PRC Seminary Library Acquisitions – 2nd Quarter 2020

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At the end of June, I completed the second quarter list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for this year (April – June). I make it a habit to share this list with the TSC (Theological School Committee) as well as with the faculty and students so that they can be informed of what is being added to the library.

But I am also convinced these lists are of value to you readers, which is why I post this one here. As noted before, part of my reason for posting them is not only to show you the kinds of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read. Yes, there are books here for the “common” church member, as well as for pastors and other officebearers. Some books are deeper in content than others, but there truly is something for most everyone in these lists. And, with Bible study season starting again soon, perhaps those opening sections of commentaries will be of use.

So, with that in mind, we give you this second quarter list – the first few sections of it, at least – with the rest to follow in a post later this week. Keep in mind these are not all the titles purchased, just the more significant ones. Happy browsing! Be on the alert for that book (or those books) that you may wish to read yourself!

Psalms For You

Biblical Studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical Theology

  • God’s Word for You (Good Book Co., UK – Carl Laferton, ed.)
    • Psalms for You / Christopher Ash (2017)
    • Daniel for You / David R. Helm (2017)
    • 2 Corinthians for You / Gary Millar (2020)
    • Ephesians for You / Richard Coekin (2015).
  • Mentor Commentaries (EP Books – UK)
    • Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary / John A. Kitchen (2012)
  • New International Greek Testament Commentary (Wm. B. Eerdmans)
    • The Epistles to the Thessalonians: A Commentary on the Greek Text / Charles A. Wanamaker, 1990.
  • Welwyn Commentary Series (Evangelical Press)
    • According to Promise: Numbers Simply Explained. Gordon J. Keddie. Welwyn Garden City, UK, c1992, 2017.
    • Heavenly Love: The Song of Songs Simply Explained. Gary Brady, c2006, 2017.
    • The Name High Over All: A Commentary on Hebrews / Richard Brooks, 2016.
      Other Commentaries (Individual)
  • Unfolding Covenant History: An Exposition of the Old Testament, From Samuel to Solomon, Vol.6. David J. Engelsma; Mark H. Hoeksema. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2020.
  • In the Presence of My Enemies: Psalms 25-37 / Dale Ralph Davis. Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2020.
  • Ever in Thy Sight: 31 Devotions on the Psalms / Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920; James A De Jong, translator. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020.
  • The Song of Songs / G. I. (Gerald Irvin) Williamson, 1925-. (reprint) Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2020.
  • Revelation and the End of All Things / Craig R. Koester. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, c2001, 2018 (2nd ed.).
  • Seven Churches, Four Horsemen, One Lord: Lessons from the Apocalypse / James Montgomery Boice, 1938-2000; Philip Graham Ryken, editor. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2020.

The Hope Of Israel: Crowe, Brandon D.

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

  • Treatises on Noah and David / Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, -397; Brian Dunkle, translator. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2020 (The Fathers of the Church) vol. 140
  • Christian Doctrine and the Old Testament: Theology in the Service of Biblical Exegesis / Gary A. Anderson. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles / Brandon D. Crowe. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.

Defending Luther's Reformation: Its Ongoing Significance in the ...

Church History, General and Biography

  • Introduction to the History of Christianity / John H. Y. Briggs; Tim. Dowley; Robert Dean Linder. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2018 (3rd ed.).
  • Luther at Leipzig: Martin Luther, the Leipzig Debate, and the Sixteenth-Century Reformations / Mickey L. Mattox, editor.; Richard J. Serina, Jr., editor; Jonathan Mumme, editor. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2019 (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions) vol. 218
  • Defending Luther’s Reformation: Its Ongoing Significance in the Face of Contemporary Challenges / John A. Maxfield, editor; Timothy P. Dost; Jonathan Mumme. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2017.
  • Huldrych Zwingli’s Private Library / Urs B. Leu; Sandra Weidmann. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2019 (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions,) vol. 215
  • Calvin and the Early Reformation / Brian C. Brewer, editor; David M. Whitford, editor. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2020 (Studies In Medieval And Reformation Traditions,) vol. 219
  • Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation / Peter Marshall. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018.
  • Andrew Fuller: Model Pastor-Theologian / Paul L. (Paul Lee) Brewster; Michael A. G. Haykin. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2010 (Studies In Baptist Life and Thought)
  • On the Side of God: The Life and Labors of Andrew Fuller / Jeremy (Jeremy R.) Walker. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2020.
  • Immigration, Settlement, and the Origins of the Christian Reformed Church in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, c. 1950-C. 1965 / Gerrit H. Gerrits. Kentville, Nova Scotia: Vinland Press, 2015.
  • The American Puritans / Dustin. Benge; Nate. Pickowicz. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020.

