Kregel Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been a faithful evangelical and Reformed publishers for decades. Because they are not an exclusively Reformed publisher, Reformed readers tend to overlook them when it comes to expecting and finding really good books.
Today, I want to set the record straight and give you some great Kregel titles that may have overlooked.
BACKGROUNDS TO MANY OF THE HYMNS WE SING:
Kenneth Osbeck, AMAZING GRACE (2ND EDITION);
366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions)
Kenneth Osbeck, 101 HYMN STORIES (The Inspiring
True Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns)
Kenneth Osbeck, 101 MORE HYMN STORIES (The
Inspiring True Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns)
Kenneth Osbeck, BEYOND THE SUNSET (25 Hymn
Stories Celebrating the Hope of Heaven); balm for
earth weary, heavenly minded believers.
Kenneth Osbeck, SONGS FOR ALL SEASONS (25
Hymns Honoring God, Home and Country)
NEGLECTED SERMON SERIES BY DR. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE CHRISTIAN IN AN AGE OF
TERROR--sermons preached during and right after
World War II and the nuclear scare immediately
to follow in England.
WORKS ON C. S. LEWIS AND J. R. R. TOLKIEN:
Colien Duriez, C. S. LEWIS (A Biography of Friendship);
C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends
and friendly rivals. Read about their amazing
friendship which made them both better men.
Colin Duriez, J.R.R. TOLKIEN: THE MAKING OF A
WORKS BY JAMES MONTGOMERY BOICE:
James Montgomery Boice, RENEWING YOUR MIND
IN A MINDLESS WORLD--one of the better
treatments of the Christian's need to renew his/
her mind and bring it into subjection to Christ and
His Word. Mature Christians have learned to think
"Christianly" that is, biblically and have the mind
James Montgomery Boice, STANDING ON THE ROCK
(Upholding Biblical Authority in a Secular Age)
Boice solidifies the believer's implicit confidence in
the Bible with this well crafted defense of biblical
infallibility and authority.
James Montgomery Boice, CHRIST'S CALL TO
DISCIPLESHIP; Christ calls His people to Himself
as Savior and Lord. Boice believed that a
generation of believers that practiced biblical
discipleship could change the world.
James Montgomery Boice, ORDINARY MEN CALLED
BY GOD (Abraham, Moses and David)--a good
follow up read to CHRIST'S CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP.
BOOKS ON or FOR THE MINISTRY:
Jeffery Arthurs, DEVOTE YOURSELF TO THE PUBLIC
READING OF SCRIPTURE (The Transforming
Power of the Well-Spoken Word)--a rare study of
something that is done every week in truly
evangelical churches but often done badly!
Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson,
INVITATION TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION
surely will become a classic on how to rightly
handle the Word of God.
Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson, TWELVE
RULES FOR UNDERSTANDING BIBLE WORDS;
a short treatment of how to do correct Word
Studies in the Bible.
Desmond Alexander, FROM EDEN TO THE NEW
JERUSALEM (An Introduction to Biblical Theology);
a leading evangelical British Old Testament
theologian gives us his best insights into the
theology of the whole Bible.
Benjamin Keach, PREACHING FROM THE TYPES AND
METAPHORS--a lifetime of study and reflection
went into this 17th century Baptist pastor/
Patrick Fairbairn, THE TYPOLOGY OF SCRIPTURE;
another of the great works on Typology by the
great 19th century Scots biblical theologian.
Phil Newton and Matt Schmucker, ELDERS IN THE
LIFE OF THE CHURCH--one of the best studies of
how elders function in the New Testament and
should function in a local church.
Paul Pettit and Todd Mangum, BLESSED ARE THE
BALANCED (A Seminarian's Guide to Following
Jesus in the Academy)--a helpful book on a too
much neglected topic. It is sad how many seminary
students leave school in a worse condition than
when they entered.
Herbert Lockyer, LAST WORDS OF SAINTS AND
SINNERS; a most helpful accumulation of the last
words of the lost and the found.
CLASSIC COMMENTARIES: OLD AND NEW
Martin Luther, COMMENTARY ROMANS
Martin Luther, COMMENTARY ON GALATIANS
Martin Luther, COMMENTARY ON PETER AND JUDE
William Arnot, STUDIES IN PROVERBS (one time
titled, THE CHURCH IN THE HOUSE)
Marcus Rainsford, OUR LORD PRAYS FOR HIS OWN
Thomas Whitelaw, COMMENTARY ON JOHN
J. A. Alexander, COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH; the
linguistic pride of 19th century Princeton Seminary
and genius son of Archibald Alexander wrote what
was the best commentary on Isaiah from the
Allen P. Ross, A COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS;
Volumes 1 and 2 are available and Volume 3 is
slated to appear this Fall. Ross has outstanding
commentaries on Genesis (CREATION &
BLESSING: How to Study and Preach Genesis),
Leviticus (HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD) and
Proverbs (EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE COMMENTARY:
PROVERBS); and a work on worship (RECALLING
THE HOPE OF GLORY: Worship From the Garden
to the New Jerusalem).
Tim Dowley, KREGEL PICTORIAL GUIDE TO THE
Henry Soltau, HOLY VESSELS AND FURNITURE OF
Henry Soltau, THE TABERNACLE: ITS PRIESTHOOD
Robert Backhouse, KREGEL PICTORIAL GUIDE TO THE
John Hannah, KREGEL PICTORIAL GUIDE TO CHURCH
And that is not all the great books Kregel has for those who look. I hope you found 1 or 2 you want to read
and perhaps more you need to read.
May the Lord bless your studies.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my website, WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM
for more information about books, etc.
Many readers of this blog have had the experience of walking into a Christian bookstore looking for help on studying or teaching a book of the Bible. Either they had little or no inventory to choose from or they had quite a few volumes but you did not know which one to choose. Many Christian bookstores buy sets of commentaries by a single author and you either choose one of those commentaries or go home empty.
[NOTE: If you buy your books through the on-line service of CVBBS.COM, you might not know that you can get expert advice about commentaries about the Bible.
You can click on the expert advice logo on the website and send your question directly to me and I will answer it pronto!]
Some publishers have also published books on commentary selections, recommended by a scholarly author. I want to highlight those today and give you my perspective on each of them. Each have at least one major strength and one has more than one!
OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SURVEY:
Tremper Longman III; OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
SURVEY (5th edition); Baker--Longman is a senior
evangelical and Reformed Old Testament scholar
who once taught at Westminster Theological
Seminary in Philadelphia but now teaches at
Westmont College in California. He is well abreast
of the latest scholarly perspectives but is not as
well anchored in the historical Reformed faith as
he once was. Many "critical" commentaries are
noted which the CVBBS.COM reader is NOT going
to want to use. Using those commentaries is
usually like eating a wheelbarrow full of sawdust
hoping to find a few M & M's at the bottom! For
example, Dr. Longman does not like nor cite
Dale Ralph Davis' expositions of the historical books
of the O. T. He did not like the illustrations or
humor. Yet there are very few better than Davis at
demonstrating how a pastor/teacher might do
their homework and preach the text of the O. T.
with clarity and power.
NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SURVEY:
D. A. Carson, NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SURVEY
(7th edition); Baker--Carson's survey has always
struck me as more Spirit and Word sensitive than
Longman on the Old Testament. Carson is
Calvinistic but not confessionally Reformed. At
times this shows in his comments. He too has
many critical commentaries noted that are more
of interest to scholars who must read everything
before they hazard a guess on a text. But at least
Carson has always seemed more spiritually minded
than Longman above.
COMMENTARY SURVEY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE:
John Evans, A GUIDE TO BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES &
REFERENCE WORKS; Doulos Press--a massive
work covering both testaments. Professor Evans
is a book sleuth, finding helpful texts from little
known publishers. His teaching context in Africa
gives him a refreshing take on things too. I found
him the best guide, in general, on the most books
with an overall evangelical and Reformed
perspective, while critical works are noted and
identified. Great for the pastor/teacher!
