Review: Colloquial Norwegian

colloquial-norwegian

It’s one thing to know the structure of the language, it’s another to be able to speak that same language to others. While Norwegian Grammar has many good helps with idiomatic phrases, it’s incredibly helpful to have a few Norwegian books with exercises in them. Colloquial Norwegian is one of those books.

Each chapter includes two Dialogues, one in Norwegian and the other in English. After this is a Vocabulary which contains new words found in the norsk dialogue. Then there are fill-in-the-blank, true or false, or writing exercises. Some chapters have a Culture section that explains an aspect of the Norwegian way of life related to the subject matter of the chapter. There are Language Points that explain some of the grammar from the chapter. There are charts and lists throughout the book, and in many places if you have the CD you can listen to the pronunciations of words (such as with the Dialogue sections). 

After Unit 14 there is a short reference grammar, a few pages on nynorsk, the book’s answer key, and then both a Norwegian-English glossary and an English-Norwegian glossary. 

Recommended?

You should begin learning Norwegian by working through Norwegian in 10 Minutes a Day. It gives basic understanding of the pronunciation by actually translating it phonetically next to the ‘norsk ord,’ and it teaches you a lot of basic Norwegian terms and phrases dealing with food, time, work, play, etc. 

Then move on to Colloquial Norwegian and then to Teach Yourself Norwegian. Personally, I favor TYN over CN, although with TYN the dialogues are mostly in Norwegian, with the occasional English sentence given for guidance. TYN also has sections on grammar and how to say a wealth of phrases in Norwegian. Both books are very similar, through they have their differences, and both books would serve you very well. 

The back cover of Colloquial Norwegian says that after completing this book, “you will be at Level B1 of the Common European Framework for Languages, and at the intermediate level on the ACTFL proficiency scales.” I think this is well worth working through so that you can be at that level. I didn’t receive the CD that comes with the book, but it would benefit you to use it. You might even impress your norsk neighbors (naboer) with your fancy pronunciations (meaning you don’t sound too American and you can actually roll your R’s).

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Margaret O’Leary og Torunn Andresen
  • Series: Colloquial Series
  • Paperback: 391 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (May 12, 2016)

Buy from Routledge or on Amazon!

(Special thanks to Routledge for sending me this book to review!)

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Review: Norwegian, An Essential Grammar

norwegian-grammar

Learning a new language is exhausting. Reading, writing, listening, recognizing, speaking – it will make you tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed. You don’t understand the road signs, you can’t tell if your neighbor is a gentleman or a shyster, and when you try to relax with some TV, even the children shows seem to be mocking you. Åse-Berit and Rolf Strandskogen are professors at the University of Oslo, Norway, and they teach Norwegian as a foreign language. Thankfully, from their experience has come a book for us foreigners (utlandinger). 

Outline

I  Parts of Speech

  • Verbs
  • Articles
  • Nouns
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Pronouns
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections
  • Numerals
  • Prepositions

II  Sentence Elements

III  Sentence Structure

IV  Word Order

Why is this book important?

Test Case: Prepositions

You don’t think much about prepositions until you have to learn another language. In Norwegian, the word “om” means “about” in English. So the phrase “Boka handler om en stor hval” would mean “The book is about a great whale.” 

Yet propositions are tricky.

  • In English, you can sit in a chair or you can sit on a chair, but books always go in a bookcase and on a shelf.
  • Or, you were born in 1990 on July 4th. You wouldn’t say you were born on 1990 in July 4th.

That sounds wrong, and when you hear a foreigner mix up their prepositions you know they’re either still new to the country, or they have a ways to go in the English language (unfortunately, this fault is also found with many Americans themselves). But in order to impress your Norwegian neighbors and family, learn your prepositions (and everything else for that matter).

So what about Norwegian? The word “om” doesn’t always mean “about.”

  • “Jeg skal på ferie om to uker”  =  “I am going on vacation in two weeks”
  • It does not mean “I am going on vacation about two weeks.”

