News: Soli Deo Gloria now under Reformation Heritage

tss-road-trip.jpgHappy Friday morning TSS readers. I’m headed out the door for the 2008 Collegiate Conference “Missio Dei” at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Dr. Daniel Akin). I’ll send some updates as time allows.

But before I step out the door I want to pass along some important breaking news concerning Reformation Heritage Books (Dr. Joel Beeke) and Ligonier Ministries on the status of Soli Deo Gloria publishing. As you know, Soli Deo Gloria has published many quality Puritan titles and it appears will continue releasing new titles now under the RHB imprint. What follows is the official news release.

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SOLI DEO GLORIA BOOKS AND FUTURE PURITAN TITLES

We are delighted to announce that Soli Deo Gloria Publications, which has put numerous Puritan books back into print, has been acquired by Reformation Heritage Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the past few years, Soli Deo Gloria books have been produced by Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Florida. In 2007, Ligonier asked Reformation Heritage Books for guidance on managing Soli Deo Gloria Publications and later invited Reformation Heritage Books to publish and distribute the Soli Deo Gloria titles.

Reformation Heritage Books has received nearly 50,000 Soli Deo Gloria books that are currently in print, and we are ready to distribute them to individuals. Wholesale orders will be ready to process on February 15, 2008. Plans are under way to publish numerous additional Puritan titles. Reformation Heritage Books has agreed to continue publishing a select number of titles under the Soli Deo Gloria imprint, which Ligonier will continue to advertise in its catalogs; meanwhile, most Soli Deo Gloria titles will now be reprinted with the Reformation Heritage Books imprint. Reformation Heritage Books and Ligonier Ministries look forward to collaborating in order to promote Puritan literature around the world.

To be placed on the mailing list for catalogs that include all the Soli Deo Gloria titles (as well as 3,000 titles from other publishers) currently available at discounted prices, contact Reformation Heritage Books, 2965 Leonard N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525; 616-977-0599; orders@heritagebooks.org; http://www.heritagebooks.org. For further information, contact John M. Duncan, Vice President of Ministry Outreach, Ligonier Ministries …

A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness by Jeremiah Burroughs

Book review
A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness
by Jeremiah Burroughs

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Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) is one of my favorite Puritan authors and (I dare say) one of the most overlooked.

In his extensive writings, Burroughs authored a very helpful book on discerning worldliness in a book now titled A Treatise on Earthly -Mindedness. It was retypeset and edited by Don Kistler and published in 1991 by Soli Deo Gloria.

Burroughs builds his argument from Paul’s sobering ‘enemies of the Cross’ statement — “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:19-20).

Contents

Burroughs first discerns the seriousness and dangers of worldly thinking (pp. 3-92). His goal in this first section is to call this earthly-mindedness what it really is – adultery, idolatry and enmity. This earthly-mindedness suffocates the work of grace, opens the soul to further temptations (1 Tim. 6:9), stifles the hearing of preaching, breeds foolish lusts in the soul, spreads roots for future apostasy, deadens the heart for prayer, dishonors God, hinders our preparations for death, and ultimately drowns the soul into perdition.

The second section covers the implications of our citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and is filled with helpful practical advice on to living as foreigners in our sojourning through life on earth (pp. 93-178). This theme continues in the final section which helps discern what walking with God looks like in everyday life (pp. 179-259). The final chapter contains very useful wisdom on walking with God when His presence seems distant (pp. 254-259).

Grace

Throughout his works, Burroughs avoided a common Puritan pitfall. The Puritans frequently narrowed in so tightly on a particular topic that surrounding contexts and connections were forgotten. It’s not uncommon to read a Puritan on the topic of sin continue on and on without any mention of the Cross, God’s grace, and living in freedom and victory over sin. Even some of the great Puritan classics (such as the works of Richard Baxter and The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal) woefully assume the Cross.

