I grew up in a confessional denomination. Sadly, it was a large, "mainline" denomination which was riddled with skeptical unbelief and became a "sideline" denomination. One long unrecognized benefit from this denomination was that it was confessional. It publicly held to a confession of faith, though most ministers and seminary professors and denominational officials signed the confession with crossed finger, I suspect.
But the liturgy that was repeated each Lord's Day was still robustly confessional and catechetical. I learned biblical Christianity even while I was growing up to reject it because my ministers did not believe or preach the Word of God as the Word of God. My unregenerate heart took no comfort from the ecclesiastical unbelief that drove the denomination. My parents got by with a thin gruel of truth and practically starved to death spiritually. My college experience with mainline denominations only served to reinforce my earlier bias that they were hopelessly compromised by their unbelief.
Upon my conversion in college, I spurned my denomination because the liberal minister in my college town rejected regeneration and conversion and thought them a blight upon anyone! I walked out never to return, thinking his unbelief was a blight upon him and the people under his ministry!
It took me almost fifteen years to return to a sturdy confession of faith. In the first class most seminary students at TEDS attended, they learned that confessional Calvinism was the last to go liberal. Professor Woodbridge showed that Arminian and Wesleyan denominations went liberal first because they were already part way down the road of man centered theology. That got my attention.
Upon graduation from TEDS, I began to see that broad evangelicalism, of the parachurch and broad church kinds, were unhealthy. They had no doctrine of the church and little fixed doctrine at all. If the Bible was breathed out by God and authoritative, it did not seem to speak authoritatively on much in these groups!
Prior to seminary, God had opened my eyes to see the doctrines of grace in the book of Romans and then the whole Bible. It was full of sovereign grace, from Genesis to Revelation. I was hooked and have remained hooked to this day.
I soon observed first hand that confessional denominations did hold on the truth of the gospel longer than minimalist churches and organizations. They had succinctly written down what they believed and the boundaries were clear and comprehensive. Though respectful of evangelical Presbyterians and Anglicans and Congregationalists and their confessions, I became a confessional Baptist. The 2nd London Confession of 1689 (1677 really) became my confession of faith. I studied it, taught it and loved it. It expressed what I saw in God's Word.
My discovery of confessional Protestantism supplemented what I had learned in my studies for my Master's thesis. I studied Charles Hodge and Old Princeton seminary of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I saw that there is a never ending fight to hold on the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. And confessional groups are a greater target for the evil one because they present a greater danger to his nefarious cause. Broad groups give away much truth in order to work with as many other groups as possible, thereby watering down the faith. They are giving away what in effect they should be holding on
God's Word says that the Strong Man (the devil) keeps his goods in peace until Someone Stronger (the Lord Jesus) comes along and disarms him. I believe the devil attacks confessional groups more often and more intensely because they are a greater threat--they hold on to the most truth and want to pass it along to their children and the wider world. Broad groups are themselves giving away the faith in gobs in order to reach more people! How ironic. On the way to "reaching more people", they give away much of the faith.
Today's blog aims to encourage and alert church-men in confessional bodies (Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Dutch Reformed, etc.). What should you be reading as pastors and church officers and concerned laymen in order to guard the good deposit of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints? If you want to pray about your churches, what books will equip you to have a discerning eye and large scope?
The following books will help you see what it going on and what issues are at stake. The Kingdom of God is larger than our own little lives and local churches. One church officer once complained to me that he did not know why I cared about other churches and denominations here in Georgia. He implied that I should just focus on our church and our people and our little corner of the Kingdom. I told him that if we were the last church standing, we would soon be defunct too. Our health and standing as a church were tied to the health and standing of other evangelical and Reformed churches in the State.
Here are my recommendations for clear heads and keen eyes to see what is happening and not happening in our day:
D. G. Hart and John Muether, FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT (A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) The Committee on Christian Education and the Committee for the Historian of the OPC--a great overview of the founding and the first 50+ years of the OPC. Other groups who are also confessional can learn from the OPC by looking over their shoulder and seeing what they had to fight to maintain. I realized that confessional Baptists had to fight the same battles 50 years later...and in almost the same order the OPC did.
So I gave a laudatory book report on this book at our confessional Baptist General Assembly!
James Renihan, ed.; DENOMINATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS? (Essays on Reformed Baptist Associations) Calvary Press--six chapters and three appendices on the issues surrounding confessional Baptist identity--independency, interdependency, associations, the role of the confession of faith, etc. A must read for confessional Baptists.
Ian Hamilton, THE EROSION OF CALVINISTIC ORTHODOXY (Seceders and Subscription in Scottish Presbyterianism) Christian Focus Publications--Scot's Presbyterian Ian Hamilton shows how 18th and 19th century Presbyterians in Scotland struggled to be confessional and faithful and how they eventually lost the battle and why. Sobering reading for those with eyes to see.
James McGoldrick, CHRISTIANITY AND ITS COMPETITORS; Christian Focus--shows how the early church had to battle false teaching in order to be faithful to God's Word. He then shows how early church heresies have been resurrected and morphed into groups with different names but the same aberrant theology.
Michael Haykin and Steve Weaver, eds.; AN ORTHODOX CATECHISM (The Heidelberg Catechism
Rewritten by the Particular Baptist Pastor/Theologian of the 17th Century, Hercules Collins); Reformed Baptist Academic Press--a great tool for family catechizing and personal devotions, with an Introduction by James Renihan.
Carl Trueman, THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE; Crossway
church historian and OPC pastor writes on the great benefits of belonging to a confessional church. The first chapter on why people, even Christians today, think creeds and confessional irrelevant is worth the price of the book.
Iain Murray, EVANGELICALISM DIVIDED (A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950-2000); Banner of Truth--a major work explaining what happened in Britain and America between World War II and 911 and how the evangelical and Reformed consensus of Protestantism was compromised, Who did What, and what have been the results. After reading it when it first came out R. C. Sproul said that if it was within his power, he would make every North American pastor and seminarian and church officers read this book. It is that important!
David Wells, GOD IN THE WHIRLWIND; Crossway--a Congregational theologian teaching at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Boston who has blessed all of evangelicalism with his carefully crafted evaluations of our weaknesses (NO PLACE FOR TRUTH, GOD IN THE WASTELAND, LOSING OUR VIRTUE, ABOVE ALL EARTHLY POWERS; THE COURAGE TO BE PROTESTANT) has further put us in his debt with the superior statement of the positive teaching of the Bible, the history of God's redemptive plans, and how our culture hears/does not hear the truth and how to deal with that. A must read for church officers and engaged laymen.
Wayne Grudem, "When, Why and for What Should We Draw New Boundaries?" in John Piper, Justin Taylor and Paul Kjoss Helseth, eds; BEYOND THE BOUNDS
(Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity); Crossway--Professor Grudem writes about the importance of writing confessions and creeds and guarding them, even if it hurts. The chapter alone is worth the price of the already great book. On page 369 he asks 5 questions that should never be asked when determining boundaries and confessional fidelity: (1) Are the advocates my friends?
(2) Are they nice people?
(3) Will we lose money or members if we exclude them?
(4) Will the academic community criticize us as being too narrow minded?
(5) Will someone take us to court over this?
Grudem concludes by stating: "Such questions are all grounded in a wrongful fear of man, not in a fear of God and trust in God."
Tom Chantry and David Dykstra, HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER (The Reformed Baptists, the First 50 Years; United and Divided); Solid Ground Christian Books--CVBBS.COM will be highlighting this book later in the week when it becomes available. Pastors Chantry and Dykstra have access to the records and were themselves participants in the checkered history of the confessional Baptists of the past half century. I wrote a positive blurb for the publisher because I believe this book is so important to understand the movement.
Historian Gary North wrote a tour de force history of how the liberals captured the northern Presbyterian church in the early 1900's. He shows the various capitulations to unbelief were made, he follows the money and names names. Heard-wrenching as it is informative. It is available FREE online as a PDF though readers are warned it is a thousand pages. Reading this again for the 2nd time reminds me of how valuable it is. See for yourself by going to GOOGLE and downloading and reading the PDF version for FREE.
May the Lord move us all to pray for the protection of our respective Zions in the years ahead. May we not lose what we have gained.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS. COM for more of my writings on books, my E-BOOK on 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES and hundreds of free posts and downloads.
Mother's Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. Some churches choose NOT to take special notice of the day, preferring to stick with whatever the preaching schedule is focused on already. Others note the presence of mothers in the congregation that day without going further. Still others seek to use the focus of the day to bring the biblical and Christian understanding of motherhood into focus by actually preaching on the subject.
I, for one, am in favor of using this one Sunday of the year, along with the soon to follow FATHER'S DAY, to focus on the Christian doctrine of the family and its importance in the plan of God. Given the breakdown of the family in western civilization, it does not seem extreme to take two Sundays a year to seek to address some of its most pressing needs. (I will also highlight books for FATHER'S DAY gifts in June.)
Recent studies are calling to account the decline of the family on the decline of the churches in western civilization. One social historian, Mary Eberstadt, has written in her tour de force, HOW THE WEST REALLY LOST GOD (A New Theory of Secularization) (This book from Templeton Press is NOT available from CVBBS.COM). that the decline of the family helps to drive the decline of the churches. God created three institutions (the family, the church, and civil government). She shows how the destruction of the family (through easy divorce, abortion, etc.) has aided and hastened the destruction of the churches in the West. I have argued for years that a church which has an orthodox confession and an orthodox pulpit BUT whose husbands/fathers/men do not embrace the truth and do not lead their wives/single women to embrace the truth and in turn do not help the children to embrace the truth--this church is a very weak church in the embrace of death. An orthodox pulpit without the embrace of the truth on the part of the families is actually a very weak church on its way down the drain.
For almost75 years, women have been bombarded that they are not significant unless they act like men and do "mannish" things. World War II hailed "Rosie the Riveter" and sought to tell women that they can do whatever they want--unless of course it means being a Christian wife and mother. Does the Bible hold up being a riveter or blacksmith or Bering Sea crab fisherman or ditch digger? Does the Bible denigrate staying at home to raise the children, especially in the early and formative years? What is sad about where the culture has gone is that women have been denigrated for being stay at home mothers who raise the children (and may I emphasize, in the early and formative years). What happens to children who nobody wants to stay home and raise? Can a minimum wage day care center worker really teach your child love, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, etc. etc. etc. ? Women's work is only defined outside the home--as if focus child-development, healthy cooking, regular cleaning, home organization and decorating, hospitality, et al are for idiots and simpletons! No wonder the nation is going down the drain when no one with an IQ above 50 wants to stay home and help develop the next generation of parents,
Since 1985, I have observed the breakdown in our culture and in the Christian home--Men who do not know how to be Christian men...Women who do not know how to be Christian women. Singles are unsure of who they are and what they are to be looking for.
