June 18, 2015

August Featured Resource–The Doctrines of Grace: Student Edition

The Doctrines of Grace Student Edition CoverStatus: 2 Copies Available

Publisher’s Description

A great resource for teen Sunday school classes or those new to the Reformed faith.

In twelve short lessons, Shane Lems introduces the five points of Calvinism, explaining their biblical and historical basis and application.

Includes discussion questions.
Shane LemsAbout the Author

Shane Lems (MDiv, Westminster Seminary California) is pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Hammond, Wisconsin. He has worked as a curriculum editor at Crossroads Bible Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as a pastor and church planter in the United Reformed Churches (URCNA).

Book Details

143 Pages
Publisher: P&R Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 2013
Source: WTS Books

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July 27, 2019

The Books and the Parchments

Cover Books and Parchments Book Description

“One thing that has impressed itself upon me time and again” writes Dr. Bruce in his preface to this, the third edition of his famous work, “has been the wealth of fresh discovery that has had to be recorded during these last few years.”

In these chapters on the transmission of Bible, the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester, England, presents for layman and student alike the results of the latest research and discovery in such fields as the languages of the Bible, the scripts in which they were written, the chief surviving manuscripts (including the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Canon of Scripture, the original text, the ancient versions, and the story of the English Bible, including some account of the New English Bible. Those who wish to have an up-to-date account of these varying aspects of Bible study within the compass of one volume will find their need met here. ~ from the dust jacket.

Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910-1990) was a Biblical scholar who taught at a variety of universities and was editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He wrote a number of influential books, such as Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?, New Testament History, The Defense of the Gospel in the New Testament, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1950 book, “This volume gathers together a number of articles written and papers read at various times on the transmission of the Bible. It is intended for non-specialists like those who have read them or heard them in their earlier forms, and who have frequently expressed a desire to have them in this form… I have tried to bear in mind the questions which are most frequently asked about these matters, and to answer them to the best of my ability. I hope that the volume may thus prove interesting and useful to the many who, without aiming at any specialist knowledge of Biblical learning, would welcome a handbook dealing with these questions.”

He points out, “Much of the vivid, concrete and forthright character of our English Old Testament is really a carrying over into English of something of the genius of the Hebrew tongue. Biblical Hebrew does not deal with abstractions but with the facts of experience. It is the right sort of language for the record of the self-revelation of a God who does not make Himself known by philosophical propositions but by controlling and intervening in the course of human history. Hebrew is not afraid to use daring anthropomorphisms when speaking of God. If God imparts to men the knowledge of Himself, he chooses to do so most effectively in terms of human life and human language.” (Pg. 45)

He observes, “a writer like Luke… commanded a good, idiomatic Greek style. Even in the English translation it is difficult to miss the transition in style which takes place between the fourth and fifth verses of his Gospel. From the fifth verse of his first chapter to the end of his second chapter we might be reading a continuation of the Old Testament, so reminiscent is the style of his nativity narratives of the characteristic phraseology of the Old Testament. Some scholars have supposed that for these nativity narratives Luke was dependent on a Hebrew document. This is possible—indeed, it seems to the writer more likely—but it is also possible that Luke was simply composing deliberately in ‘Septuagint’ style because he judged that most appropriate for the subject-matter of these two chapters.” (Pg. 71)

He notes, “It is sometimes claimed that the criterion which the early Christians applied in deciding whether a book was to be regarded as canonical or not was that of apostolic authorship. Now, it is certain that apostolic authorship counted for very much. It was for this reason that such a flood of apocryphal literature appears in the second century bearing the names of various apostles… And there is no example of a certainly apostolic writing being refused canonical recognition… But apostolic authorship, though an important factor, was not the only ground of canonicity. It is probably a mistake to think that we owe the presence of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our Bibles entirely to the happy accident that it was popularly ascribed to Paul. For, after all, two of the Gospels bear the names of men who were not apostles, and yet that did not stand in the way of accepting Mark and Luke as equally inspired with Matthew and John.” (Pg. 110)

Like all collections of diverse essays, this one is admittedly somewhat “uneven.” But Bruce’s scholarship is of the highest grade as always, and his explanations for a “popular” audience will be of help to many or most persons seriously studying the Bible. ~ Stephen H. Propp, Amazon Review, accessed 7/27/2019

About the Author

FF BruceFrederick Fyvie Bruce FBA (12 October 1910 – 11 September 1990), usually cited as F. F. Bruce, was a biblical scholar who supported the historical reliability of the New Testament. His first book, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (1943), was voted by the American evangelical periodical Christianity Today in 2006 as one of the top 50 books “which had shaped evangelicals”.[1]

Bruce was born in Elgin, Moray, Scotland, the son of a Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren) preacher and educated at the University of Aberdeen, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and the University of Vienna, where he studied with Paul Kretschmer, an Indo-European philologist.[2]

After teaching Greek for several years, first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Leeds, he became head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947. Aberdeen University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree on him in 1957.[3] In 1959 he moved to the University of Manchester where he became Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis.[4] He wrote over 40 books and served as editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He retired from teaching in 1978.

