Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sunday School Reading - May 25, 2009

This is a lot later than I hoped to get this out but here are recommended readings from this week's Sunday School. This week we covered women in the church, particularly in terms of the church offices, and worship.

First, here are the relevant sections of the Reformed and Presbyterian Confessions:

Second, here are some book recommendations on these topics. Note that while John Frame has two books on worship and I do usually like his work I think that this is a point where his redefinition of the regulative principle of worship is wrong and therefore not very helpful:
  • The Church by Ed Clowney - This is the major book that I've been recommending on ecclesiology and it is also helpful here. Clowney's chapter on worship is one of the best in the book. In his chapter on women in the church he does argue that women should be ordained as deacons. I think that this is an incorrect interpretation of 2 Tim. 2-3 so this chapter is not as helpful as the rest of the book.
  • Women's Ministry in the Local Church by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt - This is probably the most helpful book on the ministry of women in the local church because Duncan and Hunt do not focus on prohibitions but rather on the positive commands of what women are to do in local church ministry. Ligon Duncan is one of the pastors at First Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Jackson, MS, and also teaches systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson and Susan Hunt has long been involved in women's ministry in the PCA.
  • Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches by Dan Doriani - While I would recommend the Duncan/Hunt book above this one I do think that this is also a very helpful book on the topic. Doriani has worked both as a professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary and as a pastor in OPC and PCA churches.
  • In the Splendor of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century by Jon D. Payne - Payne is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, GA. This book came from a series of Sunday School lessons led by Payne in his church to introduce people to why we worship the way we do in Presbyterian churches. This is a great little book on worship.
  • Reformed Worship: Worship that Is According to Scripture by Terry Johnson - Johnson is the pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Georgia. This is a short but helpful book illustrating why how we worship is so important in Scripture.
  • Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship ed. by Philip Graham Ryken, Derek Thomas, and Ligon Duncan - This is a much longer book than the two above but it is valuable. Though there are two chapters in here from Ligon Duncan that outline why we believe in the regulative principle of worship most of the book deals with the application of it. I think that you'll find Payne's book more focused and helpful but this is also a very useful book for thinking through some specific issues of worship.
  • A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship by Michael Horton - Horton deals with the tendencies in modern evangelicalism to make worship service seeker-focused instead of God-focused. He goes to show how it is worship that is according to biblical principles and commands does call people to faith but does so in the ways that God commands.

Third, here are the sections of several Presbyterian and Reformed systematic theologies that cover these topics:
  • John Calvin deals with the topic of worship under his exposition of the moral law, see the sections on the Second Commandment in Chapter 8 of Book 2 in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.
  • R.L. Dabney also discusses a few aspects of worship in his Lectures on Systematic Theology, Chapter 31 (see link to read online).
  • Charles Hodge also deals with worship under the Second Commandment in Volume 3, Chapter 19, Part 6 of his Systematic Theology (available free online at the link provided).

Here are some essays and articles that you can read online for free on these topics:

Finally, here are some promised resources on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly related to cessationalism:

  • "Report of the Committee on the Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit" - This was a study ordered by the General Assembly of the OPC on this topic. I think that this is a very good survey.
  • The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson - Ferguson's treatment of this subject is superb in my opinion. He also deals with the "partial continuationalist" position that is advocated by men like Grudem and Poythress. This is a very helpful discussion in the book.
  • The Church by Ed Clowney - Again, Clowney is very helpful on in his chapters on this subject though perhaps not quite as good as Ferguson.
  • Perspectives on Pentecost by Richard Gaffin - Though this is the most difficult of these books to read it is still helpful in outlining why we believe that these gifts have ceased in the church.

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