Nicolas Grospierre’s Infinite Library | Book Patrol

Nicolas Grospierre’s Infinite Library | Book Patrol.

We will stay with an art theme today as we explore more of the world of books and libraries. This post was made a few days ago on “Book Patrol” (Oct.22, 2014) and portrays the unique “infinite library” art of Nicolas Grospierre.

Here’s the description “BP” gives of this project and an image belonging to it to get you started.

Art is designed to help us reflect on reality, as well as to stir our imaginations. So, what do you think of this artist’s concept of an “infinite library”?

The Never-Ending Corridor of Books and the Never-Ending Wall of Books are two components of The Library project by Nicolas Grospierre.

Both are installations comprised of photographs placed in light boxes and shown in mirrors to create the illusion of endlessness.

Nicolas-GrospierreThe-Never-Ending-Wall-of-Books-lightbox-and-mirrors

If one assumes that a library has three main functions, that is to gather books, to stock them and archive them, and to make them available to the public, it is possible to phrase the following statements. First, as a library is, by nature, a place where books are gathered, it is potentially infinite, because books, and thus knowledge, knows no boundaries and is constantly expanding. And second, a library may contain a book on libraries, or even the list of all books in that particular library, which means that a library is simultaneously the container and the content of the same subject matter.

Published in: on October 24, 2014 at 6:32 AM  Comments (2)  
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Reading with Chad Gowey | Book Patrol

Reading with Chad Gowey | Book Patrol.

Earlier this week “Book Patrol” referenced this artist who has a habit of drawing people reading in all kinds of settings. I thought this was great art – for more than one reason. :) And so, it is our first “Friday Fun” item today. Enjoy!

Chad Gowey is a freelance illustrator working out of Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and seems to have a knack for picturing books. His work as appeared in numerous publications and books including the publishers Chronicle Books, David R. Godine.

He also does has regular gig for Bookmarks magazine in which all these illustrations have appeared. Next to the illustration title is the issue it first appeared in.

Here’s a personal favorite out of this selection. Be sure to visit the Book Patrol link above to find much more!

ChadGowey_End-of-Summer-640x811

 

Published in: on October 24, 2014 at 6:18 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Word Wednesday: Catechetics

I missed a chance to get to this yesterday, so we are going to have “Word Wednesday” on Thursday! Not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. Thank you for your patience and understanding. :)

Rediscovering Catechism - VanDykenToday’s word is one that I have wanted to get at for some time, since it relates to a course being taught in the PR Seminary this semester - “Catechetics”. And it is one of those courses that doesn’t come around every year. In fact, in the rotation of classes here, it is typically only taught once every four years. And then for only one semester.

But that does not mean “Catechetics” is an insignificant course. Prof.B.Gritters (who teaches it in the area of practical theology) will tell you that it is highly significant; and the principles taught in this course will be practiced by a pastor for the rest of his ministerial career. The course description as it is printed in our Seminary catalog will make this plain:

A study of the principles of catechetical instruction and pedagogical methods employed in the training of catechumens. Emphasis is on the fact that catechetical instruction constitutes a part of the means of grace for the children of God’s covenant.

Most of you will have recognized already that this class relates to the entire course of church instruction in Reformed churches known as “catechism”. In the PRC too, we have long emphasized the importance of catechizing our youth, and so have a course of instruction that stretches from 1st grade through 12th – from “Bible History for Beginners” to “Essentials of Reformed Doctrine” (For information on this curriculum, see the catechism material page on the PRC website.).

But what about the origin of this word itself? How does its root meaning help us understand what goes on in catechetics class (at Sem) and in the catechism classroom (in the church)? For help in answering that we quote from our Seminary syllabus from this course, which includes material from both Prof.H.Hanko (emeritus) and Herman Hoeksema. It is lengthy, but profitable for all of us.

The name of this discipline, “Catechetics” comes from the Greek word kathcevw.  The word appears several times in the New Testament, but only in the writings of Luke and Paul.  Its derivation is uncertain; and this has lead to some disagreement as to its meaning.  Although, literally, the word means “to sound down” precisely what is the significance of this is not clear.  Some have maintained that the preposition katav that appears in the word can better be translated as “again and again.”  Then the idea is “to sound again and again.”  The emphasis falls then upon the fact that instruction is given and imparted by repetition.  This method of instruction was very common among the Jews.

