Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A note from Al Mohler on Thanksgiving

Here's a post from Al Mohler asking what atheists do on Thanksgiving. Raises the very good point of what to do with blessings that cannot be attributed to human effort.

Just a quick few verses to meditate on tomorrow:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:16-18)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Movies and worldviews

Here's a helpful link from John Frame reflecting on movies and whether or not is appropriate for Christians to watch movies that involve violence, gore, language, or sex. Frame helpfully points out that the real conflict that Christians have with these kinds of movies is not the sin depicted on the screen but rather the underlying worldview that suppresses knowledge of God and worships the creature rather than the Creator. On that basis we need to be conscience not just of how we watch a rated R movie but even how we watch Disney cartoon films. There's some very good theology influencing the apologetics and ethics behind asking whether or not Christians should see certain movies and why. Frame has an unpublished book on the topic that he has made available free at the website he shares with Vern Poythress. (HT: Feeding on Christ)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New edition of Themelios online journal

The new edition of Themelios is now available from the Gospel Coalition. Edited by D.A. Carson this usually has some very interesting articles and its worth checking out for the book reviews if nothing else. I haven't had time to read the articles in this edition yet but you can get to it online here so feel free to leave your thoughts on anything in there in the comments.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Letter from a Reformation Martyr

Here's an interesting post from the Aquila Report. This is a letter written by Guido de Bres to his wife from prison less than two months before his execution for Protestant beliefs during the Spanish Inquisition. De Bres was the author of the Belgic Confession and it was written from where he ministered in the low countries to the Spanish Government to try to clarify what Protestants believed and to explain why they were not a radical movement like the Anabaptists but rather desired to reform the church.

Particularly interesting in the letter is how much de Bres trusted in the good providence of God even in the face of his own impending martyrdom. It expresses a heartfelt confidence in what we confess in Article 13 of de Bres' written confession and is a wonderful example of why it is so important that we do not only believe that God is our Father but that as omnipotent Creator he works all things out for good and that his decrees are both right and certain:

We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ's disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground without the will of our Father.

In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New book for children

For today only, Simonetta Carr's new book on Augustine can be picked up from Reformation Heritage books for 40% off. Carr's illustrated books are great introductions to major figures in church history for children. Could make a good Christmas gift for a child or grandchild.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remembering B.B. Warfield

(HT: Justin Taylor) Today marks the 158th anniversary of B.B. Warfield's birth near Lexington, KY. Warfield was best known as the Lion of Princeton. Justin Taylor published a brief survey of the importance of Warfield by Fred Zaspel who has a systematic summary of Warfield's theology that will be released in September 2010. I have pasted it below and you can also find it at the above link. First, here are some of my favorite Warfield books to check out:
  • The Person and Work of Christ - While this is not in my list of books that I think every Christian ought to read it is one of my favorites of all time. There is wonderful Christology that Warfield develops from Scripture and I think that if read in smaller doses this could even be used as a devotional book. John Murray said about this work, "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."
  • For those of you at Shady Grove, you should know that Warfield's ten volume collected works are available in the church library. This is a treasury of Christian theology. You can sometimes find it on ebay for around $60 too.
  • Inspiration and the Authority of the Bible - This book is a bit dated because Warfield is responding to the German higher criticism of the turn of the 19th century but it is still valuable because these views of Scripture are what lead to theological liberalism and compromising doctrine. It's very good to be familiar with Warfield's arguments for a high doctrine of Scripture so that we can also be confident that what Scripture says is truly what God says and as such is infallible and inerrant.

Remembering Warfield
by Fred G. Zaspel

At important moments in the history of the church God, in kind providence, has raised up men to give voice to His Word. And so there is Augustine, the theologian of sin and grace. He did not invent these doctrines, of course. But in his battle with Pelagius he gave them such clear and cogent articulation that forever since he has been recognized as the one who gave these doctrines to us. He was the high water mark. So also there is Anselm, the theologian of the doctrine of the atonement. And there is Luther, the theologian of justification. And Calvin, the theologian of the Holy Spirit.

