I highly commend Archbishop Ussher’s The Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. It is Scripture statured, theologically profound, and devotionally moving.
Logos is having a Cyber Monday Sale today.
You can access it via my affiliate link: https://partner.logosbible.com/click.track?CID=436362&AFID=480819
Zondervan Exegetical Commentary
Ruth by Daniel I. Block – I’ve not used this particular commentary, but Block’s commentary on Ruth in the New American Commentary series was excellent. This one covers the book in greater depth.
Matthew by Grant Osborne – While I’d probably turn to Carson (EBC) and Nolland (NIGTC) first, I have found Osborne helpful.
Mark by Mark L. Strauss – While I’d turn to Edwards (PNTC) and France (NIGTC) first, I have found Strauss to provide helpful insights into the Olivet Discourse when I used him to study that passage.
Luke by David E. Garland – There isn’t a commentary by Garland that I’ve not been impressed with. This one is no exception.
John by Edward W. Klink III – There are times when I think Klink may be too imaginative, but he is an insightful literary reader. Helpful to read alongside Carson (PNTC).
Acts by Eckhard Schnabel – An excellent commentary on Acts. One of the best.
Romans by Frank Thielman – Thielman’s commentary competes in a crowded field―Moo (NICNT), Schreiner (BECNT), Cranfield (ICC), and more―nonetheless, having read Paul and the Law in Context I’m interested in just about anything Thielman writes.
Galatians by Thomas Schreiner – This is an excellent commentary on Galatians, ranking right up with Moo (BECNT) as one of the best to get.
Ephesians by Clinton Arnold – Not the first Ephesians commentary I would buy (I would get Thielman [BECNT], Baugh [EEC], and Hoehner first), but he has done a good job editing this series.
Colossians and Philemon by David Pao – I’ve not read this one yet.
1 and 2 Thessalonians by David Shogren – I’ve found this to be a decent contribution.
James by Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell – A commentary full of insights. Recommended.
1, 2, and 3 John by Karen Jobes – I’ve not used this commentary extensively, but Jobes’s commentaries have been uniformly good.
Revelation by Buist Fanning – I’m still working through this one, but Fanning’s commentary may be the best commentary on this book. Highly recommend.
There are several in the series by authors who are unknown to me but which I’m interested in because I’ve been impressed by the series thus far: Joel Barker on Joel; Kevin Youngblood in Jonah, Paul Gardner on 1 Corinthians.
NIV Application Commentary
Deuteronomy by Daniel Block – Anything by Block is worth getting. This entry-level commentary by Block is often more insightful than some of the larger commentaries.
Judges, Ruth by K. Lawson Younger – I’ve not purchased this commentary, but I’ve referenced it on Judges and found it helpful.
1 & 2 Samuel by Bill Arnold – Another I’ve not purchased by have found helpful when I referenced it.
Esther by Karen Jobes – An insightful literary reading of Esther.
Daniel by Tremper Longman III – A very helpful literary reading. Even in the passages where I would differ from Longman eschatologically, I still find helpful insights.
2 Corinthians by Scott J. Hafemann – Hafemann did his doctoral work on this book, and his expertise shows.
Philippians by Frank Thielman – Anything by Thielman is worth getting in my estimation.
Colossians and Philemon by David E. Garland – Again, a helpful entry level treatment by a sure-footed commentator.
Hebrews by George Guthrie – Guthrie did his doctoral work on Hebrews and his expertise shines through in this volume.
There are a number of volumes in this series that I’ve not used but whose authors signal that they are likely worthwhile purchases. (In some cases, depending on your purposes, however, you should consider buying the in-depth commentary that the author wrote on the same book.) These volumes would include Hill on 1 & 2 Chronicles; Oswalt on Isaiah; Smith on Hosea, Amos, Micah; Baker on Joel, Obadiah, Malachi; Boda on Haggai, Zechariah; Wilkins on Matthew; Garland on Mark; Bock on Luke; Moo on Romans; Blomberg on 1 Corinthians; Moo on 2 Peter, Jude.
No Quick Fix by Andy Naselli – An excellent readable critique of Keswick theology.
