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REVIEW OF THE DICTIONARY OF PRESBYTERIAN AND REFORMED TRADITION IN AMERICA

06/25/2018

REVIEW OF DICTIONARY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN & REFORMED TRADITION IN AMERICA
Edited by D. G. Hart with assistance from Mark Noll;
P & R; 2005; 286 pages

In 1999, D. G. Hart edited this volume for InterVarsity Press. It’s initial publication had its day but P & R picked it up and republished it in 2005 to lengthen its lifespan. I am glad that they did. If you want to know about Elias Boudinot (Hint: he was a Cherokee Presbyterian)
or what did J. Gresham Machen stand for or what do Presbyterians believe about the sacraments, you can find these things and thousands more in this helpful dictionary. With contributions by over 150 authorities, this will likely be the go-to volume for those wishing to know about the history of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in the U.S.

(NOTE: Modern covenantal or Reformed Baptists who also hold to Federal Theology are not represented. But if you want to know about the good and godly Presbyterians and Dutch Reformed and German Reformed folks, this volume is indispensable.)

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas


Posted: 05:29:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND APPLY THE NEW TESTAMENT

REVIEW OF HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND APPLY THE NEW TESTAMENT
(12 Steps From Exegesis to Theology);
By Andrew Naselli; P & R; 2017

Like its bookend volume, HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND APPLY THE OLD TESTAMENT, this book is a gift to the Church of Jesus Christ. Thorough and yet clear, comprehensive without being boring, this book will serve the student and pastor the rest of his life. Christians believe the Bible to be true in all that it affirms. What does it affirm? What is it saying? How does it apply today? Andy Naselli, with two doctorates, shows us the way through the wealth of the wisdom of the past and present in biblical hermeneutics.

Here are the 12 Steps From Exegesis to Theology:

1. Genre

2. Textual Criticism

3. Translation

4. Greek Grammar

5. Argument Diagram

6. Historical-Cultural Context

7. Literary Context

8. Word Studies

9. Biblical Theology

10. Historical Theology

11. Systematic Theology

12. Practical Theology

Like its bookend volume mentioned above, this is surely to become a classic for this and the next generation of Bible students.

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students; IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS

Posted: 04:59:09 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND APPLY THE OLD TESTAMENT

REVIEW OF HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND APPL.Y THE OLD TESTAMENT; (12 Steps From Exegesis to Theology) by Jason DeRouchie; P & R; 2017

All conservative Bible students believe the Bible to be the very Word of God written. What does this infallible book teach? Too often in the past, professional and amateur Bible students have agreed upon the infallibility of the text without agreeing upon what the text is actually saying. That is the realm of hermeneutics—how to interpret a book of the Bible along with the rest of the Bible. Some have argued that biblical interpretation is just a matter of the “science” of hermeneutics; others have argued that biblical understanding is more a matter of the “art” of interpretation. Still others would argue that all one needs is the Spirit and your interpretation wi.ll be just fine

Dr. DeRouchie shows us the way through the maze to properly read the Bible and come away with its meaning and application. What are his twelve steps from exegesis of the text to understanding the theology of the text? Without being boring or pedantic, DeRouchie takes us by
the hand and shows us how to read, understand and apply the Word of God .

What are the 12 steps?

PART 1: TEXT—WHAT IS THE MAKEUP OF THE PASSAGE?
1. Genre
2. Literary Units and Text Hierarchy
3. Text Criticism
4. Translation

PART 2: OBSERVATION—HOW IS THE PASSAGE COMMUNICATED ?
5. Clause and Text Grammar
6. Argument Tracing
7. Word and Concept Studies

PART 3: CONTEXT—WHERE DOES THE PASSAGE FIT ?
8. Historical Context
9. Literary Context

PART 4: MEANING—WHAT DOES THE PASSAGE MEAN ?
10. Biblical Theology
11. Systematic Theology

PART 5: APPLICATION—WHY DOES THE PASSAGE MATTER ?
12. Practical Theology
With an excellent bibliography for studying the Old Testament in general and comprehensive coverage of the details of faithful, rigorous Biblical study, this book is sure to be a standard textbook for students and faithful pastors for a generation.

