Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

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Jonathan Edwards: A (Very) Brief Introduction to “America’s Theologian”

Jonathan EdwardsOn April 23, a guy named John Piper is coming to Trinity to talk about another guy named Jonathan Edwards. You may have seen one or two flyers hanging up about it.

In all seriousness, though, this is a great opportunity to learn about one of the most formative theological influences on America from one of today’s most well-known evangelical theologians. But in order to make the most of this opportunity, it might help to have a little background information on who Jonathan Edwards was and what he did. If you’re already familiar with him, this can help refresh your memory in time for the talk — and if you’re not, this saves you the awkwardness of having to ask.

Jonathan Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut on October 5, 1703, the son and grandson (on his mother’s side) of New England ministers, and the only son of eleven children. Always an eager learner, Edwards entered Yale University in 1716 (yes — if you do the math, that means he was 13) and graduated as class valedictorian four years later. At school he dove into studies of philosophy, natural sciences, psychology, and theology, seeking to intertwine them into a comprehensive view of reality called metaphysics. Rather than allowing the “secular sciences” to pull him away from God (as many of his counterparts did), Edwards saw the study of the universe as providing further evidence of God’s master plan.

Fast forward about a decade: in 1727 he was ordained in Northampton, Massachusetts, as an assistant pastor to his grandfather Rev. Solomon Stoddard, and married Sarah Pierpont (incidentally, the daughter of Yale University’s founder). Two years later, he became senior pastor in Northampton when his grandfather died. He dove headfirst into the role, especially when it came to his preaching. He, like many other “young upstart” preachers of the time, firmly believed that for sermons to have the most effect on listeners, they needed to incorporate emotional content as well as intellectual — in other words, they needed to touch the heart as well as the mind. Perhaps the best-known example of his homiletic style is his 1741 sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” in which (among other images) he likens humans to spiders dangling by the thinnest thread over the fires of hell.

But I get ahead of myself. During the winter of 1734-1735, Edwards’ work with the young adults of the Northampton church sparked a revival that quickly spread to surrounding New England towns. By 1735 the fervor had died down and Edwards had gained a few critics, but in 1741 the fire was rekindled when he teamed up with George Whitefield, an English Anglican preacher who gained the nickname “The Grand Itinerant” from his numerous trips throughout the American colonies. (The nickname was well deserved: in one year’s time, Whitefield traveled more than 5,000 miles on horseback, preached over 350 times, and was personally seen by over one quarter of the colonial population of the time. Many scholars argue that he was the first American celebrity.) This time, the revival wasn’t just a local phenomenon; not only did revival sweep from Georgia to Maine, but it kicked off a spiritual revitalization back in England and other Protestant European countries, as well.

This movement, which came to be known as the First Great Awakening, dramatically transformed the way that Protestant Christian faith was and is understood and practiced. Until this point, religious involvement was largely considered to be a passive event; people would come to church, sit in the pew, and quietly listen to passionless, intellectual discourse (which would typically have little to no bearing on how they lived their lives the other six days of the week). Now, with these “new light” preachers inviting and encouraging them to take the messages of the Bible to heart, lay men and women began reading and discussing their Bibles at home and realizing that it had something to say to them when and where they were.

Evangelists during the Great Awakening emphasized personal spiritual conversion by God’s grace, rather than mere religious participation in the institutional church, as the defining mark of a true Christian. (Take a look at George Whitefield’s sermon “On Regeneration” if you’re interested in seeing how this theology is laid out.) This personal experience of faith led to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role each individual person has to play in the life of the family, the community, and even the nation; while American history textbooks often say that the “democratic ideals” held by the Founding Fathers came from ancient Greece, these ideals were largely ushered in by the messages of individual responsibility and agency through God’s saving grace that were preached and received during the Great Awakening.

