IVP - Behind the Books - Backlist Archives

February 1, 2013

Let's Not Say "Out of Print"

Speaking of old books that are still in print, what about old books that aren't? Isn't that sad? In a word: yes. But there's good news.

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Posted by Jon Boyd at 9:35 AM | Comments (2) are closed

January 30, 2013

[Giveaway] Top Ten Still Going Strong

On one of my posts last month, Terry Tiessen commented to ask what are IVP's oldest still-in-print titles — and it's high time I answered that question. Drumroll, please….

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Posted by Jon Boyd at 10:11 AM | Comments (26) are closed

December 7, 2012

One Old Book for Every Three New Ones

The publishing industry wants you to know about all the new books coming out, we at IVP included. (And there are more books all the time, have you noticed?) But we also know that the good old, golden oldies are important, too, and not just for business — for life. C. S. Lewis had something to say on this subject.

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Posted by Jon Boyd at 7:44 AM | Comments (6) are closed

April 2, 2010

A Good Friday

What happened on the cross is the magnificent mystery of the Christian faith. The implications for us and for the entire cosmos are more than we will ever entirely apprehend in this life. We at once mourn the necessity of the cross and celebrate in it God’s victory over sin, death, hell and Satan.

While there is mystery, deep mystery, this doesn’t mean we can’t know anything truly about the cross. There is much we can know with certainty. And there are misunderstandings we should avoid.

The classic book on the topic is no doubt John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. It has been out for over twenty years now and continues to prove to be an invaluable meditation on the central event of the Christian faith. Here are some selections (presented here without ellipses) from Stott’s pivotal chapter, “The Self-Substitution of God.”

How then could God express simultaneously his holiness in judgment and his love in pardon? Only by providing a divine substitute for the sinner so that the substitute would receive the judgment and the sinner the pardon. We sinners still of course have to suffer some of the personal, psychological and social consequences of our sins, but the penal consequence, the deserved penalty of alienation from God, has been borne by Another in our place, so that we may be spared it.

The key question we now have to address is this: exactly who was our substitute? Who took our place, bore our sin, became our curse, endured our penalty, died our death? To be sure, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). That would be the simple, surface answer. But who was this Christ? How are we to think of him?

The first proposal is that the substitute was the man Christ Jesus, viewed as a human being and conceived as an individual separate from both God and us, an independent third party. Those who begin with this a priori lay themselves open to gravely distorted understandings of the atonement and so bring the truth of substitution into disrepute. They tend to present the cross in one or other of two ways, according to whether the initiative was Christ’s or God’s. In the one case Christ is pictured as intervening in order to pacify an angry God and wrest from him a grudging salvation. In the other, the intervention is ascribed to God, who proceeds to punish the innocent Jesus in place of us the guilty sinners who had deserved the punishment. In both cases God and Christ are sundered from one another: either Christ persuades God or God punishes Christ. What is characteristic of both presentations is that they denigrate the Father. Reluctant to suffer himself, he victimizes Christ instead. Reluctant to forgive, he is prevailed on by Christ to do so. He is seen as a pitiless ogre whose wrath has to be assuaged, whose disinclination to act has to be overcome, by the loving self-sacrifice of Jesus.

It is true that the sins of Israel were transferred to the scapegoat, that “the LORD laid on him,” his suffering servant, all our iniquity (Is 53:6), that “it was the LORD’s will to crush him” (Is 53:10), and that Jesus applied to himself Zechariah’s prophecy that God would “strike the shepherd” (Zech 13:7; Mk 14:27). It is also true that in the New Testament God is said to have “sent” his Son to atone for our sins (1 Jn 4:9-10), “delivered him up” for us (Acts 2:23; Rom 8:32), “presented him as a sacrifice of atonement” (Rom 3:25), “condemned sin” in his flesh (Rom 8:3), and “made him … to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). These are striking statements. But we have no liberty to interpret them in such a way as to imply either that God compelled Jesus to do what he was unwilling to do himself, or that Jesus was an unwilling victim of God’s harsh justice. Jesus Christ did indeed bear the penalty of our sins, but God was active in and through Christ doing it, and Christ was freely playing his part (e.g., Heb 10:5-10).

We must not, then, speak of God punishing Jesus or of Jesus persuading God, for to do so is to set them over against each other as if they acted independently of each other or were even in conflict with each other. We must never make Christ the object of God’s punishment or God the object of Christ’s persuasion, for both God and Christ were subjects not objects, taking the initiative together to save sinners. Whatever happened on the cross in terms of “God-forsakenness” was voluntarily accepted by both in the same holy love that made atonement necessary. It was “God in our nature forsaken of God.”