Children who grow up in homes with confused parents or functional role reversals among the parents. Boys who grow up in divorced homes where mother was given custody and they are subtly trained to have the worldview that a man must ask a woman's permission before he acts. I could multiply examples, but I won't for the sake of brevity. (Next month in my Father's Day selection, I shall revisit these issues.)
Here are the books I would give away and put on a book table to help women and mother's in today's American culture.
Tim and Kathy Keller, THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE; E.
P. Dutton--for this generation that wonders if it is
worth all the fuss to get married and have a family.
If you did not grow up in a Christian home, this is
the place to start.
Aimee Byrd, HOUSEWIFE THEOLOGIAN; P & R--shows
that women and all laymen are theologians--either
good ones or bad ones. To be a Christian is to be
a lay theologian who must navigate this world
based upon your handling and understanding of
Edith Schaeffer, THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING;
Tyndale Press--a great book on how our humanity,
creativity, love and other virtues are expressed
through the "hidden art" of how women do their
Mark Chanski, WOMANLY DOMINION (More Than A
Gentle and Quiet Spirit); Calvary Press--clearly
shows the wives and mothers are called to do far
more than the stereotypes attributed to Christian
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE (and the
Truth That Sets Them Free); Moody Press--THE
BOOK which uncovers the cultural lies and dis-
information that manipulates and misleads women
and the truth of God's Word that frees women to
be all that they can be God's way!
Nancy Leigh Demoss, editor; BECOMING GOD'S TRUE
WOMAN; Crossway--a collection of articles by
women who are part of the movement to return
women's mental picture of true womanhood to its
Mahany and Wiseacre, TRUE BEAUTY; Crossway--a
mother and daughter write about what God's
reveals in His Word as true beauty and how not to
fall into the pitfalls dug by our corrosive culture
James Dobson, WHAT WIVES WISH THEIR HUSBANDS
KNEW ABOUT WOMEN; Tyndale--the most frequent
causes of depression among women and what
their husbands can do to help. A classic help from
the 70's by a PASTOR TO THE AMERICAN FAMILY.
Elyse Fitzpatrick, THE AFTERNOON OF LIFE; P & R--
written for women in their late forties and fifties
seeking to show them what God has for them to
be and do.
Wayne Grudem, editor; BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR
MANHOOD AND WOMANHOOD; Crossway--shows
the biblical teaching on manhood and womanhood
for those who want to dig deeper than a mere fill
in the blank study.
Barbara Hughes, DISCIPLINES OF A GODLY WOMAN;
Crossway--classic study of what women should be
discipling their lives to become. Highly
Martha Peace, THE EXCELLENT WIFE; Focus Christian
Publications--an important book for Christian
women who want to conform their lives to Christ's
Word in the Bible.
Mary Kassian, GIRLS GONE WISE IN A WORLD GONE
WILD; Moody Press--Mary Kassian is a professor
at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, KY. She writes to young women (high
school through thirty) who are being tempted by
our culture and its every pressing mind-set to
throw themselves into a void of sensuality and
partying. She shows the lie to this worldly counsel
and shows the vibrant better way of God's true
Nancy Leigh DeMoss; LIES YOUNG WOMEN BELIEVE
(and the Truth That Sets Them Free); Moody
Press--the sequel to her best-selling volume noted
above. Geared for young women just stepping out
into the corrosive surrounding culture and seeking
to preserve them before they are captured and
James Packer, KNOWING GOD; IVP--a classic study
of what it means to know God personally as
opposed to just knowing about God or godliness.
One of the few 20th century classics!
I trust you will enjoy them and profit greatly from them.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Christian groups produce histories of their groups. It is right that they should do so. God works in unique ways in the various Christian sub-groups and weaves a mosaic of His choosing to accomplish His purposes. Reading the various denominational histories helps one to see more of what God is doing, when all taken together, not less.
In the 1995, D. G. Hart and John Muether produced a very readable and helpful history of the highly confessional Orthodox Presbyterian Church, FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT. At that time I wrote a review of the book and gave it at our national Reformed Baptist Missions Service (RBMS) annual assembly. Because it is unusual for a Baptist to review a book about Presbyterians AND at a Baptist general assembly, It should tell you why I wrote it and delivered it.
American Christians have lost sight of the need for creeds and confessions. They don't see their need of them and have spiritual amnesia as to the role that creeds and confessions have played in their histories.
Those interested should slowly read Carl Trueman's THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE to see what I mean. Creeds and confessions are very important. They are second to Scripture, but they are very important. Hence confessional Baptists hold to the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689 as their subsidiary, secondary document, after the inerrant Scriptures.
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT was a good book for confessional Baptists to read because it chronicles the various struggles and battles that confessional Presbyterians have had to face in America. (To my knowledge, no history of the Presbyterian Church in America, PCA, has yet been written.) I said in my book report and public lecture that in my estimation, confessional Baptists have had to fight very similar battles as the OPC a half century after them. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church began in the mid-1930's; the confessional Reformed Baptists began in the mid 1980's. The parallels are very acute and those with eyes to see can learn much.
But now two confessional Reformed Baptists have written a history of Reformed Baptists since World War II, HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER. Pastor Tom Chantry from suburban Milwaukee and Pastor David Dykstra from suburban Houston have pulled their unique resources together to produce a very insightful and helpful history of confessional Reformed Baptists over the past 50+ years.
Let me give you the chapter titles and some idea where each chapter is taking the reader.
Chapter 1--A Pink Wave--the impact of A. W. Pink
and Calvinism on the early Reformed Baptist
movement in America.
Chapter 2--Almost Presbyterian?--the theological
journeys of Ernest Reisinger and Walt Chantry,
the early leaders of the movement in Carlisle, PA.
Chapter 3--A Very Intense Manner--the theological
journey of Al Martin, leader of the movement in
Chapter 4--A Cord of 3 Strands, Slowly Unraveling
If Walt Chantry was influenced by Presbyterian
doctrine and practice, and Al Martin by fundamen-
talist doctrine of the pastorate and practice, Wayne
Mack was influenced by evangelical doctrine and
Chapter 5--Plagues With Weakness--the strains of the
early years of the RB movement shows the strains
and fractures that would later take place.
Chapter 6--Local Churchism--how and why the
doctrine of the local church was recovered but
not at the expense of holding communion
together. For some, the independency of the local
church is held at least as firmly as the Trinity and
the Deity of Christ.
Chapter 7--A Revolt Against Righteousness--the rise
of antinomianism among Calvinistic Baptists.
Chapter 8--Fault Lines Appear--the cracks among
the early Reformed Baptist begin to fissure.
Chapter 9--The Anatomy of a Schism--the great
falling out among the early founders of the RB
Chapter 10--Going Public--the confession prescribes
what should happens when abusive churches
are found out.
Chapter 11--The Practice of Oversight--what is faithful
shepherding vs. abusive shepherding.
Chapter 12--Turning Out the Lights--will the last one
out of hyper-shepherding please turn out the lights
Chapter 13--Baptist Episcopacy--when some Baptists
left Baptist fundamentalism and embraced
Calvinistic soteriology, they did not reject the
fundamentalist Baptist view of the Pastor as Pope.
Chapter 14--Hybrid Vigor--how the RB movement
grew beyond the East Coast churches to
mushroom throughout the Midwest and South.
Chapter 15--Holding the Ropes--RB missions
Chapter 16--An Association is Born--the birth of the
Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of
America (ARBCA) in 1996-97.
Chapter 17--Real-World Challenges--brethren must
be agreed to walk together. That produces
challenges not foreseen.
Chapter 18--The Rise of the New Calvinists--Baptist
pastors in transition and their relationship with
Chapter 19--At the Crossroads--challenges to the 1689
confession and full subscription.
Chapter 20--A Confessional Assessment--the authors
wrap up their assessment.
Their are 8 appendices which further give credence to the claims of the authors that this book is history driven, not friendship driven.
Appendix 1--Letter of Invitation to the 1966 Pastors
Appendix 2--Grace Baptist Presentation on Missions,
Appendix 3--Trinity Baptist Response to Missions
Appendix 4--The Associationalism of the Philadelphia
Baptists, David Dykstra, 1993
Appendix 5--Invitation to the ARBCA Organizational
Appendix 6--Jim Renihan's Report on the ARBCA
Organizational Meetings, 1996
Appendix 7--Confessional Subscription, Jim Renihan,
Appendix 8--Reformed Baptist Associations, Renihan, 1998
This reviewer has been a part of these proceedings since the late 1980's. I have witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of the movement to this point. I have grieved over the harm done to Christ's reputation and God's people by abusive shepherding. (I have compiled and edited a book about abusive shepherding, BIBLICAL SHEPHERDING OF GOD'S SHEEP; Day One Publications.) I have participated in many formal meetings, organizational meetings, peace meetings, cooperative meetings, antagonistic meetings and one-on-one appointments. I find the book uncomfortable to read at places but accurate.
The webpages that grew into this book have come under attack from those who do not like to see their heroes exposed as less than demi-gods. I have observed for 30 years that disputes about doctrine and documents quickly degenerate into disputes about personalities and power politics. Theologian Andrew Naselli recently condensed a chapter by Wayne Grudem from BEYOND THE BOUNDS (Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity). Naselli
condenses Grudem's remarks regarding the temptations we all have to overlook the errors and excesses of our friends and companions and resist any attempt to correct these men and hold them to account:
Wayne Grudem, “Why, When, and for What Should We Draw New Boundaries?” in Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity [free PDF] (ed. John Piper, Justin Taylor, and Paul Kjoss Helseth; Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 369 (numbering added):
"Some wrong questions to ask:
(It is important to add that there are some questions that should not be part of our consideration in deciding which doctrinal matters to exclude with new boundaries.)
These are questions such as the following:
Are the advocates my friends?
Are they nice people?
Will we lose money or members if we exclude them?
Will the academic community criticize us as being
Will someone take us to court over this?
Such questions are all grounded in a wrongful fear of man, not in a fear of God and trust in God."
God's own Word shows the truth of God's servants, warts and all. I believe He will honor this honest "warts and all" telling of the first half-century of the confessional Reformed Baptist. There is much promise
to our movement as we learn from our many painful memories. But there is more of Christ's glory to see and savor too!