      It is from this latter meaning that some (e.g., Melanchthon) have adopted the idea of instruction through question and answer form.  This idea is carried out in our Heidelberg Catechism and in the textbooks used in our churches for instruction.

      Cremer, in his Biblico-Theological Lexicon of the New Testament Greek, adopts the more literal meaning of the word.  Then the idea that is contained in the word is the local idea of a teacher standing on a raised platform and “sounding down upon” his pupils.

      This idea is adopted by Biesterveld; but Biesterveld speaks of the meaning as being a reference to the “sounding down” of one in a higher position of authority rather than a mere local “sounding down.”  Then the idea is that instruction is given by one who occupies a position of authority and teaches those who are “beneath” him because they are subject to the authority of their teacher.

      Whatever may be the correct idea of the word, Scripture uses the word in two different senses, both of which are closely related.  In Galatians 6:6 and I Corinthians 14:19 the word is used for oral instruction.  In Luke 1:4 and Acts 18:25 the idea is added that such instruction is elementary and must be made fuller and more complete.

      These scriptural ideas have been retained in the use of the word as a name for the discipline considered in these notes.  The subject refers therefore to principles of instruction as they apply to the work of the minister of the gospel in which he teaches the children of the church the principles of the Word of God.  Such instruction is elementary instruction, but instruction nevertheless, that must be continued through all of life.  For the content of such instruction is to be found in the Word of God; and the child of God remains a student of the Scriptures throughout life, ever growing in the knowledge of the God of his salvation.

      We may, therefore, accept the definition given by Rev. H. Hoeksema.  “Catechetics is the theological science that is concerned with the theory of catechetical instruction, that is, with the official labor that the church by way of instruction is called to bestow upon the seed of the covenant, in order that it may attain to the knowledge of the covenant and be enabled consciously to assume its part in that covenant.”

Published in: on October 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM  Leave a Comment  
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New & Noteworthy in the Seminary Library

Today we will highlight five titles that have recently been purchased for the Seminary library and which will be of interest to our broader readership, I believe.

From-mouth-of-God -SFergusonThe first is a basic study on the place of the Bible in the life of the believer. It is titled From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading, and Applying the Bible (Banner of Truth, 2014), and is written by Dr.Sinclair B. Ferguson, professor of systematic theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, TX and teaching fellow at Ligonier Ministries. This looks to be a fine, practical book on how to view and study the Word of God, designed for the “person in the pew”. The three main sections cover the sub-title of the book: Part 1 is on trusting the Bible, taking into account the inspiration and authority of the Bible; Part 2 is on reading the Bible, covering the different types of literature found in the Bible and giving the basic principles of interpreting it; Part 3 is on applying the Bible, teaching the purpose of the Bible and how we take and use God’s Word in our daily walk. Appendices in the back of the book include a bibliography for further reading on the doctrine of Scripture and a daily Bible reading plan. Recommended!

 

Worshipping with CalvinThe second is by Terry L.Johnson (pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, GA) and titled Worshipping With Calvin: Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism (EP Books, 2014). The publisher provides this description on its website:

In the ‘worship wars’ which have marked recent times, many aspects have been considered but rarely is the issue of truly Reformed worship addressed.  In this pertinent work, Terry Johnson effectually fills a void – countless books have been written about Calvin, but to date there has been scant material on Calvin and biblical worship.  The vital historical context is presented, and the practical ramifications for Reformed biblical worship today are explored.’

There is a revival in Calvinist thinking across a broad spectrum of the church today. As he takes notice of that, the author suggests that, in order for Calvinism to thrive, attention must be given to the ministry and worship that will sustain it. The belief is advanced that Calvin would not separate theology from worship and that the new Calvinism of today needs to take seriously the liturgical reforms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not merely the theological.

