PRT Seminary Library Acquisitions – 4th Quarter 2022

At the end of December, I completed the fourth quarter list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for 2022. At their January 2023 meeting the TSC (Theological School Committee) received a copy for their information, and I also send it out to the faculty and students so that they can keep abreast of new resources.

But the list is of value to you too, in my estimation. As noted before, part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read and perhaps add to your home or church library. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers – even children. Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

Once again we will divide the list into two parts. In this list we will look at four (4) sections: biblical studies, commentaries, church history, and creeds and confessions. It is my hope that you find something of interest to read yet this winter. It’s a great time to hunker down with a good read – something to strengthen your faith and fortify your walk with the Lord.

Biblical studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical Theology

  • Let’s Study (Banner of Truth)
    o 1 Peter, W. Harrell, 2012
    o Revelation, D. Thomas, 2020
  • Tyndale NT Commentaries (Eerdmans)
    o The First Epistle General of Peter: A Commentary. Alan M. Stibbs, 1959.

    Other Commentaries (Individual)
  • The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. J. Scott Duvall, editor; J. Daniel Hays, editor. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2020.
  • Teaching Deuteronomy: From Text to Message. Matthew Fuller. Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2022.
  • Sermons on Job [3 vols.). Jean Calvin, 1509-1564; Rob Roy McGregor, Transl.; Derek W. H. Thomas. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2022.
  • The Lord Is My Shepherd: Psalm 23 for the Life of the Church. Richard S. Briggs; Stephen B. Chapman, series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021.
  • Ecclesiastes: A Reflective Exposition. Thomas Miersma. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2022.
  • The Parables of Our Lord. William Arnot, 1808-1875. (reprint hc) London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1883.
  • Romans: A Concise Guide to the Greatest Letter Ever Written. Andrew David Naselli. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022.
  • Commentary on Galatians: Christ Plus Equals Nothing. Tom J. Nettles; Sylvia Nettles Dickson. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2022.

    Individual Biblical Studies Titles (Including Doctrine of Scripture)
  • Over 20 titles in the “New Studies in Biblical Theology” series (IVP end-of-year sale!) – too many to mention, but filled in a large gap in what we were missing
  • 3 titles in the “Essential Studies in Biblical Theology” series (IVP): God Dwells Among Us (on the temple); Rebels and Exiles (sin and restoration); The Hope of Life after Death (resurrection).
  • The Trinity and the Bible: On Theological Interpretation. Scott R. Swain. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Academic, 2021.
  • The Flood Reconsidered: A Review of the Evidences of Geology, Archaeology, Ancient Literature, and the Bible. Frederick A. Filby; Stephen S. Short. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1971 (Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives)
  • A Gracious and Compassionate God: Mission, Salvation and Spirituality in the Book of Jonah. Daniel C. Timmer; Donald A. Carson, ed. Nottingham, England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2011 (New Studies in Biblical Theology), vol. 26
  • The Lost Letters to the Twelve Prophets: Imagining the Minor Prophets’ World. John Goldingay. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2022.
  • Hidden Prophets of the Bible: Finding the Gospel in Hosea Through Malachi. Michael James Williams. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2017.
  • Typology – Understanding the Bible’s Promise-Shaped Patterns: How Old Testament Expectations Are Fulfilled in Christ. James M. Hamilton. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2022.

    Language Tools
  • Graded Reader of Biblical Hebrew: A Guide to Reading the Hebrew Bible. Miles V. Van Pelt; Gary Davis Pratico. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, c2006, 2020 (Zondervan Language Basics).

