Photo tour through Crossway Books

tss-road-trip.jpgWHEATON, IL — Behind the books on our shelves are dozens of visionaries, writers, editors, graphic artists, printers, and marketers hard at work. One goal of The Shepherd’s Scrapbook is to introduce the people and organizations behind the books.

This Spring we traveled to Pennsylvania to see the American office of the Banner of Truth Trust. Another favorite publisher is the Good News Publishers or Crossway Books — or simply known as the ones who publish the English Standard Version. Look on your shelves and count how many Crossway books and Bibles you own. Likely you have a bunch. These originate in Wheaton, IL.

And 2007 looks to be a monumental publishing year for Crossway. Along with the ESV The Literary Study Bible edited by Ryken and Ryken, our friends have produced The Reformation by Stephen Nichols, Sam Storm’s two excellent books Chosen for Life and Signs of the Spirit and will soon be printing the edited version of Communion with the Triune God by John Owen. Yet this Fall and Winter we look forward to John Piper’s response to N.T. Wright on justification, and the American edition of a great book published in the U.K. earlier this year — Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey and Andrew Sach. Each of these volumes (and several others) are grand accomplishments.

Crossway / ESV

The Crossway office and warehouse are within walking distance from the SE corner of Wheaton College, across a set of very busy train tracks. The office and warehouse are housed in one building. In many ways, the interior of the building is reminiscent of a church building with dark brick, embroidered cloth banner, tall ceilings and many windows. The main level perimeter offices are large, bright and with open ceilings.



Last Thursday morning I had the joy of joining the Crossway staff for chapel, a time to give thanks to God, reflect on His grace, and to pray for needs (both personal and professional). The various Crossway authors at work and under deadline were prayed for specifically. The chapel service brought a surprisingly personal context for all the other publishing work and revealed a community of editors caring for their writers and one another beyond the business context.


Crossway books are printed off-site, but warehoused on-site. I took the camera back for a few shots of the warehouse operations. You can see the line where orders are filled. As with the Banner of Truth, all noticeably damaged and defective books are pulled from circulation. Both publishers are perfectionists.






Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor is the main reason I came over to Crossway. Justin is a busy editor, writer, and blogger. His official duties center around editing the ESV Study Bible due out late next year and his blog, Between Two Worlds, is considered one of the best on the Internet (one I check daily and highly recommend).


Justin Taylor has also edited many books, including new versions of John Owen with Dr. Kelly Kapic (Overcoming Sin and Temptation and Communion with the Triune God). Communion is due out in mid-October, so Justin’s work has been especially busy. His diligent labors are amazing, considering he works 9-5 on the ESV Study Bible and his other writing projects (like Communion) are completed in his personal time in the evenings!

A proof of Communion sits on his desk with some final edits before it’s printed.




Justin’s office is on the main level and has no ceiling. He has a modest library on hand and has minimal decorating (please leave decorating ideas for Justin in the comments).




Justin blogs, edits and emails with his John Owen coffee mug handy. His monitor is lifted with two ESV Bible boxes, a copy of The Book of Great Books and a hardcover ESV. His timeliness can be attributed to a nifty Dunder-Mifflin calendar.


All Justin’s emails and calls are screened by his personal office assistant, Dwight Schrute.



Obviously, I captured only a few highlights. It was great meeting Lane Dennis, the man behind Crossway (sorry, no pics). But it was also great to see Crossway behind the scenes and the humble prayerfulness of editors coming together at the throne of mercy.

Time is running short and I have one final stop. Back at Wheaton College campus I walk up to Blanchard Hall to meet Dr. Leland Ryken. …


Related: Photo tour of Banner of Truth warehouse in Carlisle, PA (here).

TSS on the Road

tss-road-trip.jpgWHEATON, IL — Good morning everyone. The first ever TSS road trip is done and we’re headed home. Our travels took us to Wheaton, Illinois and we accomplished a number of things. We toured and photographed some local museums (like the Billy Graham Museum) then headed over to Crossway / ESV for a photographic tour through their facility. We experienced a day in the life of uber blogger Justin Taylor. And finally we traveled up to Wheaton College for an interview with Dr. Leland Ryken about the new ESV Literary Study Bible. Over the next few days we will be sharing all this and more.