Terry L Johnson takes note of the revival in Calvinist thinking that is evident across a broad spectrum of the church. But, he notes, for Calvinism to continue to thrive, attention must begin to be paid to the ministry and worship that alone will sustain and perpetuate it. The new Calvinism must take seriously the liturgical reforms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not just the theological, if today’s dynamism is to endure. Calvin would not have approved of the separation of theology from worship. . . . Reformed theology determined Reformed worship; and conversely, Reformed worship was the nurturing womb from which Reformed piety and practice sprang. Theology, worship, and piety are inseparably linked, neither thriving without the supporting presence of the other. This is by no means a polemic against one or two forms of worship. Terry Johnson makes a strong historical and biblical case, so that whatever the readers preferred style of worship, this book will inform and challenge.

 

Theology of WestStandards-FeskoThe third book is another brand new one: The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Contexts & Theological Insights by J.V.Fesko, academic dean and professor of systematic theology and historical theology at Westminster Seminary California (Crossway, 2014). Crossway provides this brief summary of this significant work:

For centuries, countless Christians have turned to the Westminster Standards for insights into the Christian faith. These renowned documents—first published in the middle of the 17th century—are widely regarded as some of the most beautifully written summaries of the Bible’s teaching ever produced.

Church historian John Fesko walks readers through the background and theology of the Westminster Confession, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism, helpfully situating them within their original context. Organized according to the major categories of systematic theology, this book utilizes quotations from other key works from the same time period to shed light on the history and significance of these influential documents.

Medieval Bible-Van LiereThe fourth book relates to the church history period being studied this semester in our Seminary (Medieval) and to a recent lecture given at Calvin College by one of its history professors – the author of this book, Frans van Liere. An Introduction to the Medieval Bible (Cambridge, 2014) is a fascinating look at the history of the Bible during this age of the church. Topics covered include the Medieval canon (which included the Apocrypha), the text of the Medieval Bible, Medieval hermeneutics, and the Bible in worship and preaching. Cambridge offers this description:

The Middle Ages spanned the period between two watersheds in the history of the biblical text: Jerome’s Latin translation c. 405 and Gutenberg’s first printed version in 1455. The Bible was arguably the most influential book during this time, affecting spiritual and intellectual life, popular devotion, theology, political structures, art, and architecture. In an account that is sensitive to the religiously diverse world of the Middle Ages, Frans van Liere offers here an accessible introduction to the study of the Bible in this period. Discussion of the material evidence – the Bible as book – complements an in-depth examination of concepts such as lay literacy and book culture. This Introduction includes a thorough treatment of the principles of medieval hermeneutics, and a discussion of the formation of the Latin bible text and its canon. It will be a useful starting point for all those engaged in medieval and biblical studies.

Augustine-Preaching-SanlonAnd finally, related to one of the most significant fathers of the ancient church and to the most recent issue of the Standard Bearer is the title Augustine’s Theology of Preaching by Peter T.Sanlon (Fortress Press, 2014). We find this brief statement on the book at Fortress’ website:

Scholarship has painted many pictures of Augustine—the philosophical theologian, the refuter of heresy, or contributor to doctrines like Original Sin—but the picture of Augustine as preacher, says Sanlon, has been seriously neglected. When academics marginalize the Sermones ad Populum, the real Augustine is not presented accurately. In this study, Sanlon does more, however, than rehabilitate a neglected view of Augustine.

How do the theological convictions that Augustine brought to his preaching challenge, sustain, or shape our work today? By presenting Augustine’s thought on preaching to contemporary readers Sanlon contributes a major new piece to the ongoing reconsideration of preaching in the modern day, a consideration that is relevant to all branches of the twenty-first century church.

Stop in to browse these new titles and many others in the PR Seminary library! And, don’t forget, our on-line library catalog may be found on our website.

Children’s Book Set for Review

Last week the Standard Bearer received a set of twenty-one children’s books (young children) from Inheritance Publications (Pella, IA).This is the series “Stories Children Love” written by W.G. Vande Hulst, originally published in Dutch and now translated into English.

Stories Children Love header

The series begins with The Little Wooden Shoe (#1) and ends with The Forbidden Path (#21), and are illustrated throughout (black and white images) by Willem G. Van de Hulst, Jr. I quickly browsed one of them last night and found these to be great stories for children from ages 5-10 years old. They can be read to them or read by them (probably at age 7 or 8).