Charles Spurgeon, LECTURES TO MY STUDENTS;
Banner of Truth--the final section of this classic
work by Spurgeon is his COMMENTING ON
COMMENTARIES. Here Spurgeon's genius and wit
come together to give the reader Spurgeon's take
on the best (and worst) books available in the
1880's. His comments are still largely true today.
Entertaining and highly informative.
Steve Martin, 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON
COMMENTARIES; E-pub available at
(The author, me, took from Longman, Carson,
Evans and other book analyzers and spent
20 years gathering the best commentaries on
every book of the Bible for laymen and pastors.
I also evaluate books on Introductory matters.
It is graded by BASIC (little or no knowledge of
biblical languages; new to studying the test; good
for personal or family devotions); INTERMEDIATE
(some knowledge of the subject and/or biblical
languages; good for Sunday School, campus
or neighborhood Bible study); ADVANCED
(requires knowledge of the biblical languages and
the subject matter; great for pastors/teachers
and seminarian or anyone who has the calling
of studying, interpreting and teaching God's
May the Lord help you to use tools well as you put in the time of studying and praying over God's Word.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
As a pastor for 31 years, and now ministering to other pastors, I have sought Christian books that are biblically faithful, theologically faithful, and faithful to the local church and its health.
I have seen publishers come and go in their own faithfulness to the Bible and to the theology of the Reformation. Some publishers have "lost the plot" and gone the route of pragmatism--whatever sells, good or bad, orthodox or heterodox or heretical. Publishers I could trust in the late 60's I can no longer point to as faithful purveyors of biblical truth.
But other publishers have stayed the course. It is required of a steward that he be found faithful. Some publishers are faithful stewards. Today I highlight Christian Focus Publications from Scotland. For decades they have published some of the best material coming out of the British Isles and certainly out of the English speaking world. Today I am highlighting six of their books that could and should be either in your library, your pastor's library or your church's library!
Douglas F. Kelly, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, Volume 2;
(Grounded in Holy Scripture and Understood in the
Light of the Church)--"The Beauty of Christ: A
Long the revered and cherished professor of systematic at Reformed Theological Seminary, first at Jackson and now at Charlotte, Professor Kelly is one of God's best gifts to the churches. A native of North Carolina, he is an expert in North Carolina history, particularly of his Scottish ancestors, who were deeded land by King George III. Professor Kelly is an expert in the early church fathers, and in French Reformed literature (he translated Calvin's sermons on 2nd Samuel for the Banner of Truth to publish!)
This second volume of his systematic theology, is
a work of love for Jesus Christ. Dr. Kelly himself describes how he came to write this volume: "In preparing this volume, I have at times been overwhelmed by the beauty of this Christ: Messiah of Israel, Creator and Redeemer of the world; Head of the Church, Savior, Lord and Friend! It is my joy to share with you some of the lovely and sparkling truths I have learned about him, in his eternal pre-existence, incarnation, holy life, atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into glory and his final return. I have done so in company with Christian believers from different centuries and different cultures and denominations. Certainly I write from a Reformed Protestant viewpoint, but always seeking to glean from many fields, and to fish in many waters. I pray that something of the glory of the Triune God may shine from these pages to all who are seeking, one way or another, to get a sight of the beauty above all other beauties."
Let me give you a glimpse of the Table of Contents.
Part One--The Trinitarian Context of the Person and
Work of Christ
Chapter 1--The Witness of the Old and New
Testaments to Christ
Chapter 2--Names and Titles of Christ in Old and
Chapter 3--Crucial Passages on the Lord's
Incarnation and Atonement
Chapter 4--The Hypostatic Union
Chapter 5--Questions Raised by the Hypostatic Union
Chapter 6--The Post-Critical Christ--The Continuing
Influence of the Epistemology and
Christology of Immanuel Kant
PART TWO--THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST
Chapter 7--The States of Christ
Chapter 8--Christ's Active Obedience (His Sonship)
Chapter 9--The Humiliation of Christ in the
Sufferings of His Life and Death
Chapter 10--Seven Last Words, Burial, and Descent
PART THREE--THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST
Chapter 11--The Resurrection of Christ
Chapter 12--The Ascension, Session and Return of
The endorsements are by outstanding Christian leaders and their comments go beyond the polite "this is a nice book" platitude. This is a uniquely Christ-centered, Bible-centered, Church-centered book.( I plan to read it a second time.)
Terry Chrisope, CONFESSING JESUS AS LORD
Terry Chrisope is professor at Missouri Baptist College and a Reformed theologian. Dr. Chrisope already did the church a great favor when he wrote an earlier volume on the Lordship of Christ which was also published by Christian Focus. In light of the Lordship controversy that erupted among American evangelicals in the late 80's, the first volume strongly supported the New Testament theology that we don' t divide Christ into Savior and Lord when we come to Him but we bow before both offices and address Him as Savior/Lord or not at all. This volume has some of that material but goes far beyond it.
This volume has four parts:
Part One--The Old Testament: Anticipation
Chapter 1--Beginnings: God's Lordship and the
Chapter 2--Redemption and God's Lordship: The
Old Testament Anticipation
Chapter 3--Redemption and God's Lordship: The
Messiah of Promise
Part Two--The Historical Establishment of Jesus'
Chapter 4--The Prophetic Function of Jesus the
Messiah: Proclaiming God's Lordship
Through the Kingdom of God
Chapter 5--The Priestly Function of Jesus the
Messiah: Providing Atonement for
Human Rebellion Against God's Lordship
Chapter 6--The Kingly Function of Jesus the Messiah:
Serving as Agent of God's Lordship
Part Three--The Proclamation and Confession of Jesus'
Chapter 7--The Apostolic Proclamation of Jesus'
Lordship: The Book of Acts
Chapter 8--The Apostolic Proclamation of Jesus'
Lordship: The Epistles and Revelation
Chapter 9--The Confession of Jesus as Lord: Its
Meaning and Significance
Chapter 10--Objections Considered
Part Four--The Implications of Jesus' Lordship
Chapter 1--The Practical Significance of the
Confession of Jesus as Lord
The volume closes with three appendices and a fine bibliography.
This is a rich volume about our Lord and goes well with
Dr. Kelly's treatment. It has rave reviews by Drs. John MacArthur and Al Mohler.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my blog,
check out my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES. It has over 2000
entries covering all 66 books of the Bible and introductory matters.
HELP FOR BATTLE WEARY CHRISTIANS
Christianity is a realistic religion. Unlike the false promises of the peddlers of the health and wealth heresy, biblical Christianity promises that each true believer will face hardship, persecution and suffering on the road to glory. Christ's apostles even warned us "not to be surprised at the fiery trials" we go through as if "something strange and unusual" was happening to us. Trouble and heartache are the "normal Christian life".
Frequently, our heartaches are the result of spiritual battles. Our battles are not like worldly battles. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, the unseen forces of the malignant fallen angel, Satan, and his fellow fallen angels. We also face constant opposition from this fallen evil world, ravaged by sin and aligned with the purposes and actions of the devil, corrosive to faith and holiness. And thirdly, each believer has a 'Benedict Arnold' in his or her own bosom, remaining, indwelling sin, to clog our hearts and drag its feet at every aspiration for holiness and righteousness. Our own hearts would destroy us were it not for the greater grace found in the finished work of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is only by the grace of God that we overcome such spiritual opposition and make it to heaven.
Along the way to heaven, each Christian pilgrim is hurt, sometimes severely. Recuperation from the hurts can take time. Sometimes the hurts have a cumulative effect--one adds to another until a great
discouragement and spiritual depression temporarily sidelines the believer. Just as there is PTSD--Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in military combat, there is something similar in spiritual combat, leaving its victims dazed, confused, angry, dispirited and prone to give it all up or just sit huddled in the corner until Christ takes us home.
Today's blog is to help battle weary believers make it through their post traumatic battle weariness and its various symptoms and move on for Christ. The following resources are all worthy to be prayerfully read and digested and put into practice.