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students, IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 04:31:47 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF "DEPARTING IN PEACE" (END OF LIFE DECISION MAKING)

REVIEW OF DEPARTING IN PEACE
(Biblical Decision-Making at the End of Life);
P & R; 2017

Bill Davis is a trained philosopher and professor, pastor and Christian. He knows we are all going to die. How will we die? How will our loved ones die? What decisions must we make in light of the tremendous advances in medical science and technology? Will we cause premature death? Will we unwittingly prolong the agony of dying? How can we tell? How can we
ask good questions of the doctors? Dr. Davis has put us in his debt by writing a comprehen- sive overview of dying and the kinds of decisions facing Christians in the 21st century.

CHAPTERS

1. Introduction

2. Foundational Considerations

3. End of Life Treatment Decisions: Challenges

4. Putting Biblical Principles into Practice: True Stories

5. Advance Directives

6. Money and End of Life Decisions

7. Hospital Realities: Making the Most of Them

8. Things to Do Now

Appendix A: Principles Identified, Defended and Applied

Appendix B: Sketch of the Lesson Plans for “Ask the Doctors”

Appendix C: Sketch of the Lesson Plans for “Leaving Instructions”

Glossary (of Medical and Theological Terms)

If most of us are honest, we don’t plan to die. We know in the back of our minds that we will die sometime. But under what conditions if we are incapacitated or in hospital, we don’t much think about. And we wait until the end to think about our responsibilities with our loved ones too. This book will prevent unexamined and thoughtless decisions and help the reader navigate the oft confusing waters at the end of life and spare many a heartache. Every pastor and every church library should have a copy of this book to loan out or give out.

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 03:53:13 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


EXALTING CHRIST: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF FRED MALONE

05/03/2018

The Word of God ranks ingratitude or unthankfulness as a cardinal sin. Paul notes in Romans 1:18 that two foundational sins of fallen humanity were its failure to honor God or give thanks to Him. When the creature fails to give the Creator His due, reality is inverted and personal and cultural judgement cannot be far behind.

This book of 17 essays was written to thank God for the life and ministry of Dr. Fred Malone of First Baptist Church in Clinton, Louisiana. When the editors approached various folk to participate, they jumped at the change to thank God for His choice servant. The eager participants include the following:

PART 1: EXALTING CHRIST IN THE HOME
1. Exalting Christ by Honoring Him in the Home--
Joanna Malone Jones

PART II: EXALTING CHRIST IN THE PULPIT
2. Exalting Christ By Preaching Him From All the
Scriptures--Tom Hicks
3. Exalting Christ by Preaching Him and Him Crucified--
Michael McKelvey
4. Exalting Christ by Preaching the Law and the
Gospel--Raymond Perron
5. Exalting Christ by Exegeting His Word--Stephen
Murphy
6. Exalting Christ by Serving Him as a Steward of the
Mysteries of God--Jim Renihan
7. Exalting Christ by Seeing Him as Supreme--Tom
Nettles
8. Exalting Christ by Seeing Him as the Scope of
Scripture--Richard Barcellos

PART III: EXALTING CHRIST IN THE CHURCH
9. Exalting Christ by Shepherding the Flock--Tom Ascol
10. Exalting Christ by Preparing His Church For
Missionary Service--Allen Beardmore
11. Exalting Christ by Emphasizing the Great
Commission--Jerry Slate, Jr.
12. Exalting Christ by Teaching His Church to Pray--
Walt Chantry
13. Exalting Christ by Observing the Church's
Ordinances--Conrad Mbewe
14. Exalting Christ by Contending for the Faith--Earl
Blackburn
15. Exalting Christ by Connecting With Church History
--Joe Nesom
16. Exalting Christ by Serving the Church as an Elder--
Mitch Axom
17. Exalting Christ by Remembering That He is Risen
From the Dead--Steve Martin

A person need not know Fred Malone to profit greatly form this choice collection of essays. Seminary students, elders, pastors and laymen who are readers will profit from this volume.

And yes, all of us thank the Lord for Fred Malone, a graduate of Auburn University, Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson), and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of A STRING OF PEARLS UNSTRUNG and THE BAPTISM OF DISCIPLES ALONE.

He helped to plant Heritage Baptist Church in Crowley, Texas (now located in Mansfield, Texas) and has pastored First Baptist of Clinton for over twenty years.
Now as Pastor Emeritus, he continues to preach and pastor in Clinton with his beloved wife, Debbie.

Posted: 02:05:41 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF "THEOLOGY MADE PRACTICAL"

02/05/2018

REVIEW OF THEOLOGY MADE PRACTICAL
(New Studies on John Calvin and His Legacy);
Edited by Joel Beeke, David Hall & Michael Haykin;
Reformation Heritage Books, 2017; 248 pp.

