemporary positions and proposals. His own account deserves a wide-hearing and will be something of a bench-mark I’m sure for Catholic account of the role of Church and Scripture in God’s self-witness to the world.”

Larry Hurtado reviewed Early Christianity in Contexts, edited by William Tabernee.

“For readers who might want to push out their own frontiers of knowledge of early Christianity, this book will be a gold mine.”

Also, Early Christianity in Contexts was reviewed by Peter Head at Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Herman Bavinck’s Essays on Religion, Science, and Society was reviewed by Dayton Hartman at For the Gospel.

The Bonhoeffer Center reviewed Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament, by Stanley Porter, was reviewed at The Washington Book Review.

Peter Williamson, author of Ephesians and Revelation in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, was interviewed at Catholic Bibles.

Finally, congrats to J. Richard Middleton, whose A New Heaven and a New Earth won the Word Award for the category of Biblical Studies.

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

Cover ArtKevin Brown, at Diglotting, reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by N. T. Wright, Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, and John Frederick.

Whether you are involved in biblical studies or theological studies, this volume will surely have something you can enjoy. It is a fantastic read for anyone interested in current issues swirling about regarding Galatians.

RBL featured two reviews of Acts of the Apostles by William Kurz, one from Thomas Phillips and the other from Troy Troftgruben.

At The Budding Exegete, Kenneth Litwak reviewed Donald Hagner’s The New Testament (part 1, part 2).

Andrew Spencer, at Ethics and Culture, reviewed Matthew Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation.

At Pursuing Veritas, Jacob J. Prahlow reviewed Encountering the New Testament by Walter Elwell and Robert Yarbrough.

Sherif Gendy, at Arabish Biblical Theology, reviewed Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin, edited by Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves.

Brandon Ambrosino quoted from John Caputo’s What Would Jesus Deconstruct? in the Boston Globe article Jesus’ Radical Politics.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 6, 2015

Cover ArtAndrew McGowan’s Ancient Christian Worship was reviewed by Jacob Prahlow at Pursuing Veritas.

McGowan superbly introduces the first centuries of Christian worship and does so in a relatively comprehensive and easy-to-engage manner. Ancient Christian Worship thus comes highly recommended to anyone studying early Christianity or Christian worship, and will be beneficial for anyone wanting an introduction to early Christian faith and practice more broadly. This truly is a masterful work and one that I look forward to engaging for many years to come.

Ancient Christian Worship was also reviewed by Early Christian Archives and CHOICE connect.

Michael Allen and Scott Swain discussed Reformed Catholicity at the Reformed Forum.

Nicholas Wolterstorff, author of Journey toward Justice, was interviewed by Ken Wytsma.

At Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight reflected on Matthew Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, and how tradition shapes our reading of Scripture.

D. A. Carson’s Praying with Paul was reviewed by Michael Cooper at Servants of Grace, and recommended by Andy Naselli.

Preaching Magazine named For the Glory of God by Daniel Block, and Handbook of Religion edited by Terry Muck, Harold Netland and Gerald McDermott, among “The Year’s Best Books for Preachers.”

Peter Enns announced the forthcoming 10th Anniversary Edition of Inspiration and Incarnation.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 20, 2015

Cover ArtIntroducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda, was reviewed on Odd Is The New Normal.

What this book does, in its amazing depth of research, is gather together thousands of years of theology and tradition into a single place…You can tell that this book was coauthored by teachers (good teachers) in their ability to organize and present such complicated material in a manner that is approachable and enlightening.

Bob on Books reviewed Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu, co-authors of Our Global Families, wrote a guest post for A. J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion.

At Transpositions, Brett Speakman reviewed Jonathan Wilson’s God’s Good World.

Jordan Hillebert, at Reformation 21, reviewed Atonement, Law and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

At Pursuing Veritas, Jacob Prahlow reviewed Thomas O’Loughlin’s The Didache.

Asbury Journal reviewed The Story of Jesus in History and Faith by Lee Martin McDonald, Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist, Christian Philosophy by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl, and The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner.

At Solidarity Hall, John Medaille wrote Pop Culture and Total War, a reflection on Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire.

Andrew Root, author of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, was interviewed on Dr. Bill Maier Live.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 30, 2015

Cover ArtMathew Sims, at Grace for Sinners, reviewed James K. A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom.

I cannot recommend Imagining the Kingdom highly enough. It’s a much needed corrective for the Church especially in our current climate where secular liturgies often are more formative. Christians have failed to tell and live our story in a way that’s believable and affective.

At Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight reflected on Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Nate Claiborne reviewed Reformed Catholicity, by Michael Allen and Scott Swain.