New Videos Featuring Rare Books of the Meeter Center for Calvin Studies

In an email this morning, the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies (off the main library at Calvun University in Grand Rapids, MI) announced a couple of items, one of which is a brand new feature.

Calvin, the Bible, and HistoryFirst, in a continuing series of podcasts, Director Karin Maag interviews Dr. Barbara Pitkin of Stanford University about her new book  Calvin, the Bible, and History, just published by Oxford University Press (June 2020). You may find that Meeter Center link here.

Second, the Meeter Center has launched a new venture on its YouTube channel. These new “Folios” episodes feature some of the rare books in the collection (and there are a treasure trove of them there!). The initial episode features a beautiful illustrated Bible published in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1543.

Be sure to watch this first episode – very interesting!

Zwingli’s Christian Song (Poem) When Smitten with Pestilence (1519)

ulrich-zwingli-monumentYesterday while comparing a more recent translation of the works of Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) with the edition we have in the PRC Seminary library, I discovered a striking poem the Swiss Reformer penned during the time of a great plague (pestilence) that struck him and devastated the city of Zurich (and the rest of the Swiss confederation), the heart of the Reformation in Switzerland.

The title as it appears in the collected works of Zwingli we have (Samuel M. Jackson ed.) is “A Christian Song Written by Huldreich Zwingli When He Was Attacked by the Pestilence” (with this date, “End of 1519”). It includes this editor’s note:

This is the most successful of Zwingli’s preserved poetry. It was the memorial of his serious illness from the plague which in 1519 carried off nearly half of the population of Zurich. Though unadapted to singing, it has been given a tune and is found in many hymn-books of the 15th and 16th centuries, published in Zurich.

In another place, one finds this more complete introduction explaining the context in which Zwingli wrote the song:

In August 1519, whilst Zwingli was visiting the spa town of Bad Pfäfers, news came to him that the plague which was sweeping through the Swiss Confederacy had arrived in Zürich. Zwingli had only been ministering in the city for a matter of months, having been installed as the Leutpriester (People’s Priest) in the Grossmünster in January. The Black Death of the fourteenth century had long passed, but across sixteenth-century Europe there were still devastating waves of bubonic plague. The symptoms included painful swollen lymph nodes (buboes) which gave the disease its name. Often those with the means to leave the city would have retreated, but Zwingli immediately returned to the city in order to minister to the sick and the dying. By mid-September, when the epidemic had taken some 2,500 lives, Zwingli and his brother Andreas contracted the disease and fell seriously ill. Over the course of several months, Zwingli battled the disease and he made a slow recovery by the spring of 1520. Altogether, the Zurich plague claimed the lives of over 7,000 people, a quarter of the population, including Andreas.

Zwingli’s “Christian Song” has three (3) parts to it:

I. At the Beginning of the Illness (and here follows the lines that belong to each section):

Help, Lord God, help
In this trouble!
I think death is at the door.
Stand before me, Christ;
For Thou hast overcome him!

To Thee I cry:
If it is Thy will,
take out the dart,
which wounds me
Nor lets me have an hour’s
rest or repose!

Will’st Thou, however,
that death take me
in the midst of my days,
so let it be!
Do what Thou wilt;
Me nothing lacks. [or, “nothing shall be too much for me”]
Thy vessel am I;
to make or break altogether.

For if Thou takest away
My spirit
From this earth,
Thou dost it
that it [my spirit] may not grow worse
Nor spot
The pious lives and ways of others.

II. In the Midst of His Illness:

Console Me, Lord God, console me!
The illness increases,
Pain and fear seize
My soul and body.
Come to me then,
With Thy grace,
O my only consolation!

It will surely save
Everyone, who
His heart’s desire
And hopes sets
On Thee, and who besides
Despises all gain and loss.
Now all is up.