1. Maurice Roberts, "The Danger of Becoming Battle
Weary", in THE CHRISTIAN'S HIGH CALLING;
Banner of Truth. Long time pastor and conference
speaker and devotional writer speaks to the
point. I have taken my Elders through this material
and photocopied the chapter and given it out to
friends and fellow pastors in need.
2. Francis Schaeffer, NO LITTLE PEOPLE; Crossway--
the first chapter, "No Little People". is an all time
gem that should be read annually. I can remember
when I first read this chapter in 1976. It was a
bomb on the playground of our parachurch ministry.
We were regularly exhorted to find the biggest
position we could occupy SO THAT WE COULD
INFLUENCE MORE PEOPLE FOR CHRIST. Well you
may imagine how remaining sin in Twenty
Somethings responded. I was so shocked when I
read the chapter that I had to reread it again,
particularly Christ's parable about the wedding feast.
There are no 'little people' and there are no 'little
places' in Christ's Kingdom. Similarly, this chapter
should be photocopied and mastered by church
3. Kent Hughes, LIBERATING MINISTRY FROM THE
SUCCESS SYNDROME; Tyndale--speaks to one huge
underlying cause of battle weariness and is very
'liberating'. Kent Hughes, with help from his wife,
Barbara, left a growing church in Southern
California to pastor The College Church in Wheaton,
Illinois. He went from a good sized church in the
L.A. suburbs to a large church near the campus of
a major Christian college outside of Chicago. But he
first needed to learn that God's way of grading
His servants was very different from how the world,
even the Christian world, grades His servants.
Learn what true, biblical success is and find out
how liberating it is to embrace it! Again, buy it
and take your church officers through it.
4. Matt Redmund, THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE; Kalos
Press--a Presbyterian pastor addresses the false
idea that Christians must be "radical" and do daring
things in order to glorify God. Rather he shows
biblically that to be faithful Christians to God's
commands at marriage, parenting and our work
lives is far more important and more biblically
supported. He shows how recent authors have
taken commands for pastors and missionary
church planters and beaten laymen over the
head with false theology. Biblically this short book
provides a breath of fresh air in a stuffy elevator
5. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, AUTHORITY; Banner of Truth--
Addresses the issues of authority in the Bible
and the authority given to a preacher and a church
and why authority is lost and sadly men and
churches try to make bricks without straw. The
last chapter on the authority of the Holy Spirit is
unique and a "must read". Lloyd-Jones chronicles
the last 250 years of church history and how
myopic pastors and churches have sought to
replace the authority of the Holy Spirit with
advanced degrees and education, heavy duty
apologetics, a return to medieval liturgy, big
business techniques, etc, etc, etc. Pastors, read
this aloud and discuss it with all your office holders.
6. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION (Its
Causes and Cures); Eerdmans--shows the various
ways Christians become “spiritually depressed” and
biblically how to regain spiritual health. A classic
since it was first preached in the 1950's. Dr. Lloyd-
Jones was preaching his famous series on Ephesians
and got awoke him one night and gave him eight of
these messages in outline, one right after another.
They were later filled out with parallel messages
given to Lloyd-Jones at other times. Just the
Introduction to the volume about learning to talk
back to yourself rather than listening to yourself is
worth the price of the book alone. And the whole
book is gold.
7. Joel Beeke and Terry Slachter, ENCOURAGEMENT
FOR TODAY'S PASTORS (Help From the Puritans);
Reformation Heritage Books--a great boon to
discouraged pastors and novices. Let me show you
the TABLE OF CONTENTS and see how relevant the
book is and how valuable.
PART ONE: PIETY
1. Zeal for the Ministry of the Word
2. "In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee"
3. Encouraged by God's Promises
PART TWO: SOVEREIGNTY
4. God Gives the Increase
5. Submission to God's Will
PART THREE: CLARITY
6. Taking Heed to Doctrine
7. Practicing What is Preached
8. The Calling of the Shepherd
PART FOUR: CREATIVITY AND COMMUNITY
9. History and Science
10. The Communion of Saints
11. A Cloud of Witnesses
PART FIVE: DIGNITY
12. "One Among a Thousand"
13. Doing the Work of Angels
14. The Urgency and Importance of Preaching
PART SIX: ETERNITY
15. The Reward of Grace
16. The Glories of Heaven
If you have served in the ministry very long, you
can tell how valuable this book is.
9. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE BOOKENDS
OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; Crossway--R. C. Sproul
said that he thought Jerry Bridges was the best
writer of Reformed theology in laymen’s terms in
the world. Here Jerry deals with two problems that
must be mastered if we are to make progress in our
Christian lives, laymen or church officer. First, do
we understand and daily rely upon the finished
work of Christ and His imputed righteousness for
our standing before God? Secondly, do we look to
the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to change
us after our Conversion? (Jerry has written a
whole book on the first part of this one, THE GREAT
EXCHANGE:My Sin for His Righteousness.) Most
laymen and pastors still seem to live in the realm
of their own perceived righteousness or lack thereof
and have either fallen into the ditch of legalism
and despair or into the opposite ditch of self-
righteousness and pride.
10. IVP has two related materials to help relieve you
of the tyranny of the urgent--the clamoring
demands of people to fix all their problems and
the world's problems while you seek to live your
life, love your wife, raise your children, shepherd
the church, even sleep a bit.
Charles Hummel, THE TYRANNY OF THE URGENT;
Charles Hummel, ESCAPE FROM THE TYRANNY
OFTHE URGENT; IVP book & workbook
He begins with the shocking prayer of our Lord in
John 17:4--"Father, I glorified you by accomplishing
the work that you gave me to do." Jesus did not
always please His family, His disciples, the crowds
or His enemies, but He did please His Father
always. Believers and shepherds alike need to
learn not to fill up their lives with other men's
appointed assignments but fill up their lives with
what God has clearly called them to do.
May the Lord give you peace of mind and joy of soul as you take the time to overcome your own PTSD and battle weariness and faithfully soldier on for Christ.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Don't forget that I have hundreds of other articles on books and spiritual themes on my website,
And check out my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES for just $12.00
In 1976, I, like many other American Christians, was shocked to read and hear that there was a "battle for the Bible". Seminary professor and Christian magazine editor Harold Lindsell had published THE BATTLE FOR THE BIBLE and named "evangelical" professors and institutions that had left behind the full inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures. I was shocked because I had come out of an unbelieving denomination and rejoiced in my salvation and the Bible as the trustworthy, life-transforming Word of God. Were evangelicals giving up the farm too and reducing themselves to the uncertainties of my liberal background?
I had been a Christian, by the grace of God, for seven years, being transformed while in college. I had only a small exposure to nominal Christianity via my background in a liberal, mainline denomination. I knew only the most basic outline of the facts about Christ that I gleaned from each Sunday's liturgy. I believed that George Washington was the first President of the United Sates, that Mickey Mantle was my favorite baseball player, and that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. And none of them made any difference to my daily life.
Then God intervened in my life out of the blue in 1969 and I was a different person. I had heard the gospel, been transfixed by its message and relevance, and was given grace to savingly trust in Christ alone for salvation. When I told my local priest that January afternoon that God had transformed my life and that I had been "born again" and was now trusting in Christ for my salvation, he told me that such teaching was dangerous and hoped I would "get over it". A former campus chaplain, he said that he had seen people really "messed up" by this kind of teaching. As I left his office that day, I knew he was not a safe guide for my spiritual life and perhaps he was the "messed up" person. (He left the ministry in the next few months to become a stock broker and make more money!)
In God's providence, at the time God chose to save me, I had been taking an obligatory religion class at my liberal arts college. My professors (from such prestigious schools at Yale, Princeton, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Chicago Divinity School) taught us that the Bible was unreliable. The Old Testament in particular was a collection of myths, pious sayings, ragged history, and outright fabrications.