Bruce was a scholar on the life and ministry of Paul the Apostle and wrote several studies, the best known of which is Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit (published in the United States as Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free). He also wrote commentaries on many biblical books including Habakkuk, the Gospel of John, the Acts of the Apostles, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philippians, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Epistles of John.

Most of Bruce’s works were scholarly, but he also wrote many popular works on the Bible. He viewed the New Testament writings as historically reliable and the truth claims of Christianity as hinging on their being so. To Bruce this did not mean that the Bible was always precise, or that this lack of precision could not lead to some confusion. He believed, however, that the passages that were still open to debate were ones that had no substantial bearing on Christian theology and thinking. Bruce’s colleague at Manchester, James Barr, considered Bruce a “conservative liberal”.[5]

Bruce was in Christian fellowship at various places during his life, though his primary commitment was to the Open Brethren among whom he grew up.[6] He enjoyed the fellowship and acceptance of this group, though he was very much a maverick in relation to his own personal beliefs. He never accepted a specific brand of dispensationalism[7] usually associated with the Brethren, although he may have held a historic premillennialism[8] akin to George Eldon Ladd[9] and he was also an advocate of the public ministry of women[10] – something that many Plymouth Brethren would still disapprove of today.

Bruce was honoured with two scholarly works by his colleagues and former students, one to mark his 60th and the other to mark his 70th birthday. Apostolic History and the Gospel: Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce on his 60th Birthday (1970) included contributions from E. M. Blaiklock, E. Earle Ellis, I. Howard Marshall, Bruce M. Metzger, William Barclay, G. E. Ladd, A. R. Millard, Leon Morris, Bo Reicke, and Donald Guthrie. Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to Professor F. F. Bruce on his 70th Birthday (1980) included contributions from Peter T. O’Brien, David Wenham, Ronald E. Clements, and Moisés Silva. C. F. D. Moule and Robert H. Gundry contributed to both volumes.

Bruce was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 1965 served as President of the Society for Old Testament Study,[11] and also as President of the Society for New Testament Study. ~ Wikipedia

Book Details

Hardcover: 287 pages

Publisher: Fleming H Revell; 3rd ed rev edition (1963)

April 13, 2019

The Future of Everything

Cover Future of EverythingBook Description

All of us think about the end times. When we reflect on what will happen not only when we die but when this present age ends, some combination of ideas, images, hopes, and fears floods our minds. In The Future of Everything, William Boekestein encourages us to allow our thoughts on the end times to be guided by God’s Word. While combing the Scriptures to find direction related to subjects like death, the millennial kingdom, the return of Christ, the resurrection, judgment, heaven, and hell, Boekestein helps us cultivate a vision for the future that impacts our walk before God’s face today.

Pages: 184
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Publication Date: 2019

Source: Reformation Heritage Books

Boekestein WilliamAbout the Author

William Boekestein has been pastoring Immanuel Fellowship Church since May, 2015. Before that he pastored Covenant Reformed Church, in Carbondale, PA since 2008. He received his B.A. at Kuyper College and his M.Div. at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Prior to entering the ministry he worked in residential construction and taught at a Christian school for several years. He and his wife Amy have four children. He has authored Ulrich Zwingli, A Well-Ordered Church (with Daniel R. Hyde), Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation (with Joel Beeke), Life Lessons from a Calloused Christian: A Practical Study of Jonah with Questions, and for children, Faithfulness under Fire: The Story of Guido de Bres, The Quest for Comfort: The Story of the Heidelberg Catechism, and The Glory of Grace: The Story of the Canons of Dort.

Source: Immanuel Fellowship Church

 

January 1, 2019

Man Asks, God Answers

Man Asks God Answers CoverBook Description

What Questions Would You Ask God?

Through the centuries, human beings have wrestled with many difficult questions. Some call these the “ultimate questions,” for they defy easy answers, even for those who search diligently. Some of these questions include: “Is there a God?” “Is God in Control?” “Where did evil come from?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It is possible to find answers to these questions?

Craig R. Brown affirms that there are answers to the ultimate questions, but it is impossible for man to find them through his own reasoning. Instead, he must set aside his self-reliance and look to God with an openness to accept the answers He provides.

In Man Asks, God Answers, Brown presents God’s answers to seven of life’s toughest questions. In straightforward, direct language, he tells his readers what the Bible has to say regarding the above questions and others. These thought-provoking answers will set the open-minded reader on a path toward a new way of investigating truth – one that relies on the source of truth itself – and toward answers that bring satisfaction and joy.

Table of Contents:

Preface: The Answers to Seven of Life’s Toughest Questions

Is There a God and Is He in Control?
How Do I Get to Heaven?
How Should I Live My Life on the Earth?
What is the Purpose of Prayer and Evangelism?
Where Did Evil Come From?
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
What Happens to Babies Who Die?
Conclusion: What Ties All This Together?

About the Author

Craig R. Brown holds a degree in business administration from Geneva College and is the president and CEO of Renaissance Nutrition, Inc. He has served as a ruling elder in both the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America.

