Blog Posts by Jonathan Parnell

You’re Awesome — But Not That Awesome

Jonathan Parnell

If you ever wondered what it would be like to read tweets and Facebook updates from a 17th-century genius, check out Pascal’s Pensées.

Born in France in 1623, Blaise Pascal was a brilliant mathematician and physicist, then philosopher, then theologian. Pascal’s Pensées are similar to someone scouring your entire hard drive and all your notebooks, after you have died, for every thought (or pensée) you had scribbled down. Pascal’s family and friends did that after his untimely death…

Continue Reading

Would We Have Been Friends? Keller and Piper on Lewis

Jonathan Parnell

C.S. Lewis tended to be generous, maybe even too generous.

Lewis’s influence is profound in the lives of Tim Keller and John Piper, but they both wonder whether they would be friends with him if he were still alive. Would Lewis’s imposing logic have made it difficult? Perhaps Lewis was too welcoming to figures outside the bounds of orthodoxy?

In the latest five-minute video, Keller and Piper ponder these points together.


More on C.S. Lewis from Desiring God:

Continue Reading

Shane & Shane Invite You to Our National Conference

Jonathan Parnell

Musical artists Shane & Shane will be leading an evening of corporate worship at our upcoming National Conference in September. In this short video, they invite you to join us.

A special early-bird rate for the Desiring God 2013 National Conference on C.S. Lewis ends at 11:59pm Friday night.


More on C.S. Lewis from Desiring God:

Continue Reading

When (Seemingly) Opposites Meet: Keller and Piper on Lewis

Jonathan Parnell

C.S. Lewis has been called the “Romantic Rationalist” because he brings together two seemingly opposite things. He is both rationally sharp and imaginatively brilliant, which is a rare combination.

In this five-minute video, Tim Keller and John Piper talk about some remarkable juxtapositions in Lewis and his influence on their lives.

A special early-bird rate for the Desiring God 2013 National Conference on C.S. Lewis is available if you register by July 26.


More on C.S. Lewis from Desiring God:

Continue Reading

John Piper Explains the 10 Most Popular Bible Verses

Jonathan Parnell

What are the ten most popular Bible verses in the world? And what do they mean?

YouVersion tallied the list. Now John Piper has expounded the texts.

Since YouVersion was created in 2008, it has become the most widely used Bible app, recently reaching over 100 million downloads worldwide. It is available on nearly every mobile device manufactured today.

Last year they identified the most bookmarked verses within the app. These are the verses that have been highlighted most often…

Continue Reading

The Main Ingredient in Effective Prayer

Jonathan Parnell

It’s tragic how easily we can miss the main ingredient in effective prayer.

In our sin, we’ve been rewired to focus on us — on the steps we should take for our prayers to be heard. We have this bent toward believing that every result is born from method. If something works for somebody we want to know what that somebody is doing.

We’ve developed the assumption that if we can just strip it all down to a reproducible…

Continue Reading

Three Things We Should Know About God

Jonathan Parnell

A.W. Tozer famously said that whatever comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. When you hear the mention of “God,” what would you say? What image fills your heart and head when you think about who God is?

The question is important because we all have some kind of answer. Everybody has a go-to thought when they think of God. And we want that picture to be true, that is, formed…

Continue Reading

New Course on Calvinism from John Piper

Jonathan Parnell

The Bible gives us a glorious vision of God’s sovereignty in saving sinners. “Calvinism” is a kind of nickname for this Christian body of doctrine on salvation that so appropriately humbles humanity and so magnificently exalts divine grace.

In a new eight-hour course on Calvinism, or “the doctrines of grace,” John Piper walks through the historical “five points,” digging into text after text of Scripture and responding to many of the most common questions.

“The doctrines of grace,” Piper explains,…

Continue Reading

Advice for Christian Artists

Jonathan Parnell

Max McLean encourages Christians in the arts to integrate their faith in every step they take. “Make your faith the source of your art,” he says.

In this short video he explains the passion and strategy behind his work and the production company he founded, Fellowship of Performing Arts. In short, his advice to Christian artists is 1) reflect Christian truth; 2) empathize with people of other worldviews; and 3) execute your art with excellence.


Learn more about our upcoming…

Continue Reading

Seeing Pleasure Through a Demon’s Eyes

Jonathan Parnell

Max McLean, director and lead actor in the theatrical adaptation of The Screwtape Letters, goes in character to describe the demonic perspective on pleasure.

From the book, page 44:

Never forgot that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures:…

Continue Reading

The Boldness of Knowing Jesus

Jonathan Parnell

The people of Jesus should know Jesus. That is the inescapable impression we get from reading the Book of Acts. We see it in the church’s boldness — that is, the church’s outspoken clarity about the identity and significance of Jesus.

This boldness actually hems up the entire story of Acts with its key appearances in Peter’s first sermon (Acts 2:29) and Paul’s concluding hospitality ministry (Acts 28:31), not to mention several mentions throughout the gospel’s advance (Acts 4:13; 29,…

Continue Reading

Our Choices Matter

Jonathan Parnell

Max McLean, the lead actor and director of the theatrical adaptation of The Screwtape Letters, has performed the role of Screwtape hundreds of times since the play debuted in 2010. This means that beyond reading C.S. Lewis, McLean has absorbed his thought.

We recently had the chance to ask him about any enduring lessons he’s learned from so much attention to Lewis’s work. He explains in this three-minute video:


Learn more about our upcoming conference, “The Romantic Rationalist:

Continue Reading

14 Free eBooks for You

Jonathan Parnell

Twenty percent of all the books sold last year were electronic, says the latest report from Bookstats. This simply means that ebooks are still on the rise. More and more users like to carry their libraries in their hands. And this matters for the mission of Desiring God.