At this point in my blog entry I’ve just about hit my word limit, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of the fascinating story and powerful impact of Jonathan Edwards. Hopefully, though, I’ve whetted your appetite and you’d like to learn more. I encourage you to attend Dr. Piper’s April 23rd talks (at 11:00 and 1:00, both at ATO Chapel) — but you can also check out the following library resources:

Print Books:
Selected Writings of Jonathan Edwards prince Jonathan Edwards and the American Experience Formed for the Glory of God The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

God is a Communicative Being Jonathan Edwards and Justification by Faith The Excellency of Christ Jonathan Edwards' Theology Jonathan Edwards on Justification

See you in ATO on April 23rd!


“Jonathan Edwards: Biography.” Available online at

“People & Ideas: George Whitefield.” Available online at

“People & Ideas: Jonathan Edwards.” Available online at

Piper, John. “A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards 300 Years Later.” Available online at

Piper, John. “The Pastor as Theologian: Life and Ministry of Jonathan Edwards.” Available online at

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April e-Reading

The semester is drawing to a close and for many that means papers, projects, and final exams. Spare time is likely to be a luxury over these next several weeks, as is any brain power that hasn’t been exhausted over long hours of study. But if you do have some spare time and brain power left over, here are some fantastic titles on Easter and urban missions. Some of them I’ve reviewed below. These are titles that are not physically shelved here at Rolfing, but are readily available in electronic form. If you’re like me and you’re conditioned to think that legitimate sources are only printed on paper and placed on the shelf, allow these electronic gems to change your mind!

jesus and the demise of death

Jesus and the Demise of Death by Matthew Levering is not a light read. It is a thorough study on resurrection and eternal life, both of Christ’s journey post-cross as well as the believer’s. Surprisingly, the author manages to put all of this material together in just 129 pages (plus an extra 60 pages of extensive notes). I highly recommend this for seminarians, as it is not only an informative read but it would certainly be a useful source for papers.

the resurrection of the messiahThe Resurrection of the Messiah by Christopher Bryan is an invaluable resource on the resurrection. Bryan takes a unique approach, primarily dealing with what he calls “historical certainties” following the crucifixion events. What I like best about this volume is the “bonus material.” From pages 191 to 416, Bryan packs in extensive end notes, extra notes organized topically, and a navigable selection of sources organized by subject material. This would well serve Masters- and Doctoral-level students who are doing research in this field.

justice project

The Justice Project makes the claim that the world has never been in greater need of Christians who “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” I like this book for two reasons: its subject material and its accessibility. Like a growing number of Christians, I am increasingly interested in the topic of justice. For those with that shared interest, this is an informative resource. It’s a compilation of short chapters authored by a variety of writers who are professionals in their fields, offering a good mix of scholastic thought and practical theology. This is a resource open to readers at all levels.


the ghettoThe Ghetto is an intriguing sociological work that challenges popular culture’s conceptions of the “ghetto.” It addresses the lack of a unified urban theory for cities and seeks to move the discussion to a global context. There is a historical element explaining from whence “ghetto” was originally derived and much discussion on contemporary urban research. This is suitable to college level readers whose interests involve social work and/or ministry in an urban context.

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Not Two Ways to Skin a Cat — I-Share v. Illiad

Interlibrary Loan

Trinity has a pretty awesome library. But what happens when Trinity doesn’t have that book, article, media, etc. for which you are looking? Well, as students at Trinity, we have the amazing privilege of having access to thousands of other materials through our two inter-library loan systems, I-Share and ILLiad.

But what are these two systems? And why do we have two? What are the differences between them? How do I know when to use one and not the other?

What are I-Share and ILLiad?


I-Share is a consortium of Illinois academic libraries that lends its collections to any member of a fellow I-Share library. I-Share involves over 75 libraries throughout the state of Illinois. And best of all, it’s free to use!

When ordered, items are delivered to whichever library you select (e.g., Rolfing). When your I-Share book arrives at Rolfing, you will receive an email the next day letting you know. Further, members of an I-Share library can visit any other I-Share library and borrow items onsite.

You can access I-Share through the Rolfing website, or consult our research guide for more information.


