Lament: So many books, so little time.
Herman Bavinck on Testing and Temptation: Reformed theologian Bavinck does a wonderful job distinguishing between testing and temptation. He writes that God is the only one that tests us and Satan is the only one that tempts us. That being said, he does say that God does allow temptation (an obvious point since it happens) or even arranges our circumstances so that we are sometimes led to it (The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted in Matthew 4:1 but it was still Satan who tempted). Bavinck writes that Satan is the “author of all temptation” and that it is always “intended to make someone worse.” This is so insightful. On the other hand, testing comes from God and “seeks only to bring the truth (what someone is) to light.” They can even occur at the same time. What God intends as a test Satan will try and turn into temptation. This is a remarkable insight, that one single moment and situation can be both a test from God and a temptation from Satan. Of course, the test often comes first but Satan piggybacks on it and seeks to pervert it. Bavinck writes: “Whatever God sends our way as a trial (test), Satan arranges as a temptation.” He also writes, “testing and temptation occur by the same means, but differ in their originator and in their intention.” Wow. This might be the most insightful and helpful content that I have ever read on the difference between God testing us and Satan tempting us. Oh how sweet is the taste of God’s wisdom.
Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning: This is by far one of the most profound books that I have ever read. The first part is his account of surviving four concentration camps; the second part is a summary of Logotherapy, a psychotherapy based on the human drive to find meaning in life (as opposed to Freuds’ emphasis on pleasure and Adler’s emphasis on power (essentially taken from the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche in combination with Adler’s sickly childhood). It is compatible with the Gospel in so many ways, something I hope to write about in the near future.