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Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen (The Swans Are Not Silent) Paperback – January 5, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is teacher and founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. He served for 33 years as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don’t Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

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Product Details

  • Series: The Swans Are Not Silent (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (January 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433519283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433519284
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of more than 50 books, and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free of charge at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noël, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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John Owen is the only "swan" I had read previously.
Christian Book Previews
Any believer will benefit from reading about these great men of the faith, whether they do so through purchasing the book or from reading the biographies online.
Tim Challies
My hope in Christ alone and I pray that He will make all things right one day and he will do so despite our best efforts to separate ourselves from each other.
Joseph L. Louthan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Each year at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, hosted by Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis, John Piper delivers a biographical address dealing with a notable Christian figure from the history of the church. Every few years, several of these addresses are compiled into a book as part of "The Swans are Not Silent" series. The most recent of these titles is Contending For Our All, subtitled "Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen and J. Gresham Machen."

Transcripts of the speeches delivered by Piper are available online. It might be reasonable to ask, then, why anyone would care to pay for them. The best reason is that appended to these transcripts are a preface, and introduction and a conclusion, also written by Piper. Within the introduction he discusses why he has chosen to publish the three speeches together. In this book we learn that the common theme of Contending for Our all is that Athanasius, Owen and Machen all stood for the truth of God's Word in the face of opposition. None of them delighted in this controversy, and none was concerned with his popularity. What bound them together, even through almost two millenia of history, is their willingness to suffer for what they knew to be right in their defense of the gospel.

The thrust of each of the sections is to help the reader understand the lessons each of these men offers the church today. Piper does not offer mere biography, but biography that leads to lessons in practical theology.

Contending For Our All is a welcome addition to this series and is a book that is well worth reading. Any believer will benefit from reading about these great men of the faith, whether they do so through purchasing the book or from reading the biographies online.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christian Book Previews on April 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth book in Piper's series, "The Swans Are Not Silent," and follows his pattern of looking at three "swans" of church history through the lens of a central theme. The three presented here are Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen; the theme is the subtitle, Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ.

I was immediately captivated by Piper's Introduction, so much so, that I read portions of it aloud to several people, prefaced by an excited "Listen to this!" His discussion of truth, controversy, and humility sets the tone for what is to come. Piper lays out the historical background for his treatment of Athanasius by discussing the nature of orthodox theology in the fourth century, particularly with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity and the heresy of Arianism. In the second half of this first chapter, he gives seven practical lessons we can learn from the life of Athanasius, and shows that old battles are still being fought, but with new terminology.

John Owen is the only "swan" I had read previously. Piper begins his discussion of Owen by relating the impact Owen has had on men like J.I. Packer, Sinclair Ferguson, and on Piper himself. He gives a brief biography of Owen, including a short definition of Puritanism. He sees the heart of Owen's life and ministry as the mortification of sin and personal holiness: "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." I particularly loved Piper's comment about the relationship between private spirituality and public ministry:

One great hindrance to holiness in the ministry of the Word is that we are prone to preach and write without pressing into the things we say and making them real to our own souls.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dan Panetti VINE VOICE on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The fourth book of Piper's The Swans Are Not Silent series on the lives of the great saints of the faith, Contending for Our All exposes the reader to the lives of three great warriors who battled for truth against great odds and in the face of great persecution. Athanasius, one of the early church fathers, became bishop of Alexandra in 328 and passed away in 373. He was almost single-handedly responsible for the battle against the heresy of Arius who claimed that Jesus, as the son of God, was a created being; not one with the Father from time and eternity. Athanasius fought this false doctrine and his teaching and influence resulted in the creeds from the Council of Nicaea as well as the Council of Constantinople shortly after his death.

Piper next explores the life and teachings of Puritan pastor John Owen, a man tremendously influential in the lives of some of today's outstanding Christians leaders such as J.I. Packer and Sinclair Ferguson. Some, including Gordon-Conwell Seminary professor Roger Nicole, consider Owen to be the greatest theologian who has ever written in the English language - even greater than Jonathan Edwards. Owen's most outstanding works are The Death of Death in the Death of Christ and Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers. In addition to his writing Owen was a pastor, the Vice Chancellor at Oxford, and heavily involved in the affairs of Parliament. He also suffered the death of his eleven children during his lifetime. Owen is buried next to his contemporary John Bunyan in London.

Finally, Piper tells the story of the short, but controversial life of J. Gresham Machen, a man who stood at the turn of the century here in America and sounded the alarm regarding the liberalization of the church.
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