Source: Reformation Heritage Books

 

August 4, 2018

The Church of God

Church of God CoverBook Description

For most readers, holding this new edition of The Church of God represents their first encounter with Stuart Robinson. By comparison, the major contributors to the ongoing discussion of Presbyterianism are readily recognized: the cornerstone Calvin, the Socratic Turretin, the erudite Bavinck, and the inexhaustible Bannerman. Thornwell defended church power in theory, but Robinson defined it in particulars. Hodge traveled the landscape of ecclesiology extensively, but Robinson traversed its terrain proficiently. Bannerman expounded Presbyterianism comprehensively, but Robinson explained it concisely. Although one can understand why historians give more attention to better known thinkers, Robinson was regarded as an equal among and by his contemporary Presbyterian ecclesiologists. He should be given his due when discussing the area of his recognized strength.

In recent years, ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) has surged ahead of other loci of theology. Many works on ecclesiology have appeared in the developing academic areas of comparative and historical ecclesiology and in the ever-expanding postmodern theologies, particularly the Emergent wing. But not all of these contributions can be regarded as enriching. Despite apparent efforts to revive an ancient faith, some contemporary ecclesiologists betray an eclectic historical consciousness that tends to skip over the Reformation. Inserting The Church of God back into the ecclesiological narrative helps to address the existing need to become better acquainted with what has been said before—and, above all, with what has been said wisely.

Where some have seen weakness, Robinson saw strength. Calvin wedded his doctrine of the church to the doctrine of predestination. Some have viewed this as a serious ‘methodological error.’ But Robinson viewed it as a brilliant insight…In the unsearchable counsel of the triune God, the ‘ideal church’ lies anterior to the ‘actual church’ in the history of redemption, preeminently in the Abrahamic covenant. Reformed ecclesiology has been powerful and united because it has insisted on seeing the church in the big picture, through the perspective of God’s eternal decree, and consequently in the sweep of redemptive history. Taking this ‘ideal’ angle inevitably led Robinson to stress the centrality of Christology in ecclesiology and Christ’s ongoing ministry in his threefold office.

This volume was originally published in 1858 and has been retypeset and augmented to include a foreword by Dr. A. Craig Troxel and Thomas E. Peck’s “Memorial of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Stuart Robinson.”

Source: WTS Books

Stuart Robinson

Stuart Robinson, 1814-1881

About the Author

Is it a scowl of anger or grimace of pain that is on the face of Stuart Robinson? His appearance may very well be due to pain. When he was an infant, his nurse was tossing him in the air, as adults often do, and watching him giggle, as babies will do, but then she accidentally missed him and he fell to the floor. One can only imagine the horror of the nurse as she saw the child she cared for screaming in pain. The injuries were fearful. His right shoulder was dislocated, his hand and thumb were seriously injured, and his head was injured such that the doctor believed, using the terminology of the day, “idiocy,” might be the result. Robinson recovered from his head injury but his arm and hand were disabled for the remainder of his life manifesting a stiffness and awarkdness that could be seen in his gestures in the pulpit. Matters were made worse when he broke the same arm in an accident while riding a train from Baltimore to Kentucky. Yes, his facial appearance may very well be due to pain, but then there is the possibility of the scowl of anger, an appearance of antagonism because his character, integrity, and honor as a man and a minister had been assailed and slandered such that he sued the source of the defaming words.

Stuart Robinson was of Scotch-Irish stock, born November 14, 1814, to James and Martha Porter Robinson in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland. Martha was the daughter of an elder in the Irish Presbyterian Church and her grandfather had been a Presbyterian minister. Stuart’s father was a successful purveyor of linen until he lost his wealth through guaranteeing some loans that did not work out. Thus, as so many residents of Ireland were doing in the era, James took the family first to New York and then to Virginia where they settled. When Stuart was but six or seven years old his mother died. The household had no relatives in the country, so Stuart lived with another family, the Troutmans, through arrangement by his father.

The Troutmans raised Stuart as their own and realilzed his intelligence. They saw that he attended school. As with several of the biographical subjects presented on Presbyterians of the Past, Stuart had an incredible memory. The Troutmans sought the advice of their pastor, Rev. James M. Brown, who recognized the thirteen year old’s abilities, took him into his home, and directed him in his studies until he continued his work in the academy in Romney, Virginia, mastered by Rev. William H. Foote. At about the age of sixteen during his preparatory studies he professed his faith in Christ. When it was time to enter college, young Stuart entered with the freshman class at Amherst in Massachusetts, completing his program in 1836; he then studied one year in Union Seminary, Virginia, after which he taught for two years; and then he completed his studies at Princeton Seminary in two years.

