01 March 2012

How my day started (thanks, Doug Wilson)

by Dan Phillips

My day began as usual. First, the all-important task of starting The Coffee going. Then ablutions and garb-donning. Then a reading from Spurgeon's Chequebook of Faith, from Frame's The Doctrine of the Word of God, from Jeremiah 52, and from 1 John.

In the latter, I was really encouraged by verse 9's bold assertion that God is faithful and righteous to forgive believers our sin as we confess. One might have expected other words, such as gracious and merciful, or good and kind. But God is faithful in that He has promised to forgive believers and may be relied upon to deliver on that promise; and He is just in that His Son has made full satisfaction for their sins, and it would be unjust for the Father to refuse to forgive them (2:1-2). Glorious, wonderful, life-and-sanity-saving truth. So then I prayed, and thanked God for that reality.
Pause: if you don't want to hear anything about me or my literary firstborn, spare yourself the irritation of reading further, and, sincerely, have a great day.
Then in my email I find a note from Albert Garlando, who has put TWTG to good use, alerting me to, of all things, a review by pastor Doug Wilson.

Now, I'd had an inkling in mid-February:

It was a bit of a jaw-dropper to me. I had no idea that I, much less my little tome, were anywhere on Pastor Wilson's radar-screen. But such a gracious word from such a gifted writer... well, it didn't ruin my day.

Then there was this, and now this.

Anyone who hasn't had a book published shouldn't be expected to understand how an author feels towards his oeuvres. It's a little like being a parent: you want your child to do well. The difference is that a child is capable of taking what you've labored to give him and going far beyond what you'd hoped and dreamed, with his own God-given efforts... or he can turn it all to shame and pain. A book, on the other hand, has just what you've put into it. Then it's up to God, marketers, reviewers, readers.

Those who love what the book is and does naturally want to see others discover and enjoy and profit from what they've found. Others just don't want to hear of it anymore. It's hard to understand how folks blame authors for being excited and invested; after all, if you weren't passionately-committed, why would you bother to go through the hundreds (thousands?) of hours of effort to produce it? Yet some do.

All that to say, for Doug Wilson to speak as kindly and enthusiastically as he does — that doesn't ruin my day. As Wilson himself graciously notes, we're not carbon-copies of each other doctrinally. But Wilson is a remarkably gifted writer and speaker, and a sharp thinker. Some of his sallies with Christopher Hitchens, for instance — the analogy of the tree; two soda cans fizzing — were so effortlessly brilliant that they're in my memory and arsenal for as long as I have either.

I guess it's like having Alton Brown say you served him a darned fine dinner at your restaurant, and then hearing him go on to say that all his fans ought to go give it a try.

Wilson chooses TWTG to be his first Book of the Month, and says
This is a really good book. Even if you are not in a position to read it right now, authors like this need to be encouraged. Buy it right now, and read it as soon as you can.
How kind of him. What can I do but say thanks to all of you who have graciously talked-up TWTG and now to Doug as well, and thank God, and pray that God uses his encouragement to raise visibility and spread the ministry of my little paper emissary?

Thanks for indulging me as I bubble, and I hope you don't blame me too harshly

Dan Phillips's signature


threegirldad said...

It's about time someone of that stature (blog-wise) did that.


Jay Beerley said...

Ok, so I had a little Amazon credit left. I've been sitting on it for two weeks because it's always that way for me: a little credit left for one book (or enough for part of one book). How in the world do you decide what is worthy of it?
So, after coming close to getting TWTG the other day, this seals the deal.
Now, if we can just get the Proverbs book for Kindle...

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I look at it this way, Dan; you not only got an excellent review from Doug Wilson, but in some small way, maybe you have been his inspiration for his monthly book reviews.

BTW, don't ever apologize for talking about your "baby" too much. Any labor of love is worth sharing!!!

DJP said...

I appreciate your feeling that way, Mary.


Robert said...


Great to hear that prayers have been answered. Let's keep praying, though, and hope more voices will speak about the book.


Get the hard copy of GWiP. I think it is a book better served reading on paper than the screen. And I have a feeling it's going to be one of our most-read books.

corinthian said...

The real gospel is so important to keep being reminded of. I read this and although it did not surprise me, it made me realize how convoluted christianity in America has become. http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=1545418

Chuck said...

TWTG is still on my "maybe when the semester's over I'll get there" list, Dan. As a lurker both here and Bibchr, I'm looking forward to it.

And since my next reading assignment for today is theistic proofs from Aquinas and Anselm, believe me when I say I'd rather be reading TWTG. SERIOUSLY.

Kerry James Allen said...

Dan, as someone who has put six books into print, including one with an eight year investment, "I feel your pain." (I almost hate to use that because Bill Clinton said it in response to an AIDS activist, nonetheless...) We sometimes forget 1 Corinthians 12:26: "...or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it." I've read both books. They are both excellent and useful. Here is wishing increased distribution and influence to them both. As the old evangelist I heard, said, "If you don't want people to get after you, say nothing, have nothing, and do nothing." May the Lord help me to always be an encouragement to any brethren that are used to "publish the Word." Psalm 68:11

romans923 said...

Congrats on the review.

Your chart for explaining the protoevangelium in Ge 3:15 was very helpful. I used it the other day with a guy I am discipling.

Lynda O said...

Agree with Mary, nothing wrong in talking about your labor of love.

As you said so well in TWTG, pride can feed on anything, it can even feed on absolutely nothing. If we study God's word, yes the pride can (and does) come as a result, but pride would also arise from NOT studying God's word.

I'm in the last chapter of TWTG. It's definitely more enjoyable than theistic proofs of Aquinas and Anselm.

