Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday School Reading - November 16, 2008

Here are some reading recommendations from this past Sunday. This week we discussed the atonement as the first part of our look at the fourfold work of Christ. Next week we will look at the resurrection and then the ascension and Pentecost if we have time. Please see the post below this on the threefold office of Christ for what will hopefully be a helpful connection between the person and work of Christ. First, just one catechism question for this week since we dealt with Christ's offices in the last post:
Q27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?
A27. Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the dross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray - As I mentioned on Sunday, this is my favorite book outside of the Bible. This would be the number two book on my list of things that every Christian should read. It is a fantastic work. I will admit that Professor Murray is not always the easiest to read. He is somewhat technical at times but still I think that this book is more worth reading on the accomplishment and application of Christ's work than any other. The first part deals exclusively with Christ's atonement and is a large source of much of our discussion on Sunday. As I mentioned, there are two copies of this available in the church library (look for the brown and yellow cover) but I do think that this one is worth having.

The Work of Christ by Robert Letham - Bob Letham is a former OPC pastor and current teacher of theology in Wales. This book is a good, orthodox introduction to the work of Christ that is built around the threefold office of Christ. It's worth reading but I don't think it's as good as the Murray book above or the Warfield book below.

The Person and Work of Christ by Benjamin B. Warfield - I recommended this book last week as well. If you want to get a good introduction to both sides of our doctrine of Christ then this is the book to get. For what it's worth, John Murray himself said, "There is no subject on which Warfield's master mind showed its depth and comprehension better than on that of the person and work of Christ." As I've said a few times, Warfield is always worth reading though not always easy to read. He writes like the masterful turn-of-the-century theologian that he was. I'm not sure if this is in the church library or not. Note that though I have a link to Monergism Books up that features a hard cover copy there is a paperback option available through WTS Books for about a dollar cheaper.

Justified in Christ: God's Plan for us in Justification ed. by Scott Oliphint - Please see the post I have outlining this anthology. This is a good book but it is written on a high scholarly level. It is largely setting forth the Reformed and Presbyterian doctrine of justification against the New Perspective on Paul. Worth reading but go slow as some of these articles take quite a bit to work through. John Murray's work on the imputation of Adam's sin at the end is worth the price of the book though that might be the most difficult thing to read that Professor Murray wrote.

The atonement is also dealt with in the systematic theologies that we have been referencing. John Calvin closes Book 2 (Of the Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ) of his Institutes of the Christian Religion on this topic in Chapters 15-17. Herman Bavinck discusses the atonement under Christ's humiliation in Volume 3 (Sin and Salvation in Christ), Chapter 7 of his Reformed Dogmatics. Charles Hodge spends a great deal of Volume 2 (warning, .pdf file) of his Systematic Theology on these topics. He deals with Christ's work as Mediator in Chapter 4. He deals with Christ's work as Prophet and Priest in Chapters 5-6. Chapter 7 is an explanation of the satisfaction made by Christ (atonement), Chapter 8 asks who Christ died for (definite atonement), and Chapter 9 examines various theories on the atonement. A.A. Hodge writes on the atonement in Chapters 21-23 of Outlines of Theology (available at the Shady Grove bookstore and also for free on Google Books).

Limited/definite/particular atonement is also addressed in the two books we have discussed on the doctrines of grace (TULIP). I did not recommend any books that focus solely on limited atonement (though they are out there) simply because I think that the topic is best dealt with in terms of understanding all that Christ did in his death on the cross and that you will find Murray, Warfield, Letham, Bavinck, and both Hodges (I do think it clear that Calvin believed in limited atonement though he does not deal with it explicitly since it was not a controversy in his day) all to be incredibly helpful on this. Michael Horton appropriate titles the chapter dealing with limited atonement in Putting Amazing Back Into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel "Mission Accomplished." I think that Horton is very helpful here. Richard Phillips addresses definite atonement in chapter 3 of What's So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? and I think you will find that to also be very good.

Finally, here are some free articles that you can read on the atonement (there are a lot of these since this is obviously such a crucial doctrine):
"Atonement" by B.B. Warfield
"The Atonement" by Lorraine Boettner
"Not Faith, but Christ" by Horatius Bonar - This article is a great reminder that we are not saved by faith but rather by grace working through faith in Christ. Bonar draws our attention away from ourselves and our "work" in believing and points us back to the cross of Jesus Christ where our salvation was truly accomplished. Bonar was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and hymn writer and I think that you'll find this article to be truly a blessing in meditating on our Lord and Savior.
"Christ Our Penal Substitute" by Robert L. Dabney
"Three Articles on Atonement" by J. Gresham Machen
"Arminianism and the Atonement" by John Murray
"The Atonement" by John Murray - This appears to be a summary of what is contained in the book by Murray recommended above
"The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" by John Owen - This book by Owen is spectacular. Be sure to read James Packer's introduction.
"The Satisfaction of Christ: Studies in the Atonement" by A.W. Pink
"The Love of God and the Intent of the Atonement" by D.A. Carson
"The Judicial and Substitutionary Nature of Salvation" by Greg Bahnsen
"Penal Substitution" by Greg Bahnsen
"Limited Atonement" Part 1 and Part 2 by Greg Bahnsen - While there were some problems with some aspects of Dr. Bahnsen's theology when it comes to theonomy it should be noted that he may very well only be matched by John Calvin and the like when it came to his polemics (defense of the faith against aberrant or heretical theologies). Gary North rightly said after Dr. Bahnsen was suddenly called to glory when he was only in his 40's, "Now that Greg is dead everyone will want to debate him." Very few were interested in engaging Dr. Bahnsen in debate because God had blessed him with such an incredible intellect and wit. You will find that this argument shows why four-point Calvinism simply cannot stand.
"The Case for Definite Atonement" by Roger Nicole - Dr. Nicole is one of the best people you will read when it comes to the doctrines of grace (if only he could be brought around on baptism now!). This is a clear positive (as opposed to polemical like the Bahnsen articles) formulation of definite atonement.
"Covenant, Universal Call, and Definite Atonement" by Roger Nicole - Here Dr. Nicole deals with the objection that believing in definite atonement means that we cannot believe in a universal offer of the gospel. I think that you'll find this article to be very helpful on that front.

Finally, I would strongly recommend that you look at the Canons of Dort Second Main Head of Doctrine and Rejection of Errors on the subject of the extent of Christ's atonement.

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