Stuart Robinson was licensed by Greenbrier Presbyery, 1841, then ordained, October 8, 1842, at Lewisburg, Virginia (currently in West Virginia) to serve the Kanawha Salines Church. He continued in the ministry serving churches in Kentucky, then Baltimore, and then moved back to Kentucky where he taught in Danville Seminary. Stuart Robinson was known for his preaching gifts, the precision of his sermons, his pointed and no holds barred writing, and a short-fused temper. His memorialist, J. N. Saunders, commented that, “his temper sometimes got the better of him; that his great will was sometimes too imperious, and that he often said things that were unnecessarily severe and wounding” (p. 34). At the time of the lawsuits that will be discussed in the following paragraphs, Robinson had been the minister of the Second Presbyterian Church, Louisville, since 1858.

The story of Dr. Robinson’s litigation begins with The Hickman Courier of Hickman, Kentucky, which reported in March 1872 that an important libel suit had been filed by Rev. Stuart Robinson against the proprietors of the Chicago Evening Post seeking damages of 100,000.00. The compensation sought was described as, possibly tongue in cheek, “a moderate sum.” Robinson was responding to a thirty-one word piece run that January in the Post’s “Personal and Impersonal” column.

Rev. Stuart Robinson of Louisville, who advocated from the pulpit during the war, the shipping of yellow fever infected clothing to Northern cities, narrowly escaped death from small pox last week.

The purpose of the paragraph was likely to inform the Post’s readers of Dr. Robinson’s illness. Despite the availability of an early type of vaccination, the “pox” was a common disease of the day that sometimes horribly scarred the victim’s face. It is believed that the ghostly appearance of Queen Elizabeth, I, of England in her portraits is due to heavy makeup covering her small pox scars. The libelous portion of the piece was the comment that, expressed in a matter of fact manner as though it was common knowledge, Robinson had recommended from the pulpit that the Confederacy engage in what would be called today germ warfare by distributing yellow fever in the North. Could it be that the between-the-lines purpose of the snippet was to interpret Robinson’s small pox as a divine judgment for his alleged yellow fever plan? One can only imagine the response of Stuart Robinson when he read the slanderous words given the struggles he had controlling his Scotch-Irish ire as he grew in grace and sanctification.

The Chicago Evening Post had pursued an investigation into the facts and was “able to speak intelligently in reference to both” the yellow fever plan and Stuart Robinson’s character. The Post had determined that one Mr. Conover was the source of the accusation and that it was “utterly without foundation in fact.” Another slice of humble pie was eaten by the Post as it went on to praise the character and integrity of Robinson saying he was “a Presbyterian clergyman of national reputation….For integrity, ability, and all those qualities of head and heart which adorn the profession, he stands second to few clergymen in the country.” Further, Stuart Robinson had shown his generosity and compassion for the people of Chicago the previous year by giving 1,000.00 to the relief fund for victims of its cataclysmic Great Fire. The Post continued noting that the comment had been added to its “Personal and Impersonal” column from another paper, the name of which is not mentioned. No Post editor had reviewed the piece before its publication. The Post’s confession ends with sorrow, penitence, and a touch of justification for its mistake.

It is the duty of a newspaper to expose and denounce wrong in whatever station or profession it may be found, but no editor can supervise all the items which will creep into his columns. Injustice is thus sometimes done, but the Chicago Evening Post has made it an invariable rule, voluntarily and without condition, as far as possible, to repair the wrong.

In this case, we are sincerely sorry for the publication of this item. We take pleasure in retracting it, and, that no injustice may be done to the party, we hope other papers which copied the items will give the retraction a circulation as extensive as the charge.

What a nightmare for Dr. Robinson. In the nineteenth-century a newspaper often copied the reports of other papers and used them for their own articles. Sometimes the source was cited, but in many cases the source was not mentioned. It was not seen as plagiarism but rather an informal wire service among publishers. If a New York newspaper copied an article from an Atlanta newspaper reporting a theater fire in Decatur that killed twenty people, then it was the accepted practice to reprint it as its own and no one thought anything about it. When an article was borrowed from another newspaper it was hoped the source from which the account was copied had provided accurate information, but obviously, this was not always the case. Thus, not only did the Chicago Evening Post publish a lie about Robinson, but each newspaper that used the article spread the defaming information. One might think of newspapers sharing articles as similar to the Internet when posts are copied and pasted, or linked from one site to another. Just as with the newspapers, the Internet information may or may not be accurate.

As commented above, the Chicago Evening Post did not name the newspaper from which it had obtained the Robinson article. It could be that the unnamed paper was published in St. Louis. The Hartford Herald of Kentucky, five years after the defamatory piece was published in the Post, reported that a judgment for slander had been made against “the old St. Louis Democrat.” The amount awarded Robinson was 30,000.00, which circa 2014 would amount to over a half million dollars according to computation using the history of the index of inflation. This substantial judgment against the Democrat was just one of a number of suits, including the Chicago one, that was filed by Robinson and in each suit he was “vindicated by the courts.” If the judgments for Robinson were all at the level of the Democrat award, then the already wealthy Robinson would have seen his bank account enhanced tremendously.