    Church History, General and Biography
  • The Catholic Reformation: Savonarola to Ignatius Loyola: Reform in the Church 1495-1540. John C. Olin, comp.; Girolamo Savonarola, 1452-1498; Desiderius Erasmus, d.1536. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
  • Lollards and Reformers: Images and Literacy in Late Medieval Religion. Margaret Aston. London: Hambledon Press, 1984 (History Series), vol. 22.
  • Reformation Studies. A. G. (Arthur Geoffrey) Dickens. London: Hambledon Press, 1982 (History Series). vol. 9.
  • Europe in the Sixteenth-Century. Andrew Pettegree. Oxford, UK; Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002 (Blackwell History of Europe)
  • The German Reformation: The Essential Readings. C. Scott. Dixon. Oxford, UK; Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1999 (Blackwell Essential Readings in History).
  • The Real Luther: A Friar at Erfurt and Wittenberg: Exploring Luther’s Life with Melanchthon as Guide. Franz Posset. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, c2011.
  • Heinrich Bullinger: An Introduction to His Life and Theology. Donald K. McKim.; Jim West. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2022 (Cascade Companions)
  • Choosing the Good Portion: Women of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Patricia E. Clawson; Katherine VanDrunen; Diane L. Olinger. Willow Grove, PA: Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2016.
  • For Me to Live Is Christ: The Life of Edward J. Young. Davis A. Young; John R. Muether. Willow Grove, PA: Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2017.
  • Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition. Robert D. Smart, editor; Michael A. G. Haykin; Ian H. Clary. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016.
  • Great Blessing to Me: John Newton Encounters George Whitefield. Grant Gordon. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2016.

    Creeds and Confessions
  • That I May Be His Own: An Overview of Luther’s Catechisms. Charles P. Arand. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, c2000.
  • The Augsburg Confession and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession with Key Historical Documents: The Concordia Reader’s Edition. Paul T. McCain. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 2020.
  • Milk for Little Ones: An Introduction to the Baptist Catechism. Arden L. Hodgins; James M. Renihan. Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2020 (Recovering Our Confessional Heritage), vol. 5.
  • The Confessing Baptist: Essays on the Use of Creeds in Baptist Faith & Life. Robert Gonzales, Jr. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2021.
Published in: on January 28, 2023 at 8:48 PM  Comments (1)  

Sola Scriptura: Finished Work, Finished Word

Some more good thoughts for you from the new title from Ligonier Ministries, The Beauty of Divine Grace: Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer.

This is also from the first chapter, “One Standard: Scripture Alone.”

At the core of everything that Paul is writing [in 2 Tim.3:16,17] is a conviction about the inseparable link between Jesus’ work and God’s Word. Why are the Scriptures sufficient to equip us for every good work? Because the New Testament makes clear what was foreshadowed in the Old Testament – namely, that the finished work of Jesus on the cross results in the finished Word of God in our Bibles. Just as we cannot add anything to Christ’s work for our salvation, we cannot add anything to God’s revelation. In fact, the Bible emphasizes this point at roughly its beginning, middle, and end (Deut.4:2; Prov.30:6; Rev.22:18). God’s revelation needs no addition because it discloses a salvation to which no addition is possible.

The Bible, therefore, is Christ’s Book. He is the center. The end result that Paul describes for Timothy in these verses is a life that resembles Christ. Christ is the preeminent “man of God,” the One who did every good work and therefore equips those in union with Him to do good works. Above all, Christ, the Word incarnate, was a man of the Book. The Author of the story is the center of the story.

…this emphasis on Christ’s complete sufficiency is another hallmark of the Reformation. Martin Luther and the other Reformers recognized that Rome’s decoupling of a completed Bible and Christ’s finished work on the cross had resulted in the wretched system that necessitated the Reformation in the first place.

Similarly, in our day we have lost sight of how these doctrines are interrelated. But if we stop and think about it, this connection between God’s Word and Christ’s work makes perfect sense. How could we add anything to what Jesus did for His people? He is God in the flesh.

Appropriately, He is the focal point of the Word, which reveals His work for sinners such as us. He tells us as much in Luke 24:27, where He teaches the disciples that every word of the Bible points to Him. So the finished Word reveals the finished work, and the two must never be separated, lest we lose the gospel altogether (pp.24-25).

I am currently reading this copy that was sent to me by the publisher. But if you are interested in reviewing for the Standard Bearer, let me know and the book is yours.

Published in: on January 25, 2023 at 9:36 PM  Leave a Comment  

Two Book Notices: Liberation from Communism and the Story of Abortion in America

This post features two quite different but not unrelated books. The first is Ruta Sepetys’ I Must Betray You (Penguin, Feb. 2022), our most recent book club selection (which meets this morning to discuss it). Though a young adult book (written from the perspective of a seventeen year old in communist Romania), it is certainly fitting for older readers (a Goodreads Choice Award). The chapters are short and captivating, based on a secret diary the young main subject kept while living out the horrors of the Communist regime and then the thrills of freedom after the revolution. This was my first exposure to this Michigan-grown writer and I am eager to read another. Below you will find information on the book and author.