Burroughs is quite the opposite. He’s hardly begun a lengthy diagnosis of worldliness in the heart before breaking into a short digression on the glorious work of grace in conversion (pp. 29-30)! This work of God transforms enemies of the Cross into those who now have quickened souls. Those once veiled by sin and blinded by the world now see the light of God’s glory! We are new creatures, creatures no longer content with worldliness but now transcending the circumstances of the world and clinging to eternal hope. This new life enlarges our heart and our spiritual appetite becomes so large that no earthly means could fill it. This grace severs our grip on the world, and we begin to experience God’s sanctifying grace in our souls. For Burroughs, even when discovering the depth and darkness of sinfulness in the heart, God’s grace is ever in view.

With careful pastoral balance, Burroughs encourages us to pursue excellence in our earthly calling, while exhorting us to carefully avoid the snares of worldly-mindedness.

“Considering what has been delivered, I beseech you, lay it seriously upon your heart, especially you who are young beginners in the way of religion, lest it proves to be with you as it has with many who are digging veins of gold and silver underground. While they are digging in those mines for riches, the earth, many times, falls upon them and buries them, so that they never come up out of the mine again. … Keep wide open some place to heaven, or otherwise, if you dig too deep, noxious gas vapors will come up from the earth, if it doesn’t fall on you first. There will be noxious gas vapors to choke you if there is not a wide hole to let in the air that comes from heaven to you. Those who are digging in mines are very careful to leave a place open for fresh air to come in. And so, though you may follow your calling and do the work God sets you here for as others do, be as diligent in your calling as any. But still keep a passage open to heaven so that there may be fresh gales of grace come into your soul” (p. 85).

Conclusion

Fitting of Burrough’s classic, Soli Deo Gloria published A Treatise on Earthly -Mindedness with an attractive dust-jacketed, durable cloth cover and Smyth-sewn binding. It’s an excellent work for those of us who sometimes find ourselves surrounded by the cares of this world, asphyxiating on temporal toxins rather than breathing fresh grace.

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Title: A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness
Author: Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646)
Editor: Don Kistler
Reading level: 2.0/5.0 > easy thanks to excellent editing (includes nice section and subpoint headings)
Boards: hardcover, embossed
Pages: 259
Volumes: 1
Dust jacket: yes
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: white and clean
Topical index: no (would have been very useful)
Scriptural index: no (would have been very useful)
Text: perfect type
Publisher: Ligonier; Soli Deo Gloria
Year: original ed., 1649; edited ed., 1991
Price USD: $18.00 from Ligonier
ISBN: 1877611387

‘Sinners’ in the hands of a contemporary preacher?

Could Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God be preached today? This is the question posed to Edwardian scholars Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema.

Notice how the discussion in the video veers off into a broader question: Can any graphic sermons onjonathan-edwards.gif hell be preached today? That seems to be another question altogether. … This has me thinking: How does the rise in horror films and the graphic portrayal of evil on major films influenced the preaching of God’s eternal judgment in our culture? Are the horrors of hell now less real or more real?

Should ‘Sinners’ be preached today? One contemporary of Edwards was the famous hymn writer Isaac Watts (“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed”). After reading the text of ‘Sinners’ he wrote: “A most terrible [terrifying] sermon, which should have had a word of Gospel at the end of it, though I think ‘tis all true.” I agree with Watts. Strictly speaking I would not preach ‘Sinners.’ When it comes to explaining the beauty of the Cross, (perhaps) Edwards had the luxury of assuming this reality in his setting. But that is an assumption we cannot make today. Maybe no sermon better sets the groundwork to understand the love of Christ in His willingness to endure my eternal wrath as my substitute who drank the full cup of God’s eternal wrath I deserved. How can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me? But the sermon needs a ‘word of Gospel’ at the end.

‘Sinners’ in the hands of Mark Dever. In October of 2003 Mark Dever preached this sermon to his congregation (Capitol Hill Baptist Church; Washington, D.C.). His introduction is excellent and (from what I am told) the sermon was successful.