October, 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation of the churches. That is the month when Martin Luther nailed 95 theological issues for debate to the church door in Wittenburg. It touched off a fire that is still burning today around the world. Second to Luther in age but not in importance, John Calvin built upon Luther’s initial insights and provided even greater fuel to keep the gospel light burning.

Three noted Calvin scholars have come together to provide a much needed volume for pastors and laymen and the uninitiated about Calvin and his contributions to the on-going reformation of religion. What is winsome about this volume is that the authors seek to show how Calvin’s theology was eminently practical. He was no ivory tower theologian writing for his own academic advance; he was a pastor-theologian writing for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, the spread of the Reformation and the well-being of his own churchmen.

The book breaks down into four sections and fourteen chapters.

PART 1: CALVIN’S BIOGRAPHY
1. The Young Calvin: Preparation for a Life of Ministry—
Michael Haykin
2. Practical Lessons From the Life of Idelette Calvin—
Joel Beeke

PART 2: CALVIN’S SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
3. “Uttering the Praises of the Father, of the Son and of
the Spirit”: John Calvin on the Divine Trinity”—
Michael Haykin
4. Calvin on Similarities and Differences of Election and
Reprobation—Joel Beeke
5. Calvin on the Holy Spirit—Joel Beeke
6. Explicit and Implicit Appendixes to Calvin’s View of
Justification by Faith—David Hall

PART 3: CALVIN’S PASTORAL AND POLITICAL THEOLOGY
7. Calvin’s Experiential Preaching—Joel Beeke
8. “A Sacrifice Well Pleasing to God”: John Calvin and
the Missionary Endeavor of the Church—Michael
Haykin
9. Calvin on Principles of Government—David Hall
10. Calvin on Welfare: Diaconal Ministry in Geneva and
Beyond—David Hall
11. Christian Marriage in the Twenty-First Century:
Listening to Calvin on the Purpose of Marriage—
Michael Haykin

PART 4: CALVIN’S LEGACY
12. Calvin’s Circle of Friends—Propelling an Enduring
Movement—David Hall
13. Calvin as a Calvinist—Joel Beeke
14. Calvinism and Revival—Michael Haykin

It does not seem to this reviewer that this volume breaks new ground in Calvin studies. But it does provide clear windows into well-documented and therefore accurate understandings of Calvin and this is tremendously important to those unfamiliar to the times, the man and his teachings. Old canards like “Calvinism is intrinsically opposed to evangelism and missions”, or “Calvin was a cold, hard logician of hard doctrines” cannot stand under the clear light of the truth about the man.

If I was still a pastor, I would use this book with men of the church, to show them the rich resources available in John Calvin’s works and how much the best of the Reformation heritage is owed to him. As a Dean of Students, I will be recommending this volume to my students. As a reviewer, I heartily commend this book to pastors.

Steve Martin
DEAN OF STUDENTS
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY; TEXAS

Posted: 03:11:23 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF COUNSEL FOR GOSPEL MINISTERS by John Brown

REVIEW OF COUNSEL TO GOSPEL MINISTERS
(John Brown of Haddington)
[Letters on Preaching, Exemplary Behavior and the Pastoral Call]; Reformation Heritage Books; 2017; 121 pp

Few ministers in 18th century Scotland were more used and more prolific than John Brown of Haddington (not to be confused with another much used pastor-theologian of the same name, John Brown of Wamphray). Though dead for almost 225 years, his works are still being republished and still minister to the spiritually minded. As a Dean of Students at a seminary, this reviewer plans to use COUNSEL TO GOSPEL MINISTERS with my seminary students.

Why use Brown today? He ministered well and finished well—a truly good example of a faithful and godly minister. He shows what a man can do who was born poor, had poor health as a child and almost died twice, was orphaned at thirteen, became a traveling peddler to support himself, then a soldier, then a peddler again. Finally becoming a teacher, he taught himself ten ancient and modern languages to help his study of the Greek and Hebrew Bible. His thirst for truth seemed unquenchable and he was a lifelong learner. Brown was orthodox and experiential—he knew the historic faith and knew what it meant to experience the faith. His favorite theologians to read and study were Pictet, Van Mastricht, Owen, Boston, Hervey and the Erskine brothers. Coupled with his assiduous study was a marked life of prayer. (He was a great example of what modern theologian David Wells in a biographical sketch of the life and impact of Charles Hodge: ‘He was a great example of a kneeling theologian, not a sitting theologian.”) His physical and spiritual sons made a great impact for godliness and the cause of the gospel in Scotland. Upon his deathbed his final words were: “My Christ”. God used John Brown as a pastor and as a theologian and as a trainer of pastors and if we are wise, we can learn from him and follow in his footsteps.