If you don’t know any better, hearing this in a sentence will throw you off, and you will lose precious words in the conversation leaving you wondering why everyone except for you is nodding their heads. Reading this book as you continue in your Norsk immersion will help you to nod your head and laugh right along with everyone else, and [as well as] it will help you avoid sitting in a corner alone eating the rest of the lefse at the next juletrefest.

The grammar and terms in which the book is written was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. I could actually understand the grammar the authors were explaining. This is essential in a grammar book. It is a huge help to be able to read this book and understand how the grammar works without needing a teacher to explain it to you (though if you’re living in Norway and learning Norwegian, you will probably need go to through a language course. However, reading this book will put you much farther ahead than if you began school without any prior knowledge of the language). The authors not only provide many examples, but they also provide plenty of subtle, idiomatic phrases. You’ll never need another Norwegian grammar (though others would be beneficial as well).

Section I (which is made up of 10 parts) is 169 pages. Each piece is filled with explanations, examples, and comments. Sections II-IV are only a few pages long each, but they’re essential. What goes first in a sentence? Why? Where do the adjectives go? Adverbs? Time references? All are essential to becoming a pro at reading, hearing, writing, and speaking Norwegian. 

Recommended?

The Stranskogen’s aim has been to provide the non-Norwegian with a “simple, step-by-step presentation of the grammatical rules and systems of Norwegian” (Preface). It is a “practical guide to modern Norwegian as it is used in an every day context” (Preface). Grammar is essential to learning a foreign language, and this book is essential if you are learning on your own, if you want to be ahead in class, or if you just want to understand what your mail says. And for me, if I ever want to be able to express the gospel to anyone, it’s best to learn their mother tongue or else I”ll be just another American with wacky ideas. 

You won’t want to have only this book on hand. While slowly working through this book you should also be going through workbooks such as Norwegian in 10 Minutes a Day, Teach Yourself Norwegian, and Colloquial Norwegian. A good website is also Norwegian on the Web.

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Åse-Berit og Rolf Strandskogen
  • Series: Routledge Essential Grammars
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Reissue edition (December 22, 1994)

Buy from Routledge or on Amazon!

(Special thanks to Routledge for sending me this book to review!)

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When Jerusalem Becomes Like the Nations, Part 2

1

“The Day of the Lord” by George Martin

I’ve been listening to more of Rikk Watts’ lectures, this time on the NT use of the OT. Here he argues that the main connection between the two testaments (or “covenants”) is God’s faithful character. Before I put out my review, I wanted to write up a summary of one of the texts he looks at in his lectures. This is on the use of Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew 24:29. I will be splitting this into two parts, with Isaiah 34.4 being examined next time.

The Use of Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew 24:29

Isaiah 13:10

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.

Isaiah 34:4

All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.

Matthew 24:29

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Outline

Part 1

  • NT Context
  • Isaiah 13:10 in Context
  • Isaiah 13:10 in Judaism

Part 2

  • Isaiah 34:4 in Context
  • Isaiah 34:4 in Judaism
  • Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew 24:29
  • Theological Use

It should be noted that I have summarized Watts’ words and have at points touched up the grammar (since these are notes were for class use). Rather than giving endless quotation marks, just know that this is all from Watts, and if something doesn’t make sense, that blame rests on me.

Having looked at the use of Isaiah 13:10 in Matthew 24:29 in my last post, now we’ll look at what Dr. Watts has to say about Jesus’ use of Isaiah 34:4 in the same verse.

Isaiah 34:4 in Context

Isaiah 34:4 belongs to the larger section of Isaiah 28–35. In Isa 28–33, woes are brought against Assyria for their earlier attack on Jerusalem. Isa 34–35 forms a bridge between the divine judgment on the nations’ arrogance in Isa 13-23 and the new exodus return from exile which dominates the second half of the book.

Isaiah 34:1–4 summons the nations to God’s court to hear the sentence of their coming dreadful slaughter (epitomized in Edom’s fate). Verse 4 portrays the cosmic scale of that destruction through the description of heavenly disintegration as the stars rot away and the skies roll up like shrunken parchment.