God, Revelation, and Authority by Carl F. H. Henry – Henry’s magnum opus. Required theological reading.
Theology of the Old Testament by Gustav Oehler – Classic Old Testament theology.
The blessings of Israel listed in Romans 9:4-5 connect with the great failure of Israel recorded in 9:30-10:4. The Israelites are blessed because of their descent from the patriarchs. But the great climatic blessing is that the Messiah, who is “God over all,” descended from the Israelites in his humanity.
This climatic blessing encompasses all the previous blessings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenants, of the giving of the law, of the worship, and of the promises. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). He is also the true Son of God and the radiance of the glory of God who dwelt in their midst.
But instead of recognizing Jesus as the greatest of their blessings, Israel stumbled over him “as a stumbling stone and a rock of offense” (Rom. 9:32-33). Why? Because the blessing of the covenants, the law, and the worship “they did not pursue … by faith” but by works (Rom. 9:32).
Logos Bible Software is having a Black Friday sale today through November 29th.
You can access it via my affiliate link: https://partner.logosbible.com/click.track?CID=436361&AFID=480819
Michael Horton, Justification 2 vols. New Studies in Dogmatics
In his first volume Horton undertakes a historical survey of the doctrine from the church fathers through the Reformation. However, Horton is not merely surveying history; he is mounting an argument against the claim by Roman Catholic and Radical Orthodox theologians that the Reformation was suffused with nominalism and that this shift from realism to nominalism accounts for the rise of secularism. In general, I think Horton provides a sound refutation of this thesis while also effectively documenting patristic, medieval, and Reformation views of justification.
In this second volume Horton provides and exegetically-grounded defense and formulation of the Reformation doctrine of justification. He meets the challenges posed by the New Perspective on Paul, particularly the version advanced by N. T. Wright, the apocalyptic reading of Paul championed by J. Louis Martyn, and the radical reading of Douglas Campbell.
Often it seems as though exegesis, church history, and theology are held apart, with different theologians emphasizing one of these three disciplines in their approach to theologizing. Horton brings all three together masterfully. Volume 2 in particular is one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Ryan McGraw reviewed these volumes in the Westminster Theological Journal 81 (2019): 321-32, and a summary of his assessment may also be useful.
McGraw’s overall assessment of Horton’s work is positive. He notes that some problematic areas in Horton’s work—reliance on speech-act theory, openness to theosis, and citations of Barth are either “absent” or “subdued” in this work.
McGraw provides these critiques:
- Does not define nominalism clearly enough, equivocates on the term real, and ascribes to post-Reformation Roman Catholicism Biel’s views.
- Continues to be confusing in his statements about Union with Christ, sometimes making union the ground of justification and others making justification the ground of union. McGraw cannot completely make sense of the contradiction, but he notes there may be a confusion between redemption accomplished and applied.
- Makes anachronistic statements about historical figures and makes some overstated claims.
- Identifies the Sinai covenant as a law covenant in contrast with the gracious Abrahamic covenant. McGraw notes, “The only other place that this author has encountered this kind of reasoning historically is in classic Baptist covenant theologies, which sought to drive a similar wedge between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants.”
I found McGraw’s overall positive and selectively critical review helpful. I too have been puzzled by Horton’s seemingly conflicting statements regarding union with Christ. However, when it comes to the covenants, I find Horton’s exegetical and theological arguments more compelling that McGraw’s objections. Further, as a Baptist, I find the fact that Horton’s view is found most prominently among early Baptists a recommendation of the view!
Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? – In combination I found that Gaffin and Saucy make a compelling case for cessationism. Sam Storms provides a thoughtful continuationist position, but I don’t think it holds up to the much deeper view of redemptive history presented by Gaffin (who is steeped in the theology of Geerhardus Vos) or to the cogent biblical observations of Robert Saucy.
Five Views on Law and Gospel – Douglas Moo’s article in this volume is worth the price of the book.
Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology – Some helpful (and not do helpful) articles in this volume, but the one I keep coming back to is a response essay by Al Wolters. Careful and wise.
Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism – Worth the price of the book for Kevin Bauder’s cogent defense of separatism.
Three Views on the Rapture, 2nd edition – The essay by Craig Blaising in defense of a pre-Day of the Lord rapture is the best defense of that position that I’ve read. Though a progressive dispensationalist, Blaising’s argument is framed in such a way as to be acceptable to non-dispensationalists. He has jettisoned many of the weaker dispensational arguments. No one has reckoned with the pre-tribulation position unless he has reckoned with Blaising’s treatment. Moo’s defense of the post-tribulation position was the strongest of the essays in the first edition. However, due to the strength of the replacement essays, I’d judge it the weakest of the 2nd edition.
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond – Blaising contributed an excellent defense of premillennialism. Strimple also provides a competent amillennial argument. Gentry’s entry on postmillennialism is sorely lacking in both cogency and historical accuracy.
Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament – Lunde provides a very helpful introductory essay. The essays by Kaiser and Bock are both well done.
Word Biblical Commentary
These volumes are all selling for $19.99. Here is my assessment of each volume that I think is worth having.
Genesis by Gordon Wenham (2 vols.) – One of the best literary treatments of the book, though concedes too much about the historicity of the opening chapters. Nevertheless, one of the most helpful commentaries on the book.
Leviticus by John E. Hartley – A helpful, detailed look at Leviticus. I have not worked through this volume in depth, but I’ve found it helpful each time I’ve used it.
Ruth, Esther by Fredercik W. Bush – I’ve also not used these in depth, but I’ve found both helpful in occasional use.
Ezra-Nehemiah by H. G. M. Williamson – Not as conservative as Andrew Steinmann’s outstanding commentary, but still very helpful when used with discernment. I’ve read through the entire Ezra portion.
Job by D. J. A. Clines (3 vols.) – I’ve heard good things about Clines’s detailed work, though I’ve not gotten to use this one yet. I have purchased it.
Song of Songs, Lamentations by Duane Garret and Paul House respectively is an excellent commentary. I’ve referenced House’s commentary on Lamentations with profit. I’ve read Garret on Song of Songs in its entirety, and it is excellent.
Hosea-Jonah by Douglas Stuart – Excellent treatment of these Minor Prophets. I find valuable insights every time I consult this volume. His chart at the beginning of the book categorizing the covenant curses and blessings found in the Pentateuch is valuable for study of all the prophets.
Matthew by Donald A. Hagner (2 vols.) – I’ve found this volume helpful when I’ve used it; but I’ve not purchased it personally, prioritizing other volumes over it.
Luke by John Nolland (3 vols.) – I’ve not purchased these volumes yet, but given how helpful I’ve found Nolland’s commentary on Matthew, I’m considering it.
Galatians by Richard Longenecker – I would not rank ahead of Moo (BECNT) or Schreiner (ZECNT), but still helpful when consulted.
Ephesians by Andrew T. Lincoln – Not the first Ephesians commentary I would buy (I would get Thielman [BECNT], Baugh [EEC], and Hoehner first). He unaccountably denies Pauline authorship. Nonetheless, he is attuned to the eschatological aspects of Ephesians, and useful on that point.
1 & 2 Thessalonians by F. F. Bruce – I confess that I’ve not purchased this volume. It is, however, by F. F. Bruce, and he is uniformly helpful.
Pastoral Epistles by William Mounce – Outstanding, conservative commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. I highly commend.
Hebrews by William Lane (2 vols.) – Helpful treatment especially of the Greek. On theology I’d value Hughes and O’Brien (PNTC) more.
2 Peter and Jude by Richard Bauckham – Despite his denial of Peter’s authorship (tied to his infeasible view of the 2 Peter’s genre), Bauckham’s exegetical treatment is helpful. I would, however, pair it with Schreiner’s (NAC) more conservative treatment
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series
This set is easily readable. Someone without seminary training would benefit from these volumes. Some of the authors of these volumes have written more comprehensive commentaries on the same books elsewhere (e.g., Keener on Matthew, Bock on Luke, Fee on Philippians, Towner on the Pastorals). As in any set some volumes will be better than others.