My tongue is dumb,
It cannot speak a word.
My senses are all blighted.
Therefore is it time
That Thou my fight
Conductest hereafter;
Since I am not
So strong, that I
Can bravely
Make resistance
To the Devil’s wiles and treacherous hand.

Still will my spirit
Constantly abide by Thee,
however he rages.

III. During Convalescence [recovery]:

Sound, Lord God, sound!
I think I am
Already coming back. [i.e., to health]
Yes, if it please Thee,
That no spark of sin
Rule me longer on earth.
Then my lips must
Thy praise and teaching
Bespeak more
Than ever before,
However it may go,
In simplicity and with no danger.

Although I must
The punishment of death
Sometimes endure,
Perhaps with greater anguish
Than would now have
Happened, Lord! [i.e., if I had died this time]
Since I came
So near; [i.e., to death’s door]
So will I still
The spite and boasting
Of this world
Bear joyfully for the sake of the reward
By Thy help,
Without which nothing can be perfect.

I find these words a powerful testimony to the way we must respond to life and death during these pandemic days. Are we able to sing with Zwingli in this way, whatever our portion is right now?

If you are interested in the original Swiss version, visit this page for Gebetslied in der Pest.

New Additions to the PRC Seminary Library – 3rd Quarter 2019 (1)

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At the end of September, I completed the third quarter list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for this year. At their October 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 titles.

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. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers – even children (the new Bible story book!). Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

Again this time 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 this Fall – and soon for those winter nights.

2 Kings

Biblical studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical Theology
Series:
~ Opening the Scriptures (Christian’s Library Press): Psalms II – F. Van Deursen, 2015
~ Preacher’s Commentary (T. Nelson): Proverbs – D.A. Hubbard, 1989
~ Preaching the Word (Crossway): 1 Kings: Power, Politics, and the Hope of the World – J. Woodhouse, 2018.
~ Reformed Expository Commentary P&R): 2 Kings – P. G. Ryken, 2019

Other Commentaries (Individual)

  • The Majesty of God in the Midst of Innocent Suffering: The Message of Job / Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. (Walter Christian). Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2019.

just-words-helm-2019

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

  • The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate / Michael J. Kruger. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013.
  • Just Words? : Special Revelation and the Bible / Paul Helm. Darlington (England): Evangelical Press, 2019.
  • The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Scholarship / Robert L. Thomas; F. David Farnell. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, c1998.
  • The Master’s Perspective on Biblical Prophecy / Richard Mayhue; Robert L. Thomas; John MacArthur. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, c2002 (The Master’s Perspective Series) v. 4
  • All Things New: Revelation as Canonical Capstone / Brian J. Tabb; Donald A. Carson. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019 (New Studies In Biblical Theology) vol. 48
  • Jehovah’s Mighty Acts: Book 1 / (Tell His Wonders) Nathan J. Langerak; Michael Welply, Illustr. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Pub. Association, 2019.

Goodly-heritage-1834-Pronk-2019

Church History, General and Biography

  • The Reformation 500 Years Later: 12 Things You Need to Know / Benjamin Wiker. Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2017.
  • The Six Johns of the Scottish Reformation: With the Scots Confession of Faith 1560 / S. James Millar. Kilsyth, Scotland: James A. Dickson Books, 2015.
  • Sons of Calvin: Three Huguenot Pastors / Alan C. Clifford. Norwich: Charenton Reformed Pub., 1999.
  • 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy: Faithful, Flawed, and Fruitful / John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018 [a compilation of the entire “The Swans Are Not Silent” series, vols.1-7]
  • Americans from Holland. / Arnold Mulder, 1885-1959. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1947 (The Peoples of America Series) – gift from Van Raalte Center
  • History and Characteristics of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. / David D. Demarest, 1819-1898. New York: Board of Publication of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, 1856 (from DJE’s library – had rebound).
  • A Goodly Heritage: The Secession of 1834 and Its Impact on Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and North America / Cornelis Pronk, Grand Rapids, MI : Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • Recognizing the Legacy of George M. Ophoff / Douglas J. Kuiper. Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin Theological Seminary, 2019 (ThM thesis).

belgic_v1_v2_large

Creeds, Confessions, History of

  • The Belgic Confession: A Commentary / David J. Engelsma. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Pub. Association, 2019 (vol.2).
  • Article 36 of the Belgic Confession Vindicated Against Dr. Abraham Kuyper: A Critique of His Series on Church and State in ‘Common Grace’ / Ph. J. (Philippus Jacobus) Hoedemaker, 1839-1910; Ruben Alvarado, Transl. Alten, the Netherlands: Pantocrator Press/ Wordbridge Publishing, 1901/2019.