‘Sinners’ in the hands of Billy Graham. In 1949 Graham preached ‘Sinners’ and you can listen to some very loud excerpts over at the new online exhibit at the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. Here is one …

Debatable. Since we are talking of the famous sermon, I am surprised how frequently writers suggest Edwards is remembered as a preacher of God’s wrath by an over-emphasis on this one sermon — Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God — over his greater corpus of sermons. I recently came across another reference by a very popular contemporary historian of the same opinion. However, apart from this famous sermon, entire books of manuscripts have been assembled with Edwards’ sermons on God’s judgment. One example is Unless You Repent: Fifteen previously unpublished sermons on the fate awaiting the impenitent (Soli Deo Gloria: 2005). Read our review here. Edwards frequently invited sinners to delight in God’s love but also warned them of God’s wrath — a balance modeled by Christ Himself. ‘Sinners’ is just one of many similar sermons.

The sermon itself. I would encourage you to read ‘Sinners’ if you never have (text here). On Wednesday July 8th, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut the scene unfolded like this: “Edwards, who had been building the intensity of the sermon, had to stop and ask for silence so that he could be heard. The tumult only increased as the ‘shrieks and cries were piercing and amazing.’ As Edwards waited, the wails continued, so there was no way that he might be heard. He never finished the sermon. Wheelock offered a closing prayer, and the clergy went down among the people to minister among them individually. ‘Several souls were hopefully wrought upon that night,’ Stephen Williams recorded, ‘and oh the cheerfulness and pleasantness of their countenances.’ Finally the congregation was enough under control to sing an affecting hymn, hear a prayer, and be dispersed” (pp. 220-221). Read more on this sermon in George Marsden’s excellent biography, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale: 2003) pp. 220-224.

Disputations on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker, 1573580902

Disputations on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker [1588]

After rebuking the false Roman Catholic notion that Scripture cannot be understood by the common man and reinforcing the Reformers insistence that every truth sinners must know to be saved can be gleaned by the simple from reading Scripture, William Whitaker next continued to explain that there are difficult passages in God’s Word. Why? This is his answer …

First, God would have us to be constant in prayer, and hath scattered many obscurities up and down through the scriptures, in order that we should seek his help in interpreting them and discovering their true meaning.

Secondly, he wished thereby to excite our diligence in reading, meditating upon, searching and comparing the scriptures; for, if every thing had been plain, we should have been entirely slothful and negligent.

Thirdly, he designed to prevent our losing interest in them; for we are ready to grow weary of easy things: God, therefore, would have our interest kept up by difficulties.

Fourthly, God willed to have that truth, so sublime, so heavenly, sought and found with so much labor, the more esteemed by us on that account. For we generally despise and contemn [scorn] whatever is easily acquired, near at hand, and costs small or no labor. But these things which we find with great toil and much exertion, those, when once we have found them out, we esteem highly and consider their value proportionally greater.

Fifthly, God wished by this means to subdue our pride and arrogance, and to expose to us our ignorance. We are apt to think too honorably of ourselves, and to rate our genius and acuteness more highly than is fitting, and to promise ourselves too much from our science and knowledge.

Sixthly, God willed that the sacred mysteries of his word should be opened freely to pure and holy minds, not exposed to dogs and swine. Hence those things which are easy to holy persons, appear so many parables to the profane. For the mysteries of scripture are like gems, which only he that knows them values; while the rest, like the cock in Æsop, despise them, and prefer the most worthless objects to what is most beautiful and excellent.

Seventhly, God designed to call off our minds from the pursuit of external things and our daily occupations, and transfer them to the study of the scriptures. Hence it is now necessary to give time to their perusal and study; which we certainly should not bestow upon them, if we found every thing plain and open.

Eighthly, God desired thus to accustom us to a certain internal purity and sanctity of thought and feeling. For they who bring with them profane minds to the reading of scripture, lose their trouble and oil: those only read with advantage, who bring with them pure and holy minds.

Ninthly, God willed that in his church some should be teachers, and some disciples; some more learned, to give instruction; others less skillful, to receive it; so as that the honor of the sacred scriptures and the divinely instituted ministry might, in this manner, be maintained.”

-Disputations on Holy Scripture [1588/1849], by William Whitaker [1547-1595], pp. 365-366. Reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria, 2005.

TSS book photo archive

Hello everyone. Over the past few months I have been photographing books for this blog. There are a number of pictures I have used, some I have not, but all of them I want to put to work. So, if you have a use for them, please feel free to copy them and use them. If you don’t have use for the pictures, you may (at the least) pick up some great Christmas book ideas.