At best it recorded the highest aspirations of pious Jews. I can remember sitting in class that Fall, yet to be converted, but wondering why these men had chosen a job of debunking what they were paid to teach. Why didn't they just go out and get real jobs positively standing behind SOMETHING!
My conversion in early January left me still a month until finals and time for a restudy of the Old Testament
materials. How amazed I was as a new Christian, now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to read the Old Testament with new eyes. I certainly did not understand all that I was reading but I begin to understand a lot and I was given an inner witness by the Holy Spirit that this was the very Word of God. I grew to despise the liberalism that had kept the gospel from me when I was growing up and then attacked the Bible in class in college. To later find Bible believing Christians, and churches and student ministries beyond my college was a windfall beyond words. (After my conversion and subsequent spiritual growth, I recognized that I had seen first hand what "wolves in sheep's clothing" looked like.)
Back to 1976 and THE BATTLE FOR THE BIBLE. Now that I was involved in student ministries, I had begun taking classes in an evangelical institution and began to learn that the "battle for the Bible" goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When the serpent said to Eve: "Did God really say...?" and "No, you will not die..." and flatly contradicted God, the battle for the Bible was in full display right there at the beginning of human history. My studies showed me that almost every generation sees some attack upon the Word of God and its inspiration, truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency, and authority.
Battles for the Bible for the past 35 years have revolved around its clarity and sufficiency (do we need psychologists to fix us; prophets to give us newer words from God; the insights of anthropology to do missions, etc, etc.?) [A good example of a text addressing specious attacks on the Bible is Noel Weeks, THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE; Banner of Truth.)
That brings me to today and my reviews of three new books displaying and defending the greatness of the Word of God.
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD (Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me); Crossway Books
What a gem Pastor (and soon to be doctor) DeYoung has given us. It is refreshing and it is clear, accurate, encouraging, stimulating and correct. Christians today need to be taught or to learn for themselves through reading this book that the Bible is "more sure" than our experiences, that we critique our experiences by the Bible, not vice versa; that the Bible is enough, that we don't need psychologists, prophets, anthropologists, gurus or tongues and interpretations of tongues. The Bible is sufficient.
The Bible is clear, final and necessary. It is the unbreakable Word of God. DeYoung exhorts us to stick with the Scriptures and not be moved from our full confidence in the Word of God. Plus it has an excellent Appendix of some 30 of the "best books on the good book". With a large study guide available from Crossway, it would make a great and important Sunday School class, group study or church officer training study. Highly recommended. And kudos to Crossway in having DeYoung popularize so many issues and making the teaching of the Bible plain and for the masses.
FOR INTERMEDIATE READERS:
John Frame, THE DOCTRINE OF THE WORD OF GOD
(A Theology of Lordship, Volume 4); P & R
Reformed readers have probably heard of Professor John Frame though they may not have read any of his hefty tomes on theology. Don't let the size of this volume (650 pages) deter you from faithfully reading through the whole volume for it would be a tragedy of a wasted opportunity. Frame has the gift of writing clear, everyday English while writing on all kinds of theological topics. This may be his best volume!
Several trustworthy guides (e.g. J. I. Packer, Doug Kelly, and others) note that it may be the best current volume on the orthodox doctrine of Scripture. In the series, A THEOLOGY OF LORDSHIP, Professor Frame has already written on THE DOCTRINE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (how do we know what we know and specifically, how does a human being come to have real and true knowledge of God). Then he wrote
on THE DOCTRINE OF GOD (who He is, what He is like and what that all means); and then THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Professor Frame admits early on the all of these books are based upon the trustworthy and sufficient Scriptures and show the trustworthiness of Scripture as each doctrine is treated. This entire volume is meant to help the reader think through all the the Bible is and should mean to us.
The Chapter headings are as follows:
PART ONE: ORIENTATION
1. The Personal-Word Model
2. Lordship and the Word
PART TWO: GOD'S WORD IN MODERN THEOLOGY
3. Modern Views of Revelation
4. Revelation and Reason
5. Revelation and History
6. Revelation and Human Subjectivity
7. Revelation and God Himself
PART THREE: THE NATURE OF GOD'S WORD
8. What is the Word of God?
9. God's Word as His Controlling Power
10. God's Word as His Meaningful Authority
11. God's Word as His Personal Presence
PART FOUR: HOW THE WORD COMES TO US
12. The Media of God's Word
13. God's Revelation Through Events
14. God's Revlation through Words: The Divine Voice
15. God's Revelation Through Words: Prophets and
16. The Permanence of God's Written Word
17. God's Written Words in the Old Testament
18. Respect for God's Written Words in the Old
19. Jesus' View of the Old Testament
20. The Apostles' View of the Old Testament
21. The New Testament as God's Written Word
22. The Canon of Scripture
23. The Inspiration of Scripture
24. The Content of Scripture
25. Scripture's Authority: Its Content, & Its Purpose
26. The Inerrancy of Scripture
27. The Phenomena of Scripture
28. Bible Problems
29. The Clarity of Scripture
30. The Necessity of Scripture
31. The Comprehensiveness of Scripture
32. The Sufficiency of Scripture
33. The Transmission of Scripture
34. Translations and Editions of Scripture
35. Teaching and Preaching
38. Confessions, Creeds and Traditions
39. Human Reception of Scripture
40. The Interpretation of Scripture
42. Person-Revelation: the Divine Witness
43. Human Beings as Revelation
44. Writing on the Heart
45. Summary and Organizational Reflections
APPENDICES--There are 17 Appendices on top of this!
What a wealth of good things. I would commend church officers, seminarians, pastors and thinking lay people to read and master this book. Again, Frame writes to be understood, not to show off a turgid or academic prose. Laymen can understand this book.
Pastors and seminarians should understand this book.
FOR MORE ADVANCED READERS:
Peter Lillback & Richard Gaffin, eds.; THY WORD IS STILL TRUTH (Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture From the Reformation to Today); P & R
Another "Aha!" moment regarding the battle for the Bible came in 1980. I was in seminary and my professor, John Woodbridge, had a seminar class evaluating a then new book by Jack Rogers and Donald McKim, THE AUTHORITY AND INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE (An Historical Approach). The authors purported to show that the so-called modern idea of the "inerrancy" of the Bible was invented by professors at late 19th century Princeton Seminary (A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield). Their thesis was that the normative view of the church had been that the Bible had errors but not such that people could not be saved or grow. They told us that the church for nearly 2,000 years had always believed in an errant Bible. So the position of their seminary in California, which had changed to embrace the errantist position, was in the mainstream of church history.
The seminar class took the Rogers & McKim volume and looked up every footnote in the book. We could volunteer to back check chapters and I chose the ones on Charles Hodge (my thesis subject) and the Puritans (a growing love). How shocked I was to discover that the footnotes, by and large, were doctored! Quotes were trimmed to leave out contrary comments;
secondary sources were conflated with primary sources leaving a completely different impression of what the original author was saying, sentences from the middle of a paragraph were made to say something that the whole paragraph did not say, etc, etc. It was hash job!
When the class came together and we discovered that the others had found the same discrepancies that each of us had found, we sat silently in amazement. The professor reminded us that we were all sinners and sometime professing Christians did unrighteous things to justify their conduct. So professors from a reportedly evangelical seminary, seeking to help keep their support base, rewrote church history to make
themselves seem kosher. (You can read the results
of this class in John Woodbridge, BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: A CRITIQUE OF THE ROGERS/McKIM PROPOSAL; Zondervan; 1982)
The battle for the Bible was still in process and now so-called evangelicals were adjusting the Bible to the dictates of contemporary scholarship. For the past 30 years I have seen the on-going skirmishes as once professed evangelicals lose their confidence in the Scriptures and jump ship, landing in all kinds of strange places with strange bed-fellows.
One of the newest books to thoroughly debunk the notion that the church has never believed in inerrancy is THY WORD IS STILL TRUTH. Several decades ago,
Westminster Seminary Old Testament scholar E. J. Young wrote, THEY WORD IS TRUTH. It strengthened a generation of young evangelical and Reformed scholars as to the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Bible.
