Things That Cannot Be Shaken

This is the title of a new book by Scott Oliphint (professor of apologetics at WTS) and Rod Mays (national coordinator of RUM, the campus ministry of the PCA).

The book was inspired by the hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” The book is divided into five chapters, entitled “Says Who? He Whose Word Cannot Be Broken,” “Our Deepest Need: See! The Streams of Living Waters,” “We Are Not Alone: Round Each Habitation Hovering,” “Payment and Punishment: Washed in the Redeemers’s Blood!,” “Seeing the Unseen: Solid Joys and Lasting Treasure.”

The first chapter deals with the issues of authority, setting empiricism and rationalism over against the Word of God. The authors note that the problem with Satan’s tempting of Jesus was not that Satan required some sort of miracle, but that Satan would simply not believe what God had said (p. 26). In fact, “God had already said, ‘You are my beloved Son.’ No more proof was needed” (p. 27). They authors make the intriguing point that Jesus could have been a perfect empiricist or rationalist, since His faculties were not tainted by sin. However, Jesus trusted God’s Word alone (p. 27).

The second chapter deals with our deepest need, which is not to have our lives filled with stuff, or relationships, or anything other than God. A wonderful exposition of John 4 and the story of the woman at the well brings this point out nicely. The Holy Spirit is that living water that will well up in our lives.

The third chapter deals with a common problem today, namely, that people feel isolated, despite the fact that many people are crammed together in very small spaces. To a large extent, this is due to the Enlightenment, and Jean-Paul Sartre’s way of thinking, a crass individualism that sees hell as other people. The answer here is that the Gospel leads us to the church of Christ.

The fourth chapter deals with the atonement. Lewis’s book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe plays a prominent role as justice and mercy are threaded together at the cross.

Lastly, the fifth chapter points us in an eschatological direction, since faith looks to the things that are not seen. We need something that transcends us. Otherwise, there is no justification for the Christian faith, as Christopher Hitchens would say. What is eternal and unseen in the heavenly realms is, however, more solid than what we see here, which is temporary and passing away.

This is a great little book that makes many helpful apologetical points. It is a quick read (only 155 pages, including the end notes), and helpful as a guide to how our faith shold work in a postmodern world.


  1. Andrew said,

    May 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Would it be heretical to question whether Christ’s faculties were not tainted with sin? Do we not say that Christ had a weakened human nature, and so might have made a counting mistake due to tiredness/ may have been colour blind, etc?

    Would it be too critical to say that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe suugests a ransom view of the atonement?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    May 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Hebrews tells us that Christ was tempted in all ways that we are, except that He was without sin. So no, no sin is possible, or else Christ would be a spotted lamb, instead of the spotless lamb.

    The LWW is often misunderstood on this very point. The deep magic was put there by the Emperor Beyond the Sea. Therefore, the ultimate debt is to the Emperor’s law (magic). Therefore, I do not hold that Aslan’s sacrifice was a ransom to Satan (witch).

  3. May 17, 2008 at 1:45 am

    As a sidelight, you might be interested to know (if you didn’t) that the music of the hymn “Glorious Things…” was written by the great composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). This music had four lives: (1) Haydn originally composed it in comemmoration of an Austro-Hungarian emperor’s birthday; (2) he then used the music as the third movement of one his late string quartets (Op. 76, No. 3); (3) the same tune, again, later became the Austrian (and the German) national anthems; and (4) much later, it became the tune of this hymn (long after Newton’s death, of course – it would be interesting to know what tune his words were originally set to).

    Haydn got a lot of mileage out of this one tune.

  4. Andrew said,

    May 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks. I love CS Lewis, so I shall try reading it with that thought in mind.

    I didn’t mean to suggest that Christ had any moral taint of sin, but is it not acceptable to say that he had a human body and nature which suffered the effects of the fall – a body which grew tired, was susceptible to disease, etc. There is nothing heretical ,surely, in maintaining that Christ may have had a cold on occassion or suffered from poor eyesight.

    If so, then His sense perceptions were no clearer than anyone elses, and so he would not have that advantage in being an empericist (if I understand the author’s point).

    Or do you take the pictures of the unblemished sacrfifices to be physically true as well – that Christ was outwardly noble and perfect?

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