ILLiad, which stands for “Inter-Library Loan Internet Accessible Database,” is an inter-library loan system that allows one to borrow books and receive photocopies of periodical articles that are not available at Rolfing but can be obtained from other libraries. Unlike I-Share, which is specific to participating Illinois libraries, ILLiad’s database includes libraries across the country and even throughout the world.

ILLiad is usually free. However, if the item you want is only available from a library that charges a fee, then you will be responsible to pay that borrowing fee.

Like I-Share, when your requested items arrive at Rolfing, you will receive an email. In the case of journal articles, you will receive an email containing the article itself.

You can access ILLiad through the Rolfing website, or navigate to our research guide if you need help.


I-Share and ILLiad services are available to all current students, faculty, and staff of TIU. But — bad news — patrons not currently affiliated with the university (i.e. those with courtesy and visitor accounts) are not eligible to use I-Share and ILLiad services.

When should I use I-Share or ILLiad?


Use I-Share when you are looking to borrow a book but it is not available at Rolfing Library. Simple. :)


We should first ask, when shouldn’t one use ILLiad? Think of ILLiad as the last resort. One shouldn’t use ILLiad if the material for which you are looking is available in either Rolfing Library or another I-Share library (in other words, check I-Share first). Consequently, if you submit an ILLiad request for an item that’s currently available in I-Share (i.e. the library owns this item and it is not currently checked out), your request will be denied… Sorry. :(

In short, you should always start you inter-library loan endeavors with I-Share. If the item is not available in I-Share, then consider submitting a request for the item through ILLiad.

Comparison Chart!




Who Can Request Books or Other Returnable Materials? Any current individual of TIU living near an I-Share library Any current individual of TIU within a 60 mile radius of the Deerfield campus
Who Can Request Articles or Other Copied Materials? N/A Any current individual of TIU
Cost No cost to borrow Free if possible, determined by lending library, patron notified of all charges prior to item being requested
Fines/Fees Patron responsible for lost/replacement fees Patron responsible for lost/replacement fees
Materials Borrowed Books primarily, other materials on a limited basis Books, microfiche, media
Materials Not Borrowed Non-circulating serials Textbooks and/or books required for classes, books available in the TIU library, entertainment
Loan Period 28 days Determined by lending library
Renewals 3 renewals, 28 days each (faculty get 6 renewals, 28 days each) Determined by lending library, 1 renewal max
Patron Account View all materials checked out from TIU or I-Share libraries, request materials from I-Share libraries, renew I-Share materials View materials, request renewals, and place requests through ILLiad account

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March Recommended Reading

As you may have noticed, another set of topics are on display on the recommended reading shelves. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to do some browsing in the foyer. I’d especially recommend taking a look at the larger selection of titles in Professional Ethics. There are some interesting reads there that I had fun picking out this month. As always, if your schedule doesn’t often allow you to visit us here at the library, I also selected several e-books. I’ve identified a few of these that I thought were particularly interesting and posted them below to give you a taste of what is available. Enjoy!

Johannine Studies

Encountering John – Andreas J. Köstenberger
The Revelation of John – James L. Resseguie
Christology and Discipleship in John 17 – Marianus Pale Hera
Retelling Scripture – Ruth Sheridan

Professional Ethics

Bioethics and the Christian Life – David VanDrunen
The Ethics of Research Biobanking – Jan Helge Solbakk (Editor)
Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making – Patricia H. Werhane
Research Ethics – Gary Comstock

Colossian Virtues

After You Believe – N. T. Wright
The Peacemaker – Ken Sande
Defining Love – Thomas Jay Oord
Practicing Our Faith – Dorothy C. Bass (Editor)

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40 Days Before Easter: Celebrating the Lenten Fast

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s note: this post was composed on Ash Wednesday, March 5 but published a day later.