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

A gut-wrenching, startling window into communist Romania and the citizen spy network that devastated a nation, from the number one New York Times best-selling, award-winning author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray.

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over sixty countries and have received over forty literary prizes.

The second featured title is also newly published and just in time for the 50th anniversary (1973-2023) of the adoption of Roe v. Wade and the March for Life weekend being held this weekend: The Story of Abortion in America: A Street-Level History, 1652-2022 by Marvin Olasky and Leah Savas (Crossway 2023). The publisher offers this description on its website:

Tracing the History of Abortion in America by Looking beyond the Laws to the Dramatic Stories and Colorful Personalities of the People They Touched

Fifty years ago, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion-on-demand sparked nationwide tensions that continue to this day. In the decades since that ruling, abortion opponents and proponents have descended on the Capitol each year for marches and protests. But this story didn’t begin with the Supreme Court in the 1970s; arguments about abortion have been a part of American history since the 17th century. So how did we get here?

The Story of Abortion in America traces the long cultural history of this pressing issue from 1652 to today, focusing on the street-level activities of those drawn into the battles willingly or unwillingly. Authors Marvin Olasky and Leah Savas show complex lives on both sides: Some sacrificed much to help the poor and others sacrificed the helpless to empower themselves. The Story of Abortion in America argues that whatever happens legally won’t end the debate, but it will affect lives. 

  • A Fair Survey of the History of the Debate: Opening with a foreword by renowned social conservative thinker Robert P. George, this book explores historic cases and key cultural moments from 1652 to 2022
  • Examines 5 Selling Points Used by Each Side in Different Eras: Anatomy, Bible, Community, Danger, and Enforcement
  • Chronicles the History of Abortion through Personal Narratives: Includes the memorable stories of Isaac Hathaway, Susan Warren, Elizabeth Lumbrozo, John McDowell, Hugh Hodge, Madame Restell, Augustus St. Clair, Inez Burns, Robert Dickinson, Sherri Finkbine, Henry Hyde, John Piper, Lila Rose, Terrisa Bukovinac, Mark Lee Dickson, and many others
  • Written for a Diverse Audience: While particularly useful for Christians who want to understand the history of abortion and its impact on American politics and culture, the book speaks to anyone who cares about abortion

I just received this book for review this past week. I plan to browse it and seek to gain a broader understanding of this great and devastating evil in our land, even as it increases in our time. But if any of our readers are interested in reading and reviewing the book, it is yours for the keeping. Just send me a note. The review is for the Standard Bearer, and it may be a long or short review.

How are these two books related, you ask (see my opening comment)? They both have to do with horrors against mankind – by mankind. And both of these horrors are rooted in a low view of God (the one true God of the Bible) and a wrong understanding of man (persons). I trust you can read these books with understanding and draw the lines between these two ideas, through the lens of Scripture.

Published in: on January 21, 2023 at 7:17 AM  Leave a Comment  

I Am Not My Own: How Heidelberg Healed Me | Desiring God

Heidelberger_Katechismus_1563Toward the end of this week, this article appeared in my daily Desiring God email. I noted the reference to Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, printed the article off for possible vertical file use in our seminary library, but did not read it yet. This morning I did when it surfaced again, and it is a wonderful summary explanation and confession of what LD 1 states.

I encourage you to read the entire article but quote a few portions here that I found to be at the heart of its message. May its reading remind us Reformed Christians once again of what a gem we have in the Catechism.

A dear friend in Christ once recounted to me her years-long struggle with chronic illness. As she described the seemingly endless treatments, their failures, and the pain and exhaustion that prevented her from partaking in the activities that brought her joy, a part of my heart broke. Having witnessed the toll such suffering can take on the spirit, I asked her how she managed to cling to God’s goodness in the hard moments.

She didn’t hesitate. With a firm nod, and with her eyes shining with gratitude, she replied, “I know that I’m not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The poignancy of her reply struck me. She had recited the answer to question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, a centuries-old doctrinal statement that beautifully captures the central elements of the Christian faith. Over time after this conversation, when the wages of sin encroached upon my own life, I too found myself repeating these words, and thanking the Lord that when our own fallenness overwhelms us, we can rejoice that we belong to the One who laid down his life for us (John 10:111 John 3:16).