Reformation Day 2019: Calvin on Justification by Faith Alone in Christ Alone: The Hinge and the Pernicious Hypocrisy

Calvin-Justification-by-faith-is-the-hinge

Back in 2006 Presbyterian pastor/theologian Robert Reymond penned a powerful piece for The Trinity Review in which he defended the great Reformation gospel truth of justification by faith alone in Christ alone, especially in the face of the then fresh errors of what became known as Federal Vision teaching.

As we mark the 502nd anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation today, it is good to contemplate and embrace anew the glorious gospel that Luther, Calvin. and the other magisterial Reformers restored to the church over against the errors of the Roman Catholic Church.

Below is a portion of Reymond’s article, which is worth reading in its entirety, since the errors of Rome have infiltrated modern Evangelicalism, including many Reformed and Presbyterian churches. May we take heed and take heart in this ongoing battle for the “hinge” of gospel truth over against its “pernicious hypocrisy.”

In the sixteenth century John Calvin termed the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ the main hinge on which religion turns (Institutes, 3.11.1), the sum of all piety (Institutes, 3.15.7), and the first and keenest subject of controversy between Rome and the Reformation (Reply to Sadoleto). He treats justification by faith in his Institutes, Book 3, Chapters 11-19. Here Calvin first defines what he means by justification:

…he is justified who is reckoned in the condition not of a sinner, but of a righteous man; and for that reason, he stands firm before God’s judgment seat while all sinners fall. If an innocent accused person be summoned before the judgment seat of a fair judge, where he will be judged according to his innocence, he is said to be justified before the judge. Thus, justified before God is the man who, freed from the company of sinners, has God to witness and affirm his righteousness [Institutes, 3.11.2];

…justified by faith is he who, excluded from the righteousness of works, grasps the righteousness of Christ through faith, and clothed in it, appears in God’s sight not as a sinner but as a righteous man [Institutes, 3.11.2].

He then declares that the ground of our justification is Christ’s righteousness alone:

Therefore, we explain justification simply as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as righteous men. And we say that it consists in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness [Institutes, 3.11.2];

…since God justifies us by the intercession of Christ, he absolves us not by the confirmation of our own innocence but by the imputation of righteousness, so that we who are not righteous in ourselves may be reckoned as such in Christ [Institutes, 3.11.3].

…the best passage of all on this matter [2 Corinthians 5:18-21] is the one in which [Paul] teaches that the sum of the Gospel embassy is to reconcile us to God, since God is willing to receive us into grace through Christ, not counting our sins against us. Let my readers carefully ponder the whole passage. For a little later Paul adds by way of explanation: Christ, who was without sin, was made sin for us,î to designate the means of reconciliation. Doubtless he means by the word reconciled nothing but justified. And surely, what he teaches elsewhere – that we are made righteous by Christ’s obedience – could not stand unless we are reckoned righteous before God in Christ and apart from ourselves [Institutes, 3.11.4, emphasis supplied].

Calvin then addresses the error of virtually all of professing Christendom, namely, the pernicious hypocrisy that we obtain righteousness before God by faith in Christ plus our own works of righteousness:

…a great part of mankind imagine that righteousness is composed of faith and works [but according to Philippians 3:8-9] a man who wishes to obtain Christ’s righteousness must abandon his own righteousness…. From this it follows that so long as any particle of works-righteousness remains some occasion for boasting remains with us [Institutes, 3.11.13].

…according to [the Sophists, that is, the medieval Schoolmen of the Sorbonne, the theological faculty of the University of Paris], man is justified by both faith and works provided they are not his own works but the gifts of Christ and the fruit of regeneration. [But] all works are excluded, whatever title may grace them… [Institutes, 3.11.14].

…Scripture, when it speaks of faith-righteousness, leads us…to turn aside from the contemplation of our own works and look solely upon God’s mercy and Christ’s perfection [Institutes, 3.11.16].