What is to be learned from the disconcerting experience of Stuart Robinson? Obviously, one living in his day would have recognized that defaming Dr. Robinson could be a financially costly mistake. The Epistle of James reminds Christians that the tongue is a fire that can burn out of control (3:6), it is like the tiller of a ship in that its movement directs the whole person (3:4). A more modern but uninspired analogy is that words are like bullets fired from a gun in that once they go forth, they cannot be taken back, but even though words cannot maim and kill like bullets they can certainly anger, dishearten, or crush the one at the receiving end. It is doubtful that the one who began the lie, Mr. Conover, would have been concerned about his tongue because at the time the Chicago Evening Post investigated his accusation against Stuart Robinson, he was reported to be in prison for perjury. The reason for his perjury conviction is not given and it may or may not have been associated with the Robinson suits.

Stuart Robinson continued his ministry at Second Church, Louisville, until he was released from his call in June due to declining health. He died from stomach cancer, October 5, 1881. Dr. B. M. Palmer led his funeral service two days later. Dr. Robinson had served as moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) in 1877, and spoke in the sessions of the Pan Presbyterian Council in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was honored with the Doctor of Divinity by Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, 1853. He was survived by his wife, Mary Eliza, daughter of William Brigham, M.D., and their two daughters; two sons had died before Dr. Robinson’s death. He was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Lousiville.

If interested in reading more about Stuart Robinson see, A Kingdom Not of this World: Stuart Robinson’s Struggle to Distinguish the Sacred from the Secular during the Civil War, Mercer, 2002, by Preston D. Graham, Jr., which provides a fine intellectual biography with particular emphasis on the doctrine of the spirituality of the church. Also, Robinson’s book, The Church of God as an Essential Element of the Gospel, 1858, has been reprinted by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2009, and it includes a twenty-five page biography by T. E. Peck who was a friend of Robinson and his successor at Central Presbyterian Church, Baltimore. Robinson also published Discourses on Redemption: As Revealed at Sundry Times and in Divers Manners, Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1866.

Source: Presbyterians of the Past

 

February 4, 2018

The Origin of Paul’s Religion

Cover Origin of Paul's ReligionBook Description

The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1921) is perhaps Machen’s best known scholarly work. This book was a successful attempt at critiquing the Modernist belief that Paul’s religion was based mainly upon Greek philosophy and was entirely different from the religion of Jesus.

Machen writes a masterful and forthright defense of the historical truthfulness and supernaturalism of the New Testament. This volume is taken from the James Sprunt Lectures delivered at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. Reprints of this book sometimes add the subtitle “The Classic Defense of Supernatural Christianity”.

Machen refutes the anti-supernaturalism that was beginning to dominate the church in the early decades of the twentieth century. Although written 85 years ago it remains a model of biblical scholarship and warm piety.

Source: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing

J Gresham MachenAbout the Author

John Gresham Machen, (born July 28, 1881, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—died January 1, 1937, Bismarck, North Dakota), was born to a prominent family in Baltimore. Machen studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He criticized liberal Protestantism as unbiblical and unhistorical in his Christianity and Liberalism (1923), What is Faith? (1925) and struggled to preserve the conservative character of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Machen defended the historical reliability of the Bible in such works as The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1921) and The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930). He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His continued opposition during the 1930s to liberalism in his denomination’s foreign missions agencies led to the creation of a new organization, The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (1933). The trial, conviction and suspension from the ministry of Independent Board members, including Machen, in 1935 and 1936 provided the rationale for the formation in 1936 of the Presbyterian Church in America, which became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in 1939. Machen was the principal figure in the founding of the OPC if for no other reason than that the Presbyterian controversy in which he played a crucial role provided the backdrop for the denomination.

Sources: Britannica, and OPC.org

329 Pages
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 1925; Third Reprint 1976
ISBN: 080281123X

 

 

 

January 19, 2018

The Virgin Birth of Christ

Cover Virgin Birth of ChristBook Description

In the spring of 1927, Dr. J. Gresham Machen delivered the Thomas Smyth Lectures at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, about the virgin birth of Christ. The content of these lectures comprise the substance of his book, The Virgin Birth of Christ, which was first published in 1930 by Harper & Row Publishers, and reprinted seven times with special permission between 1965 and 1980 by Baker Book House. Additional supplementary material was also drawn from a number of Machen’s articles published in the Princeton Theological Review—”The Virgin Birth in the Second Century,” “The Hymns of the First Chapter of Luke,” and “The Origin of the First Two Chapters of Luke,” which appeared in 1912, and “The Integrity of the Lucan Narrative of the Annunciation,” which appeared in 1927.

The first eleven chapters attempt to demonstrate that the virgin birth of Christ is a historical fact, and defends the character of the birth narratives in Matthew 1 and Luke 2 as authentic and reliable witnesses thereto. In chapters twelve through fourteen, he interacts with the competing claim that the idea of the virgin birth of Christ was derived from Jewish or pagan sources and only later added to the Christian creed.

