In this episode Shaun Tabatt speaks with Justin Holcomb about ‘Know the Heretics’ and ‘Know the Creeds and Councils’ (Zondervan, 2014).
About Know the Heretics:
In this guide, Justin Holcomb—a priest, professor, and author—introduces readers to the major heresies in Christian history, outlining not just the false teachings but also the orthodox response to each one and their ongoing contemporary relevance. Discussion questions make Know the Heretics useful for individual and group study alike.
About Know the Creeds and Councils:
In this accessible guide, Justin Holcomb—a priest, professor, and author—introduces readers to the church’s most important statements of faith over the centuries and shows why those statements still matter today. Discussion questions make Know the Creeds and Councils useful for individual and group study alike.
About Justin Holcomb: Justin S. Holcomb (PhD, Emory University) is an Episcopal priest, adjunct professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, and Director at Key Life. He previously taught at the University of Virginia and Emory University. Justin holds two masters degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University.
He serves on the boards for REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade), GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments), and Biblical Counseling Coalition.
“We live in a culture in which spirituality is on the rise, including a resurgence in mysticism, Gnosticism, and every other -ism. Many are confused about what they believe and why it matters, and sin is often minimized or hidden. Hedges draws on the best wisdom of the church to help readers better grasp the seven deadly sins and how the gospel frees God’s people from them. As Hit List blows away misconceptions about the sinfulness of man, readers will be captivated by the magnificence of what Jesus has done so sinners can put their sin to death and grow in the grace of God. This is an excellent and needed book. It can convict you of your sinfulness while pointing you to the sufficiency of the finished work of the Savior—Jesus Christ.”
While we were chatting over email recently, we both thought it would be fun to do an interview about his new book. The following is our conversation about his book Hit List.
Dave, “What is Hit List about?”
Brian: Hit List is about sin and grace, brokenness and redemption, vice and virtue. It is a collection of detailed dossiers on seven of our most lethal enemies, those vices traditionally known as “The Seven Deadly Sins” – namely: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. But the goal of this book isn’t just to see our sins more clearly, or even to repent from them, but to experience the transforming power of Christ and his Spirit in our lives.
Dave, “This is your second book with Cruciform Press. What’s the relationship to your previous book with Cruciform, Licensed to Kill?”
Brian: Licensed to Kill is subtitled “A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin.” My purpose in that book was to give detailed help on how to kill any sin. Hit List, written as something of a sequel, builds on the general principles in Licensed to Kill, but with the aim of attacking the specific sins themselves.
Dave, “You acknowledge in the book that the seven deadly sins isn’t an explicitly biblical list, but you’ve still written a book on it. Why?”
Brian: The origin of this list is almost 1500 years old and has been used by Christians of all stripes for helping them understand the nature of sin. Some of the early theologians called these “capital” sins – “capital” coming from caput, the Latin word for head. They viewed these sins not as the worst sins, but as the “head” sins, or root sins: the leading, breeding sins, which produced all the others. The idea was that you could never deal with the fruits of other sins unless you addressed these root sins. And while this specific list of seven sins is not given in Scripture, the idea of root sins certainly is, and a good case can be made from Scripture for seeing these seven sins as root sins – or to use Dorothy Sayers’ phrase, as “the Seven Roots of Sinfulness.”
Another reason I’ve written the book is because studying the history of the seven deadly sins has helped me personally. It started several years ago when I first began realizing my own propensity to the sin of acedia – the older designation for sloth. Sloth, in ancient Christian spirituality, wasn’t just laziness, though that could be a symptom. It was an inward spiritual resistance to God, what Dante called lento amore, slow love. My interest in understanding this particular vice lead me into a study of the other deadly sins as well. And then I began to see just how influential the list has been not only in theology, but also in literature and in popular culture. All of that lead to writing this book.
Dave, “One of the rubrics you use for explaining these sins is “disordered love.” Can you say more about that?”
Brian: Augustine, who believed that sin was the result of wrongly ordered love and desire, developed this concept. Augustine said that “living a just and holy life requires one . . . to love things . . . in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally” (De Doct. Christ. Bk. 1).
The idea, in other words, is that there is a proper order to our loves, with God obviously deserving our highest love, and that we flourish as human beings only when that order is observed. The roots of this are clearly in Scripture, for example, in Jesus’ teaching on the two greatest commandments (Matt. 22:37-40), and the New Testament’s frequent use of the word epithumia, which means inordinate desire.