May our next 50 years show forth more of Christ's glory with more holy ministers and more healthy congregations. We shall have to be honest with ourselves and repent of our many mistakes. Thank you Pastor Chantry and Dykstra for helping our movement to face the past and in doing so, doing the hard thing well!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website for more edification and book info:
Dr. Leland Ryken has taught English at Wheaton College for many, many years. He is now Professor Emeritus. He may be slowing down in the number of classes he teaches but his production of wonderfully helpful books for the churches of Christ has shown no let up. As the slang on the music radio has it, "the hits just keep on coming!". For over twenty years his books on the Bible and Christianity have ministered to me and made me a better Christian, a more careful and nuanced student of the Bible and a greater lover of the Puritans.
How did Dr. Ryken do it? Well, let's look at his production of great Christian books and see his legacy to us and the generations that follow.
RYKEN ON THE PURITANS:
Leland Ryken, WORLDLY SAINTS (The Puritans As
They Really Were); Zondervan--one of the 3-4
best books to introduce lay readers and all readers
to the English Puritans. Very good content and
very well written.
Kapic and Gleason, eds. THE DEVOTED LIFE (An
Invitation to the Puritan Classics); IVP--Professor
Ryken writes the chapter on John Milton and
RYKEN ON THE BIBLE AND ITS LITERATURE:
Leland Ryken, WORDS OF DELIGHT (A Literary
Introduction to the Bible); Baker Books--this
professor of English and English literature shows
how language works and especially how it works
in the Bible. A great help to serious Bible students.
Leland Ryken and Philip Ryken, ESV LITERARY STUDY
BIBLE; Crossway--takes the reader through the
whole Bible, book by book, and shows its literary
qualities and how that helps the reader to under-
stand the Word of God better. A great help to
serious Bible students.
Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken, and James Wilhoit,
RYKEN'S BIBLE HANDBOOK--great introductions
to each book of the Bible with helpful quotations
and many insights. Should be read along with
one's Bible. Full of preaching and teaching ideas.
Leland Ryken, THE WORD OF GOD IN ENGLISH
(Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation);
Crossway--holding to an "essentially literal" theory
of how translation should be done, Professor Ryken
shows how many of today's translations fall short,
especially the TNIV and NLT versions. The sober
honoring of the Word of God led me to worship.
Leland Ryken, UNDERSTANDING ENGLISH BIBLE
TRANSLATION (The Case for an Essentially Literal
Approach); Corssway--the above mentioned book
redone and made helpful for laymen.
Leland Ryken, CHOOSING A BIBLE; Crossway--ditto
and makes a good give-away piece for new
members or on a church book rack.
Leland Ryken, LEGACY OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
(Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential
English Translation); Crossway--find out why the
King James Version became a best-seller for over
three centuries and why it is still such a good Bible)
Leland Ryken, ESV AND THE ENGLISH BIBLE LEGACY;
Crossway--shows how the ESV version stands in
direct lineage to the KJV and the Bible translation
theory that undergird both.
Leland Ryken and James Wilhoit, eds.: DICTIONARY
OF BIBLICAL IMAGERY; IVP--a must for every
serious student of the Bible and the wealth of
imagery it contains.
RYKEN'S CHRISTIAN GUIDES TO THE CLASSICS
Leland Ryken, BUNYAN'S THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS;
Leland Ryken, MILTON'S PARADISE LOST; Crossway
Leland Ryken, DICKEN'S GREAT EXPECTATIONS;
Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken and Todd Wilson, PASTORS
IN THE CLASSICS; Crossway
So many good things for the person who loves God's Word and the God who gave His Word to us.
I home you enjoy this feast of good things.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my book and devotional website:
When I was in seminary in the late 70's, my professor and advisor wanted me to write on a theologian in American church history who changed things for the worse. I did not want to become a leading expert on a heterodox man so I declined to write on the errant theologian. I chose to write my thesis about a staunch opponent of the heterodox man, I chose to write about Charles Hodge of Old Princeton. It was time well spent.
Along the way I learned some very interesting things about Charles Hodge, Old Princeton and 19th century American Presbyterianism--though I was and am a confessional Reformed Baptist. Case in point--Charles Hodge did not write his famous SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY in well into his 70's. Until then, students at Princeton Seminary were assigned to read the three volumes of Swiss Reformed theologian Francis Turretin in Latin! For many students, especially those who did not keep up their High School Latin, it was an arduous task.
A friend of Charles Hodge, Charles M. Giger translated Turretin into English as a labor of love. A professor of Classics at Princeton College, Giger gave the seminary students 8000 pages of handwritten translation of Turretin into clear English. It became the clear choice until Hodge's own SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY became available in the 1870's. Finally, Charles Giger's labor of love has been edited and published so that the English speaking world can enjoy the fruits of one of the greatest of the post-Reformation theologians. Turretin is systematic, biblical, practical, experiential and he makes clear distinctions. That is the work of a good theologian and Turretin was a great theologian.
To quote R. C. Sproul on Turretin: "He was the master of fine distinctions that make for precision...If we hold sacred the notion that God has created us with minds for the purpose of seeking understanding then we will delight in the clarity and precision of thought Turretin's work presents to us."
What's more, Turretin presents his theology in the classic QUESTION & ANSWER format. This allows for greater precision and stimulates thought. Turretin covers all the major subjects of theology and asks the right questions. Students of modern theology are not adequately prepared if they do not make use of older theologians like Calvin, the English Puritans Owen and Goodwin, the Dutch 2nd Reformation theologian A'Brakel and the Swiss Post-Reformation giant, Francis Turretin.
Let me summarize his three volume systematic theology by walking you through just some of the extensive TABLE OF CONTENTS for VOLUME ONE:
FIRST TOPIC: THEOLOGY
I. Should the word "theology" be used in the Christian schools, and in how many ways can it be understood?
II. Whether there is a theology and its divisions.
III. Whether natural theology may be granted?
IV. Is natural theology sufficient for salvation; or is
there a common religion by which all promiscuously may be saved? We deny so against the Socinians and Remonstrants (Arminians).
THE OBJECT OF THEOLOGY
V. Are God and divine things the objects of theology?
THE GENUS OF THEOLOGY
VI. What is the genus of theology?
VII. Is theology theoretical or practical?
VIII. Is human reason the principle and rule by which the doctrines of the Christian religion and theology (which are the objects of faith) ought to be measured? We deny against the Socinians.
IX. Does any judgment belong to reason in matters of faith? Or is there no use at all for it?
X. May the judgment of contradiction be allowed to human reason in matters of faith? We affirm.
XI. Is there any use of the testimony of the senses in mysteries of faith; or ought it to be entirely rejected? We affirm the former and deny the latter.
THE USE OF CONSEQUENCES
XII. Are the doctrines of faith and practice to be proved only by the express Word of God? May they not also be legitimately proved by consequences drawn from Scripture? We affirm the latter.
XIII. Is there any use of philosophy in theology? We affirm.
FUNDAMENTAL ARTICLES AND ERRORS
XIV. Are some theological topics fundamental, others not; and how can they be mutually distinguished?
SECOND TOPIC: THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
THE WORD OF GOD
I. Was a verbal revelation necessary? We affirm.
THE NECESSITY OF SCRIPTURE
II. Was it necessary for the word of God to be committed to writing? We affirm.
III. Where the sacred Scriptures written only occasionally and without the divine command? We deny against the papists.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
IV. Are the holy Scriptures truly authentic and divine?
V. Do real contradictions occur in Scripture? Or are there any inexplicable passages which cannot be explained and made to harmonize? We deny.
VI. From what source does the divine authority of the Scriptures become known to us? Does it depend upon the testimony of the church either as to itself or as to us? We deny against the papists.
VII. Has any canonical book perished? We deny.
VIII. Are the books of the Old Testament still a part of the canon of faith and rule of practice in the church of the New Testament? We affirm against the Anabaptists.
THE APOCRYPHAL BOOKS
IX. Ought TOBIT, JUDITH, WISDOM, ECCLESIASTICUS, THE TWO FIRST BOOKS OF THE MACCABEES, BARUCH, THE ADDITIONS TO ESTHER AND DANIEL to be numbered among the canonical books? We deny against the papists.
THE PURITY OF THE SOURCES
X. Have the original texts of the Old and New Testaments come down to us pure and uncorrupted?
We affirm against the papists.
THE AUTHENTIC VERSION
XI. Are the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New the only authentic versions? We affirm against the papists.
XII. Is the present Hebrew text in things as well as words so authentic and inspired in such a sense that all the extant versions are to be referred to it as a rule and wherever they vary, to be corrected by it? Or may we desert the reading it supplies, if judged less appropriate and correct it either by a comparison of ancient translators or by suitable judgment and conjecture and follow another more suitable reading?
We affirm the former and deny the latter.
XIII. Are versions necessary and what ought to be their use and authority in the church?
XIV. Is the Septuagint version of the Old Testament authentic? We deny.
XV. Is the Vulgate authentic? We deny against the papists.
THE PERFECTION OF THE SCRIPTURES
XVI. Do the Scriptures so perfectly contain all things necessary to salvation that there is no need of unwritten traditions after all? We affirm against the papists.
THE PERSPICUITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
XVII. Are the Scriptures so perspicuous in things necessary to salvation that they can be understood by believers without the external help of any oral tradition or ecclesiastical authority?> We affirm against the papists.
THE READINGS OF THE SCRIPTURES
XVIII. Can the Scriptures be profitably read by an believer and ought he to read them without permission (of the ecclesiastical authorities)? We affirm against the papists.
THE SENSE OF THE SCRIPTURES
XIX. Whether the Scriptures have a four-fold sense: Literal, Allegorical, Anagogical and Tropological? We deny against the papists.
THE SUPREME JUDGE OF CONTROVERSIES AND INTERPRETER OF THE SCRIPTURES
XX. Whether the Scriptures (or God speaking in them) are the supreme and infallible judge of controversies and the interpreter of the Scriptures? Or whether the church or the Roman pontiff is? We affirm the former and deny the latter against the papists.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH FATHERS
XXI. Are the writings of the fathers the rule of truth in doctrines of faith and in the interpretation of the Scriptures? We deny against the papists.
Turretin goes on through 18l topics in three volumes with a meticulous and judicious coverage of all the major doctrines of the faith.
