Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday School Reading - November 2, 2008

Here is some recommended further reading for Sunday School this past week. Yesterday we finished the doctrine of man (talking about the third and fourth stages of humanity) and opened our discussion of the doctrine of Christ by focusing on his person. First, here are the applicable catechism questions:

Q20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A20. God having, out of his mere pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

Q21. Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?
A21. The only Redeemer of God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in distinct natures, and one person, forever.

Q22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A22. Christ, the Son of God, became man by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.
Here are some quick book recommendations on anthropology:

Human Nature in its Fourfold State by Thomas Boston - Boston was a Puritan Calvinist and this book was a compilation of a number of sermons and essays that he wrote on the fourfold state of man. You may want to Google this book as it may be available in the common domain. Also available online here.

Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology by Richard Gaffin - This is probably the best book available that focuses on our discussion of the third and fourth stages of humanity. The contrast that we drew between flesh and Spirit is available in a number of places (see below) but is usually a portion of a discussion in larger books on Paul's theology or systematic theology. Dr. Gaffin focuses in on what it means to be raised with Christ in our present and future existence on the basis of several key passages in Paul's letters. This is not an easy book to read. Dr. Gaffin is a fantastic exegete, expositor, speaker, and theologian but he is not a great writer. You'll probably find yourself re-reading large sections to clarify Dr. Gaffin's argument. I don't say this to discourage anyone from investing in this book but just to warn that it is a project.

Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce - I need to put a disclaimer on this one. While this is a helpful book it is not the best book on Paul's theology by a long shot. Herman Ridderbos' Paul: An Outline of his Theology is the best book you can find on a systematic approach to Paul's letters. If you're going to buy a book on Paul then that is the one that you need to get (and this is a fantastic book!). The reason I include Bruce here is because it is available in the church library. Regarding our discussion on Sunday, the chapters on "Flesh vs. Spirit" and "The life to come" are the relevant sections.

Here are some book recommendations on the person of Christ:

The Lord of Glory: A Study of the Designations of our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity by B.B. Warfield - Anything by Warfield is worth the time to read. This book is an excellent Biblical argument for the deity of Christ. Also, Warfield's complete works (10 volumes) are available in the church library. I cannot remember if this is included in one of the two volumes on Christ off the top of my head but there should be other relevant articles by Warfield on this subject in there.

For Us and for Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church by Stephen Nichols - This is not really a systematic focus on the person of Christ but a historical one on how the church settled on the confessional statements that it adopted regarding Christ. This book is available from the church bookstore, which is part of why I mention it.

The Person of Christ by Donald MacLeod - Here is another title from the Contours of Christian Theology series. This book is a great readable summary on the doctrine of Christ. If you want a "one stop shop" on Christ's person that isn't too difficult to read then this is probably the book that you want to get. I don't think that it's the best work on the subject but it certainly is better than merely sufficient.

The Person and Work of Christ by B.B. Warfield - Here is my recommendation on the person of Christ if you want to work a little harder at reading but get a great reward from it. Again, anything by Warfield is worth your time and this in particular is quite good. I will recommend it again next time when we start to go through the work of Christ.

Here is a list of where Reformed systematic theologies address the person of Christ (for the doctrine of man see the previous reading recommendations). Calvin writes about the person of Christ the Mediator in Book 2, Chapters 12-14 of Institutes of the Christian Religion. Herman Bavinck addresses this in Volume 3 (Sin and Salvation in Christ), Part 2, Chapter 6 of Reformed Dogmatics. Charles Hodge outlines this doctrine in Volume 2, Part 3, Chapter 3 of his Systematic Theology. Finally A.A. Hodge discusses this in Chapter 20 of his Outlines of Theology.

Here are some articles that you can read online for free on these topics:
"Definitive Sanctification" by John Murray - This article highlights what we said about the work of the Holy Spirit in the third state of man.
"The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" by John Owen - Available in its entirety free online, this should be a must-read for all Christians. In addition, James Packer's introduction is one of the greatest things that you will ever read outside of Scripture.
"The Emotional Life of Our Lord" by B.B. Warfield
"Salvation by Christ's Incarnation" by Gary Johnson
"The Person of Christ" by B.B. Warfield
"The Deity of Christ" by Douglas Moo - Warning, large .pdf file
"The Divinity of Christ" by Ligon Duncan
"On the Deity of Christ" by J. Gresham Machen
"The Divine and Human Nature of Christ" by Herman Bavinck - If you only read one of these articles on the person of Christ read this one.
"Resurrection and Redemption: How Eschatology and the Gospel Relate" by Richard Gaffin

Finally, two quick housekeeping notes. First, one of the things regarding the doctrine of Christ that we are not going to focus on in Sunday School is the threefold office of Christ as our Redeemer because we are limited in time. I will put a post up on that this week or next with some recommended reading on the topic (although Calvin and the Catechism are all you really need). Second, since I pumped up J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism as a recommendation to read for part of a "modern Reformation" I thought that I would point out that it is available online for free through the link provided.

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