The carnage moves to earth where the remainder of the oracle presents the disturbing image of Yahweh’s blood-soaked sword slaughtering Edom’s leaders and people in an unparalleled glut of sacrifice (vv. 5–7), rendering it like Sodom (vv. 9–10), an eternal pre-creation chaos (vv. 10–11, 17), depopulated and inherited only by wild animals.

As in Isaiah 13–14, this leads to a vision of Israel’s salvation where Yahweh leads his once blind, deaf, mute, and lame, but now healed people in glorious procession through a new creational blossoming desert to Zion (Isa 35).

Isaiah 34:4 in Judaism

Isa 34:4 is applied to several significant events: the replacement of the old creation with the new, the resurrection citing Hos 6:2, and the eschatological judgment of the wicked. Edom, blamed in 1 Esdras 4:45 for the burning of the Temple during the Babylonian invasion, later becomes a standard reference to Rome in some of the rabbinical literature.

Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew

The prophetic symbolism indicates the significance of the event. The cosmic language is consistent with the widely held Jewish belief that the Temple stood at the centre of creation. As early as Amos, cosmic chaos was seen to be the consequence of Israel’s not keeping Torah.

Jesus’ sharply criticized Israel’s leadership for failing to keep God’s instructions. Consistent with Jewish tradition of Isaiah 13, Jesus’ allusion would suggest that this event is of the same order as the Fall, the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, the interference with the Temple’s rebuilding, and the end of days. The world as it was is coming to an end.

What’s more shocking is that these images were normally applied to two of Israel’s enemies, Edom and Babylon, nations which epitomized idolatrous and arrogant hostility toward God. But for Jesus, Israel’s “Antiochan” (Dan 12) leadership hijacked God’s vineyard and perverted Jerusalem’s role (e.g. Isa 2:2-5; Ezek 5:5). They transformed it into an Edom-like traitor and a Babylon-like world-city which sought to challenge God’s sovereignty. Both of these nations participated in the Temple’s previous destruction, and Israel had become just like them. And so, Jerusalem itself comes under a similar judgment.

However, in both instances God’s judgment was closely connected with Israel’s new exodus redemption. Isaiah 13–14 anticipates the inclusion of aliens (14:1; cf. Isa 56:7 in Matt 21:13). Isa 34–35’s combination of vineyard imagery and the return in Yahweh’s train of the newly healed blind one’s to Zion is echoed in Jesus’ vineyard parable (Matt 21:33-46) and the healing of the blind (20:29–34; 21:14).

Theological Use

By seeking to resist God’s work in Jesus and by betraying him to the Romans, the hostile Jerusalem has joined the arrogant and idolatrous cities of the world.

Since God’s character is unchanging, Jerusalem’s fate will be no different from all other idolatrous, tyrannical cities. Its demise marks God’s eschatological cosmic intervention against “the earth” and the beginning of the new creation with a newly restored temple-people with whom he will dwell constituting its new center.


Clearly there’s a lot going on here, but as we can see, Jesus knew his Bible, and while Israel had the Old Testament, many of them clearly did not know it well enough to be changed by it. Because of their desire for their own righteousness apart from Christ’s, and because of their desire to put to death God’s own Son, which they succeeded in, Jesus declares that they will be left desolate. And they were. Rome came in and sacked them. These were real people, with real families, real schools, and real economies. And they lost it all because they rejected the Christ, the Son of God.

Rikk Watts’ lectured at Regent College. You can check out his lectures here!

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When Jerusalem Becomes Like the Nations, Part 1

“The Day of the Lord” by George Martin

I’ve been listening to more of Rikk Watts’ lectures, this time on the NT use of the OT. Here he argues that the main connection between the two testaments (or “covenants”) is God’s faithful character. Before I put out my review, I wanted to write up a summary of one of the texts he looks at in his lectures. This is on the use of Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew 24:29. I will be splitting this into two parts, with Isaiah 34.4 being examined next time.

The Use of Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew 24:29

Isaiah 13:10

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.

Isaiah 34:4

All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.