Obviously this three volume set will not be in every Christian's library. But it should be in every pastor's library and seminarian's library. And if you are a layman who likes to read the best theology, this would be a set for you too.
As a primer to see how good a theologian Francis Turretin really is, purchase the short paperback excerpted from the three volume work: JUSTIFICATION with a great introduction by R. C. Sproul. See why Sproul calls it one of the very best
works on justification!
May the Lord bless you as you read and pray your way through these volumes.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM is my personal website where I have hundreds of posts and articles and a video or two to edify you. And my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES is available to download.
Christians buy books to fix problems, answer questions and grow in the grace of Christ. I have books today for you in all three categories.
BOOKS TO GROW IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST:
Guy Waters, BEING MADE RIGHT WITH GOD; Christian
Focus--a leading New Testament scholar and
specialist on the gospel of being justified by Christ
alone through grace alone by faith alone gives us
all a great primer on this most important subject.
Brian Vickers, JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE THROUGH
FAITH (Finding Freedom From Legalism,
Lawlessness, Pride and Despair); P & R--a great
book to give to anyone wanting to understand
what is the big deal about "justification by faith".
BOOKS TO FIX PROBLEMS:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION (Its
Causes and Cures); Eerdmans--the classic study
of how and why Christians get stuck in a type of
Sinclair Ferguson, DESERTED BY GOD; Banner of
Truth--another book destined to be a classic. He
shows how and why Christians can have a felt
sense that they are not close to God or that,
horror of horrors, He seems to have deserted them.
BOOKS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS:
Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor; THE FINAL
DAYS OF JESUS (The Most Important Week of the
Most Important Person Who Ever Lived; Crossway--
Excellent tool for pastors or teachers or layman
wanting to study and explain the final chapters of
the four gospels or the person and work of Christ
Thabiti Anyabwile, CAPTIVATED (Beholding the Mystery
of Jesus' Death and Resurrection); Reformation
Heritage--5 chapters of sermons given to explain
Easter, prior to Easter.
1. Is There No Other Way?
2. Why Have You Forsaken Me?
3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory?
4. Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?
5. Do You Not Know These Things?
Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson, eds.; FALLEN
(A Theology of Sin); Crossway--11 chapters that
show biblically why Christ had to die. A truly helpful
study by 10 different authors as to humanity's
plight before the Holy God and why we need a
Savior! How far has mankind fallen and what
options are left to us?
Timothy Keller, WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN
AND SUFFERING; Penguin--in a fallen world (see
the note above), fallen men and women do not
recognize how fallenness has impacted this world
and they are repeatedly surprised by suffering.
Pastor and apologist Tim Keller writes to explain to
fallen folks what has happened and how to deal
with it. Keller does not simply explain the biblical
theology underlying suffering, he also helps the
reader to apply it to their life and suffering. Ever
the apologist for the Christian faith, Keller's book
is good for non-Christians as well as Christians.
May you prepare your heart for the forthcoming celebration of our Lord's being raised from the dead and may you glory more in His crosswork and resurrection.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more
book information and my new e-book, 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES.
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, wrote what is arguably the most "evangelical" book of the Old Testament. For Isaiah has so much to say about God, man, sin, judgment, atonement, repentance, forgiveness and restoration that so ably explains the gospel or "evangel". He is the evangelical prophet.
But like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he is a "major prophet", meaning that his collected prophecies are long and at times daunting. One must give oneself to careful thought and study (and gaining help) when trying to read Isaiah the prophet for profit.
In what may sound like shameless self-promotion, I have written an E-book covering the best commentaries on every book of the Bible (and the main introductory matters too). [You can access it at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM and see samples from Genesis and Matthew.]
Below is what I recommend from all that's out there to help you read or study Isaiah and gain great good for your soul.
A=Introductory--requires no previous study of the
book on your part and no knowledge of biblical
B=Intermediate--requires some background know-
ledge and some knowledge of biblical languages.
C=Advanced--for pastors and seminarians and those
with some working knowledge of the issues and
INTRODUCTORY ISSUES TO THE STUDY OF ISAIAH:
A. Brian Beyer, ENCOUNTERING THE BOOK OF
ISAIAH; Baker Academic--useful for its clear
overview of the issues; a standard college level
textbook on Isaiah
A. Herbert M. Wolf, INTERPRETING ISAIAH (The
Suffering and Glory of the Messiah); Moody Press
B. David Firth and H. G. M. Williamson, eds.;
INTERPRETING ISAIAH (Issues and Approaches);
COMMENTARIES ON THE PROPHET ISAIAH:
A. Charles and Norma Ellis, THE WELLS OF
SALVATION (Meditations on Isaiah); Banner of
Truth--not a commentary per se but devotional
bites for those intimidated by Isaiah's length (66
chapters). They break the book into 98 short
studies which underline the greatness of God
and encourage us to rejoice in His salvation and
A. John Calvin, ISAIAH (Crossway Classic
Commentary); Crossway--edited and modernized
by Packer & McGrath. One of Calvin's best. See
also his three volume commentary in his
B. Barry Webb, ISAIAH (Tyndale Old Testament
Commentary Series); InterVarsity Press--a
reverent and warm treatment by a rising O. T.
scholar. One of the best in the series.
B. J. A. Motyer, ISAIAH (The Bible Speaks Today);
InterVarsity Press--more pastoral than his major
commentary on Isaiah and still a very helpful
addition to the literature.
B. Allan Harman, ISAIAH [A Covenant To Be Kept
For The Sake Of The Church] (Focus on the Bible
Series); Christian Focus--the work of a fine
exegete. Should be helpful to all who seek to
B. Paul House, ISAIAH (Mentor Commentary
Series); Christian Focus
B. Larry Walker; ISAIAH 1-39 (New American
Commentary); Broadman & Holman;
B. Gary V. Smith, ISAIAH 40-66 [New American
Commentary]; Broadman & Holman leading
evangelical Baptist Old Testament scholarS open
up Isaiah to great effect. Should be on your short
list of commentaries on this book
B. Geoffrey Grogan, ISAIAH (Expositor's Bible
Commentary:Revised); Zondervan--one of the
better volumes in the whole series. Grogan is an
insightful evangelical O. T. scholar.
B. David W. Baker, ISAIAH (Zondervan Illustrated
Bible Background Commentary); Zondervan
C. J.A. Motyer, THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH; Inter-
Varsity Press--a lifetime of study, teaching
and reflection on Isaiah is brought together for
us to enjoy. A vast amount of material by a
warm heart and diligent scholar. A must-buy!
C. J. A. Alexander, THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH;
Kregel--the theological reflections of one of Old
Princeton's greatest scholars.
C. John Oswalt, THE BOOK OF ISAIAH (2 Vol.);
Eerdmans--replaced Young's in the New
International Commentary on the Old Testament.
Exegetical spadework and historical acumen that
needs a better theological foundation for
interpretation. [see also John Oswalt, ISAIAH
(New International Application Commentary);
Zondervan (perhaps a wiser purchase than his
two volume set!)
C. Richard Schultz, ISAIAH (Apollos Old Testament
Commentary); IVP--forthcoming soon.
SERMONS AND SPECIAL STUDIES ON ISAIAH:
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, GOD'S WAY, NOT OURS
(Isaiah 1); Baker Books
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A NATION UNDER WRATH
(Isaiah 5); Baker Books
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE ALL-SUFFICIENT GOD
(Isaiah 40); Banner of Truth (the greatest
preacher in the English language in the 20th
century shows how to preach these passages
for audiences removed by over 2500 years of
cultural change--but God has not changed and
human nature has not changed and God's
coming judgment has not changed, so his
sermons on right on target today!)
A. Raymond Ortlund, Jr.; ISAIAH (God Saves
Sinners); Crossway (Preach the Word Series)--
outstanding contribution to this series of
expositional commentaries on the Bible.
A. Darrell Bock and Mitch Glaser, eds.; THE
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ISAIAH 53
Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish
and Christian Theology); Kregel Academic
(Eleven contributions to the study and
application of Isaiah 53 by Christian and
Messianic Christian authors. One chapter is
even evangelistic. Two examples of how one
might preach from Isaiah 53.
Everything the average layman or pastor would need is available on Isaiah. Take the time to prayerfully study your way through these amazing 66 chapters of God's inspired Word.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Young men in the gospel ministry have many challenges. Any help we can give them increases their effectiveness in the ministry. God is glorified and we are edified when gospel ministers prosper. With these goals in mind, I wanted to show you some real helps for young pastors and their wives.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PASTORS:
Tom Ascol, DEAR TIMOTHY ; Founders Press--letters
to a young pastor just beginning his ministry.
Wise counsel on a full range of pastoral issues
from a sterling collection of pastors with many
years in the ministry.
Charles Bridges, THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY (and the
causes of its ineffectiveness); Banner of Truth.
A classic which must be read slowly and prayer-
fully. It is without peer as an examination of the
kinds of things that would render a minister's
Martyn Lloyd-Jone, AUTHORITY; Banner of Truth--a
classic book of only three chapters. (1) The
Authority of Christ; (2) The Authority of the
Scriptures; and (3) The Authority of the Holy
Spirit which He gives to preachers and churches.
When a church lacks life transforming power,
when conversions are rare and people are not
being propelled to holiness
Kent & Barbara Hughes, LIBERATING THE MINISTRY
FROM THE SUCCESS SYNDROME; Tyndale--a
classic work that is not as well known as it should
be. Pastor Hughes, long time pastor of COLLEGE
CHURCH in Wheaton, Illinois and his wife, Barbara,
share their early struggles with being "successful"
in the pastoral ministry and how they came to see
that it is not a biblical category. And how that truly
liberated them to minister.
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE; Crossway Books--a most practical treatment
of the two things that can make or break your
personal life and ministry--trusting in the
righteousness of Christ AND the power of the Holy
Spirit to change a life. Your own life, let alone your
ministry, will be seriously impoverished if you do
not digest and practice this book.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PASTORS' WIVES:
Pastor's wives are wives of pastors. They are not the wife of the church. Their calling is to their husband, not to their church. Helping, serving, praying for and otherwise enabling your husband to function well is your calling.
Sara Leone, HER HUSBAND'S CROWN; Banner of
Truth Booklet--a good place to start to see the
high calling of a pastor's wife.