What Drs. Lillback and Gaffin have done is bring together the best sources from the 16th century Reformation down to today to show that Christ's church has always believed in a fully trustworthy and inerrant Bible.
Westminster Seminary had been embarrassed a decade ago when one of its Old Testament professors did not teach and publish in accordance with the Scripture or the Westminster Standards and had to be removed. The final section of the volumes shows what Westminster faced and how they are currently in line with historic, orthodox Reformation Christianity.
PART ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURA: THE REFORMERS'
REDISCOVERY OF THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD
--what Luther taught
--what Zwingli taught
--what Bullinger taught
--what Calvin taught
PART TWO: THE REFORMED CONFESSIONS
--almost all the 16th and early 17th century
creeds and confessions
PART THREE: EARLY REFORMED INTERPRETATION
--from Henry Bullinger to Jonathan Edwards
PART FOUR: THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE IN
--William Ames, John Owen, Francis Turretin and
PART FIVE: THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE IN THE
SCOTTISH AND DUTCH LEGACY
--John Witherspoon, William Cunningham,
Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof,
PART SIX: OTHER NINETEENTH CENTURY EUROPEAN
--Louis Gaussen, Adolphe Monod, Ernst Wilhelm
Hengstenberg, and Charles Spurgeon
PART SEVEN: THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE IN THE
THEOLOGY OF OLD PRINCETON
--Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, Benjamin B.
Warfield, and Moises Silva
PART EIGHT: THE THEOLOGY OF SCRIPTURE OF THE
FOUNDING FATHERS OF WESTMINSTER
--J. Gresham Machen
--Robert Dick Wilson
--O. T. Allis
--Cornelius Van Til
PART NINE: THE BIRTH OF BIBLICAL THEOLOGY
(at WESTMINSTER SEMINARY)
--Ned B. Stonehouse
PART TEN: THE AUTHORITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
AND NEW TESTAMENT CANON OF SCRIPTURE
(AT WESTMINSTER SEMINARY)
--Edward J. Young
--Ned B. Stonehouse
PART ELEVEN: CHALLENGES TO THE REFORMED
DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE
--E. J. Young
PART TWELVE: THE WESTMINSTER CONTROVERSY
PART THIRTEEN: CONCLUSIONS
This is no "ivory tower" dispute. This is no idle discussion by folks with too much time on their hands. I know what it is like growing up in a liberal denomination that has jettisoned confidence in Scripture and has nothing to say to a lost world. And the world has returned the favor by paying the church no mind.
The fate of Christ's church and the preaching of the gospel depends upon whether we have a sure Word of God. The churches of Europe were emptied in the late 19th century as the churches and preachers no longer believed "Thy Word is truth". Early 20th century Britain and modern America has seen the same things happen as denominations have lost 50 million adherents because their pulpits no longer blazed with "Thus sayest the Lord". When problems arise in Christian's lives today in these denominations, there is no longer a sure Word of God to turn to for answers.
Thank you Drs. Lillback and Gaffin and thank you to P & R for publishing so helpful a volume. May the Lord
bless it for the up-building of Christ's churches and the spread of the gospel.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Christians, like most citizens, tend to think of their government when it is really frustrating and seemingly out of control. When Thomas Jefferson was elected in 1800 to the Presidency, evangelical Christians were openly despondent because Jefferson was known for his diminished view of Christ and the Bible. An open skeptic was now the 3rd President.
Christians today are frustrated and becoming afraid because Christianity's space in the public square is getting smaller and smaller. Will open persecution be far behind? Has Christianity come to the end of its run as the majority worldview of the western world? What world will our children and grand children grow up in?
Is our nation going down the same drain that so many other empires and once great nations went down?
Let me suggest some books about Christianity and politics and government. We are one of the few representative democracies left in the world and Christians can still speak up and they can still vote.
What, if anything, should Christians be going in government and politics? The following books give believers things to think about as they seek to put together some cogent thoughts on government.
Gary Scott Smith, GOD AND POLITICS (FOUR VIEWS
ON THE REFORMATION OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT);
P & R--Professor Scott's book has been around for about twenty years and is standing the test of time. Four major positions are championed by professing Christian authors. This is a good place to start.
Aurelius Augustine, THE CITY OF GOD-classic 5th
century argument that the Roman Empire fell
not because of the presence of Christians within
its borders (as the pagans alleged) but because of
the weight of its own sinfulness. There is the city
of God (inhabited by God's people) and the city of
man (that worldlings refuse to leave to fly to Christ)
and these two cities are ever in conflict until Christ
Wayne Grudem, POLITICS--ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
(A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding
Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture);
Zondervan--a 660 page blockbuster of biblical
analysis of major issues and how government
should handle them. A major contribution by a
leading 21st century theologian.
A Christian Citizen, POLITICAL CHRISTIANITY: A CALL
TO ACTION; Tolle Legge Press--(from the books own
self-description--Our political situation is bleak: nation building, rising taxes, broken election promises, immoral legislation and legislators...the list goes on and on. But we've allowed thisto happen. For the last 150 years, throngs of American evangelicals have surrendered under the white flag of pietism, refusing to enter the "worldly" political arena. By default, Christians have allowed God and His word to be shut out of politics, enabling secularists to install a new western savior--the omnipotent state. Political Christianity is a manual to help establish a truly biblical approach to politics. Impressively thorough yet concise, this readable book covers a great deal: from political presuppositions to biblical principles of government. It even provides practical insight into the pesky "lesser-of-two-evils" voting dilemma."
John S. Hart, A BRIEF EXPOSITION OF THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES; Solid Ground Christian Books--a 19th century classic written to instruct young Americans about what the Constitution actually says.
Douglas Kelly, EMERGENCE OF LIBERTY IN THE
MODERN WORLD (The Influence of John Calvin on 5 Governments from the 16th though the 18th Centuries.); P & R--a classic that shows how 5 western democracies were impacted by John Calvin's theology and the social outworking of it.
Hunter Baker, A STUDENT'S GUIDE TO POLITICAL THOUGHT; Crossway--great place to begin to learn about politics and government and the Bible.
May the Lord guide you in your reading of the Bible and these books on God and government. May you be in prayer for our nation and its leaders. May God be merciful upon our sinful nation which has squandered its riches while rejecting the God who gave them the riches.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit my website for more on books and good reading.
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM and see also my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES.
Genesis 3 is the saddest chapter in the Bible and in all literature. It documents the Fall of our first parents into sin and in acorn form, all the other awful things that will happen in history on this planet are there. The best of parents try to shield their children from the realities of this fallen world but there comes a day when we all must face the hardships and heart aches of a sin-sick world under the judgment of God. And great hardships and heart aches produce great grief.
Christians are not immune from the terrible things that plague this world. Christians are struck down early with a terrible disease, their children die early from cancer, they lose jobs at critical junctures in their lives, and on top of these and countless other maladies, they are persecuted and martyred for their faith too. We would lose our sanity if we did not have a Savior who gently shepherds His needy sheep. His life on earth was full of heartaches and He was known as the 'man of sorrows'. He knows as only He can know what real heartache and misery are. He alone can fully sympathize with believers in their times of sorrow. 'Man of sorrows'--What a title for the Lord of glory!
Besides His indwelling Spirit to comfort and strengthen us, there is the reality that Christ intercedes for the saints in glory and His Father never says "No" to His Son. All who are Christ's will make it to glory. They are united to Him by His Spirit, they have the iron promises of His Word, and His pledge never to leave us nor forsake us.
Sadly for them unbelievers spurn their hopes of help by rejecting the Savior and thus rejecting their Shepherd, their Intercessor, their Pilot to see them through. Believers have resources undreamt of by unbelievers.
Some of Christ's best gifts to His church of suffering saints is the legacy left behind by saints who have suffered in the past and received the promised comfort from God (2nd Corinthians 1:3-11). They faithfully pass along to others what God has given to them. A comfort that stabilizes the mind, strengthens the will, makes glad the heart and puts a new song on the lips.