[The Sophists] cavil against our doctrine when we say that man is justified by faith alone. They dare not deny that man is justified by faith because it recurs so often in Scripture. But since the word alone is nowhere expressed, they do not allow this addition to be made. Is it so? But what will they reply to these words of Paul where he contends that righteousness cannot be of faith unless it be free? How will a free gift agree with works? With what chicaneries will they elude what he says in another passage, that God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel? If righteousness is revealed in the Gospel, surely no mutilated or half-righteousness but a full and perfect righteousness is contained there. The law therefore has no place in it. Not only by a false but an obviously ridiculous shift they insist upon excluding this adjective. Does not he who takes everything from works firmly enough ascribe everything to faith alone? What, I pray, do these expressions mean: His righteousness has been manifested apart from the law; and, Man is freely justified; and, Apart from the works of the law?î [Institutes, 3.11.19]

As we were made sinners by one man’s disobedience, so we have been justified by one man’s obedience. To declare that by him alone we are accounted righteous, what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, because the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own [Institutes, 3.11.23].

U. Zwingli’s Defense of His Protestant Preaching, 1523

Zwingli-CT-1

Earlier this month – Protestant Reformation month – we called attention to a special anniversary being commemorated this year: the 500th anniversary of the Swiss Reformation (1519-2019), begun through God’s servant Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) especially in the city of Zurich.

We pointed out in that post that the Reformation in Switzerland truly began when Zwingli began preaching through the Bible in January of 1519. It revolutionized the church – and the city! – so much so that Zurich’s city council called for public debates on whether or not Zwingli was truly preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church had her representatives there too (from Constance), who accused Zwingli – as they did all the Reformers – of false teaching and misleading the people.

The most significant of these debates was held on January 29, 1523, at which Zwingli first produced his “Sixty-Seven Articles” defending his biblical preaching and teaching.  Those articles represent an early Swiss Reformation confession, similar to Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses.

For our purposes in this post, we quote the opening remarks of Zwingli at this debate, as found in Selected Works of Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), edited by Samuel M. Jackson (Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania, 1901). His appeal is standard for the Protestant Reformers: Scripture alone. Pay special attention to that as you read through his opening statement.

What follows is the heading to the disputation and then Zwingli’s words.

ACTS OF THE CONVENTION HELD IN THE PRAISEWORTHY CITY OF ZURICH ON THE 29TH DAY OF JANUARY, ON ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY GOSPEL—BEING A DISPUTATION BETWEEN THE DIGNIFIED AND HONORABLE REPRESENTATIVE FROM CONSTANCE AND HULDRYCH ZWINGLI, PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, TOGETHER WITH THE COMMON CLERGY OF THE WHOLE TERRITORY OF THE AFORESAID CITY OF ZURICH, HELD BEFORE THE ASSEMBLED COUNCIL IN THE YEAR 1523.

Then Master Ulrich Zwingli spoke in answer, and his remarks in the beginning were as follows:

Pious brothers in Christ, Almighty God has always shown His divine grace, will and favor to man from the beginning of the world, has been as kind as a true and almighty father, as we read and know from all the Scriptures, so that everlasting, merciful God has communicated His divine word and His will to man as a consolation. And although at some times He has kept away this same word, the light of truth, from the sinful and godless struggling against the truth, and although He has allowed to fall into error those men who followed their own will and the leadings of their wicked nature, as we are truly informed in all Bible histories, still He has always in turn consoled His own people with the light of His everlasting word, so that, whereas they had fallen into sin and error, they may again be lifted by His divine mercy, and He has never entirely forsaken them or let them depart from His divine recognition.

This I say to you, dear brethren, for this purpose. You know that now in our time, as also many years heretofore, the pure, clear and bright light, the word of God, has been so dimmed and confused and paled with human ambitions and teachings that the majority who by word of mouth call themselves Christians know nothing less than the divine will. But by their own invented service of God, holiness, external spiritual exhibition, founded upon human customs and laws, they have gone astray, and have thus been persuaded by those whom people consider learned and leaders of others to the extent that the simple think that such invented external worship is spiritual, and that the worship of God, which they have put upon themselves, necessarily conduces to happiness, although all our true happiness, consolation and good consists, not in our merits, nor in such external works, rather alone in Jesus Christ our Saviour, to whom the heavenly Father Himself gave witness that we should hear Him as His beloved Son. His will and true service we can learn and discover only from His true word in the Holy Scriptures and in the trustworthy writings of His twelve apostles, otherwise from no human laws and statutes.