…The idea that we are not our own is radical in our era, when Western society idolizes self-actualization. Even a casual perusal of social media reveals the predominant view that our feelings define our identity. According to the world, we’re to craft and mold our own image, declare our own destiny, and “live our best life.” According to the world, we belong to no one except ourselves.

While upon a cursory glance such principles may seem alluring, they buckle and crack beneath the strain of a sinful world. No matter how fervently we pursue our personal truth and seek to glorify ourselves, calamities strike that we can neither circumvent nor control. Illnesses overwhelm us. Natural disasters decimate our homes. Personal sins creep into and destroy the relationships we hold dear. Our hearts break, and we find ourselves unable to sort the pieces of our shattered lives. Far from guiding us toward truth, the stirrings of our own hearts inevitably lead us to destruction: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In contrast with this desolation, Christ offers us a spring welling to eternal life (John 4:14). What relief to know that our greatest comfort — our peace, the deep meaning for which we all yearn — neither begins nor ends with our own weary, broken, weather-beaten hands. What solace to know that when we falter, Jesus carries us (Luke 15:4–6). When our efforts to save ourselves fail — and they always will — God lavishes us with grace. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us,” the apostle John writes, “that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

We are not our own, but through Christ, we are God’s children. We belong to Jesus, the good shepherd (Psalm 100:3John 10:11). And by God’s grace, nothing can snatch us from his hand (John 10:27–28Romans 8:38–39).

Source: I Am Not My Own: How Heidelberg Healed Me | Desiring God

Published in: on January 15, 2023 at 6:52 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Blessed Gift of Peace | January 2023 Tabletalk

This new month also brings in a new year of Tabletalk devotionals from Ligonier Ministries. The January 2023 issue is devoted to the precious theme of peace, a fitting subject with which to commence the new year.

“TT” editor Burk Parsons has a wonderful introduction to this subject in “Uncompromised Peace.” This is part of what he writes:

The world wants peace even though it has rejected the Prince of Peace, and the world cries for peace even though it has dogmatically declared truth to be relative. The world loves to talk about peace, but in truth, the world has no idea what real peace is or how it is achieved. The world thinks that peace is based on compromise, but Christians know that authentic peace is based on truth—truth that is relentlessly stubborn, dogmatic, and unwavering. During the time of the Reformation, Martin Luther rightly declared: “Peace if possible. Truth at all costs.” As Christians, we know that we cannot have peace in spite of the truth and that true peace comes only because of the truth. Negotiated peace founded on compromised truth will only delay conflict, not eliminate it.

The world’s only hope for true, lasting peace is to be reconciled to the God of peace who gives peace to all who have been born from above by the Spirit of peace. For it is only when God has conquered our rebellious hearts—hearts that rage with conflict, anxiety, and despair—that we will be at peace and be able to maintain the spirit of unity in the bond of peace in our hearts, homes, and churches as we eagerly await the return of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

The first featured article is a significant biblical summary of God’s peace. In “A Biblical Theology of Peace” Pastor Justin Estrada decsribes the power of divine peace after the Fall:

Unexpectedly, a frightening scene transpires one day: God’s arrival in the garden for fellowship goes ungreeted. Shalom has been broken through man’s transgression. Adam now fears nakedness as incompleteness; he accuses his wife of harming him rather than making him whole; and he finds the fruit a curse rather than a blessing. Adam and Eve flee and hide, trembling at the expectation of judgment rather than peace (Gen. 3:8–11).

In the face of this misery, God speaks remarkable words of shalom to them. Little wonder that Paul describes the peace of God as passing all understanding (Phil. 4:7); in the midst of judgment against rebellion, God comforts His children with the promise of peace through One who would crush the head of the lying, murderous serpent (Gen. 3:14–15). Man’s sin has turned them away, their fallen condition corrupting harmony into hostility—vividly represented in the exile—but God is determined to bless them through this Seed of the woman and to restore to Himself a remnant—vividly represented by the sacrifice that produces garments to cover nakedness.