Fred Butler said...

Now if we can just get him to pick up your Proverbs book, which, if I may be so bold, was a far superior work.

Of course, by saying that I am not saying the first book is inferior, just that the Proverbs book has gone so far in helping shape my understanding of Proverbs that I will remember it hence forth forever.

Solameanie said...

I'm still mad at Alton Brown for messing up Southern Fried Chicken. ;)

Kirby said...

@Fred Butler

Hear, Hear!
I am so loving the Proverbs book. Every page has a nugget or boulder of impact for me.

I went to Appendix A first, when I got the book, and read the section on "Train up child in the way he should go..." and was immediately impressed that this would be a book worth investing time into. It moved to the top of my heap.

Thanks Dan. Keep writing.

Lynda O said...

Agree. I'm not yet halfway through the Proverbs book, but it's much more in-depth than TWTG, a great book study.

Darlene said...

One might have expected other words, such as gracious and merciful, or good and kind. But God is faithful in that He has promised to forgive believers and may be relied upon to deliver on that promise; and He is just in that His Son has made full satisfaction for their sins, and it would be unjust for the Father to refuse to forgive them.

I've a few questions that perhaps someone here can answer. First, can someone explain satisfaction for me as it is related to in the context that Mr. Phillips is using it?

Secondly, while this particular text in I John uses the words in relation to forgiveness, there are many places in Scripture that refer to God being gracious, merciful, good, and kind in forgiving us of our sins, and not holding our sins against us. The very gospel of Christ means good news. So why should there be a dichotomy, that is, a division set up between these terms in this way? God is all encompassing in His love toward us and His forgiveness of our sins is ALL of these - faithful, just, gracious, merciful, good, and kind. Granted, each of these terms have a particular meaning, however I think that each of them in their particular meaning can be used in the context of forgiving sins. What am I missing here?

Every liturgy I hear "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness! These words are of great comfort to me each time I hear them, and the truth of them penetrates the depths of my heart.

Thirdly, how is confession and repentance understood within the Reformed community? A particular Reformed person told me once that repentance in the ongoing sense is an unnecessary work. "Salvation is of God and God alone", he said. He went on to say that "Christ has forgiven his sins, past, present, and future. It is a finished work." Do Reformed Christians teach that ongoing confession of sins and ongoing repentance are necessary for salvation?

Thanks in advance for anyone who is willing and able to answer my questions.

Andrea said...

Blame you? We rejoice with you! May your work receive much more well-deserved praise, that Our Father may receive due glory.

DJP said...

Thanks Andrea, that's very sweet.

You'd be surprised.

jmb said...

Darlene - I'll give my answers while awaiting what others have to say.

1)As a result of their sins, humans, in order to be reconciled to the Father, owed a debt to Him that they couldn't pay. Only the sacrifice of a perfect sin-bearer, the incarnate Son, satisfied the Father that the debt had been paid. Reconciliation included the forgiveness of continued sin. If the Father refused to forgive those sins, He would be like a merchant who demands payment from a customer whose bill has already been paid. He would be unjust.

2)Dan was writing about one specific verse.

3)"Do Reformed Christians teach that ongoing confession of sins and ongoing repentance are necessary for salvation?"

No. But what kind of fellowship with God would we have if we denied or ignored our sins and never repented of them?

deborah said...

icI have TWTG and your Proverbs book. Both are worthy of praise. Please continue to write such books. I appreciate your straight forward, no nonsense, Scripture soaked style.

Solameanie said...

I despise what Blogger has done to the comment format. I despise what Facebook is doing to our timelines. Twitter is probably next with some hijinks. Makes me want to just chuck it and go back to writing journals with a quill and inkwell.

threegirldad said...

[stares at Ratings graphic--shakes head]

You just have to wonder about people who simply can't stand to see someone be excited and enthusiastic about the fruit of his labors...

Raine said...

Great. That was a stellar review by Doug, and I can't blame you for your excitement. All the haters would be equally excited if Doug were to read their book, or even post on their blog.

Anonymous said...

I purchased both of your books on Monday*, so it's sweet to read more good reviews of them!

(*I'm in Canada so I'm still waiting for them to be delivered.)

mwhenry said...

"Thanks for indulging me as I bubble, and I hope you don't blame me too harshly"

No, it's rather ordinary for you to do so. Much like O, your arms seem plenty long enough to constantly pat yourself on the back.

DJP said...

Thanks, Sabine. For any outside America, this post links to The Book Depository, which ships just about anywhere for free.

threegirldad — you see, mwhenry gives you your answer. The low-stars likely come from those who did read the third paragraph (and perhaps no more), but respected it enough to register their animus by rating rather than railing.

chalee said...

@Darlene: "Do Reformed Christians teach that ongoing confession of sins and ongoing repentance are necessary for salvation?"

As already stated, no works are "necessary" for salvation in the reformed understanding.

But i'm pretty sure we'd all agree with Martin Luther that "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, `Repent' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."

Repentance is the natural result when God's Spirit has softened your heart and begun to show you the ways you still need to be conformed to the image of Christ. Confession is an appropriate part of that repentance.

But there is no need for paranoia that if you failed to confess or repent of one sin or other, that such sin would not be forgiven.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know about the Book Depository. I'll keep it in mind next time I order.

For Canadians, both of Dan's books are available on Amazon.ca, which offers free shipping (fast, too!) on orders over $25. I would have bought through them but they didn't have two of the other books I wanted.

The companies that offer free shipping generally have slightly higher prices to offset this but it's usually still less expensive.

Darlene said...

jmb & chalee,

Thanks for responding.