As book review editor for the “SB”, I am making this set available for anyone who would like to review them in more detail (briefly!) for the “SB”. They are all free to such reviewer and would make a fine set for your home library. Contact me here or via email, if you are interested.

For more on this set at the publisher’s website, visit this page.

More on Sunday Observance from John J. Timmerman

The fundamental outline of Sunday, its mood, church services, and dominant activities were not enormously changed by the thirties and forties. What is certain is that none of us has escaped the indelible impressions of that Sunday. To me the Sunday of my boyhood in Iowa and my youth in New Jersey meant two things supremely. Sunday was to be markedly different from Thursday in church attendance and in other activities which should be spiritually centered, positively contributory to the distinctiveness of the day. The second, in that honorific and stilted phrase, was the preaching of the word. The latter is still, however brilliant or bumbling it may be, the heart of Sunday services. I am thankful for the spiritual insight and inspiration I have received over the years from many sermons. To have attended half of them would have impoverished me; to have fragmented the spirit of the day with antithetical secular diversions would have made it almost indistinguishable from Thursday (p.63).

Markings on loong journey-TimmermanTaken from the essay “Whatever Happened to Sunday?” in Markings on a Long Journey: Writings of John J. Timmerman. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982.

For my previous post from this article, go here (Oct.15, 2014).

Augustine – Homily on John 10:1-10

SB-Oct15-2014-AugustineThe quotation below is found in the new Reformation issue of The Standard Bearer (October 15, 2014), a Reformed semi-monthly magazine published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association. This special issue is devoted to the church father Augustine, and the opening meditation is an excerpt from a sermon (homily) of Augustine based on John 10:1-10.

Notice how the doctrines of sovereign grace permeate what he says in this section while acknowledging the mixed nature of the church in this present world.

12. You hear, brethren, the great importance of the question. I say then, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” He knoweth those who were foreknown, He knoweth those who were predestinated; because it is said of Him, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. If God be for us, who can be against us?” Add to this: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not with Him also freely given us all things?”

But what “us”? Those who are foreknown, predestinated, justified, glorified; regarding whom there follows, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Therefore “the Lord knoweth them that are His;” they are the sheep. Such sometimes do not know themselves, but the Shepherd knoweth them, according to this predestination, this foreknowledge of God, according to the election of the sheep before the foundation of the world: for so saith also the apostle, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” 

According, then, to this divine foreknowledge and predestination, how many sheep are outside, how many wolves within! and how many sheep are inside, how many wolves without! How many are now living in wantonness who will yet be chaste! how many are blaspheming Christ who will yet believe in Him! how many are giving themselves to drunkenness who will yet be sober! how many are preying on other people property who will yet freely give of their own! Nevertheless at present they are hearing the voice of another, they are following strangers.

In like manner, how many are praising within who will yet blaspheme; are chaste who will yet be fornicators; are sober who will wallow hereafter in drink; are standing who will by and by fall! These are not the sheep. (For we speak of those who were predestinated,—of those whom the Lord knoweth that they are His.) And yet these, so long as they keep right, listen to the voice of Christ. Yea, these hear, the others do not; and yet, according to predestination, these are not sheep, while the others are.

For information on how to receive this issue or to subscribe, visit the Standard Bearer website.  Or you may visit this news item about it on the PRC website.

Biblical Dichotomies: Clean and Unclean – Benjamin Shaw

Clean and Unclean by Benjamin Shaw | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Oct 2014Part of my Sunday magazine reading included this featured article on another “biblical dichotomy” in this month’s Tabletalk. “Clean and unclean” are two more significant opposites in Scripture, and as Dr.B.Shaw demonstrates, we need to understand them properly in order to understand the gospel correctly.

This time I quote from the end of the article, urging you to start at the beginning and read it all.

By this statement (Mark 7:14-23 ~cjt), Jesus is telling the people that those laws of clean and unclean were intended to be a picture that showed them that the totality of their lives was, by nature, unclean. Uncleanness was not sin, but it was a picture of sin. As it was almost impossible to get through a day in ancient Israel without contracting some sort of uncleanness, the Lord by these laws was showing how thoroughly sin had corrupted human life. There was really no escaping it. In reality, their hope was not to avoid uncleanness. Instead, their hope was to be delivered from it. As the author of Hebrews says, the blood of bulls and goats only sanctified for the purification (or cleansing—again, an obvious allusion to the cleanness laws) of the flesh. It is only the blood of Christ that cleanses our consciences from dead works to the true service of the living God (Heb. 9:13-14).