Matthew 24:29

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Outline

Part 1

  • NT Context
  • Isaiah 13:10 in Context
  • Isaiah 13:10 in Judaism

Part 2

  • Isaiah 34:4 in Context
  • Isaiah 34:4 in Judaism
  • Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in Matthew 24:29
  • Theological Use

It should be noted that I have summarized Watts’ words and have at points touched up the grammar (since these are notes were for class use). Rather than giving endless quotation marks, just know that this is all from Watts, and if something doesn’t make sense, that blame rests on me.

NT Context: Matthew’s Structure

According to Watts, Matthew is a combination of elements of Mark’s telling of Isaiah’s new exodus in Christ (mighty deeds, opposition, journey, Jerusalem) and additions which Matthew uses to tell his own (equally true) story.

  • Opening Genealogy and “Birth” Narrative (ch. 1–2)
  • Sermon of the Mount: Blessings (chs. 5–7)
    • Mission (ch. 10)
      • Parables and Division (ch. 13) 
    • The Congregation (ch. 18)
  • Teaching in the Temple and Beyond : Curses (chs. 23–25)
    ww[see my post on chiasms]

Matthew 24:29 lies within a final block of curses and warnings At the end of the curses in Matthew 23, Jesus declares:

  • Behold, your house is left to you desolate” (v. 38).
  • “You will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’” (v. 39; cf. 21:9, 14–17).

In Matthew 24 Jesus gives the “Olivet discourse” and tells about Jerusalem’s destruction. After the disciples ask Jesus a question about the temple and about his return, Jesus responds by warning against deceivers and false signs (vv. 4–8) and exhorting them to stand firm in proclaiming the gospel (vv. 9–14) and to watch for the sign of the abomination of desolation (vv. 15–28). Jesus proclaims Jerusalem’s destruction and the coming of the Son of Man (vv. 29–31), gives a lesson for “this generation” from the fig tree (vv. 32–35), and exhorts the disciples to be watchful because the exact time of his return is unknown (vv. 36–44).

When Jesus comes to the destruction of the Temple, he weaves multiple allusions from Israel’s Scriptures (e.g. Ezek 32:7; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Amos 8:9). The critical allusions are from Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 (in the LXX).

Isaiah 13:10 in Context

Oracles Concerning the Nations

Isaiah 13:10 belongs to collection of “oracles concerning the nations.” These oracles “are meant to explain to Israel the meaning of various events as evidence of Yahweh’s sovereign control over world affairs and . . . human pretensions.” Isaiah 13:1–14:32 provides the lens for the remaining oracles and is made up of two large units:

  1. the destruction of Babylon presented as the pretentious world city (13:2–22)
  2. a dirge sung over Babylon’s king (14:4b–21).

Isaiah 13

In Isaiah 13:2–5, Yahweh, the Divine Warrior, summons his terrifying war host whom he “consecrated” to execute his anger and to devastate all the earth. “In a following lament, Isaiah describes the eschatological “day of the Lord” as God comes to desolate the earth and destroy sinners from it (v. 9b). The prideful will be laid low, and the judgment will be so severe that humanity will barely survive (v. 12).

The theological significance is expressed through the metaphors of cosmic disorder: Earthquakes, shaken heavens (v. 13), and, in a reversal of Genesis 1:14–18, the sun, moon, and stars, which normally mark the seasons, will be dimmed. This disorder testifies to the extent of Babylon’s wickedness and the depth of Yahweh’s indignation.

As a result of the destruction of Babylon and its king, Israel will be restored from exile and foreigners will be included among its people (14:1; cf. Isa 56–66).

Isaiah 13:10 in Judaism

Isaiah 13:10 is applied to several significant events. The exodus and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army, the Fall and Adam’s loss of status, the day the rebuilding of the temple was hindered, and end of the age.

The principle is that because God’s word underlies the good order of creation and its times and seasons (Gen 1; Jer 33:25–26) the withdrawal of that order, expressed in part through the cessation of the heavenly lights, is God’s judgment on idolatrous nations (Isa 24:23; Ezek 30:3–4, 18; Joel 3:15) and Israel (Isa 5:25, 30; Jer 4.23–28; Joel 2:10) . . . often in contexts where God uses one nation to carry out his judgment on another (Isa 13.10–13; 34:4; Hab 3:6–11).”

