BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 18, 2016

Cover ArtTim Harmon, at Western Seminary’s Transformed blog, reviewed Ingolf Dalferth’s Crucified and Resurrected.

“Dalferth’s work here is to be lauded, as it exemplifies contemporary scholarship of the first order. With an acute awareness of the past, Dalferth yet skillfully operates within and seeks to advance the present social and theological milieu.”

At Euangelion, Michael Bird reviewed The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life, edited by Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica.

Union with Christ, by J. Todd Billings, was reviewed by Dan Glover.

Craig Bartholomew’s Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics was reviewed by Steve Bishop.

“Perhaps the best book on hermeneutics yet written!”


BA Books & Authors on the Web – June 5, 2015

Cover ArtAt RBL, Sylvie Raquel and Pheme Perkins reviewed Stanley Porter’s How We Got the New Testament.

No one will come away from Porter’s treatment of “text, transmission, and translation” without appreciating the extraordinary efforts behind the Scripture we read in church on Sunday.

Erik Raymond, at The Gospel Coalition, reviewed Early Christian Martyr Stories by Bryan Litfin.

In the postBread From Heaven in the Desert” at Jesus Creed, RJS reflected on Walter Moberly’s discussion of manna in Old Testament Theology.

Exodus 16 is a powerful and multidimensional text with a long and powerful interpretative history and many lessons yet for us today. The point isn’t to apply “science” to the story, but to listen and understand.

Everyday Theology, edited by Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Anderson, and Michael Sleasman, A New Heaven and a New Earth by J. Richard Middleton, and Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament by Stanley Porter, appeared on the “What We’re Reading This Summer” list from the staff of The Gospel Coalition.

A hymn inspired by J. Todd Billings’ Union with Christ, I Stand Forgiven!

Beginning Biblical Hebrew, by John Cook and Robert Holmstedt, was featured at Books at a Glance.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – June 6, 2014

Cover ArtBooks At a Glance interviewed Stanley Porter about his latest book, How we got the New Testament.

“I examine the textual basis of our Greek New Testament, reconstruct the history of its transmission from earliest times, and then trace the history of its translation. The overall result is an overwhelming affirmation of the reliability of the Greek New Testament….I hope that this has direct value for anyone interested in the New Testament, both pastors and lay people, and especially for those interested in some of the more technical aspects of its text.”

James Bradford Pate reviewed Union with Christ, by J. Todd Billings.

Lindsay Kennedy, at My Digital Seminary, reviewed Thomas Schreiner’s Romans BECNT volume.

Spoiledmilks reviewed the Mark BECNT volume, by Robert Stein.

At The Pneuma Review, Andrew K. Gabriel reviewed Mapping Modern Theology, edited by Kelly Kapic and Bruce McCormack.

David Barshinger, at Exploring Church History, reviewed John Fea’s Why Study History?

Thomas Booher, at The Tulip Driven Life, reflected on Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics.

The Courage to Die, a post from Rodney Decker, author of the forthcoming Reading Koine Greek, who passed away on Sunday, May 25, 2014.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – October 04, 2013

Cover ArtNijay Gupta reviewed Lee McDonald’s The Story of Jesus in History and Faith, at Crux Sola.

“McDonald represents a view that tries to see faith and history as complementary (not contradictory), and that something is missing when you eliminate one. In terms of history, McDonald urges: ‘Faith in Jesus as the Christ is faith in a historical phenomenon in the sense that Christian faith is centered on God’s activity in a historical person who lived and died in Palestine in the first century’ (p. 21). On the other hand, ‘Faith…realizes that appropriation of God’s activity in Jesus cannot be found in the historical-critical dimension, but through faith alone’ (p. 21)…..I warmly recommend this to teachers and students as a ‘faith-friendly’ guide to studying the historical Jesus!”

Also, Nijay shared an excerpt from Donald Hagner’s The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction, for his post on the Purpose of Matthew.

Matthew Montonini shared his experience attending the Mullen Lecture recently delivered by Francis Moloney at St. Mary’s Seminary. Moloney’s topic was “Love in the Gospel of John: to What End?” based on his book Love in the Gospel of John.

Jesus Among Friends and Enemies, edited by Chris Keith and Larry Hurtado, was included in Brian LePort’s list of resources for studying John the Baptist.

Perry Oakes reviewed Gary Long’s Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Hebrew, for RBL.

Dave, at Can’t Catch My Breath, shared from Eddie Gibbs’ The Rebirth of the Church.

J. Todd Billings’ Union with Christ, G.K. Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology, and Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching, were recommended in Derek Rishmawy’s Reformedish Seminary Starter Kit.

Michael Kruger, at The Gospel Coalition, included Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena in his Top 10 Books on the Bible’s Authority.

Englewood Review of Books featured Bonhoeffer the Assassin?, by  Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony Siegrist, and Daniel Umble in their new release update.

