Saturday, March 29, 2008


Today I was rooting around Phil Johnson’s Bookmarks, a great resource for theological writings and came across this gem at

Dr. Barrick cites 3 John:9: "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us" (NKJV).

Then he makes the following observations--

The Greek philoproteuo refers to love of being leader, dominant, preeminent, or first. Such an individual is self-absorbed, egocentric, and controlling--he loves to micromanage others. It is good to stop and examine oneself in this regard. Am I a Diotrephes? How do I come across to others? Do those with whom I serve in the church or with whom I work in my place of employment think of me as controlling? Through a grueling session of self-examination I asked the following questions about myself, in order to find out whether I sometimes behave like Diotrephes:

  • Do I dominate conversations? Do I make certain that at least my viewpoint is heard on every matter, even if others are not? Speaking out in every occasion could be a clue that I think pretty highly of my opinion and desire that others hear it--even if it means that others might not be given the opportunity to be heard. Do I especially bring attention to myself when a significant visitor has joined a meeting by asking questions of him/her and inserting myself into the conversation? If I do so, then I am a Diotrephes.
  • Do I dominate discussions at Bible studies? Do I help to promote myself as "the answer man" by making certain that I speak in every forum on every issue? If so, I am a Diotrephes.
  • Do I take over communicating with everyone else about an event? Do I take actions as though I am in charge of an event following a mere general announcement, just because I feel like someone needs to take charge, settle arrangements, and organize it "properly"? Such action might reveal that I think that no one else can do it the way I do and that no one else can really do it right. If so, I am a Diotrephes.

Here’s the link where you can read the whole thing: Am I a Diotrephes? Warning: conviction may follow. (Well it did for me. Maybe you’re not a Diotrephes.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Reason for God

It has now been just one month since the Valentine's Day release of Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God”, and it is already #40 on Amazon’s list of most-sold books, and #6 in their Spirituality category—and this without an endorsement from Oprah. A Google search of the title this evening returns 202,000 results, with a blog search revealing 10,272 entries.

This demonstrates that the book hardly needs my help to publicize. On the off chance, however, that someone reads this obscure blog and hasn’t yet heard about it, or is on the fence about reading it, I want to say, “get thee to a bookstore.” In my opinion, this is one of the most significant books of our generation. Keller set out to produce something like C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” for our age, with special consideration for the hip, skeptical New Yorker he regularly meets in Manhattan where his church is located. Though I’m in no position to fully understand that particular mindset, I think he has accomplished his goal and more.

In an interview in First Things, Keller tells of being hospitalized with thyroid cancer and having time to read all eight hundred pages of N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. He remarks, "As I was reading it, I realized I was coming to greater certainty, and that when I closed the book, I said, at a time when it was very important to me to feel this way, I said, “He really really really did rise from the dead.” And I said, “Well, didn’t I believe that before?” Of course I believed it before—I defended it, and I think before I certainly would have died for that belief." Well, reading "The Reason for God" had that exact effect on me. I already believed, and passionately at that, but reading Keller's defense and explanation of the faith served to provide even more substance to my existing convictions.

Not only does he provide a lucid defense of the Christian faith, but in the Epilogue, titled, Where Do We Go From Here, he provides a winsome schematic by which the reader who has had his skepticism reduced can take actual steps toward becoming a Christian—something I don’t recall Lewis attempting.

If for some reason you need more prodding, or just don’t have time to read the book right this minute, an excellent summary can be found at Tony Stiff’s blog Sets ‘n’ Service. (Hat-tip: David Wayne the “Jolly Blogger”.) Don't stop there, though. Buy it and read it. I suspect you'll know more than one person you've been praying for to receive Christ who you'll want to give this book to.