This means that, according to Judaism, the sun and moon fail as a result of God’s judgment of humanity. Torah was God’s agent at creation and sustains it, and creation was made for Israel. Israel’s failure to keep Torah results in the failure of the lights of heaven, and, to them, eclipses were bad omens which prefigured suffering. Israel holds a unique status, and her destruction by the nations would lead to the dissolution of the heavens and earth.

Conclusion

If Israel’s destruction “by the nations would lead to the dissolution of the heavens and earth” back then, then her destruction by Rome will “lead to the dissolution of the heavens and earth” in the future, only now, like Babylon, Jerusalem has become “the pretentious world city” (13:2–22).

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Dr. Seuss and Chiasms

When it comes to telling a story or a joke, the way you tell it is just as important as the words you use. You introduce the story and the characters, bring in some seemingly unresolvable tension, build up to the climax, and resolve all (or most) conflicts. Within your story, there are patterns of repetition, themes, and motifs that are meant to teach you about a particular character (or characters) and how they act, interact, and react to characters and elements of the story. One common way of telling a story in the Bible is by the use of a chiasm, where, like the Greek letter Chi (Χ), the story can be laid out in a half-X shape with the center as the climax.

chi

also “Inverted Parallelism”

scan0020

One example from a well-known phrase today would be with lions, tigers, and bears.

Gracie went to the zoo. She soon saw lions, and tigers, and bears. She shrieked, “Oh my!” Feeling frightened, she ran back past the bears, tigers, and lions. Soon after, Sue left the zoo.

As a chiasm, the main points could be:

  • Gracie went to the zoo.
    • lions
      • tigers
        • bears
          • Oh my!
        • bears
      • tigers
    • lions
  • Gracie left the zoo

It’s not really the main idea, but any one who’s ever had children or has babysat knows that the “Oh my!” is the highlight of this saying.

Why Green Eggs and Ham?

In an Appendix from a dissertation by David Heath titled “Chiastic Structures in Hebrews: A Study of Form and Function in Biblical Discourse” he writes how the well known Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham can be laid out as a chiasm. See if you can see why the center is so important.

Longer Rendering

A  “I am Sam… Sam I am … [response]

wB  Do you like green eggs and ham? … [response]

wwC  Would you like them here or there?… [response]

wwwD  Would you like them in a house… with a mouse?… [response]

wwwwE  Would you like them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?…
wwww[response]

wwwwwF  Would you? Could you? In a car?… [response] You may like them.
wwwwwYou will see. You may like them in a tree!…[response]

wwwwwwG  A train! A train!.. Could you, would you on a train? … [response]

wwwwwwwH  … Here in the dark! Would you, could you, in the dark? …
wwwwwww[response]

wwwwwwwwI  Would you, could you, in the rain? … [response]

wwwwwwwwwJ  … Would you, could you, with a goat? … [response]

wwwwwwwwwwK  Would you, could you, on a boat? … [response]

wwwwwwwwwwL  You do not like them. So you say. Try them!
wwwwwwwwwwwwTry them! And you may.
wwwwwwwwwwwwTry them and you may, I say. 

wwwwwwwwwwL’  Sam! If you will let me be, I will try them.
wwwwwwwwwwwYou will see. [tries them] Say!
wwwwwwwwwwwI like green eggs and ham!

wwwwwwwwwwK’  And I would eat them in a boat.

wwwwwwwwwJ’  And I would eat them with a goat…

wwwwwwwwI’  And I will eat them in the rain.

wwwwwwwH’  And in the dark.

wwwwwwG’  And on a train.

wwwwwF’  And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good, so good, you see!

wwwwE’  So I will eat them in a box. And I will eat them with a fox.

wwwD’  And I will eat them in a house. And I will eat them with a mouse.

wwC’  And I will eat them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

wB’  I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you!