Enter The Shepherd’s Scrapbook book photo archive here.

Book review: The Gospel Life series by Jeremiah Burroughs

Book review

The Gospel Life Series by Jeremiah Burroughs

As we have already discovered, Jeremiah Burroughs [1599-1646] was a first-rate bible expositor. His massive commentary on the book of Hosea is wonderful proof of this (we reviewed this commentary earlier this Summer).

However, unlike most of the Puritans recommended in our Puritan Study Series, Burroughs’ collected works do not exist. His works are largely scattered around, and for the purposes of the Puritan study, we will have to piece his works together.

But one of the easiest ways to collect six of his books comes in a series published by Soli Deo Gloria titled, The Gospel Life Series.


These six volumes were not intended by Burroughs to be a set, though because the word “Gospel” occurs in all six, editor Don Kistler saw that they were all linked together in a common theme. Kistler re-typeset the volumes, updated the spelling, and edited for length. “I do not believe that any of Burroughs’ thoughts have been altered. I have tried to remain faithful to his words as well as to his intent throughout this edition” (3:v ).

The result is a series that covers the various facets of the Christian life, is easy to read, and will appeal to a larger community of readers than just Puritan nerds like me. This year, the sixth and final volume of the series was released.

Contents

Vol. 1: Gospel Worship (1648/1990). In 14 sermons on Leviticus 10:3 (“Among those who are near me I will be sanctified”) Burroughs shows that we honor God when we draw near to Him in worship, in preparing for worship, in hearing the Word preached, in receiving the sacraments, and in prayer.

Vol. 2: Gospel Fear (1647/1991). In 7 sermons on Isaiah 66:2 (“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word”) and 2 Kings 22:19, Burroughs encourages us to cultivate a tender heart by cultivating a healthy fear of God.

Vol. 3: Gospel Conversation (1648/1995). Not conversation as in speech only, but the Puritan concept of conversation – of work, family, fellowship and all-around general conduct. Here are ten sermons to help us live the Cross-centered life. Most of the sermons are based upon Philippians 1:27 (“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ”) and focus believers to be diligent in their walk. The Gospel must be the center of the Christian life, he argues.

Vol. 4: Gospel Revelation (1660/2006). In about 18 sermons, Burroughs explains the excellency of the eternal. God is excellent, Christ is excellent, and the nature of an eternal soul is excellent as well. It was here in the excellency of Jesus Christ (pages 51-182) that I came to a deep respect of Burroughs’ love for Christ. Truly, His name is called “Wonderful” (Isaiah 9:6). See “Example” below.

Vol. 5: Gospel Remission (1668 and 1674/1995). In 20 sermons Burroughs shows that the true blessedness of the human heart stems from the knowledge that God has perfectly pardoned my sin! The entire volume is built from Psalm 32:1 (“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven / whose sin is covered”). “There is nothing in all the world that so much concerns us as to know how things stand with us in relation to God and our souls, whether we are pardoned or not. A mistake in this is a wonderful mistake, and yet how many thousands are there who venture the weight of this great business upon poor, weak, and slight grounds, yea, rather, on mere suggestions of their own heart” (p. 175).

Vol. 6: Gospel Reconciliation (1657/1997). Here are 18 sermons on 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 covering the who, what, when, where and why of reconciliation of sinners to God. This volume is filled with excellent encouragement for pastors to remain earnest in their preaching of the Cross.

Each of these volumes shows Burroughs to be a man deeply concerned that Christians live diligent Cross-centered lives. But, as with the great experiential preachers, there is a parallel theme of evangelism as well.

Example

The litmus test of all preachers and writers is this: Are they passionate about the beauty of Jesus Christ? Are they overwhelmed with His preciousness? Are they distracted with duties or are they first centered around a Man?

Burroughs argues that Jesus Christ is beautiful for 13 reasons (!): He is beautiful in His natures, Person, incarnation, His earthly works, His offices, endowments, miracles, as the revelation of God’s glory, in His humiliation, His conquest, exaltation, in the wonder of the saints towards Him, and in His eternal glory (4:59). Yes, Burroughs passes the test.