Black’s New Testament Commentary
The one must get volume from this series is Markus Bockmuehl on Philippians.
There are some weaknesses to this approach to commentary writing, so I’d use these alongside other commentaries. However, I’ve found Craig Keener on the Gospel of Matthew and Ben Witherington on Acts to be very helpful. I’ve also picked up a couple of the others, but these are the standouts, in my opinion.
Lectio Continua Expository Commentary
This as a sermon-oriented commentary series put out by Reformation Heritage Press. The only volume which I’ve looked into has been Beeke on Revelation (it’s written from an idealist perspective that I find untenable). However, I expect them overall to be warm, helpful commentaries. I would thing the 1 Corinthians volume would take a cessationist perspective.
The Works of Charles Hodge
I think that Hodge is valued less these days than he ought to be. I value what I read from Hodge every time I turn to him.
David Wells Collection
This is comprised by Wells’s famous series: No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing Our Virtue, Above All Earthly Pow’rs, and The Courage to Be Protestant.
Gordon D. Fee New Testament Studies Collection
This includes several of Fee’s works, including his commentaries in the NICNT set. Price it out. It may be worth it for those commentaries, if you don’t have them. Fee has written the best commentary on Philippians, in my estimation. His commentary on 1 Corinthians is very helpful despite its continuationist approach.
Thielman’s discussion of the syntax is very helpful.
First adverbial clause: in whom you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation,
Second adverbial clause: in whom you also, when you believed,
Main verb: were sealed….
We should probably not try to repair the broken syntax by supplying some verb in the first clause that could then transform it into a complex sentence with a pattern similar to the second clause. This is simply a broken sentence, or anacoluthon, common occurrence in the Pauline corpus.”Frank Thielman, Ephesians, BECNT (Baker, 2010), 78-79.
Both occurrences of ἐν ᾧ indicate union with Christ (the second in v. 13 being resumptive of the first) and being part of a series (see 1:7, 11, 13) (Campbell, 193-94; Larkin, 15; Hoehner, 235; Thielman, 79; Baugh, 96).
Most recent commentators do not think that the shift from 1st person to 2nd person between vv. 12 and 13 indicates a shift from Jewish Christians to Gentile Christians (Larkin, 15; Lincoln, 38; Hoehner, 235; Thielman, 78), and they are probably right. But Baugh’s contention that the shift highlights an emphasis in Gentile Christians being “full members of the covenant community in Christ,” anticipating ch. 2 is worth some further consideration (Baugh, 96-97). If I were to follow Baugh, I would understand the “we” to include both Jews and Gentiles and the “you” to focus on the Gentile Ephesians.
The Spirit is the seal, not the agent of the sealing (Lincoln, 40; Baugh, 97). Thielman is probably right that the “seal protects them from the wrath that God will one day pour out on the wicked” (Thielman, 77). It is not a reference to water baptism but to what water baptism signifies: Spirit baptism (Baugh, 98; Bock, 44).
Though I need to give more attention to the interpretation found in the KJV and Thomas Goodwin, namely, that the sealing followed believing (Goodwin, 1:237-38), the recent commentators make a cogent case that the hearing is “the hearing of faith” (Hoehner, 237-38) and that the hearing, believing, and sealing are contemporaneous (Lincoln, 39; Hoehner, 237-38; Thielman, 79; Baugh, 97; Bock 44).
The Bible teaches that speaking and upholding truth is a required characteristic of good rulers.
Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince.Proverbs 17:7
If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked.Proverbs 29:12
The Bible also warns Christians against defending those who speak falsehood:
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.”Prov. 17:15
The reason for the above admonitions is clear. To speak truth and avoid lies is godly: “God is not a man, that he should lie” (Num. 23:19); “God, who never lies” (Tit. 1:2). To lie is satanic: “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). God hands an unrighteous people over to sins that include “deceit” and “slander” (Rom. 1:29-30).
How, then, should Christians evaluate the claims that the President and others are making about fraud in the 2020 election? It is wise to evaluate claims made in the media by the lawsuits which the campaign has filed. To the best of my understanding, the lawsuits do not match the claims of widespread fraud. Further, as I understand the situation, even if the President’s campaign won their lawsuits, the outcome of the election would not change.