Below are some of Christ's best gifts to His people when they are undergoing affliction and heartache, suffering and agony. His Spirit comes alongside the suffering saint and steadies the breaking heart, strengthens that breaking heart, and brings fresh courage and joy to that breaking heart.
L. B. Cowman, STREAMS IN THE DESERT; Zondervan
A classic written by the wife of a missionary society who lost her husband early in her life and who herself faced many heartaches. This collection of daily readings was first published in 1926 and has been kept in print ever since because it is so good. A classic of comfort and peace to be read and reread many times. Highly recommended.
Sharon Betters, TREASURES IN DARKNESS; P & R
Sharon lost her son in an auto accident. This records her grief, pain, rage and struggle until finally settling down in the grace of God. When the fiery dart feels like a fiery harpoon, she has real and biblical help.
John Flavel, FACING GRIEF: COUNSEL FOR
MOURNERS; Banner of Truth--Puritan pastor/ theologian/counselor/author, Flavel excels at helping the believer deal with their grief AND NOT GIVE INTO EXCESSIVE GRIEF when the incident at hand does not become life defining. Highly recommended.
Donald Howard, CHRISTIANS GRIEVE TOO; Banner of
Truth booklet--Pastor Howard begins with the self-discovery that he was ready for his wife's passing, they had battled her cancer together for a decade. He was ready for her death. He was not ready for his own grief. This tells how he grieved and found help when it became too much.
James Packer, A GRIEF SANCTIFIED; Crossway--tells
the story of Puritan pastor Richard Baxter's grief at the loss of his dear wife and how he was helped to finally deal with it. A treasure by a past Puritan and a modern one.
Nancy Guthrie, HOLDING ON TO HOPE; Tyndale
Nancy Guthrie went through great loss and was at her wits end. What God taught her from His Word in the darkness she shares with us today. This awful thing need not be 'life-defining' but can be a means of growth in the grace and knowledge of God.
Nancy Guthrie, ONE YEAR BOOK OF HOPE; Tyndale
A daily devotional that helps the reader keep their eyes on Christ and His Word for a whole year.
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life Hurts);
NavPress--one could title this book, "Lessons I Learn Walking the Floor at Night While My Wife was Dying of Cancer". Jerry clearly and warmly shows that God is sovereign and nothing overcomes Him; God is omniscient and He misses nothing; He is holy and nothing sinful tempts Him to treat us badly and He is loving and all things work together for the good for those who are His. Meant to be savored and applied.
A real sanity saver!
Ronn Dunn, WHEN HEAVEN IS SILENT; Christian
Literature Crusade--on Thanksgiving Day, 1975, Ron and Kay Dunn's oldest son committed suicide. He confessed that that was the last good day he had for ten full years. And he was making his living as a conference speaker across the South and in other nations. He learned to stop asking the "Why?" questions and started asking the "What next?" questions. He learned that God prepared him for this great test and as any good teacher does, does not talk to the student when they are taking the test. You take the test and see what you have learned. Pastor Dunn reached the same conclusions as Jerry Bridges but walks longer in your shoes of misery before coming to the right answers.
May the God of all peace give you peace and joy again in believing.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come Visit me at my website... www.thelogcollege.wordpress.com
...for more book info and to see my e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES.
June is the month of weddings (and formerly the month of graduations too--but now they are mostly moved to May so school can start in August rather than September--but don't ask me why.) [That last sentence is poorly constructed but strangely I think you can follow my logic!)
In expressing love and affection and good will to those getting married or graduated, I would like to make some suggestions that I think the newly married and newly graduated will appreciate and may even thank you for.
BOOKS FOR THE NEWLY GRADUATED:
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD;
Crossway--should win an award as the best
starter book on the Bible--why believe it, why
follow it, why cherish it, why obey it. A must
for any true Christian.
Kevin DeYoung, JUST DO SOMETHING; Crossway
A great little book on knowing and doing the
will of God. Takes the voodoo out of knowing
and doing the will of God and puts following
God on a truly biblical foundation.
Brian Cosby, REBELS RESCUED; Christian Focus--a
great primer on the Reformed faith for students
David Robertson, MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (Why
Jesus is Great); Christian Focus--a powerful
apologist wrote this to show a former atheist
why he followed Jesus. Great for students.
Alex Chediak, THRIVING AT COLLEGE; Crossway--
Romans 12:2 tells us to no longer be fitted into
the world's mold but to be transformed by
the renewing of our minds. The author shows
how not to be conformed to the culture and
the ethos of a typical college campus but how
to live for Christ and prosper spiritually in
college, despite the corrosive environment.
FOR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE GOING INTO THE WORK FORCE AND NOT COLLEGE:
Stephen Nichols, WHAT IS VOCATION? (Basics of the
Faith Series); P & R--helpful booklet on what
God means when He says that all believers
have a calling, have God-ordained work to do.
Very helpful and a good place to start.
Gene Edward Veith, GOD AT WORK; Crossway--
what the Bible teaches about your life's
work as a calling from God or "vocation",
from the Latin phrase for 'caling'. Shows the
working person the importance of what they
do--to God as well as the employer!
BOOKS FOR THE NEWLY MARRIED:
Dave Harvey, WHEN SINNERS SAY 'I DO'; Crossway
A very practical and helpful book on the realities
of marriage in a fallen world between two sinners
both in need of grace and forgiveness.
Tim & Kathy Keller, THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE
Facing the Complexities of Commitment With
the Wisdom of God); hardback and paperback
This is one of the better books on marriage to
come along in years and it speaks to the
mindset of the present generation while being
faithful to the Word of God. Highly recommended.
Mark Chanski, MANLY DOMINION; Calvary Press
, WOMANLY DOMINION; Calvary Press
One of my observations as a pastor for the past
40 years is the deterioration of the biblical mind-
set of what it means to be a Christian man and
a Christian woman. These books go a long way
to help young married understand the biblical
identity of a man of God and woman of God.
Ed Wheat, INTENDED FOR PLEASURE (Sex
Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian
Marriage); Revell--great help for Christians
getting married and wanting to learn how God
wants them to express them sexually, beginning
with the honeymoon.
Wayne Mack, YOUR MARRIAGE, GOD'S WAY; P & R
One of the most helpful books on communication
and anger/conflict resolution in marriage. Very
practical and biblical.
Joel Beeke, FAMILY WORSHIP; Reformation Heritage
Just beginning your marriage is the perfect time
to begin the spiritual discipline of family devotions
which carried on over time, so greatly enrich
your marriage and family. Joel Beeke's booklet
is the best place to start this important discipline.
May the graduates you know and care for and the newly married you know and care for prosper greatly because of the books you thoughtfully give them.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website for more about books, the Reformed faith and the glories of Christ.
See my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES, recommended commentaries on every book of the Bible, for beginners to pastors.
In seminary I learned in my Adult Education class that adults only read the equivalent of 4 books once they graduate from High School or College. And what they do read they read to fix or solve problems. That is why the self-help section at the book store is so large. People are willing to read if it will help them make life better.
What's more, 80% of Christian books are bought by women. One trip to the local Christian bookstore will show this to you. The women's section is huge and the men's section is miniscule. And what books are in the men's department are embarrassing--books about money, business, leadership, athletes who are Christians, and maybe one or two on leading your home and raising children. That's it.
The reason why men don't read is that many men have not found a joy in reading. They have never discovered that reading can be fun, educational (in a very helpful way), inspiring, convicting, and even life-changing. So this week's blog is about books to give various kinds of men.
FOR MEN WHO USUALLY DON'T LIKE TO READ:
Laura Hillenbrand, UNBROKEN (A World War II Story
of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption); Water-
brook Press--all kinds of men say they cannot put
this book down. It demands their attention and the
riveting story pulls them through. Nobody could
make such a story up. It is one of the great stories
of World War II. God gets the glory in the end but
not until Ernie Zamperini goes to hell and back.