Since now certain pious hearts have ventured to preach this by the grace and inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, and to bring it before the people, they call these preachers not Christians, but persecutors of the Christian Church, and even heretics. I am considered one of these by many of the clergy and the laity everywhere in the Confederation. And although I know that for the past five years I have preached in this city of Zurich nothing but the true, pure and clear word of God, the holy Gospel, the joyous message of Christ, the Holy Scripture, not by the aid of man, but by the aid of the Holy Ghost, still all this did not help me. But I am maligned by many as a heretic, a liar, a deceiver, and one disobedient to the Christian Church, which facts are well known to my Lords of Zurich. I made complaint of these things before them as my Lords; I have often entreated and begged of them in the public pulpit to grant me permission to give an account of my sermons and preachings (delivered in their city) before all men, learned or not, spiritual or secular, also before our gracious Lord, the Bishop of Constance, or his representative. This I also offered to do in the city of Constance, providing a safe permit was assured me, as has ever been done in the case of those from Constance.

At such request of mine, my Lords, perhaps by divine will, you have granted me permission to hold a discussion in German before the assembled Council, for which privilege I thank you especially as my Lords. I have also brought together in outline the contents and import of all my speeches and sermons delivered at Zurich, have issued the same in German through the press, so that every one might see and know what my doctrine and sermons at Zurich have been, and shall be in the future, unless I am convinced of something else.

I hope and am confident, indeed I know, that my sermons and doctrine are nothing else than the holy, true, pure Gospel, which God desired me to speak by the intuition and inspiration of His Spirit. But from what intent or desire God has wished such things to take place through me, His unworthy servant, I cannot know, for He alone knows and understands the secret of His counsels. Wherefore I offer here to any one who thinks that my sermons or teachings are unchristian or heretical to give the reasons and to answer kindly and without anger. Now let them speak in the name of God. Here I am.

A Portuguese Bible Translation with Dutch Reformed Roots

Part of my Sunday-before-worship reading was in the January-March 2019 Quarterly Record of the Trinitarian Bible Society (cf. link below). One of the fascinating articles was on the history and development of the TBS’s Portuguese Bible. Did you know that this unique Bible has Dutch Reformed roots – and that through a sixteen-year- old convert to the Reformed faith?

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that; I had no idea either. But that is, in fact, the truth of the matter!

Here’s the story and the update on where this Bible is at today.

Introduction

Portuguese is the official language of several countries, including Portugal and Brazil. It is also spoken in many other parts of the world, including former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. It is the sixth most widely-spoken native language, having over 250 million speakers.

Christianity in Brazil

Christianity, albeit in a corrupted form, came to Brazil in the 1500s when the country was claimed for Portugal by Roman Catholic sailors. In the following century Dutch explorers and missionaries brought with them the teachings of Protestant Reformer John Calvin. During the mid-1800s Portuguese rule allowed freedom of religion in Brazil. It is estimated that today about 65% of Brazilians are Roman Catholics, with only about 4% traditional Protestants.

Portuguese Bible

The translation of the Portuguese Bible was begun by sixteen-year-old João Ferreira de Almeida in 1644. A Roman Catholic turned Dutch Reformed Christian, he no doubt understood the need that people be able to read the Scriptures for themselves. Almeida had emigrated to the Dutch East Indies at fourteen and in time ministered there in the Portuguese-speaking Dutch church. He finished the New Testament in 1681 and most of the Old Testament during the last ten years of his life, and was rewarded by the Dutch authorities for his zeal in the Bible’s translation. The Old Testament was brought to completion by another minister of the Dutch church, Jacobus op den Akker, and finally published in 1753.

TBS Portuguese Bible

The first revision of the Portuguese Bible by the Trinitarian Bible Society began in 1837 under the leadership of the Rev. Thomas Boys of Trinity College, Cambridge. The work was completed in 1844 and the Bible printed in London in 1847. In 1968 the Trinitarian Bible Society of Brazil was founded in São Paulo, with the purpose of reverting the changes incorporated into the Almeida Bible during the intervening years and restoring the more pure original Almeida, as well as of updating the language into more modern Portuguese.
This work was completed in early 1994 and published as the Almeida Corrigida Fiel (ACF: Almeida Corrected and Faithful) edition. Since then further minor revisions have been made to ensure that the text conforms completely to the best Biblical language texts as well as to the latest international standards of Portuguese syntax and orthography.