What does this small but powerful paperback contain?

CONTENTS:

Biographical Introduction—Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson (a really useful biographical introduction and accounts of his best books)

PART ONE: LETTERS ON GOSPEL PREACHING (six letters on how not to preach and how to preach the gospel)

PART TWO: LETTERS ON THE EXMPLARY BEHAVIOR OF MINISTERS (ten letters of how ministers should conduct themselves if they seek to honor Christ and not create a stumbling block for the gospel)

PART THREE: ADDRESS TO STUDENTS OF DIVINITY (covers such essentials of ministry as:
1. Make sure you are truly converted
2. Work hard to improve yourself and your gifts
3. Make sure you are truly called of God to the gospel ministry
4. Examine your motives to make sure you are doing all this for Christ and not yourself
and some hidden motives
5. Grasp the profound nature of your calling and attend to it with all seriousness
6. Look unto yourself and you’re heart
7. Look unto your doctrine--See to it that you not be a ministered who is ashamed because you did not handle the Word of truth accurately.
8. It is required of a steward that he be found faithful to his stewardship—make sure you are faithful to the end.

I wish I had read this early in my ministry. I labored for ten years in student ministry and thirty-one years as a gospel minister. I am now a Dean of Students. I am becoming an old man. But this book is still good for my soul, good for my remaining ministry and good to students I shall assign to read it. Read it yourself and see!

Steve Martin
DEAN OF STUDENT
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY; TEXAS

Posted: 03:00:43 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF GOD'S AMBASSADORS by Chad Van Dixhoorn

REVIEW OF
CHAD VAN DIXHOORN, GOD’S AMBASSADORS
(THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY AND THE REFORMATION
OF THE ENGLISH PULPIT, 1643-1653)
Studies in the Westminster Assembly Series];
Reformation Heritage Books; 2017; 209 pp.

Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn is a world-class authority on the Westminster Confession of Faith, its cultural milieu, its participants, their ideas and concerns and goals. What is not always evident is that the Confession was not written as an end in itself. The commissioners were concerned that the right doctrine order the church AND be preached from the pulpits. The English Reformation, being mixed with politics, was imposed upon the churches and many so-called ministers were gospel ignorant at best, gospel opposed at worst. The Commissioners to Westminster were concerned that a steady supply of godly ministers, steeped in the truth and well able to preach it be given to the churches. Van Dixhoorn’s study illuminates how all this came about.

This accessible volume, undergirded by vast research, is a pleasure to read and a pleasure to commend. None other than Reformed stalwart Sinclair Ferguson writes a memorable forward as to how good and useful this book truly is and why. The book sets up as follows:

PART I: BLIND GUIDES AND SCANDALOUS MINISTERS
1. The Call For Reform
2. The Road For Reform
3. “Democratick Anarchie”

PART II: A REFORMING ASSEMBLY
4. Purifying Pulpits: Assembly Examinations
5. The Pastor’s Office: Assembly Debates
6. Ordaining Preachers: The Directory For Ordination
7. Directions for Preaching: The Directory For Public Worship

PART III: IN THEORY
8. On Preachers: Godly, Trained and Ordained
9. On Preaching: The Word of God as the Ordinary Means of Grace
10. On Preaching: Audible and Visible Words
11. On Preaching: Christ-centered Sermons
12. On Preaching: Christ-centered Exegesis
13. On Study and Style: “The Spirit’s Working”
14. Conclusions

EPILOGUE

APPENDIX 1: THE DUTIES OF MINISTERS
APPENDIX 2: THE DIRECTORY FOR ORDINATION
APPENDIX 3: THE SUB-DIRECTORY FOR PREACHING

This volume, along with two other recently published titles (COUNSEL FOR GOSPEL MINISTERS and THEOLOGY MADE PRACTICAL) from REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS, would truly help churches and denominations today if they were digested and employed.

Blind guides and scandalous ministers were not in the sole possession of the 17th century churches. One has to only read denominational news, watch religious television or examine the popular titles at the local Christian bookstore to see modern examples of the same. “Democratic anarchie” sounds like “every man did what was right in his own eyes” and aptly describes modern evangelicalism.

One pundit observed: “Philosophers merely interpret the world; the problem is to change it”. Besides chronicling the miserable condition of the post-Reformation churches and their ministers, Van DixHoorn shows how the Westminster Divines developed a strategy to fix the situation. One can argue that it was not a perfect solution. But how many human solutions are? But God has seen fit to uses the dictates of the Assembly at Westminster to organize and strengthen Presbyterian churches like few others.