Bethan Lloyd-Jones, MEMORIES OF SANDFIELDS;
Banner of Truth--once a doctor like her husband,
Martyn, Beth left the medical profession and
with her husband determined to live off of what
their little church plant could pay them. This is
her collection of memories of her fear and relief,
her prayers, her husbands early labors and God's
coming to visit their church with His life-changing
Catherine J. Stewart, LETTERS TO PASTORS WIVES
(When Seminary Ends and Ministry Begins);
P & R--an excellent collection of letters from
experienced wives (and one pastor's daughter)
Mary Somerville, ONE WITH A SHEPHERD (The Tears
and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage); Kress
Christian Publishers--just what it says. And every
ministry has both.
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life Hurts);
NavPress--a classic book on the providence of God.
If you do not "get" this material, your struggles
will be much more pronounced and you will not
glorify God as you should. This book is a true
Discerning laymen and senior pastors will want to pass along these important resources to their young
pastors and their wives. (And if they themselves have not read these books, will want to for themselves.)
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
My new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES, is geared to help pastors of all ages
know the best commentaries that are available. This can be a huge help in sermon preparation. There are over 2000 listings of commentaries and introductory Bible matters. It took me 20 years and is current up to January, 2014. Come see for yourself at my website
"THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM"
by Samuel Bolton
Banner of Truth
A. SAMUEL BOLTON--brief biographical background
Samuel Bolton (1606-1654) was a Puritan pastor, member of the Westminster Assembly, Master of Christ College, Cambridge and later vice-chancellor of Cambridge University.
He is described by James Packer as a "learned, exact, orthodox Puritan minister, not original or striking in print, but clear and warmly evangelical". The Puritan biographer, Benjamin Brook notes that Bolton was so burdened for the souls of the lost that he preached every day for free during his Vice-Chancellorship of Cambridge, having no church of his own at that time to give the gospel to. By his peers he was considered a man of much prayer, reading, meditation and temptation (trial), the four things which Luther said made a preacher.
During his final sickness, when being moved in his bed, he said: "Let me alone; let me lie quietly. I have as much comfort as my heart can hold." Later, as death approached, he cried: "Oh this vile body of mine! When will it give way that my soul may rise and go to God.? When will it be consumed that I may mount to heaven?" His will stated that he wished to "be interred as a private Christian and not with the outward pomp of a doctor" because he hoped to rise in the day of judgment and appear before God "not as a doctor but as a humble Christian." His funeral eulogy described him as "simple, other-worldy man whose preaching 'snatched our souls by vigorous sympathy'". Dr. Edmund Calamy preached his funeral sermon. [He is not to be confused with the older Puritan minister and author of the same last name, Robert Bolton.]
His great legacy to the churches is his classic THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. It is in regards to this book that I have been asked to give a review and commendation to you today.
B. A WORD ABOUT THE BOOK AND IT'S PURITAN FORMAT
The Puritans have been described as wordy, verbose, fulsome to the point of weariness. I am sure that some of that criticism reflects the impatient, instantaneous fulfillment mindset of the age we live in. But it is true of some Puritans that they lacked a good editor! Thankfully, Samuel Bolton's THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM had S. M. Houghton of the Banner of Truth to edit this work into a workable format.
It is helpful to photocopy the elaborate Table of Contents and use it as a bookmark to keep one's focus clear on what point and sub-point and sub-sub point the author is making. That is my only caveat.
Please do not be put off by this. Do not begrudge the time and mental energy needed to work through this text. It is a goldmine of exposition and application of the right evangelical use of the Law of God. During the Puritan Revival, faithful pastors had to deal with both legalists on the one hand and antinomians on the other. Bolton has both in mind as he expounds the right use of God's Law in the Bible's scheme of salvation and Christian living.
Patrick Fairburn's THE REVELATION OF LAW IN SCRIPTURE and Earnest Kevan's THE GRACE OF LAW may be more scholarly and more clearly laid out, but they do not top Bolton's warm pastoral explanation of the right uses of God's Law. Bolton's book can be given to laymen who read good books and who need to be better grounded in the relationship of Law and the Gospel.
II. AN OVERVIEW OF "THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM "
(John 8:36--"If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.")
I. TRUE CHRISTIAN FREEDOM
--the nature of Christian freedom
--the quality of Christian freedom
--the branches of Christian freedom
A. FREEDOM IN ITS NEGATIVE ASPECTS (6 points)
1. freedom from Satan
2. freedom from sin
3. freedom from the Law
a. freedom from the law as a covenant
b. freedom from the curses of the law
--5 reasons the law cannot condemn the
--true and false appeals to the court of
c. freedom from the accusations of the law
d. freedom from the vigor of the law
4. freedom from obedience to men
5. freedom from death
6. freedom from the grave
B. FREEDOM IN ITS POSITIVE ASPECTS (7 points)
1. freedom from a state of wrath to a state of mercy and favor
2. freedom from a state of condemnation to a state of justification
3. freedom from a state of enmity to a state of friendship
4. freedom from a state of death to a state of life
5. freedom from a state of sin to a state of service
6. freedom from a state of bondage to a state of sonship
7. freedom from a state of death and to a state of life and mercy
II. THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF OBEDIENCE
A. ARE CHRISTIANS FREED FROM THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF OBEDIENCE?
(It was a controversy in Puritan days as it is today and Bolton admits of varying opinions.)
B.THE SCRIPTURAL USES OF THE WORD "LAW"
1. the O.T. Scriptures
2. the whole word of God
3. the 5 books of Moses
4. the pedagogy of Moses
5. the moral law alone
6. the ceremonial law
7. all the laws
C. THE LAW REMAINS AS A RULE OF WALKING FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD
1. the testimony of the Reformed Confessions
2. the testimony of the New Testament
3. Five proofs for the binding nature of the Law
4. Five additional reasons for the obedience to the Law
SAMPLE QUOTE, from page 71--"Just as the Papists set up the law for justification, so
the antinomians decry the law for sanctification. We claims to be free from the curses of the
law; they would have us free from the guidance, from the commands of the law. We say we
are free from the penalties of the law, but they would abolish the precepts of the law. They
tell us that we make a false mixture together of Christ and Moses, and that we mingle law
and gospel together. We cry down the law in respect to justification but we set it up as a
rule of sanctification. The Law sends us to the gospel that we may be justified; and the
gospel sends us to the Law again to inquire what is our duty as those who are justified."
III. LAW AND GRACE
A. THE LAW IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH GRACE
1. Seven reasons for which the Law was given
a. to restain sin
b. to uncover and reveal sin
c. to humble men for their sin
d. a direction for walking/living
e. a measure to show our weaknesses
f. a reproof and correction of sin
g. to spur us to our duties
2. Five reasons why the Law is not incompatible
3. Three objections answered
IV. CHASTISEMENTS FOR SIN
A. ARE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM ALL PUNISHMENTS &
CHASTISEMENTS FOR SIN ?
B. DOES CHASTISEMENT PERTAIN TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. New Testament teaching on chastisement
2. Various objections answered
3. Main arguments against chastisement stated
4. Five reasons why God chastens His people
a. God may do it for the terror of wicked
men that they may read their destiny in
the saints miseries.
b. God may do it for the manifestation of
His justice, that He may show to the
world that He is just.
c. God may do it to remove scandal
d. God may do it for caution to others
e. God also chastens His people for their
own good here and for the furtherance of
their salvation hereafter.
5. Concluding considerations about God
chastening His people
V. PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
A. IF A BELIEVER IS UNDER THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF
DUTY, IS HIS LIBERTY IN CHRIST NOT INFRINGED OR
1. Christ has not redeemed us from the matter of
service but the manner of service
2. Christ has redeemed us from a slavish spirit
in service & brought us into a son-like
3. Christ has redeemed us from a spirit of
bondage to a spirit of liberty
4. He has broken the bonds of subjection to
other lords, that we might take upon
ourselves the yoke of service to Him whose
yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
B. 3 MISTAKES WITH REGARD TO THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
1. the mistake of those who wait for the Spirit
to move them (E.g. Dr. Tom Ascol deal with
two argumentative antinomians by
photocopying pages from Joseph Fletcher's
SITUATION ETHICS [the "Bible of the 60's]
and giving it to them to read (with the title
2. four ways in which the devil cleverly seeks
to move Christians to do their duty
3. the mistake of those who think that they are
to do nothing else but pray
4. the mistake of those who think they are to
perform their duty because their own hearts
incline them to do it (in other words,
obedience must arise from within, not from
without from the compulsion or duty of an
C. FOUR WAYS IN WHICH THE BELIEVER IS FREE FROM DUTY
1. we are free from duty as our paid job
2. we are free from duty as our trade
3. we are free from duty done in the slavery of
spirit but are rather done in a son-like
4. we are free from duty upon the tenders and
terms commanded in the law
D. 9 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LEGAL OBEDIENCE &
1. the spirit to duty in legal obedience is
slavish; in evangelical obedience it is
2. the evangelical man obeys as his delight;
the legalist as his burden
3. the legal man performs duty from the
convictions of his conscience; the
evangelical man from the necessity of his
4. the legal one looks for satisfaction in the
performance of the duty; the other looks for
satisfaction in the duty as he finds Christ
5. the legal man contents himself with the
shell; the evangelical man is not content
without the substance
6. the legal man performs duty in order to live
by it; the evangelical mn looks beyond the
duty and lives by Christ alone
7. the legal man does things formally and
coldly; the evangelical man does it fervently
8. the formal, legal man does duty with a view
to serving other ends but the evangelical
man does his duty as part of his happiness,
a piece of his glory
9. the legal man does his duty without stomach
or desire for it; the evangelical man does
his duty because he delights, desires and
pleasures in it.
E. DELIGHTING IN DUTY
SAMPLE QUOTE, p. 147--"The freeness of the
Christian consists in this, that he obeys
the commands of God, not only because God has
commanded them; but out of principles of love
and delight, and because he has within his heart
a nature agreeable to the things commanded. He
prays because God commands prayer, but not only
so. He prays because there is a suitableness
between his heart and the work of prayer,
between his soul and the duty. He has desires
after God, and his soul delights in his
approaches to and his conversing with God."
VI. PARTIAL BONDAGE
A. CAN CHRIST'S FREE MEN SIN THEMSELVES INTO BONDAGE AGAIN ?
B. TWO KINDS OF BONDAGE
1. universal bondage
a. bondage to sin
b. bondage to Satan
c. bondage to the Law
2. partial bondage
a. a bondage in respect of comfort
b. the five-fold peace of the Christian man
c. a bondage in respect of the manner of
VII. OBEDEINCE FOR THE SAKE OF A REWARD
A. MAY CHRIST'S FREE MEN PERFORM DUTIES FOR
THE SAKE OF A REWARD ?