Today

For centuries Almeida’s translation has been the favourite of the vast majority of Portuguese Bible readers. Arguably so it remains; by God’s grace the Trinitarian Bible Society ACF edition has received widespread acceptance in Brazil across denominational boundaries.
Thus over recent decades millions of TBS ACF Bibles and New Testaments have been distributed in Brazil and further afield, many under license by the Gideons International. The wide circulation of this translation of the Scriptures contributes to the fulfilment of our aim:
to distribute the Word of God among all nations.

Source: Magazine – Trinitarian Bible Society

Reformed Worship: Word and Symbol

God’s communication to Israel was chiefly verbal, which, we understand, is of central importance in the history of faith and in the life of the church. We have a high view of the importance of God’s verbal communication with us. This is why, in Protestantism, we put such an emphasis on the role and place of the Bible. We call the Bible the verbum Dei, the “Word of God,” or the vox Dei, the “voice of God.” We consider the verbal communication of God so important to Christianity that throughout history in most Protestant churches the focal point of the sanctuary has been the pulpit, because it is from that position, from that piece of furniture, that the Word of God is proclaimed.

…Like the Reformers, we must never underestimate the importance of the verbal element of worship, the preaching of the Word of God. But we must not forget that God, when He outlined His pattern for worship in the Old Testament, also mandated visible signs, tangible acts of drama that are not isolated from the Word or contrary to the Word but are married to the Word. That is why, for example, in most Christian churches, you are not allowed to celebrate the sacrament without some preaching to indicate that Word and sacrament go together. The Word is expressed verbally, and then that verbal expression is supported, corroborated, and reinforced by the drama of the signs and of the symbols.

taste-of-heaven-sproulThis is another post following our Sunday discussion groups this year at our home church (Faith PRC), which we hosted last evening for the last time this season. We are continuing a study of R.C. Sproul’s book on worship. It was originally published under the title A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity (Reformation Trust, 2006 – the copy I have), but has been newly published under the title How Then Shall We Worship? (David C. Cook, 2013, the Kindle version of which I also have). The above quotation is taken from chapter 5, “Symbolism in Worship” (pp.59-66).

Where Is the Word of God? November 2018 “Tabletalk”

The November 2018 issue of Tabletalk centers on the theme of “Living by the Word of God,” an extremely important subject in our day of moral relativism and Scripture-denying doctrine, and that within the nominal church and among many professing Christians. As Christians we claim to be “people of the Book,” the Word of God. But as this issue shows, that begins with a right understanding of what this Book is, and then with a practice that matches what we confess it to be. If this Book is indeed the Word of God, then we must truly live by it. If you are in need of those reminders (and aren’t we all?!), then read on!

In addition to the daily devotions (on the gospel of John), I have been working my way through the various articles, including editor Burk Parsons article titled “Our Only Infallible Rule.” He makes a powerful point in his introductory comments on the theme:

Anyone who says the Bible is boring isn’t reading the Bible with a heart of faith, and anyone who says the Bible is easy to read isn’t really examining the Bible. The Bible never actually calls us simply to read it. It calls us to study it, examine it, search it, meditate on it, hide it in our hearts, and let it dwell in us richly. Yet many Christians seem to read the Bible as quickly as they can so that they can tell everyone they have read it. We do indeed need to read the Bible—sometimes multiple chapters and entire books in one sitting—yet we are also called to study it so that we do not simply allow the sacred Word of God to pass before our eyes without properly considering its manifold splendor. Not only that, but many professing Christians don’t read the Bible much at all. Many are looking for a special word from God while their Bibles sit on their shelves gathering dust. If we want a special word from God, we need only open the Bible and read it, and if we want to hear a special word from God, we only need read the Bible aloud. For the Bible is the special revelation of God, and it is our only infallible rule for faith and life.

The first main article I read on Sunday is the one in the title to this blog post, “Where is the Word of God?” by Dr. Michael J. Kruger. After explaining that God’s Word is “the ultimate standard for all of life,” he goes into the importance of the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura. But then he also issues some cautions about misunderstanding and misapplying this truth, one of which is this one:

Of course, like many core Christian convictions, the doctrine of sola Scriptura has often been misunderstood and misapplied. Unfortunately, some have used sola Scriptura as a justification for a “me, God, and the Bible” type of individualism, where the church bears no real authority and the history of the church is not considered when interpreting and applying Scripture. Thus, many churches today are almost ahistorical—cut off entirely from the rich traditions, creeds, and confessions of the church. They misunderstand sola Scriptura to mean that the Bible is the only authority rather than understanding it to mean that the Bible is the only infallible authority. Ironically, such an individualistic approach actually undercuts the very doctrine of sola Scriptura it is intended to protect. By emphasizing the autonomy of the individual believer, one is left with only private, subjective conclusions about what Scripture means. It is not so much the authority of Scripture that is prized as the authority of the individual.

The Reformers would not have recognized such a distortion as their doctrine of sola Scriptura. On the contrary, they were quite keen to rely on the church fathers, church councils, and the creeds and confessions of the church. Such historical rootedness was viewed not only as a means for maintaining orthodoxy but also as a means for maintaining humility. Contrary to popular perceptions, the Reformers did not view themselves as coming up with something new. Rather, they understood themselves to be recovering something very old—something that the church had originally believed but later twisted and distorted. The Reformers were not innovators but excavators.

Kruger has other good points that are worth your reading. Follow the link below to read his full article.

Source: Where Is the Word of God?

Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (4) – R. Hanko

MLutherThe Wedding Ring of Faith: Passive Justification

The exchange of our sins for Christ’s perfect righteousness, according to Luther, takes place through faith:

By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are his bride’s. As a matter of fact, he makes them his own and acts as if they were his own and as if he himself had sinned; he suffered, died, and descended into hell that he might overcome them all. Now since it was such a one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by him in a mighty duel; for his righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, his life stronger than the death, his salvation more invincible than hell. Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith is free in Christ, its bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom. So he takes to himself a glorious bride, “without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word” cf. Eph. 5:26-27

of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way he marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hos. 2:19-20 says.6

According to Luther, that faith by which we are justified is entirely a work of God, and in no sense a work of man. By way of emphasizing this he often described justifying faith as passive:

For between these two kinds of righteousness, the active righteousness of the law and the passive righteousness of Christ, there is no middle ground. Therefore he who has strayed away from this Christian righteousness will necessarily relapse into the active righteousness, that is, when he has lost Christ, he must fall into a trust in his own works.7

By the use of the word “passive,” however, Luther did not mean that justifying faith is without any activity at all. He did not deny that faith is believing and trusting, resting and relying upon Christ. Nevertheless, he believed that faith was first and foremost union with Christ, the marriage of Christ and the believer by which they become one flesh, the union through which the sins of the believer are actually transferred to Christ and the righteousness of Christ given to the believer.8

His emphasis continues to serve as a necessary antidote to the current teaching that makes faith another work. He was much nearer the truth than those who deny gracious justification by speaking of faith as a decision of man’s own will or by suggesting that faith is man’s response to a well-meant “offer” of salvation in the gospel. Of this Luther would have nothing:

For faith is a divine work which God demands of us; but at the same time He Himself must implant it in us, for we cannot believe by ourselves.9

6. Luther’s Works, vol. 31, pp. 351, 352, “The Freedom of a Christian.”

7. Luther’s Works, vol. 26, p. 9, “The Argument of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.”

8. By the use of the word “passive” Luther also meant that the faith which unites us to Christ unites us to His suffering (the words “passive” and “passion” are related). Thus, too, justifying faith is far from inactive in that it shares, through union with Christ, in Christ’s suffering. That suffering, according to Luther, included not only sharing in Christ’s reproach and persecution, but in the agony of dying to sin and being killed by the law.

9. Luther’s Works, vol. 23, p. 23, “Sermon on John 6:28, 29.”

The fourth section of an article by Rev. Ronald Hanko found in the October 15, 2001 issue of the Standard Bearer (cf. link below), a special Reformation issue focusing on the life and teachings of the great Reformer, Martin Luther. We are quoting from this article leading up to Reformation Day 2018 (Oct.31).

Source: Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (1) | Standard Bearer