A’  Sam I am!”

(Dr. Seuss 1960:3-62)

Shorter Rendering

A  Sam I am

wB  Do you like green eggs and ham?

wwC  Here or there?

wwwD  In a house? with a mouse?

wwwwE  In a box? with a fox?

wwwwwF  In a car? You may like them. You will see. In a tree?

wwwwwwG  A train!

wwwwwwwH  In the dark!

wwwwwwwwI  In the rain?

wwwwwwwwwJ  With a goat?

wwwwwwwwwwK  A boat?

wwwwwwwwwwL  You do not like them. Try them!
wwwwwwwwwwwwAnd you may, I say.

wwwwwwwwwwL’  I will try them. You will see.
wwwwwwwwwwwwSay! I like green eggs and ham!

wwwwwwwwwwK’  A boat.

wwwwwwwwwJ’  With a goat.

wwwwwwwwI’  In the rain.

wwwwwwwH’  In the dark.

wwwwwwG’  A train.

wwwwwF’  In a car. In a tree. They are so good, you see!

wwwwE’  In a box; with a fox.

wwwD’  In a house; with a mouse.

wwC’  Here and there.

wB’  I do so like green eggs and ham!

A’  Sam I am!”

Main Idea: The main idea is seen in L/L’ = Taste and see that green eggs and ham are good!

P.S. – I’ve actually had green eggs on an outreach to Stockport once. The team leaders and one of the other girls put in a bit too much seasoning and the eggs turned green. I tasted, but unfortunately they were not good. There was also no ham.

Main Sub Idea: Even Dr. Seuss can teach us to read the Bible.


After while I’ll show a few biblical examples so that you can see why knowing this would be important. In his (surprisingly) excellent book on Leviticus, Michael Morales has quite a few examples on how Leviticus 16’s Day of Atonement is the center of the Pentateuch. Perhaps I can get a hold of that chapter somewhere since I don’t have the book on me.

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Review: Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ

conscience

Andrew David Naselli (PhD, Bob Jones University; PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is assistant professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. J. D. Crowley (MA, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) has been doing missionary and linguistic work among the indigenous minorities of northeast Cambodia since 1994.

Buy One, Get Ten Free

Some subjects in Christianity are so fertile, so abundantly promising and useful on so many different levels, that studying them reaps a harvest far beyond expectations. It’s like buy one, get ten free. Conscience is one of those subjects. It touches on salvation, progressive sanctification, church unity, evangelism, missions, and apologetics. Yet hardly is a topic more neglected in the Christian church (Kindle 173-175).

What is a conscience and why do we have it? What are we meant to use it for? Can we sell it? Can we shape it, mold it? Should we, in the words of Jiminy Cricket, always let our conscience be our guide? Can it ever be wrong?

After we’ve answered those questions, the next test remains: since we aren’t like “Bubble Boy,” we shouldn’t keep only to ourselves, and we should live amongst other believers (and non-Christians), how ought we interact with others who have a different conscience than us? Split and form another church? How must we calibrate our conscience to how God desires us to live?

Naselli and Crowley have met a need by writing Conscience. If Paul spent whole sections on it in his letters (Rom 14.1–15.7; 1 Cor 8–10; Gal 2; Col 2), then we must consider our own consciences and the consciences of others more than we already do. It is a gift from God.

Outline

  • Chapters 1 and 2 ask what a conscience is and how we define it from the NT. Humans have consciences. Animals don’t. Our conscience reflects the moral aspect of God’s image. No one has the same conscience, your conscience doesn’t perfectly match God’s commands (thus you must always be growing), and you can damage your conscience. In chapter 2, all NT verses which speak of “conscience” are written out, and afterwards a definition is produced which tells us what the conscience can and cannot do and why it matters.