1. Three opinions respecting this stated and
a. some believe we perform duties quid pro
quo--to merit heaven and glory (e.g. the
Council of Trent)
b. some believe that we should never
perform duty with any eye toward a
c. some believe that we may perform out
duties with an eye on the recompense of
2. What is meant by "rewards"?
3. Is the eyeing of rewards an infringement
upon Christian liberty?
a. with reference to temporal blessing
b. with reference to spiritual benefits
c. with reference to eternal rewards
--the lawfulness of it
--the necessity of it
VIII. OBEDIENCE TO MEN
A. ARE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM OBEDIENCE TO MEN ?
B. TWO KINDS OF SUBJECTION
1st--subjection which may be yielded with the
preservation of Christian liberty
2nd--subjection which may not be yielded
without the loss of Christian liberty
C. OBEDIENCE TO THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
IX. THE APPLICATION TO BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS
A. THE MISERABLE BONDAGE OF THE UNBELIEVER
1. to sin
2. to Satan
3. to the Law of God
B. THE DUTY OF THE BELIEVER
1. to maintain Christian liberty
2. not to abuse Christian liberty
Psalm 119:32--"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (NIV)
I John 5:3--"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome."
This BOOK REVIEW was first given at the Banner of Truth Pastors Conference at Messiah College in Grantham, PA in
In 1979, I moved to suburb Chicago to attend Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I had experienced ten years of gospel ministry with students. I had a very powerful subjective call to the gospel ministry as a pastor/preacher in a local church. My local church had objectively validated my subjective call. With great fear and trepidation I moved my family from Atlanta to a small town outside Chicago to attend seminary.
How did I choose Trinity? Because of two men primarily. David Wells and John Woodbridge had written a book, THE EVANGELICALS: WHO THEY ARE, WHAT THEY BELIEVE AND HOW THEY ARE CHANGING. I was fascinated with history, particularly Christian history. I applied, was accepted and moved in July of 1979. And when I began my first class at Trinity I discovered that David Wells had just left to teach at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. How frustrating! One of my two hoped-for mentors had gone. And to my second choice for a seminary.
Trinity was good for me in many ways but I missed taking classes from David Wells. But he did not disappoint in that he wrote some of the most important books I have read in the past 30 years. Especially in the early 1990's, Professor Wells began a series of six books that would show him to be one of the most important Christian thinkers God has given to His church today. Let me list these books and add a word or two as to their importance.
1. NO PLACE FOR TRUTH (or Whatever Happened to
Evangelical Theology); Eerdmans--shows how the
so-called evangelical movements with its
para-church ministries and non-denominational
churches lost its soul by losing God and the
content of His Bible.
2. GOD IN THE WASTELAND (The Reality of Truth
in a World of Fading Dreams); Eerdmans--builds
upon the earlier volume to emphasize that we
must begin our recovery of truth with the
recovery of what the Bible teaches about God
3. LOSING OUR VIRTUE (Why the Church Must
Recover Its Moral Vision); Eerdmans--why there
is a scandal of the evangelical conscience because
there is by-in-large no "evangelical conscience".
4. ABOVE ALL EARTHLY POWERS (Christ in a
Postmodern World); Eerdmans--how Christ has
been defanged and needs to be restored to His
rightful place, the place the Bible gives Him.
5. THE COURAGE TO BE PROTESTANT (Truth-Lovers,
Marketers and Emergents in a Post-Modern World)
Eerdmans--a compelling synopsis of the earlier
volumes and a call to the truths that created the
These five volumes should be MUST reading for pastors and teachers. Where are we at, how did we get here and what it looks like when lived out in the churches and the wider culture!
Professor Wells has now written a superb capstone to his life's work, GOD IN THE WHIRLWIND (How the Holy-Love of God Re-orients Our World); Crossway. If there is one thing critical reviewers have repeated in an attempt to find something wrong with Wells volumes is that he is a great critic but a poor builder. In other words, he can point out the problems but fails to deliver the solution. He is a naysayer but not an uplifter. Well, in my estimation, Professor Wells has silenced his critics. His latest book is a powerful and compelling biblical theology meant to re-teach those who have lost the truth and teach those that never had it, that the God who is really there is a God of holy-love. God is holy, holy, holy and He is simultaneously love. To separate the too is to distort God and harm those who believe such a diminished deity.
CHAPTER 1--GOD OUR VISION; CULTURE OUR
CONTEXT--he shows us how the biblical
message of God gets changed when taken into
twisted hearts with a twisted cultural context
CHAPTER 2--THE GOSPEL ACROSS TIME--getting
the big picture of what God is doing by following
the gospel trajectory of the Old Testament.
CHAPTER 3--SO MUCH MORE--the New Testament
portrayal of Christ is so much more profound
than the types and symbols of the Old
Testament (which were true and compelling in
their own way)
CHAPTER 4--THE LOVE OF GOD (half of the prime
points he is making in the book come in here.
Love is not an inward feeling, a merely
subjective experience. God is outside us in the
person and work of God the Son and God the
Holy Spirit. Love comes to us from outside us in
Christ by the Spirit.
CHAPTER 5--THE SPLENDOR OF HOLINESS--God is
love is holy, holy, holy. We cannot make Jesus
into a love dispenser for His love is holy love
(and what that means). The God of holy love is
the God of holy justice and wrath.
CHAPTER 6--A SIGHT TOO GLORIOUS--the person
of Christ is inextricably bound up with the work
He accomplished. Wells has rich explanations of
substitution, justification, reconciliation, ransom
and incarnation. A truly rich banquet!
CHAPTER 7--WALKING WITH GOD--how and why
sanctification must not be confused with
justification nor separated from justification.
Another really rich chapter!
CHAPTER 8--COME, LET US BOW DOWN--how the
so-called "worship wars" reveal what has
happened to our doctrine of God and our
understanding of "worship". Recovery of the
holy-love of God is mandatory.
CHAPTER 9--AND, COME, LET US SERVE--those
who have recovered the holy-love of God in
Christ and who have begun to worship in Spirit
and truth are now in a place to serve God in
this fallen world. How the first and greatest
commandment is also worked out in the 2nd
greatest commandment, which is like unto it.
This is one of the most important books I have read in the past couple of years. It has the potential, if read prayerfully and thoughtfully, to change many a wrong headed ministry and keep on course those ministries that are faithful but under attack.
Pastor, take this book with you on a week's vacation or sabbatical and spend time in prayer over it.
It's teach is clear, refreshing and invigorating to the soul of faithful but hard-pressed pastors and teachers.
Thank you, David Wells, for your years of faithful labors. The Lord bless you!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM
and see my new E-BOOK, 21st CENTURY
COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES. It has over 2000 book citations of commentaries, introductory works and hermeneutics. I have spent 20 years on it. You can take the guess work out of your commentary buying.
One thing that a woman can learn from watching the 1941 Academy Award winning film for Best Motion Picture ("MRS. MINIVER"), is that spiritual warfare does not exclude her. In the total war which is spiritual warfare, women are not exempt from combat or being targeted.
The bane of the American South is William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general who fought and burned a path 60 miles wide from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, cutting the heart out of the Confederacy. Sherman reasoned that it was just not enough to kill soldiers in combat. Back on the home front, people were making and growing up more soldiers. So why not take the war to those officially listed as "non-combatants"? If they lost the will to fight, the war would be effectively over. No one else, soldier or non-combatant need be killed. But woe to those who are unprepared to be targeted in war!!
In the great movie, MRS MINIVER, a typical English family, the Minivers, learned the hard way that modern warfare is "total warfare". No one is given a pass because they are not wearing a uniform and carrying a gun. Men, women and children civilians are nevertheless fair game. Germany bombed the towns and homes of Britain as well as the munition factories, ports and airbases of England. A faithful housewife and mother, homemaker and rose gardener, Mrs. Miniver finds herself thrust into the middle of World War II. I showed it to the women of my church then afterwards led a discussion based on hard questions.
--Do you think that spiritual warfare will spare you
since you are at home raising the children?
--Is your mindset such that you think spiritual
warfare something that only your husband or
those who leave the home to venture out into
the world have to contend with?
--How do you prepare yourself each day to fight the
fight of faith and stand having worn your spiritual
--If Satan is the world's ultimate "playground
bully", do you think he will leave you alone and
your children alone or exempt aged family
members living with you from spiritual attack?
--Do you regularly lived in a Disneyworld mentality
or in the world depicted in the Word of God?
Now that I have spent some time getting you to think about making sure you are prepared to battle for Christ each day, let me recommend some books that you women should find VERY IMPORTANT as you seek to be a woman of God in the 21st century. You should be seeking to be a biblical woman in all the phases of your life.
Edith Schaeffer, THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING (Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life); Tyndale
House--Mrs. Schaeffer shows how being a homemaker means building a home that is blessed by the God-
given creative actions of the woman who is building that home. Homemaking need not be dull and boring unless you are already a dullard and a bore!
Mark Chanski, WOMANLY DOMINION (More Than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit); Calvary Press--author of the great book for men, MANLY DOMINION, shows wives how their Job Description is is far more profound than sitting on the sofa with your hands folded looking nice and submissive. Eye-opening.
Michelle Graham, WANTING TO BE HER (Body Image Secrets Victoria Won't Tell You); IVP--outstanding analysis of how women are horribly manipulated about how they look--specifically how their body looks. Should be read and discussed by all mothers with their teen and collegiate daughters. Has specially good help for African-American women living in a majority culture of Caucasian beauty standards. Stop being manipulated and start taking control of your attitude toward your self and your body.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE (and the Truth that sets them free); Moody Press--a tract for the times showing various cultural lies that women believe and which harm them. Shows the biblical truth that frees believing women. (Also a sequel for high school and college women, LIES YOUNG WOMEN BELIEVE...)
Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; Crossway--the bookends on a bookshelf hold up the books on the shelf and keep them from falling over. This illustration is their way of helping the reader see that there are two vital biblical truths that keep our Christian lives falling over into despair or self-righteousness. Christians must learn and constantly apply two truths--The Great Exchange (My sin for His Righteousness--2nd Corinthians 5:21) and The Transformative Power of the Holy Spirit (real change is possible by the power of God). Great for a group Bible study or personal devotions or family devotions with teens.
Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura, SPIRITUAL WARFARE (A Biblical & Balanced Perspective); Reformation Heritage Books--a great primer on spiritual warfare and in the spirit of the great Puritans, a faithful exposition of Ephesians 6. They show how to wear your armor and not become a spiritual casualty in a time of battle. The authors avoid the bizarre and ultimately unhelpful "when in doubt, cast it out" mentality. And no, the "Pie Demon" did not make you eat that 3rd piece of pie!".
Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock, BECOMING A WOMAN WHO PLEASES GOD; Moody Press--two home economics professors at The Masters College in California (that's right, someone still teaches Home Economics) shows how to manage your home and they help empower you to fulfill your Job Description of assisting your husband in building a home. Great for those who were never taught how to manage a home or who grew up in terribly dysfunctional homes.
Aimee Byrd, HOUSEWIFE THEOLOGIAN; P & R--Aimee Byrd is a housewife, mother of three and a theologian. She shows how all believers are theologians and how we must be the best theologians if we are to think right and act right. Written for women who want to order their lives by the Word of God and not just fit it into their spare time!
And last but not least, KNOWING GOD by James Packer. We do what we do as Christians because we know God personally through His Son, Jesus. And it changes everything. KNOWING GOD is a large steak that cannot be eaten in one or two sittings. But it is the best steak--all about our God and His Gospel of His Son. It is beautifully written and stirs the soul with the best food.
Ladies, anchor your lives in Christ and His gospel and live out your calling to be Vice President to your husband in the calling of your lives. Single ladies, live out your calling to serve God as a consecrate single until such time as the Lord changes your status.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website too:
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more book information and a sample about my new book,
21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES. Find over 2000 entries about the best commentaries on every book of the Bible, from basic to advanced. Find out the best reference books and supplementary materials to help you. Whether you are a pastor, elder, seminarian, church librarian, small group leader or faithful father wanting to do well at family devotional Bible reading, this book is for you!
I confess here at the beginning of this blog that I am ambivalent about Professor Frame's latest book, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. Why? P & R Publishers graciously gave me an examination copy to review for this blog. I would like to reciprocate by doing them good. But I am troubled about aspects of this new book that limit its value.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK
Professor Frame is a very clear writer and that makes reading his material easier and ensures that more true communication happens between writer and reader. Because Frame has studied the Scriptures so long, it is good that he can communicate so well about all that he has seen and thought about. Almost never is the reader at a loss to understand what Frame is saying. One does not have to be a seasoned theologian to grasp his writing.
Professor Frame is a biblical theologian. The Bible is the quarry from which he digs the doctrines God has revealed to mankind in the Bible. It is refreshing that almost always Frame cites the Bible as his source. This can be said to be a truly biblical systematic theology.
Biblical theology is like a natural display of nature in the woods and fields. The beauty of God's creation is on display "naturally", as it is found in nature. Systematic theology is doctrine arranged artificially, as humans approach the Bible looking for answers on what it has to say. It is like a botanical garden with all the plants and flowers on neat display.
Professor Frame is a humble theologian. There are several times when he admits that he does not know the answer to a question or there is not enough biblical evidence to come up with a good answer. That is refreshing; most theologians will hazard a guess even when they don't have biblical grounds to stand on.
Professor Frame is an evangelical and Reformed theologian. For the most part, he fits into the main stream of historic Reformed theology.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE ABOUT ABOUT THIS BOOK
Professor Frame's book is uneven--he spends a disproportionate time on issues he has already covered in his earlier well-received volumes (Prolegomena, The Doctrine of God, The Doctrine of Scripture, the Doctrine of the Christian Life). But he is disappointingly thin on the person and work of Christ! Some chapters that he covers in some depth seem like condensations of his earlier books. But he has not written on the person and work of Christ to an large extent and these chapters show the paucity of his study. And we are the poorer. With his clear mind and clear prose, we would have profited from Frame's study and exposition of the person and work of the Savior.
Professor Frame sends mixed messages about salvation, He is very clear that justification is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, BUT then from time to time "covenantal nomism" appears. That is the view of the so-called "New Perspective on Paul" that teaches that we enter the covenant by grace and we stay in the covenant by our works. It has been taught for 35 years by some New Testament scholars (Krister Stendahl, E. P. Sanders, N. T. Wright, James D. G. Dunn, and others.) If one thinks about it for a minute, the so-called New Perspective on Paul is Roman Catholic theology--one enters the covenant through baptismal grace and stays in the covenant (and presumably God's favor) by one's own works. Should this perspective catch on in evangelical seminaries and colleges, it will only take a generation for discerning folks to ask: "Why don't we reunite with Rome? What is there to separate us anymore?" That would be a tragedy. Professor Frame disagrees with the New Perspective on Paul in some portions of the text, but the "covenantal nomism" (enter the covenant by baptismal grace; stay in the covenant by works) is sprinkled throughout. What's more, an unnecessary introduction of Norman Shepherd's aberrant views
of justification, which got him fired from Westminster Seminary Philadelphia are discussed with some agreement and disagreement. So is justification by grace through faith the final message or is it muted by a trailing theme in Frame's theology of human works?
The author is not as clear as he could be or should be.
Professor Frame has not framed his book in historical theology or church history. The book thus reads like his commentary on Scripture on the issues under discussion. But one might never know how a subject has been twisted, misunderstood, falsely taught, or neglected down through the centuries. Some subjects need historical reference to anchor them in reality and show their importance and how getting them wrong has negative consequences.
Professor Frame teaches at a confessional institution yet does not like confessions or catechisms as a means of holding on to orthodoxy. He dislikes strict subscription to a confession. He favors a more loose "system of doctrine approach" where the major doctrinal skeleton is adhered to but one is free to sit loose to the details. What's more, Reformed confessional denominations hold to the "regulative principle of worship", that is, God Himself regulates how He wants to be worshiped. Christians are not left up to their own devices as to how God might be worshiped. Professor Frame says that confessional fidelity is no sure guard against decline into heterodoxy and heresy. True, there are no human safeguards against walking away from the truth. Professor john Woodbridge of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School usually tells the students in their first church history class just the opposite. The greatest guard against going liberal and loosing the faith has been holding to one of the Reformed confessions, according to Woodbridge.
TO SUM UP:
John Frame's new SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY has so many good things that I felt a bit guilty finding fault. He says so many good things so well that the book is very accessible to laymen, But that's the rub. A laymen without a background in theology or historical theology might swallow what Frame says in areas where he is off plumb. There are dangers in the volume regarding lack of clarity in regards to how people are saved (classic justification or "Covenantal Nomism").
Years ago at a Banner of Truth Pastors Conference in Pennsylvania, Pastor John Marshall from England spoke on the one thing needful that a minister owes to his congregation and that a congregation should expect. If he be a good teacher, a people person, good with the youth, a fine counselor, a careful organizer, a prayer warrior, whatever else he may be BUT IF HE DOES NOT EXPLAIN CLEARLY TO HIS PEOPLE HOW TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME, he has utterly failed his people!! John Frame's mixed signals on salvation are not a small matter. We may be a bit muddled on eschatology and the doctrine of last things, we may have strong and varying views on church government
or the two kingdoms. But we are horribly wrong if we are not biblical and clear about how a human being becomes right with God.
May the Lord give professor Frame time to clear up some of the mentioned weaknesses of his volume so that any laymen picking up his book with its wonderfully clear prose will be clearly taught the way of salvation (without ambiguities).
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
ANTINOMIANISM: REFORMED THEOLOGY'S UNWELCOME GUEST ? by Mark Jones; P & R
I was a nine month old Christian. I had traveled to the University of Illinois campus at Champaign-Urbana with the state leader of my parachurch ministry. I was eager to learn and zealous to be used by the Lord.
Traveling with a more mature Christian and a leader would give me valuable time to ask questions and learn. What happened and what we talked about on that trip has largely faded into the oblivion of old memories. What has not faded were the comments made by the song leader at that student gathering that night. Intertwining comment between songs he led, the song leader shared sometime of a brief "testimonial" and then floored me by saying that Christ was his Savior but not yet his Lord. But he was sure that would probably come later!
I could not believe it. In nine months of reading the New Testament and going to meetings and training seminars, I had never heard that you could submit to Christ piecemeal. Was Christ so easily divided? Or was that student deluded in his own mind and theology?
That was my first taste of the many aberrant theologies that float around Christianity under the general heading of "anti-nomianism". All such defective theologies are in some way "against the Law of God" and the person and work of Christ, but how they get there is a nuanced and at times a tortured story. Species of hyper-Calvinsim teach and promote antinomianism ("Since you were elect by God, it does not matter how you live.") So-called NEW COVENANT THEOLOGY says that the law of God is not a guide for living in the Christian life (and one recent 2nd generation teacher of that theology says that you can marry your sister because it is not forbidden in the New Testament!). Classic dispensationalism interjected a strong adversative (...but,,,) in John 1:14 to make for a dramatic cleavage between the purposes of God under the Old Covenant and Moses and the purposes of God in the New Covenant and Christ. (They neglected to note that in the Greek there is no adversative, no "but".)
There have been so many and so strident enunciations by antinomian teachers that one Reformed wag wrote this ditty; "Free from the Law, O Happy Admission; I can sin all I want and still have remission." But this is only one tentacle of the hydra that is antinomianism.
Now comes pastor and Reformed scholar Mark Jones to the rescue. You may recognize the man's name as the co-author of the hefty THEOLOGY OF THE PURITANS, co-written with Joel Beeke. Dr. Jones knows his history and historical theology. Since the coining of the term "antinomianism" by Martin Luther in disputes with John Agricola during the great Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, there have been identifiable and recognizable antinomian theologians.
Where Mark Jones is so helpful is that he shows how the many types of antinomians stem from similar defective roots--wrong notions of Christ and His person and work, wrong notions of law and grace,wrong notions of law and gospel, wrong notions of justification and sanctification, etc. etc. etc. Let's look at the chapter headings and see where he takes the faithful reader.
CHAPTER 1--LESSONS FROM HISTORY
(Painful lessons from the past that are still relevant today.)
CHAPTER 2--THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
(The first and best Christian is and was Jesus Christ.)
CHAPTER 3--THE LAW
(Good, bad or indifferent?)
CHAPTER 4--THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL
(Friends or enemies?)
CHAPTER 5--GOOD WORKS AND REWARDS
(Again, looking to Christ's person and work and example.)