But he is not content that readers just admit they understand Christ’s greatness, but that they feel Christ’s greatness. He writes,

“When you ask your children what Christ was, you teach them that He was both God and man. Aye, but I appeal to you, when were your hearts taken with this as the greatest wonder in the world…” (4:61)?

It would be inconsistent to believe and not feel the power of the incarnation. After an exposition of Ephesians 1:17-18 and 3:14-20 he writes,

“Oh, what a shame it is that those who profess themselves to be Christian should understand so little of Jesus Christ! God expects that we should study the gospel, search into the gospel, so that we may see more of Christ. And the more we see, the more still we shall wonder; for Christ is an infinite depth, and the more we search into Him, the more we shall see cause to wonder … What I would especially observe is that Christians should not content themselves with a little knowledge of Christ, but they should labor to comprehend what is the length, breadth, depth, and height; they should labor to dive into the mysteries of the gospel” (4:171,173).

It is diving into the mysteries of the Gospel that sanctifies the heart. In other words, the Gospel is central to the Christian’s life!

“We should study Christ, and praise and bless God, and have our hearts enlarged for Jesus Christ. This is the duty of believers to whom God has revealed Christ as wonderful, that in their conversations they should hold out the wonderful glory of Jesus Christ. You should so walk before men as to manifest to all the world that your Savior is a wonderful Savior” (4:177).

All of these volumes contain such God-glorifying and Cross-centered experiential exhortations for the Christian.

Indexes

On the down side, there are no indexes in this series and they are not well-indexed in Martin either. So to use these volumes effectively will require some time. Soli Deo Gloria (and any Puritan publisher that does not include indexes) should consider releasing an electronic version of this set for those who purchase the printed set. This would prove very useful to exegetes like myself who need to sift through the volumes quickly.

For now, preachers who want to use Burroughs in sermon preparations will need to become familiar with the contents of each volume. The detailed contents pages in each volume will help much here.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this: The Gospel Life series is an exceptionally good resource of Puritan exposition. After 350 years, Burroughs still speaks powerfully through these volumes.

The publisher boasts that this book has a shelf life of 200-300 years. But even more important, Dr. Kistler’s editing of the text will make Burroughs accessible to readers for at least another 350. An excellent Puritan resource!

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Boards: clothbound, hardcover (grey, gilded)
Volumes: 6
Pages: 1,710
Dust jackets: yes (once again, beautiful covers from SDG)
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: acid-free; normal
Text: edited, updated, perfect type
Topical Index: no (electronic file is much needed)
Textual index: no (electronic file is much needed)
Biography: yes (very short; end of Gospel Remission)
Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria
Price USD: $140.00 / $91.00 from publisher
ISBNs: 187761131x, 1877611913, 1573580147, 1877611123, 1567690696, 1573580422

Interview with author Kris Lundgaard

tsslogo.jpgKris Lundgaard is the author of two excellent books, ‘The Enemy Within and ‘Through the Looking Glass‘. Both of these books are adaptations of works by English Puritan John Owen [1616-1683]. Someone has suggested these books should be subtitled: “John Owen for Dummies” (not to be confused with John Owen’s original works that simply make most of us feel like dummies). On Saturday, October 14th Mr. Lundgaard will be speaking at Omaha Bible Church in Omaha, NE. He joins us today on The Shepherd’s Scrapbook to talk about John Owen, the battle with sin, and his new endeavors in the mission field.

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TSS: It is wonderful to dialogue with you after having used your books for a number of years. The first question I must ask: How were you introduced to John Owen?

KL: In 1985 a friend in Little Rock gave me several volumes of the Banner of Truth edition of Owen’s Works. I thanked him and displayed them proudly on my shelf, not having any idea of their value. When I was in seminary a few years later, Dr. Douglas Kelly recommended Owen highly, but warned us that he was no easy read. His theory was that Owen must have thought in Latin, because his sentence construction was more Latin-like than English-like. J. I. Packer also came to RTS to teach a week-long course on the English Puritans, and he whetted my appetite further—but still I was unwilling to make the effort.