Even women who do not like war stories loved
Peter Jeffery, FROM RELIGION TO CHRIST; Calvary
Press--expert communicator Peter Jeffery who was
converted when he was 19 and working in a factor
never forgot his roots and writes for the working
man and teenager. Walks us through Christ's
conversation with Nicodemus and the need of
every soul to be born again by a supernatural new
Peter Jeffery, BELIEVERS NEED THE GOSPEL; Calvary
Press--shows how the Christian begins his new life
with Christ and the gospel, middles with Christ and
the gospel and ends up with Christ and the gospel.
Very helpful to give men a sense of where they
stand with God.
FOR DADS WHO BELONG TO CONFESSIONAL CHURCHES:
THE HEIDELBERG CATECHISM; Banner of Truth
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH; Banner
THE 1689 LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH;
Banner of Truth
Three confessions for men belonging to these 3
different confessional denomination/associations.
John Fesko, THE THEOLOGY OF THE WESTMINSTER
STANDARDS (Historical Context and Present
Relity); Crossway--the how and why and what of
the Westminster Confessions of Faith and
Tom Chantry and David Dykstra, HOLDING
COMMUNION TOGETHER (The 20th Century
history of the Reformed Baptist movement)
Solid Ground Christian Books
R. C. Sproul, EVERYONE'S A THEOLOGIAN;
Reformation Trust--R. C. could not be boring if he
tried and here he shows why every person and
Christian is a a theologian, either a good one,
or a bad one. Then he teaches you how to be a
FOR DAD'S JUST LEARNING THE BIBLE & DOCTRINE:
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD; Crossway
shows why the Bible is the Word of God and if you
are a real Christian you will resonate with that.
Great, motivational writing on a great theme.
Ryken, Ryken and Wilhoit: RYKEN BIBLE HANDBOOK;
Tyndale--the President of 'Wheaton College, the
noted English professor from Wheaton College and
a noted Education Professor join hands to give us
the best Bible handbook--not too much information
such that you get bogged down and not too little
such that you are tempted to ask: "Why bother?"
J. I. Packer, CONCISE THEOLOGY; Tyndale--everything
you might have wanted to know, in 200 words or
less for each word of "technical theology". A
FOR NEW DAD'S LEARNING TO BE A HUSBAND & DAD
Mark Chanski, MANLY DOMINION; Calvary Press--the
best place to start to review what the Word of God
has to say about Christian husbands being
Stuart Scott, THE EXEMPLARY HUSBAND; Focus
Christian Publishing--the 2nd best place to start
John Lehman, ITS APPARENT...YOU'RE A PARENT;
Great Writing Publishing--helps new Dad's to think
through what they should be doing and to head
FOR OLDER DADS FINISHING THEIR COURSES:
J. I. Packer, WEAKNESS IS THE WAY; Crossway--
shows from the New Testament how weakness
is not something we are to despise and fight
against but a reality to all of God's children. Only
those who recognize and embrace the reality of
their weakness can expect God to work in and
J. I. Packer, FINISHING YOUR COURSE WITH JOY;
Crossway--Jim Packer, 87 year old leader of
evangelical Calvinism writes with warmth and
biblical clarity about the one great certainty--our
every approaching death and how to live your life
Ted Donnelly, THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN
AND HELL; Banner of Truth--the most exhilarating
and most terror-filled book I have ever read.
May these books get read and may the hearts and lives of those you give the book to be changed forever.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my personal web-page,
and see the many articles, reviews of books,
and my own downloadable e-book--21ST CENTURY
COMMENTING AND COMMENTARIES.
John Lehman, IT'S APPARENT...YOU'RE A PARENT (Raising Godly Children in Today's World); Great Writing Publishing
In 2013, John Lehman wrote something of a "sleeper" of a book on parenting. I call it a "sleeper" because it did not get the notoriety of some other books on parenting. That is a shame because it is very helpful, especially for beginning parents or older parents who want a short "check up" on how they are doing.
Parenting books can fall into different categories. Some teach everything on the Christian life and bring it to bear on the subject of parenting. Such books seek to keep the reader from legalism or an unhealthy focus on parenting as if it were separate from the Christian life. Some books major in stories and examples from the authors own experience as if to say, "This is how we did it, now go and do it likewise!". Others are studies of all the biblical material on parenting and become a bit overwhelming.
John is a Baptist pastor and a National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) trained biblical counselor living in South Carolina. Like all good, biblical counselors he is biblical, clear, straight-forward, sensitive to the human condition and honest. John has confidence in the Word of God to equip the people of God to serve their Lord in all areas, parenting included.
Let me detail the chapters for you.
CHAPTER 1--NOW WHAT...DO WE DO TO BEGIN? (Getting ready to become a mom or dad.)
This book strikes me as aimed at the many in our churches who are professing Christians but have little or no training in parenting other than growing up AND they have not really studied biblical parenting. So this book begins at the beginning!
CHAPTER 2--NOW WHAT...DO I WANT MY CHILD TO BE LIKE WHEN HE/SHE GROWS UP? (Preparing an overarching goal for your child.)
Parents ought to be aiming at something. It is certainly true that he who aims at nothing will surely achieve it! What should be our goals in parenting the children God gives us. How do we determine these goals?
CHAPTER 3--NOW WHAT...DOES OBEDIENCE MEAN?
(Demonstrating what it means to live in submission to the One, True God)
Western civilization is awash with millions of children who were little loved and less disciplined. This is a very fine explanation of how to train a child to be an obedient child. If you don't like disciplining your 5 year old, you won't like the 15 year old that later comes forth.
CHAPTER 4--NOW WHAT...DO I DO IF MY CHILD DISOBEYS? (Facing the consequences God has directed when there is disobedience.)
The bookend to the previous chapter. Discipline is not simply beating a child or giving it the "silent treatment" but faithfully applying biblical means of discipline for disobedience or dishonoring. Parents are not to discipline for ignorance or immaturity but disobedience or dishonoring their parents.
CHAPTER 5--NOW WHAT...SHOULD A PARENT REALLY LOOK LIKE? (Cultivating a godly parental model that emphasizes practical godliness.)
Parents train 24-7-365. The model of the kind of man or woman, Christian or hypocrite, etc. goes a long way to determining what mental model your child will have of a true man or woman of God. This chapter addresses the kind of person you are becoming by the grace of God.
CHAPTER 6--NOW WHAT...ARE THE STAGES IN CHILD-
READING? (Navigating wisely through the ages and stages that lead to adulthood.)
A parent with common sense would not expect their 5 year old, 10 year old, or 15 year old to lift the same weight, know the same math or have digested all the rules of the home. This chapter teach the basics of adapting your training to the age and comprehension of your child and what to expect along the way.
POSTSCRIPT--Off to a bad start? Don't give up!
STUDY GUIDE--Great questions to discuss as husband and wife or for a small group to discuss together.
May I suggest that you give this book to young "mothers to be" at baby showers and young "fathers to be" as a "friendship gift" as fatherhood approaches.
May I suggest you give it to parents just coming to Christ to help them play "catch up" with their responsibilities as Christian parents.
May I suggest you read and discuss it in your small groups?
May I suggest you add it to your list of important parenting books along with...
Tedd Tripp, SHEPHERDING A CHILD'S HEART
Edith Schaeffer, WHAT IS A FAMILY ?
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
Type in "Parenting" into the Search bar and
hit "Go". There are many other good selections
to supplement what is here.
May our children praise God that we cared for them enough to equip ourselves to be more than mediocre parents but that we raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
As a pastor of a local church for 31 years and thus in the trenches of spiritual warfare, I was always on the lookout for good "munitions". Munitions are the stuff of war. If one does not have rifles, bullets, tanks, planes, shops, uniforms, boots, etc, one cannot fight a war and win. Today's churches have the best munitions available in English and we are wrong to not use them or take advantage of them.