As you look around today, you may happen to notice individuals walking around campus and the surrounding community with black smudges on their foreheads. And while on other days it might cause some suspicion, today it stands as a visual reminder of the season into which we Christians are headed. Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day (not including Sundays) period preceding Easter. Now, if you’re not from a liturgically-oriented branch of the Church, you may not be completely familiar with this season or just what’s involved with it. (Hey, if you’re like me, you may not be familiar with much of the history even if you are from a liturgically-oriented branch.) So, to appease your hopefully-now-piqued curiosity, let me share with you a little of what I’ve learned.

When did Lent get started?
The origins of the Lenten celebration as we know it aren’t exactly certain — but we do know that it’s extremely old. The first explicit mention of a 40-day period of fasting and prayer that coincided with the Easter season was way back in 325 AD, in the fifth canon of the Council of Nicaea (yes, the same one that developed the Nicene Creed). However, its roots reach back before even that: early church father Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-200 AD) wrote about a time of Easter preparation, but he described a period of only 2-3 days. What is notable, however, is the ecumenical nature of this practice: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions alike generally affirm the Council of Nicaea as a trusted source of theological orthodoxy.

Why’s it 40 days long?
Like I mentioned before, this preparation period preceding Easter wasn’t always set at this length. Some Christians took 24-48 hours, some took six days, some took three weeks. However, you may be familiar with the fact that the number 40 is an important one in the Bible — the rain pelted down on Noah and his floating menagerie for 40 days and nights; Moses and the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years; and Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness for 40 days before officially beginning his ministry. It’s with this last point that the good folks at Nicaea hit their theological pay dirt. They figured that imitating Jesus’ 40 days in fasting and prayer could help Christians to better identify with the passion and purpose of Christ.

Why’s it called “Lent”?
In many other languages the term for this period somehow revolves around the idea of forty: Quaresima in Italian, Cuaresma in Spanish, Carême in French, Tessarokonta in Greek. However, there’s nothing that speaks to that idea in English. Instead, our term comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which meant “to lengthen.” As Norman Tanner, a Jesuit priest, describes, “Lent comes at a time when the hours or daytime are ‘lengthening,’ as spring approaches, and so it is a time when we too can ‘lengthen’ spiritually, when we can stretch out and grow in the spirit.”*

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

What’s the purpose of Lent?
A friend recently posted a meme to his Facebook wall: “I believe I’m getting closer to God by spending a few weeks not eating M&Ms.” Admittedly, I got a chuckle out of it — because that’s not what Lent is really about. Again, I tip my hat to Norman Tanner: “Our role during Lent is to cooperate with God’s grace and initiatives, in a sense to relax in the presence of God, rather than to force the pace with our own efforts… Some asceticism is important, of course, but it is essential to place the discipline within its proper and positive context: so that we can receive God’s gifts more fully.”* Lenten disciplines aren’t just about depriving ourselves so that we can somehow “earn” an extra portion of God’s graces; just like any other spiritual discipline, it’s about getting ourselves out of the way so that we can better hear God’s voice and feel God’s presence.

What do people do during Lent?
A lot depends on the religious tradition of the particular person. Catholic and Anglican/Episcopal brothers and sisters traditionally fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Some other Protestants have traditionally given up a thing or practice during this month-and-a-half time span. Others add on a spiritual discipline: longer or more focused devotional time, volunteering time to some ministry, keeping a prayer journal, etc. (Personally, I’d be willing to argue that the act itself isn’t as important as the meaning behind the act — if it draws you to a deeper love and understanding of God, it’s fair game.)

And finally, the big question:

Why is this showing up on a library blog?
Because if you’re interested in devotional resources to help guide your thoughts and prayers during Lent, we can help! Any of the following titles can get you started:

On behalf of the staff here at Rolfing, I pray (whether your tradition practices Lenten disciplines or not) that this time leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection will be a fruitful one for you — that your spirit will be “lengthened” as you grow deeper in your faith and love of the Lord.

*Tanner, Norman, SJ. “A Short History of Lent.” Thinking faith: the online journal of the British Jesuits. Available online at

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The History Behind Black History Month

Every year on January 31, the standing U.S. president issues an official proclamation calling all of us Americans to gather together during the month of February to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to our nation’s heritage and history. But if you’re like me, you may not quite be sure how this commemoration got its start. So, being the inquisitive type that I am, I did some digging and came across the story of a fascinating individual: Carter Godwin Woodson.

Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson

Woodson was born in Virginia on December 19, 1875, the first of nine children to former slaves James and Eliza Woodson. The family moved to West Virginia when his father learned that a high school for Black students was being built. Carter was a bright youth, but instead of focusing on educational pursuits he worked as a sharecropper and a miner to help his family make ends meet. He finally got his chance to attend high school at the age of 20 — and was such an apt student that he was able to complete a four-year degree in under two.

While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree from Berea College in Kentucky, he taught in a school founded by Black coal miners for the purpose of educating their children. After graduating from Berea he attended the University of Chicago, where he earned both another Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in European history. After serving as a school superintendent in the Philippines for four years, he returned to academia; the next steps in his educational journey took him to the Sorbonne in Paris and to Harvard University, where in 1912 he became the second African American in the school’s history (after W.E.B. Du Bois) to earn a PhD.

In all his studies, though, he kept noticing a glaring defect: central events and contributions of Negroes (as they were then called) to the American story were either misrepresented or missing altogether. Thus, he devoted the rest of his life to the incorporation of the African-American experience into the grand sweep of America’s history. In 1915 he helped to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), with the mission of publicizing and celebrating the cultural contributions of African Americans. In 1916 he started the scholarly Journal of Negro History (today the Journal of African American History), and in 1920 he formed Associated Publishers Press, which would serve as a clearing house for African American-authored publications. He himself was also a prolific writer, authoring over a dozen books and many more journal articles.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Black History Month was kickstarted in 1926 when Woodson lobbied various schools and organizations to dedicate a week to the emphasis and celebration of African American history. He chose the second week of February to be “Negro History Week,” to coincide with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass. As the celebration of Negro History Week grew, Woodson created the Negro History Bulletin, as well as elementary and secondary school curriculum, to assist educators in their task. Woodson died in 1950, but in 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the first Negro History Week and as part of America’s Bicentennial, the US government officially recognized its expansion to encompass the entire month of February. Since then, the celebration of Black History Month has also spread to Great Britain and Canada.

The many contributions of African Americans to the history and culture of the United States simply can’t be overlooked — if you’re interested in digging into the work of some notable African American writers and artists, check out the following titles (which, trust me, merely scratch the surface):

Happy reading, and happy Black History Month!

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February Recommended Reading

Have you got the cold winter blues yet? Perhaps your anguish was somewhat assuaged with our two recent “snow” days and you enjoyed a long four-day weekend.  Well, assuming that winter will not relent this month, let me recommend some books that you could enjoy reading inside the comfort and warmth of your own place. Add these to your reading list for the next time a polar vortex swoops in and shuts everyone inside with record subzero temperatures (not that we’re hoping that will happen again!).

For February we have some great titles in the lineup. Celebrate African-American Heritage and read up on the theologians and theology of the African American church. You can also check out books on the many different facets of life and work in Family Ministry. In addition, we put together a collection of books in correlation to the undergraduate “Belief” chapel series beginning this month. Here are some e-books on these topics available at Rolfing; find more on our Recommended eReading library guide. And don’t forget to take a look at the displays in the front of the library for some print options!

African-American Heritage
The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture: Toward Bridging the Generational Divide
The Color of Christ: The Son of God & the Saga of Race in America
The Reemergence of Liberation Theologies: Models for the Twenty-First Century
This Side of Heaven: Race, Ethnicity, and Christian Faith
Honoring the Ancestors: An African Cultural Interpretation of Black Religion and Literature

Family Ministry
Adolescence and Beyond
Family Ethics
Marriage and Relationship Education
Parenting Is Your Highest Calling
Teenagers Matter
Working with Families

Belief Chapel Series
The Christian Atheist
Generous Justice
I Am Second
A Public Faith
The Life of the Mind: A Christian Perspective


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