In this sense exactly Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield of Old Princeton is the theologian of the doctrine of inspiration. Those who hold to the historic doctrine today add very little to what Warfield said a hundred years ago. So also any who reject that doctrine must contend with Warfield before their work is complete. He was the theologian of inspiration. This was his gift, in God’s kind providence, to the modern church.

But all this, accurate as it certainly is, could skew our understanding of Warfield just a bit, for it does not provide anything close to an adequate representation of him. Moreover, in Warfield’s own mind and heart, inspiration is not what he was all about. To be sure, inspiration was in large measure the issue of the day, and Warfield was the man God raised up to speak to that issue. But it might be surprising for some to learn that judged in terms of literary output and of his own self-conscious interests, B. B. Warfield was first and foremost a Christologian. In his own heart of hearts he saw himself as a fallen sinner rescued by a divine Redeemer, and this—the person and work of Christ—is where we find the heartbeat of this great Princetonian. And as he did with the doctrine of inspiration, so also Warfield provided for the church a massive exegetical grounding for the great truths of Christ’s two natures, his redemptive work, and so on. Indeed, it was to this end—God’s redemptive revelation in Christ—that Warfield understood the doctrine of inspiration as so very vital.

But the breadth and depth Warfield’s grasp was greater still. It would be difficult to find in the history of American theology a theologian who displayed a theological scholarship equal to that of Warfield. And certainly even in his own day—a day marked by increasingly determined and scornful unbelief—he was recognized as a giant, and he eagerly took all comers and stepped forward to defend the church’s historic faith against all its various attacks. Commanding the highest respect from all quarters he was eminently equipped to argue the case for biblical truth on any ground—exegetical, theological, historical, and philosophical—confident and never fearing in the slightest that God’s truth could ever be overthrown. It has been said with only slight exaggeration that it was B. B. Warfield who catapulted the orthodox Reformed faith into the twentieth century.

Finally, as I have already alluded, Warfield’s heart beat hot for Christ. His passion for Christ and the gospel pulses prominently throughout the many thousands of pages of his works. He adored the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Redeemer, and he loved to say so. And he loved to speak of our utter, helpless need of such a Savior from heaven. He was a “polemic” theologian, yes. And his polemics were powerful, supremely informed, insightful, and unrelenting, devouring the enemies of truth on all fronts. But it was a polemic driven by a deep heart of love for and loyalty to Christ. He was in fact the ideal of Old Princeton—the highest and best of informed scholarship matched by a humble piety and fervent love for Christ.

Today marks the 158th birthday of B. B. Warfield (Nov. 5, 1851 – Feb. 16, 1921). An outstanding gift of Christ to his church Warfield was indeed. May his example inspire us to a similar confidence in God’s infallible Word and a similar heartfelt dependence upon our great Redeemer from heaven.

Some books on sale

It's been a while but I wanted to let people know about a few books they can get on sale. Hopefully there will be a more substantial post soon.

Christian Book Distributors is offering Al Mohler's Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists for just $3.99 until today. The "new atheists" are those in the mold of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens who have received a lot of media and popular attention lately.

Also, every week Presbyterian & Reformed Publishers gives a super bargain offer for surplus or imperfect stock. Right now you can find the following titles on there. Keep in mind that these are obviously first-come first-serve.

  • John Williamson Nevin: High Church Calvinist by D.G. Hart - All of the volumes in this American Reformed Biographies series are good but this one is particularly interesting in focusing on Nevin. Nevin has written what I think is one of the best works on the Lord's Supper and did a great deal of work on the importance of the means of grace authorized in Scripture.
  • Calvin in the Public Square: Liberal Democracies, Rights, and Civil Liberties by David Hall - This is an extremely helpful book just for the opening section that surveys prior Christian thought on church and state and the other Reformers leading up to Calvin.
  • Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul by Guy Waters - This book is pretty academic but it is a great response to the New Perspective theology as Waters did his doctoral work at Duke under E.P. Saunders and N.T. Wright and so is very familiar with their work.
  • Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship by Robert Letham - This is one of the better books you can find on the Trinity and you can't beat that price.
  • There are also several works on their by T.M. Moore and Phil Ryken. I think that these two men are excellent examples of the right combination of pastoral skills and academic rigor and I wouldn't hesitate to say anything that they write is worth the time to read.