For now, here is a pictorial appetizer of Justin with his beloved Dwight Schrute bobble head. Enjoy …

Communion with the Triune God by John Owen

tsslogo.jpgBook review
Communion with the Triune God
by John Owen
edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic


Puritan John Owen (1616-1683) is an important Christian author. But he makes me angry!

It’s happened several times. I’ve got Owen cornered and caught. After weeks of study I’ve traced his footsteps, mapped his argument, and now I’ve got him within range! I pat myself on the back. I’ve followed his complex thoughts, written out comprehensive notes, and it’s all finally coming together. With the smug grin of a hunter when the game walks close, I think to myself, ‘Owen is not so tough.’

Just when I’m satisfied I have Owen apprehended and comprehended, he throws out some new subpoint, some new unforeseen argument, and darts past and escapes. Now I’m back after him, chasing off in a forest of subpoints heavily wooded by a thicket of complex 17th century prose. After coming so close after weeks of careful study, I take off in chase, refusing to concede my victory. But soon I realize he’s gone, disappearing out of range, deep into digressions. It will take several hours to track and corner him again. I kick the dirt, raise the flag of surrender, and order abridgements.

If this is your experience in reading unabridged versions of John Owen, pull up a seat. There’s room for you in the Elmer Fudd club.

We are told Owen is great. But Owen is hard. Everyone who has tried to capture Owen knows this. The solution is to find a travel guide who has mastered Owen, knows his movements, and spots his trails.9781581348316.jpg

Last year, travel guides Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic successfully edited and published the first Owen volume, Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Crossway: 2006). This work is perhaps the most valuable book on battling indwelling sin. The newest Owen volume, Communion with the Triune God (Crossway: 2007), is due out October 12th. It, too, is a masterpiece of Christian literature.


So what is communion? Are we talking wafers and wine?

The full original title is revealing: “Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Each Person Distinctly, in Love, Grace and Consolation.” By grace alone, reconciled sinners are invited to enjoy communion with God, sharing personal communion individually with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We enjoy the Father’s love, the Son’s grace, and the Spirit’s consolation. This is a book about knowing God better.

Let’s move in closer for a few highlights.

A. Mutual affections. Owen gets interesting because communion is a relationship of shared (or mutual) affection. Kapic writes, “To experience communion there needs to be fellowship and communication — e.g., shared affections, response, delight, and satisfaction. In other words, when Owen speaks of our communion with God, he really means active communion, and not merely a state of passivity. ‘Communion consists in giving and receiving’” (p. 21).

It is no stretch to say Owen’s work is a classic work on the Triunity of God. But Owen focuses on an applied Triunity presented within the context of experiencing shared affections, responses, delights and satisfaction. The only way we can experience God is to know God! By expounding the believer’s specific relationship with each Person of the Trinity and dissecting these relationships, we get to know and enjoy God. It’s here Owen’s work finds great relevance today.

B. Loving Father.
If I may speak to personal benefits, this work has most helped me comprehend the love of the Father. Even after my conversion eight years ago, it was common for me to think the Father was always simmering on the brink of anger towards me. This false theology (rooted in self-righteous legalism) is dismantled by Owen in Communion. The Father loves His children deeply! But until we grasp the love of the Father, Owen argues, we will never experience communion with Him.

In a favorite quote, Owen calls us remember the wrath of God has been appeased in Christ. We can now come and drink and delight in the fountain of the Father’s love! After writing, “Flesh and blood is apt to have very hard thoughts of him — to think he is always angry, yea, implacable; that it is not for poor creatures to draw nigh to him” (p. 126), Owen writes:

“Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God [the Father] — that there is still an indisposedness [unwillingness] of spirit unto close walking with him. What is at the bottom of this distemper? Is it not their unskillfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love? So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment” (p. 128).

