Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday School Reading for October 26, 2008

Here are some reading recommendations from our discussion of the doctrine of man last week. There are not many book recommendations on here simply because there are not a lot of books that focus particularly on the doctrine of man. Instead I mainly have articles that you can read online for free recommended and then relevant sections in systematic theologies.

First, this week covered a number of questions from the Shorter Catechism:
Q12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A12. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.

Q13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A13. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q14. What is sin?
A14. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Q15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A15. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Q16. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?
A16. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Q17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A17. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Q18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A18. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists of the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

Q19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A19. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

One thing that we did not take time to discuss in class because of limited time is the image of God in mankind. Just to give you some recommendations this is covered by Anthony Hoekema in Created in God's Image and by Meredith Kline in Images of the Spirit. Hoekema's book is far easier to read and written from a systematic perspective to examine what it means to be created in the image of God before and after the fall and then as restored humanity. Kline's work is more biblical theological. I do have some concerns with some of Kline's conclusions, and so I would recommend the Hoekema book more highly, but on the whole I think that this is a very good book from a fantastic exegete and biblical scholar.

The other book that I would recommend is John Murray's The Imputation of Adam's Sin. I should warn you that this is a typical work of Murray in that it is written with a very high prose and on a high academic and scholarly level. That said, if you take the time to read it carefully two or three times then I think that it will be very rewarding. It is available as a standalone and also in the book Justified in Christ edited by Scott Oliphint, which I briefly reviewed.

Second, total depravity is dealt with in Chapter 3 ("Rebels without a cause") of Putting Amazing Back Into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel by Michael Horton and Chapter 2 of What's so Great about the Doctrines of Grace by Richard Philips.

Next, John Calvin deals with the doctrine of man in Book 1, Chapter 15 and sin in Book 2, Chapters 1-3 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Herman Bavinck discusses the doctrine of man in Volume 2 (God and Creation), Part 5, Chapters 11-13 and sin in Volume 3 (Sin and Salvation in Christ), Part 1, Chapters 1-4 of his Reformed Dogmatics. Charles Hodge addresses man in Volume 2, Chapters 1-5 of his Systematic Theology, the covenant of works and the fall in Chapters 6-7, and sin in Chapters 8-9. A.A. Hodge covers man in Chapter 14 of his Outlines of Theology, the covenant of works in Chapter 15, and sin in Chapters 16-18.

Finally, here are some articles and books that you can read online for free dealing with these topics:
Thomas Boston: "Man's Utter Inability to Rescue Himself"
John Murray: "The Adamic Administration" (Note: Professor Murray objected to calling the pre-fall relationship between Adam and God a "covenant" but he did believe everything that we would say is contained in the covenant of works)
A.W. Pink: "The Doctrine of Man's Impotence"
A.W. Pink: "The Total Depravity of Man"
Charles Spurgeon: "Human Inability"
B.B. Warfield: "The Plan of Salvation"
James Henley Thornwell: "Is there Good in Humanity Apart from God's Grace?"
Robert Lewis Dabney: "Adam's Fall and Free Will" (Note: part of the reason that I recommend these articles by Thornwell and Dabney is that these are two very gifted theologians who are part of our history as the Southern Presbyterian church. Both were certainly in err and sin when it came to their views on slavery but they were still blessed by God with great minds and understanding of his word and so it does behoove us to study their works)
This page has a list of references that teach total depravity.

As a post script, I would recommend that people take the time to read and consider the third and fourth heads of doctrine from the Canons of Dort. These two heads deal with the doctrines of total depravity and irresistible grace. As a church that traces its history through the Scottish Presbyterians we in the PCA do not subscribe to the Canons of Dort but only to the Westminster Standards. That said, churches that come from continental European roots subscribe to Dort as one of the three forms of unity (along with the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism) instead of the Westminster Standards. While I do prefer Westminster as a whole I think that we can learn much by seeing how others have tried to systematize the teachings of Scripture for the church to confess and as Dort was a response to the Arminians I think it quite helpful in studying the doctrines of grace.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Pink's work on Total Depravity really, for me, captures the immensity of the gulf between our all-powerful God and us. Concomitantly, the vastness of Jesus' sacrifice stands out in bold relief.