Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday School Reading - December 28, 2008

Here are some recommended reading materials from our final discussion in the Fall Sunday School quarter. Again, we will be taking a break during the winter quarter and then resuming (for those interested) in April for three months when we will discuss the Holy Spirit's role in redemptive history, eschatology (last things), ecclesiology (church), sacraments, and the relationship between church and culture (including a brief survey of both Prebyterian/Reformed apologetics and ethics as part of the way that the church relates to culture). Also, I wanted to highlight that Christian Book Distributors have a few excellent items for terrific prices and I provided links to some of them at the bottom of this e-mail.

Yesterday we finished examining the order of the application of salvation by looking at adoption, perseverance, assurance, and glorification. Here are our catechism questions:

Q34. What is adoption?
A34. Adoption is an act of God's free grace, wherby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

Q36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A36. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

Q37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A37. The souls of believers are at their deaths made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Q38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A38. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Here are some recommended books on these topics:

Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray - Continuing to emphasize this book and the one by Hoekema under the application of redemption. Murray deals with all three of these topics. Adoption is chapter 6 in part 2, perseverance is chapter 8, and glorification is chapter 10. I think that you'll find that Murray's discussion of perseverance, in particular, to be very helpful.

Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema - Hoekema does not have a chapter devoted to adoption but he does deal with how we are made children of God in two places. He discusses how we are children of God according to spiritual birth under regeneration. He discusses how we are children of God by legal declaration at the end of his chapter on justification (I believe this begins at page 185 but as I do not have the book in front of me now I can't be sure). Perseverance of the saints and assurance of faith are discussed in the last chapter (Hoekema relies heavily on Murray in the beginning of the chapter). Hoekema does not deal with glorification in this work. The reason is because Saved by Grace is the second book in a trilogy. The first is Created in God's Image and the third is The Bible and the Future. Glorification is dealt with in the last volume. For what it's worth while I do have a few minor quibbles with some of the things in both of these other books I think that he is right and helpful far more than I disagree with him and both books are worth checking out.

Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God's Grace by Burk Parsons - This is a very helpful and pastoral book on assurance. It include essays by Parsons, Philip Ryken, Al Mohler, Rick Phillips, Sinclair Ferguson, Joel Beeke, and R.C. Sproul. This is a very encouraging book.

Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption by Joel Beeke - The Puritans are often criticized for not having written much on adoption. Beeke does much in this short book (only 134 pages) to dispel this myth and to set forward what the Puritans had to say on the topic. This is a very rewarding book to read.

The Certainty of Faith by Herman Bavinck - This is a fantastic short book about certainty and assurance. Bavinck is masterful as usual in this volume. I will warn you that it has not been rereleased even with the new interest in Bavinck in English and so it is pretty expensive for a relatively small paperback book.

Also, we've been emphasizing two books on the doctrines of grace throughout this class. The first is Michael Horton's Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel. Horton discusses perseverance of the saints in his chapter entitled "No Lost Causes." He also indirectly discusses glorification in the chapter "A Kingdom of Priests." Richard Phillips addresses perseverance and assurance in the fifth chapter of What's So Great about the Doctrines of Grace?

These topics are also addressed in our systematic theologies. Calvin does not have any chapters devoted to adoption but it does run through his discussion of the Christian life in chapters 6-8 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Glorification is briefly examined in chapters 9-10 of the same. And I had my chapter numbers mixed up in class. Calvin's fantastic discussion of assurance is chapters 13-16 of the Institutes (not 12-14). Herman Bavinck deals with perseverance and assurance along with sanctification in Volume 4 (Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation), chapter 4 of his Reformed Dogmatics. He deals with glorification in chapters 12-14 of the same volume. Adoption is only briefly addressed in Chapter 9 of volume 3 (Sin and Salvation in Christ). Charles Hodge has a long discussion of glorification in Part 4, chapters 1-2 of Systematic Theology volume 3 (warning, large .pdf file) (he does not have chapters dedicated to adoption or perseverance though the latter is dealt with in his writing on sanctification and the law). Adoption, perseverance, and glorification are discussed in chapters 31, 33, and 34-35 respectively in Outlines of Theology (Google books link) by A.A. Hodge. Finally, Robert Lewis Dabney's Systematic Theology includes chapters on perseverance, assurance, death of believers, and the resurrection. He discusses adoption under justification (see the link a few weeks ago). Personally I think you will find Dabney to be incredibly helpful on perseverance and assurance due to his heavy reliance upon the Westminster Confession for both topics.

Here are some articles on these topics that you can read online for free:
"The Doctrine of the Saints' Final Perseverance" by John Gill
"Adoption" by John Murray
"Eternal Security" by A.W. Pink
"Perseverance and Assurance: A Survey and a Proposal" by Thomas Schreiner - Apart from the chapters by Dabney this is the best and most comprehensive thing you can read for free on these doctrines. I normally find Schreiner to be a little frustrating to read but this is an excellent piece. Heads up: it's a .pdf file.
"The Test of Perseverance" by Ligon Duncan
"Faith and Assurance in the Theology of Theodore Beza" by Shane Rosenthal
"Examination for Assurance" by Ligon Duncan

Finally, as promised here are some of those sale items through Christian Book. While often I find that average prices there are higher than those at Monergism books, WTS books, and Amazon I also spot that sometimes CBD offers tremendous sales (for example they recently had the entire 22 volume set of Calvin's Commentaries for $100 and the 10 volume works of B.B. Warfield for $60) and so it's worthwhile to check their bargain sections from time to time. These are just a couple of things that I thought might be worthwhile to point out:
  • Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof - While I have not been including Berkhof's work in the systematic theologies for Sunday School that is not intended as a slight against Berkhof. His volume is helpful though a little dated for a one volume systematic theology. Still, for $13 it is a bargain.
  • Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge - I include this because there are some people who can't stand to read things online. Hodge's work is available in three .pdf files so I would recommend saving the money and just downloading those files so you can search them or printing them and putting them in binders. But if you really love having the book formats then this is the cheapest you'll find it. As a quick warning these books are very tightly bound so you will end up breaking the spine opening them.
  • Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel by Eugene Merrill - While Merrill is not a Reformed or Presbyterian theologian this book is a very helpful apologetic for how the Old Testament presents the history of Israel. It is very interesting in seeing the historical books of the OT in the socio-political context of the day. It is only $8 now (though this is the older edition).
  • Encountering the Old Testament by Bill Arnold and Bryan Beyer - I think it's good to have at least one OT Introduction on your shelves. The Longman-Dillard IOT is better than this. But this is also 60% off and is a huge book for only $20. Worth checking out.

1 comment:

richard said...

Thanks for a terrific class Matt. I loved your presentation and this sparked a number of interesting discussions as well. I've found the papers you reference by Murray and Pink to be most helpful, as are your own short pieces. This website itself has become a wealth of information with its many reviews and links. Please keep it up and I'll send in comments from Texas!