In his second preface, Dr. Machen expresses encouragement by many affirming interactions with critical Protestant scholars who valued his work, despite their disagreement, as at least a useful “compendium of information.” “The author is encouraged by such recognition, since he believes that truth is furthered by full and open debate” (page vii). This work exemplifies a depth in Evangelical scholarship which is so often dismissed by skeptical and critical scholars, and Dr. Machen “makes bold to think that the scholarly tradition of the Protestant Church is not altogether dead even in our day, and he looks for a glorious revival of it when the narrowness of our metallic age (of modernist liberalism) gives place to a new Renaissance” (page x).

J Gresham Machen

Dr. J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

About the Author

John Gresham Machen, (born July 28, 1881, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—died January 1, 1937, Bismarck, North Dakota), was born to a prominent family in Baltimore. Machen studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He criticized liberal Protestantism as unbiblical and unhistorical in his Christianity and Liberalism (1923), What is Faith? (1925) and struggled to preserve the conservative character of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Machen defended the historical reliability of the Bible in such works as The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1921) and The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930). He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His continued opposition during the 1930’s to liberalism in his denomination’s foreign missions agencies led to the creation of a new organization, The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (1933). The trial, conviction and suspension from the ministry of Independent Board members, including Machen, in 1935 and 1936 provided the rationale for the formation in 1936 of the Presbyterian Church in America, which became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in 1939. Machen was the principal figure in the founding of the OPC if for no other reason than that the Presbyterian controversy in which he played a crucial role provided the backdrop for the founding of the denomination.

Sources: Britannica, and OPC.org

415 pages
Publisher: Baker Book House; distributed by Westminster Discount Book Service
Publication Date: 1930; Seventh Reprint, 1980
ISBN: 0801058856

January 4, 2018

Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism

Cover Calvinism and Evangelical ArminianismBook Description

Since the Remonstrants first defended the teachings of Jacob Arminius at the Synod of Dordt, the system known as Arminianism has undergone a number of expressions by its various advocates. In the nineteenth century, it had become apparent to Dr. John L. Girardeau that the form of Arminianism preached by American Evangelical Arminians as influenced by the preaching of John Wesley had not been sufficiently critiqued and answered in print, along with a corresponding defense of the doctrines of Calvinism.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the doctrines of election and reprobation are stated and proven, and two categories of Arminian objections are answered: appeals to the moral attributes of God, such as his divine justice, goodness, wisdom and veracity, and appeals to the moral agency of man.

The second part is divided into four sections, in which Dr. Girardeau states the Calvinistic doctrine of justification and explains the ground, nature and condition of this essential of Protestant theology and contrasts it with the Arminian alternative.

John L Girardeau

Dr. John L. Girardeau   (1825-1898)

About the Author

John Lafayette Girardeau (1825-98) John Lafayette Girardeau was born as Lafayette Freer Girardeau on November 14, 1825 to John Bohun Girardeau and Claudia Herne Freer Girardeau. The parents of young Girardeau were of French Huguenot descent and, by the time of their eldest son’s birth on James Island (across the Ashley River from Charleston), possessors of a rich colonial ancestry, which included at least one Revolutionary War hero. John Bohun (a planter) and Claudia Freer were also solid Presbyterians of the Scottish type. The Holy Scriptures and Westminster Standards were the standard fare for the Girardeau children with both father and mother active in their religious upbringing.

Also important in Girardeau’s formative years were two notable pastors, Aaron W. Leland and Thomas Smyth. Leland was the wee lad’s pastor on James Island and Smyth nurtured him during his early adolescent years in Charleston. Although Leland was of English ancestry, he was of the Scottish persuasion when it came to his theology and ecclesiology. Smyth was of Scotch-Irish background and pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston. The low country Presbyterians had from the first identified with Scotland rather than the Mid-Atlantic Presbyterians. This was no doubt true because of Archibald Stobo, the pioneering Scot who founded the earliest distinctly Presbyterian churches in the South.

Girardeau was educated on James Island and in Charleston, completing Charleston College (now College of Charleston) in 1844 at the age of seventeen. He graduated with first honors (valedictorian) as a Greek and Latin scholar. Upon his graduation, Professor William Hawksworth exclaimed to those around him, “There goes a fine Greek scholar to make a poor Presbyterian preacher.”

After a year of tutoring and teaching on James Island and Mt. Pleasant (to raise money), he matriculated at the Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia (later Columbia Theological Seminary). As a ministerial student at Columbia he studied under his childhood pastor, Aaron W. Leland, and the venerable George Howe. Girardeau supplemented his seminary education by regularly attending the pulpit ministrations of Benjamin Morgan Palmer at the Presbyterian Church (now First Presbyterian), a short walk from both the seminary and South Carolina College. The seminarian also placed himself under the tutelage of James Henley Thornwell at the College (now University of South Carolina). Thornwell was at the time Professor of Moral Philosophy and preached or lectured regularly in the college chapel (Rutledge Chapel). Girardeau and other seminary students attended Dr. Thornwell’s addresses assiduously. Indeed, Girardeau attributed Dr. Thornwell’s chapel addresses with giving “shape and form” to his theology, which was already stoutly Westminsterian.