Commenting on the acid corrosion of modern intellectual life on church health, my church history mentor opined that Reformed churches with confessions of faith were the last denominations to go liberal. They had substance and structure. They were not ‘evangellyfish” but true vertebrates—they had a backbone and a skeleton. I thank God for Chad Van Dixhoorn’s volume. It will help me as I work with future and existing ministers.

Steve Martin
DEAN OF STUDENTS
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY; TEXAS

Posted: 02:56:23 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF JAMES DOLEZAL, ALL THAT IS IN GOD; Reformation Heritage

02/03/2018

REVIEW OF JAMES E. DOLEZAL, ALL THAT IS IN GOD
(Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Theism);
Reformation Heritage Books; 2017

In the past three years the evangelical and Reformed churches have become roiled in a controversy about the very nature of God. If it is true that Who God is determines the nature of everything and our grounding in reality, then much is at stake in the present controversy. The controversy includes revision of the classical or historically orthodox understanding of God’s essence (Does He change? Is He immutable? Is He impassible, and what does that mean? Is He a simple or complex Being? Does it matter?)

Evangelical and Reformed theologian and former pastor James Dolezal has written a tour de force analysis of the problems, the players and the outcomes of changing our doctrine of God. Where did the problems come from? Just as many other times in history, contemporary theologians have wanted to marry Christianity with the spirit of the age. Is modern culture hung up with consternation about relationships? Do you have to be hurt to listen to and care about my hurts? Do you have to be vulnerable in order to authentic? Modern man thinks so. Modern evangelicals then begin to tinker with the doctrine of God to make Him more accessible, more relatable, more sensitive, more compassionate, more easy to get along with and to know. And God is remade in the image of man.

Professor Dolezal describes the weak, contemporary teaching in contrast to the strong, classical teaching and names those who have departed from classical orthodoxy. What is sad to this reviewer is the overweening concern that men might be offended for being called out while these same “sensitive” souls do not show the same concern for God being offended. Play with His holy nature, distort His being, scramble men’s thoughts about God—no problem. But name someone who has left the straight line and gone off on an unorthodox trajectory and outrage is the result. O that we weak, foolish men would be more concerned about God and His glory than man and his glory!

Here is the layout of Dr. Dolezal’s work:

CHPT. 1—MODELS OF THEISM (he contrasts the classical view
of God with the “mutualist” view of God presented by
the modern revisionists.

CHPT. 2—UNCHANGING GOD (he shows that God cannot change
or He is not God.)

CHPT. 3—SIMPLE GOD (If God is made up of parts, then something and someone else
must be added to Him to make Him God.)

CHPT. 4—SIMPLE GOD LOST (how the modern change has come
about)

CHPT. 5—ETERNAL CREATOR (Dolezal shows how the eternality
of God mitigates against modern revisions of God.)

CHPT. 6—ONE GOD, THREE PERSONS (A strong chapter on the
revealed mystery of the Trinity and how recent
revisionist theology distorts the Trinity.)

CHPT. 7—CONCLUSION—(a review and a call back to classic
Trinitarianism.)

I have known pastors too lazy to study the profound issues wrestled with in this study. Does God change? Is He immutable and impassible? Does God know in exactly the same way we know? What changes if we change the Trinity? If you are a pastor or Christian teacher, your calling is to study and exposit the Word of God as understood and clarified by 2000 years of God’s teachers. Are you willing to get help from the giants of the past or is your mind the measure? Sadly I have known men who would not study these profound issues, too comfortable to think hard about truth, too concerned with what men think and not what Almighty God thinks. They have dumped the historic, classic orthodoxy about God. They have men’s approval. I hope that passes muster on Judgment Day.

Steve Martin
Dean of Students
IRBS Theological Seminary; Texas


Posted: 06:28:21 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF Stephen Nichols, BEYOND THE 95 THESES (Martin Luther's Life, Thought and Lasting Legacy)

REVIEW OF STEPHEN NICHOLS’ BEYOND THE 95 THESES
(Martin Luther’s Life, Thought, and Lasting Legacy); P & R; 2016

October, 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Who was Martin Luther? What was he protesting? What was being reformed and why? Why was it so important that a German Catholic monk nailed 95 subjects for academic disputation to a cathedral door? Reformation College President and theologian Stephen Nichols enables busy laymen and busy pastors to grasp and appreciate Luther and the Reformation by combining historical accuracy, theological precision and the ability to communicate an infectious enthusiasm for the material. Martin Luther comes alive and a sleepy pastor or churchman who wonders what all the Reformation fuss was about, may well come awake and rejoice and give His God renewed glory!