I find it helpful because (1) it affirms the legitimacy of our human longing for happiness, but teaches us to relocate our happiness in God; and (2) it affirms the inherent goodness of created things, such as food and sex, while reminding us to keep our desires for these things ordered under the Lordship of Christ. Sin results when we seek our joy in created things, rather than the Creator (this is the essence idolatry) and when we fail to observe God’s revealed will in how we use these lesser goods. But the practical solution to such sin is not asceticism – severe bodily self-denial — but the reordering of our desires, such that we embrace all created goods in their proper order.
Dave, “What do you hope lay Christians get out of the book?”
Brian: I hope they will get both practical help and gospel hope. Practical help, in understanding their own hearts and their propensities to specific sins. And gospel hope, in seeing afresh the riches of God’s grace, the redemptive power of Christ, and the transforming ministry of the Spirit. I also think believers can be helped by recovering a basic understanding of this list of seven sins. I regularly use the list in confession by simply praying through the list and asking the Lord to show me where these sins are evident in my life. We all need help in self-examination, so perhaps others would benefit from this as well.
Dave, “How advice would you give to pastors on preaching the seven deadly sins?”
I would suggest three things:
(1) Be biblical: if you preach on these sins, be sure to expound what Scripture actually says about each one. Because there is such a wealth of material written about these sins, it would be tempting to build sermons on that material rather than Scripture. I think we have to resist that temptation, start with the text of Scripture, and then judiciously use the other material to help with illustration and application. But as expositors, we must let the text itself speak.
(2) Be practical: teaching on these sins is a great opportunity to talk about the nitty-gritty ways in which we sin and to offer practical help in “putting off” and “putting on.”
(3) Point people to Jesus: teaching on sin that fails to hold out gospel hope is nothing more than moralism. One of the weaknesses of the monastic and medieval writing on the seven deadly sins is that they spend a lot more time in diagnosis than cure, and the remedies they do suggest sometimes fall short of the full-blooded gospel. The way to fight sin is not merely with spiritual disciplines, as important as these are, but with a strong dose of justification by faith alone and the transforming ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Dave: Thanks for your time today Brian. I truly enjoyed reading your book and interviewing you today about it.
In this episode of Author Talks With Shaun Tabatt, I speak with Brian Hedges about his book Active Spirituality: Grace and Effort in the Christian Life (Shepherd Press, 2014).
About the Book:
In Active Spirituality, Brian Hedges allows us to read someone else’s mail — a series of warm pastoral letters, written to a young Christian, about the paradox of grace and effort in the life of faith.
“Is my Christian life about trying or trusting?” • “Would I describe my relationship to God as running or resting?” • “Is my life more characterized by grace or effort?”
The wisdom in the letters makes clear that it is both: trying and trusting, running and resting, dependence on grace and exerting disciplined effort. This balance is not about getting my doctrine right, but is key to living a healthy Christian life.
So, pull up a chair, settle in, and read over the shoulder of Chris, a struggling young adult trying to find a church, overcome discouragement, live a chaste life, and develop a plan for spiritual growth, all while learning to rest in the finished work of Jesus.
About the Author:
Brian G. Hedges is the lead pastor at Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, Michigan. He has been married to Holly since 1996 and they have four children. Brian is also the author of Christ Formed in You (Shepherd Press, 2010), Licensed to Kill (Cruciform Press, 2011) and numerous articles published in periodicals and online. For fun, Brian enjoys reading, playing golf, hanging out with his family, and watching good movies.
Here’s where you can connect with Brian on the web:
There are scores of first-year Greek grammar textbooks available for Bible college and seminary courses in biblical Greek. Far less plentiful, however, are tools that help students learn and retain the subject matter, regardless of the textbook they use. People learn in many different ways, and a multimedia approach has been underutilized in the teaching of biblical Greek. There is no better way to assist today’s New Testament Greek grammar student than The Singing Grammarian. Designed for use on video display devices or computers, this fun learning program covers the major areas of introductory Greek and the major paradigms taught to introductory students. The title of each song explains its content: The Greek Alphabet song, First Declension song, Second Declension song, Third Declension song, Definite Article song, Present Active Indicative song, Present Middle/Passive song, Future Active and Middle song, Secondary Endings (Imperfect) song, Aorist Active and Middle song, Liquid Verbs song, Passive System song, (Plu)Perfect song, Imperative song, Subjunctive song, Infinitives song, and Participles song.