But around 1996 I got fed up with my own lack of progress against my flesh. I picked up Volume 6 of Owen out of desperation. I found out that the warnings were no idle threats—I could cover maybe eight pages in 45 minutes. I had to read with a dictionary in one hand and Owen in the other, and until I got the hang of his style I had to read many sentences several times over. But the value of Owen had been undersold: I was underlining more than half of every page. In his works on Temptation, Indwelling Sin, and Mortification, my heart was being laid bare. How did he know me so well?

But he didn’t just cut me up and leave me to pick up the pieces. He offered help, strong medicine—lots of strong medicine. And by God’s grace things began to change for me. I’ll always be grateful to Owen for that—I hope to tell him so when I see him.

TSS: Why does John Owen especially strike you as interesting?

KL: Owen’s ability to exegete my heart overwhelms me. He exposes my flesh’s defense strategies, which leaves me vulnerable—vulnerable to the gospel. He doesn’t just tear down; he builds up. And he helps me to see Christ more clearly, so that I may adore him more fully.

TSS: I find it very interesting that you were driven to John Owen out of desperation. There are probably readers out there who are not familiar with the Puritans, so they don’t know what types of desperate situations would warrant turning to the Puritans like John Owen. I know we all desperately need biblical wisdom but if you could exegete the heart, what types of heart conditions really “desperately” need to read Puritans like Owen?

KL: The desperation I have in mind is born out of the distance I feel between my desire to love God with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself, and the feebleness of my actual love. I know there are others like me, whether or not they share the same weaknesses. Someone may be trapped and mastered by scandalous sexual sin, or the by seemingly unbreakable habit of offending people with a sharp, sarcastic wit. I don’t think there is a particular class of sinner that can only be helped by Puritans, or that the usefulness of the Puritan writings is limited to certain sinners. We all need help. Many will find the Puritans helpful.

TSS: Many readers today, I fear, will get buried when starting Owen’s full works. I get emails often from people who decided they wanted to read the full Owen books and want suggestions how to continue on past page 3. You have mentioned going slowly and using a dictionary. What type of dictionary? Do you have any suggestions to help people who are stuck or are people pretty much in over their heads?

KL: Any time we approach a writer from another era or another culture we have work to do. Shakespeare, for example, is hard going for high school sophomores—but those who are willing to stay with him, to read repeatedly, to learn his vocabulary in its Elizabethan context, to feel the rhythm of his poetry—those are the people who will discover the richness of his imagination. They will be rewarded their whole lives by rereading Hamlet and Macbeth and Julius Caesar. But I doubt anyone can hang with Shakespeare without help: movies, plays, and CDs of the plays help, as well as good footnotes and an enthusiastic (and skilled) teacher.

Of course there are no movies or plays of Owen’s works, and there are few footnotes in the reprints available; unless you go to seminary you are unlikely to find an enthusiastic (and skilled) teacher of Owen. But there are helps. There are some fine abridgments published by Banner of Truth that are a great place to start—and for many people they will be a great place to end. Sinclair Ferguson has written some introductory material to Owen (John Owen on the Christian Life), and even if you never read a Puritan you will be helped by J. I. Packer’s A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life.

TSS: Those are some excellent insights. Thank you… I think what makes your books so powerful is your candidness about your own personal sin. You have already shared a little but I wanted to ask you: You have been familiar with Owen’s works on sin now for a decade. How does the fight against sin change as the years go by? Easier? More joyful? More subtle? More Christ-centered?

KL: Your comment about my candidness about my own sin surprises me: although I opened The Enemy Within with a personal illustration from my own failure, I believe it’s the only such personal reference in the book. I never intended the book to be about me, though I wanted readers to know that the ideas I stole from Owen were as much for me as for anyone.

I suspect that everyone will find that his struggle with sin changes over time as he grows in wisdom. For me growth has been painfully slow, and it’s only when I stop and look carefully back over decades that I can see changes that remind me that God is at work. I wouldn’t say that anything has become easier, but I like your phrase “more joyful”—for it is increasingly so. The joy comes in times when I am less interested in figuring out how much I love God, and more delighted in the too-good-to-be-true truth that God loves me. And what has stirred me lately is that my increasing assurance of God’s love—built on more frequent reflection on the depths of the gospel of grace—steels me against temptation more than any fasting or self-discipline ever did.

