Well, business went on as usual here at Hearts & Minds this week, with our competent staff handling all manner of orders and inquiries while Beth and I (yes, Beth was well enough to work) set up and sold books at the annual conference sponsored by the Jonathan Edwards Institute. We’ve linked to their webpage before, and as their organizer (Pedro Govantes) says, “conversations of consequence” emerge from good worship. That is, true worship—honoring and exalting the sufficient One, Christ, who is both our Judge and Friend, King and Savior—has daily consequences. It effects our worldview, of course, and shapes our heart, which shapes our daily practices. These things are talked about with profound regularity over the book tables, meals, workshops and worship services at the annual JEI gathering in historic Annapolis, Maryland. Thanks to the JEI gang for allowing us to be a part of it all.
This year, alongside a fascinating (if we do say so ourselves) display of books by and about the colonial philosopher, theologian, writer, pastor, scholar and missionary, we featured the authors who were speaking. Keynote speakers includes the profound and exquiste D.A. Carson (surely one of the most solid and prolific Bible scholars around, esteemed professor from Trinity), the passionate and interesting Gordon-Conwell professor, Scott J. Hafemann, and the great, great preacher (of the historic-redemptive method) Richard Pratt, of Reformed Theological Seminary. These men are all elequant and passionate and clear and powerful as they teach the most reliably solid sort of classsic orthodox theology, with vivid and explosive missional consequence. If you don’t know their scholarship or the many books they’ve authored click on the links that list some of their prestigious credentials, ecumenical work, and their books. Even for BookNotes readers who aren’t conservative or Reformed, these guys are well worth knowing. That they work in dedicated ways teaching in places like Chad, too, is humbling. Theirs is theological scholarship refined in the trenches not only of the academy but in the fields of hard service.
Other authors present included Westminister Seminary’s “Van Til” apologist, jazzman and cultural guru, Bill Edgar (who did workshops, for instance, on the musical work of Stravinski and another on truth in an ipod culture) and the prolific pastor, writer, Dean of Prison Fellowship’s Centurian Fellows, organizer and scholar of cultural reformation (and, of late, Celtic spirituality) T.M. Moore. Again, it was an honor to be with these Christian leaders, and a treat to make a living selling books to God’s people. At gatherings like this, it is especially meaningful, knowing that in attendence are those who are truly eager to learn, open to buying serious books, and are most likely going to pass new insights and commitments on back in their home congregations.
Thanks to those who were kind to us, who offered encouraging words, shared book reviews and ideas and who shelled out hard earned cash for the resources we promote.
Alas, one book which a few conferees asked about was just released and had arrived here in Dallastown, waiting for us when we got back. (If only it had come a few days earlier! Yikes, I suppose I ought not complain about the Providence of God when discussing one who thought so deeply about His soverignity, should I?)
Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections by Sam Storms (Crossway; $15.99) is now here, so I will at least announce it now. Storms is a serious Reformed scholar and writer, recently touched in manifest ways by the Holy Spirit’s gifts (yes, I know, a charismatic Calvinist is nearly an oxymoron, but we love it!) It makes sense for Sam, with his “Enjoying God Ministires” and affirmation of the full role of the Spirit, to revisit this classic of how spiritual revivial and emotional life relate. Are all religious feelings truly of God? Does a bunch of spiritual passion indicate the real thing? Are miracles to be sought? That is precisely what Edwards wondered in his day and it is what is called for, again.
Here are a few endorsements from the back cover.
“Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections remains one of the most discerning works of spiritual psychology published in the last several centuries. Dr. Samuel Storms unpacking of this significant work reveals once again for a new generation why the old Puritan so much deserves the most careful study today.” Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame
“Storms’ repackaging of this spiritual classic meets a serious need. His essay on Edwards’ personal spirituality, introducing the Personal Narrative, is almost worth the price of the book. Then, his running commentary, interspersed with direct selection from the Narrative are exceedingly helpful.” Gerald R. McDermott, Roanoke College
“These texts of Jonathan Edwards have nourished the church for nearly three centuries. In Sam Storms’ capable hands they’ll now speak clearly, plainly, and powerfully to the church today and for generations to come. If you’ve ever wanted to tackle Edwards but have shied away, you no longer have an excuse.” Stephen J. Nichols, Lancaster Bible College