The following four chapters ask four critical questions:

  • Chapter 3, What should you do when your conscience condemns you?
    .
  • Chapter 4, How should you calibrate your conscience to match God’s will?
    “Martin Luther believed that maintaining a good conscience was worth going to prison for and even dying for. That great Reformer discovered in the Bible” (Kindle 774-775). Here the authors look at how reliable your conscience is on it’s own, and show you how you can calibrate your conscience according to what is pleasing to God. They give plenty of examples of third-level issues (issues which many will disagree over, but they are issues that nobody should split over), and reason over why no one should be dogmatic over all of his convictions.
    .
  • Chapter 5, How should you relate to fellow Christians when your consciences disagree? The authors give 12 principles from Romans 14.1-15.7 on how Christians can disagree with one another on disputable matters. They show Paul’s solution of love that emphasizes and “magnifies the gospel.”
    .
  • Chapter 6, How should you relate to people in other cultures when your consciences disagree? It can sometimes seem like people in other cultures don’t even have a conscience. They easily offend you, and, as it turns out, no matter how hard you try, you easily offend them too! How can we live together? And how can we bring the Gospel to other cultures without imposing our own cultural “laws” on to their lives? Chapter 6 pulls out another facet of Christian liberty and the freedom to disciple yourself to be flexible for the Gospel.

The book ends with two appendices:

  • Similarities Between Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8–10
  • Conscience Exercises For Cross-Cultural Effectiveness

The Chocolate Milk

Every chapter is important, and I found chapter 6 interesting, especially since Mari has a bachelor in intercultural communications, and we are an intercultural couple. Even though I’m American, I’ve been abroad for 5 years, and coming back to America I have to learn a few things over again (especially with being in a Southern Baptist context). It’s all fairly familiar to me, but it can be down right bizarre for Mari. This chapter is especially important:
…….(a) if you move to a new city/state/country.
…….(b) if someone else moves to your city.
…….(c) if you are a missionary to another country.
…….(d) because, with all the incoming refugees, you can’t just assume you know how they think, nor should you generalize.

More could be listed here, but it’s important to work toward understanding those who think differently than you (and I) do. In all of this we should seek unity with our family in Christ, and, as much as is possible, be peaceable among nonbelievers.

Recommended?

At 160 pages, this is a seriously easy and important book for any and all Christians to read through. I tried scanning through Amazon for books on the Christian conscience, and found next to nothing (minus a book by Sproul which is free on Kindle). While I haven’t read any other books on the conscience, the lack of Christian books on conscience shows the need for more discussion on this topic. There are a number of books about the conscience on Amazon, most of them from a non-Christian perspective. If you’re going to spend your time reading a book, pick up one written by two biblically solid scholars who seek to glorify God in all that they do. Read this book, and put it into practice. You’ll need it.

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Andrew Naselli & J. D. Crowley
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (April 30, 2016)
  • Read a Sample

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Buy from Crossway or on Amazon!

(Special thanks to Crossway for sending me this book to review!)

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Review: Representing Christ

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Thank goodness that Luther guy came along and re-gave us the priesthood of believers (though not in those exact words). In his writings, Luther referred to believers as priests hundreds of times (18). “The doctrine, according to Luther, denotes the believer’s sharing in Christ’s royal priesthood through faith and baptism. It’s primary implications are every believer’s access to the Father through Christ and responsibility to minister to other believers, especially through the proclamation of the Word” (18).

Uche Anizor (PhD, Wheaton College) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and an instructor at Los Angeles Bible Training School. He is the author of Kings and Priests. Hank Voss (PhD, Wheaton College) is national director of church planting at World Impact and senior national staff with The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI). He is the author of The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei. Anizor and Voss locate God’s calling of his people as a kingdom of priests (Exod 19.6; 1 Pet 2.5, 9) within the context of Scripture and show how those who are part of God’s royal priesthood are to respond to God as his witnesses in the world.

Outline

 

In Chapter 1 Anizor look at how the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants define the idea of the priesthood of believers. In this book they’ll seek to define what a priest is, and show that it is all who are in Christ. Speaking in terms of the Trinity, in Christ the baptized believer has access to the Father, we have the privilege of serving one another in Christ, and we have all received the Holy Spirit’s anointing for this service to one another and to the world (19).