So the next time you read through Leviticus 11-15, slow down. Read the details. Contemplate how deeply sin affected the ordinary life of the ancient Israelite. From that, be reminded how deeply, and how thoroughly, sin affects your life. Give thanks that you do not live under the burden of the shadow of the law, with its washings and its sacrifices. Rejoice that you live under the easy yoke of Christ, whose blood has cleansed your conscience from dead works and enables you to serve, from the heart, the living God.

 

The Blessed Trinity – Prayer and Praise

This morning in my home church (Faith PRC) we will hear the gospel contained in the truth of the Trinity, as taught us in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Q&As 24-25. So simply stated, yet so wondrously profound. I cannot comprehend the Tri-unity of my God; but I believe it with all my head and heart because this is how He has revealed Himself to me. My one God and Father is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thinking about my post for this Lord’s Day, I found this prayer/devotion in the book The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Arthur Bennett (Edited by Arthur Bennett; Banner of Truth, 1975). It is simply titled “The Trinity”, but it too contains profound truths concerning our Triune God.

May it lead us to contemplate with awe our amazing God, and to fall down before Him with deep praise according to the depth of His Being.

Three in One, One in Three, God of my salvation,

Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,
I adore thee as one Being, one Essence,
one God in three distinct Persons,
for bringing sinners to thy knowledge and to thy kingdom.

O Father, thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;

O Jesus, thou hast loved me and assumed my nature,
shed thine own blood to wash away my sins,
wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness;

O Holy Spirit, thou hast loved me and entered my heart,
implanted there eternal life, revealed to me the glories of Jesus.

Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise thee,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous,
so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.

O Father, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast given me to Jesus, to be his sheep, jewel, portion;

O Jesus, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me;

O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me, subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with him for ever.

O Father, thou art enthroned to hear my prayers,

O Jesus, thy hand is outstretched to take my petitions,

O Holy Spirit, thou art willing to help my infirmities,
to show me my need, to supply words, to pray within me,
to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication.

O Triune God, who commandeth the universe,
thou hast commanded me to ask for those
things that concern thy kingdom and my soul.

Let me live and pray as one baptized into the threefold Name.

This is a video of Max Maclean reading this devotional, if you prefer to have this devotional read to you.

Running Toward the Plague: Christians and Ebola

Running Toward the Plague: Christians and Ebola.

Antoine plague-3rd centuryAs the news around the world and in our own country swells with reports of the spread of the ebola virus, I found this brief commentary about how Christians have reacted to plagues throughout history to be a welcome perspective.

Not only is this 21st century plague a sign of our Lord’s coming and the judgment of death He justly brings on sinners (including ourselves apart from His grace!); it is also an opportunity for Christians to show their true colors and minister to their neighbors, believing and unbelieving. Some are showing this already, especially in West Africa.

If ebola came to our neighborhood, would we be willing to do the same? Are we not the only ones who can offer real, abiding comfort and hope – for the living as well as the dying? Something to think about today and in the days ahead.

Here’s a segment of this article; find all of it at the link above.

Between 250 and 270 A.D. a terrible plague, believed to be measles or smallpox, devastated the Roman Empire. At the height of what came to be known as the Plague of Cyprian, after the bishop St. Cyprian who chronicled what was happening, 5,000 people died every day in Rome alone.

The plague coincided with the first empire-wide persecution of Christians under the emperor Decius. Not surprisingly, Decius and other enemies of the Church blamed Christians for the plague. That claim was, however, undermined by two inconvenient facts: Christians died from the plague like everybody else and, unlike everybody else, they cared for the victims of the plague, including their pagan neighbors.

This wasn’t new—Christians had done the same thing during the Antonine Plague a century earlier. As Rodney Stark wrote in “The Rise of Christianity,” Christians stayed in the afflicted cities when pagan leaders, including physicians, fled.

For yet another story and perspective on Christians and ebola, see this Christianity Today story (dated Oct.15, 2014).

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