To be sure, the Cross brings a radical change. God the Father as holy wrath-bearer becomes God the Father, my adoptive Father! Leave it to a 17th century Puritan to bring me to my knees in conviction, praise and delight.

C. The theology of relational theology. For Owen, until our theology is straight, our communion with God will be stunted. Far from being a cheap ‘how-to experience warm divine fuzziness,’ Owen pursues the experience of God within serious theological study. He has really given us a detailed “relational theology.” In the introduction, Kevin Vanhooser writes, “Owen’s Communion with the Triune God is indispensable reading for all those who want to go deeper into the meaning of relationality than one typically goes in the pop-theology boats that float only on the psychological surface of the matter” (p. 12). Well said.

D. The language of relational theology. The robust language of Owen is beautiful. For example, in our communion with God the Son, Owen frequently employs words like sweetness, delight, honor, safety, comfort, tenderness, purity, glory, beauty, and rejoicing (see p. 36, note 80). These words glimpse into the language of Owen’s relational theology.

And when Owen speaks of communion, he says things like: “the saints are sweetly wrapped up in the bosom of their Father’s love” (p. 131); and “having at length come once more to an enjoyment of sweet communion with Christ, the soul lays fast hold on him by faith, refuses to part with him any more … and so uses all means for the confirming of the mutual love between Christ and her: all the expressions, all the allusions used, evidencing delight to the utmost capacity of the soul” (p. 244). Our justification before God is no legal fiction!

E. Discovered self-identity. As a further benefit, if we understand God in His Triunity — and our communion with this Triune God — we begin to understand our identities as children of God. Seeing ourselves in relation with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit we learn who we are. And from this self-identity we have a basis for pursuing holiness and living the Christian life well. (The Derek Thomas interview unfolds this further).

Communion with the Triune God is securely positioned as a great Christian masterpiece. There are many other highlights, and we invite you to join TSS in our month-long study of them.

Features of 2007 edition

Those familiar with Overcoming Sin will notice a similar size (almost exactly the same pages in length), the same fonts and familiar layout. Here are some of the more important features.

1. Introductions. The helpful forward by Kevin Vanhoozer is an apologetic on why the Church needs to hear from Owen on this subject. This is followed by an excellent essay, “Worshiping the Triune God: The Shape of John Owen’s Trinitarian Spirituality” by Kelly Kapic. Kapic is the author of the book Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen (Baker Academic: 2007). This essay is an excellent overview, a topographical map of the terrain covered by Owen.

2. Updated text. The text has been completely retypeset, and is clean and sharp. Only minor editorial changes like archaic spellings (‘hath’ to ‘have’ and ‘thou’ to ‘you’) have been made. Hacking out some of the unnecessary obstructions makes our view of Owen a bit clearer.

3. Complex outline. The most useful character of these edited volumes are the detailed outlines that track Owen’s every footstep. Let’s call it a GPS system for Owen. No matter how deep in digression you find yourself (and you may be surprised how lost you get), a simple check of the clear outline will locate where you stand in the overall argument of Owen. The present volume contains a 32-page outline! One noticeable improvement from Overcoming Sin to Communion is the placement. In last year’s edition the outline was placed at the end of the volume, but in Communion the outline is placed early and before Owen’s text. This is an improvement, because an outline of Owen is essential preparation for the journey.

4. Glossary. Once again the difficult words are defined in footnotes and cumulated in a glossary at the end of the book. I use this glossary frequently when reading other Puritans like Bunyan and Goodwin.

5. Indexes. I’m a stickler for indexes. With the rise in Puritan literature has been a rise in retypeset editions, which make the original indexes useless. These retypeset editions are often being printed without topical or Scriptural indexes of their own, and this is most unhelpful. (Publishers, please remember a retypeset book needs a fresh index.) The excellent topical index in the Crossway volume is a detailed and priceless tool for the reader and preacher. Also helpful is the editors’ care to mark every Scriptural reference in the text and provide a comprehensive Scriptural text index in the back (most helpful for expositors). Combined, the detailed topical and Scriptural indexes make Owen more accessible and useful than ever.


