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The pursuing God, review and summary (Part 1)

This is the first of three posts about Joshua Ryan Butler’s The pursuing God: A reckless, irrational, obsessed love that’s dying to bring us home (Nashville: W Publishing, 2016). It consists of a brief review, followed by a summary of Part One.

The opening words of this book get straight to the point: ‘This is not a book about our pursuit of God; it’s about God’s pursuit of us.’ It’s quite a remarkable book. It is aimed (or so it seems) at a popular American audience, but it certainly does not have the superficiality of some popular Christian literature. Its subject matter is the basics of evangelical Christian theology, and Butler tackles certain folk simplifications of that theology, explaining what Christians traditionally believe and why. He does this with stories and illustrations rather than dry theological exposition, outlining the fundamentals of belief in some detail and with passion. He has a way with words, and he communicates theology in the language of 21st-century reader…

On the logic of penal substitution

Packer, J. I., 1974. What did the cross achieve? The logic of penal substitution. Tyndale Bulletin 25:3-45.

The text of J.I. Packer’s 1973 Tyndale Biblical Theology Lecture (reference above, accessible here) is an exposition of his view of the atonement. It is a remarkable piece of writing by an extraordinarily widely read author, historically well informed, closely argued, written with conviction, and dealing with timeless truths that haven't changed since 1973. English usage, however, has changed in forty odd years, and Packer's diction is strange to the modern ear.

The published version is 43 pages long, and the notes below are perhaps a little less than a fifth of this length. Could I have summarised the text in fewer words? Maybe, but too much would have been lost. Packer’s argument is at times so dense that I often quote him verbatim. To do otherwise would be an injustice to him in a matter at the very centre of Christian faith.

(The headings below are mostly Packer'…