TSS: I think the reason you appear so candid in my mind is how clearly you present your own sin in the opening of The Enemy Within. It was clear from those early pages that this was not a book about Owen, or about Owen’s book, not even just a book about sin, but the testimony of a man using Owen and his book to personally fight sin. There is a very personal aspect to both of your books, which comes from a sense of their sincerity, as though they are written to mentor the reader. The personal link between author and reader you build is quite rare…I like that you say you are still growing in grace. This gives me much to look forward to.

Speaking of John Owen, the Works of John Owen are accessible to pretty much anyone who wants them today. There are full versions, abridged versions and updated versions. You decided to completely re-write Owen’s works. Please explain how you ‘translated’ and why you were compelled to do so.

KL: When I discovered the value of Owen’s expositions of the scriptures and my heart, I wanted others to read him. And I didn’t want only pastors and antiquarians to read him—nor did I want only reformed Christians to read him. So I set out to find a way to strip away everything that would distract most readers today: Because it would wear most readers out, I reduced his redundancy; because it would divert attention from the main mission of battling the flesh, I eliminated his attacks against Roman Catholicism; because his vocabulary was elevated and antiquated (quick: tell me what “commination” is), I brought it down to earth and up to date; and because theological buzz-words tend to carry a lot of baggage with people, which would again distract from the mission, I avoided (where possible) highly charged words and stuck to biblical terminology (without compromising the theology).

Once I had done that, I decided I might as well just go all the way and completely repackage his ideas. In essence, I pretended his expositions were mine, and I figured out how I would try to get my (er, his) points across to my readers today. So I added my own illustrations and worked to express the kernel of his thoughts in the fewest words. Then I tried it out on real people to see what they thought, and from their comments I revised the manuscript.

TSS: So you have written books on the subjects on both the Glory of Christ (Through the Looking Glass) and the battle with sin (Enemy Within). Which work receives more attention?

KL: The Enemy Within has been more broadly received than I ever imagined, and Through the Looking Glass less.

TSS: Why do you think this is the case?

KL: I don’t have a clue. I find Owen’s meditations on the glory of Christ to be even more helpful against the flesh than his works on sin. I hope the reason is that there are other, far better works on Christ available—such as John Piper’s.

TSS: I’m uncertain of the ratio, but I would guess in the past 10 years there have been many more books printed on fighting sin (counseling, self-help, etc.) compared to those on the beauty of Christ… But you bring up an interesting point about the fight against sin. What particularly makes Owen’s work on the Glory of Christ “more helpful” in the fight against sin?

KL: His thesis is that we become what we worship (see Psalm 115:4-8 and 1 John 3:2). We all experience this—our lives are often shaped by the people and ideas that we admire and adore, whether or not we are conscious of the effects. Owen is able to linger over the beauty of Christ for hundreds of pages—and by so doing he trains me to reflect more fully on our dear Lord.

TSS: What other books and authors have most helped you meditate upon the beauty of Christ?

KL: I’m most stirred by the poetry of George Herbert [1593-1633]. I know that people don’t read much poetry these days—to their loss. For example, Herbert portrays his soul entering heaven as a conversation between a weary traveler and a gracious innkeeper whose name is Love. The pilgrim is burdened—especially with the sense that he is unworthy to approach Love and to rest. Love meets and overcomes every objection with a tenderness that is perfectly human, yet beyond anything we experience. In the final exchange the pilgrim finally agrees to come in, but only if he can serve. Love will have none of it—he insists that the traveler sit at the table and taste Love’s meat. Isn’t this what Jesus is like? The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve….

TSS: That does sound like an incredible poem. Thank you. … Your books were especially helpful for me when I directed a college ministry in Omaha. Both of them are easy to read, fun (at times) and biblically sound. I found them to be excellent books for group studies. What advice do you have for pastors or ministry leaders who want to use your books with others? In what situations have they been most blessed?