In Communion with the Triune God, Taylor and Kapic have given the Church a resource to help us and future generations track and catch that wascally wabbit, John Owen. And being positioned to capture John Owen, we will better capture the preciousness of Christ’s blood, to better enjoy the throbbing love of our Heavenly Father and experience the empowering comfort of the Holy Spirit. And in our search to understand God’s manifold expressions of love, we learn to delight and commune with Him and better discover our self-identity as His children. One of the great publishing highlights of 2007.


Related: Read our interview with Dr. Derek Thomas about Communion with the Triune God here.


Title: Communion with the Triune God
Primary author: John Owen (1616-1683)
Secondary authors: Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Kelly M. Kapic
Editors: Kelly M. Kapic, Justin Taylor
Reading level: 3.5/5.0 > heavy but manageable because of excellent editing
Boards: paperback
Pages: 448
Volumes: 1
Dust jacket: no
Binding: glue
Paper: white and clean
Topical index: yes
Scriptural index: yes
Text: perfect type, re-typeset
Publisher: Crossway
Year: 2007
Price USD: $22.00 from Crossway (w/ free PDF edition)
ISBNs: 9781581348316

C.J. Mahaney: “Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry”

Friday evening (4/13/07)
General Session #5
C.J. Mahaney: “Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry”

GAITHERSBURG, MD – The year 2007 will be remembered as an important year in the careful study of John Owen’s theology. With the recent release of Kelly Kapic’s Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen (Baker: 2007) and the forthcoming release of Crossway’scj-mahaney.jpg retypeset edition of Owen’s Communion with the Triune God, I anticipate an increasingly balanced awareness of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This beautiful Trinitarian balance of Owen was echoed and applied pastorally by C.J. Mahaney in the concluding address of the 2007 Sovereign Grace Ministries Leader’s Conference.

Mahaney began by cautioning pastors from allowing culture to define the model of ministry. The form and substance of pastoral ministry is defined by the character and work of the Triune God. The character and work of the Triune Godhead is displayed in the final verse of 2 Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (13:14). Mahaney detailed each character and work of the Three Persons of the Godhead. The order here (Son, Father, Holy Spirit) seems to be ordered by our experience of Him.

“The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”

We first meet Christ. The Cross comes first. Paul never assumes the Gospel even up until the very last verse of 2 Corinthians. For Paul, everything comes back to the Gospel.

But to proclaim the grace of the Cross means we must proclaim sin. Proclaiming sin well – without concealing grace – takes a lot of work. Exposing sin is much easier than applying grace and exposing sin should never be done by men who cannot rightly apply grace. Grace is the message applied to sin. We can never take our eyes of Calvary. Once we lose sight of Calvary, we miss our path. In every sermon there will be a sighting of Calvary. That is Paul’s example in 2 Corinthians even as he confronts sin.

“The Love of God”

Secondly, the work of pastoral ministry is to convince others of God’s love, specifically God’s personal love for His children. Verbally and passionately position others to experience the Father’s love personally. Several other passages show the love of God in the salvation of sinners, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) … “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 Jn. 3:1) … “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). The love of God is displayed in the Cross and in adopting sinners into His family!

It was the Father’s love that motivated the Cross. Christ died because God loved us! God initiated the Cross out of love. Sinclair Ferguson says, “We should almost think God loved us more than He loves His Son.” God persuades us of His love in the Cross.

To be right with God (justified) is a great thing, so too is being adopted by God the Father. Read Sinclair Ferguson’s Children of the Living God, J.I. Packer’s Knowing God (on adoption) and Trevor Burke’s Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor.

How do I leave my people on Sunday? Do they walk away with a deep sense of God’s love towards them?

“The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit”

There is a life of participation with the Holy Spirit. We are dependent upon the Holy Spirit and so we pursue His presence and His power with eagerness. We are called to grow, desire and pursue the power of the Holy Spirit as governed by the authority of Scripture. There is a tremendous breadth and diversity of this fellowship.