This volume combines two volumes, published separately and written in 2002—MARTIN LUTHER:A GUIDED TOUR OF HIS LIFE AND THOUGHT and MARTIN LUTHER’S 95 THESES. I read them when they first came out and so much appreciated Nichol’s work and now I can commend the combined material to those who want to “get it” today. For Nichols is great at helping the reader to “get it”.

Let me show you how Nichols breaks up the material to teach the reader.

PART ONE: LUTHER, A LIFE
1. The Early Years
2. The Later Years

PART TWO: LUTHER, THE REFORMER
3. The Meat of the Nut: Understanding Luther’s Theology
4. Silent No More: The Three Treatises
5. The Centerpiece of the Reformation: The Bondage of the Will
6. This is My Body: Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper
7. Plagues, Princes and Peasants: Ethical Writings

PART THREE: LUTHER, THE PASTOR
8. The Next Generation: The Small Catechism
9. Dinner With Luther: “Table Talk”
10. A New Song Begun: The Hymns
11. The Marks of a True Church: On the Councils and the Church
12. The Reluctant Pastor: The Sermons

PART FOUR: LUTHER’S NINETY-FIVE THESES
13. The Annotated 95 Theses: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of
Indulgences

A BRIEF GUIDE TO BOOKS BY AND ABOUT MARTIN LUTHER

As a convinced Bible and Confession based Protestant, I celebrated the history and theology of the Protestant Reformation
at the end of each October for the 31 years I pastored. The contents of BEYOND THE 95 THESES fed me and nourished me and helped me to teach and nourish others. I commend it too you heartily.

Steve Martin
Dean of Studentss
IRBS Theological Seminary, Texas

Posted: 05:29:05 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF O. PALMER ROBERTSON'S THE CHRIST OF WISDOM

REVIEW OF O. PALMER ROBERTSON’S THE CHRIST OF WISDOM;
(A Redemptive-Historical Exploration of the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament);
P & R; 2017

Long established evangelical and Reformed theologian and Old Testament scholar Robertson Palmer has again put the church in his debt by publishing an
introduction to the so-called “Wisdom Books” of the Old Testament. In his Forward to the book, fellow evangelical Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser said that some refer to these books as the “orphan books” of the Bible (p. xii). That is how neglected and unclaimed they are. Robertson knows better and gives his readers
a feast of prolonged reflection upon Proverbs—Job—Ecclesiastes--Lamentations—The Song of Songs. Pastor and teachers will want to digest this feast and pass it
along (that sounds better in print than “regurgitate”) to the churches as a mother bird does for her chicks. Each section is given an over-arching theme in the
redemptive-historical overview of Scripture followed by a prolonged examination of the text of the book and then a selected bibliography for further study.

1. PROVERBS—How to Walk in Wisdom’s Way
Having their minds gone through the blender of late
20th and early 21st civilization, today’s Christians
must learn the “fear of the Lord” and how that is
lived out. Proverbs teaches us How to Walk in
Wisdom.
2. JOB—How to Puzzle
Robertson does not believe that God gives Job the
complete answer to the frightening and overpowering
heartaches he encounters. But he believes that
God gives Job sufficient answers of how to go about
or approach wrestling with these issues. How we
puzzle or struggle to understand is as important as
what conclusions we come to.
3. ECCLESIASTES—How to Cope With Life’s Frustrations
Life is not as we hoped it would be or imagined it
would be. We live on a fallen planet under the curse
of God. Things do not always come to the
conclusions or fruitions we planned on. Robertson
shows how Ecclesiastes teaches the reader biblical
“coping mechanisms” for real life in a fallen world.
4. LAMENTATIONS—How to Weep
To have one’s nation and civilization and way of life
destroyed is a nightmare.How is the godly man or
woman to face such destruction and sadness?
Following the teaching of Lamentations, readers
learn how to weep and the role weeping plays in
God’s economy.
5. THE SONG OF SONGS—How to Love
Relationships are being destroyed as the glue that
holds them together is slowly being removed from
our land. One astute author recently published a
study, RELATIONSHIPS: A MESS WORTH MAKING.
And he is right. But today’s Christians growing up in
a near grace-less culture wonder how. This study of
Song of Songs shows the way to real and lasting
love.