CHAPTER 6--AMOR, AMOR (LOVE, LOVE)
(About fifteen years ago, a pastor friend in another state, a faithful pastor and trained theologian, found himself attacked by two young men after most sermons, They labeled the pastor a legalist and his teaching sub-Christian. Finally when his patience was pushed way beyond mine, he decided to once and for all deal with these two men. He took the text of Joseph Fletcher's 1960's SITUATION ETHICS. He photocopied two facing pages where Fletcher gave a telling illustration of his philosophy/theology of love fixes everything and that we should all live by the law of love rather than the law of God. My pastor friend whited out the top of the pages so that the source could not be seen. He then invited the two young antinomian wannabe's to come to his office. He had then sit down and read the photocopied material. When finished they both exclaimed that he had finally got it right and that this is what they had been trying to tell him all along. Then he calmly pulled out the heretical textbook from the 1960's and showed them the source. They were dumbstruck and their gasbag of theology collapsed.)
(Divorcing assurance from the example of Christ)
(How the truth is taught and spoken about--unguarded rhetoric can lead to exaggeration and poisonous application)
CHAPTER 9--TOWARD A DEFINITION AND A SOLUTION
(Revisits the argument of the book and the rather simple, I almost said simplistic, solution.)
Dr. Jones writes to persuade and not just attack. He is a fine example of the teaching theologian, not the polemical theologian ("take no prisoners"). He does one current pastor/teacher/author as an example of clear antinomianism and sloppy rhetoric. And I believe the label is hard-earned. Other popular "Reformed" and "young, restless and Reformed" authors might also have been noted.
If it was in my power, every pastor and lay elder would master this book. The problems are that widespread and often little understood. Some pastors and teachers might even be antinomian in their rhetoric and not even realize it.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my website for more book-related goodies:
The past two weeks I have tried to convince you that you need to read Francis Schaeffer. Every pastor, elder, and college student needs to read and digest Schaeffer. It will help you navigate through the culture and arrive safely at the other side. Though Schaeffer is dealing with ideas, books, plays, movies, art and culture issues that were rife in the 70's and 80's, they are still with us today even in a more entrenched form.
Where he said THEN that culture was going, he was right and it is here NOW. To understand how we got here, you need to read Schaeffer.
Today I wanted to go through Schaeffer's works and highlight what you will get out of each.
VOLUME ONE--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF PHILOSOPHY
Book 1--THE GOD WHO IS THERE--analysis of the men, ideas, and cultural issues that have changed our nation over the past forty years.
Book 2--ESCAPE FROM REASON--ditto--or why post-modernism and "everything is relative" controls popular thinking today.
Book 3--HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT--how the Bible teaches we are to understand knowledge. How do we know what we know?
Book 4--BACK TO FREEDOM AND DIGNITY--the loss of the Christian worldview has meant the loss of what it means to be human and special before the Creator-God. We are now viewed as chance configuration of atoms with no meaning or purpose.
VOLUME TWO--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE BIBLE
Book 1--GENESIS IN SPACE AND TIME--how all that we experience and know about reality is found in Genesis and how it must be read to be understood.
Book 2--NO FINAL CONFLICT--biblical interpretation and true science are not in conflict if they stay within their spheres.
Book 3--JOSHUA AND THE FLOW OF BIBLICAL
HISTORY--as the book of Acts connects the life and death of Christ to the apostles and epistles, so Joshua connects the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) to the rest of the Bible.
Book 4--Basic Bible Studies--basics of the Christian life as interpreted through the grid of Francis Schaeffer.
Book 5--Art and the Bible--how to understand the gift of art through its proper biblical lens.
VOLUME THREE--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SPIRITUALITY
Book 1--NO LITTLE PEOPLE--a great book of sermons of which the first gives it s title to the book. Must reading for every Christian leader and worker. Clear and compelling biblical sermons on subject not always covered.
Book 2--TRUE SPIRITUALITY--the first book Schaeffer wrote but one of the last he published. He shares his own struggles as a young missionary pastor-husband-father-Christian who paid lip service to biblical doctrines but did not factor them into his life properly and how they ravaged his mind, heart, marriage, family and ministry until he came to grips with them.
Book 3--THE NEW SUPER-SPIRITUALITY--Schaeffer saw the 70's charismatic movement as a "new super-spirituality" that was unhealthy as well as unbiblical.
Book 4--TWO CONTENTS; TWO REALITIES--orthodoxy of doctrine must be paired with orthodoxy of community if we are to gain a hearing from the watching world. The world has had enough of talkianity--they want to see its reality lived out.
VOLUME FOUR--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE CHURCH
Book 1--THE CHURCH AT THE END OF THE 20TH
CENTURY--Schaeffer's assessment of the needs and challenges facing the Christian churches.
Book 2--THE CHURCH BEFORE THE WATCHING WORLD
What the churches needed to do to gain back their credibility before the watching world.
Book 3--THE MARK OF THE CHRISTIAN--love for one another!
Book 4--DEATH IN THE CITY--what has happened in the 20th century to the church is like ancient Israel of Jeremiah's time (read Jeremiah 1-2).
Book 5--THE GREAT EVANGELICAL DISASTER--giving up inerrancy leaves the church without a sure base.
VOLUME FIVE--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE WEST
Book 1--Pollution and the Death of Man--why there is an ecological crisis (dating back to the sins of Eden) and how Christianity is not to blame but autonomous man ("a law unto himself") is to blame.
Book 2--How Should We Then Live ?--the best overview of the last 2000 years of Christian history in the West and how ideas formed the culture we now live in.
Book 3--WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN
RACE ?--how abortion on demand and infanticide along with forced euthanasia of the elderly are the results of fallen man's wrong thinking.
Book 4--A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO--a call to make a stand for Christ before it is too late.
Please read Francis Schaeffer. If you do not read him, plan not to "get" our culture. Missionaries going to a foreign country want to learn the language in order to communicate. Digest Francis Schaeffer helps you understand this culture you are trying to penetrate for Christ.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more book information and details on my new ebook,
COMMENTING AND COMMENTARIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.
Last week I told you that we were going to take an excursion into the works of Francis Schaeffer, the 20th century Presbyterian evangelist, apologist, author and founder of the L'Abri study centers around the world (Switzerland, Holland, England, the United States, et al).
I asked you to purchase his wife, Edith's, account of their early years, simply titled L'BRI (means THE SHELTER). You can learn about his growing up in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the working class part of south Philadelphia in a moral but unbelieving home. You can read about Edith growing up in China with Presbyterian missionaries as parents. You can read about Francis becoming interested in ideas, life, eternity and spirituality in late high school and subsequent conversion in reading in the Bible. You can learn about his college years, his matriculation at the young Westminster Theological Seminary and later transferring to Faith Seminary. You can read about his early pastorate in St. Louis and visiting Europe on behalf of his mission board to assess the spiritual needs of the war torn continent. You learn about their going to Switzerland, being forced to move because they were Protestants ministering in a Catholic canton (state). You can learn about their faith ministry and learning to trust God. You come to see L'Abri take shape as God shapes Francis and Edith Schaeffer. They were always a team. One observer noted that Edith'S hospitality and homemade cinnamon rolls won as many to Christ as Francis closely reasoned evangelism and apologetics!
Francis died in 1984; Edith died just last year in 2013. But their ideas and work live on in their books. (Edith was an author too--L'ABRI; AFFLICTION; THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING; THE TAPESTRY; LIFELINES; WHAT IS A FAMILY; CHRISTIANITY IS JEWISH; 10 THINGS PARENTS NEED TO TEACH THEIR CHILDREN; etc.)
I am having you read HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? next because it is fairly easy for a beginner to digest. His early books, THE GOD WHO IS THERE; ESCAPE FROM REASON; HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT, and BACK TO FREEDOM AND DIGNITY are more densely written. To make his ideas more readily available, he produced a movie (and later DVD series, HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?) which if you could purchase that (CVBBS.COM carries it) and watch it while reading the book, you would glean so much more understanding and application. It is like taking a helicopter ride over European and American history and philosophy (our way of thinking and looking at the world) from the 1st century to the 20th century. You can see how ideas came and went; ways of thinking changed and the culture changed with it. You can better see how and why we think the way we do at the beginning of the 21st century.
The book has art and photographs and charts to make things clearer. See why the Christian movement upset the thinking of the Roman Empire. Learn how the "Christianization" of Europe made for the Middle Ages. Learn about the rebirth of learning and the cry "Ad Fontes", back to the sources, that made the Renaissance a watershed in western intellectual history. Scholars went back to the original Greek and Roman works themselves rather than read Medieval discussions about them.
Learn about how the Renaissance set the stage for the rebirth of Christianity in the Reformation as Luther and Calvin knew their Bibles and the early church fathers better than the Catholic theologians. Read about how medieval thought caused a log jam in intellectual history that was broken up by the Reformation's return to the Bible as the source of authority and truth.
Schaeffer shows how the post-Reformation period gave rise to the Enlightenment--read "endarkment". Scholars in the West began to throw off the Bible as the source of final truth and placed man and his intellect on the throne as the supreme standard of truth and knowledge. It was not long before science, the handmaid of theology, threw off what it perceived to be the shackles of the Bible and struck out on its own, untethered by the Word of God. Scheaffer shows how science and philosophy began to have real problems because beginning with man himself, humanity could not come up with a way of knowing and seeing that worked and that was not destructive.
Schaeffer liked to use the example of the hundreds of small Roman hump backed bridges over streams and ditches all over Europe which stood for almost two millennia. They stood the test of time when it came to human road traffic and ox carts. But they were never designed to carry a modern 18 wheeled truck with its heavy loads. The bridges began to crumble and break apart under the great weight now being placed upon them. So the ideas and philosophies that rest upon man and man alone could not bear the weight of human life placed upon them. Modern philosophy and modern science began to break down under the stresses of their own arrogance.
Schaeffer, leaning on the work of Dutch Christian nd art critic, Hans Rookmaker, shows how ideas percolate down from the philosophers and educators to art, music, literature and cinema. Schaeffer is brilliant in showing how modern art, modern music, modern literature and modern cinema disseminated the ideas
of the philosophers and academics throughout western civilization.
Ideas have consequences. Western Society is the way it is because of the ideas spread throughout them by the "thinkers" and their disciples (the men and women who write and publish books, make movies, produce paintings and sculptures, make music and write novels. In reading Schaeffer one can come to understand how our nation changed from World War II until today. He even shows how the media often controls our perspective on reality by how it films and covers a story for the evening news.
Take the time, make the effort, turn off the TV and take out your earbuds and read HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE? and learn how we got into this mess and begin to pray that God would be merciful and changes multitudes of hearts before final judgment rains down upon us.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM