Jonah Goldberg on The Tyranny of Cliches, Creating NRO, and the Firing of John Derbyshire


I’m reading The Tyranny of Cliches by Jonah Goldberg, and I hope to review it here soon. For the time being, however, check out this ReasonTV interview with Goldberg. WARNING: Occasional expletives.

Interview with Dr. Craig Keener, Author of “Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts”


In this video, I interview Dr. Craig S. Keener regarding his new book, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Baker Academic). The book (and the interview) ranges widely across New Testament studies, philosophy, contemporary field sociology, and systematic theology.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Review of “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson


Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011). $19.99, 224 pages.

In the First Century B.C., during a period of extreme drought, a Jewish man named Honi stood outside the walls of Jerusalem, drew a circle around himself, and prayed the following prayer: “Lord of the universe, I swear before Your great name that I will not move from this circle until You have shown mercy upon Your children.” Jerusalem’s religious leaders were appalled at this man’s audacity. Then it rained.

Mark Batterson opens The Circle Maker with this story and challenges his readers to pray like Honi. Utilizing biblical narratives, personal testimonies, and a gift for aphorism, Batterson challenges his readers to “dream big,” “pray hard,” and “think long.” In other words, he dares them to ask God for things only he can accomplish, to be persistent in the asking, and to think not of short-term, selfish gain but of long-term, far-reaching benefits for others.

Early on in The Circle Maker, I started to worry that Batterson was veering into “name it and claim it” territory. Like the Honi’s Jerusalem critics, I was forming the impression that Batterson was being presumptuous. But Batterson dispels this impression in a single paragraph: “God cannot be bribed or blackmailed. God doesn’t do miracles to satisfy our selfish whims. God does miracles for one reason and one reason alone: to spell His glory. We just happen to be the beneficiaries.”

But we cannot be God’s beneficiaries if we aren’t encircling our lives with bold, persistent, long-term prayer. That is the enduring lesson of this excellent. Indeed, isn’t that the enduring lesson of the Most Excellent Book: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)?

P.S. Batterson is releasing a Circle Maker Curriculum Kit, which includes “one hardcover book, one participant’s guide, one DVD-ROM containing four small-group video sessions, a getting started guide, four sermon outlines, and all the church promotional materials needed to successfully launch and sustain a four-week church experience.” Here’s a promotional video for the book and the DVD-based curriculum:

P.P.S. I’m interviewing Mark Batterson about The Circle Maker on Thursday, December 8, at 3:00 p.m. (CST) on MinistryDirect.com/live. You can email questions for Mark to questions@ministrydirect.com, tweet them using #MinistryDirect, or post them on the Facebook message board on the live page. (You must be logged into Facebook to use the message board.)

Mark Batterson on “The Circle Maker”


Tomorrow–Thursday, December 8–I’m interviewing Mark Batterson about his new book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. The interview will be webcast live on MinistryDirect.com at 3:00 p.m. (CST). If you’d like to ask Mark questions about his book, about prayer, or about other ministry topics, email your questions to questions@ministrydirect.com, tweet them using #MinistryDirect, or enter them on the Facebook message board on MinistryDirect’s live page. (You must be logged into Facebook to post questions on the message board.) I’ll do my best to ask Mark every question I receive.

If you’d like to know a little more about this book, watch Mark’s promotional video for it and the for the companion DVD-based small group series.

Interview with John Fea, Author of “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”


In this video, I interview Prof. John Fea about his excellent book, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Fea is professor of history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.

Vodpod videos no longer available. Interview with John Fea, Author of “Was America…, posted with vodpod

You can read my review of Fea’s book here.

If you’d like to skip ahead to a particular question, here’s the time code:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:56 How’s the weather today in Grantham, Pennsylvania?
  • 01:44 Why did you find it important to write this particular book on this particular topic at this particular time?
  • 05:08 What do historians do? How is their perspective different from other people who ask questions such as the one your book asks?
  • 08:49 Name a few advocates and books of Christian nationalists and the secularists who oppose them.
  • 14:01 Walk us through the varieties of Christian nationalism that have appeared in American history.
  • 21:02 There are multiple ironies in the history of the idea of Christian nationalism. Can you talk a bit about those?
  • 28:36 Chapter 7 is titled “The Revolutionary Pulpit.” You argue that patriotic preachers used the Bible to support the revolutionary cause, but their use of it seems tendentious. Can you talk a bit about the revolutionary pulpit?
  • 37:42 The relationship between church and state is one of the biggest flashpoints in the contemporary debate between Christian nationalists and secularists. Can you address the issue of the so-called “wall” between church and state?
  • 45:40 Tell us about the religious beliefs of these Founders: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.
  • 50:35 How do we justify slave ownership by Founders who considered themselves Christians?
  • 52:53 Tell us about the religious beliefs of these Founders: John Witherspoon, John Jay, and Samuel Adams.
  • 55:28 What books on the Founding Period, including this topic, would you recommend?
  • 57:43 Upcoming events on MinistryDirect.com/live

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