At Books at a Glance, Adam Darbonne reviewed Reading the Historical Books by Patricia Dutcher-Walls.

Jackson Watts, at the Helwys Society Forum, reviewed Beth Felker Jones’ Practicing Christian Doctrine.

Adonis Vidu’s Atonement, Law, and Justice was review at Pastor Dave Online.

Gary Ridley, at Send U, reviewed Effective Intercultural Communication by A. Scott Moreau, Evvy Hay Campbell and Susan Greener.

Nijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, is looking forward to Mikeal Parsons’ Paideia commentary on Luke.

Justin Taylor shared Thomas Schreiner’s reflections in The King in His Beauty on seeing the Trinity in Genesis 1:26.

At Lingering in Love, Ian McConnell has been working through Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, and Bonhoeffer’s eight theses on youth work. Read posts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The Gospel Coalition shared 8 Lessons from the School of Prayer, an excerpt from D. A. Carson’s Praying with Paul.

 

Scripture and the Truthfulness of the Church – an Excerpt from Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation

The following is an excerpt from Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, by Matthew Levering.

——–

Cover ArtIt is not possible to conceive of Scripture, at any stage of its composition and collection into a canonical unity, outside of the liturgical community of the people of God. The Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten rightly points out that “there is no gospel apart from the church and its sacramental life. . . . There is no such thing as churchless Christianity, for that would posit the possibility of relating personally to Christ without being a member of his body, the Church.”

Just as Israel’s Scriptures cannot be conceived outside of the worshiping community, so also the New Testament writings make sense only in light of Jesus’s eschatological reordering of Israel around himself (the messianic King and new Temple) by calling the Twelve and giving them the mission of making “disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). It is in this community of believers that divine revelation has been received, enacted, and handed down.

. . . . Put simply, we do not have divine revelation without faithful mediation—and the mediation of God’s words and deeds that we find in canonical Scripture is inseparable from the mediation of the covenantal community. The purpose of this book, then, is to explore the missional, liturgical, and doctrinal forms of the Church’s mediation of divine revelation and to appreciate Scripture’s inspiration and truth in this context. . . .

This book stands against “ecclesiastical fall narratives,” which call into question the very possibility of truthful mediation of divine revelation. We cannot cordon off the truth of the gospel (let alone Scripture or its interpretation) from the truthfulness of the Church, both because Scripture identifies the Church as the Spirit-filled interpreter of revelation and because historical study shows that scriptural texts and canonical Scripture itself are inextricably embedded in the covenantal community.

©2014 by Matthew Levering. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

——–

For more information on Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, click here.

New Release: Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation

Cover ArtHow do human beings today receive divine revelation? Where and in what ways is it mediated so that all generations can hear the fullness of the gospel? In Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, distinguished theologian Matthew Levering shows that divine revelation has been truthfully mediated through the church, the gospel, and Scripture so that we can receive it in its fullness today.

Levering engages past and present approaches to revelation across a variety of traditions, offering a comprehensive, historical study of all the key figures and perspectives. His thorough analysis results in an alternative approach to prevailing views of the doctrine and points to its significance for the entire church.

——–

Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation possesses all of the qualities that readers have come to expect from the work of one of the liveliest contemporary theologians: wide historical learning, theological discrimination, clarity of thought, and spiritual vigor.” – John Webster, University of St. Andrews

“An extended argument against the thesis of the ‘ecclesiastical fall,’ according to which the pristine revelation offered in Jesus Christ has been distorted by an all-too-human church incapable of bearing it….Anyone interested in the issues of revelation, inspiration, ecclesiology, biblical hermeneutics, and Trinitarian theology ought to read this searching, thoroughly researched, and beautifully written study.” – Fr. Robert Barron, Mundelein Seminary

“A powerful and consistent case for the faithfulness of the mediation of divine revelation in Scripture and the church.” – Hans Boersma, Regent College

“A stunning tour d’horizon of the intense and varied discussion on the mediation of revelation through Church and Scripture….A ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to understand what is theologically at stake and under dispute when one engages the doctrine of revelation today.” – Reinhard Hütter, Duke Divinity School

——–

Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is the Perry Family Foundation Professor of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He previously taught at the University of Dayton. Levering is the author of numerous books, including The Theology of Augustine and Ezra & Nehemiah in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, and is the coauthor of Holy People, Holy Land. He serves as coeditor of the journals Nova et Vetera and the International Journal of Systematic Theology and has served as Chair of the Board of the Academy of Catholic Theology since 2007.

For more information on Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, click here.