The CCEL Times 3.11 (November 3, 2008)
In This Issue:
From the Director
Announcing 'Warranted Christian Belief'
This month we are thrilled to announce the addition of the book Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga, a philosopher Time magazine once called the "leading philosopher of God." This book was published in 2000 by Oxford University Press which has graciously given permission for us to put it online. Thanks!
Warranted Christian Belief is a philosophical defense of the reasonableness of belief in God and the great matters of the faith. It answers all the common objections how could a good God allow so much evil in the world? Isn't belief in God is irrational because there isn't enough evidence, or because it is only wish fulfillment? Doesn’t modern theology show that the traditional beliefs are false? How about postmodernism? You get the idea. These objections are answered in a way that is philosophically rigorous. The treatment is perhaps at a level appropriate for a college philosophy student rather than other professional philosophers.
But even though the treatment is philosophically rigorous, it is also good theology. Some of the passages strike me as just as clear and luminous and even affecting as the other classics at the CCEL. For example, in defending the doctrine of original sin, Plantinga describes sin at its deepest level: what is it? Where does it come from? There is also wit and humor. Plantinga's definition of the meaning of 'fundamentalist' is a good example.
This book is timely because it answers criticisms of the sort that have been published in the last few years by authors such as Dawkins and Dennett. Are you looking for a rigorous defense to arguments against Christianity by one of the world’s most respected philosophers? Look no further.
CCEL Christmas Gift Ideas
Give Christian Classics to your loved ones for Christmas—and support the CCEL at the same time. We have gift ideas from $15 to $1500 that will please (and edify) your loved ones and help keep the CCEL available to millions of users per year. Gift ideas include CCEL data and audio CDs, Logos CDs, and CCEL subscriptions. Gift wrapping and card or e-card are included.
Even better, if you order by December 1, we'll include an additional gift, completely free.
The CCEL is a non-profit organization that makes classic Christian literature available on the web and on CD to more than 3 million unique visitors per year from 228 countries and territories. The CCEL cannot survive without the support of so many generous Christians. Purchasing Christmas gifts from the CCEL is a wonderful way to support our mission.
Click here for more details.
"Now Thank We All Our God" by Martin Rinkart
Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) was a pastor during the horrors of the Thirty Years' War, and that difficult ministry inspired him to both sacrificial service and to the writing of hymns of praise and confidence in God. As a youth he was a choirboy at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, and then studied at the university there. He became a schoolmaster and cantor, held several pastorates, and became the archdeacon in Eilenburg in 1617, a position he held until his death. Because of the war the walled city of Eilenburg was overflowing with refugees, causing widespread disease and famine. During the epidemic of 1637 Rinkart officiated at over four thousand funerals, including his wife's; at times he presided at fifty burials a day. But in spite of these incredible demands on his ministry, he wrote many theological works and sixty hymns, of which "Now Thank We All Our God" is best known.
Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross (1542-1591)
The term 'dark night of the soul' is associated primarily with John of the Cross, the sixteenth-century Spanish Carmelite whose stunning poem 'Dark Night of the Soul' continues to challenge and nourish Christians from many spiritual traditions. The depth and breadth of meaning in John's ascetical theology ... has been well-described from diverse perspectives. John distinguishes between active and passive nights of the senses, and active and passive nights of the spirit, for example. Each of these aspects of the night is purgative, freeing the soul from attachments that hinder the ability to receive and give God's love.
The Ancient Christian East
In this group we will read and discuss writers of the ancient Christian East, such as Ephraim the Syrian, The Cappadocian Fathers, the Desert Fathers, and other men and women (yes there were some) writers of the Christian Patristic age and the eastern Mediterranean. We will begin with Ephraim the Syrian. All readings can be downloaded for free from the CCEL or found other places on the Web.
George Whitefield on Gen. 5:24:
Walking with God implies our making progress or advances in the divine life. Walking, in the very first idea of the word, seems to suppose a progressive motion. A person that walks, though he move slowly, yet he goes forward, and does not continue in one place. And so it is with those that walk with God. They go on, as the Psalmist says, 'from strength to strength'; or, in the language of the apostle Paul, 'they pass from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord'. Indeed, in one sense, the divine life admits of neither increase nor decrease. When a soul is born of God, to all intents and purposes he is a child of God; and though he should live to the age of Methuselah, yet he would then be only a child of God after all.
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