Today I will be at Baker Publishing Group’s sales conference. It’s always exciting to see the forthcoming titles and to catch up with some of the editors as well as meet a few authors. I’ll certainly give you a heads up on books I think you’ll be interested in. Till then here’s a few items I found on the web

Justin Taylor started a new series called “A Crash Course on Influencers of Unbelief” see the first one here on Sigmund Freud and the second one here on Karl Marx.

Bill Mounce offers clarification on Heb. 11:29. Did the Israelites Walk or Swim? He writes, “The ESV reads, ‘By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land.’ Was it dry land, or was it ‘as if’ it were dry ground? How do you hear it? I can only hear ‘as if it were.’ Several translations use ‘as’ (NIV). The NRSV and NET are even more confusing; they say ‘as if.’ As if it were dry? What does that mean? Was it really wet, and the people pretended it was dry?”

Kevin DeYoung offers a gentle push back to N.T. Wright and others who see an over emphasis on the believer going to heaven when they die. He says, “I wholeheartedly agree that salvation is about more than being beamed up into the clouds. And yet, the whole heaven thing is pretty critical to folks when they come to their last breath. Dying saints may find it encouraging to know that the whole cosmos is going to be renewed at the end of the age, but they also can’t help but wonder what the next moment will be like when they reach the end of their days.”

Mike Wittmer offers a push back to DeYoung. He enumerates two concerns. The first is this: “Is heaven a ‘better place’? This is a complex question that belies a simple yes or no answer. In the most important way heaven is better than earth, but only because Jesus is there. If heaven by itself were superior, then Jesus would not have raised Lazarus from the dead. Earth is the best place for humans, because this is where God made us to live. The problem of ‘better place’ will not be resolved until Jesus returns and unites heaven and earth. Until then, we should be careful not to unequivocally call heaven ‘a better place,’ as it isn’t better in every way and saying so promotes the Platonic idea that heaven is our final home. Who would want to leave the better place to come back here? (This is not merely a hypothetical problem, as Irenaeus makes this mistake in Against Heresies 5.31-32).”

Here’s one I found funny as a worker in a Christian bookstore. “Things You Should Never Say to a Catholic Bookstore Employee.” I could make a list of my own but couldn’t we all regarding our place of work.

Tim Gombis has an interesting post on Preachers Behaving Like Brian Williams. He says, “How should Christians regard pastors and preachers who embellish their personal narratives in sermons? This phenomenon isn’t rare. When I was in college, I heard a speaker in chapel relate a very interesting anecdote about an interchange in a pre-marital counseling session. About a month later, another preacher used the very same anecdote with reference to himself!”

Here’s a fascinating critique of Tim Keller and D.A. Carson (among others). The post cites them as Prime Examples of the Gumby Theology of Calvinism. (FYI, it is a fairly long post.) The author is appreciative of both authors but nonetheless offers some very strong criticisms. Consider this paragraph:

“Carson attempts to prop up his own Calvinistic position by drawing our attention to the death of Christ in a manner that completely subverts the historically recognized position of his Arminian brothers and sisters. He attempts to argue that only the Calvinist position can speak of God’s sovereign plan in the predetermined death of Christ, and that ‘any other alternative destroys the fabric of the Christian faith.’ He is of course speaking of Arminianism. He then goes on to define what alternatives to Calvinistic theology would have to say in the most fraudulent manner possible, declaring they must ‘conclude that the cross was a kind of after thought in the mind of God,’ and that, because ‘rebels fouled up his plan,’ God had to make the most of it and ‘did the best he could.’ Words fail to convey how utterly unfair and underhanded his mischaracterization of the alternative, Arminian position is.”