The argument is developed in four stages:

  1. Biblical
  2. Historical
  3. Theological
  4. Practical

In Chapter 2, the biblical argument, Anizor outlines the story of the priesthood of believers as seen in the Scriptures. Beginning in Eden, our story ends at the New Jerusalem, the new creation. He gives a brief, pointed look at a few texts in the Pentateuch, in Psalm 110, Isaiah 52–66, the life if Jesus, 1 Peter 2, pieces of Pau’s letters, and Revelation.

In Chapter 3, the historical argument, Anizor “details Martin Luther’s theology … and presents it  as a fruitful  and concrete attempt to integrate and develop Scripture’s teaching on priesthood—both ordained and universal” (22). After looking at Cyprian and the Gregorian reforms, Anizor looks at the seven “priestly practices” Luther believed Christians had.

  1. Preaching and teaching the Word
  2. Baptizing
  3. Administering the Lord’s Supper
  4. Binding and loosing sins
  5. Prayer
  6. Sacrifice
  7. Judging doctrine

“Christians have access to God and his Word in order that they might minister the latter in its many forms to one another” (82).

We become like what we worship, and Christians worship the triune God. In Chapter 4, the theological argument, Voss shows “what it means for the royal priesthood to worship, work and witness with a Christocentric-Trinitarian vision” (86). This is important, for, as Fred Sanders’s Trinitarian axiom goes, “The more Trinity-centered we become, the more Christ-centered we become, and vice versa” (88). Voss examines what a Christocentric-Trinitarian royal priesthood is, what it looks like in real life, and a few inadequate versions of a Protestant priesthood of all believers. This chapter asks, “Who is the God the priesthood of all believers serves?”

In Chapter 5, the theological argument, Voss asks, “How do we as members of the royal priesthood faithfully and fruitfully respond to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?” Voss lays out seven central practices (which are basically the same as the list in ch 3 but in a different order):

  1. Baptism
  2. Prayer
  3. Lectio divina (divine reading)
  4. Ministry
  5. Church discipline
  6. Proclamation
  7. The Lord’s Supper

To give one example, lectio divina means to listen for God’s voice as it speaks through Scripture. Looking at Psalm 119, four markers of covenant loyalty are:

  1. Fear of the Lord – the living God, the maker of heaven and earth, speaks through Scripture. Not us.
  2. Humility – We are not Christ. We are polluted by sin.
  3. Delight – God’s priests delight in God’s word more than a pile of gold. It is wisdom, it is joy, ir brings us closer to the living God who has made us his “sons and daughters” (2 Cor 6:18).
  4. Holy obedience – lectio divina is dangerous (134). We will suffer and we will grow if we listen to God’s voice. We will continually learn how to be unselfish and to care for and love others as Christ has loved us.

In Chapter 6, Voss wraps up, summarizes the book, and asks, “So what?” If believers (myself included) took our ministries before God seriously, what difference would this doctrine make? How could Christians transform society? There will always be unbelievers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to make the world better, to use wisdom to implement new ideas, technologies, and care and concern for our next-door neighbor and our third world neighbor. We do it all to the glory of the beautiful Lord who adorns his bride with jewels (Is 61:10).

Recommended?

Anizor and Voss have done excellent work in writing Representing Christ. It’s clear and easy to read. I hope to see more books out on this particular topic, along with more by these two authors. Some parts will be more difficult to read, not because of the style of language used, but because of subject matter. My favorite chapter was chapter 2 as it dealt with the biblical argument for the priesthood of all believers and took me through pivotal texts in the Bible. The historical argument (ch 3), though good and important, was more difficult for me to read. Regardless, the authors write in such a way that they don’t load you down with details, but they only give you what you need to know. It’s easier to read through some parts because you know it’s going to be important to the argument. This is a book that all believers should read, with the hopes that we will be humbled and will see our responsibility before the triune God who rules from heaven and has bestowed his people with great honor.

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Uche Anizor and Hank Voss
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (June 6, 2016)

Buy it on Amazon or from IVP Academic!

(Special thanks to IVP Academic for sending me this review copy!)

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