These videos in Mov format can be played on many devices. On a Mac or PC, simply use Apple’s free QuickTime player for viewing. For those who want to view the videos on an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, add the videos to your iTunes library and then sync them to your device. Many Android-enabled phones as well Blackberry phones are able to play these files too; just add them to your phone. If your phone is unable to view the files, use a video converter to create a suitable format and screen size for your device. For ease in downloading your purchase, use a high-speed broadband connection and a download manager.
About the Author:
Danny Zacharias is a professor, speaker, author, and tech ninja. He lectures in the area of Biblical Studies and Biblical languages at Acadia Divinity College at Acadia University.
Danny works hard to help people understand the message of the Bible and to teach them to be responsible readers. He is also passionate about utilizing emerging technology in education. This shows in his website NTGreekResources.com, where he provides quality multimedia resources for learning Greek, including apps, videos, and songs.
Another passion is productivity and success in life’s endevours. He is a an avid reader on leadership, productivity, and business success. Danny has turned this passion in his life into eBooks for college and university students.
Danny is a graduate of Providence College (BA), Acadia University (M.A., M.Div.) and currently a Ph.D. student. He and his wife, Maria, live in Wolfville, Nova Scotia with their two sons, daughter, and cat.
The lights dim . . . the smoke rises . . . the band starts playing. It’s a familiar scene, as youth ministries everywhere use entertaining and trendy approaches to draw in teens. But when the lights come on and the fog clears, what do we find?
Far too many teenagers raised in Christian homes drift away from the church after high school. Why is this true? Could it be because youth groups, in seeking to elevate experience over truth, have left teens dissatisfied and hungry for that truth?
Brian Cosby demonstrates a ministry approach that nurtures teens and brings them back for more — one solidly grounded in Christ and patterned after the means of grace: the Word, sacraments, prayer, service, and community. Learn how much teenagers not only need a deeper ministry, but want one too.
About the Author:
Brian H. Cosby is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) on Signal Mountain, Tennessee and adjunct professor of church history at Metro Atlanta Seminary. He is the author of several books and regularly contributes to various journals and magazines. You can learn more about Brian on his Amazon author page and at waysidechurch.org.
Books by Brian Cosby:
Other Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
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Women of Faith and Courage:
Through some of the best-loved heroines of the Christian faith, God’s glory is manifest as He accomplishes significant things through imperfect people. In Women of Faith readers discover the remarkable stories of Susanna Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor and Corrie ten Boom. Their lives spanned three centuries and their circumstances were each very different, but steadfast faith and courage is the constant resounding theme for each.
In Women of Faith engaging narratives with rich historical detail reveal the uncommon faithfulness of these five women in evangelism, missions pioneering, ministries of compassion and the nurturing of their own families. Their giftedness, resilience and compassion shine through, modeling devotion to Christ and sacrificial service in His kingdom.
Across the pages of this book, the legacy of these women lives on to inspire and instruct contemporary believers-in living all of life for the glory of God.
They were, much like us, ordinary citizens of their time. Yet their extraordinary lives resound through the generations for the glory of God, pointing us to a higher way of life today. Timeless Stories is an exceptional collection of narratives from the daily lives of Christian heroes like George Muller, Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody, Corrie ten Boom, Billy Graham and others.
Timeless Stories is a treasure trove of illustrations that will capture the hearts of children and adults alike. The powerful words of testimony and transformative ideals portrayed in this collection continue to instruct believers across the globe and through the ages. These stories of day-to-day living reveal human frailty, emotion and struggles common to man-all undergirded by an unshakable faith that fueled great passions. There are tales of love, family, broken hearts, regrets and survival. Lessons of forgiveness, adversity, stewardship, prayer and service light the way for followers through the ages.
The same Lord who equipped, empowered and gave great success to those who went before us-despite their faults and inadequacies-will so work in the lives of Christians today and until the end of time.
About the Author:
Vance Christie was born in Indiana and raised in south-central Washington State. He had the unspeakable blessing of being raised in a loving Christian home where both his parents consistently lived by the principles they believed and taught. His father, a pastor, was used of the Lord to lead Vance to saving faith in Jesus Christ as a young boy.
Vance attended Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. While in college, he met and married his wife, Leeta. They have been married thirty-three years. They are blessed with three lovely adult daughters and two quality sons-in-law.
Since graduating from seminary (with the Master of Divinity degree) in 1986, Vance has pastored churches in Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska. He currently pastors the Evangelical Free Church of Aurora, Nebraska, where he has served for over sixteen years.
An avid fan of historic Christian biography throughout his ministry, Vance has published seven books in that field since 1999. His works have been published by Christian Focus Publications, P & R (Presbyterian & Reformed), and Barbour Publishing.