Though it won’t replace good old-fashioned books, the upward trend of ebooks has created a new platform for us to spread our message — that God is most glorified in us when…

Continue Reading

Why Boldness Matters Now

Jonathan Parnell

The Book of Acts profiles a people living bold.

The theme of boldness takes center-stage in Acts 4 with the story of Peter’s and John’s trial before the Sanhedrin. We learn that what astonishes the Jewish leaders pertains mainly to the apostles’ content, not their emotions. The bewildering reality at work in Peter’s and John’s testimony is what they say about Jesus.

These two fishermen had become messengers of God’s salvation, heralds for a new age in human history. They…

Continue Reading

Behind the Blog: Christian Dating

Jonathan Parnell

Four years ago, the small-budget, independent production 500 Days of Summer premiered at the Sundance Film Festival with decent accolades. Since then the movie has surprisingly gone on to earn over $60 million. Why? Because it’s a realistic story of an all-too-common dating relationship — one that ends up lopsided and empty because of a plastic vision of romance.

Its popularity seems to tell us something about Western culture and relationships: the system is broken. Expectations are inflated. People…

Continue Reading

The Genius of C.S. Lewis

Jonathan Parnell

You’d probably recognize his voice. Max McLean has narrated the Bible five times, as well as John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and several other pieces of Christian literature. But his most celebrated work is a theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s famous novel, The Screwtape Letters. This critically acclaimed production is currently on national tour, playing in over fifty major cities and performing arts venues, including recently in Minneapolis.

While Max McLean was in town, we had the chance to ask…

Continue Reading

When the Christian Life Becomes Impossible

Jonathan Parnell

“Christian Hedonism is a liberating and devastating doctrine,” John Piper writes.

It teaches that the value of God shines more brightly in the soul that finds deepest satisfaction in him. Therefore it is liberating because it endorses our inborn desire for joy. And it is devastating because it reveals that no one desires God with the passion he demands. Paradoxically, many people experience both of these truths. That certainly is my own experience.

So begins his book When I Don’t

Continue Reading

Live Bold

Jonathan Parnell

To live Christianly in a culture of confusion is to live boldly.

There is some explaining to do here. On one hand, the above sentence is simple and agreeable at face-value. On the other hand, there’s a sense in which it will resonate with certain personalities while alienating others. Does our culture really need Christians to live bold? What does that even mean?

The answer hangs on our understanding of “bold.” And if we’d learn from the Book of Acts,…

Continue Reading

New eBook: Piper Celebrates the Influence of Lewis

Jonathan Parnell

We’re happy to announce the release of our latest ebook from John Piper, Alive to Wonder: Celebrating the Influence of C.S. Lewis. It includes a significant introduction from Piper, written for this project, with a collection of extended excerpts from his corpus where Lewis’s fingerprints are most vividly seen.

Piper calls it “the immeasurable moment” — that instance in reading when we come across a sentence or phrase that unleashes a new glimpse of truth. The lights go on.…

Continue Reading

Let Us Read, As in Read

Jonathan Parnell

I read the Bible at the dinner table last night.

One of our daughters was laid out horizontally across her chair. Our son was crying, reaching for me to pick him up. And then our other daughter was doodling letters on the table with her sauce-glossed finger.

So I helped with that, and then I read. Galatians 3:26 says, simply, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Within a minute, I gave a short explanation,…

Continue Reading

When God Came to the City

Jonathan Parnell

Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. He knew his mission.

The evangelist Luke captures Jesus’s relentless journey by telling us that “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Nothing would deter him.

In their new book, Why Cities Matter, Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard discuss this significance of Jesus coming into the city of Jerusalem. Cities, they explain, play a key role throughout the biblical storyline. The end-time vision of…

Continue Reading

Hedonism to the Extreme: Lamborghini and Our Souls

Jonathan Parnell

“What does a tractor manufacturer know about sports cars?” said Enzo Ferrari to an Italian mechanic from humble roots.1

This mechanic, Ferruccio Lamborghini, did manufacture tractors, and he did well. But he also liked fast automobiles and building things, and in the decade following World War II he decided to try his hand at supercars. Frustrated with the Ferrari’s handling on the road, and Ferrari’s dismissal at some suggested improvements, Ferruccio blazed his own trail by creating Automobili Lamborghini

Continue Reading

Behind the Blog: Good People

Jonathan Parnell

A month ago today the bombs went off in Boston. Through the surge of media, many of us were left on the edge of our seats for a week. There was shock and confusion and deep questions. In this latest episode of Behind the Blog we talk about how we responded to this tragedy on the blog, including our personal wrestling with how to process events like this.

Other topics in this episode include an update on John Piper’s upcoming…

Continue Reading

Where Is Jesus?

Jonathan Parnell

“But I believe in Jesus too,” my five-year-old said, unconvinced by my explanation why she couldn’t have some of the bread and juice.

We had slipped out of the service after I received the elements because she became rowdy with questions. I led her a little ways from the crowd and knelt down to meet her eye to eye. My hands were on her shoulders, posturing to seize the moment, until my unsatisfactory answer quickly led to a bigger talk…

Continue Reading

Epic of the Ordinary: Christian Mission for You and Me

Jonathan Parnell

The Book of Acts is clearly one of the most action-packed segments in the storyline of Scripture. The title, “The Acts of the Apostles,” cues us in on this clue from the start. As many commentators have suggested, a more accurate title would be something to do with the acts of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps “The Action of the Ascended Christ by His Spirit Through His Church.”

The book opens with Jesus ascending as human to the throne of…

Continue Reading