Thus, I think it Christians should be very careful about claiming that widespread fraud cost President Trump the election. It is one thing for a Christian to decide to vote for a wicked man who has ruled wickedly because they think he will be less wicked than another wicked man with even more wicked policies. But it is another thing for a Christian to participate in what God calls an abomination: justifying the wicked in his wickedness (Prov. 17:15).
Many Christians are suspicious of left-leaning media. There are valid concerns about such media. But the kind of valid critique that can be made of outlets like the New York Times—”I came to the conclusion long ago that the Times doesn’t care whether the news stories they run are true. They don’t even care whether the stories are by any general measure important. They have an institutional narrative that they want to sell to the world, and they run stories that are useful to that narrative”—is also true of many media sources on the right.
A characteristic of postmodern thought is to dismiss the importance of speaking truth in favor of understanding speech in terms of power dynamics. I fear that too many Christians (probably unwittingly) get their news from right wing outlets that are essentially postmodern. They don’t speak the truth; they do seek power. For Christians to consume such news inevitably leads to worldliness.
David Wells aptly define worldliness as
“that system of values, in any given age, which has at its center our fallen human perspective, which displaces God and his truth from the world, and which makes sin look normal and righteousness seem strange. It thus gives great plausibility to what is morally wrong and, for that reason, makes what is wrong seem normal.”David Wells, Losing our Virtue, p. 4.
We often think of worldliness in connection with entertainment media. And it most certainly is the case that when Christians consume our culture’s popular movies and music, worldliness infects the church. But it is also true that a great deal of right-wing news and opinion media is also leading otherwise godly Christians to be worldly in the way they think and speak about politics. Our President and his supporters in the media have, for the past four years, made “sin look normal and righteousness seem strange.” Whatever choices Christians made when voting, we should be unified in opposing this kind of worldliness.
In full disclosure of the how my assessment of the 2020 election has been shaped, I’ve linked to sources that have informed my thinking. To the best of my knowledge, the following provide reliable information about the 2020 election. The first link is from an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. The remainder are from two reputable, conservative news organizations.
Information from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: https://www.cisa.gov/rumorcontrol
Fact check articles from the conservative news outlet The Dispatch: https://factcheck.thedispatch.com/
The Dispatch podcast, a political news and opinion podcast from the conservative publication, The Dispatch. They’ve done several episodes on the fraud allegations and post-election legal cases: https://podcast.thedispatch.com/
“The Editors” podcast, a political news and opinion podcast from the editors of National Review, a long-time conservative publication. They too have done several episodes on the fraud allegations: https://www.nationalreview.com/podcasts/the-editors/
Jim Geraghty’s post-election coverage in National Review: https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/where-the-post-election-lawsuits-stand/
Dan McLaughlin’s post-election coverage in National Review: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/no-joe-biden-did-not-only-improve-in-four-major-swing-state-cities/
A National Review article about alleged voted fraud in Gerogia: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/georgia-secretary-of-state-pushes-back-against-voter-fraud-claims-failed-candidate-doug-collins-is-a-liar/
I close by noting that even though the above links are to politically conservative news outlets which do, in my estimation, evince a concern for truth in their reporting and commentary, the contributors are not necessarily Christians. Even those who claim to be Christians are not correct in all of the positions they take. Even with the best of sources, Christians need to be wise as serpents and aware of the danger of worldliness.
Proverbs 16:12: “It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.”
Proverbs 17:7: “Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince.”
Proverbs 29:12: “If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked.”
Proverbs 17:15: “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
These were the Scripture passages that were on my Bible reading schedule for today.
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling” (Prov. 20:3).
A Psalm of David.
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
Ezekiel 20 was also part of my Bible reading schedule this morning. That chapter recounts God’s blessing on Israel, Israel’s rebellion, and God’s judgment upon Israel. While the United States ought not be equated with Israel, we do know from other Scriptures that God also blesses and judges Gentile nations.