The Father did not lay on the Son an ordeal he was reluctant to bear, nor did the Son extract from the Father a salvation he was reluctant to bestow. There is no suspicion anywhere in the New Testament of discord between the Father and the Son, “whether by the Son wresting forgiveness from an unwilling Father or by the Father demanding a sacrifice from an unwilling Son.” There was no unwillingness in either. On the contrary, their wills coincided in the perfect self-sacrifice of love.

Our substitute, then, who took our place and died our death on the cross, was neither Christ alone (since that would make him a third party thrust in between God and us), nor God alone (since that would undermine the historical incarnation), but God in Christ, who was truly and fully both God and man and who on that account was uniquely qualified to represent both God and man and to mediate between them. If we speak only of Christ suffering and dying, we overlook the initiative of the Father. If we speak only of God suffering and dying, we overlook the mediation of the Son. The New Testament authors never attribute the atonement either to Christ in such a way as to disassociate him from the Father, or to God in such a way as to dispense with Christ, but rather to God and Christ, or to God acting in and through Christ with his whole-hearted concurrence.

This is the mystery on which we meditate and which we celebrate.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 6:18 AM

September 4, 2009

Yes, We Do Have Books for Your Kindle!

Several loyal readers have asked us recently if we offer digital versions of our books.

Our answers are “Yes” and “Almost.”

First, the “Yes”

Already there are more than 200 InterVarsity Press books available for Amazon.com’s Kindle. You can visit the Kindle store and search for “InterVarsity Press” to see their listing. Or you can download our list as either a PDF or an XLS document. To pique your interest, here are the top 10 IVP downloads for the Kindle since January 2009:

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Posted by Sally Sampson Craft at 5:54 PM | Comments (2) are closed

June 11, 2007

Every Book Has a Story

I had lunch recently with a group from my church and a visiting missionary. He was excited to hear that I work with InterVarsity Press (IVP), as many people are, because let's face it: we're an exciting place. He was particularly excited, however, because he used to live not far from the old IVP offices. Back in those days he didn't have a faith in God; he was, you might say, "searching for God knows what."

The old office predates me; the Press was a storefront in a suburban downtown area, with black paper covering the windows so that the chemicals being mixed to set type on page wouldn't degrade upon exposure to light. Back in the day the Press also published His magazine, and advertised the magazine on the papered-over windows of the office building. Legend has it that many of the town's residents saw the dark windows and the name His magazine, and thought we were a publisher of pornography. Oops.

Anyway, one day my new friend, in the throes of his quest for God knows what, walked into the IVP offices from the sidewalk, where he was met by a delightful receptionist and a display of the IVP booklets. Our booklets, you should know, serve a specific purpose. They're narrowly focused on a single topic treated at length from a Christian perspective. Over the years we've had booklets that critiqued the Restorationist movement, the New Age movement and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. We've had booklets that addressed issues such as homosexuality and date rape and loneliness. We've had evangelistic booklets and apologetic booklets and highly theological booklets. And on this particular day, the one booklet that particularly caught this particular guy's eye was titled Transcendental Meditation.

"Oh. That looks interesting. I've been thinking of trying out transcendental meditation."

Our receptionist, my friend tells me, virtually leaped over the counter and steered him toward something more appropriate, which is to say, something more evangelistic.

Now I should say that our booklet on transcendental meditation was not a how-to book but rather a Christian critique of the phenomenon, so it's probably fair to say that the IVP-TM booklet would have done my new friend some good. But if he had simply kept his thoughts to himself and bought the IVP-TM booklet from our receptionist without comment, you and I wouldn't be able to share a laugh over this story today.

They say that miscommunication makes for some of the best humor, and I think they're right--especially when the miscommunication takes place in the communication business. But beyond that, I think that this story characterizes what is true about most book buying--and religious book buying in particular. Every book has a story, as does every reader, and the mere transaction of reader and book can't capture all the complexity of either story. Behind the book is an author whose life has led him or her to write, and in particular to write that book. Behind the counter is a receptionist or a bookseller whose journey has led him or her to be the last personal encounter a reader has before entering into a particular book. And within a reader is an internal debate begging to be settled, an internal confusion longing to be cleared.

Not every book settles a debate or clears up confusion, of course, but every book has some circuit of relationships that it has ridden. It makes the communication business that much more personal, which makes it that much more meaningful.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:14 AM

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