Our Lord Christ has given the churches His Holy Spirit and the Bible and we are well taken care of. Good men have written good books and booklet and such to use in the battles for men's souls. We know that at the time of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, Luther's writings were being disseminated all over Europe as a communication revolution via the printing press enabled the common man to know what was being said and what was being taught.
Crossway Books, along with P&R, Christian Focus, Reformation Heritage, Banner of Truth and other publishers give us the best "munitions" for our personal use and in helping others. Today I shall note the great new books now available from Crossway and hope you read them, give them to others, put them on your book table, in your church library and pray for their wide dissemination.
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD--THE
BOOK I would use to teach my congregation the
importance of God's Word and the qualities of God's
Word. Thank you, Kevin DeYoung.
Michael Horton, CALVIN ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE--
if one cannot read Calvin's INSTITUTES for oneself,
this is the next best thing. A brilliant coverage of
what Calvin saw in Scripture as to being a Christian
and functioning as God would have us.
Vern Poythress, CHANCE AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF
GOD (A God-Centered Approach to Probability and
Random Events)--for those who ask the important
questions and want to know how God's providence
works, this is THE BOOK to read. Not for the
flippant or casual reader.
Philip Ryken and Michael LeFebvre, OUR TRIUNE GOD
(Living in the Love of the Three-in-One); four
transcribed sermons cover the basic foundation of
Trinitarianism, that is, biblical Christianity. A sweet
Elizabeth Catherwood and Christopher Catherwood,
eds.; THE CHRIST-CENTERED PREACHING OF
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES--17 sermons by the man
who single handedly put the doctrines of the
Reformation back on the table of British Christian-
ity. Deeply researched, firmly biblical, experiential,
authoritative, true to life--everything that made
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones a great preacher are in
Greg Forster, JOY FOR THE WORLD (How Christianity
Lost Its Cultural Influence & Can Begin Rebuilding
It)--cultural student and author of the previously
well-received THE JOY OF CALVINISM, Foster shows
how the Christian gospel not only demolishes the
false idols of our culture but provides the building
blocks for a whole new society.
Andreas Kostenberger & Justin Taylor, THE FINAL
DAYS OF JESUS (The Most Important Week of
the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived)--a
day by day, passage by passage harmony of the
events of the final week of our Lord. Sermons
waiting to happen lie on every page.
R. Scott Smith, TRUTH AND THE NEW KIND OF
CHRISTIAN--most Christians could not define "post-
modernism" nor perhaps even spell it BUT they
live submerged in it every day. As Francis Schaeffer
showed those who would listen in the 60's through
the 80's about what the larger pagan culture
believed and how it came into the churches, we
cannot disregard the culture we live in. Smith
shows how the next level of cultural degeneracy
has given us a society without absolute,
"everything is relative", the loss of objective truth
and the "emerging churches". Important for
understanding the culture and the poisoned air
we breathe daily.
James Packer and Mark Dever, IN MY PLACE
CONDEMNED HE STOOD--some of the best articles
every written on what Christ accomplished on the
cross. Should be mastered by every pastor and
Paul Miller, A LOVING LIFE--as a follow up to A
PRAYING LIFE, Miller shows how to follow Christ
leads to a loving life. Should be required for the
"big brain, small heart" crowd.
James Anderson, WHATS YOUR WORLDVIEW? (An
Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions) --
asks 21 questions, gives us 5 categories to
consider and 21 worldviews to evaluate. Great gift
to give the thinking person.
OVERLOOKED GEMS STILL IN PRINT FROM CROSWAY
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, REVIVAL--the best series of sermons in print on what revival is, what revival does, and how God brings it. A classic.
Ken Myers, ALL GOD'S CHILDREN AND BLUE SUEDE
SHOES (Christians and Popular Culture)--one of
the first and still one of the best books dealing with
Christ and culture from an evangelical and
Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE BOOKENDS OF
THE CHRISTIANS LIFE (now in paperback)--brilliant
and clear summary of the Great Exchange (my sin
for His righteousness) and the gift of the Holy Spirit
to believers. It removes the basis for despair and
James Packer, A PASSION FOR FAITHFULNESS
(Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah)--one of the
great studies of Nehemiah and a rich source of
personal devotional insight. Packer says he has
lectured on Nehemiah more than any other
biblical book. Come and see why!
May the Lord bless you with a great summer reading,
giving away books, selling them from your booktable and putting them in the church library. .
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
[Don't forget that my e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES is available to download at my website, WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM. ]
Since the Lord saved me in 1969, the question of "How Can I Know The Will of God For Me ?" has vexed many people I have known. Year after year, the question comes up. Who should I marry? What job should I seek? Where should I live? What should be my major in college? Should I go to college? I have this "situation" before me, what should I do? These and many related questions are asked over and over and over again.
Sadly, much of the discussion and more sadly, much of the answering has been based upon a faulty understanding of how God sanctifies and guides His people. Gary Friesen wrote a book in the 80's entitled, DECISION MAKING AND THE WILL OF GOD; Multnomah Press, where he critiqued the "traditional notion" of how to know God's will. The critique was helpful as far as it went, unfortunately, as James Packer pointed out in a pointed review: nobody prior to the 1880's would have recognized what Friesen labeled as the "traditional view". What Friesen was critiquing was the view inherited by Christians in Dispensational churches who also adhered to "Keswick theology".
What am I talking about? Prior to the rise of popular in the late 19th century, no one had ever heard of the "traditional view" as described by Friesen. It was an invention of a certain school of theology that was popularized in Bible Colleges and prophesy conferences. The will of God was an illusive thing that one must not miss or else one must settle for God's "second best" the rest of one's life. If you make the wrong decision on the first leg of your flight, you will miss the rest of your connecting flights!
The so-called Keswick theology taught a "let go and let God" version of sanctification where the believer was to be passive in letting Jesus live the Christian life through them. It was thought that Jesus would live a dynamic life in that believer who "knew the secret" of living above the fray by confessing every known sin and every unyielded area of one's life. That way there was no impediment to Jesus living through them. The notion of struggle, confusion, difficulty and misery were not part of Keswick's theology. "Every day should be an exciting adventure for the Christian who knows the secret of the Spirit-filled life and lives moment by moment under His gracious control" began one Keswick-oriented booklet. A day with spiritual clouds or struggle or in the slough of despond was thought to be outside God's will and the mark of a "carnal Christian".
So went the story.
Since the 1980's, the question of how to know the will of God has been bundled with how does God sanctify His people, including how does He guide them in life's path. The following books are part of a bevy of good books showing the better theology and truer way to walk in the paths of God.
Psalm 119:32 says that "I run in the paths of your commands because you have set my heart free." The main step in knowing God's will is to know the revealed will of God in the Bible. That will take care of 95% of the questions and conundrums we face in this life. The following books will greatly help clarify the process of knowing God's will in the so-called gray areas.
Bruce Waltke, FINDING THE WILL OF GOD; Eerdmans
Professor Waltke shows how the Dispensational/
Keswick view of finding God's will is more pagan
and occultish than Christian and biblical.
Sinclair Ferguson, DISCOVERING GOD'S WILL; Banner
of Truth--reasoning and choosing like a true
Christian based upon God's Word.
Kevin DeYoung, JUST DO SOMETHING (A Liberating
Approach to Knowing God's Will); Moody Press
A great gift for this year's graduates or those stuck
in paralysis of not knowing what to do with their
James Packer, GUARD US, GUIDE US; Baker Books
As large as the other books above combined, it is
a robust study of how God enters into covenant
with His people and promises them to take care
of them, to guard them and guide them. And out
out of this flows the will of God.
Martin Clark, CHOOSING MY CAREER (A Christian
Decision Manual); P & R--a book to work at to
understand how God has providentially made you
and gifted you and equipped you. Good also for
graduates and those stuck in neutral.
May the Lord help those who walk with Him to come to peace of mind as to His will for their lives and may they walk with Him diligently in the paths of His commands.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my website: WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESSCOM
and see also my e-book,
21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES
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: