Justin Martyr – Apology (1)

Twenty-first-century Christians can learn much from the lives and writings of the early believers. Especially is this the case when it comes to facing persecution – and facing it biblically.

Justin-MartyrThe “Apology” (that is, defense of the faith and life of Christians) of Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) is a model of Christian witness to the unbelieving world and the persecuting state. In the weeks and months ahead we plan to post some sections from his apologies (first and second). For links to his writings, visit this site.

This is taken from chapter three of Justin’s first apology:

CHAPTER III — CLAIM OF JUDICIAL INVESTIGATION.

But lest any one think that this is an unreasonable and reckless utterance, we demand that the charges against the Christians be investigated, and that, if these be substantiated, they be punished as they deserve; [or rather, indeed, we ourselves will punish them.] But if no one can convict us of anything, true reason forbids you, for the sake of a wicked rumour, to wrong blameless men, and indeed rather yourselves, who think fit to direct affairs, not by judgment, but by passion. And every sober-minded person will declare this to be the only fair and equitable adjustment, namely, that the subjects render an unexceptional account of their own life and doctrine; and that, on the other hand, the rulers should give their decision in obedience, not to violence and tyranny, but to piety and philosophy. For thus would both rulers and ruled reap benefit. For even one of the ancients somewhere said, “Unless both rulers and ruled philosophize, it is impossible to make states blessed.” It is our task, therefore, to afford to all an opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings, lest, on account of those who are accustomed to be ignorant of our affairs, we should incur the penalty due to them for mental blindness; and it is your business, when you hear us, to be found, as reason demands, good judges. For if, when ye have learned the truth, you do not what is just, you will be before God without excuse.

New and Notable Books (July 2016) – T.Challies

Calvin-Institutes-Gordon-2016To add to our book lists this week, we include this post of pastor Tim Challies from this past Monday (July 4, 2016). In it he highlights some of the new titles that are available for your reading pleasure and spiritual growth.

It is a fine variety of books – the second one here (on the history of Calvin’s Institutes) was recently added to the Seminary library. The Ephesians commentary is one I will be getting soon.

Here are Challies’ introductory words:

When it comes to good books, we are spoiled. We have access to more good books than previous generations could have even dreamed of. That is true whether we want to read Christian Living books or read deep, academic works. Here is a round-up of some of the new and notables that have come across my desk in the past few weeks.

And here are the first two on his list; visit the link below to catch the rest.

Ephesians by Richard Phillips (A Mentor Expository Commentary). Richard Phillips has written some key volumes in the Reformed Expository Commentary series—Hebrews and John—and both have been of the highest quality. There is no reason to think his volume on Ephesians in the Mentor Expository Commentary will be any different and, in fact, with comes with commendations by Derek Thomas, Guy Waters and others. Thomas says it “easily rises to the top of recommendable books on Ephesians.” Here’s hoping it quickly makes its way to Logos. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion: A Biography by Bruce Gordon. The publisher says this: “John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is a defining book of the Reformation and a pillar of Protestant theology. First published in Latin in 1536 and in Calvin’s native French in 1541, the Institutes argues for the majesty of God and for justification by faith alone. The book decisively shaped Calvinism as a major religious and intellectual force in Europe and throughout the world. Here, Bruce Gordon provides an essential biography of Calvin’s influential and enduring theological masterpiece, tracing the diverse ways it has been read and interpreted from Calvin’s time to today.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Source: New and Notable Books (July 2016)

And if you don’t do some reading this summer, this will be my reaction (compliments of Calvinist Cartoons):

No-read-shock

There, now you have your Friday Fun item too.:)

Prayers of the Reformers (17)

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor this first Lord’s Day in July we post two more prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press (1958).

The first is taken from the section “Prayers for Spiritual Growth, Courage, and Strength” while the second is from that of “Prayers for All Sorts and Conditions.” (I have slightly edited them). Both are fitting for our worship today and for our work and walk in the week to come.

That God may uphold us (Matt.26:57-75)

O merciful God, preserve our hearts from pride, from vainglory, and from shameful covetousness: Give us grace to abide in Thy holy vocation, and to be thankful for Thy grace; that, the fall of thy apostle being always before our eyes, we may walk in Thy fear before Thee. For if we stand, we must take heed that we fall not, neither despise those that as yet do not stand.

Make us to continue in Thy grace; for nothing have we, saving only that which we have received of Thee. And if of weakness O Lord,we fall, put Thy hand under us, O Lord, and suffer us not to despair in sin; but cause us with repentance and sorrow for our offense to resort unto Thee.

O keep us, that we neither despair nor betray Thy dearly beloved Son, whom Thou through Thy gospel dost send unto us, for without Him is no safeguard, only eternal death and damnation. From which keep us, good Lord, for Thy mercies’ sake. Amen.

[Attributed to Miles Coverdale, 1488-1569]

For disciples of Christ
“Seal the teaching among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16).

O Lord God, we see that a horrible darkness and ignorance of Thy Word will come, that many men will forsake Christ and faith and true prayer and genuine worship, even as it has happened in the past. We grieve to think of the state of Thy church.

But, O God, we humbly beseech Thee never to allow the true faith which Thou hast delivered to us to perish among us. Preserve Thy faith that it may be delivered pure and uncorrupted to our posterity.

We beseech Thee, seal Thy law in us, lest we pervert Thy Word, or twist its natural and true meaning with some sinister interpretation, as has happened in the past and happens even now.

Confirm our hearts with Thy Holy Spirit, that Thy truth may shine in us, that through our ministry Thy truth may proceed pure and uncorrupted to those who will come after us. Amen.

[Attributed to Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560]

William Tyndale and His Significance – Dr.S. Lawson

As we prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation next year, it is good to recall the variety of men whom God used to restore His Word to the church and the church to His Word. One such man was William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) through whom God gave us the Bible in English.

In this brief video, Dr. Steve Lawson stops to visit Tyndale’s statue in London and points to its significance for Reformation history and for subsequent history.

God is God: A Fire in the Church’s Bones – H.Hoeksema

In connection with the 75th anniversary of the Reformed Witness Hour this year, we plan to post some excerpts from various messages delivered on the program in the past.

The very first message broadcast on the RWH (“The Protestant Reformed Hour” as it was initially called) was “God is God”, based on Isaiah 43:12 (“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.”) and delivered by Rev. Herman Hoeksema, pastor of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

Knowing-God-and-Man -HHBesides being published in individual leaflet form, this message was later published by the RFPA in book form, along with the other messages in this series on the doctrine of God and another on the doctrine of man that followed it. That book is titled Knowing God & Man (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2006).

Today we post this paragraph from that first radio message in this published form – a powerful word for the church today. At his point in his message, Hoeksema is explaining what it means that the church is a witness to the truth that God is God.

For the church to be witness of this implies not only that the church hears and believes the word of God and professes nothing about God of herself, but it also means that the church speaks and that her speech is strictly a testimony. The church is called to speak. She is under authority to speak. She has no choice in the matter, for God has chosen and ordained her for this very purpose. She has neither the alternative whether to speak or not to speak, nor the choice of what shall be the content of her speech. Always she must say, ‘God is God.’ The church cannot refrain from speaking, because the divine calling she has is irresistible. When God directs his omnipotent word to the church, saying, ‘Ye are my witnesses,’ the word becomes a fire in her bones, an overwhelming power that impels the church to speak. This is the reason the church institutes the ministry of the word wherever she comes to manifestation in the world. She must proclaim that God is God. The character and form of her speech is that of a testimony, for she witnesses of the word of God that she hears (p.8).

Calvin and the Book – Essays on the Reformation and the Printed Word

Calvin&book-SpierlingOne of the recent additions to the PRC Seminary library is a collection of essays given at the 2013 Calvin Studies Colloquium held at Princeton Seminary, published under the title Calvin and the Book: The Evolution of the Printed Word in Reformed Protestantism (Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2015), part of the series “Refo500 Academic Studies.”

The collection is a fascinating study of the power of the printed page as it was used and developed by the Reformers. To give you a sample of the content, I take a small portion from the first chapter, an essay by Andrew Pettegree titled “Calvin and Luther as Men of the Book.”

Calvin and Luther were both men of the book. The connection between print and the Reformation is so scored into our consciousness that we do not always recognize how profound were the challenges required by the print revolution, on the part of authors, readers, and producers.

…[Luther and Calvin] both showed a profound grasp of how the industry functioned, and what the author could most effectively contribute. Both intervened directly to create the industrial infrastructure necessary to sustain their respective movements. Both adapted their writing style to the requirements of the new book world.

So this paper is about book professionals: the men who printed, published, and distributed the books of Wittenberg and Geneva, but also the two celebrated authors who worked closely with them. It is a story that has not been wholly told, partly because it involves processes that are in some way foreign to us: an attention to artifact and medium, rather than simply context and text. Luther and Calvin did what was necessary to make all this work, rather against the grain of their character in both cases; Luther, a conservative academic in middle years; Calvin, by nature a scholarly aesthetic. They had a pragmatism which matched their inspiration. This adaptability is not to be underestimated, or indeed despised. Luther and Calvin were both consummate professionals (pp.17-19).

Prayers of the Reformers (16)

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor this final Lord’s Day in May we post two more prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press (1958).

The first is taken from the section “Prayers for Truth and Purity”, while the second is from the next section, “Prayers for Spiritual Growth, Courage, and Strength” (I have slightly edited them). Both are fitting for our worship today and for our work and walk in the week to come.

‘The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light’ (Rom.13:12).

And Thou, O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee, for Thy mercy’s sake, continue Thy grace and favor towards us; let the sun of Thy gospel never go down out of our hearts; let Thy truth abide and be established among us forever.

Help our unbelief, increase our faith, give us hearts to consider the time of our visitation. In faith clothe us with Christ, that He may live in us, and Thy name may be glorified in us, in the sight of all the world. Amen.

[Attributed to John Jewell, 1522-1571]

For gentleness of mind
(Matt.26:51-56)

O Jesus Christ, the mirror of all gentleness of mind, the example of highest obedience and patience, grant us Thy servants with true devotion to consider how Thou, innocent and undefiled Lamb, wast bound, taken, and haled away unto death for our sins; how well content Thou wast to suffer such things, not opening Thy mouth in impatience, but willingly offering up Thyself unto death.

O gracious God, how vilely wast Thou mishandled for our sakes! O Lord, let this never come out of our hearts. Expel through it coldness and sloth; stir up fervency and love towards Thee; provoke us unto earnest prayer; make us cheerful and diligent in Thy will….

O Lord Jesus Christ, grant unto us that fully and perfectly we may yield ourselves unto Thee, committing us wholly unto Thy Spirit…. And when we stand in danger, O grant us that we do nothing which will not become Thy children. Amen.

[Attributed to Miles Coverdale, 1488-1569]

Book Alert! Christianizing the World – David J. Engelsma

christianizing-world-DJE-2016Time for another book alert, this time relating to a new publication from the Reformed Free Publishing Association. The book is titled Christianizing the World: Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?, and is the substance of a speech given by emeritus professor David J. Engelsma (PRC Seminary) in 2014 in the Grand Rapids, MI area.

The book is occasioned by the recent translation and publication of Abraham Kuyper’s major Dutch work on common grace and  addresses the contemporary theological and ecclesiastical fascination with this doctrine, especially as it relates to Christianity’s calling in regards to culture – summarized by the author as “Christianizing the World.”

This is how he describes it in his preface:

For many years, it has been widely accepted in Reformed circles worldwide that the theory of common grace developed by the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper and the project of Christianizing the world by this common grace, which Kuyper exhorted, are Reformed orthodoxy. Of late, this thinking spreads among evangelicals both in North America and across the world.

…Few, if any, question this quixotic (ad)venture with regard to its biblical and Reformed bases. Conservative and liberal Reformed theologians, scholars, churches, and seminaries alike enthusiastically endorse and promote the project and its theological foundation and source in a common grace of God.

This book examines the theory of common grace and its cultural ambitions in light of the Reformed creeds and holy scripture, particularly the passages of scripture to which Kuyper and his disciples mainly appeal. The book also calls attention to the deleterious effects of the theory of common grace upon the churches and schools that have adopted it and put it into practice (p.9).

Below is the publisher’s description of the new book:

This book is a critique of Abraham Kuyper’s cultural theory of a common grace of God and of the grandiose mission of this grace, and of those who confess the theory and evidently intend to promote it so that it accomplishes the end Kuyper claimed. The book exposes Kuyper’s biblical basis for his theory and its practical mission.

The first and main part of the book is a much-expanded version of the public lecture given in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014 under the auspices of the evangelism society of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan. The second part of the book consists of questions raised by the audience at the conclusion of the lecture and of the answers by the speaker at the lecture.

  • 192 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-02-3

As you can judge, the book is a significant work in light of the contemporary Reformed-Christian scene. This is a work you will want to read carefully and reference repeatedly if you are interested in the Reformed doctrine of grace and in the calling of the Christian in this world.

Visit the RFPA website for information on ordering this new title.

Prayers of the Reformers (15)

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor this first Lord’s Day in May we post two more prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press (1958).

These prayers (slightly edited) are taken from the section “Prayers for Baptism” and, as you will note, accord with the Reformed, covenantal (biblical) view of children.

For sanctification

Almighty and everlasting God, who of Thy infinite mercy and goodness hast promised unto us that Thou wilt not only be our God, but also the God and Father of our children: We beseech Thee, since Thou hast vouchsafed to call us to be partakers of this Thy great mercy in the fellowship of faith: that it may please Thee to sanctify with Thy Spirit and receive into the number of Thy children this infant, whom we shall baptize according to Thy Word.

May he, coming of age, confess Thee as the only true God, and Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, and serve Him and be profitable unto His church, in the whole course of his life. After this life be ended, may he be brought unto the full fruition of Thy joys in the heavens, where Thy Son our Christ reigneth, world without end. In whose name we pray as He hath taught us…. Amen.

For the Spirit of light and grace

O Almighty God, which in commanding us to pray hast assured us that we, believing steadfastly in Thy promise, shall have all that we desire, especially concerning the soul, wherein we seek Thy glory and the wealth of our neighbors; our humble petition to Thee, O most dear Father, is, that forasmuch as this child is not without original sin, Thou wilt consider Thine own mercy, and according to Thy promise send this child thy good Spirit, that in Thy sight it be not counted among the children of wrath, but of light and grace, and become a member of the undefiled church espoused to Christ, Thy dear Son, in faith and love unfeigned, by the means of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (attributed to M.Coverdale)

 

PRC Seminary Lectures on the French Reformed Tradition- Dr. T. Reid

Today and tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. (ET) the PRC Seminary will be hosting two special lectures by Dr. Tom Reid of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.

While the Seminary is limited in seating and the event is especially for our faculty, students, area ministers, and special guests, the lectures are going to be live-streamed both days.

Below is the notice of the lectures from Prof.R. Cammenga and below that is the video link to the Seminary’s YouTube channel, from which you may watch the live-stream. We welcome you to join us in this way – at 1:00 p.m. TODAY and TOMORROW.

On Thursday and Friday, April 28 and 29, Mr. Tom Reid of the Reformed Presbyterian Seminary (Pittsburgh, PA) will be giving two addresses to our student body, faculty, and area ministers. Both speeches will begin at 1:00 PM. On Thursday, April 28, he will speak on “The Battles of the French Reformed Tradition,” and on Friday, April 29, he will speak on “A Recent French Reformed Theologian, Auguste Lecerf.”

This is the video link for Thursday’s lecture (full recording):

This is the live-stream video link for tomorrow’s (Friday) lecture:

Note:

Yesterday we experienced some initial difficulties with our first major live-stream effort of the first lecture of Mr. Reid – our apologies! Mid-way through his speech the stream worked fine and that portion of the video is available on our YouTube channel. But I have also posted above the full video recording of this first lecture above.

The second lecture will be held Friday at 1:00 p.m. I have the event scheduled at the link above. If this is not working, I will start a new live-stream event, which may be found at the link provided.

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