As a child of Claudia Herne Girardeau, the scion of South Carolina had learned to respect the poor and needy of society. During the latter years of college he had held regular meetings for the slaves on his father’s plantation, exhorting them to believe the gospel and rest upon Christ for their deliverance from sin. In seminary he held evangelistic meetings in a warehouse where the poor, enslaved, derelict, and disreputable attended. Shortly after graduation from seminary in 1848 he was ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament and embarked upon a brief series of pastorates-Wappetaw Church and Wilton Presbyterian Church-that would culminate in Charleston as a famous pastor to slaves.

In January 1854, he and his wife Penelope Sarah (“Sal”) moved from St. John Parish and Wilton Presbyterian Church (January 1849-December 53) to Charleston to assume the work begun by John B. Adger and the session of Second Presbyterian Church. The work was designed to establish a church for and of the slaves. In 1850, citizens of Charleston built a meeting house on Anson Street for the exclusive use of the slaves. After Adger’s health failed, Girardeau was handpicked by Adger and Smyth to lead the work forward. The work expanded from thirty-six black members when Girardeau arrived to over 600 at the time of the American Armageddon. He preached to over 1,500 weekly from 1859 through 1861.

In 1858/59 the Anson Street Mission experienced a marvelous revival and in April 1859 they moved into a new building at the prestigious and prime intersection of Meeting and Calhoun Streets. The black membership was given the privilege of naming their church (which was particularized in 1858) and they chose “Zion.” Zion Presbyterian Church became famous for Girardeau’s preaching-he was called “the Spurgeon of America”-, but it was also noteworthy for its diaconal ministry in the community, catechetical training of hundreds in the city, sewing clubs for the women, and missionary activity. The outreach and influence of Zion was of such public notoriety that Girardeau and the session were often criticized and sometimes physically threatened. For example, the catechetical training and teaching of hymns and psalms was so effective that some Charlestonians believed Girardeau was teaching the slaves to read for themselves (which was contrary to state law).

After the War and before Girardeau could return to Charleston, a number of freedmen of Zion Presbyterian Church beckoned Girardeau to return to “the Holy City” and resume his work with them. They desired to have their white pastor whom they knew, loved, and respected, rather than a black missionary from the North. Throughout the post-War and Reconstruction years, he arduously worked amongst both black and white in Charleston. He mightily labored within the Southern Presbyterian Church to see that the freedmen were included in the church and in 1869 he nominated seven freedmen for the office of ruling elder in Zion Presbyterian Church, preached the ordination service, and with the white members of his session laid hands on his black brothers.

Unfortunately, the pressures of Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the hardened positions of notables like B. M. Palmer and R. L. Dabney brought the church to a pivotal moment. The weight of political and social issues eventuated in “organic separation” of white membership and black membership and the formation of churches along the color line. Girardeau alone dissented against the resolution at the 1874 General Assembly in Columbus, Mississippi, for which he served as Moderator.

In 1875, B. M. Palmer nominated Girardeau for Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology at Columbia Seminary, a position W. S. Plumer had held since 1866. In January 1876 he began his seminary labors which lasted until June 1895. During his academic career he continued as a popular preacher in the Southern Church, defended biblical orthodoxy against the inroads of modernism in the Woodrow Controversy at Columbia Seminary, labored actively against union with the Northern Presbyterian Church, served the courts of the church tirelessly, contributed many theological, ecclesiological, and philosophical articles to academic journals, and wrote several important monographs on theology, worship, and philosophy. He made significant contributions to the doctrine of adoption and the diaconate.

Girardeau and his beloved wife “Sal” had ten children who crowned their forty-nine years of marriage. Seven Girardeau children lived to adulthood while three died in infancy. Three Girardeau daughters married Presbyterian ministers, including the notable theologian and churchman Robert Alexander Webb. This pastor to slaves and theologian of the Southern Church died quietly at his home in Columbia on June 23, 1898, just a few months after his friend R. L. Dabney had passed away. B. M. Palmer wrote of Girardeau that “It will be long before another generation can produce his equal; and those, who have known him from the first to last, feel that we lay him to rest among the immortals of the past.” His body rests just a few short steps from his mentor and friend James Henley Thornwell in Columbia’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Source: PCA Historical Center

574 Pages
Publisher: Sprinkle Publications

December 3, 2017

Martin Luther’s Christmas Book

Martin Luthers Christmas Book CoverBook Description

This inspiring collection contains thirty excerpts from Martin Luther’s Christmas sermons. In his unique and powerful voice, Luther portrays the human reality of God’s birth on earth—Mary’s distress at giving birth with no midwife or water, Joseph’s misgivings, the Wise Men’s perplexity, Herod’s cunning. And throughout these sermon-meditations, Martin Luther reminds us that keeping Christmas is a year-round mission of caring for those in need.

Nine elegant illustrations by Luther’s contemporaries—including four by noted engraver Albrecht Durer—capture timeless scenes from the Christmas story. And two of Luther’s beautiful Christmas carols are included on the final pages of the book.

roland-h-bainton

Roland H. Bainton

About the Editor

Renowned Reformation scholar Roland H. Bainton wrote the introduction, as well as translating and arranging this collection of Luther’s sermons. Bainton was a professor of church history at Yale Divinity School and the author of numerous books, including Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther.