(It was at this point C.J. explained why he prefers the term “continuist” over “charismatic”). The power of the Holy Spirit is broader than the miraculous. We should understand the Holy Spirit in this broad diversity. In the Corinthian church, as evidenced in the two Pauline letters, there was a minimizing of some of the Holy Spirit’s work. The Corinthians held a fascination with the gift of tongues. And so on the list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:29 Paul places tongues last on the list of gifts. The spectacular does not happen every day and because of this we need to avoid the Corinthian error of being fascinated with some gifts and the minimizing of others. We need to celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit in its broad diversity without exaggerating the significance of one particular gift.

It’s important to become more perceptive to the work of the Holy Spirit in this diversity. For example, there is a proneness to placing authority in the prophetic gifts over Scripture. Beware of emphasizing one gift at the exclusion of the others.

The ultimate priority of the Holy Spirit’s work is to reveal the Savior and the blessings of the Gospel! The work of the Holy Spirit cannot be understood apart from the message of the Cross. As D.A. Carson writes, “To be spiritual is profoundly tied to the Cross.”


This final message from the Leader’s Conference left us with much for further meditation. The encouragement to work at presenting the Father in His love is a good challenge. It is easy to display God solely in His holy vengeance, so that for the Christian to think of Him as a loving, tender Father becomes (practically speaking) a foreign concept. I need to let my adoption by God capture more of my affection and experience, like the doctrine of justification has in the past. Mahaney’s statement that ‘exposing sin is much easier than applying grace, and exposing sin should never be done by men who cannot rightly apply grace’ continues to echo in my thoughts. It is a true statement and very humbling for this aspiring preacher. This message was a great challenge to define pastoral ministry within the balanced context of God’s Triunity.

I’m not sure who talks faster, C.J. or John Moschitta, so to get the full details I would once again suggest this message from the 2007 Sovereign Grace Leader’s Conference as worthy the sacrifice of a venti Americano.

Overall, the conference was an incredible experience. The content and structure of the breakout sessions and the general sessions were excellent. And to spend three nights being led in worship by Bob Kauflin, singing songs like “Before the Throne,” was certainly a glimpse into the eternal worship around the throne of the Lamb! Speaking of heavenly things, the bookstore was well-stocked and efficiently run. The conference carried an excellent blend of Bibles, theology, pastoral counseling, biography, children’s books and music. For me personally, the conference provided a great opportunity to grow closer to our friends who also traveled from Minneapolis and to see the generousness and loving care our church in Minneapolis continues to pour out on my wife and family! I can summarize the words of others, but trying to summarize the experience of the conference is really not possible. Thanks for reading the updates! -Tony


Related 2007 SGM LC sessions:


1. 2007 Sovereign Grace Ministries Leadership Conference

2. R.C. Sproul: “The Holiness of God”

3. Rick Gamache: “Watch Your Devotional Life”

4. Mark Dever: “Watch the Past: Living Lessons from Dead Theologians”

5. David Powlison: “‘In the Last Analysis…’ Look out for Introspection”

6. C.J. Mahaney: “Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry”

7. 2007 Conference photographs

New book: Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, Justin Taylor and Kelly M. Kapic

New book alert!

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor is an excellent new book about to be released by Crossway. It’s an updated but unabridged version of volume 6 of John Owen’s works including Mortification of Sin, Of Temptation, and Indwelling Sin. These three works are classics in the Christian fight against sin.

The 450 page book is comprised of an excellent foreword by John Piper, a preface by Taylor (Reading John Owen: Why a New Edition?), introduction by Kapic (Life in the Midst of Battle: John Owen’s Approach to Sin, Temptation, and the Christian Life) overviews of each of the three books and then the text of the three books (Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It and Indwelling Sin).

The conclusion of the book includes 25 pages of very helpful outlines of each Owen book and a glossary of terms (helpful for reading any Puritan work). These helpful additions will assist any reader navigate the precious books by Owen. Highly recommended!


Buy it: You can get a special discount and free shipping through Justin Taylor’s blog.

Related: Read our interview with Kris Lundgaard on John Owen and his works.