KL: Thank you for your kind comments—it always encourages me to hear that the books have helped someone.

I think a leader who wants to use any book with a group should (as best he can) get to know his group well, and find out what’s going on in their lives. As he leads the discussion he should help people to avoid the trap of sticking to the abstract, safe zone. Groups need to get to where they can really help each other at their points of need, which demands a willingness to let others inside their hearts (at least a little) to see those unpleasant weaknesses. Of course, groups need to get to this point gradually, as they develop trust over time. Perhaps The Enemy Within isn’t a good book for a group to start with—because it naturally leads toward discussion that could be uncomfortable (or even unfair) among people who are not well acquainted.

TSS: A few questions about your ministry. Have you ever been a pastor? What has your role been in your church?

KL: I served as Associate Pastor of University Presbyterian Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico, from 1989 to 1997. Since then I’ve been a manager and program manager in the computer industry in Austin, Texas. My family and I worship and serve at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, where I teach and write.

TSS: On October 14th, you are coming to Omaha, Nebraska to lead a conference. How many conferences have you done?

KL: I have chosen not to do many—and this is the first in a long time.

TSS: We are certainly looking forward to this rare conference opportunity. Speaking of upcoming ministry… What’s next for Kris Lundgaard?

KL: My family and I were recently invited to join a mission team in Trnava, Slovakia. We have just started our training and raising support, and we are doing our best to learn a little Slovak with our two younger sons who will go to the field with us. We hope to be able to leave for Slovakia by the summer of 2007, God willing.

TSS: That seems like a big shift from a computer manager and Christian writer. What caused this change or have you always dreamed of missions work?

KL: I can’t say it’s always been a dream, even though I’ve had lots of delightful involvement in short-term missions in Eastern Europe since 1990. It’s really more a matter of God’s providence—as usual He’s weaving together loose threads that seem unconnected. In this case my loose threads are an undergraduate degree in English, seminary training and ministry experience, and management in the I/T industry.

Believe it or not, the team in Trnava is looking for just those skills. What the team probably doesn’t realize is that they’ll benefit even more from my wife’s overwhelming love and hard work. And I expect our two sons to make a powerful impact on their Slovak friends over the years.

TSS: How can our readers learn more about your missions efforts and how can we support your efforts financially?

KL: Anyone who is interested in the ministry in Slovakia could write to me—there are few things I’d rather talk about these days. You can reach me at barset@earthlink.net. If you write, please mention “Slovakia mission” in the subject line, so I’ll know to let you past the spam filter.

TSS: Excellent. We will be praying for your endeavors on the mission field. And we thank you for your diligence in writing. So many have been blessed on paper and I can imagine the same Lord will bless your ministry for the gospel in Slovakia. Thank you for your time and God bless!

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Kris Lundgaard will be in Omaha, NE at Omaha Bible Church on Saturday October 14th to lead a conference titled “The Enemy Within”. Registration is open for men, women, and families. Mr. Lundgaard is scheduled to preach at the church on Sunday morning as well. Again, Lundgaard is the author of two excellent books, The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin (P&R, 1998 ) and Through the Looking Glass: Reflections on Christ That Change Us (P&R, 2000).

Book recommendations

Today, we have also been referencing two books written by John Owen and both original works are published by The Banner of Truth Trust. The entire 16-volume set of Owen’s works are a real treasure. Volume one of Owen’s Works contains the book ‘Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ’ and volume six of the Works contains a number of books on the fight against sin. Volume six has been updated and will be released by Crossway in a few weeks under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

A good introduction to Owen will be found in two other books — John Owen on the Christian Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson (BTT, 1987) and a more recent collection of essays titled John Owen: The Man and His Theology (P&R, 2003).

And as one final note: Mr. Lundgaard recommended that Christians should read good poetry. Soli Deo Gloria Publications has a volume of Puritan poetry that I enjoy and I think you may, too. The book is titled, Worthy is the Lamb: Puritan Poetry in Honor of the Savior (2004). Three of George Herbert’s poems appear in this book.

We close with the text of the poem Love (III) mentioned by Lundgaard…

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d any thing.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.