72 Pages
Publisher: W.L. Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of The Westminster Press
Publication Date: 1948
ISBN: 978-0-8066-3577-4

November 1, 2017

Martin Luther: The Man and His Work (The Reformation Trail Series #19)

Martin Luther Man And His Work CoverBook Description

“Luther’s marriage raised a great hue and cry. the union of a renegade monk with an escaped nun, violating as it did their own personal vows, and ecclesiastical and civil law as well, seemed to many to throw a sinister light upon the whole reform movement. Now, they declared, the significance of the Reformation was revealed to all the world, and it was clear what Luther had had in mind from the beginning. Satirical attacks appeared in great numbers. Slanderous tales were spread about him and his bride. Even many of his friends were thrown into consternation, and feared he had dealt a death-blow to the cause. The lawyer Jerome Schurf, when he heard the rumour that Luther was contemplating marriage, remarked: “If this monk takes a wife, the whole world and the devil himself will laugh, and all the work he has accomplished will come to nothing.” Others, though wishing to see him married, regretted he had chosen Kathe rather than some woman of wealth and position. The time, too, seemed to almost everybody particularly inopportune. His prince and supporter, the Elector Frederick, had died only a month before, and all Saxony was still mourning him, as Luther was, too, for that matter. Moreover, the peasants’ war was not yet ended, and the whole country was in an uproar.”

About the Author

Arthur Cushman McGiffert

Arthur Cushman McGiffert (1861-1933)

Arthur Cushman McGiffert (March 4, 1861 – 1933), American theologian, was born in Sauquoit, New York, the son of a Presbyterian clergyman of Scots-Irish descent.

He graduated at Western Reserve College in 1882 and at Union Theological Seminary in 1885, studied in Germany (especially under Harnack) in 1885-1887, and in Italy and France in 1888, and in that year received the degree of doctor of philosophy at Marburg. He was instructor (1888-1890) and professor (1890-1893) of church history at Lane Theological Seminary, and in 1893 became Washburn professor of church history in Union theological seminary, succeeding Philip Schaff. He became the 8th president of Union Seminary in 1917.

His published work, except occasional critical studies in philosophy, dealt with church history and the history of dogma. His best known publication is a History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age (1897). This book, which sustains critical historical eminence to this day, by its independent criticism and departures from traditionalism, aroused the opposition of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church; though the charges brought against McGiffert were dismissed by the Presbytery of New York, to which they had been referred, a trial for heresy seemed inevitable, and McGiffert, in 1900, retired from the Presbyterian ministry and retained his credentialed status by eager recognition from a Congregational Church. Likewise he retained his distinguished position at Union Theological Seminary.

A History of Christian Thought constituted a two volume work (1932, 1933) which established an American standard in theological studies and is still cited regularly by scholars. Among his other publications are: A Dialogue between a Christian and a Jew (1888); a translation (with introduction and notes) of Eusebius’s Church History (1890; part of Philip Schaff’s Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series); and The Apostle’s Creed (1902), in which he attempted to prove that the old Roman creed was formulated as a protest against the dualism of Marcion and his denial of the reality of Jesus’s life on earth.

Source: Wikipedia

460 pages
Paperback
Inheritance Publications
Publication Date: 1911, 2017
ISBN: 9781772980189

September 1, 2017

Reformation Sketches

Reformation Sketches Cover“The sketches in this book strive to show that the Reformation remains vitally important for Christians today,” writes W. Robert Godfrey. “Reformers and preachers of the sixteenth century were the best educated, godliest, and most faithful group of leaders the church has ever seen. In a remarkable way they combined commitment, learning, and orthodoxy. We need to continue to learn from them.”

In Reformation Sketches, Martin Luther and John Calvin receive most of Godfrey’s attention, but he also treats Philip Melanchthon, Peter Martyr Vermigli, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort.

“A wonderfully written history of the Great Reformation. With the care of a scholar and the insights of professional maturity, Godfrey takes us on a journey into our heritage.”—John D. Hannah

“Godfrey is a wise and engaging historian of the Reformation. His sketches provide a compelling introduction to the Reformers, showing the relevance of their lives and thought for Christians today.”—Philip Graham Ryken

“Edifying history at its best—a thorough grasp of cultural and political circumstances influencing the church, a keen understanding of the doctrinal issues at stake, and a deep concern for the ongoing reformation of the contemporary church.”—Darryl G. Hart

About the Author

W. Robert Godfrey

Dr. W. Robert Godfrey

W. Robert Godfrey (Ph.D., Stanford University) is professor of church history and president at Westminster Theological Seminary in California (retired), and a Teaching Fellow with Ligonier Ministries. He is the author of John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor, and most recently, Learning to Love the Psalms

Binding: Paperback
Pages: 151
Publisher: P&R Publishing
Publication Date: 2003
ISBN: 0875525784