Congratulations to J. Todd Billings – Gordon H. Girod Chair of Reformed Theology

On April 17, 2013, Dr. J. Todd Billings, author of Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church, was installed as the first Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary.

At his inauguration, Dr. Billings gave a lecture titled “Rediscovering the Catholic-Reformed Tradition for Today:  A Biblical, Christ-Centered Vision for Church Renewal”.

Dr. James K.A. Smith and Dr. Matthew Levering were respondents. In his response, Dr. Smith said of Todd Billings: “Todd is, for me, one of the primary reasons to be hopeful about the future of Reformed theology… In my estimation, Todd is without peer in his generation, boldly and creatively articulating a theological vision that is evangelical and catholic, Reformed and ecumenical, dogmatic and practical. And I pray that his tribe increases.”

Western Theological Seminary has provided video of this event – including these lectures. The videos can be viewed here.

Below is a promotional video about Dr. Billings and the Gordon H. Girod Chair.

We at Baker Academic loved working with Todd on Union with Christ and look forward to many more projects in the years to come. We wish to congratulate Todd on this prestigious position and pray that it generates fresh research for the ministry of the church and academy.

The Reception of Union with Christ

The Reception of Union with Christ

by J. Todd Billings

Union with Christ was a delight to write—imagine taking one of your favorite topics, which you’ve researched for about a decade, and telling readers why it matters after it has changed the lives of many students, pastors, and others. And where else would I get to talk about John Calvin, Franciscus Junius, Christian Smith, and Sallie McFague all in the same chapter? More importantly, where else can one move seamlessly from central features of the biblical narrative, to key components of the gospel, to our approach to contextualization or cross-cultural ministry? A rich theme such as union with Christ provided a perfect avenue for that.

In many ways, union with Christ by the Spirit is a culminating theme in the biblical narrative. It gives a trinitarian, Christ-centered way to pull together Christian salvation, the Christian life, and Christian identity. But unfortunately, it is overlooked and missed by many in the contemporary Western church—evangelicals and “progressives,” denominational and nondenominational churches alike. Drawing on key biblical texts and giving a “theology of retrieval” from the Reformation, Union with Christ shows how this vision of Christian identity can counter the Moralistic Therapeutic Deism of our age (via Christian Smith) and overcome many of the predictable polarities of modernity (e.g., transcendence versus immanence).

I’m grateful that Union with Christ has received an enthusiastic response. A lot of pastors, professors, and other students of theology have caught on to the excitement expressed in the book! Here are a few particularly striking reactions:

“A great book for the classroom.”

Professors at seminaries and Christian colleges have told me that the book works just right for the classroom. Union with Christ gets to substantial theological issues in an accessible and direct way, and it relates these issues to life and ministry. All these aspects help the students engage the book and make it a useful pedagogical tool. It’s used in both systematic theology classes and classes in the Ministry Department when the professor wants to bring a strong theological lens to ministry issues.

“I preached a sermon series on union with Christ after reading the book.”

My writer’s heart has been warmed by the response among pastors and other church leaders. Unfortunately, much of what is marketed to pastors is theologically thin. But I’m convinced that if a theologically substantial book is written accessibly, with real applications to ministry, many pastors will take the dive and think with much more depth than the resources marketed to them often assume. I have received numerous notes about how Union with Christ has touched church leaders very deeply, moving and deepening their vision of the gospel and their vision for ministry.

“Reformed, but not just for the Reformed.”

As the book gives biblical exegesis and contemporary cultural analysis, it engages in “retrieval” from the Reformation and the Reformed tradition in particular. But it is a broad Reformed tradition—one that emphasizes the catholic dimensions of the faith, particularly its trinitarian and christological dynamics. Interestingly, the book is being used at schools in a variety of traditions—some broadly interdenominational, some specifically Reformed. Some of the professors belong to an Arminian tradition but still think it’s a very valuable book and useful for the classroom. As some of the blog reviews indicate, the book has found enthusiastic readers in Reformed circles (e.g., Raymond Blacketer in Calvin Theological Journal), interdenominational evangelical environments (e.g., Rob Price at Talbot), as well as in mainline contexts (e.g., Andy Nagel’s in The Presbyterian Outlook). A few days ago, it was awarded the “Best Book in Applied Theology” for the year by Byron Bolger at Hearts & Minds Bookstore. The ecclesial and institutional range of readers who enjoy Union with Christ should not be surprising for a book with endorsements from scholars from Princeton Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Westminster Seminary California, and Fuller Theological Seminary. Now, that’s a bit of variety for you!

J. Todd Billings (ThD, Harvard University Divinity School) is associate professor of Reformed theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of numerous articles and two award-winning books, including Calvin, Participation, and the Gift: The Activity of Believers in Union with Christ, which received a 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.