God’s pronouncements at the sudden shattering of shalom portend a slow, costly restoration—but nothing will overturn His irenic purposes. Fallen humanity undermines creation’s harmony, but God intervenes (against all reasonable expectation), and His judgments carry forward His program of peace. The flood cleanses a world ailing under a decaying moral order (Gen. 6–9), and the scattering from the Tower of Babel reignites the creation mandate (Gen. 11:1–9). In an aimless world, God plucks up a displaced wanderer, Abraham—bereft of family and home—and gifts him with wholeness: divine fellowship and a son to his barren wife. This restoration of shalom in Abraham is not an end in itself, but an illustration and a means by which God will restore shalom to all the nations through his offspring—the Seed of the woman who will descend from the great nation of Abraham’s descendants (see Gen. 12:1–3Gal. 3:15–18).

All of which he ties to Christ, in whom this shalom is fulfilled. Read on to see how.

Source: A Biblical Theology of Peace | Tabletalk

Published in: on January 7, 2023 at 8:22 PM  Leave a Comment  

A New Year’s Prayer – James W. Weir

From the Presbyterian heritage website Log College Press (large digital collection here!) comes this wonderful prayer for the new year from the pen of the Presbyterian James W. Weir. About him the publisher says this, “James W. Weir (1805-1878) was a Presbyterian ruling elder for 44 years (from 1834 until his death in 1878) at the Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was a godly man who made a deep impression upon many who knew him.”

About the source of this prayer, the website has this:

“He [J. Weir] is primarily known today for the devotional manual The Closet Companion; or, Manual of Prayer: Consisting of Topics and Brief Forms of Prayer, Designed to Assist Christians in Their Devotions (1854), published with an introduction by Albert Barnes.

From this volume we extract a suggested prayer for the New Year which is worthy of meditation at the close of one year and the beginning of another.”

Though perhaps somewhat dated in its language, this prayer has much good in it for us to consider and take as our own as we stand at the beginning of 2023.

A Prayer for the New Year (and reflections on the year past)

O thou God of the rolling seasons, I thank thee for thy mercies to me during the last year. There has not been an hour nor a moment of it, which has not brought me tokens of thy care and kindness. Assist me now to bring its transactions, in which I have been engaged, in solemn review before my conscience. Though the record of them is fast wasting away from the treacherous tablet of my memory, yet they are written, as with a pen of iron, on the books of thy remembrance; where they will remain until that fearful hour of trial, when the books shall be opened, and all men shall be judged out of the things that are written therein, whether they be good or evil.

Lord, I desire to acknowledge before thee, with godly sorrow, that I have neglected many duties, and abused many privileges, during the past year. My heart, and my lips, and my hands, have often been agents of transgression. Many of thy mercies have been ungratefully perverted or forgotten; and thy chastenings have often been despised or unheeded. O, my tongue would grow weary, and my heart would sicken, if I should undertake to recite all my iniquities before thee. Help me, I pray thee, for the sake of our Great Advocate, to repent over them, to loathe and forsake them, and to look to thee for strength, that the time past of my life may suffice to have wrought the deeds of the flesh, and that henceforth I may live to the will of God.

O Lord, I desire to enter the coming year, feeling the solemn responsibilities of human life. I know not what a day may bring forth, nor what the approaching months may reveal respecting me: except that they will bring me so much nearer eternity, and be full of records of my growth in grace, or of my backslidings from thy holy law. Yet I thank thee that my span of life is still lengthened out, and that I am still permitted to enjoy the precious opportunities that have been vouchsafed to me in days past. O God, assist me, I beseech thee, to discharge aright all the duties that lie before me. Make me understand the uncertainty of time, the worth of my soul, the multiplied interests of my fellow-travellers to eternity, and the righteous claims of thy service. Make me watchful against the many dangers to which I am exposed. Strengthen my love to thee; deepen my convictions of sin; animate my desires after holiness; increase my spirit of prayer; enlarge my benevolence; and lead me in thine own way, for thy name’s sake. Protect me by thy care; supply me by thy bounty; and grant me an increasing meetness for that state, where these changing seasons will give place to an endless life.

Lord, make this opening year, a year of the right hand of the Most High. Pour the healing balm of peace on all the bleeding wounds of thy church. Spread over her the spotless mantle of purity. Invigorate her by the reviving power of truth. Awaken her to renewed efforts in doing good. O may these months stand forth in the history of redemption, as precious seasons of refreshing from thy holy and life-giving presence.

Published in: on January 1, 2023 at 9:16 PM  Leave a Comment