Looking at what I have written, one might reach the wrong conclusion that this is just a biblically anchored self-help book about life and how to make oneself happy.
That would be a wrong conclusion. Each of these books and Robertson’s understanding of them is centered on the person and work of the Messiah, the Christ. Taking each of these subjects and making a beeline to the Cross is the Bible’s Way of Wisdom.

As western civilization sinks into the twilight of its former glory and pagan thinking and actions take hold, God’s people, coming out of the world, have
succumbed to much of that way of life and its miseries. They must be retaught how to think. They must have their minds renewed according to the Bible’s view
of ultimate reality and how to live gloriously unto God” (Puritan William Ames’ description of living a holy life).

For teaching a course in seminary or Bible college on the “Wisdom Books”, one ould hardly beat this text. For a preacher of God’s Word, this should be the sub-
strata of his studies on these books, along with the commentaries and monographs Robertson commends. Does this book deal with everything? No—but in
400+ pages it deals with the heart and soul of the matters addressed.

Steve Martin
Dean of Students
IRBS Theological Seminary, Texas

Posted: 04:34:18 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF J. B. LIGHTFOOT'S COMMENTARIES ON 2ND CORINTHIANS AND 1ST PETER

06/01/2017

REVIEW OF J. B. LIGHTFOOT’S COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLES OF 2ND CORINTHIANS AND 1ST PETER; edited by Ben Witherington and Todd Still; IVP; 2016

IVP is to be praised for bringing out the last of three volumes of unpublished works by the 19th century New Testament scholar, J(ames) B (arber) Lightfoot. In 2014 (Gospel of John), 2015 (The Acts of the Apostles) and recently in 2016 (Epistles of 2nd Corinthians and 1st Peter) publications made the Lightfoot corpus complete. Thanks to the labors and contacts of Ben Witherington (Asbury Seminary) and Todd Still (Baylor University), the three volume Lightfoot legacy volumes are brought to press.

In the 19th century, the scholarly triumvirate of J. B. Lightfoot, F. J. A. Hort and B. F. Westcott ruled British New Testament scholarship. They have been credited as keeping the full corrosive nature of German critical scholarship from overwhelming the English churches.
Their erudition and scholarship both in the biblical languages and the early Christian Mediterranean world was unmatched.

Both the volume on John’s gospel and the volume on the Acts of the Apostles were largely notes that were easily expanded into full blown commentaries. The notes for this volume were less developed and had to be supplemented by the addition of reviews, sermons, essays and such. Some reviewers have criticized the padding of the volume with things not strictly commentary. But Lightfoot was such a fount of biblical and early church information that this reviewer does not mind that we do not have all of Lightfoot on 2nd Corinthians and 1st Peter. I am thankful we have him at all. And while the additions that are not strictly commentary are not of equal weight, they are nonetheless ‘Lightfoot’ and can be edifying for those with ears to hear!

STEVE MARTIN
Pastor in Atlanta for 31 years
National Coordinator for the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary; Texas
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

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REVIEW OF THE DISRUPTION OF EVANGELICALISM

REVIEW OF
GEOFFREY TRELOAR’S THE DISRUPTION OF EVANGELICALISM: (THE AGE OF TORREY, MOTT, McPHERSON AND HAMMOND); [THE HISTORY OF EVANGELICALISM SERIES]; IVP; 2016

In the fourth of the five volume series chronicling the history of worldwide evangelicalism, Australian church historian Geoffrey Treloar gives us a new perspective on the break-up of evangelicalism in the early 20th century. He breaks down his history this way:

Fin de sičcle (1900-1914)
Evangelicals at War (1914-1918)
Evangelicalism at the Crossroads (1919-circa 1940)

Most historians lay down a pattern of evangelical dominance in late 19th century America only to be followed by a great polarity and split between “fundamentalists” and “modernists”. Treloar tries to show it was not that simple—a simple either/or. Rather there was (in Professor Treloar’s taxonomy) a broad center with various kinds of liberals and conservatives. In downplaying the liberal/conservative split as not the only explanation, Treloar brings in a broad spectrum of evangelicals not normally touted as important to the period.

Aimee Semple McPherson and T. C. Hammond come to mind as two examples of characters not usually included as examples of evangelicals but usually as eccentrics (Pentecostal McPherson) or doctrinal outlyers (Calvinist Hammond). One reviewer described Hammond
as ‘little-known’ but in both Ireland and Australia, he was a powerhouse for theological and spiritual reformation. In 1994, Banner of Truth published Warren Nelson’s T. C. HAMMOND(His Legacy in Ireland and Australia). Perhaps because the stage is usually filled with American and British authors we overlook those men and women who lived and ministered
in the broader English speaking world.