The two best articles that I’ve read this election season about voting are:
Jonathan Leeman, “What Makes a Vote Moral or Immoral? The Ethics of Voting.”
John Piper, “Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin.”
Instead of addressing the particulars of this election, both articles provide Christian readers with Scriptural considerations by which to reach those conclusions. Because they deal with issues on a broadly Scriptural and principial level, I think both these articles will stand the test of time and remain useful for Christians seeking to fear God and honor him as they vote in future elections as well.
Leeman offers nine principles to guide Christians as they vote:
- “1. Your vote bears moral weight by virtue of a chain of causation.”
- “2. With regard to what a vote does, your motives don’t matter (but see point 8).
- “3. There’s a distinction between morally permissible laws and immoral laws which is crucial to our moral evaluations.”
- “4. The character of a candidate matters by the same chain of moral causation described in point 1.”
- “5. Saying ‘But Democracy!’ doesn’t sanctify your vote. … The Bible never guarantees one of the two major candidates in an American election is a righteous choice.”
- “6. There are a number of rocks on the scale, but some rocks are heavier than others.”
Can one issue disqualify a candidate? Hopefully every Christian would say that a pro-stealing, or pro-pedophilia, or pro-slavery candidate is disqualified, no matter how good he or she is on other issues. I wish everyone would arrive at this conclusion on abortion.
Also, can bad character disqualify a candidate, potentially outweighing the other rocks on the scale? If what we said above is true—that bad [character] authorizes and creates moral space for immoral activity—it’s hard to see how bad character cannot disqualify someone.
Imagine how radically the political landscape would change if every Christian in the United States embraced the last two paragraphs. Some will call this idealism, which might be a fair critique if “idealism” means acting on principles, not outcomes. That, too, is something you must weigh: pure principles vs. realistic outcomes. My recommendation is to weigh these things preparing yourself for the Lord’s final judgment.
- “7. Is it morally permissible to note vote or to vote for a candidate that is certain to lose? It depends.”
- “8. With regard to church membership, your motives matter.”
- “9. In the final analysis, ethically evaluating our votes involves both moral principles and strategic calculations.”
Each of these principles requires unpacking, which Leeman does in his article. Tolle lege.
While Leeman’s article is broad, trying to capture a holistic ethic for voting, Piper’s article is narrowly focused on the issue of a candidate’s character. This article is compelling because it is Scripture saturated. Here’s one excerpt:
There is a character connection between rulers and subjects. When the Bible describes a king by saying, “He sinned and made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16), it does not mean he twisted their arm. It means his influence shaped the people. That’s the calling of a leader. Take the lead in giving shape to the character of your people. So it happens. For good or for ill.
Some evangelicals have dissented to Piper’s article, but those which I’ve encountered have not engaged the Scriptures that Piper raised. There is one main objection to the article: If their favored candidate, whom they concede has poor character, loses the election, policies that are contrary to Scripture will be enacted. This argument rests on a consequentialist ethic, which is not a biblical ethic. To be sure, Christians need to be sure that the consequences of their actions are pleasing to God. But they must also be sure that their motives are pleasing to God and that their actions themselves do not violate God’s revealed will. In other words, it is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right. (As to how to assess right in wrong when voting, see Leeman’s excellent article.)
In the end, these are the factors that weigh most with me:
- I will give an account to God for my vote. To be able to give a good account with a clear conscience is the most important thing in this election.
- In my work in the field of Christian worldview shaping, I’ve seen that a significant danger for Christians who wish to change the world (or their nation) is the temptation to compromise truth or righteousness to gain access to the power needed to effect the change. In the end, the gains are illusory and the costs are great. Though I desire to see our nation transformed for Christ, and though I want Christians to use their influence within culture to press toward righteousness in every aspect of our society, faithfulness to the God of truth and righteousness must always be more important that gaining political or cultural power.
- I live in South Carolina, and South Carolina is not a swing state. If the president loses South Carolina, he’s already lost; if the Vice President wins, he’s already won. Therefore, I should feel no pressure to compromise biblical principles in my vote.
Logos 9 released today. I’ve been using a review copy for the past several weeks, and the following are my favorite new features (along with some ideas for future improvement).
Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software, said that dark mode was their top requested feature. It was certainly at the top of my wish list. I often split the screen on my Surface, with Logos on one side and OneNote on the other. Using OneNote in dark mode and Logos without was less than ideal.
Logos did a good job with dark mode. Though the addition of this mode may seem like a small change, I’m sure that’s not how the programmers felt! They had to take into account, for instance, all the highlights that users have applied to their Bible’s and other books. I’ve found that these transitioned well.
I was also pleased to see that Logos lets users set the mode to match their operating system mode. (In future, I’d like the Logos mobile app to include this feature).
Switching modes does require a program restart. Feature idea for Logos 10: When the program is in dark mode, allow users to toggle the background of the panels between light and dark, as OneNote does.
The Factbook is the major new feature for Logos 9. The larger your Logos library is, the more benefit you get from various Logos features. On the other hand, the larger a Logos library gets, the more difficult it becomes to find certain information. Searches can generate a mountain of results, and it can take hours to sort the wheat from the chaff.
For years, Logos has included dynamic guides that help address this challenge: the Bible Word Study Guide, Exegetical Guide, the Passage Guide, the Theology Guide, etc. The new Factbook doesn’t replace these guides, but it is designed to be the new starting place for searches about any topic. I’ve found that if I type a term in the Go Box and hit enter, my search will open in the new Factbook. And given the way the new Factbook works, that’s precisely what I want it to do.
The Factbook will handle searches for a wide variety of searches: Greek or Hebrew words, biblical passages, theological topics, names of Biblical people or significant Christian leaders, and much more. The results returned will vary based on the content searched for, but the entries follow a similar pattern: brief definition, key article, key passages (if relevant), related historical events (if relevant), key books on the topic or by the person, dictionary articles, journal articles, links to launch related guides or searches.
A listing of commentaries will often appear within various guides and, now, within Factbook entries. These now helpfully list the authors alongside the titles (very helpful, since many commentaries share the same titles). Logos 9 also now provides different ways to sort the commentaries: by user priority, series, author, type, or era. This is a small change that translates into a large advance in useability.
Logos 9 has refined or introduced a number of helpful new visuals. Charts are more easily generated and viewed from searches. They now open in a separate charts tab.
The Bible Books Explorer offers a variety of visuals. For instance, it will display date ranges for when the books of the Bible were written. No longer will I need to flip through a NT Introduction or an OT Introduction to remind myself when a book was thought to be written. Of course, different scholars differ about the dates for some of the biblical books. Helpfully, the user can choose the source that generates the chart.
The Intertext tab in the Bible Books Explorer shows how different books of the Bible relate to one another via quotation, citations, allusion, or echo. This is visually helpful in a general way, but I was also left wishing I had access to the underlying data (and that I had the ability to edit it according to my own studies).
Logos 9 has a slew of other new features that I’ll list here but won’t cover in any detail below since they are not features that I personally use.
- A new sermon builder
- A sermon manager that allows pastors to browse their sermons by date, passage, topic, etc.
- The sermon manager also allows a pastor to plan sermons series for the year in a visually striking radial calendar.
- A new counseling guide
- Images can be added to notes
While these are not features I use, the sermon manager looks like a very helpful addition for pastors.
I use Logos on a Surface Pro 6, and, in general, Logos 9 works well with touch. I’m glad to be able to use the full-featured program on a tablet form factor.
However, while the main resources respond to touch, the interactives do not. Worse, the new Logos 9 Factbook does not respond to touch. (Oddly, visually similar Guides do respond to touch.) This is frankly unacceptable. Windows devices have had touch for the past decade, and a Windows program in which touch works only selectively is broken. Logos would not release an iPad app in which some features could only be accessed via keyboard and mouse, and the same should be true of their Windows app.
Logos 8 was a substantial update from Logos 7. Logos 9 builds on the changes that Logos 8 introduced. The keynote features of Logos 9 bring significant refinements to the program that increase its value and usefulness.
If you are interested in upgrading, doing so via this link will give you a 15% discount on base packages and five free additional books from a pre-selected list.