Neither Poverty nor Riches: A biblical theology of possessions

Neither Poverty nor Riches is the best book about wealth I have ever read. It is practical, comprehensive, scholarly, balanced and thoroughly biblical. Blomberg’s central point is a simple one: that extreme poverty and extreme wealth are not to be tolerated – hence the title which is drawn from Proverbs 30:8, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches’.

To give an indication of the challenge of the book, Blomberg argues that the rich should give more than 10% (perhaps many times that amount), to enable the poor to give less. But he takes a global perspective, reminding Western readers that the vast majority of us are firmly in the ‘rich’ side of the scales. And he reminds us that spiritual growth in the area of stewardship is ‘a necessary sign of [spiritual] life’.

Thankfully, Blomberg never falls into the trap of declaring all riches as evil, or advocating asceticism. God’s gifts are to be enjoyed, he reminds us, but they are also to be shared.

If I have one criticism it would be that in the chapter with application there is an emphasis on the relief of material poverty in the world that was not apparent in the earlier exegesis. As I read the New Testament (or the Old for that matter) I see a wide concern for the spiritual well-being of all people, and a narrower concern for the material well-being of believers. That is not to say we should be callous towards the non-Christian poor, or that we should only bring Bibles and not bring bread. But it is to say that when it comes to loving our neighbour, the Bible seems to make our two priorities the sharing of the gospel with the world, and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

That, however, is a relatively minor criticism. If you want to think about the Bible’s teaching on wealth and poverty I know of no better book.

You gotta love APIs

Today I created another video introducing the upcoming version of Logos Bible software 4.1. Having created the video and uploaded it to Vimeo, I then needed to update this site with the necessary embed code, etc. Having already keyed in the description once (into Vimeo), I didn’t feel like typing it all again – or even copying and pasting. And when I change theme, I’m going to have to change all those pages to fit new video sizes.

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iPhone app review: Logos vs OliveTree BibleReader

The iPhone Bible app market is really hotting up since Logos entered the market back in November. Since then I’ve been using both Logos and OliveTree’s BibleReader on a daily basis, so you can think of this as a long-term test. It’s worth saying at the outset that both apps are can be downloaded with a small number of bibles and books for free, so you can try them out for yourself. But although you can do a huge amount for free, you’ll need to pay to get the most benefit, and some of the features I refer to below are not available with the free packages – you’ll need paid upgrades.  I’m reviewing the top-end packages: Logos Portfolio (version 1.3.0) and BibleReader Scholar’s Collection (version 4.11).

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The case for expository preaching

The February 2010 edition of The Banner of Truth contains an article by Iain Murray warning of the disadvantages of ‘expository’ preaching (by which he mean “preaching which consecutively takes a congregation through a passage, or book of Scripture, week by week). Unfortunately the article is not online, but you can read a summary here. Iain is right to warn of the dangers, but as the letter below (which I’ve just sent to Banner HQ) says, I think he goes too far:

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Prioritising resources in Logos 4

Sorry for another post about Logos version 4, but it really is a terrific piece of software. This time I’ve got two videos about prioritising resources. Resource prioritising in Logos 4 has replaced key-linking from Logos 3. Key-linking was a powerful magic that few mastered. Prioritising, on the other hand has drag and drop simplicity. It’s not quite as powerful as the key-linking feature, but as these two videos show, that’s not to say you can’t personalise Logos 4 almost exactly to your tastes. There are two videos. The first covers the basics and intermediate tips, the second is a bit more advanced. Update: I’ve added a third video on managing collections.

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Moving from Logos 3 to Logos 4

With the release of Logos version 4, a number of users are complaining about features that are missing in the new version. They’re right – but only partially so. There are some important features missing, but Logos has promised to add these back in fairly soon. But more often, the missing features are not missing at all. Logos hasn’t removed things you can do, so much as changed them. As a consequence users need to change their habits in order to make best use of the new features. The video below shows some of the ways I’ve tried to do that. The main point really is that we should not be asking “Why is this feature missing in Logos 4?”, but rather “How best do I accomplish this task in Logos 4?”

Evolution and the fall

Darwin, Creation and the Fall

Darwin, Creation and the Fall – A review article

All evangelicals must accept that if science contradicts the Bible, then science is wrong. But we must also recognise that if science contradicts my interpretation of the Bible, then it could be that my interpretation of the Bible that is wrong, and science, in fact, that is correct. We must therefore be constantly reviewing our interpretation of Scripture in the light of new theological, archaeological or other scientific discoveries.

Often scientific discovery increases our understanding and appreciation of the Bible’s message. But some scientific theories seem opposed to Christian teaching, and, if Richard Dawkins is to be believed, none more so than Darwinian evolution. How we view evolution will have an incalculable impact on how we understand the Bible’s message. It will change not just how we read Genesis, but also our thinking about sin and the fall, and consequently our beliefs about redemption and the work of Jesus Christ. We must therefore be extremely careful in assessing whether Darwinian evolution can be compatible with an evangelical interpretation of the Bible. [Read more…]