‘Sister Aimee’ as she was known has also been the
subject of three recent (1993, 1994 and 2009) biographies. Her spiritual and ecclesiastical
wanderings are well chronicled but usually not considered essential to understand the evangelical movement. Treloar makes sure we see her as part of the growing mosaic that evangelicalism had become. In entrepreneur driven America, people were free to invent
their own religion (Jeheovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Shakers, et al.) and ordain themselves as God’s anointed spokesman for today.

Treloar’s illumination of evangelical attitudes toward and participation in the ‘Great War’, the ‘War to End All Wars’, aka World War I, shows how people thought, lived, theologized and died during this period. Evangelicals in England, France, Germany, Canada and the USA all weighed in and went to war. He also shows how evangelicals did not give up on holiness and over-emphasize politics but sought to live lives worthy of the Master that would be salt and light in their generation.

Treloar’s work is certainly not the last word, nor does it pretend to be, on early 20th century evangelicalism, but it does open up new vistas that can be explored by other historians, following us his leads.

STEVE MARTIN
31 years a pastor in Atlanta
National Coordinator, Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA)
Dean of Students, IRBS Theological Seminary; Texas
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

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REVIEW OF HUGH MARTIN'S, THE SHADOW OF CALVARY

Review of Hugh Martin, THE SHADOW OF CALVARY (with a Forward by Carl Trueman); Banner of Truth; 2016

The Banner of Truth is to be warmly thanked for putting back into print this 19th century classic! Hugh Martin was a pastor and theologian who could preach the Scriptures with power and clarity. The Banner has published THE ATONEMENT, his commentary on JONAH, and CHRIST FOR LIFE. This book succeeds where most accounts of our Savior’s life in the gospels never go, and when they do, seldom succeed. He not only explains the doctrines but the ethos and experience of Christ in the gospels. Alfred Edersheim could give the reader a sense of the sights and smells of 1st century Jerusalem in his magnum opus, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS THE MESSIAH. Hugh Martin does something related in giving us a sense of the drama and experience of the gospel narratives of Christ’s last days.

CONTENTS:

GETHSEMANE
1. The Incidents
2. The Agony of Sorrow
3. The Agony of Prayer
4. Failing Fellow Watchers
5. A Prayer Chamber for Disciples

THE ARREST
6. Secret Prayer Answered Openly
7. The Prisoner Judging All Parties
8. The Captive Carrying Captivity Captive

THE TRIAL
9. The Character of the Judge
10. ‘Given You in the Same Hour”
11. ‘Destroy This Temple’
12. ‘Nevertheless….Hereafter’
13. Condemned! ‘There is Therefore…’

A pastor could milk this material for much good for his soul and that of the souls of his congregation. A laymen will find it a rich vein to read and meditate upon. All will find themselves not only informed but moved, convicted and encouraged. What a Savior!

Posted: 01:26:27 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF 'VOICES FROM THE PAST?

REVIEW OF VOICES FROM THE PAST [Puritan Devotional Readings]; (Vol.2); Banner of Truth; 2016; Edited by Richard Rushing


In 2009, editor Richard Rushing put the Christian world in his debt by publishing VOICES FROM THE PAST, Vol. 1. In it 365 Puritan devotionals were captured for the Christian public who reads. Vol. 2 continues this publishing of generous daily

Portions of Puritan reflections on the Word of God, the doctrines of God, and the Christian life. Here we find judicious quotes by John Owen, John Bunyan, Richard
Sibbes, Stephen Charnoch, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Watson and William Gurnall.

Like the first volumes, Rushing chooses the best of the Puritans, whether they were well known or hardly known. In his Forward he notes that sitting back and reading the quotations, he notes the times when he was going through hard times and various afflictions—as well as happier times. Like Spurgeon’s MORNING AND EVENING, the quotes that are chosen have meat on the bones but not so much that the reader loses sight of the main point.

This would be a good Family Worship tool if used with wisdom and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Not all 7 year olds can listen to Puritan prose night after night. But
serious Christians from high school on up should profit greatly from them. The two volume set would make a good shower gift, marriage gift or college graduation gift or Pastor Appreciation Day gift.

Steve Martin
Retired pastor of 31 years
National Coordinator of the Association of Reformed
Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary; Texas
Blog--THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

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